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In This Edition

David Michael Green returns with, "All The Bad News Fit To Print."

Uri Avnery studies, "Abu Mazen's Gamble."

Abby Zimet hears, "Voices For Peace."

David Sirota explains, "How The Two-Party Duopoly Operates."

Jim Hightower says, "Obama Stands Up, Knocks GOP Down."

Helen Thomas follows, "The Man And The Plan."

James Donahue tastes, "The Fruit Of American Conquest: Civil War!"

Randall Amster is just a cockeyed optimist when it comes to, "The Arc Of The Moral Universe."

David Swanson orates, "When the World Outlawed War."

Ralph Nader explores, "As the Drone Flies...."

Paul Krugman takes a, "Euro Zone Death Trip."

Glenn Greenwald examines, "What Media Coverage Omits About U.S. Hikers Released By Iran."

Joel S. Hirschhorn sees, "Class War Winner."

Orange County Deputy District Attorney Dan Wagner wins the coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

John Nichols discovers, "'Save the Post Office' Movement Defends 'The Human Side Of Government.'"

Lisa Romero informs us, "What The Media Aren't Telling You About American Protests."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Biden Asks White House Visitor If He Wants To Check Out Roof" but first Uncle Ernie asks if it's the, "Last Chance For America's Spring?"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Nate Beeler, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Married To The Sea.Com, Don Wright, Matt Bors, Ken Bingham, Banksy, Salon.Com, U.S. Air Force, Stockfresh.Com, MGM, The Onion.Com, U.S.P.S., Warner Brothers Pictures, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

Last Chance For America's Spring?
By Ernest Stewart

"I pledge that if any U.S. troops, contractors, or mercenaries remain in Afghanistan on Thursday, October 6, 2011, as that criminal occupation goes into its 11th year, I will commit to being in Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., with others on that day with the intention of making it our Tahrir Square, Cairo, our Madison, Wisconsin, where we will NONVIOLENTLY resist the corporate machine to demand that our resources are invested in human needs and environmental protection instead of war and exploitation. We can do this together. We will be the beginning." ~~~ October 2011.Org

"I'm here to understand what's going on and to lend my support. There's a lot of different kinds of people here who want to shift the paradigm to something that's addressing the huge gap between the rich and the poor." ~~~ Susan Sarandon

"Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason? Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason." ~~~ Ovid

Even when we're down to the wire, babe.
Even when it's do or die.
We can do it, baby, simple and plain
cuz this love is a sure thing.
All I Want Is You ~~~ Miguel Jontel

By the time the next edition comes out, (if we're still publishing) the people will have taken Washington D.C. back from the corpo-rats and will hold it until the traitors in the Con-gress and the White House begin to start doing our business and not the business of our elite masters. Either that, or they'll be all slaughtered by Washington's Jack Booted Thugs! Which do you think will happen?

I remember marching in May of 2001 in Washington D.C.. There were tens of thousands of us, and we marched right by the Washington Post -- funny thing the Post apparently didn't see us march by as nary a word about the protest was found in the paper, just as the corpo-rat-controlled mainstream media ignored the Wall Street protesters for 10 days. I suggested at the time that perhaps next time we marched by The Post we lob a couple of hand grenades through their windows to get their attention! This was my second march on Washington; the first was as a veteran against the Vietnam war; I also marched in Chicago in 1968 as a member of the SDS. However, since COPD and poverty have set in, my marching days are over, so I won't be going to occupy the capital this time around.

Since the 60s, millions have marched through "Foggy Bottom," and nothing has changed; I wonder how Martin Luther King was so successful as it seem to me that since his day protest marches change nothing except the bottom line of businesses in DC and Baltimore!

Hell yes, we are overdue and ready for an "Arab Spring;" if any country on Earth needs to change its government, it's these good old United Snakes that desperately needs such! However, I rather doubt that peaceful protests -- no mater how many millions show up -- will change one iota of the corpo-rat plans for their vassals! I truly hope that my analysis is wrong, and this is the protest that finally makes a difference, but I won't hold my breath until it does!

Still, if it lasts a month, it might by then garner a little MSM coverage and let the folks back home know what's going down. I, for one, will be interested to see if our brothers and sisters on the far right will stop tea-bagging one another long enough to join their brothers and sisters on the left, helping effect much needed change, or will they sit on the sidelines and criticize the effort of others? Now's the time to step up or shut up, America. What will you tell the kids when you're strapped into a box car on the way to a Happy Camp; why Mater and Pater couldn't be bothered to go to Washington and raise some righteous hell before it was too late? What will you tell them, America?

In Other News

NYC Police Captain Anthony Bologna

Could someone explain to me whenever there is peaceful, legal, protest in New York City why they automatically have a police riot? Could it be because they were only following ze orders, Ja? Talk about your Jack Booted Thugs; if you want to know what it was like living in Nazi Germany, look no further than Manhattan! Just move in and disagree with Mayor Hitler, er, Bloomberg, and see what happens to you! If you're white, you'll be beaten and tortured; if you're black, you'll be gunned down! "To serve and protect," my ass!

The cowardly cops have been busting heads and macing grandmothers who were doing absolutely nothing illegal. In case you were wondering, that's why they call them PIGS! There is nothing random about this mega-violence; they're cracking skulls to keep the number of protesters down and keep others from using their constitutional rights! Isn't that treason?

Can you guess what I did? Well, of course you can; you're very smart! I wrote Michael a brief note, and you can, too, at:

To reach NYPD Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly:

And the NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board:

Here's the note:

I am writing to see what will be done about the police riot being led by Captain Anthony Bologna, who is obviously a coward and a criminal and should be fired and jailed. Of course, he might have been operating under your direct orders, in which case, you should resign, Michael, and fall on your sword!

As always, I'll share any correspondence I get from Michael!

Not to be outdone by the city, Burger King decided to also violate the 1st amendment to the US Constitution and various federal, state and city laws by refusing to sell coffee to protesters. For no other reason except that they're protesting.

I spent an hour or so getting the run-around by Burger Kings corpo-rat headquarters trying to get their side of the story -- a story like the police riot that has gone viral all over the Internet. Ergo, we'll be boycotting Burger King until they apologize to the protesters and buy every one of them a cup of coffee! This boycott will be easy on most of you, if you're like me and haven't visited a Burger King in decades.

Oh, and one more thing, as far as I can tell, there is no truth to the rumor (that I just started) that Burger King uses fresh ground worms instead of beef in their burgers. It's probably untrue as worms cost more than beef, and they're better for you than chemically-tainted beef, because Burger King doesn't care about your health, as long as their bottom line isn't affected!

And Finally

East Coast, West Coast, all across the land! You've no doubt heard about the "Irvine 11" and their recent free speech conviction for daring to address the Israeli Ambassador at UCI. I guess the 1st Amendment no longer applies if you say something unpopular with the status quo in Orange County.

Sure, the kids were protesting and disrupted the meeting, and were properly punished and chastened by the school, but to be prosecuted and persecuted by the county is just one toke over the line when it comes to justice. Yes, I'm saying that the deciding factors in this travesty were that they were leftist, brown, and Muslim. Why, you may ask, is this not justice? Because when a group of white, Rethuglican, youth-for-Bush types all but murdered a Muslim speaker on the same campus -- in the very same building -- and then tried to run the speaker over when he fled for his life with their cars, nothing, I repeat nothing, was done about it, by the same prosecutor's office. Nary a slap on the wrist for attempted murder! It must have been just a fluke, huh?

Of course, I wrote this turkey a letter...

Orange County Deputy District Attorney
To Dan Wagner,

I see that free speech is dead in Orange County. Any other articles of the Constitution and Bill of Rights that are against the law in Orange County? How does it feel, Dan, to be an Israeli 5th columnist, puppet? Did you declare on your income tax the 30 pieces of silver you were no doubt paid for your treason? Remember, Dan, tax is how they got Al Capone. Just one question for my readers, if you please, Dan, how do you look yourself in the mirror in the morning without wanting to cut your throat?

Ernest Stewart
Managing editor
Issues and Alibis Magazine

So far I haven't heard a thing from Dan, funny thing that, huh?

Keepin' On

It's that time of the year again when we go down to the wire and hold our breath to see if there are enough crumbs in the cookie jar to pay all our bills for another year; and let me tell you folks, it's starting to get just a little bit old! I got one nice check from a reader whose name I can not mention (how cool is it to not want credit for a good deed?), but it still isn't enough.

As it stands today, we're still a little short, and while I'm on a mission to keep the truth flowing out, my creditors couldn't give a rat's ass whether we go on or not, only caring for their material gain; but that's capitalism for ya!

It's coming down to what's in the my PO Box whether we go on or not. I have a couple of friends who will loan me the difference in case it isn't there, but I can hardly afford to pay them back, and won't accept their loans unless I can, and I wouldn't want to put them through it, otherwise. So, for maybe the last time, HELP, ya'll!


01-23-1945 ~ 09-21-2011
Death walks behind you!

09-07-1922 ~ 09-27-2011
Thanks for the laughter!


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


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

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2011 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 10 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Face Book. Follow me on Twitter.

All The Bad News Fit To Print
By David Michael Green

Sometimes, when certain species (you know who you are) are too utterly daft to recognize the obvious, the Universe sees fit to scream it out in the form of big, bold block letters.

Such was the case just last week, when all of the following headlines were published, by one journal alone (the New York Times), and just in one 24-hour period. Read them and weep:

"Poverty Levels in 2010 Reach 52-Year Peak, US Says"

"Obama Looks For Big Health Cuts, Worrying Democrats"

"G.O.P. Scores Upset, Claims Win As Omen For Obama"

"Two-Tier Pay Now the Way Detroit Works"

"In Suburb, Battle Goes Public On Bullying of Gay Students"

"Student Loan Default Rates Rise Sharply In Past Year"

"What's a Presidential Library to Do? An Admiring Approach at the Reagan. History, Warts and All, at the Nixon."

"Obama Offers Jobs Bill, And the G.O.P. Balks"

"Government Pays More In Contracts, Study Finds"

"Ex-Senate Aide Will Be a Lobbyist"

"Fast-Track for Disaster Aid Is Blocked"

How's that for a litany of shame and destruction? I didn't even include the garden variety domestic violence scandals of mayoral aides and schools cheating on standardized tests, or anything in the sports section.

What's most amazing, however, is the degree to which the American public still can't put it together. Imagine if you were capable of recognizing letters on a page, but not able to string them together into meaningful words. Imagine if you could identify individual biological organs but not add them up to constitute a person. Imagine if every Cheerio in your cereal spoon was a source of fresh wonder, as if you'd never seen one before. Now imagine 300 million people who can encounter news stories like the ones above and still not tie them together into a coherent narrative.

Let me make it simple, in case anyone wants to share this essay with their idiotic, Republican (pardon the redundancy) cousin Buford: The story of American politics over the last generation is the story of the transfer of wealth from the people to the plutocrats. If you think there is anything else essential going on here, you don't get it.

Of course, you're not supposed to get it. And one reason why so many people can't put the narrative together is because there is no one in the political class who is articulating that vision for them to consider. Not a single one among the elites in American politics and government.

Here's what's not being said, and not being understood:

That, thirty years ago, the 'heroic', venerated, practically deified, Ronald Reagan ushered in the age of plutocratic piracy, artfully hiding it behind any kind of fear that would sufficiently stimulate the amygdala of your garden variety troglodyte enough to hide the real agenda. You know, commies, fags, fur'ners, whatever.

That the folks who had traditionally been advocates for the rest of us who don't own yachts were now every bit as bought off as those in the more overly corrupted Republican Party. These Democrats would mouth the words about "fighting" (if I hear that word again from another politician, I swear I will projectile vomit) for the middle class, but that they would actually screw us at every opportunity. Have you noticed how when they don't control the institutions of government they are always somehow unable to block the Republicans' worst crimes. But when they do control these institutions the Republicans are somehow always able to prevail from a minority position. Go figure. It almost seems like the Democrats aren't really serious about the rhetoric they employ. But, of course, that would be dishonest...

That regressive policies have, with almost no exception, prevailed in every contest over the last thirty years, especially on questions of political economy. Taxes? Regressives won. Deregulation? Regressives got what they wanted. Labor relations? What's this thing they used to call the "union"? Privatization? Why not? Debt? "Reagan proved that deficits don't matter". Trade policy? Dude, where's my job? (Hint: it speaks Mandarin now.) Bailouts for big banks? A hundred pennies on the dollar. Need I go on?

That we are now where we are, precisely because of regressive economic policies. This is the single most crucial and most frustrating fact of our time. It's not exactly theoretical physics to figure out that slashing taxes will produce debt. And it did. Or that trade deals will ship our jobs overseas. As they did. Or that banksters with all the same latitude to indulge their greed that they possessed in 1929 will produce the same results as their grandfathers. Which they did. Or that the much-vaunted private sector is no more efficient and inexpensive at doing things than the government. And it's not.

That the American public has simply and utterly been downsized over the last thirty years. That people work longer and harder to make less, and live with far greater insecurity than before, while corporations and plutocrats are far richer than they were three decades ago. That people are more miserable, have less time to spend with their families, are less healthy, more stressed, more insecure and more poorly compensated - when they can scratch out a job at all - than their parents were. All so that the uber-rich can now be uber-uber-rich. So that millionaires can be billionaires.

That people are sick to death (often quite literally) of a government that is unresponsive to their most basic needs. That they have lost all faith in the once-given notion that someone in Washington has their back. But that they still continue to believe in the dream of democracy, and will cast a vote (no matter which way they choose) for precisely the folks who brought us this nightmare, and who will accelerate its delivery after the election of 2012.

This situation is becoming acute, and I foresee about sixteen different ways in which it will only get worse from here. It is a fact of stunning proportions and epic significance that - less than three years since the end of the Bush nightmare - America is about to turn back to a more extreme version of the same disastrous politics brought to us by the same disaster-loving politicians.

Rick Perry will be the next president of the United States, you can count on that. (A fact which does, believe it or not, have its certain virtues. At the very least it means that both the oleaginous scumbucket, Ken-Doll Romney, and the inner-circle-of-hell traitor, Barack Obama, will both be humiliated in losing.) And Perry will seek to Texafy the rest of the country as fast as he can. His state is one of the worst in the union on practically every measure of quality of life that there is (except for creating new, low-wage, non-union, no-benefit jobs, that is, and the wholesale murder of poor blacks and Hispanics on death row), and he will run successfully on the basis of his record as governor of Texas.

I tell you, some days it just feels like you've fallen into an alternative universe where the laws of nature cease to apply... Perhaps that little problem with physical reality also accounts for why regressives have such a hard time with evolution and global warming.

But I digress. A Perry presidency can only happen because the status quo is so untenable, and people therefore so badly crave change. Such seeming oscillations chart the course of American electoral politics during this Era of Corporate Rape. Where once we had stable centrist politics and even stable majorities in Congress, now every election is a referendum on the failed policies of the current incumbents. We make radical u-turns, switching from one party to the next, without switching from one policy to another. Every politician pretends to be for the people. Every one of them actually serves the oligarchs who buy them their stations and a small bit of relief for their raging personal insecurities. Nothing changes but the letter after their names.

This is precisely why Obama and his party are sinking so rapidly now. He is nothing more than Bush's third term, and Bush was nothing more than a continuation of the Wall Street-friendly policies of Clinton, and so on, back to Reagan. Of course Obama is failing utterly. He is pursuing policies that are utterly failing the American people, as they have for three decades. The only difference between him and the public he's meant to serve is that he well knows that that is precisely what they're designed to do, while the American public still - still! - doesn't get it.

I was delighted (not really) to see Obama do his big speech and finally get some spunk going, nearly three years since he was elected, to start "fighting" for jobs in America. The only problem is that his is the only job he's actually trying to protect. Idiotic liberals need to face reality. The only significant difference between George W. Bush and Barack Obama is that the latter is the more skilled lying corporate hack. Look at his policies. Look at what he hasn't done. Look at the people he's surrounded himself with.

This will be even more clear than it already is for anyone who has the interest and the courage to observe the guy accurately (sorry, regressives, that leaves you out) when he details his big no-cost jobs plan. Why it took three years into his presidency to notice there is a small jobs problem in America (and the administration evidently still hasn't noticed the mortgage holocaust going down), and why Obama couldn't have had his big plan actually formulated when he gave the speech incessantly exhorting Congress to pass 'it', tells you a lot about his real priorities. We already know how fast he'd jump if the banks were hurting, because we saw him do it, giving them full public (that means your money and mine) bail-outs, with no restrictions and no requirements to loan taxpayer money, and doing so even though these are the very criminals who wrecked the global economy in the first place. For all you regular folk, it takes a lot longer to get some help, I'm afraid.

The speech was textbook bully pulpit. Apart from the small matters of content, timing and motivation, it was precisely what a president should be doing, and precisely the way it is effectively done by successful presidents. If you doubt that, recall that when the Bush junta began in late 2002 to market its plan for a wee skirmish in the Middle East, only about a third of Americans saw the wisdom in that manifestly ludicrous idea. By the time Karl Rove and his Mad Men were finished making their relentless and ruthlessly amoral pitch for invading Iraq, the figure had become about two-thirds on the eve of the attack. People who give Obama a pass for having to work in a difficult political environment fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the American presidency. The most effective ones are effective because they make their own realities through the power of persuasion.

But the only thing that Obama is serious about is appearing to be serious. This speech was excellent political theater, but substantively as hollow as a Hostess Twinkie. And about as nutritious for the country as well. But hollow well suits a president who capitulates so frequently he's starting to be known around DC as the Caveman of Pennsylvania Avenue. In any case, he doesn't care. The whole point of the exercise was to communicate to the American people (read: voters he'll soon be needing again) that "I care", and to trap the Republicans into either going along with his plan - which he knows they won't, so no serious danger to the aristocracy there - or providing him with a nice campaign cudgel ("they don't care") to be used between now and November 2012.

Either way, this is likely to be one of the most sickening campaigns ever in modern American history. By all rights, according to the essence of the democratic idea, Obama should lose. He has failed dramatically, by any serious measure, and the voters' natural inclination is to seek change - which, by the way, is precisely why he is today president himself. So the White House will be desperately seeking to change the story such that the election is about anything but themselves. This is just what the chickenhawk-in-chief Bush did in 2004, with the assistance of the hapless John Kerry (or was it the hapless Jimmy Carter? or the hapless Walter Mondale? or the hapless Michael Dukakis? I get all these punching-bag Democrats so confused!). Bush the Vietnam coward actually managed to turn the Silver Starred and Purple Hearted Kerry into a knock-kneed wimpy-burger threat to American national security. Anything to get people talking and thinking about something besides the dismal incumbent.

Watch Obama do the same in this cycle, and do it hard because Perry will not be coming at him with wiffle balls. What that means is that the 'hope and change' guy who won hearts in 2008 with his appeals to our better angels will now be running a campaign Nixon and his Plumbers could be proud of. And it's all the more reason why he'll lose. I mean, how inspirational, Barack! It also explains why he'll continue in his remarkable efforts to eviscerate the Democratic Party - even the corporate obeisance version we have today. I mean really, in what bizarro universe is this worthless chump not being shown to the nearest home for retired politicians by members of his own party? First there was Scott Brown snagging the more-or-less-most-Democratic-Senate-seat-in-the-country because of Obama, then a wholesale mass bloodletting in the 2010 midterms, also because of the president, and last week the loss - by nearly ten points - of what is probably the most Democratic congressional district in the entire country, for yet again the same reason. Now he's hurdling headlong into pissing away the White House and loads of Congress and state-level Democratic-held positions along the way in 2012. Does Obama have to launch predator drone missiles against the FDR monument on the Washington mall for Democrats to realize the extent of his destructive capacity against their party?

In any case, 2013 is when history will get interesting, in a Chinese curse sort of way. The Republicans will own Washington, and will viciously destroy the welfare state and otherwise turn over every bit of national wealth and middle class prosperity to the country's plutocrats that they can, as fast as they can. Their program will, of course, have no effect on stimulating the economy (shhh!, don't tell anyone, but it's not intended to), and will very likely make it worse through reducing government spending and laying off public sector employees. As if we've learned nothing this last century. As if Keynes had been a botanist or something.

What then? It is possible, as happened to Reagan, that the GOP will get lucky and happen to be sitting in the White House at the moment the economy recovers. That's a nightmare scenario, for it means that progressive, New Deal-style, ideas about the national social compact will be utterly buried for a generation or more.

Alternatively, and more likely, the economy will remain awful or get worse. It's then possible that the public will just tolerate their downsizing like docile lambs, just as the Japanese have done for over a decade now. But the moment may also provide an occasion for people to rise up and demand an end to he national theft that's been plaguing them for thirty years now. Perhaps that seems unlikely, but there are signs of stirring in Europe and Israel and elsewhere that are rather promising. If the Arabs can have their Spring cleaning of kleptocratic oligarchs, why shouldn't Americans too?

The thing is, though, there's pretty much nothing that I put past the right in this country. And, if they're about to head down the toilet because people are starting to catch up to the bankruptcy of their policies, the question becomes what might they do to change the channel before it's too late? A little racism or gay bashing, maybe? Nope. It wouldn't be on a grand enough scale for this project. They'll need something powerful, like a good national security scare or a full-on war, just like the Argentinean regime invaded the Falklands/Malvinas when they were in trouble domestically, and just like Margaret Thatcher responded in kind when she was in trouble domestically herself. Scary, eh?

It is scary, actually. And not just for, oh, I dunno, the Iranians or Cubans or Venezuelans in a desperate GOP's crosshairs, either. This is the sorriest state I've seen the country in during my lifetime. What were once political outrages of epic proportions are now standard issue Republican Party rhetoric and policies. What was once a Democratic Party largely for the people is now a bunch of corporate hacks hiding behind faux political cowardice to mask their real commitments. You know you're really hurting when appearing to be a coward is more attractive than telling the actual truth about your politics.

Meanwhile, the country adopts stupider and stupider policies, turning to more and more idiotic characters, in hopes of salvaging our sinking ship. Iraq, tax cuts for the wealthy, unabated global warming - those sure turned out great, eh? Hey, well then, let's do even more of that!

Sorry, but nowadays the only thing that makes me feel better about the present is thinking about the future.
(c) 2011 David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles, but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of his work can be found at his website,

Abu Mazen's Gamble
By Uri Avnery

A WONDERFUL SPEECH. A beautiful speech.

The language expressive and elegant. The arguments clear and convincing. The delivery flawless.

A work of art. The art of hypocrisy. Almost every statement in the passage concerning the Israeli-Palestinian issue was a lie. A blatant lie: the speaker knew it was a lie, and so did the audience.

It was Obama at his best, Obama at his worst.

Being a moral person, he must have felt the urge to vomit. Being a pragmatic person, he knew that he had to do it, if he wanted to be re-elected.

In essence, he sold the fundamental national interests of the United States of America for the chance of a second term.

Not very nice, but that's politics, OK?

IT MAY be superfluous - almost insulting to the reader - to point out the mendacious details of this rhetorical edifice.

Obama treated the two sides as if they were equal in strength - Israelis and Palestinians, Palestinians and Israelis.

But of the two, it is the Israelis - only they - who suffer and have suffered. Persecution. Exile. Holocaust. An Israeli child threatened by rockets. Surrounded by the hatred of Arab children. So sad.

No Occupation. No settlements. No June 1967 borders. No Naqba. No Palestinian children killed or frightened. It's the straight right-wing Israeli propaganda line, pure and simple - the terminology, the historical narrative, the argumentation. The music.

The Palestinians, of course, should have a state of their own. Sure, sure. But they must not be pushy. They must not embarrass the US. They must not come to the UN. They must sit with the Israelis, like reasonable people, and work it out with them. The reasonable sheep must sit down with the reasonable wolf and decide what to have for dinner. Foreigners should not interfere.

Obama gave full service. A lady who provides this kind of service generally gets paid in advance. Obama got paid immediately afterwards, within the hour. Netanyahu sat down with him in front of the cameras and gave him enough quotable professions of love and gratitude to last for several election campaigns.

THE TRAGIC hero of this affair is Mahmoud Abbas. A tragic hero, but a hero nonetheless.

Many people may be surprised by this sudden emergence of Abbas as a daring player for high stakes, ready to confront the mighty US.

If Ariel Sharon were to wake up for a moment from his years-long coma, he would faint with amazement. It was he who called Mahmoud Abbas "a plucked chicken." Yet for the last few days, Abbas was the center of global attention. World leaders conferred about how to handle him, senior diplomats were eager to convince him of this or that course of action, commentators were guessing what he would do next. His speech before the UN General Assembly was treated as an event of consequence.

Not bad for a chicken, even for one with a full set of feathers.

His emergence as a leader on the world stage is somewhat reminiscent of Anwar Sadat.

When Gamal Abd-al-Nasser unexpectedly died at the age of 52 in 1970 and his official deputy, Sadat, assumed his mantle, all political experts shrugged.

Sadat? Who the hell is that? He was considered a nonentity, an eternal No. 2, one of the least important members of the group of "free officers" that was ruling Egypt.

In Egypt, a land of jokes and jokers, witticisms about him abounded. One concerned the prominent brown mark on his forehead. The official version was that it was the result of much praying, hitting the ground with his forehead. But the real reason, it was told, was that at meetings, after everyone else had spoken, Sadat would get up and try to say something. Nasser would good-naturedly put his finger to his forehead, push him gently down and say: "Sit, Anwar!"

To the utter amazement of the experts - and especially the Israeli ones - this "nonentity" took a huge gamble by starting the 1973 October War, and proceeded to do something unprecedented in history: going to the capital of an enemy country still officially in a state of war and making peace.

Abbas' status under Yasser Arafat was not unlike Sadat's under Nasser. However, Arafat never appointed a deputy. Abbas was one of a group of four or five likely successors. The heir would surely have been Abu Jihad, had he not been killed by Israeli commandoes in front of his wife and children. Another likely candidate, Abu Iyad, was killed by Palestinian terrorists. Abu Mazen (Abbas) was in a way the choice by default.

Such politicians, emerging suddenly from under the shadow of a great leader, generally fall into one of two categories: the eternal frustrated No. 2 or the surprising new leader.

The Bible gives us examples of both kinds. The first was Rehoboam, the son and heir of the great King Solomon, who told his people: "my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions." The other kind was represented by Joshua, the heir of Moses. He was no second Moses, but according to the story a great conqueror in his own right.

Modern history tells the sad story of Anthony Eden, the long-suffering No. 2 of Winston Churchill, who commanded little respect. (Mussolini called him, after their first meeting, "a well-tailored idiot."). Upon assuming power, he tried desperately to equal Churchill and soon embroiled Britain in the 1956 Suez disaster. To the second category belonged Harry Truman, the nobody who succeeded the great Franklin Delano Roosevelt and surprised everybody as a resolute leader.

Abbas looked like belonging to the first kind. Now, suddenly, he is revealed as belonging to the second. The world is treating him with newfound respect. Nearing the end of his career, he made the big gamble.

BUT WAS it wise? Courageous, yes. Daring, yes. But wise?

My answer is: Yes, it was.

Abbas has placed the quest for Palestinian freedom squarely on the international table. For more than a week, Palestine has been the center of international attention. Scores of international statesmen and -women, including the leader of the world's only superpower, have been busy with Palestine.

For a national movement, that is of the utmost importance. Cynics may ask: "So what did they gain from it?" But cynics are fools. A liberation movement gains from the very fact that the world pays attention, that the media grapple with the problem, that people of conscience all over the world are aroused. It strengthens morale at home and brings the struggle a step nearer its goal.

Oppression shuns the limelight. Occupation, settlements, ethnic cleansing thrive in the shadows. It is the oppressed who need the light of day. Abbas' move provided it, at least for the time being.

BARACK OBAMA's miserable performance was a nail in the coffin of America's status as a superpower. In a way, it was a crime against the United States.

The Arab Spring may have been a last chance for the US to recover its standing in the Middle East. After some hesitation, Obama realized that. He called on Mubarak to go, helped the Libyans against their tyrant, made some noises about Bashar al-Assad. He knows that he has to regain the respect of the Arab masses if he wants to recover some stature in the region, and by extension throughout the world.

Now he has blown it, perhaps forever. No self-respecting Arab will forgive him for plunging his knife into the back of the helpless Palestinians. All the credit the US has tried to gain in the last months in the Arab and the wider Muslim world has been blown away with one puff.

All for reelection.

IT WAS also a crime against Israel.

Israel needs peace. Israel needs to live side by side with the Palestinian people, within the Arab world. Israel cannot rely forever on the unconditional support of the declining United States.

Obama knows this full well. He knows what is good for Israel, even if Netanyahu doesn't. Yet he has handed the keys of the car to the drunken driver.

The State of Palestine will come into being. This week it was already clear that this is unavoidable. Obama will be forgotten, as will Netanyahu, Lieberman and the whole bunch.

Mahmoud Abbas - Abu Mazen, as the Palestinians call him - will be remembered. The "plucked chicken" is soaring into the sky.
(c) 2011 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Voices For Peace
We Are Young Jews, and We Get to Decide What That Means
By Abby Zimet

Rosh Hashanah begins tonight at sundown, marking the start of the Jewish New Year, the day of Judgment, when God decides "who shall live and who shall die." In its honor, and with the issue of Palestinian statehood roiling the U.N., video and commentary from the young Jewish Voice for Peace group who last year protested Netanyahu in New Orleans. They insist on being heard, and on forging an identity not dependent on the oppression of the Palestinians. Shana Tovah.

The Next Generation

"How do we reach Jewish young people?" has long been one of the central mantras of the organized Jewish community - as those of us who work as Jewish professionals can surely attest. But while we wring our hands over the state of the Jewish future, a remarkable new generation of Jews has been knocking insistently at our door.

Case in point: Almost one year ago, five young Jews disrupted the keynote speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Jewish Federation General Assembly in New Orleans. One by one, at five different points during the speech, the activists stood on their chairs, unfurled banners and shouted out in turn:

Young Jews say the settlements delegitimize Israel!
Young Jews say the Occupation delegitimizes Israel!
Young Jews say the siege of Gaza delegitimizes Israel
Young Jews say the loyalty oath delegitimizes Israel!
Young Jews say silencing dissent delegitimizes Israel!

With each successive interruption the shouts from the crowd grew louder and angrier. As security attempted to safely walk them out, one protester was put in a choke hold by a convention attendee and wrestled to the floor. Another conventioneer grabbed a banner and tore it in half with his teeth.

At the very same moment, "Young, Jewish, Proud" launched its website, featuring the "Young Jewish Declaration" - an astonishing statement of purpose that seemed to come directly from the collective heart, mind and gut of this newly-formed youth movement:

We exist. We are everywhere. We speak and love and dream in every language...

We remember how to build our homes, and our holiness, out of time and thin air, and so do not need other people's land to do so...

We refuse to have our histories distorted or erased, or appropriated by a corporate war machine. We will not call this liberation...

We commit ourselves to peace. We will stand up with honest bodies, to offer honest bread...We are young Jews, and we get to decide what that means.

Predictably, the Jewish establishment wasted no time in excoriating the protesters. Some chided them condescendingly for their "misguided" behavior. Others angrily criticized them for "aiding the enemy."

As for me, I watched these events unfold with genuine hope for our Jewish future.

After all, weren't these young people claiming and proclaiming their Jewishness in classic Jewish fashion? Like young Abraham destroying his father's icons, they stood up to the hypocrisy and corruption of their elders. In the heart of the the largest gathering of American Jewish leaders, these proud young Jews called out their community on its most sacred of sacred cows: namely, the unquestioning, unconditional support of the state of Israel.

In all honesty, I can't say I've ever witnessed as authentic an act of young Jewish self-expression as I did that afternoon at the New Orleans General Assembly.

Yes, as a professional Jew, I've participated in the "how can we inspire young Jewish adults?" conversation more times than I care to admit. I've watched a myriad of Jewish community-sponsored initiatives come and go. And invariably, all of them focused on what we believed was best for Jewish young people.

But while the Jewish establishment has been excellent at creating and funding expensive projects, we seem to be chronically incapable of actually listening to Jewish young people. We love to tell them how we think they should express their Jewishness, but rarely do we stop long enough to really, truly learn what Jewish passions are driving young Jewish adults today.

Taglit-Birthright Israel - the Jewish establishment's signature youth initiative - is the most obvious case in point. For well over a decade, we have invested literally hundreds of millions of dollars in providing free, all-expense-paid trips to Israel. The essential goal of these trips, as Birthright's Marketing Director puts it plainly, is to make Israel "an integral part of every Jew's identity."

It's well known that Birthright was born in response to growing reports that American Jewish young people were becoming increasingly disconnected to the state of Israel. But by rushing to address this issue through a massive multimillion dollar community initiative, we successfully avoided asking some deeper questions.

Could it be that we were afraid to know the answers?

Could it be that young people are becoming disenchanted with Israel because they are becoming increasingly troubled by its treatment of Palestinians? Could it be that growing numbers of young Jews regard Israel more as an oppressive colonial project than a source of Jewish pride? Could it be that in the 21st century world, the identities of young Jews are tied less to Jewish ethno-nationalism than to a more universal vision of liberation?

"Young, Jewish, Proud" is decidedly not the product of a Jewish communal initiative. On the contrary it is a grass-roots, self-organized effort of young Jews who seek to express their Jewish identity in a time-honored Jewish manner: by speaking truth to power, by advocating unabashedly for peace, justice and liberation, by standing up to oppression, racism and persecution in Israel/Palestine - and throughout the world. They simply aren't buying what the Jewish establishment has been selling them. They are finding their own voices.

We are young Jews, and we get to decide what that means...

I am well aware that it is not easy for a Jewish community so thoroughly focused on Zionism to hear it challenged in such a fundamental way. But aren't these young Jews doing precisely what they were raised to do? They are taking a good, educated look around them, thinking critically about what they see and are taking a stand for what they believe in as Jews. Are we really prepared to disown them because their conclusions make us uncomfortable?

In the Torah portion for the first day of Rosh Hashanah, we read that when God saves the life of young Ishmael in the wilderness, "God heeded the cries of the boy where he is." (Genesis 21:17) In other words, God was able to find Ishmael by truly listening to him. Not where God wanted him to be or were God thought he should be, but where he was.

On this New Year, I fervently hope our community can do the same with our newest adult generation. These young Jews certainly have every reason to be disenchanted with the organized Jewish community, but for some reason they refuse to go away. They're here and they're knocking loudly at our door.

Do we, the gatekeepers of the Jewish community, have the vision, the faith and the courage to open it up and let them in?

Shanah Tova
Rabbi Brant Rosen
(c) 2011 Abby Zimet

How The Two-Party Duopoly Operates
The behavior of two Colorado politicians shows how superficial the differences between the parties are
By David Sirota

By now, probably everyone reading this is already sick of America's quadrennial political spectacle -- the one in which politicians and media outlets ask us to believe that there remain vast differences between our two political parties. It's like cheaply staged pornography on a red and blue set, with words like "polarization," "socialist" and "extremist" comprising the breathless dialogue in a wholly unconvincing plot.

Some of this tripe can be momentarily compelling, of course. And as the 2012 election climax draws nearer, many Americans will no doubt submit to the fantasy. But before that happens, it's worth looking a few levels beneath the orgiastic presidential campaign for a last necessary dose of nonfiction, if only to remind us that the parties are often two heads of the same political monster.

As good a place as any to get such a dose is my home state of Colorado, which this month provided two emblematic examples of how the two party duopoly really operates.

Exhibit A is our Republican secretary of state, Scott Gessler. Though his job is to enforce campaign finance rules and protect voting rights, he's proudly using his office for exactly the opposite.

After being elected in 2010, he first reduced campaign finance fines against the local Republican Party in Larimer County, then announced that he will headline a fundraiser to help that local party pay off the levies. Now, this GOP hack is suing the overwhelmingly Democratic bastion of Denver in an attempt to prevent ballots from being sent to 55,000 of the city's registered voters. Gessler's public rationale? He says that because these citizens chose not to vote in the last election, they shouldn't get ballots this year.

Exhibit B is Democrat Tom Strickland -- a flesh-and-blood monument to revolving-door corruption.

Back in the 1990s, Strickland got his start serving as Colorado's U.S. attorney. He then slid into a lucrative job at one of Colorado's top corporate law firms. A few years later, he jumped back into public service, making two failed Democratic bids for the U.S. Senate. From there, it was on to the executive vice presidency of UnitedHealth Group, one of the nation's most rapacious health insurance companies. When Barack Obama was elected president, Strickland headed back into government, as the chief of staff of the Interior Department -- the agency that's supposed to regulate the oil and gas industry. Then, this week, Strickland got himself a job at the law firm defending BP in the Deepwater Horizon spill.

Despite being tied to major issues and a crucially important electoral swing state, and despite the overtly public nature of their moves, Gessler and Strickland's actions received almost no national media attention, which reminds us that these two political figures are not special cases -- their behavior is today's unquestioned norm.

Gessler represents both a bipartisan effort to undermine campaign finance regulations and an ends-justify-the-means-ism that has become pervasive in American politics -- in this case, his is the Republican kind that is aimed at suppressing the vote. Strickland, meanwhile, embodies the Democratic side of a permanent bipartisan elite that has made corporatism and public service completely synonymous. The two Coloradans may exemplify different pathologies, but those pathologies both contribute to our political system's overarching dysfunction.

So the next time you tune into a cable TV pundit-a-thon or a talk-radio screamfest that tells you how "divided" American politics is, and how one party is so much more honorable than the other, remember Colorado and all the other examples like it before you head down the rabbit hole of election-year delusion.
(c) 2011 David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee.

Obama Stands Up, Knocks GOP Down
Wow - someone must've slipped a dose of special Viagra to Barack Obama, for his backbone has suddenly stiffened!

Finally showing a bit of real populist fervor, the President drew a line in the sand for plutocratic Congressional Republicans. He declared that the would veto any deficit plan that cuts Medicare but lets multimillionaires keep paying a lower tax rate than middle class families. He called for a minimal tax hike on those making more than a million dollars a year, an uptick that would affect fewer than 450,000 privileged Americans who can easily absorb the increase.

But - oh! - the operatic screams of agony from the chorus of Republican harpies in Congress. So jolted were they by the very idea that the rich would be required to share our nation's budgetary burden, that they raced to the barricades of wealth, from which they lobbed rhetorical firebombs at Obama. "Class war!" shrieked the GOP's House budget chairman, Rep. Paul Ryan. For Ryan to utter that phrase is such gross hypocrisy that I'm amazed he didn't gag on the words, choke, and expire on the spot. This is, after all, the guy who rammed a budget through the House this spring that would've killed Medicare for America's seniors, while protecting the multibillion-dollar subsidies for Big Oil. How classy is that?

Ryan & Party have consistently voted for policies that've held down the poor, knocked down middle-class income, and shoved practically all of the wealth created in America during the past decade straight uphill into the pockets of the superrich. That, Mr. Ryan, is classic class war.

Obama nailed the GOP's whine for the poppycock it is, noting that his proposal "is not class warfare. It's math." Yes - and it's something else, too, something essential for a democratic society. It's basic fairness.
(c) 2011 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

The Man And The Plan
By Helen Thomas

It's no more "Mr. Nice Guy" for President Barack Obama. He has found his ties to the waning Democrats and thrown down the gauntlet to the hard-nosed Republican leaders.

Obama wants to tax the richest Americans to lift us out of our ever-growing deficit. The GOP has given a flat "no" to new taxes for the very rich. The wealthy have not paid their fair share of taxes in years. Even Warren Buffet has publicly acknowledged it is not fair that his secretary pays a higher percentage of her income in taxes than he does. Now is the time for the rich to face the music and pay their share.

Why not increase taxes for the megawealthy when we have 46 million people living below the poverty line in this country? Is there anyone out there making over $500,000 a year who can honestly say they cannot afford to pay more taxes?

The President apparently has given up on compromise with the Republicans. He is finally taking a stand and taking a hard line. The gloves are off.

He could be tearing a page out of Harry Truman's playbook. Truman stymied and shamed the "do nothing" Congress with his cross-country "whistle stop" campaign by train.

Reporters fast aboard the train had written off Truman's bid for reelection against New York Governor Tom Dewey in 1948. Truman had lost ground politically, but reporters began to observe the growing crowds waiting at the train depots even at midnight to see Truman and his wife, Bess, waving from the back of the train as Truman taunted his Republican opponents.

On Election Day, some newspapers, such as the Chicago Tribune, declared Dewey the winner. They were wrong, and a sleepy Truman, with a big smile on his face, held up the front page of the Chicago Tribune for the press to see.

Obama has now staked out his position, and he should stand his ground. He has nothing to lose but the country, to the aristocrats who seek economic recovery on the backs of the poor.

In a Rose Garden speech Monday, Obama said "I will not support any plan that puts all the burden for closing the deficit on the ordinary Americans ... and I will veto any bill that changes benefits for those who rely on Medicare, but does not raise revenues by asking the wealthiest or biggest corporations to pay their share." The President added, "We are not going to have a one-sided deal that hurts the folks who are the most vulnerable."

Obama seems to be getting a grip on the situation. Known for compromises and cave-ins that he must now regret, he apparently has decided his opponents are not ready to play ball for the sake of the country. Their only goal is to depose Obama. Fair enough, but let's hear the job growth plans of the Republican presidential candidates. Have you heard of any?

With the USA in such dire straights, where are the caring Americans? Do the Republicans still believe trickle down economics will work? Let's not forget, besides Reaganomics, during that administration, ketchup became a vegetable for the hungry school children's menu, and the unemployed were told to "vote with your feet." Starvation was called "anecdotal" by top Reagan aides.

What's wrong with yacht and jet plane owners, and the megamansion home owners, kicking in more money - or at least paying their fair share? Prior to the 2001 Bush tax cuts, these super-wealthy who currently only pay between 9 and 16 percent of their income in taxes, would have paid 30 percent in taxes - more in line with what out current middle class pays in taxes.

The poor, and what's left of the middle class, should stand up against the super-rich Americans who do their business abroad, and move more and more American jobs overseas.

Enough is enough. Come on American voters. Tell the Republicans you want fairness in taxation, and back Obama in pushing for the rich to pay more. We need more revenue for the treasury, and cutting spending is not going to get us out of this mess.
(c) 2011 Helen Thomas is a columnist for the Falls Church News-Press. Among other books she is the author of Front Row At The White House: My Life and Times.

An English commando leads Arabs in the overthrow of Gaddafi Duck

The Fruit Of American Conquest: Civil War!
By James Donahue

The constant intervention of the affairs of Middle Eastern nations by the United States and its allies has only succeeded in destroying social stability and setting the stage for constant civil war. That is because the region has never been composed of larger nations but rather many tribes co-existing under the iron fist of dictatorial power.

We are witnessing civil war in Iraq following the fall of Sadam Hussein. Instead of bringing peace and stability to that country, the decision by President George W. Bush and the U. S. military to attack Iraq in 2003 established a state of war between the Shiite and Sunni Arabs, the Kurds, the Assyrians, Yazidis and Turks that were all co-existing in the region.

The "war" on Iraq all but destroyed that nation's infrastructure, left an untold number of innocent civilians dead or severely wounded, and caused an estimated 2 million Iraqis to flee to neighboring countries, mostly to Syria and Jordan. Another 1.9 million people have been displaced after their homes were destroyed.

The American assault on Afghanistan, triggered by the 9-11 attack on the United States, has left that nation foundering in what appears to be a constant state of war that cannot be controlled. The tribal groups there include the Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Aimak, Turks and Baloch. The people are divided by over 30 different languages and a complex mixture of religious sects . . . mostly of Islamic origin.

Afghanistan has suffered from an almost constant state of war since 1979 when the tribes collectively fought off Russian invasion, experienced a Taliban instigated civil war in the 1990s and then the US-led military attack in December, 2001.

Even though the United States has imposed the appearance of democratic forms of government and nation-wide elections in both Afghanistan and Iraq, the fires of civil unrest have not been quenched. Tribal loyalties and local power struggles appear to be making it impossible for these different ethnic groups to live together peacefully.

Now with the overthrow of Libya's dictator Muammar Gaddafi by rebel forces, aided by the United Nations with lots of help from the United States, some analysts fear the stage has been set in that nation for still another civil war. The ethnic groups there are mostly Berber and Arab, with Sunni Muslim standing as the predominant religious faction. One report stated that there are at least twenty-eight distinct tribal groups in existence in that region so the possibility of a power struggle is high.

Sadly it appears that America's efforts to bring stability to the Middle East and establish a military influence by overthrowing the power figures that were successfully holding the tribes in check by force, is having the opposite effect. We have only succeeded in murdering thousands of innocent people and setting their world on fire. It was all done at great cost to the United States in both lives and finance.
(c) 2011 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site.

The Arc Of The Moral Universe
Justice May Be Just Around the Bend
By Randall Amster

Let's face it: things are bad and getting worse every day. Even a casual glance at the daily headlines provides ample reason for dismay, from perpetual warfare and the ravages of climate change to economic collapse and the abject brutality of the "criminal justice" system (a cruel misnomer if ever there was one). It doesn't take a rocket scientist, a millenarian, or even an avowed cynic to surmise that the ship is sinking and that actual justice is but a faded memory.

Still, despite all evidence to the contrary, I maintain that we might not be as bad off as it seems. This isn't an exercise in wide-eyed optimism, strategic denial, or the power of positive thinking. Rather, it is reflective of what I take as an inexorable impulse in nature -- and thus within humankind, as part of its workings -- toward productive, sustainable, and ultimately just relations at all points in the web. In short, I want to suggest that life is good, and that it matters.

What is the alternative? That we are part of some predestined machinery of death and decay, bent on nothing except ushering in our own demise? Seriously? The narrative of a self-fulfilling apocalypse is merely another way of keeping us in fear and giving our innate power over to the immanence of "security" and "order" -- whether its edicts are delivered to us by fiat or artifice.

Now, this is not intended to justify any of the calamities we have wrought in the modern era; in fact, precisely the opposite. The belief in a just universe is not a static, passive principle, but one that must be struggled for and actively promoted at all levels of our lives. We don't get to relax and bask in the goodness of creation, nor to indulge ourselves in the hedonism of abdication. Instead, we need to wake up every day and be the architects of the world we desire to inhabit.

These teachings have been reflected to us myriad times throughout history, and we likely know the names of many of the (oftentimes martyred) proponents. As Peace Pilgrim once said, the only thing new about any of this would be actually doing it. We can make the choice at every turn to humanize our relations with one another, and to reorient our roles within the balance of nature. Manmade law, as Thoreau argued, may turn us into the agents of injustice, but perhaps there are even higher principles to be found all around us and within ourselves alike.

Martin Luther King, Jr., summoned this potential power on many occasions, entreating us to consider the active manner in which we might align our intentions with a greater good:

"I know you are asking today, 'How long will it take?' I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because truth crushed to earth will rise again. How long? Not long, because no lie can live forever. How long? Not long, because you shall reap what you sow.... How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

King delivered these words more than once, including at the end of the march from Selma to Montgomery on March 25, 1965. He was, of course, invoking scripture and spiritual teachings in many of his speeches, yet we can also discern that "the arc of the moral universe" is equally an expression of science and politics as much as it is one of theology or philosophy.

The origins of the phrase actually date to 1853, with the abolitionist minister Theodore Parker, who said: "I do not pretend to understand the moral universe. The arc is a long one. My eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by experience of sight. I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends toward justice." In this sense, the notion can be read as part observation and part intuition, simultaneously a projection of reality and a longing for a better world all at once, both practical and idealistic.

This integration of the empirical and the intuitive represents the best of modern thought's spirit of interconnection, by viewing pieces of the whole as mutually reinforcing rather than oppositional. King added to this sensibility with his famous insight that "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," again indicating the holistic, integral nature of moral inquiry.

Another way of thinking about this is conveyed by the notion of traveling "full circle," which is actually inspired by the physics of the cosmos itself. If one was to trace the edge of a small arc and project it out to infinity, eventually it would intersect itself at the place of origin. Indeed, even the orbits of planets and stars -- which appear elliptical in nature -- are actually straight-line movements that lead to cyclical motions based on the curvature of space itself. From whence we came, so we return, yet each revolution also brings new insights and challenges.

Interestingly, this potent historical phrase referencing the moral arc has been described as "Barack Obama's favorite quotation." On April 4, 2008, the 40th anniversary of King's assassination, then-Senator Obama declared:

"Dr. King once said that the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice. It bends towards justice, but here is the thing: it does not bend on its own. It bends because each of us in our own ways put our hand on that arc and we bend it in the direction of justice." And in June of 2009, President Obama again invoked the phrase in support of the "universal rights to assembly and free speech" being exercised by demonstrators in Iran.

So now what? Obama seemingly gets it, at least rhetorically, yet still we find ourselves steadily descending into moral oblivion rather than ascending on the arc of justice. In a recent article asking "What Happened to Obama?" Drew Westen eloquently spells out the conundrum:

"When Dr. King spoke of the great arc bending toward justice, he did not mean that we should wait for it to bend. He exhorted others to put their full weight behind it, and he gave his life speaking with a voice that cut through the blistering force of water cannons and the gnashing teeth of police dogs.... But the arc of history does not bend toward justice through capitulation cast as compromise. It does not bend when 400 people control more of the wealth than 150 million of their fellow Americans. It does not bend when the average middle-class family has seen its income stagnate over the last 30 years while the richest 1 percent has seen its income rise astronomically. It does not bend when we cut the fixed incomes of our parents and grandparents so hedge fund managers can keep their 15 percent tax rates. It does not bend when only one side in negotiations between workers and their bosses is allowed representation. And it does not bend when, as political scientists have shown, it is not public opinion but the opinions of the wealthy that predict the votes of the Senate. The arc of history can bend only so far before it breaks."

Westen's stark prose is an effective statement of the tenor of these angst-ridden times. Yet while it rightly reflects the proactive sense in which we must be participants in destiny rather than mere observers, it also makes a strategic miscalculation in assuming that the force of the entrenched "powers that be" can somehow use economic coercion and political chicanery to forestall the advance of justice in the long run of human and/or natural affairs.

King (and Parker before him) did not promise immediate returns on our activist investment in the service of righteousness; indeed, things didn't get to be this way overnight, and it will take a long time -- even an eternity, perhaps -- to set it right again. In this sense, justice is asymptotic, something to be forever and vigilantly pursued without regard for its ultimate realization. Still, as we continue to work toward it and increasingly approach its arc, we can see it begin to infuse our relationships with one another and with the balance of existence as a whole.

Part of the task is to relieve ourselves of the unattainable burden of fixing it all or making some sort of "heaven on earth," focusing instead on the small steps we can take (often thanklessly) at each moment in our lives. Being a good person -- or a good people, for that matter -- isn't about being perfect and never doing wrong. Such a quest for moral certitude, especially in a fully wired postmodern world, is pragmatically impossible and thoroughly immobilizing. Rather, the signs of "goodness" are more about what we make of our missteps, whether we regret them appropriately and strive to learn their lessons as we forge ahead. In this manner, the essence of morality isn't about absolutism or punishment for inevitable letdowns, but more so about the direction in which we are moving.

In fact, we might say that this sense of directionality is the arc of justice. It proceeds regardless as a function of the "unity in diversity" inherent in the cosmos, with or without our willing engagement. The question before us is whether we want to be part of it, or instead remain on a course toward self-imposed annihilation. We can help shape the moral arc by promoting economic fairness, environmental sustainability, and nonviolence; through our efforts toward ending warfare, rejecting consumerism, and stabilizing the biosphere; and by the virtue of teaching ourselves and our children to abandon hatred, embrace non-monetary values, and work in concert with others to produce both sustenance and justice in our communities.

This is the nascent arc now coming into view, calling upon us to help imagine and implement it. The journey may be long and the destination unfixed, but I have no doubt that we will "get there" someday. Indeed, by embarking on the enterprise at all, we may have already arrived.
(c) 2011 Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., teaches peace studies at Prescott College and serves as the executive director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association. His most recent book is the co-edited volume "Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009).

When the World Outlawed War
By David Swanson

Remarks at Lynchburg College on September 26, 2011

I'd like to thank Dave Freier for inviting me, and all of you for being here. I think I was invited to speak about my most recent book, War Is A Lie, but I asked Professor Freier if it would be all right to speak about my next book, not yet finished, and he agreed. So, the following is a relatively very short summary of a forthcoming book that is not yet finished, and which I need your help with. It would be very helpful to me if you let me know when I've finished these opening remarks what was unclear, what didn't make sense, or what didn't persuade you, as well as what -- if anything -- seemed useful or inspiring.

It would also help me a lot if you would raise your hands to show your views on a few questions. First, raise your hand if you believe that war is illegal. I don't mean particular atrocities or particular types of wars, but war. And I don't mean bad or regrettable, but illegal. If you're not sure or think it's not a good question don't raise your hand. OK, thank you. Now, raise your hand if you think war should be illegal. OK, thank you. And now raise your hand if you know what the Kellogg-Briand Pact is. All right, that was very helpful. Now, let me tell you a little story, or at least a few pieces of it.

In 1927 and 1928 a hot-tempered Republican from Minnesota named Frank, who privately cursed pacifists, managed to persuade nearly every country on earth to ban war. He had been moved to do so, against his will, by a global demand for peace and a U.S. partnership with France created through illegal diplomacy by peace activists. The driving force in achieving this historic breakthrough was a remarkably unified, strategic, and relentless U.S. peace movement with its strongest support in the Midwest; its strongest leaders professors, lawyers, and university presidents; its voices in Washington, D.C., those of Republican senators from Idaho and Kansas; its views welcomed and promoted by newspapers, churches, and women's groups all over the country; and its determination unaltered by a decade of defeats and divisions.

The movement depended in large part on the new political power of female voters. The effort might have failed had Charles Lindbergh not flown an airplane across an ocean, or Henry Cabot Lodge not died, or had other efforts toward peace and disarmament not been dismal failures. But public pressure made this step, or something like it, almost inevitable. And when it succeeded -- although the outlawing of war was never fully implemented in accordance with the plans of its visionaries -- much of the world believed war had been made illegal. Wars were, in fact, halted and prevented. And when, nonetheless, wars continued and a second world war engulfed the globe, that catastrophe was followed by the trials of men accused of the brand new crime of making war, as well as by global adoption of the United Nations Charter, a document owing much to its pre-war predecessor while still falling short of the ideals of what in the 1920s was called the Outlawry movement.

"Last night I had the strangest dream I'd ever dreamed before," wrote Ed McCurdy in 1950 in what became a popular folk song. "I dreamed the world had all agreed to put an end to war. I dreamed I saw a mighty room, and the room was filled with men. And the paper they were signing said they'd never fight again." But that scene had already happened in reality on August 27, 1928, in Paris, France. The treaty that was signed that day, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, was subsequently ratified by the United States Senate in a vote of 85 to 1 and remains on the books to this day as part of what Article VI of the U.S. Constitution calls "the supreme Law of the Land."

Frank Kellogg, the U.S. Secretary of State who made this treaty happen, was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize and saw his public reputation soar -- so much so that the United States named a ship after him, one of the "liberty ships" that carried war supplies to Europe during World War II. Kellogg was dead at the time. So, many believed, were prospects for world peace. But the Kellogg-Briand Pact and its renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy is something we might want to revive. This treaty gathered the adherence of the world's nations swiftly and publicly, driven by fervent public demand. We might think about how public opinion of that sort might be created anew, what insights it possessed that have yet to be realized, and what systems of communication, education, and elections would allow the public again to influence government policy, as the ongoing campaign to eliminate war -- understood by its originators to be an undertaking of generations -- continues to develop.

One way to revive a treaty that in fact remains law would, of course, be to begin complying with it. When lawyers, politicians, and judges want to bestow human rights on corporations, they do so largely on the basis of a footnote added by a clerk to a Supreme Court ruling from over a century back. When the Department of Justice wants to "legalize" torture or, for that matter, war, it reaches back to a twisted reading of one of the Federalist Papers or a court decision from some long forgotten era. If anyone in power today favored peace, there would be every justification for recalling and making use of the Kellogg-Briand Pact. It is actually law. And it is far more recent law than the U.S. Constitution itself, which our elected officials still claim, mostly unconvincingly, to support. The Pact, excluding formalities and procedural matters, reads, in full:

"The High Contracting Parties solemnly declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.

"The High Contracting Parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means."

The French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand, whose initiative had led to the Pact and whose previous work for peace had already earned him a Nobel Peace Prize, remarked at the signing ceremony:

"For the first time, on a scale as absolute as it is vast, a treaty has been truly devoted to the very establishment of peace, and has laid down laws that are new and free from all political considerations. Such a treaty means a beginning and not an end."

The peace movement that made the Kellogg-Briand Pact happen, just like the militarism against which it competed, was given a huge boost by World War I, by the scale of that war and its impact on civilians, but also by the rhetoric through which the United States had been brought into the war in 1917. According to U.S. Socialist Victor Berger, all the United States had gained from participation in World War I was the flu and prohibition. It was not an uncommon view. Millions of Americans who had supported World War I, came during the years following its completion on November 11, 1918, to reject the idea that anything could ever be gained through warfare.

The propaganda machinery invented by President Woodrow Wilson and his Committee on Public Information had drawn Americans into the war with exaggerated and fictional tales of German atrocities in Belgium, posters depicting Jesus Christ in khaki sighting down a gun barrel, and promises of selfless devotion to making the world safe for democracy. The extent of the casualties was hidden from the public as much as possible during the course of the war, but by the time it was over many had learned something of war's reality. And many had come to resent the manipulation of noble emotions that had pulled an independent nation into overseas barbarity.

However, the propaganda that motivated the fighting was not immediately erased from people's minds. A war to end wars and make the world safe for democracy cannot end without some lingering demand for peace and justice, or at least for something more valuable than the flu and prohibition. Even those rejecting the idea that any war could in any way help advance the cause of peace aligned with those wanting to avoid all future wars -- a group that probably encompassed most of the U.S. population.

Some of the blame for the start of the World War was placed on secretly made treaties and alliances. President Wilson backed the ideal of public treaties, if not necessarily publicly negotiated treaties. He made this the first of his famous 14 points in his January 8, 1918, speech to Congress.

Following the war, disillusioned with its promises, many in the United States came to distrust European peace efforts, as it was European entanglements that had created the war. When the Treaty of Versailles, on June 28, 1918, imposed a cruel victors' justice on Germany, Wilson was seen as having betrayed his word. When he promised that the League of Nations would right all the wrongs of that treaty, many were skeptical, particularly as the League bore some resemblance to the sort of alliances that had produced the World War in the first place.

Both jingoistic isolationists, and internationalist peace activists with a vision of Outlawry that shunned the use of force even to punish war, rejected the League, as did the United States Senate, dealing a major blow to those peace advocates who believed the League was not only advantageous but also the reward due after so much suffering in the war. Efforts to bring the United States in as a member of the World Court failed as well. A Naval Disarmament Conference in Washington in 1921-1922 did perhaps more harm than good. And in 1923 and 1924, respectively, the members of the League of Nations in Europe failed to ratify a Draft Pact for Mutual Assistance and an agreement called the Geneva Protocol for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, both of which had adopted some of the language of the U.S. Outlawry movement to somewhat different purposes.

Remarkably, these set-backs did not halt the momentum of the peace movement in the United States or around the world. The institutional funding and structure of the peace movement was enough to make any early twenty-first century peace activist drool with envy, as was the openness of the mass media of the day, namely newspapers, to promoting peace. Leading intellectuals, politicians, robber barons, and other public figures poured their resources into the cause. A defeat or two, or ten, might discourage some individuals, but it was not about to derail the movement. Neither was political partisanship, as peace groups pressured Democrats and Republicans alike, and both responded. It was during the peaceful Republican interlude of Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover, in between the Democratic war-making of Wilson and Roosevelt, that the peace movement reached its height.

European trade unions were pacifist and were working to recover the pre-war idea of a general strike to prevent any movement towards war. Many political parties in Europe were strongly in favor of working to ensure peace. European peace organizations themselves were smaller and less influential than their U.S. counterparts, but they were more unified in their agenda. They favored both disarmament and the League of Nations, as well as other treaties, alliances, and arbitration agreements.

U.S. and European peace advocates came from opposite directions. Americans viewed peace as the norm and as consisting of the absence of war. But Europeans, dealing with constant threats, provocations, grievances, and divisions, believed peace to require an elaborate system of checks on hostilities and means of resolving disputes. The United States imagined the world at peace and sought to preserve it. Europeans strove to build a peace they did not know, with a keen awareness that they could never possibly solve every dispute to everyone's satisfaction.

Many U.S. peace groups, it should be said however, inclined toward the European perspective, while others did not. The United States had a larger peace movement than Europe did, but a more deeply divided one. Sincere advocates of peace came down on both sides of the questions of joining the League of Nations and the World Court. Nor did they all see eye-to-eye on disarmament. If something could be found that would unite the entire U.S. peace movement, the U.S. government of the day was sufficiently representative of the public will that whatever that measure was, it was bound to be enacted.

The Carnegie Endowment for Peace had profited from the war through U.S. Steel Corporation bonds. Its president, Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler, and its director of the Division of Economics and History Professor James Thomson Shotwell, would play significant roles in the creation of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, after having advocated unsuccessfully for U.S. membership in the League of Nations. Shotwell had a $600,000 annual budget, or about $6.8 million in today's terms. Other peace groups had even larger budgets. More radical peace groups, often with less funding, in some cases supported the League and the Court, but in addition pushed for disarmament and opposed militarism more consistently, including U.S. imperialism in Central and South America.

One organization deserves particular attention, although it was largely a front for a single individual and largely funded out of his own pocket. The American Committee for the Outlawry of War was the creation of Salmon Oliver Levinson. Its agenda originally attracted those advocates of peace who opposed U.S. entry into the League of Nations and international alliances. But its agenda, of outlawing war, eventually attracted the support of nearly the entire peace movement, when the Kellogg-Briand Pact became the unifying focus that had been missing.

Levinson's mission was to make war illegal. And he came to believe that the effective outlawing of war would require outlawing all war, without distinction between aggressive and defensive war, and without distinction between aggressive war and war sanctioned by an international league as punishment for an aggressor nation. Levinson wrote:

"Suppose this same distinction had been urged when the institution of dueling was outlawed. . . . Suppose it had then been urged that only 'aggressive dueling' should be outlawed and that 'defensive dueling' be left intact. . . . Such a suggestion relative to dueling would have been silly, but the analogy is perfectly sound. What we did was to outlaw the institution of dueling, a method theretofore recognized by law for the settlement of disputes of so-called honor."

Levinson wanted everyone to recognize war as an institution, as a tool that had been given acceptability and respectability as a means of settling disputes. He wanted international disputes to be settled in a court of law, and the institution of war to be rejected just as slavery had been.

Levinson understood this as leaving in place the right to self-defense, but eliminating the need for the very concept of war. National self-defense would be the equivalent of killing an assailant in personal self-defense. Such personal self-defense, he noted, was no longer called "dueling." But Levinson did not envision the killing of a war-making nation. Rather he proposed five responses to the launching of an attack: good faith, public opinion, nonrecognition of gains, the use of force to punish individual warmakers, and the use of any means including force to halt the attack.

Levinson would eventually urge the nations signing the Kellogg-Briand Pact (also known as the Pact of Paris) to incorporate the following into their criminal codes: "Any person, or persons, who shall advocate orally or in writing, or cause the publication of any printed matter which shall advocate the use of war between nations, in violation of the terms of the Pact of Paris, with the intent of causing war between or among nations , shall be guilty of a felony and upon conviction thereof shall be imprisoned not less than ______ years." This idea can be found in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, which states: "Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law." It was an idea that also influenced the Nuremberg prosecutions. It may be an idea worthy of revival and realization.

Levinson wrote on August 25, 1917:

"War as an institution to 'settle disputes' and establish 'justice among nations' is the most barbarous and indefensible thing in civilization. . . . The real disease of the world is the legality and availability of war . . . . [W]e should have, not as now, laws of war, but laws against war; there are no laws of murdering or of poisoning, but laws against them."

Many in the United States were averse to the sort of alliances created, for example, in 1925 in Locarno, Switzerland. Under these aggreements, if Germany were to attack France, then England and Italy would have to attack Germany, whereas if France were to attack Germany, then England and Italy would have to attack France. Aristide Briand made a name for himself as a peace negotiator in Locarno, but the Outlawrists' criticism of such arrangements as sheer madness looks wiser through the lens of later history.

Rather than alliances and unpredictable adjudications, the Outlawrists favored the rule of the written word. The most popular criticism of Outlawry was that it intended to simply wish war away by banning it. The most popular criticism of international alliances was that they would create wars to end wars. While NATO and even the United Nations have indeed been used to launch wars (although the European Union has rendered wars within Western Europe unimaginable), the Kellogg Briand-Pact and the United Nations Charter have banned war, and wars have proceeded merrily on their way not noticing. But all of this criticism is overly simplistic. The United Nations is a corrupt approximation of an ideal never yet realized. And Outlawry, despite passage of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, has never been fully tried.

Outlawry, in Charles Morrison's outline of it (Morrison was a close ally of Levinson), required that a world court ruling on a body of world law be substituted for war as a means of settling disputes. The International Criminal Court (ICC), finally created in 2002 and having taken jurisdiction over the crime of aggression in 2010, begins to approach this idea, but the United States is not a member, and yet the court is under the thumb of the United States and the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. The 1920s critics of the then existing World Court as a creature of the League of Nations would, if brought forward in time, no doubt have a similar critique of the ICC.

Where the argument for Outlawry gets a little hairy is in its refusal to consider any distinction between aggressive and defensive war, while nonetheless countenancing armaments and self-defense. Morrison argues that distinguishing aggressors from defenders is a fool's errand, as every nation always claims to be fighting in defense, and an initial attack may have been provoked by the other side. (In 2001 and 2003 the United States attacked the distant, unarmed, impoverished nations of Afghanistan and Iraq and claimed to be acting in defense.) Morrison believes that self-defense will almost certainly not be needed, in the future of outlawed war, because war just won't happen. But were it to happen, self-defense clearly must be envisioned in Morrison's scheme as something that does not resemble war. For, otherwise, how can the world court of Outlawry determine which nation(s)' leaders to put on trial?

Ultimately, outlawing war is a process of moral development. Changing the law and establishing a court to enforce it is a means toward changing people's conception of what is morally acceptable. Viewed in this way, the work of the 1920s that brought about the Kellogg-Briand Pact can be seen as a partial success to be built upon, whether or not any court will ever be able to both prosecute warmaking and avoid the distinction between aggression and defense.

Morrison argued that Outlawry was so clear and so popular that no statesman would dare oppose it. He urged popularizing the peace movement, taking it out of the hands of experts. And he was right about that. He was right about the United States and about the entire world. Nobody opposed banning war. While we still have wars, most people do not want them. Wars may be Tyrannical Ruler Nature, or Corporate Profiteer Nature, but they are the furthest thing from Human Nature.

In 1922, the Lion of Idaho, Republican Senator William Borah, slowly began to roar. Levinson produced a pamphlet on Outlawry at Borah's request, and Borah republished it as a Senate document, placing it in the Congressional Record. Senator Borah and Senator Arthur Capper of Kansas mailed it to their lists. Meanwhile, Raymond Robins barnstormed the country making speech after speech for Outlawry, and Levinson corresponded at length with anyone and everyone who expressed interest or raised objections. Organizations of all varieties passed countless resolutions in support of Outlawry. School boards and labor unions distributed pamphlets. Prominent figures gave their endorsements.

Groups that supported the Outlawry of war early in the campaign included some organizations that are still around today, but which one cannot imagine even considering taking the same step again, even with the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the U.N. Charter already in existence and formally a part of our law. Among these were the National League of Women Voters, the Young Women's Christian Associations, the National Association of Parents and Teachers, the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America, and the American Legion.

When President Harding up and dropped dead in 1923, his Vice President Calvin Coolidge got the top job and the Republican nomination to remain in it after 1924. Indeed, he remained until March 1929. Levinson helped persuade Coolidge to pick Borah for the vice presidency and Borah to accept, but this deal fell through, Borah declined, and Charles Dawes accepted. Secretary of State Frank Kellogg would have occasion to refer to Dawes as "an unmitigated ass" prior to organizing the nations of the world in support of brotherly love. Borah would instead end up in the job of Chairman of Foreign Relations. Outlawry made it into Coolidge's speech accepting the Republican nomination but not into the Republican Platform. It did, however, make it into the Democratic Party Platform.

While the struggle for women's suffrage had used marches and civil disobedience, and conscientious objectors to the war had used noncooperation, those were not the primary tools of the Outlawry campaign. Instead there were countless public meetings and packed lecture halls, signed petitions and resolutions, and the support of numerous newspaper editorials.

In 1923, Borah introduced an Outlawry resolution in the Senate, following a tireless lobbying effort by Levinson. Outlawry began to unite peace groups in a way that the League and the Court did not. In 1924 Levinson and the Outlawrists sought unity with their fellow peace-activist League supporters, offering support for World Court membership in exchange for support for the Borah Resolution on Outlawry. In 1925, League and Outlawry supporters reached an agreement, known as the Harmony Plan, backing adherence to the Court Protocol and within two years the backing of Outlawry and the holding of a conference to embody in a treaty the principles that war be made a crime and the Court be given jurisdiction. A third and final plank in this agreement was that the United States would withdraw from the Court if the Outlawry provisions were not put into effect within two years. The plan was reported in national and international newspapers and served as a guide for local peace organizations, even though the peace-movement leadership was back to quarrelling by the end of the year.

Butler met with Briand in June 1926, at which point Briand asked "What can we do next?" Butler replied: "My dear Briand, I have just been reading a book . . . . Its title is Vom Kriege, and its author was Karl von Clausewitz . . . . I came upon an extraordinary chapter in its third volume, entitled 'War as an Instrument of Policy.' Why has not the time come for the civilized government of the world formally to renounce war as an instrument of policy?" Briand's reply was "Would not that be wonderful if it were possible? I must read that book."

In 1927 the pressure on world leaders for steps to ensure peace reached a climax, and the pieces of a plan to do something about it began to be fitted into place. Political organizations and clubs pushing for peace were springing up by the hundreds. And the question of the League of Nations was no longer there to divide them.

Shotwell met with Briand in Paris on March 22nd. France had just refused a U.S. invitation to a disarmament conference and was still upset about its treatment at the one in Washington and about U.S. accusations of militarism, not to mention U.S. insistence on war debt payment, and U.S. refusal to join the League or the Court. Shotwell suggested removing U.S. suspicions of French militarism by proposing a treaty to renounce war as an instrument of national policy.

On April 6, 1927, Levinson was on a train to New York where he would sail to Europe. He read the day's newspapers on the train and was overjoyed and overwhelmed by an Associated Press report on a public statement from Briand, the Foreign Minister of France. Shotwell later told both John Dewey and Robert Ferrell that he had written Briand's message himself. The message proposed that the United States and France sign a treaty renouncing war.

This was public diplomacy at its most public. The Foreign Minister of France was proposing a treaty through the Associated Press. The only downside to such methods was that a response could not be required. And in fact, no response from the U.S. government was forthcoming. And the newspapers didn't see any story worth pursuing. On April 8th Butler and Borah publicly debated the outlawing of rum, which was of much more interest to the media. Butler, who wanted to abolish war believed banning rum was too difficult. With regard to Briand's offer, Butler took matters into his own hands. He published a letter in the New York Times on April 25th demanding action in response to Briand's proposal.

Butler's letter in the New York Times and a supportive editorial published by the New York Times caught the wider news media's attention. Newspapers turned it into a big story in the United States and even abroad. This was Butler beginning a dialogue with his colleague Shotwell, but with Butler speaking for the United States and Shotwell having spoken through Briand for France. Not a bad bit of ventriloquism.

Numerous senators spoke up in support of answering Briand's offer. Borah was opposed to an alliance with France and proposed that the treaty be expanded to include all other nations. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Frank Kellogg, when he read Butler's letter, told a friend that Butler and the French were a set of "--- ------ fools" making suggestions that could lead to nothing but embarrassment. If there was anything he hated, Kellogg said, it was "-------- pacifists."

But as public pressure grew, Levinson and Borah worked to educate Kellogg on Outlawry. When Senator Capper introduced a resolution in November 1927 in support of renouncing war, the nation understood that the farmers of the Midwest were behind Briand's proposal, or at least not against it. The Pocatello Tribune arrived at this cynical interpretation:

"The real significance of the Capper plan . . . lie in its showing the belief of western politicians that the voters who prevented American entry into the league are aware that if Europe spends a disproportionate share of its limited funds in military preparation it will have little left for American wheat and corn."

This was, of course, before the weapons exporters came to hold more sway in Washington than the wheat and corn exporters.

The combination of a number of Republican leaders backing former Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes for the 1928 Republican presidential nomination and Capper introducing a resolution coming out of the Butler-Shotwell camp, a resolution that defined aggressive war, may have helped motivate Borah, with his own presidential ambitions, to manipulate Briand's offer in his own direction. The treaty would end up banning all war in order to (1) avoid banning only aggressive war, and (2) avoid doing nothing. The latter was not an option, given the pressure coming from the peace movement. On December 10, 1927, Jane Addams led a delegation to the White House and delivered a petition with 30,000 names. Coolidge assured her that he would try to achieve the treaty with France. Addams sent the same petition to Briand who thanked her. By January, 1928, to the shock of his staff at the State Department, Kellogg was working hard to achieve a universal treaty, which France did not want, and writing to his wife that he hoped to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

On February 5th, with negotiations stalemated, Senator Borah published a front-page article in the New York Times Magazine, largely prepared by Levinson. The headline was "One Great Treaty to Outlaw All Wars." Borah claimed that a breach of the treaty by one nation would release other nations from complying with it in relation to that violator. This would allow self-defense. It would also allow France to sign such a treaty while still upholding its treaties forming alliances to respond to war. Kellogg continued to push France, and in March asked the U.S. ambassador to point out to Briand the wisdom of acting while Kellogg was still in office. Coolidge had less than a year remaining as president.

The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom passed a resolution commending Kellogg on May 5th. So did the American Peace Society. The National Committee on the Cause and Cure of War's 12 million women planned 48 state conferences through which to influence the Senate when it came time to ratify a treaty renouncing war. On June 23rd, Kellogg wrote to 14 countries. Germany formally agreed on July 11th, and France three days later. Agreeing to sign the pact by July 20th would be Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, India, the Irish Free State, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. And these additional nations would sign on to adhere to it: Afghanistan, Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, China, Cuba, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Romania, the Soviet Union, the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, Siam, Spain, Sweden, and Turkey. Eight further states joined at a later date: Persia, Greece, Honduras, Chile, Luxembourg, Danzig, Costa Rica, and Venezuela.

Does anybody know what Persia is called today?

The Kellogg-Briand Pact was put together in an extremely public manner, and as these things go was agreed to very quickly, and with an unusually high number of adhering nations. Most observers give public opinion and public pressure the credit. The U.S. peace movement was fully behind it, and that unity was a new and powerful force. About the public opinion in favor of the Peace Pact it is worth noting a couple of things. First, the propaganda campaign that had brought public opinion around to supporting war in 1917 had been far more extensive, vastly more expensive, and backed up by a police force. The peace movement did not have to intimidate or lie to anyone in the United States to gain their support for Kellogg-Briand. Secondly, the same was true with foreign heads of state acting in accordance with the wishes of their peoples. Unlike the formation of a coalition of nations to invade Iraq in 2003, this coalition of nations to outlaw war was put together without bribery or threats being required.

The highest hurdle remained, namely the U.S. Senate. The peace movement buried it in letters, petitions, resolutions, and lobbying visits. Supportive senators read the petitions into the congressional record. President Coolidge persuaded Vice President Dawes to whip every senator in support of the Pact. The Federal Council of Churches brought the White House a petition with 180,000 signatures. In mid-January 1929, a thousand women peace leaders from around the country lobbied their respective senators in Washington, delivering thousands of petitions. Carrie Chapman Catt, who led this effort, suffered a heart attack during it. The vote was 85 to 1. The Wisconsin state legislature censured its U.S. senator who had voted No. Other senators who had expressed concerns all voted Yes. One explained his Yes vote by saying he did not want to be burned in effigy back in his state.

It would take me another hour to begin to cover the hypocrisies, weaknesses, and shortcomings of this accomplishment. I'll limit myself here to claiming that it was an accomplishment. It was not just a second-rate effort after the League of Nations failed, nor just a pretense or a fraud. The Kellogg-Briand Pact established the practice of not recognizing territorial claims gained through war, and its revival by another crusading lawyer during World War II (the Pact having been largely forgotten by then) created prosecutions of the crime of aggression -- ironically so, in that the Pact had been created precisely in order to avoid creating a crime called aggression. Victors' justice is not full justice, but punishing leaders following World War II worked out a whole lot better than punishing an entire nation after World War I had.

A new and more faithful revival of Outlawry might again serve us well. The Kellogg-Briand Pact, which has never been repealed, makes a stronger case against wars like Afghanistan and Iraq than does the U.N. Charter. To comply with Kellogg-Briand, wars need not be defensive or U.N.-authorized. Rather, wars need to simply not exist.

Outlawry also removes a major reason why young men and women join the military, namely to make war as a means to achieving peace. If there is no way to peace other than peace, if war cannot have a noble cause, if war has been -- as it formally has been -- renounced as an instrument of policy, then idealistic militarism goes away from recruiting offices, and the propaganda of humanitarian war suffers as well.

We may also have something to learn from the activism that promoted Outlawry. It was principled, non-partisan, cross-ideological, and unrelenting. More internationalist and more principled anti-imperialist or disarmament proposals, and the proposal to create a public referendum power to block wars, helped to make Outlawry mainstream by comparison. The campaign was built over a period of years through both education and the cultivation of powerful supporters. It was not overly distracted by elections. Its analysis included cold cost-benefit calculations, but front and center was always the morality of the cause of ending war. This campaign worked internationally, nationally, and locally. And its members did not believe victory would come in their lifetimes. But neither were they so self-focused as to imagine that this somehow made eventual victory impossible.

There is one thing that we can say with certainty, and I will close with this: if Outlawry does not win, humanity will lose.
(c) 2011 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

As the Drone Flies...
By Ralph Nader

The fast developing predator drone technology, officially called unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs, is becoming so dominant and so beyond any restraining framework of law or ethics, that its use by the U.S. government around the world may invite a horrific blowback.

First some background. The Pentagon has about 7,000 aerial drones. Ten years ago there were less than 50. According to the website, they have destroyed about 1900 insurgents in Pakistan's tribal regions. How these fighters are so clearly distinguished from civilians in those mountain areas is not clear.

Nor is it clear how or from whom the government gets such "precise" information about the guerilla leaders' whereabouts night and day. The drones are beyond any counterattack--flying often at 50,000 feet. But the Air Force has recognized that a third of the Predators have crashed by themselves.

Compared to mass transit, housing, energy technology, infection control, food and drug safety, the innovation in the world of drones is incredible. Coming soon are hummingbird sized drones, submersible drones and software driven autonomous UAVs. The Washington Post described these inventions as "aircraft [that] would hunt, identify and fire at [the] enemy--all on its own." It is called "lethal autonomy" in the trade. Military ethicists and legal experts inside and outside the government are debating how far UAVs can go and still stay within what one imaginative booster, Ronald C. Arkin, called international humanitarian law and the rules of engagement. Concerns over restraint can already be considered academic. Drones are going anywhere their governors want them to go already--Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and countries in North Africa to name a few known jurisdictions.

Last year a worried group of robotic specialists, philosophers and human rights activists formed the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC) ( They fear that such instruments may make wars more likely by the strong against the weak because there will be fewer human casualties by those waging robotic war. But proliferation is now a fact. Forty countries are reported to be working on drone technology or acquiring it. Some experts at the founding conference of ICRAC forshadowed hostile states or terrorist organizations hacking into robotic systems to redirect them.

ICRAC wants an international treaty against machines of lethal autonomy along the lines of the ones banning land mines and cluster bombs. The trouble is that the United States, unlike over one hundred signatory nations, does not belong to either the land mines treaty or the more recent anti-cluster bomb treaty. Historically, the U.S. has been a major manufacturer and deployer of both. Don't count on the Obama White House to take the lead anytime soon.

Columnist David Ignatius wrote that "A world where drones are constantly buzzing overhead--waiting to zap those deemed threats under a cloaked and controversial process--risks being, even more, a world of lawlessness and chaos."

Consider how terrifying it must be to the populations, especially the children, living under the threat of drones that can attack through clouds and dark skies. UAVs are hardly visible but sometimes audible through their frightful whining sound. Polls show Pakistanis overwhelmingly believe most of the drone-driven fatalities are civilians.

US Air Force Colonel Matt Martin has written a book titled Predator. He was a remote operator sitting in the control room in Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada watching "suspects" transversing a mountain ridge in Afghanistan eight thousand miles away. In a review of Martin's book, Christian Cary writes "The eerie acuity of vision afforded by the Predator's multiple high-powered video cameras enables him to watch as the objects of his interest light up cigarettes, go to the bathroom, or engage in amorous adventures with animals on the other side of the world, never suspecting that they are under observation as they do."

For most of a decade the asymmetrical warfare between the most modern, military force in world history and Iraqi and Afghani fighters has left the latter with little conventional aerial or land-based weaponry other than rifles, rocket propelled grenades, roadside IEDs and suicide belted youths.

People who see invaders occupying their land with military domination that is beyond reach will resort to ever more desperate counterattacks, however primitive in nature. When the time comes that robotic weapons of physics cannot be counteracted at all with these simple handmade weapons because the occupier's arsenals are remote, deadly and without the need for soldiers, what will be the blowback?

Already, people like retired Admiral Dennis Blair, former director of National Intelligence under President Obama is saying, according to POLITICO, that the Administration should curtail U.S.-led drone strikes on suspected terrorists in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia because the missiles fired from unmanned aircraft are fueling anti-American sentiment and undercutting reform efforts in those countries.

While scores of physicists and engineers are working on refining further advances in UAVs, thousands of others are staying silent. In prior years, their counterparts spoke out against the nuclear arms race or exposed the unworkability of long-range missile defense. They need to re-engage. Because the next blowback may soon move into chemical and biological resistance against invaders. Suicide belts may contain pathogens--bacterial and viral--and chemical agents deposited in food and water supplies.

Professions are supposed to operate within an ethical code and exercise independent judgment. Doctors have a duty to prevent harm. Biologists and chemists should urge their colleagues in physics to take a greater role as to where their know-how is leading this tormented world of ours before the blowback spills over into even more lethally indefensible chemical and biological attacks.
(c) 2011 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book - and first novel - is, Only The Super Wealthy Can Save Us. His most recent work of non-fiction is The Seventeen Traditions.

Euro Zone Death Trip
By Paul Krugman

Is it possible to be both terrified and bored? That's how I feel about the negotiations now under way over how to respond to Europe's economic crisis, and I suspect other observers share the sentiment.

On one side, Europe's situation is really, really scary: with countries that account for a third of the euro area's economy now under speculative attack, the single currency's very existence is being threatened - and a euro collapse could inflict vast damage on the world.

On the other side, European policy makers seem set to deliver more of the same. They'll probably find a way to provide more credit to countries in trouble, which may or may not stave off imminent disaster. But they don't seem at all ready to acknowledge a crucial fact - namely, that without more expansionary fiscal and monetary policies in Europe's stronger economies, all of their rescue attempts will fail.

The story so far: The introduction of the euro in 1999 led to a vast boom in lending to Europe's peripheral economies, because investors believed (wrongly) that the shared currency made Greek or Spanish debt just as safe as German debt. Contrary to what you often hear, this lending boom wasn't mostly financing profligate government spending - Spain and Ireland actually ran budget surpluses on the eve of the crisis, and had low levels of debt. Instead, the inflows of money mainly fueled huge booms in private spending, especially on housing.

But when the lending boom abruptly ended, the result was both an economic and a fiscal crisis. Savage recessions drove down tax receipts, pushing budgets deep into the red; meanwhile, the cost of bank bailouts led to a sudden increase in public debt. And one result was a collapse of investor confidence in the peripheral nations' bonds.

So now what? Europe's answer has been to demand harsh fiscal austerity, especially sharp cuts in public spending, from troubled debtors, meanwhile providing stopgap financing until private-investor confidence returns. Can this strategy work?

Not for Greece, which actually was fiscally profligate during the good years, and owes more than it can plausibly repay. Probably not for Ireland and Portugal, which for different reasons also have heavy debt burdens. But given a favorable external environment - specifically, a strong overall European economy with moderate inflation - Spain, which even now has relatively low debt, and Italy, which has a high level of debt but surprisingly small deficits, could possibly pull it off.

Unfortunately, European policy makers seem determined to deny those debtors the environment they need.

Think of it this way: private demand in the debtor countries has plunged with the end of the debt-financed boom. Meanwhile, public-sector spending is also being sharply reduced by austerity programs. So where are jobs and growth supposed to come from? The answer has to be exports, mainly to other European countries.

But exports can't boom if creditor countries are also implementing austerity policies, quite possibly pushing Europe as a whole back into recession.

Also, the debtor nations need to cut prices and costs relative to creditor countries like Germany, which wouldn't be too hard if Germany had 3 or 4 percent inflation, allowing the debtors to gain ground simply by having low or zero inflation. But the European Central Bank has a deflationary bias - it made a terrible mistake by raising interest rates in 2008 just as the financial crisis was gathering strength, and showed that it has learned nothing by repeating that mistake this year.

As a result, the market now expects very low inflation in Germany - around 1 percent over the next five years - which implies significant deflation in the debtor nations. This will both deepen their slumps and increase the real burden of their debts, more or less ensuring that all rescue efforts will fail.

And I see no sign at all that European policy elites are ready to rethink their hard-money-and-austerity dogma.

Part of the problem may be that those policy elites have a selective historical memory. They love to talk about the German inflation of the early 1920s - a story that, as it happens, has no bearing on our current situation. Yet they almost never talk about a much more relevant example: the policies of Heinrich Brüning, Germany's chancellor from 1930 to 1932, whose insistence on balancing budgets and preserving the gold standard made the Great Depression even worse in Germany than in the rest of Europe - setting the stage for you-know-what.

Now, I don't expect anything that bad to happen in 21st-century Europe. But there is a very wide gap between what the euro needs to survive and what European leaders are willing to do, or even talk about doing. And given that gap, it's hard to find reasons for optimism.
(c) 2011 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

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

What Media Coverage Omits About U.S. Hikers Released By Iran
By Glenn Greenwald

Two American hikers imprisoned for more than two years by Iran on extremely dubious espionage charges and in highly oppressive conditions, Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer, were released last week and spoke yesterday in Manhattan about their ordeal. Most establishment media accounts in the U.S. have predictably exploited the emotions of the drama as a means of bolstering the U.S.-is-Good/Iran-is-Evil narrative which they reflexively spout. But far more revealing is what these media accounts exclude, beginning with the important, insightful and brave remarks from the released prisoners themselves (their full press conference was broadcast this morning on Democracy Now). Fattal began by recounting the horrible conditions of the prison in which they were held, including being kept virtually all day in a tiny cell alone and hearing other prisoners being beaten; he explained that, of everything that was done to them, "solitary confinement was the worst experience of all of our lives." Bauer then noted that they were imprisoned due solely to what he called the "32 years of mutual hostility between America and Iran," and said: "the irony is that [we] oppose U.S. policies towards Iran which perpetuate this hostility." After complaining that the two court sessions they attended were "total shams" and that "we'd been held in almost total isolation - stripped of our rights and freedoms," he explained:

In prison, every time we complained about our conditions, the guards would remind us of comparable conditions at Guantanamo Bay; they'd remind us of CIA prisons in other parts of the world; and conditions that Iranians and others experience in prisons in the U.S.

We do not believe that such human rights violation on the part of our government justify what has been done to us: not for a moment. However, we do believe that these actions on the part of the U.S. provide an excuse for other governments - including the government of Iran - to act in kind.

[Indeed, as harrowing and unjust as their imprisonment was, Bauer and Fattal on some level are fortunate not to have ended up in the grips of the American War on Terror detention system, where detainees remain for many more years without even the pretense of due process -- still -- to say nothing of the torture regime to which hundreds (at least) were subjected.]

Fattal then expressed "great thanks to world leaders and individuals" who worked for their release, including Hugo Chavez, the governments of Turkey and Brazil, Sean Penn, Noam Chomsky, Mohammad Ali, Cindy Sheehan, Desmond Tutu, as well as Muslims from around the world and "elements within the Iranian government," as well as U.S. officials.

Unsurprisingly, one searches in vain for the inclusion of these facts and remarks in American media accounts of their release and subsequent press conference. Instead, typical is this ABC News story, which featured tearful and celebratory reactions from their family, detailed descriptions of their conditions and the pain and fear their family endured, and melodramatic narratives about how their "long, grueling imprisonment is over" after "781 days in Iran's most notorious prison." This ABC News article on their press conference features many sentences about Iran's oppressiveness -- "Hikers Return to the U.S.: 'We Were Held Hostage'"; "we heard the screams of other prisoners being beaten" -- with hardly any mention of the criticisms Fattal and Bauer voiced regarding U.S. policy that provided the excuse for their mistreatment and similar treatment which the U.S. doles out both in War on Terror prisons around the world and even domestic prisons at home.

Their story deserves the attention it is getting, and Iran deserves the criticism. But the first duty of the American "watchdog media" should be highlighting the abuses of the U.S. Government, not those of other, already-hated regimes on the other side of the world. Instead, the abuses at home are routinely suppressed while those in the Hated Nations are endlessly touted. There have been thousands of people released after being held for years and years in U.S. detention despite having done nothing wrong. Many were tortured, and many were kept imprisoned despite U.S. government knowledge of their innocence. Have you ever seen anything close to this level of media attention being devoted to their plight, to hearing how America's lawless detention of them for years -- often on a strange island, thousands of miles away from everything they know -- and its systematic denial of any legal redress, devastated their families and destroyed their lives?

This is a repeat of what happened with the obsessive American media frenzy surrounding the arrest and imprisonment by Iran of Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi, convicted in a sham proceeding of espionage, sentenced to eight years in prison, but then ordered released by an Iranian appeals court after four months. Saberi's case became a true cause célèbre among American journalists, with large numbers of them flamboyantly denouncing Iran and demanding her release. But when their own government imprisoned numerous journalists for many years without any charges of any kind -- Al Jazeera's Sami al-Haj in Guantanamo, Associated Press' Bilal Hussein for more than two years in Iraq, Reuters' photographer Ibrahim Jassan even after an Iraqi court exonerated him, and literally dozens of other journalists without charge -- it was very difficult to find any mention of their cases in American media outlets.

What we find here yet again is that government-serving American establish media outlets relish the opportunity to report negatively on enemies and other adversaries of the U.S. government (that is the same mindset that accounts for the predicable, trite condescension by the New York Times toward the Wall Street protests, the same way they constantly downplayed Iraq War protests). But to exactly the same extent that they love depicting America's Enemies as Bad, they hate reporting facts that make the U.S. Government look the same.

That's why Fattal and Bauer receive so much attention while victims of America's ongoing lawless detention scheme are ignored. It's why media stars bravely denounce the conditions of Iran's "notorious prison" while ignoring America's own inhumane prison regime on both foreign and U.S. soil. It's why imprisonment via sham trials in Iran stir such outrage while due-process-free imprisonment (and assassinations) by the U.S. stir so little. And it's why so many Americans know Roxana Saberi but so few know Sami al-Haj.

An actual watchdog press is, first and foremost, eager to expose the corruption and wrongdoing of their own government. By contrast, a propaganda establishment press is eager to suppress that, and there is no better way of doing so than by obsessing on the sins of nations on the other side of the world while ignoring the ones at home. If only establishment media outlets displayed a fraction of the bravery and integrity of Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, who had a good excuse to focus exclusively on Iran's sins but -- a mere few days after being released from a horrible, unjust ordeal -- chose instead to present the full picture.
(c) 2011 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.

Class War Winner
By Joel S. Hirschhorn

Much is being said by Republicans about a class war being waged by President Obama and Democrats. In their fantasy world this class war is attacking so called job creators. All this talk is pure nonsense, absolutely false and misleading, intentional political garbage designed to intentionally mislead gullible Americans stupid enough to believe the lies. Here is the truth: There has, indeed, been a class war waged in the US; it has been going on for a good thirty years. And this real war has been won.

There are official data over time called the Gini index or coefficient between zero and one that is a statistical measure of economic inequality. When it is zero national income is evenly distributed among all citizens, and when it is one all the income goes to one person. Obviously the Gini figure will be somewhere between zero and one. Some nations have very low values and others very high ones. In the high category is the US. But more important is that the index has changed over time, rising from about 1980 to current times, after it had remained fairly stable over several decades. That significant rise from about .37 to .45 shows unequivocally that the rich got richer as most of the population in the middle class and below lost ground.

To truly appreciate what has happened you must seriously examine some data. For example, between 1979 and 2005 the inflation-adjusted income of families in the middle of the income distribution rose 21 percent. That is very slow growth, especially compared with the 100 percent rise in median income over a generation after World War II when inequality actually decreased. More importantly, over the same period, the income of the very rich, the top 100th of 1 percent of the income distribution, rose by 480 percent. Absorb that number for a few moments. In 2005 dollars, the average annual income of that group rose from $4.2 million to $24.3 million. Those numbers describe the true class war in which the rich and powerful were the clear winner.

Presently, according to new estimates by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, one-fourth of those with incomes of more than $1 million a year pay income and payroll tax of 12.6 percent of their income or less, putting their tax burden below that of many in the middle class who are likely pay twice that amount or even more. The class war winners are clear.

Need more convincing? Consider data from the Tax Foundation. Between 1987 and 2008, the share of income controlled by the top 1 percent grew to 20 percent from 12 percent. That equates to a total share growth of 67 percent. During the same period, their share of taxes went to 28 percent from 24 percent, indicating a share growth of 17 percent. Follow that? The top 1 percent share of income grew nearly five times faster than their share of taxes: 67 percent versus 17 percent. Pretty darn good deal. So forget all that malarkey from Republicans that the rich pay so much of the nation’s taxes unfairly. The class war winners are reaping the rewards of a two-party plutocracy that they own.

Here is another dose of class war reality. The top 1 percent share of total pre-tax income rose from about 10 percent in 1980 to 21 percent in 2008, a nice doubling that helps explain the rise in economic inequality. It really pays to win the class war.

The idea that raising taxes on the rich in these dismal economic times in any way represents some injustice is such baloney that one should wonder how any American can possibly eat this Republican garbage. Similarly, the nonsense about job creators somehow not creating new jobs because of higher taxes flies in the face of reality, because very low taxes have not caused them to create significant new jobs. Nor did higher taxes for some decades for decades after World War II stop high rates of new job creation.

The rich class own most of the wealth of the nation after winning the class war for some thirty years. They accomplished this victory by using money to buy and corrupt the political system. The most perplexing aspect of all this is why most Americans have not risen up in revolt against the political system that has so screwed them. Those on the right keep supporting Republican candidates that lie to them and actively work against the economic interests of all but the rich. Those on the left fall victim to the lies of Obama and other Democrats that promise much but deliver next to nothing to bring economic justice to most Americans. Democrats have also contributed to the killing of the middle class.

Odds are that those who have lost the real class war will continue to suffer until they wake up to the need to overthrow the political system. The only peaceful strategy being use of the Article V convention option in the Constitution by which state delegates could propose amendments that would reform the political and government system to take away the power used by the rich to steal the wealth of the nation. Do not ever believe that voting for new Democrats or Republicans will fix our corrupt and dysfunctional system.

One important thing to keep in mind: Raising taxes on the rich is necessary but not sufficient to turn the class war already won by the rich around.

Finally, the path to economic justice must include what Dylan Ratigan is advocating, a constitutional amendment to get money out of politics, which I urge readers to support. This is the way to remove the key tool used by the rich and powerful to pervert the economy in their favor. Congress will never propose such an amendment, only a convention will.
(c) 2011 Joel S. Hirschhorn observed our corrupt federal government firsthand as a senior official with the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association and is the author of Delusional Democracy - Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. To discuss issues write the author. The author has a Ph.D. in Materials Engineering and was formerly a full professor of metallurgical engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Unter Bezirksstaatsanwalt Wagner,

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

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

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 10-31-2011. We salute you Herr Wagner, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

'Save the Post Office' Movement Defends 'The Human Side Of Government'
By John Nichols

When I started covering politics, Jennings Randolph was completing his tenure as the grand old man of Capitol Hill. The last sitting member of Congress to have arrived with Franklin Roosevelt in 1933 (as a member of the House), he was still sitting as a senator from West Virginia more than fifty years later. Perhaps as importantly, he had been born only a little more than a century after the Constitution was adopted.

Randolph recognized the connection between the Constitution and the New Deal, seeing in both an element of nation-building that focused on the affirmative role of government and the necessary role of the extension of the federal government that could be found in every hinterland hamlet and urban neighborhood: the post office.

Randolph was the great defender of the postal service that Ben Franklin had established and that the framers of the Constitution had seen fit to recognize as an essential project of the federal endeavor.

Randolph waxed poetic about the post office, respecting the local facility, be it a frame building at a country crossroads or a brick-and-mortar monument at the center of the largest city. It was, he said, more than a purveyor of packages and mail, more than a source of employment, more even than a meeting spot and focal point for community.

The post office, Randolph explained, was the friendly and honorable face of a government that could otherwise seem distant and, at times, ominous.

As a true Jeffersonian Democrat, and a faithful New Dealer, Randolph argued that those who understood the positive role that government could play in the lives and communities of Americans had better make the defense of the post office a high priority.

"When the post office is closed, the flag comes down," he said. "When the human side of government closes its doors, we're all in trouble."

Randolph spoke the faith of the small-"d" democrat with those words-and, at least in his time, that of the large-"D" Democrat.

But, now, Democrats and Republicans in Washington are entertaining proposals that would, in the words of the American Postal Workers Union, "end the postal service as we know it."

There are proposals afoot to close as many as 3,700 post offices nationwide-most of them in rural communities and inner cities, where there services (and the employment they provide) are most needed.

There are proposals to end Saturday delivery, and perhaps to make even more extensive cutbacks-moves that would drive more business away from the US Postal Service and toward private-sector competitors that will not match its standard of universal service to all Americans.

There are proposals to break union contracts, layoff tens of thousands of postal workers and gut the service.

Why? Because of bad policies forced upon the USPS, policies that could be reversed as quickly as they were implemented. Those bad policies have created what is called a "financial crisis." This is not a "financial" crisis; it is a "political" crisis.

The postal service is running the deficits that so concern conservative politicians and pundits not because it is inefficient, and not even because it faces new forms of digital competition. It is running deficits because it was forced to pre-pay seventy-five years of retiree health benefits in ten years, and because it overpaid federal pension funds by more than $80 billion.

The crisis is, as Ralph Nader and other consumer advocates argue, "manufactured."

Across the country Tuesday, tens of thousands of postal workers, union allies and community advocates rallied to defend the United States Postal Service and to argue for responsible Congressional action to renew and strengthen a precious public asset. Backed by five major postal unions and worker groups - the American Postal Workers Union, the National Association of Letter Carriers, the National Postal Mailhandlers Union, the National Rural Letter Carriers' Association and the National Association of Postal Supervisors - the rallies took place at close to 500 locations (post offices, congressional offices, state capitols) nationwide, in one of the broadest displays of support for public services the nation has seen in many years.

Jennings Randolph (who passed in 1998) isn't around to cheer them on. But if he were, he would celebrate the fact that there are still great masses of Americans who recognize that "when the human side of government closes its doors, we're all in trouble."
(c) 2011 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. He is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers.

What The Media Aren't Telling You About American Protests
By Lisa Romero

I am lately reminded of an assignment when my metro editor sent me to cover a "gentle protest" over the Gulf War of the 1990s in Jackson, Mich. (Don't remember that war - or what it was about? That's OK - because it was probably "security" and "oil," and George W. ultimately righted his dad's failure to see that war action through to its completion: killing Saddam Hussein, or at least dismantling his government. But I digress.)

It was an after-hours event, likely on a weekend (as that was my beat). And when I arrived at the designated time, well after sundown, I found one lone woman walking the length of a wall at an armory or similar government-type outpost with, not a flashlight, but a real, flickering candle. Back and forth, in the dark, trudging in the snow.

No one else had shown up - except me, that is. The place was deserted and, as I recall, not on a busy road. I actually had to drive by twice before I even saw her candle and a small chair she set up for herself when she got tired. It occurred to me that, if I walked away, it would have been the same as if she'd never been there at all. Yet, incontrovertibly, there she was: protesting a war that, at the time, no one was particularly riled up about. It wasn't a story, really.

But I decided to speak with her anyway. I walked with her for about an hour and asked questions. Apart from understanding that my editors expected my story for the next day's edition, I also sensed that there could be a story to tell - and that, if I didn't, no one might ever consider an opposing view that, while solitary, might be worth listening to.

I'd have to dig through years of clips to find that story now. (I'm sure it resides in the Jackson Citizen Patriot morgue). But it's not the story that's important to me now.

It's that I covered it at all - and that my editors were grateful I did. And that readers seemed to value the fact we were there to capture a moment in their community they would otherwise not have known about.

More than a week ago, a small band of peaceful protesters descended on Zuccotti Park (formerly Liberty Park) in New York City, not far from Wall Street. They dubbed their little movement "Occupy Wall Street." And, on the first weekend, starting Sept. 17, they had quite a number of people join them in marches and speeches that essentially claimed the 99% of Americans who aren't the 1% of uber-rich are disenfranchised - and have critical needs related to unemployment, cost of living, and a range of other social issues that are either being ignored outright or largely swept under the rug by our finance-focused government.

These young people, accompanied by like-minded Xers and a few Boomers, didn't get much coverage to start. (I doubt any authentic movement, at the outset, ever does.) The media that did arrive briefly aired the same complaint: "They are a loosely organized group of disaffected youth who are more like hippies and have no real goal," they yawned. "Nothing to see here, but we've done our job by ‘covering' it in our blogs," they seemed to say to New Yorkers and anyone outside the Big Apple paying attention. "This too shall pass."

The only problem is, it hasn't. And I suspect after this weekend, it isn't going to.

Now in its 10th day, protestors are very much entrenched at Zuccotti Park (with people across the United States and around the world watching their activities via live-streaming video, as well as sending them supplies and money, even pizza via local vendors). This past Saturday afternoon, there was a large march to Union Park, through Washington Square (and, at times, through moving traffic - which was pretty incredible to watch in real time) - and all seemed to be going well with chants and songs as the trek was covered by Occupy Wall Street's new media team, such as the young woman Net followers dubbed "50/50 Anchor Lady," with hair that was half blonde, half brownish-black.

As I say, all was well - that is, until a phalanx of NYC police moved in and started making mass arrests. Twitter was the only way most of us knew it actually happened; the media team, scarily, was picked off shortly after the march gained momentum near Washington Park.

It's not like no one was aware the police were coming. I myself could hear what was going down on the police scanner, which I alternately monitored while toggling back and forth between live-streaming and searching for news updates on Google.

The tension was building - you could feel it while watching from hundreds of miles away as the protestors kept dodging orange fencing and an increasingly ominous presence of officers. The marchers were peaceful - but resolute in their efforts to keep marching.

Then, right in the thick of things, the live-streaming ended just before the mass arrests and some disturbing instances of outright police brutality (documented and later distributed via cellphone photos). But, I should note, not before the world had already witnessed some of those protestor/cop encounters. It was shocking, actually, to watch people pushed with real force or slammed to the ground when, to my eye, they hadn't provoked anything remotely requiring that kind of police-state response.

I had been one of the hundreds, then thousands, to witness the march from nearly beginning to end - and that was not how I'd expected things to turn out. But, almost on cue (as if to underscore the government's fear this would spread), things escalated quickly and publicly in the glaring view of the Twitterverse, very likely to the chagrin of the NYPD, Michael Bloomberg and anyone on Wall Street who didn't want this little movement to earn attention or gain credibility.

Within a matter of minutes, thousands of people were logging into the live-streaming site or retweeting the police presence. Yet, the media still weren't covering the event, except as an aside, almost. I recall the Village Voice reported on several key tweets from Occupy Wall Street - laudable in providing "real time" updates, but I never could tell if they sent an actual reporter to the site at the time. (Back in the day, my own editors would have pushed me out the door. And sent back-up reporters.)

Not to be flip, but if 60-80 people were arrested for dog-fighting, or for wrangling outside a tony nightclub, or protesting at the United Nations, that might have gotten coverage. I'm pretty sure that would have received some attention. But this: In my humble opinion, it got very little. Some, finally - but people had to be hurt, and the police department's reputation tarnished, when neither was necessary if the media were operating as it should.

Since then, media coverage has been defensive. (Said one reporter, and I'm paraphrasing here: "It's not fair to say Occupy Wall Street hasn't been covered." And then a short list of stories was included to prove the point.) And the coverage has been light: I was impressed Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow and even Stephen Colbert have noted this is more than dismissive hippy-ism; but no major news organization has (to the best of my knowledge) paid more than the barest attention thus far.


Perhaps it's because no one wants a popular movement or peaceful rebellion to spread at a time when many Americans are fed up with their dysfunctional government leaders. We have enough problems, the leaders and media friends might be thinking: Why stir the pot?

Perhaps it's because they sense, as does Bloomberg, that once a train like this gets going, it can be hijacked by the wrong people and cause real damage. (That, alone, is worthy of another story altogether.) But is that a reason to quell coverage, really?

In the end, though, a large-scale failure to acknowledge and cover this "small" group of protestors - now growing in numbers, thanks to outrage at the rough-housing NYPD, and quickly propagating similar groups in other cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., etc. - is akin to a media blindness.

The media's job is not to turn a blind eye. The media's job is to report. Period. Which is yet another reason why Americans are not trusting the modern media. And I have to say, given what I've witnessed in recent days in and around Zuccotti Park, that I clearly understand why my profession is much maligned these days.

If people are there, and they have something worthwhile to say - regardless of whether it is popular or potentially alarming or against the political status quo - it is news. Good reporters should be covering it, regardless of their personal political preferences - and let Americans come to their own conclusions.

Is it a media blackout?

Sure seems that way to me. If I can cover one voice about a Gulf War, and contribute to society's understanding of our greater human experience, then the media can certainly begin paying attention to thousands of marchers - and what appears to be the beginnings of an American movement.

I would call upon our news organizations to acknowledge their collective mistake in ignoring this story, remember that their calling is higher than the profit motive, and begin covering news that engages our thinking skills.

America needs the media now more than ever. To find it absent, while the entire world is watching this unfolding and increasingly important story (and they are) is a travesty and a statement about how far we have fallen as a nation built on freedom of speech and thought.

These are voices worth hearing at this time of trouble and strife. Hundreds of those voices are gathering in New York and other cities right now, representing diverse people and backgrounds and views - and trying to send a message that change, Real Change, must happen.

I want to hear what they have to say. As an American, I need to hear. As a media consumer, I demand to hear. Don't you?
© 2011 Lisa Romero is a journalist and writes a blog at OpenSalon.

The Cartoon Corner...

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

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

The vice president assures Ambassador Reinart that
"there's plenty of good skin mags up there."

Biden Asks White House Visitor If He Wants To Check Out Roof

WASHINGTON—Claiming it was "pretty fucking cool up there" and not to be missed, Vice President Joe Biden reportedly asked Estonian ambassador Väino Reinart on several occasions Sunday if he wanted to check out the White House roof.

"So, you ready to see this sweet-ass roof or what?" the vice president was overheard telling Reinart, one of several foreign dignitaries who visited the White House this weekend. "Come on, it'll be a lot of fun. It's a killer spot to just chill out. Everyone thinks this place is all about the Oval Office, but I guarantee the best seat in the house is right up top."

"Real beaut of a view, too," Biden added as he threw an arm around the 48-year-old diplomat. "You can see tons of shit. Be a damn shame if you didn't at least take a gander."

Sources confirmed Biden invited Reinart to go up to the roof on at least a dozen separate occasions during his three-hour White House visit, telling the ambassador that he'd "have a blast" and that "Diamond Joe" would never steer him wrong.

Reinart told reporters the vice president repeatedly said the roof would "totally kick ass," while a tour of countless bedrooms filled with boring antique furniture would "seriously blow."

Despite Reinart's polite assertions that he had a busy itinerary with a visiting Estonian delegation and senior White House officials, Biden insisted the two of them should "lose the suits" and cruise up to the roof where they could unwind with a couple of brews.

"Fuck it—let's go up," said Biden, who opened a Coors tallboy and handed the overflowing can to the ambassador, ignoring his gentle protests. "I'll get the grill going, and we can just throw whatever we want on there. I got some sweet lawn chairs, a cooler, even some fireworks. I usually do my own Fourth of July thing up there."

A shirtless Biden washes his car in White House Driveway

"Just gotta snag my tuneage," Biden added while retrieving a boom-box stereo and a handful of cassette tapes from a vacant office. "I'll bring the binocs, too. Never know when a few topless chicks with balconies might be out catching some rays."

As he explained that going to the top of the White House was "the only way to truly fucking experience D.C.," Biden said the one rule when they got on the roof was that they definitely couldn't throw beer bottles over the side of the building anymore.

Biden, whom Secret Service officials confirmed is not permitted to be on the roof, then reportedly removed a small bag of marijuana from his pocket and explained to Reinart that he was running low but still had enough to roll a pinner joint.

Although the ambassador reminded Biden they were expected to attend a state dinner that night, the vice president assured Reinart it would be "way cooler to get blazed" beforehand, as doing so makes the food at official White House events taste much better.

"I've spent a lot of time on this roof," Biden said. "Even slept up there once and it rained on me. By the way, if you're thirsty, don't drink anything from those Gatorade bottles."

In the past, Biden has reportedly taken numerous guests up to the White House roof, including, on one occasion, Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and German chancellor Angela Merkel, a visit Biden described as pretty hot and heavy."

The vice president, who eventually convinced Reinart to journey to the roof after making numerous pleas, apologized to the ambassador for the oversight of not "scoring some shrooms" and arranging for a couple of local babes to accompany them on the rooftop excursion.

"We gotta enjoy it while we still can, you know," Biden said. "The sweet times will all be over if [Energy Secretary Steven] Chu ever figures out how to get his solar panels up here."
(c) 2011The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 11 # 38 (c) 09/30/2011

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