Issues & Alibis

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In This Edition

Jesse Jackson with a clarion call, "It's Time For Nation To Stand Together For Jobs, Education."

Uri Avnery considers, "Gandhi's Wisdom."

Paul Craig Roberts says, "It Is Official: The US Is A Police State."

Randall Amster concludes, "Brewer Brings Only Embarrassment."

Jim Hightower happily announces, "At Last, Larry's Gone."

David Sirota examines, "What The Pot Legalization Campaign Really Threatens."

James Donahue finds, "Religion - A Tool For Human Suffering."

Steve Connor with a horror story from Monsanto, "GM Maize 'Has Polluted Rivers Across the United States.'"

Chris Floyd explores a, "Domestic Disturbance."

Matthew Rothschild reports, "Obama And Biden Try Scolding Voters To The Polls."

Paul Krugman reviews the, "Structure Of Excuses."

Chris Hedges warns of a, "Retribution For A World Lost In Screens."

David Michael Green foresees, "The Dismantling Of Civilized Society."

Alaska Senate candidate Joe Miller wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Glenn Greenwald follows as, "Obama Argues His Assassination Program Is A 'State Secret.'"

Bill Maher returns with a, "New Rule: Rich People Who Complain About Being Vilified Should Be Vilified."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst declares, "Man Oh Man I'm Mad" but first Uncle Ernie asks, "When Did Barry Become The Red Queen?"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Steve Breen, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Derf City, Married To The Sea.Com, Internet Weekly.Org, Dorothea Lange, Mike Keefe, Umina, Freaking News.Com, Max Papeschi 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."

When Did Barry Become The Red Queen?
By Ernest Stewart

"Let the jury consider their verdict," the King said, for about the twentieth time that day.
"No, no!" said the Queen. "Sentence first -- verdict afterward."
"Stuff and nonsense!" said Alice loudly. "The idea of having the sentence first!"
"Hold your tongue!" said the Queen, turning purple.
"I won't!" said Alice.
"Off with her head!" the Queen shouted at the top of her voice.
Alice in Wonderland ~~~ Chapter 12

Knockin' on your door
will you let it come
will you let it run your life
1984 ~ Spirit

"Dare to be naive." ~~~ Buckminster Fuller

'Cause if it's over
Then it's over
And it's driving me insane

Take a walk outside your mind
Tell me how it feels to be
The one who turns
The knife inside of me

Take a look and you will find
There's nothing there, girl
Yeah I swear, I'm telling you, girl yeah 'cause

There's a Hole In My Soul
That's been killing me forever
It's a place where a garden never grows
There's a Hole In My Soul
Yeah, I should have known better
'Cause your love's like a thorn without a rose
Yeah, yeah
Hole In My Soul ~~~ Aerosmith

Those zany knuckleheads over at Barry's Department of Just-Us are at it again. They were in court Saturday to urge a federal judge that Obama's self appointed power to murder US citizens on a whim couldn't be looked into or ruled against because it involved state secrets and hence demanded that he dismiss a law suit brought by the U.S.-born citizen, Anwar al-Aulaqi, who had a contract put out on him.

I can understand why Obama's goons are all over this as it is a clear act of treason. Here Barry clearly surpasses the worst of the "Crime Family Bush's" acts of treason and mayhem. You'd think that Barry, a Harvard educated lawyer, would know better, wouldn't you? While Bush gleefully murdered people without trial or any judicial oversight and clearly got away with those war crimes and crimes against humanity, Barry has taken it a step further in violation of the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Perhaps Barry, like Dubya, thinks "Stop throwing the Constitution in my face. It's just a goddamned piece of paper!" Hmmm?

The acts of treason come in because, as you may recall, Barry swore the following oath before taking office:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Even without a JD, those 37 words seem to be quite clear to me, how about you? Ergo, where does Barry get off declaring he has the right to murder whatever American citizen he wants, without trial or even judicial oversight? This is treason because of the following. From the U.S. Constitution:

Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

Also Barry's in violation of The Bill of Rights' 5th Amendment:

Amendment V. No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

And yet, I haven't heard much from the same people, i.e. "the liberals" who were calling for Bush and Cheney's heads on a platter for a lot less than this. Funny thing that, huh? Oh, they make a lot of excuses for Barry but none of them ring true. They are just covering up more of our crimes against humanity and this time the crimes against us. Of course, it's just the next stage. As Janet Napolitano said the other day, "The old view that 'if we fight the terrorists abroad, we won't have to fight them here' is just that-the old view." Who are these home-grown terrorists? Why they're the peacers, the antiwar protesters, people who stand up for Palestine, folks who demand that Barry follow and obey the US Constitution, i.e., the "Professional Left!" You know the terrorists according to the FBI are you and me! And they thought Bush was bad. Bush isn't worthy to carry Obama's luggage! As I said back on January 20, 2009, "We Are So Fucked, America!"

In Other News

Big brother has made an all out attack on the Internet this week. From the military's "Cyber Command" to the White House and both houses of Congress come new laws and bills that will all but destroy the Internet as we know it. I'm only surprised that it took them this long to destroy this last outpost of free thought!

War criminal and former CIA boss Michael Hayden wants to shut it down altogether. "Cyberterrorism is such a threat that the U.S. president should have the authority to shut down the Internet in the event of an attack." I'm guessing it doesn't matter whether that attack is real or imagined or false flag? How many attacks on how many sites this would entail wasn't mentioned. There are several billion sites and attack on even 1% of them would, at this time, be impossible. I'm guessing he's talking about attacks on Fox News and CNN? If the Pentagoons can't protect their sites from teenage hackers then they should be shut down!

Hayden said the president currently does not have the authority to shut down the Internet in an emergency. Which begs this question: The US is just a small part of the Internet. Won't all those other countries get just a tad pissed off if we shut down the Internet? In fact, some might think it was an act of war and respond accordingly?

Then there came news that some "Federal law enforcement and national security officials are preparing to seek sweeping new regulations for the Internet, arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is 'going dark' as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone."

"Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications - including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct "peer to peer" messaging like Skype - to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages." Oh goodie, so now we're just like the Emirates where your every thought is reported to Big Brother. Land of the free my ass!

Notice, they want the carriers to give over anything the government wants if served with a wiretap order, not a legal court ordered wiretap. Just like Bush had from the telephone companies and Obama okayed with that treasonous bill that let the telecoms off the hook for their many violations of US law because some politician told them to!

The bill which the Obama administration plans to submit to lawmakers next year, raises fresh questions about how to balance security needs while protecting privacy and fostering innovation. And because security services around the world face the same problem, it could set an example that is copied globally.

James X. Dempsey, vice president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, an Internet policy group, said the proposal had "huge implications" and challenged "fundamental elements of the Internet revolution" - including its decentralized design.

"They are really asking for the authority to redesign services that take advantage of the unique, and now pervasive, architecture of the Internet," Dempsey said. "They basically want to turn back the clock and make Internet services function the way that the telephone system used to function."

So Big Brother will be legally watching your every keystroke, oh brave new world!

Not to be outdone by the White House and the Pentagoons, members of the House and Senate brought out their own little turkeys to kill the Internet. You might want to remember these two corpo-rat goons when you go to the polls in November?

In the House Henry Waxman who has vowed that he would support the so-called 'Net Neutrality' policy proposals favored by most Democrats and progressives, has instead put forward a little turkey that explicitly prohibits the Federal Communications Commission from regulating broadband Internet under Title II of the Communications Act: a caveat key to implementation of what's been called the Internet's First Amendment. Henry made sure to include in this bill the worst parts of the Google and Verizon dream bill, which would effectively kill Net Neutrality. You might want to let Henry know about your feelings on this.

Then U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy came up with his own little stinker. The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act. Don't you just love Foggy Bottoms euphemisms? It says it's about copyright infringement but what it's really about is shutting down sites critical of the government!

New legislation requires domain-name registrars to shut down websites suspected of hosting infringing materials and raises serious free-speech concerns, a civil liberties group said Tuesday.

The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, "would block free speech on U.S. and foreign websites if they are taken down by registrars and registries," said the Center for Democracy and Technology.

"The bill could also lead to a fragmentation of the Internet, as other countries attempt to enforce their own laws, including censorship, on foreign websites, CDT officials said.

The bill would move the U.S. government toward a policy requiring Internet service providers to be filters of Web content, Harris said during a press conference. "It's going to be blocking orders for intellectual property, then for terrorism or child safety or cybersecurity. New requirements for registries and registrars to take down websites suspected of copyright violations are 'unprecedented in the United States,'" said Leslie Harris, CDT's president and CEO.

Again with the Obama slant, i.e., no proof required only they're suspected, much like his shoot to thrill sanctions on US citizens, no one can be bothered with bringing a court into this. Guilty until proven innocent beyond a shadow of a doubt! Do you see a pattern here America? I do!

And Finally

Back on 12-12-2000 when the judicial coup d'etat went down, led by Tony (light-fingers) Scalia and the gang of five from the Extreme Court, all Crime Family Bush appointees or puppets, I knew deep down it was over for America. After studying poli-sci and history for 40 years, it was impossible to think otherwise.

I also knew it was 30 years too late to stop the juggernaut that was running into this brave new world. We were so close. Had we stayed the course after the fall of Nixon and made those responsible for Vietnam, both Rethuglicans and Demoncrats, pay for their crimes against humanity, crimes against nature, war crimes and the Kennedy coup d'etat that started it all, we might have saved our Republic. No. Instead we stopped marching and protesting and such, cut our hair, put on suits and became our parents!

Instead of prosecuting the traitor Gerald Ford we made jokes about his clumsiness and ignored his several counts of treason and, like the Trick that he pardoned, allowed him to retire with the blood of JFK on his hands as well as all the blood in Southeast Asia!

Jimmy Carter could have put all their heads on chopping blocks but being Cocaine Carter and the Georgia Mafioso that he was, not the simple Christian lusting after his neighbor's wife that he played on TV, again things were no different. It doesn't matter that, like LBJ, he came to his senses and spent the rest of his life trying to make up for what he allowed. Any remaining hope for America was crushed with the advent of Ray-Guns and the Crime Family Bush. We've been rushing down hill ever since.

Unlike Don Quixote who thought he was fighting monsters I knew better. I knew I would only be tilting at windmills on that day. I also knew that my budding career as a writer and my bank account would be over but I also knew that to sit and watch and do nothing made me as bad as them. Actually, it made me worse because I knew back in '72 when I dropped out of my Masters program and turned my hobby of being a DJ into my career so I wouldn't have to teach poli-sci, that I was a coward like the rest of my generation! And unlike most of them, I knew it and did it anyway! Like Graham Nash said in "Almost Cut My Hair," "I feel like I owe it to someone" and I did too so on that day Issues & Alibis was born!

Now it's ten years later and America's ten times worse off and, while I've opened the eyes of a few, damn few, I've mostly spent my time and fortune preaching to the already saved and have become a mere convenience instead of a clarion call for freedom and justice. If Olympus smiles down on me I'll be back on the 15th, if not keep your wicks trimmed and your powder dry! C'est La Guerre, America!

It's Over: UPDATE!

Dear Readers,

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

Canada is still in the lead of helping your old Uncle get home with Ernie from Ontario sending yet another check. That's three in the last month, thank Zeus for Ernie! Robert from Florida has done much more than his share with two very nice checks and Mike from Sterling Heights has sent a pair of checks my way, too. Thanks guys from the bottom of my heart! Where are the rest of you? Where are my doctor friends like Doctor Bob and Doctor Phil? Guys what I need is mere pocket change to you, a little help please. Where ya at, Ginnie? If you regular folks are still working 9 to 5, can't you lend me a hand in this emergency? If you're as broke as I, don't feel bad, I understand that, don't worry about it, but if you have a job and you've been reading us for free for the last nine years isn't it about time you gave us a helping hand? Guys stay home from the nudie bar this weekend. Buy yourself a 12 pack and rent a porno film and send me the rest. Have no doubt it will be put to good use and you can make it up to "Cleopatra & Bambi" next weekend!

While I now have the money I need to move and I will do just that this weekend, I still need to replace this computer. That's all I need at this moment to keep publishing and I may have a chance at getting a used one that I might be able to afford with just a little more help. On a good note I will get social security checks starting in January but they'll be less than they should be. Apparently one of my former employers deducted SS payments for 15 years but never paid SS. So I'm a few quarters short of getting my due, c'est la vie! Like Meatloaf said, "It's always something!" I'm hoping to be publishing again on the 15th and with your kind help, I will!


08-10-1928 ~ 09-22-2010
Debbie, Elizabeth & Connie, thanks for the inspiration!

07-04-1910 ~ 09-26-2010
Thanks for the films!

05-10-1948 ~ 09-27-2010
Thanks for the laugh!

12-17-1953 ~ 09-27-2010
Thanks for the films!

09-27-1922 ~ 09-28-2010
Thanks for the films!

06-03-1925 ~ 09-29-2010
Thanks for the films!


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


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

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

It's Time For Nation To Stand Together For Jobs, Education
By Jesse Jackson

In Washington this Saturday, I will join tens of thousands of Americans to march for jobs, justice and education. The march is called together under the banner of One Nation: Working Together, a large coalition of more than 400 organizations.

Why do we march? We march for hope. We've seen the politics of fear. Fear that America is in permanent decline. Fear that America is being changed for the worse. Fear that the president is not a citizen.

One Nation calls us back to positive purpose. This nation can't go return to the ideas that drove us off the cliff. We can't allow entrenched interests to control our government and weaken the common good. We can't listen to those who stand in the way of change.

The vast majority of Americans understand the need for reform. We have to create jobs and put people to work, invest in renewable energy and capture a lead role in the green industrial revolution that is sweeping the globe. We need to empower workers and hold bankers accountable.

We can't be misled by misleading arguments. Consider the debate about taxes. Under the Obama proposal, the wealthiest Americans -- those who make more than $250,000 -- will get the same tax breaks as everyone else on the first $250,000 of their income. But it doesn't make sense to borrow an extra $700 billion over the next decade to give them an additional tax break for the money they make over $250,000.

We march for the unity that is the strength of our diversity -- young and old, black and white, yellow and brown, men and women, immigrants of different generations, small business owners and workers, teachers and students, the poor and the affluent, people of all faiths. A quilt like my mother used to make: many patches of many colors and textures, bound together by a common thread to make something of beauty and warmth.

We choose common ground over racial battlegrounds. We march so that children -- all children -- can have a fair and healthy start in life, and a world-class education from pre-K to college. We march so that workers -- all workers -- can fairly share in the profits and productivity that they help to create.

The New York Times suggests that our agenda is as extensive as our coalition, but we know the big changes we need. Jobs now. A commitment to world-class education for all. Justice even for the powerful; opportunity even for the poor. We represent an America confident enough to address the challenges it faces and overcome the powerful interests and lobbies that stand in the way.

This march will reflect the emerging reform majority that showed its potential in 2008. That majority is committed to transforming America, not taking it back to an idealized past that never existed. That majority works for a government by, for and of the people, not an instrument for the moneyed and the powerful. We've heard the voices of reaction. We share the same anger about our current condition, but like our founders and each succeeding generation, we look to make America better, not take it backward.

So this Saturday, we will march to revive hope. When our spirits are broken, our faith surrenders. So we must march. We can survive broken sidewalks and broken buildings. We cannot survive the collapse of spirit. In these difficult hours, you can't fight fate with fists and guns. You fight fate with faith. Faith is the substance of what is hoped for, evidence of what is unseen. Even with our backs against the wall, we can see a new heaven and a new earth -- the old one passes away. We have been down, but the ground is no place for a champion. We are one nation, if we make it so. We are a nation of hope if we keep hope alive. And so we march on 10-2-10, and we will march to the polls on 11-2-10.
(c) 2010 Jesse Jackson

Gandhi's Wisdom
By Uri Avnery

SURFING THE television channels, I came across an interview with the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi on an American network (Fox - would you believe it).

"My grandfather told us to love the enemy even while fighting him," he said, "he fought against the British resolutely, but loved the British." (I quote from memory.)

My immediate reaction was baloney, the pious wish of do-gooders! But then I suddenly remembered that in my youth I had felt exactly the same, when I joined the Irgun at the age of 15. I liked the English (as we called all the British), the English language and English culture, and I was ready to put my life on the line in order to drive the English out of our country. When I said so to the Irgun's recruitment committee, while sitting with a bright light shining in my eyes, I was almost rejected.

But the grandson's words set me to thinking more seriously. Can one make peace with an opponent while hating him? Is peace possible at all without a positive attitude towards the other side?

ON THE face of it, the answer is "yes". Self-styled "realists" and "pragmatists" will say that peace is a matter of political interests, that feelings should not be involved. (Such "realists" are people who cannot imagine another reality, and such "pragmatists" are people who cannot think in the longer term.)

As is well-know, one makes peace with enemies. One makes peace in order to stop a war. War is the realm of hate, it dehumanizes the foe. In every war, the enemy is portrayed as sub-human, evil and cruel by nature.

Peace is supposed to terminate the war, but does not promise to change the attitude towards yesterday's enemy. We stop killing him, but that does not mean that we start loving him. When we reach the conclusion that it is in our interest to stop the war rather than to go on with it, this does not mean that our attitude towards the enemy has changed.

We have here an inbuilt paradox: the thought of peace arises while the war is still going on. It follows that peace is planned by those who are still at war, who are still in the grip of the war mentality. That can twist their thinking.

The result can be a monster, like the infamous Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I. It trampled on the vanquished Germany, robbed her and, worst of all, humiliated her. Many historians believe that this treaty bears much of the blame for the outbreak of World War II, which was even more devastating. (As a child I grew up in Germany under the dark shadow of the Versailles treaty, so I know what I am talking about.)

MAHATMA GANDHI understood this. He was not only a very moral person, but also a very wise one (if there really is any difference). I did not agree with his opposition to resisting Nazi Germany by force, but I always admired his genius as the leader of Indian liberation. He realized that the main task of a liberation leader is to shape the mentality of the people he wishes to liberate. When hundreds of millions of Indians were confronting a few tens of thousands of Britons, the main problem was not to defeat the British, but to get the Indians themselves to want liberation and a life in freedom and harmony. To make peace without hatred, without a longing for revenge, with an open heart, ready to be reconciled with yesterday's enemy.

Gandhi himself was only partially successful in this. But his wisdom illuminated the path of many. It shaped people like Nelson Mandela, who established peace without hatred and without revenge, and Martin Luther King, who called for reconciliation between black and white. We, too, have much to learn from this wisdom.

THIS WEEK, an expert on the analysis of public opinion polls appeared on an Israeli TV talk show. Prof. Tamar Harman did not analyze one or another of the polls, but the totality of the polls over decades.

Prof. Harman confirmed statistically what we all feel in our daily lives: that there is a continuous, long-term movement in Israel from the concepts of the Right to the concepts of the Left. The two-state solution is now accepted by a large majority. The great majority also accept that the border must be based on the Green Line, with swaps of territory that will leave the large settlement blocs in Israel. The public accepts that the other settlements must be evacuated. It even accepts that the Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem must be part of the future Palestinian state. The expert's conclusion: this is an on-going, dynamic process. Public opinion is continuing to move in this direction.

I remember far-away days in the early 1950s, when we first brought up this solution. In Israel and the whole world there were not a hundred people who supported this idea. (The 1947 UN resolution, which proposed exactly that, had been wiped from the public consciousness by the war, after which Palestine was divided between Israel, Jordan and Egypt.) As late as 1970 I wandered through the corridors of power in Washington DC, from the White House to the State Department, searching in vain for even one important statesman who would support it. The Israeli public opposed it almost unanimously, and so did the PLO, which even published a special book under the title "Uri Avnery and neo-Zionism."

Now this plan is supported by a world-wide consensus, which includes all the member states of the Arab League. And, according to the professor, the Israeli consensus too. Our extreme Right is now accusing Binyamin Netanyahu, in speech and writing, of executing what they call the "Avnery design."

So I should have been very satisfied, happy to view the news programs which speak about "two states for two peoples" as self-evident truth.

So why am I not satisfied? Am I a professional grumbler?

I examined myself, and I believe that I have identified the source of my dissatisfaction.

WHEN THEY speak today about "two states for two peoples", it is almost always bound up with the idea of "separation". As Ehud Barak put it, in his unique style: "We shall be here and they shall be there." It connects with his image of Israel as "a villa in the jungle". All around us are wild beasts, eager to devour us, and we in the villa must put up an iron wall to protect ourselves.

That's the way this idea is being sold to the masses. It gathers popularity because it promises a final and total separation. Let them get out of our sight. Let them have a state, for God's sake, and leave us alone. The "two-state solution" will be realized, we shall live in the "Nation-State of the Jewish People" which will be a part of the West, and "they" will live in a state which will be part of the Arab world. Between us there will be a high wall, part of the wall between the two civilizations.

Somehow it all reminds me of the words Theodor Herzl wrote 114 years ago in his book "The Jewish State": "In Palestine...we shall be for Europe a part of the wall against Asia, we shall serve as a vanguard of civilization against barbarism."

THAT WAS not the idea in the minds of the handful of people who advocated the two-state solution from the beginning. They were animated by two interconnected tendencies: the love of the country (meaning all the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan) and the desire for reconciliation between its two peoples.

I know that many will be shocked by the words "love of the country". Like many other things, they have been highjacked and taken hostage by the extreme Right. We have let them.

My generation, which crisscrossed the country well before the state came into being, did not treat Jericho, Hebron and Nablus as abroad. We loved them. We were excited by them. I still love them today. With some, like the late leftist writer Amos Kenan, this love had become almost an obsession.

The settlers, who endlessly declaim their love for the country, love it the way a rapist loves his victim. They violate the country and want to dominate it by force. This is visibly expressed in the architecture of their fortresses on the tops of the hills, fortified neighborhoods with Swiss tile-covered roofs. They don't love the real country, the villages with their minarets, the stone houses with their arched windows nestling on the hillsides and merging with the landscape, the terraces cultivated to the last centimeter, the wadis and the olive groves. They dream about another land and want to build it on the ruins of the beloved country. Kenan put it simply: "The State of Israel is destroying the Land of Israel."

Beyond romanticism, which has its own validity, we wanted to reunite the torn country in the only way possible: through the partnership of the two peoples that love it. These two national entities, with all their similarity, are different in culture, religion, traditions, language, script, ways of life, social structure, economic development. Our life experience, and the experience of the entire world, in this generation more than in any other, has shown that such different peoples cannot live in one state. (The Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Cyprus, and perhaps also Belgium, Canada, Iraq.) Therefore, the necessity arises to live in two states, side by side (with the possibility of a future federation).

When we reached this conclusion at the end of the 1948 war, we shaped the two-state solution not as a plan for separation, but on the contrary, as a plan for unity. For decades we talked about two states with an open border between them, a joint economy and free movement of people and goods.

These were the central motifs in all the plans for the "two-state solution". Until the so-called "realists" arrived and took the body without the soul, reducing the living plan to a heap of dry bones. On the left, too, many were ready to adopt the separation agenda, in the belief that this pseudo-pragmatist approach would be easier to sell to the masses. But in the moment of truth, this approach failed. The "peace talks" collapsed.

I propose to return to Gandhi's wisdom. It is impossible to move masses of people without a vision. Peace is not just an absence of hostilities, not the product of a labyrinth of walls and fences. Neither is it a utopia of "the wolf dwelling with the lamb". It is a real state of reconciliation, of partnership between peoples and between human beings, who respect each other, who are ready to satisfy each other's interests, to trade with each other, to create social relationships and - who knows - here and there even to like each other.

In essence: two states, one common future.
(c) 2010 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

It Is Official: The US Is A Police State
By Paul Craig Roberts

by Paul Craig Roberts On September 24, Jason Ditz reported on that "the FBI is confirming that this morning they began a number of raids against the homes of antiwar activists in Illinois, Minneapolis, Michigan, and North Carolina, claiming that they are 'seeking evidence relating to activities concerning the material support of terrorism.'"

Now we know what Homeland Security (sic) secretary Janet Napolitano meant when she said on September 10: "The old view that 'if we fight the terrorists abroad, we won't have to fight them here' is just that - the old view." The new view, Napolitano said, is "to counter violent extremism right here at home."

"Violent extremism" is one of those undefined police state terms that will mean whatever the government wants it to mean. In this morning's FBI's foray into the homes of American citizens of conscience, it means antiwar activists, whose activities are equated with "the material support of terrorism," just as conservatives equated Vietnam era anti-war protesters with giving material support to communism.

Anti-war activist Mick Kelly whose home was raided, sees the FBI raids as harassment to intimidate those who organize war protests. I wonder if Kelly is underestimating the threat. The FBI's own words clearly indicate that the federal police agency and the judges who signed the warrants do not regard antiwar protesters as Americans exercising their Constitutional rights, but as unpatriotic elements offering material support to terrorism.

"Material support" is another of those undefined police state terms. In this context the term means that Americans who fail to believe their government's lies and instead protest its policies, are supporting their government's declared enemies and, thus, are not exercising their civil liberties but committing treason.

As this initial FBI foray is a softening up move to get the public accustomed to the idea that the real terrorists are their fellow citizens here at home, Kelly will get off this time. But next time the FBI will find emails on his computer from a "terrorist group" set up by the CIA that will incriminate him. Under the practices put in place by the Bush and Obama regimes, and approved by corrupt federal judges, protesters who have been compromised by fake terrorist groups can be declared "enemy combatants" and sent off to Egypt, Poland, or some other corrupt American puppet state - Canada perhaps - to be tortured until confession is forthcoming that antiwar protesters and, indeed, every critic of the US government, are on Osama bin Laden's payroll.

Almost every Republican and conservative and, indeed, the majority of Americans will fall for this, only to find, later, that it is subversive to complain that their Social Security was cut in the interest of the war against Iran or some other demonized entity, or that they couldn't have a Medicare operation because the wars in Central Asia and South America required the money.

Americans are the most gullible people who ever existed. They tend to support the government instead of the Constitution, and almost every Republican and conservative regards civil liberty as a coddling device that encourages criminals and terrorists.

The US media, highly concentrated in violation of the American principle of a diverse and independent media, will lend its support to the witch hunts that will close down all protests and independent thought in the US over the next few years. As the Nazi leader Joseph Goebbels said, "think of the press as a great keyboard on which the Government can play."

An American Police State was inevitable once Americans let "their" government get away with 9/11. Americans are too gullible, too uneducated, and too jingoistic to remain a free people. As another Nazi leader Herman Goering said, "The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. Tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peace-makers for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger."

This is precisely what the Bush and Obama regimes have done. America, as people of my generation knew it, no longer exists.
(c) 2010 Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and is coauthor of "The Tyranny of Good Intentions," co-authored with Lawrence Stratton, a documented account of how Americans lost the protection of law, was published by Random House.

Brewer Brings Only Embarrassment
By Randall Amster

We don't often get to see with such clarity that a political figure is in way over their head. But after Jan Brewer's overall performance as governor, and her excruciating lack of capacity in the recent televised gubernatorial debate in particular, we're witnessing precisely that.

During Brewer's tenure, Arizona has moved to the bottom of the charts in education, health care, and economic vitality.

When dangerous prisoners escaped from a facility they never should've been housed in to begin with, Brewer sat mute on the sidelines rather than taking steps to either reassure distressed constituents or fix a broken prison system.

And, perhaps most tellingly, by virtue of her signing into law the ill-advised SB 1070 (a calculated political act, to be sure), Arizona has become a national and international pariah.

Sympathizers will argue that she inherited a problematic situation, and that there's only so much one person can do in so short a time as chief executive.

Interestingly, however, these same arguments could be made with reference to the presidency of Barack Obama and his inheritance of the Bush legacy; yet, many of Brewer's supporters would not be inclined to embrace that logic.

None of this critique is to excuse the role of Democrats in fomenting the crises we now face here. Janet Napolitano didn't exactly leave us in an enviable financial position, nor has she been proactive in managing the border situation that has so many people up in arms.

Brewer's gubernatorial opponent, Terry Goddard, has likewise been mostly missing in action during his tenure as Attorney General. So there's plenty of blame to spread around.

But Brewer deserves special mention for fostering the calamities before us. She capitulated to the extremists in her party by kowtowing before SB 1070, HB 2281 (banning Ethnic Studies), and the like.

She has presided over a runaway economic collapse, and in the process proceeded to eviscerate the state's public infrastructure while providing less oversight for the abuses of private interests.

For the rampant decline of the state's educational system alone, Brewer deserves to be voted out of an office to which she only acceded by appointment.

And then there are the debate gaffes, including an historic pause that seemed like an eternity in which she couldn't even tell us why she deserved to continue as governor.

The introductions in a debate are an unfettered opportunity to laud one's accomplishments, and even Brewer herself had trouble latching onto this notion. So what are we supposed to conclude?

Keep in mind that this is the same governor who has repeatedly made outlandish and false allegations about the dangers present in the state, and in the process has further driven down tourism and economic optimism alike.

Her obsession with mythical beheadings and other fictions meant to support the misbegotten arguments for SB 1070 would be laughable if they weren't so damaging to our collective identity as Arizonans.

The "dumbing down" of politics may be in vogue, but we deserve better.
(c) 2010 Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., teaches peace studies at Prescott College and serves as the executive director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association. His most recent book is the co-edited volume "Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009).

Larry shows what he thinks of the middle class!

At Last, Larry's Gone

Thank God and Harvard - he's gone. But not before doing extraordinary damage to America's middle class and to the man who hired him. He is Larry Summers, chief architect of Barack Obama's squirrelly Wall Street policies.

Among his credits are: (1) the decision to allow the Wall Street banksters who crashed our economy to keep their jobs and fat bonus payments; (2) a Wall Street reform package that leaves the disastrous too-big-to-fail banks bigger than ever, with no requirement that they start investing in grassroots businesses to rebuild our economy; and, (3) the administration's rejection of a big, bold, FDR-style approach to America's jobless crisis, thus leaving millions of working families mired in what Summers blithely admits is "a jobless recovery."

Heck of a job, Larry. His sorry tenure just shows that having a PhD doesn't mean you can do the J.O.B.

Actually, we should not be surprised that this Harvard professor served Wall Street rather than our streets. As a top Treasury official in the Clinton years, Summers was one of the "brilliant ones" who preached and implemented the financial deregulatory hokum that caused the 2007 banking collapse.

Prior to the collapse, Summers was both a trusted favorite of the financial barons and one of their hirelings, having pocketed nearly $8 million in fees from the likes of Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. After the collapse - and with Obama coming to power - they moved him into the White House to sit right next to the new president.

Having done his job for the Street, Summers is now moving on, leaving America and Obama stuck in a Jobs Depression that is both economically and politically disastrous. He's returning to the cushy confines of his tenured professorship at Harvard - and undoubtedly to more of those lucrative fees from his grateful friends on Wall Street.
(c) 2010 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

What The Pot Legalization Campaign Really Threatens
By David Sirota

Here's a fact that even drug policy reform advocates can acknowledge: California's 2010 ballot initiative to legalize marijuana does, indeed, pose a real threat, as conservative culture warriors insist. But not to public health, as those conservatives claim.

According to most physicians, pot is less toxic - and has more medicinal applications - than a legal and more pervasive drug like alcohol. Whereas alcohol causes hundreds of annual overdose deaths, contributes to untold numbers of illnesses and is a major factor in violent crime, marijuana has never resulted in a fatal overdose and has not been systemically linked to major illness or violent crime.

So this ballot measure is no public health threat. If anything, it would give the millions of citizens who want to use inebriating substances a safer alternative to alcohol. Which, of course, gets to what this ballot initiative really endangers: alcohol industry profits.

That truth is underscored by news this week that the California Beer and Beverage Distributors is financing the campaign against the legalization initiative. This is the same group that bankrolled opposition to a 2008 ballot measure, which would have reduced penalties for marijuana possession.

By these actions, alcohol companies are admitting that more sensible drug policies could cut into their government-created monopoly on mind-altering substances. Thus, they are fighting back - and not just defensively. Unsatisfied with protecting turf in California, the alcohol industry is going on offense, as evidenced by a recent article inadvertently highlighting America's inane double standards.

Apparently oblivious to the issues the California campaign is now raising, Businessweek just published an elated puff piece headlined "Keeping Pabst Blue Ribbon Cool." Touting the beer's loyal following, the magazine quoted one PBR executive effusively praising a rate of alcohol consumption that would pickle the average liver.

"A lot of blue-collar workers I've talked to say 'I've been drinking a six-pack of Pabst, every single day, seven days a week, for 25 years,'" he gushed, while another executive added "It's, like, habitual - it's part of their life. It's their lifestyle."

Discussing possible plans to "develop a whole beer brand around troops" - one that devotes some proceeds to military organizations - the executives said their vision is "that when you see Red White & Blue (beer) at your barbecue, you know that money's supporting people who have died for our country."

Imagine marijuana substituted for alcohol in this story. The article would be presented as a scary expose about workers smoking a daily dime-bag and marijuana growers' linking pot with the Army. Undoubtedly, such an article would be on the front page of every newspaper as cause for outrage. Yet, because this was about alcohol - remember, a substance more toxic than marijuana - it was buried in a financial magazine and depicted as something to extol.

Couple that absurd hypocrisy with the vociferous opposition to California's initiative, and we see the meta-message.

We are asked to believe that people drinking a daily six-pack for a quarter-century is not a lamentable sign of a health crisis, but instead a "lifestyle" triumph worthy of flag-colored celebration - and we are expected to think that legalizing a safer alternative to this "lifestyle" is dangerous. Likewise, as laws obstruct veterans from obtaining doctor-prescribed marijuana for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, we are asked to believe that shotgunning cans of lager is the real way to "support our troops."

These are the delusions that a liquor-drenched culture prevents us from reconsidering. In a society drunk off of alcohol propaganda - a society of presidential "beer summits" and sports stadiums named after beer companies - we've had trouble separating fact from fiction. Should California pass its ballot initiative, perhaps a more sober and productive drug policy might finally become a reality.
(c) 2010 David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @davidsirota. David is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee.

Religion - A Tool For Human Suffering
By James Donahue

The religious extremists have been taking a lot of the heat as Christians, Moslems and Jews continue to pare off in military and social conflict. While the foundations of all of these belief systems teach love and compassion, an examination of religious doctrines exposes not only a tolerance but a deep-rooted demand for human suffering.

Soldiers that go to war always do so believing the God is on their side of the conflict. Islamic extremists strap bombs to their bodies and blow themselves up in crowded buildings and markets, believing that they will be rewarded for such an extreme personal sacrifice in the name of Allah. Radical Christians that stand opposed to abortion have been willing to murder practicing medical doctors that offer this service, believing they are doing "God's will."

The Old Testament God demanded blood sacrifices of animals on stone altars, which Christians believe were a prelude to the ultimate blood sacrifice, the killing of their messiah Jesus Christ, who supposedly died for the salvation of all that believed he was the Son of God. This same God allegedly ordered the Hebrew army under Joshua to attack the Canaanite city of Jericho and murder all of its citizens.

This was the God that tested the faith of Job in a strange spiritual duel with Satan. Job experienced extreme suffering, losing his family, his wealth and his health before his ordeal came to an end.

This kind of thinking . . . that faith requires suffering and sacrifice during our life on Earth . . . is still influencing human behavior today. In many cases, however, the definitions of those who suffer and those who decide which group suffers and how they suffer, are straying even from the harsh rules established by the Old Testament books.

The wealthy create suffering among the poor. The soldiers that win in battle rape and pillage the victims of defeat. The police and courts inflict creative punishments and sometimes death on those charged and convicted of crimes. People shun and sometimes use malicious tactics to drive people deemed undesirable from their neighborhoods. Where is the love?

The religious effect on societies everywhere has promoted largely the suffering of women and children. Women appear to be regarded as second class citizens throughout the Middle East and much of the Christian world. Moslems require women to always have their heads if not their entire bodies covered when appearing in public. Many Christian churches still expect women to have their heads covered when attending church services. This practice stems from various Hebrew traditions expressed in the Old Testament. Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthians that "every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoreth her head for that is even all one as if she were shaven."

Women are not allowed to rise to positions of leadership in most religious political structures. It has only been in recent years that women have been ordained into the ministry in some Christian denominations.

In Middle Eastern countries women are not allowed to drive a car. An Iranian woman accused of adultery made international news when she was sentenced to be stoned to death. Her fate remains unclear even as this is being written.

The children within many strict Christian homes may suffer harsh punishments for misbehavior if parents abide by the Old Testament order: "Spare the rod and spoil the child." Indeed the Book of Proverbs instructs: "Withhold not correction from a child: for it thou strike him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod and deliver his soul from hell." (Proverbs 23:13-14)

In America the suffering brought on by religious/social belief systems has become so interwoven in our society that they creep in and out of our laws. The 1973 Supreme Court decision on the infamous case of Roe vs. Wade failed to resolve the abortion issue that has divided the nation for a very long time. Some extreme religious groups would force women to carry pregnancies to term even though the child is the result of rape or incest, or medical tests reveal that the fetus is in some way mentally or physically impaired. In some cases completion of the pregnancy puts the mother's life or health at risk.

There are still archaic laws on the books in many American communities that make it illegal for consenting but unmarried adults to fornicate. Legally the act is called "lewd and lascivious behavior."

The nation's anti-drug laws can be linked to the religious zeal for human suffering. A recent study showed that the use of marijuana and certain other drugs like amphetamines are on the rise during these uncertain times of high unemployment and poverty. The need for escape from reality is high and the fact that more people are turning to such drugs, including alcohol for temporary relief is understandable. Yet the nation's unwinnable and costly War on Drugs rages on, with the police and the courts actively doing all they can to obstruct, punish and force the offenders into even more intense suffering.

Even though marijuana has been shown to have a variety of medical benefits, including pain relief and relief of the violent effects of radiation therapy, and voters in many states have approved its sale as a medical treatment, it remains classified as a controlled substance under federal law. Local pot growers are in constant conflict with federal authorities because of conflicting laws.

There has been a ridiculous political and religious-driven movement in the country to stop doctors from writing prescriptions for pain medications because of a growing misuse of such drugs by others seeking alternative ways to "get high." Consequently those who really suffer from the intense pains of arthritis, back and neck injuries, cancer and a long list of other afflictions are often under medicated. Doctors fear writing prescriptions for effective pain relief for fear of attracting the attention of federal authorities and consequently losing their licenses to practice medicine.

Indeed, the world is suffering and in great pain just now and all of it is unnecessary. The religious dogma plants a fear of death in the hearts of both believers and non-believers that have grown up in our society. People are dying in slow and painful agony in our hospitals because they fear death unnecessarily. Many give doctors the authority to use all of the modern tools at their disposal to keep their bodies alive by mechanical means rather than cross over into the void that they fear. Insurance companies are picking up the tab for these long and agonizing deaths.

Dr. Jack Kevorkian, who attempted to offer a painless and dignified alternative way for people with terminal illnesses to check out, was sentenced to prison on murder charges. The Christian-driven agenda maintains that doctor assisted suicides are sinful and therefore illegal. How insane is that?

The Christian Faith web site offers the following explanation for believing that God wants people to suffer and experience pain. The writer of the article said experiencing pain is the body's natural way of telling us that something is wrong.

"If it wasn't for the fact that we suffer and experience pain, we might become totally detached and say that all is well," the writer argued. And to this we ask what could be wrong with perceiving a perfect environment where all is, indeed, well?

But the writer goes on with the following argument: "We will never be able to escape from pain even by means of drugs or suicide. The reason for this is that there is an afterlife. This world is only a test to see who will ultimately choose to love and worship the only one worthy of our total love and affection - God himself."

And in that paragraph we find the great flaws in the Christian philosophy. The church argues that pain is required, as in the case of Job, to test true believers of their love of God. It assures that there is an afterlife, but that only those who remain strong in their love and worship of God, in spite of the suffering that comes their way, will make it into Heaven to be with Jesus in the afterlife. Everybody else is doomed to an eternity of even more intense suffering in a pit of fire and brimstone.

Does that sound like a world created by a loving God? We would argue that all of the world religious systems are out of touch with reality. It was never intended for humans to suffer, but rather that we live a life of love and joy. Unfortunately we took a wrong path some thousands of years in the past and humans have been living in pain and inflicting wounds on themselves ever since.
(c) 2010 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site.

Activists fly a kite to protest against the cultivation of genetically modified maize. (AFP)

GM Maize 'Has Polluted Rivers Across the United States'
By Steve Connor

An insecticide used in genetically modified (GM) crops grown extensively in the United States and other parts of the world has leached into the water of the surrounding environment.

The insecticide is the product of a bacterial gene inserted into GM maize and other cereal crops to protect them against insects such as the European corn borer beetle. Scientists have detected the insecticide in a significant number of streams draining the great corn belt of the American mid-West.

The researchers detected the bacterial protein in the plant detritus that was washed off the corn fields into streams up to 500 metres away. They are not yet able to determine how significant this is in terms of the risk to either human health or the wider environment.

"Our research adds to the growing body of evidence that corn crop byproducts can be dispersed throughout a stream network, and that the compounds associated with genetically modified crops, such as insecticidal proteins, can enter nearby water bodies," said Emma Rosi-Marshall of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York.

GM crops are widely cultivated except in Britain and other parts of Europe. In 2009, more than 85 per cent of American corn crops were genetically modified to either repel pests or to be tolerant to herbicides used to kill weeds in a cultivated field.

The GM maize, or corn as it is called in the US, has a gene from the bacterium Bacillus thuriengensis (Bt) inserted into it to repel the corn borer beetle. The Bt gene produces a protein called Cry(12A)b which has insectidical properties.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, analysed 217 streams in Indiana. The scientists found 86 per cent of the sites contained corn leaves, husks, stalks or cereal cobs in their channels and 13 per cent contained detectable levels of the insectidical Cry(12A)b proteins.

"The tight linkage between corn fields and streams warrants further research into how corn byproducts, including Cr(12A)b insecticidal proteins, potentially impact non-target ecosystems, such as streams and wetlands," Dr Rosi-Marshall said.

All of the stream sites with detectable insecticidal proteins were located within 500 metres of a corn field. The ramifications are vast just in Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana, where about 90 per cent of the streams and rivers - some 159,000 miles of waterways - are also located within 500 metres of corn fields.

After corn crops are harvested, a common agricultural practice is to leave discarded plant material on the fields. This "no-till" form of agriculture minimises soil erosion, but it then also sets the stage for corn byproducts to enter nearby stream channels.
is the Science Editor for the Independent

Domestic Disturbance
FBI Raids Bring the Terror War Home
By Chris Floyd

I'm sure that if I had met Paul Craig Roberts 25 years ago -- or indeed, had even known of his existence -- I would have felt strongly antagonistic toward this Reagan Administration apparatchik and all that he stood for. And for all I know, if I met him today, I still might find that we were at loggerheads on some issues, maybe many issues.

But I must say there are few people out there today speaking truth about power with the unblinking, unvarnished ferocity of Roberts. (And as I've noted here before, it is speaking truth about power -- not the old cliche of "speaking truth to power" -- that we so desperately need. There's no point in speaking truth to power -- power already knows the truth of its monstrous crimes, and it doesn't give a damn.) Time and again, I've started to write a post about some outrage only to find that Roberts has already been there, laying into the issue with a flaming brand.

And so it was today, when I came in from a gorgeous autumn afternoon -- one of those bright, crisp, golden days that break through the English gloom like some rare flower -- and saw the stories about the FBI raids on antiwar activists across the United States. I know that domestic duties -- that is to say, the actual living of one's life, the common and deeply meaningful byt that lies far beyond the howling madness of power -- would as usual keep me from writing until the wee hours, but I thought: I'll have to take this up later, I think I have something to say about this.

But by the time that night had come, and duties were done, and loved ones were asleep, I found that, once again, Roberts was already on the case. He too had something to say -- everything that I was going to say, in fact, and more. So I'll just let Roberts speak the truth, beginning with his title: "It is Official: The US is a Police State":

Now we know what Homeland Security (sic) secretary Janet Napolitano meant when she said on September 10: "The old view that 'if we fight the terrorists abroad, we won't have to fight them here' is just that - the old view." The new view, Napolitano said, is "to counter violent extremism right here at home."

"Violent extremism" is one of those undefined police state terms that will mean whatever the government wants it to mean. In this morning's FBI foray into the homes of American citizens of conscience, it means antiwar activists, whose activities are equated with "the material support of terrorism," just as conservatives equated Vietnam era antiwar protesters with giving material support to communism.

Antiwar activist Mick Kelly, whose home was raided, sees the FBI raids as harassment to intimidate those who organize war protests. I wonder if Kelly is underestimating the threat. The FBI's own words clearly indicate that the federal police agency and the judges who signed the warrants do not regard antiwar protesters as Americans exercising their Constitutional rights, but as unpatriotic elements offering material support to terrorism.

"Material support" is another of those undefined police state terms. In this context the term means that Americans who fail to believe their government's lies and instead protest its policies, are supporting their government's declared enemies and, thus, are not exercising their civil liberties but committing treason.

I agree that the threat goes far beyond mere harassment. Roberts goes on to spell out one of the first thoughts I had on reading these stories: that those who are accused of the slightest association with "terrorism" -- on little evidence, on manufactured evidence, or no evidence whatsoever -- are now subject to the merciless, lawless mechanisms of the Terror War state:

As this initial FBI foray is a softening up move to get the public accustomed to the idea that the real terrorists are their fellow citizens here at home, Kelly will get off this time. But next time the FBI will find emails on his computer from a "terrorist group" set up by the CIA that will incriminate him. Under the practices put in place by the Bush and Obama regimes, and approved by corrupt federal judges, protesters who have been compromised by fake terrorist groups can be declared "enemy combatants" and sent off to Egypt, Poland, or some other corrupt American puppet state - Canada perhaps - to be tortured until confession is forthcoming that antiwar protesters and, indeed, every critic of the US government, are on Osama bin Laden's payroll.

Of course, they can also just be killed outright, without charges, without due process, at the lawless whim of the president or one of his designated minions -- or indeed, one of the literally thousands of people, many of them foreigners, that the United States government now pays to roam various regions of the earth killing people: blowing them up in their houses, murdering them in their beds, machine-gunning their children, drone-bombing their neighborhoods, knifing them on street corners, pushing them out of windows, poisoning them in restaurants, whatever. Just this week, the lawyers of the Peace Laureate were in federal court trying zealously to quash a civil lawsuit that would threaten the president's unrestricted power to kill American citizens without the slightest pretense of due process, if he feels like it.

(It is astonishing -- unbelievable -- that one could even write such a sentence, that this is the kind of state we live in. That is, it would be astonishing and unbelievable -- if I hadn't been writing sentences just like it for almost nine years, since my first piece on George Bush's assertion of this universal power of life and death, back in November 2001.)

Roberts notes the deeper implications of the "terrorism" taint that the government of the Peace Laureate is now smearing across the antiwar movement:

Almost every Republican and conservative and, indeed, the majority of Americans will fall for this, only to find, later, that it is subversive to complain that their Social Security was cut in the interest of the war against Iran or some other demonized entity, or that they couldn't have a Medicare operation because the wars in Central Asia and South America required the money.

Americans are the most gullible people who ever existed. They tend to support the government instead of the Constitution, and almost every Republican and conservative regards civil liberty as a coddling device that encourages criminals and terrorists.

The US media, highly concentrated in violation of the American principle of a diverse and independent media, will lend its support to the witch hunts that will close down all protests and independent thought in the US over the next few years. As the Nazi leader Joseph Goebbels said, "think of the press as a great keyboard on which the Government can play."

But this is not all. Roberts had yet another piece out this weekend that also spoke to the accelerating corruption that seems to be raging through the American political system -- and the American populace -- like some vomitous fever that nothing can quell: "The Collapse of Western Morality." He begins, however, by setting the historical context:

Yes, I know, as many readers will be quick to inform me, the West never had any morality. Nevertheless things have gotten worse. In hopes that I will be permitted to make a point, permit me to acknowledge that the US dropped nuclear bombs on two Japanese cities, fire-bombed Tokyo, that Great Britain and the US fire-bombed Dresden and a number of other German cities, expending more destructive force, according to some historians, against the civilian German population than against the German armies, that President Grant and his Civil War war criminals, Generals Sherman and Sheridan, committed genocide against the Plains Indians, that the US today enables Israel's genocidal policies against the Palestinians, policies that one Israeli official has compared to 19th century US genocidal policies against the American Indians, that the US in the new 21st century invaded Iraq and Afghanistan on contrived pretenses, murdering countless numbers of civilians, and that British prime minister Tony Blair lent the British army to his American masters, as did other NATO countries, all of whom find themselves committing war crimes under the Nuremberg standard in lands in which they have no national interests, but for which they receive an American pay check.

I don't mean these few examples to be exhaustive. I know the list goes on and on. Still, despite the long list of horrors, moral degradation is reaching new lows. The US now routinely tortures prisoners, despite its strict illegality under US and international law, and a recent poll shows that the percentage of Americans who approve of torture is rising. Indeed, it is quite high, though still just below a majority.

And we have what appears to be a new thrill: American soldiers using the cover of war to murder civilians. Recently American troops were arrested for murdering Afghan civilians for fun and collecting trophies such as fingers and skulls.

This revelation came on the heels of Pfc. Bradley Manning's alleged leak of a US Army video of US soldiers in helicopters and their controllers thousands of miles away having fun with joy sticks murdering members of the press and Afghan civilians. Manning is cursed with a moral conscience that has been discarded by his government and his military, and Manning has been arrested for obeying the law and reporting a war crime to the American people.

US Rep. Mike Rogers, a Republican, of course, from Michigan, who is on the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, has called for Manning's execution. According to US Rep. Rogers it is an act of treason to report an American war crime.

In other words, to obey the law constitutes "treason to America."

The US government, a font of imperial hubris, does not believe that any act it commits, no matter how vile, can possibly be a war crime. One million dead Iraqis, a ruined country, and four million displaced Iraqis are all justified, because the "threatened" US Superpower had to protect itself from nonexistent weapons of mass destruction that the US government knew for a fact were not in Iraq and could not have been a threat to the US if they were in Iraq.

Yes, in the transvaluation of all values that is the American power cult, this is where we are: genuine morality is illegal, compassion is outlawed, dissent is treason, and justice is a crime.


Midnight has come and gone. The golden day is a memory; they speak of rain tomorrow. In the face of all these mounting horrors, I keep thinking of byt, of Pasternak, and some words I wrote a few years ago. I think I'll end with them.

... Within his conventional narrative of shattering passions and historic upheavals, Pasternak subtly diffuses a deeply subversive philosophy that overthrows power structures and modes of thought that have dominated human life for thousands of years. Yet remarkably, this far-reaching, radical notion is based on one of the most humble concepts and lowly words in the Russian language: byt.

The word has no precise equivalent in English, but in general it means the ordinary "stuff" of life: the daily round, the chores, the cares and duties, the business and busyness that drives existence forward ...

In contrast to this mundane and deadening level stands the realm of the transcendent: the "great questions" of life, the grand abstractions - nation, faith, ideology, honor, prosperity, family, security, righteousness, glory - for which millions fight and die. It's the world of power, fueled by the dynamic of dominance and servitude - a dialectic that governs relationships in every realm: political, economic, religious, artistic, personal. Everywhere, hierarchies abound, even among the most professedly egalitarian groups, from monasteries to movie sets, from ashrams to activist collectives. Everywhere we find, in Leonard Cohen's witty take, "the homicidal bitchin'/That goes down in every kitchen/To determine who will serve and who will eat."

This, we are given to understand, is the real world, the important world, far above the tawdry, tedious humdrum that fills the dead hours between epiphanies and exaltations. The Russian Revolution is of course one of history's great manifestations of this dynamic, where the "transcendent," world-shaking abstractions of ideology and high politics (imperialism, capitalism, revolution, Bolshevism) uprooted whole nations and produced suffering and dehumanization on an almost unimaginable scale. The modern era's "War on Terror" bids fair to surpass the Revolution in this regard, with its wildly inflated rhetoric and grand abstractions, its epiphanies of violence and exaltations of terror - on both sides - inflaming a conflict that has already devoured nations and destabilized the entire globe. The dominance paradigm - so thoroughly worked into our consciousness, so ever-present in our interactions, large and small, public and private - is the engine driving this vast machinery of death and ruin.

But below this "higher plane" lies the reality of byt. Far from the soul-killing muck that Nabokov found so distasteful, in Pasternak's hands the true nature of byt is revealed: creative, sustaining, nurturing, an infinite source of meaning. For the most part, the novel conveys this indirectly, in passages where Pasternak shows us byt in action - people going about their work, having quiet conversations, preparing food, fixing stoves, tending gardens, washing floors - or in the richly detailed backgrounds and descriptions given for minor characters who pop up briefly in the narrative then are rarely, perhaps never, seen again.

Over the years, some critics have decried these passages as the clumsy strokes of a fictional amateur, a poet gamely trying and failing to match the rich plenitude of Tolstoy's novels. (And to be fair, the English translations of the novel, though serviceable, are hobbled by clunky prose that ill-serves the original Russian.) But surely Pasternak, a writer of immense talent and intelligence, knew exactly what he was doing with these portions of the novel. The "clumsy" strokes that brake and complicate the grand narrative are central to the book's meaning. "Zhivago" means "the living," its root word is "life." And life is immense, comprising every aspect, every atom of reality. "Life, always one and the same, always incomprehensibly keeping its identity, fills the universe and is renewed in every moment in innumerable combinations and metamorphoses," as Zhivago says at one point. It is in the careful observation and deeply felt experiencing of the details of daily life that the meaning of existence can be found - or rather, consciously created....

One last passage from Zhivago provides a striking encapsulation of this, although a word should be said about the Christian symbolism it employs - a symbolism worked deeply into the plan and language of the entire novel. As Pasternak told one interviewer, the religious symbols were "put into the book the way stoves go into a house - to warm it up. Now they would like me to commit myself and climb into the stove." Later he added: "The novel must not be judged on theological lines. Nothing is further removed from my understanding of the world. One must live and write restlessly, with the help of new reserves that life offers. I am weary of this notion of faithfulness to a point of view at all cost. The great heroic devotion to one point of view is very alien to me - it's a lack of humility. "

Here Pasternak, like his Zhivago, resists adherence to any party line, even one that he finds enormously congenial, like Christianity. It is not in pious certainties but in the humble, shifting, temporary coalescences of everyday existence, in byt, that some measure of always-imperfect, always-provisional meaning can be found.

But the languages of faith - structures that for centuries were the chief embodiment and expression of the human yearning for illumination, encounter and escape from the brutalities of dominance and servitude - can still serve as vehicles to convey a deeper reality, as Pasternak shows here, in the voice of one of his characters, the philosopher Nikolai Vendenyapin:

"I think that if the beast who sleeps in man could be held down by threats - any kind of threat, whether of jail or retribution after death - then the highest emblem of humanity would be the lion-tamer with his whip, not the preacher who sacrificed himself. But don't you see, this is just the point - what has for centuries raised man above the beast is not the cudgel but an inward music: the irresistible power of unarmed truth, the attraction of its example. It has always been assumed that the most important things in the Gospels are the ethical teaching and commandments. But for me the most important thing is the fact that Christ speaks in parables taken from daily life, that he explains the truth in terms of everyday reality. The idea that underlies this is that communion between mortals is immortal, and that the whole of life is symbolic because the whole of it has meaning."

Immortal communion, in the transient, private, churning flow of byt: this is what Pasternak offers as an alternative to the violent estrangement of the "overworld," to its violence and fear, its bombast and lies. This lowly word could bring down empires, and stands in defiance of death itself.

(c) 2010 Chris Floyd

Obama And Biden Try Scolding Voters To The Polls
By Matthew Rothschild

Obama told Rolling Stone that it's "inexcusable" and "irresponsible" for Democratic voters not to turn out in droves on Nov. 2. "Buck up," he said.

And Biden said Democrats should "stop whining and get out there and look at the alternatives."

But Democratic voters, and for that matter, progressive and independent voters, aren't children who can be sent to their rooms without supper until Election Day.

They're citizens. And many of them are disillusioned with the Obama Administration, and for good reason.

The progressive base has repeatedly been kicked by the Obama administration-from single payer all the way to Afghanistan.

Progressives didn't vote for more drone attacks on Pakistan.

Progressives didn't vote for giving the President the right to assassinate U.S. citizens.

Progressives didn't vote for Obama to keep Guantanamo open, or to continue with kidnappings of people to Bagram Air Base, where they are deprived of due process.

Progressives didn't vote for Obama to let the FBI raid the homes of leftwing political activists.

Rank and file Democrats, as well as Independents, can't point to enough tangible things the Administration has done for them.

Official unemployment, after all, stands at 9.6 percent.

Real wages are down.

Foreclosures are rampant.

The banks got bailed out, and the CEOS on Wall Street got their big bonuses, but almost everyone else has gotten short shrift.

The enthusiasm that was palpable two years ago to get rid of Bush and Cheney and to make history by electing Barack Obama simply no longer exists.

And you can't create enthusiasm by lecturing people. You actually have to deliver for them.
(c)2010 Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine.

Structure Of Excuses
By Paul Krugman

What can be done about mass unemployment? All the wise heads agree: there are no quick or easy answers. There is work to be done, but workers aren't ready to do it - they're in the wrong places, or they have the wrong skills. Our problems are "structural," and will take many years to solve.

But don't bother asking for evidence that justifies this bleak view. There isn't any. On the contrary, all the facts suggest that high unemployment in America is the result of inadequate demand - full stop. Saying that there are no easy answers sounds wise, but it's actually foolish: our unemployment crisis could be cured very quickly if we had the intellectual clarity and political will to act.

In other words, structural unemployment is a fake problem, which mainly serves as an excuse for not pursuing real solutions.

Who are these wise heads I'm talking about? The most widely quoted figure is Narayana Kocherlakota, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, who has attracted a lot of attention by insisting that dealing with high unemployment isn't a Fed responsibility: "Firms have jobs, but can't find appropriate workers. The workers want to work, but can't find appropriate jobs," he asserts, concluding that "It is hard to see how the Fed can do much to cure this problem."

Now, the Minneapolis Fed is known for its conservative outlook, and claims that unemployment is mainly structural do tend to come from the right of the political spectrum. But some people on the other side of the aisle say similar things. For example, former President Bill Clinton recently told an interviewer that unemployment remained high because "people don't have the job skills for the jobs that are open."

Well, I'd respectfully suggest that Mr. Clinton talk to researchers at the Roosevelt Institute and the Economic Policy Institute, both of which have recently released important reports completely debunking claims of a surge in structural unemployment.

After all, what should we be seeing if statements like those of Mr. Kocherlakota or Mr. Clinton were true? The answer is, there should be significant labor shortages somewhere in America - major industries that are trying to expand but are having trouble hiring, major classes of workers who find their skills in great demand, major parts of the country with low unemployment even as the rest of the nation suffers.

None of these things exist. Job openings have plunged in every major sector, while the number of workers forced into part-time employment in almost all industries has soared. Unemployment has surged in every major occupational category. Only three states, with a combined population not much larger than that of Brooklyn, have unemployment rates below 5 percent.

Oh, and where are these firms that "can't find appropriate workers"? The National Federation of Independent Business has been surveying small businesses for many years, asking them to name their most important problem; the percentage citing problems with labor quality is now at an all-time low, reflecting the reality that these days even highly skilled workers are desperate for employment.

So all the evidence contradicts the claim that we're mainly suffering from structural unemployment. Why, then, has this claim become so popular?

Part of the answer is that this is what always happens during periods of high unemployment - in part because pundits and analysts believe that declaring the problem deeply rooted, with no easy answers, makes them sound serious.

I've been looking at what self-proclaimed experts were saying about unemployment during the Great Depression; it was almost identical to what Very Serious People are saying now. Unemployment cannot be brought down rapidly, declared one 1935 analysis, because the work force is "unadaptable and untrained. It cannot respond to the opportunities which industry may offer." A few years later, a large defense buildup finally provided a fiscal stimulus adequate to the economy's needs - and suddenly industry was eager to employ those "unadaptable and untrained" workers.

But now, as then, powerful forces are ideologically opposed to the whole idea of government action on a sufficient scale to jump-start the economy. And that, fundamentally, is why claims that we face huge structural problems have been proliferating: they offer a reason to do nothing about the mass unemployment that is crippling our economy and our society.

So what you need to know is that there is no evidence whatsoever to back these claims. We aren't suffering from a shortage of needed skills; we're suffering from a lack of policy resolve. As I said, structural unemployment isn't a real problem, it's an excuse - a reason not to act on America's problems at a time when action is desperately needed.
(c) 2010 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence--on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations. Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried, not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed. It conducts the Cold War, in short, with a war-time discipline no democracy would ever hope or wish to match."

~~~ President John F. Kennedy ~ April 27, 1961 ~~~

Retribution For A World Lost In Screens
By Chris Hedges

Nemesis was the Greek goddess of retribution. She exacted divine punishment on arrogant mortals who believed they could defy the gods, turn themselves into objects of worship and build ruthless systems of power to control the world around them. The price of such hubris was almost always death.

Nemesis, related to the Greek word nˇmein, means "to give what is due." Our nemesis fast approaches. We will get what we are due. The staggering myopia of our corrupt political and economic elite, which plunder the nation's wealth for financial speculation and endless war, the mass retreat of citizens into virtual hallucinations, the collapsing edifices around us, which include the ecosystem that sustains life, are ignored for a giddy self-worship. We stare into electronic screens just as Narcissus, besotted with his own reflection, stared into a pool of water until he wasted away and died.

We believe that because we have the capacity to wage war we have the right to wage war. We believe that money, rather than manufactured products and goods, is real. We believe in the myth of inevitable human moral and material progress. We believe that no matter how much damage we do to the Earth or our society, science and technology will save us. And as temperatures on the planet steadily rise, as droughts devastate cropland, as the bleaching of coral reefs threatens to wipe out 25 percent of all marine species, as countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh succumb to severe flooding, as we poison our food, air and water, as we refuse to confront our addiction to fossil fuels and coal, as we dismantle our manufacturing base and plunge tens of millions of Americans into a permanent and desperate underclass, we flick on a screen and are entranced.

We confuse the electronic image, a reflection back to us of ourselves, with the divine. We gawk at "reality" television, which of course is contrived reality, reveling in being the viewer and the viewed. True reality is obliterated from our consciousness. It is the electronic image that informs and defines us. It is the image that gives us our identity. It is the image that tells us what is attainable in the vast cult of the self, what we should desire, what we should seek to become and who we are. It is the image that tricks us into thinking we have become powerful-as the popularity of video games built around the themes of violence and war illustrates-while we have become enslaved and impoverished by the corporate state. The electronic image leads us back to the worship of ourselves. It is idolatry. Reality is replaced with electronic mechanisms for preening self-presentation-the core of social networking sites such as Facebook-and the illusion of self-fulfillment and self-empowerment. And in a world unmoored from the real, from human limitations and human potential, we inevitably embrace superstition and magic. This is what the worship of images is about. We retreat into a dark and irrational fear born out of a cavernous ignorance of the real. We enter an age of technological barbarism.

To those entranced by images, the world is a vast stage on which they are called to enact their dreams. It is a world of constant action, stimulation and personal advancement. It is a world of thrills and momentary ecstasy. It is a world of ceaseless movement. It makes a fetish of competition. It is a world where commercial products and electronic images serve as a pseudo-therapy that caters to feelings of alienation, inadequacy and powerlessness. We may be locked in dead-end jobs, have no meaningful relationships and be confused about our identities, but we can blast our way to power holding a little control panel while looking for hours at a screen. We can ridicule the poor, the ignorant and the weak all day long on trash-talk shows and reality television shows. We are skillfully made to feel that we have a personal relationship, a false communion, with the famous-look at the outpouring of grief at the death of Princess Diana or Michael Jackson. We have never met those we adore. We know only their manufactured image. They appear to us on screens. They are not, at least to us, real people. And yet we worship and seek to emulate them.

In this state of cultural illusion any description of actual reality, because it does not consist of the happy talk that pollutes the airwaves from National Public Radio to Oprah, is dismissed as "negative" or "pessimistic." The beleaguered Jeremiahs who momentarily stumble into our consciousness and in a desperate frenzy seek to warn us of our impending self-destruction are derided because they do not lay out easy formulas that permit us to drift back into fantasy. We tell ourselves they are overreacting. If reality is a bummer, and if there are no easy solutions, we don't want to hear about it. The facts of economic and environmental collapse, now incontrovertible, cannot be discussed unless they are turned into joking banter or come accompanied with a neat, pleasing solution, the kind we are fed at the conclusion of the movies, electronic games, talk shows and sitcoms, the kind that dulls our minds into passive and empty receptacles. We have been conditioned by electronic hallucinations to expect happy talk. We demand it.

We confuse this happy talk with hope. But hope is not about a belief in progress. Hope is about protecting simple human decency and demanding justice. Hope is the belief, not necessarily grounded in the tangible, that those whose greed, stupidity and complacency have allowed us to be driven over a cliff shall one day be brought down. Hope is about existing in a perpetual state of rebellion, a constant antagonism to all centers of power. The great moral voices, George Orwell and Albert Camus being perhaps two of the finest examples, describe in moving detail the human suffering we ignore or excuse. They understand that the greatest instrument for moral good is the imagination. The ability to perceive the pain and suffering of another, to feel, as King Lear says, what wretches feel, is a more powerful social corrective than the shelves of turgid religious and philosophical treatises on human will. Those who change the world for the better, who offer us hope, have the capacity to make us step outside of ourselves and feel empathy.

A print-based culture, as writer Neil Postman pointed out, demands rationality. The sequential, propositional character of the written word fosters what Walter Ong calls the "analytic management of knowledge." But our brave new world of images dispenses with these attributes because the images do not require them to be understood. Communication in the image-based culture is not about knowledge. It is about the corporate manipulation of emotions, something logic, order, nuance and context protect us against. Thinking, in short, is forbidden. Entertainment and spectacle have become the aim of all human endeavors, including politics, which is how Stephen Colbert, playing his television character, can be permitted to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. Campaigns are built around the manufactured personal narratives of candidates, who function as political celebrities, rather than policies or ideas. News reports have become soap operas and mini-dramas revolving around the latest celebrity scandal.

Colleges and universities, which view students as customers and suck obscene tuition payments and loans out of them with the tantalizing promise of high-paying corporate jobs, have transformed themselves into resorts and theme parks. In this new system of education almost no one fails. Students become "brothers" or "sisters" in the atavistic, tribal embrace of eating clubs, fraternities or sororities. School spirit and school branding is paramount. Campus security keeps these isolated enclaves of privilege secure. And 90,000-seat football stadiums, along with their millionaire coaches, dominate the campus. It is moral leprosy.

The role of knowledge and art, as the ancient Greeks understood, is to create ekstasis, which means standing outside one's self to give our individual life and struggle meaning and perspective. The role of art and scholarship is to transform us as individuals, not entertain us as a group. It is to nurture this capacity for understanding and empathy. Art and scholarship allow us to see the underlying structures and assumptions used to manipulate and control us. And this is why art, like intellectual endeavor, is feared by the corporate elite as subversive. This is why corporations have used their money to deform universities into vocational schools that spit out blinkered and illiterate systems managers. This is why the humanities are withering away.

The vast stage of entertainment that envelops our culture is intended to impart the opposite of ekstasis. Mass entertainment plays to the basest and crudest instincts of the crowd. It conditions us to have the same aspirations and desires. It forces us to speak in the same dead clichˇs and slogans. It homogenizes human experience. It wallows in a cloying nostalgia and sentimentalism that foster historical amnesia. It turns the Other into a cartoon or a stereotype. It prohibits empathy because it prohibits understanding. It denies human singularity and uniqueness. It assures us that we all have within us the ability, talent or luck to become famous and rich. It forms us into a lowing and compliant herd. We have been conditioned to believe-defying all the great moral and philosophical writers from Socrates to Orwell-that the aim of life is not to understand but to be entertained. If we do not shake ourselves awake from our electronic hallucinations and defy the elites who are ruining the country and trashing the planet we will experience the awful and deadly retribution of the gods.
(c) 2010 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle."

The Dismantling Of Civilized Society
by David Michael Green

How stupid are you?

I mean, let's just face it, shall we? That is precisely the question the right has been asking the American public for thirty years (and more) now. And that is the question the American public has been enthusiastically answering for the same period of time.

Like a crack junkie, in fact.

In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan presented America with a set of economic lies so transparent that even a monster like George H. W. Bush called them "voodoo economics". When he was contesting Reagan for the Republican nomination, that is. Once Bush had lost it, and when he wanted to be added to the ticket as the Vice Presidential nominee, everything became hunky dory, and no more voodoo critiques were uttered. That was one of the greatest acts of treason (I choose my words carefully) in American history.

But back to Reagan. "Watch this," he said. "I'm gonna slash taxes, especially for the rich, spend huge sums on 'defense', and balance the budget at the same time."

Okay, so he wasn't a math major in college. Two out of three ain't bad, though, eh? Well, it is if you have to pay for his 'mistakes', plus interest, as so many of us continue to do to this day. Prolly not a big problem, though. Even though Americans hate taxes with the passion of the truly infantile, I'm sure they don't mind working extra hours flipping burgers each week to pay for the enrichment of the previous generation of plutocrats and defense contractors. Right?

Or maybe it's just that their answer to the "How stupid" question is: "Very."

You might think that, because Reagan and Bush actually managed to quadruple the national debt with their little exercise in national folly. Or you might especially think that because Lil' Bush came along with the exact same snake oil a decade later. You had to be stupid to buy it the first time, but you had to have been really stupid to buy it the second time. We, of course, were.

And not just in terms of federal debt, either. A generation of Reaganomics has now succeeded in suspending ninety-eight percent of the country in standard-of-living formaldehyde, so that they felt zero effect whatsoever from the substantial growth in GDP over the last thirty years, and now those policies are cutting off their legs from underneath them altogether. All while the people of Reagan's class, of course, just piled on the riches. How stupid do you have to be to not notice who's diddling you?

Very, of course, but not necessarily as stupid as is maximally possible. 'Cause, guess what? Here they come again. This week Republicans once again have issued a manifesto calling for slashing taxes on billionaires and cutting deficits, all at the same time. And once again they will win big electoral landslide victories in November despite that patent idiocy. Or perhaps because of it.

Why don't they just come out and do magic tricks, instead? Oh wait. That's their Jesus bit. Never mind.

On the one hand, I don't blame Americans for voting for the party that isn't the Democratic Party this fall. Obama and crew are miserable failures, as completely unable to provide meaningful solutions to the problems facing Americans today as they are inept at winning political fights against manifest criminals. Looking at the landscape in front of them as it appears to voters' blinkered vision, it makes perfect sense to desperately swing to the party not in government when the house is on fire and the party in government is showing up with squirt guns. What could be more logical? This is, indeed, the fundamental notion of 'responsible government' itself, and it is at the core of democratic theory.

On the other hand, of course, there are two very excellent reasons why such a vote is completely idiotic. First, because there actually are more than two alternatives to choose from. I wish we had viable third parties in America but I don't normally advocate for them, given the massive systemic improbability of their success. That said, if there was ever a moment for which a third party vote was called for, this is it.

And second, because 'the alternative' to the Democrats are the very folks who put us in these crises to start with, and they are now explicitly devoted to making conditions even worse for ordinary Americans. That's exactly what will happen, of course, and if you think the present moment is grim, wait until you see how much fun the next two years are gonna be. They're gonna look like the mangled and ferocious spawn of a tainted marriage between the Depression politics of the Hoover era, the sick depravity of McCarthyism, the relentless scandal-mongering of the Gingrich era, and the completely unmitigated greed of the Cheney years. Welcome to the dismantling of civilized society in America. Yes, yes, I know - it's quite arguable whether such a beast ever existed. Well, at least that's one debate we're about to put to rest definitively.

And we also know for sure of yet one more thing Ol' W was wrong about. Remember when he said: "There's an old saying in Tennessee - I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee - that says, fool me once, shame on - shame on you. Fool me - You can't get fooled again!"

He shoulda checked with Karl Rove and the rest of his party of predatory shucksters, who seem quite incapable of not constantly trying to fool the public. And he shoulda considered the ridiculous improbability of his own presidency before attempting to quote Pete Townshend. Not to mention the current moment. We know why the GOP has to lie, and does so compulsively. Even in contemporary America, surely the stupidest country on the planet, the homo sapiens are still sentient enough to opt out of the most overt cases of self-immolation. If kleptocratic Republicans told the truth, who in the world would ever vote for them, other than the richest two percent of Americans?

The bigger mystery is why people continue to fall for this crap over and over. This is the "shame on me" concept that Dauphin George was reaching for but couldn't quite grasp (too bad he didn't actually, er, study, when he was at Yale). How many times can fools be told the same foolish line and be fooled into foolishly falling for it, like a pack of so many fools?

It would appear that for Americans, at least, there is no limit, based on the contents of the Republicans' just released "Pledge to America" manifesto, which I could have drafted for them, so predictable is its contents. There is of course, loads of debauchery and rampant destruction in there, dressed up as piety and patriotism. But the fiscal insanity is the most egregious. Can they really pledge the old voodoo economics once again - slashing tax revenue while simultaneously cutting deficits - and get away with it? Yes they can, and yes they have.

Perhaps their lies are more plausible because they have promised to cut spending. It's just that there are two little caveats they hope you won't notice. First, that they somehow miraculously fail to specify in advance of the election what they intend to cut. Gee, I wonder why that is? Could it be that if people knew what those cuts would be they would be aghast? Or could it be - and this brings us to the other small footnote - that what they are proposing is to mathematics what a dropped object falling upward would be to physics?

As Paul Krugman notes, the Republican Pledge claims that "everything must be cut, in ways not specified - 'except for common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and our troops.' In other words, Social Security, Medicare and the defense budget are off-limits. [Krugman should have also mentioned service to the existing debt, which is one of the biggest single items in the federal budget today, and absolutely cannot be touched.] So what's left? Howard Gleckman of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has done the math. As he points out, the only way to balance the budget by 2020, while simultaneously (a) making the Bush tax cuts permanent and (b) protecting all the programs Republicans say they won't cut, is to completely abolish the rest of the federal government: 'No more national parks, no more Small Business Administration loans, no more export subsidies, no more N.I.H. No more Medicaid (one-third of its budget pays for long-term care for our parents and others with disabilities). No more child health or child nutrition programs. No more highway construction. No more homeland security. Oh, and no more Congress.'"

And yet - of course - poll data shows that the folks purveying this heap of garbage are about to be swept into office. Meanwhile, city governments are folding their tents across America, slashing all their services entirely, and the GOP is nominating former witches, anti-masturbators, racists, wrestling promoters and every other form of personal screw-up and jive con-artist to be found everywhere killers and thieves congregate.

I'm sorry, but surveying the landscape, it just feels so over now in America. We seem like little more than a popped balloon, with only the faux blustering fart noises of rapid deflation remaining where once there was an empire and once there were truly revolutionary and truly valuable ideas.

It's no accident, either, that the near-complete obsession of the tea party right and their followers is taxes. It's naked greed, it's more infantile than the politics of a kindergarten sandbox, and it's as corrosive as can be. Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society." He meant it, too. When he died, he donated his estate to the US government.

What is happening to America today is nothing short of the dismantling of such civilized society. Does anyone think the country is economically better off today than in the 1950s or 1960s? Does anyone seriously think that the Millennial Generation will be better off than their parents? Would anyone seriously bet on America today, as an economic comer? Does anyone think that the next hundred years will be the American century?

There is so much tragedy to this story that it is hard to know where to start. Perhaps the greatest ugliness of the whole affair is the self-inflicted nature of our demise, and, therefore, the complete lack of necessity for all the pain and suffering already endured and the vastly greater amounts still to come. It never had to be this way, which just makes it all the more pathetic.

If there is any silver lining here it is that the hooligans of the right will manifestly fail at governing, which at least opens up the potential for them to be rejected once again.

I will be interested - as a political scientist, not as a citizen - to see what sort of budget proposal Republicans will pass out of the House once they control it. Like Reagan and Bush before them, their numbers cannot possibly jibe. Unlike Reagan and Bush, however, they will have far less luxury to resort to the shell game of grossly irresponsible deficits as a way out of their own lies, having made deficit reduction so overtly the centerpiece of their campaign this year. The freaks of the tea party right don't seem so likely to let them off the hook for another round of campaign lies as they were the last two times out. How's that for an irony? The only prospect of real accountability for these monsters would be coming from the monsters of their own constituency.

But, assuming the GOP can find a way around that problem (perhaps by proposing a draconian pretend budget that they know could never be accepted by congressional Democrats or Obama?), I would expect them to prevail again in 2012. Unless the jobs picture changes radically in 2011 - and no economist that I know of is predicting that - Obama is complete toast. Indeed, he is probably so wounded that we might expect a Democrat or two to challenge him in the primaries for the nomination. Doesn't matter, though. Either way, whoever the Republicans nominate will be the next president.

Which is where I start to get real nervous. Governments that combine a commitment to holding power at all costs with a total absence of real policy solutions and an amoral willingness to do anything to serve their true aspirations are a truly scary prospect. History suggests that the years after 2012 could be the ones during which the wheels finally came off the wagon of what is left of American democracy.

But it could be far worse than that, too, for us and for others. The prospect of a hugely powerful empire lashing out at the rest of the world - whether in rage or seeking domestic diversion - is not a pretty one at all. The Soviet superpower was kind enough to implode rather innocuously. I'm not at all convinced that we yanks would be quite so gracious about doing the same.

I remain haunted to this day by the words of John le Carrˇ, written on the eve of the Bush invasion of Iraq: "America has entered one of its periods of historical madness, but this is the worst I can remember: worse than McCarthyism, worse than the Bay of Pigs and in the long term potentially more disastrous than the Vietnam War".

Sadly, I think he had everything right in his assessment, save for the word "periods". That term implies a temporariness to our condition that might at least make it somehow barely tolerable.

But what if it only gets worse from here?

And let's be honest. Given the nature of the Republicans, the Democrats, the media and the public in America today, how does it not?
(c) 2010 David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles, but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of his work can be found at his website,

The Dead Letter Office...

Joe comes out of the "forest!"

Heil Obama,

Dear Kandidatin Miller,

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

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

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

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Obama Argues His Assassination Program Is A 'State Secret'
By Glenn Greenwald

At this point, I didn't believe it was possible, but the Obama administration has just reached an all-new low in its abysmal civil liberties record. In response to the lawsuit filed by Anwar Awlaki's father asking a court to enjoin the President from assassinating his son, a U.S. citizen, without any due process, the administration late last night, according to The Washington Post, filed a brief asking the court to dismiss the lawsuit without hearing the merits of the claims. That's not surprising: both the Bush and Obama administrations have repeatedly insisted that their secret conduct is legal but nonetheless urge courts not to even rule on its legality. But what's most notable here is that one of the arguments the Obama DOJ raises to demand dismissal of this lawsuit is "state secrets": in other words, not only does the President have the right to sentence Americans to death with no due process or charges of any kind, but his decisions as to who will be killed and why he wants them dead are "state secrets," and thus no court may adjudicate their legality.

A very intense case of food poisoning in New York on Thursday, combined with my traveling home all night last night, prevents me from writing much about this until tomorrow (and it's what rendered the blog uncharacteristically silent for the last two days). But I would hope that nobody needs me or anyone else to explain why this assertion of power is so pernicious -- at least as pernicious as any power asserted during the Bush/Cheney years. If the President has the power to order American citizens killed with no due process, and to do so in such complete secrecy that no courts can even review his decisions, then what doesn't he have the power to do? Just for the moment, I'll note that The New York Times' Charlie Savage, two weeks ago, wrote about the possibility that Obama might raise this argument, and quoted the far-right, Bush-supporting, executive-power-revering lawyer David Rivkin as follows:

The government's increasing use of the state secrets doctrine to shield its actions from judicial review has been contentious. Some officials have argued that invoking it in the Awlaki matter, about which so much is already public, would risk a backlash. David Rivkin, a lawyer in the White House of President George H. W. Bush, echoed that concern.

"I'm a huge fan of executive power, but if someone came up to you and said the government wants to target you and you can't even talk about it in court to try to stop it, that's too harsh even for me," he said.

Having debated him before, I genuinely didn't think it was possible for any President to concoct an assertion of executive power and secrecy that would be excessive and alarming to David Rivkin, but Barack Obama managed to do that, too. Obama's now asserting a power so radical -- the right to kill American citizens and do so in total secrecy, beyond even the reach of the courts -- that it's "too harsh even for" one of the most far-right War on Terror cheerleading-lawyers in the nation. But that power is certainly not "too harsh" for the kind-hearted Constitutional Scholar we elected as President, nor for his hordes of all-justifying supporters soon to place themselves to the right of David Rivkin as they explain why this is all perfectly justified. One other thing, as always: vote Democrat, because the Republicans are scary!

* * * * *

The same Post article quotes a DOJ spokesman as saying that Awlaki "should surrender to American authorities and return to the United States, where he will be held accountable for his actions." But he's not been charged with any crimes, let alone indicted for any. The President has been trying to kill him for the entire year without any of that due process. And now the President refuses even to account to an American court for those efforts to kill this American citizen on the ground that the President's unilateral imposition of the death penalty is a "state secret." And, indeed, American courts -- at Obama's urging -- have been upholding that sort of a "state secrecy" claim even when it comes to war crimes such as torture and rendition. Does that sound like a political system to which any sane, rational person would "surrender"?

Marcy Wheeler has more on other aspects of the DOJ's arguments, and I'll have more tomorrow as well.

UPDATE: As a reminder: Obama supporters who are dutifully insisting that the President not only has the right to order American citizens killed without due process, but to do so in total secrecy, on the ground that Awlaki is a Terrorist and Traitor, are embracing those accusations without having the slightest idea whether they're actually true. All they know is that Obama has issued these accusations, which is good enough for them. That's the authoritarian mind, by definition: if the Leader accuses a fellow citizen of something, then it's true -- no trial or any due process at all is needed and there is no need even for judicial review before the decreed sentence is meted out, even when the sentence is death.

For those reciting the "Awlaki-is-a-traitor" mantra, there's also the apparently irrelevant matter that Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution (the document which these same Obama supporters pretended to care about during the Bush years) provides that "No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court." Treason is a crime that the Constitution specifically requires be proven with due process in court, not by unilateral presidential decree. And that's to say nothing of the fact that the same document -- the Constitution -- expressly forbids the deprivation of life "without due process of law." This one sentence from the Post article nicely summarizes the state of Obama's civil liberties record:

The Obama administration has cited the state-secrets argument in at least three cases since taking office - in defense of Bush-era warrantless wiretapping, surveillance of an Islamic charity, and the torture and rendition of CIA prisoners.

And now, in this case, Obama uses this secrecy and immunity weapon not to shield Bush lawlessness from judicial review, but his own.
(c) 2010 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy.

New Rule: Rich People Who Complain About Being Vilified Should Be Vilified
By Bill Maher

New Rule: The next rich person who publicly complains about being vilified by the Obama administration must be publicly vilified by the Obama administration. It's so hard for one person to tell another person what constitutes being "rich", or what tax rate is "too much." But I've done some math that indicates that, considering the hole this country is in, if you are earning more than a million dollars a year and are complaining about a 3.6% tax increase, then you are by definition a greedy asshole.

And let's be clear: that's 3.6% only on income above 250 grand -- your first 250, that's still on the house. Now, this week we got some horrible news: that one in seven Americans are now living below the poverty line. But I want to point you to an American who is truly suffering: Ben Stein. You know Ben Stein, the guy who got rich because when he talks it sounds so boring it's actually funny. He had a game show on Comedy Central, does eye drop commercials, doesn't believe in evolution? Yeah, that asshole. I kid Ben -- so, the other day Ben wrote an article about his struggle. His struggle as a wealthy person facing the prospect of a slightly higher marginal tax rate. Specifically, Ben said that when he was finished paying taxes and his agents, he was left with only 35 cents for every dollar he earned. Which is shocking, Ben Stein has an agent? I didn't know Broadway Danny Rose was still working.

Ben whines in his article about how he's worked for every dollar he has -- if by work you mean saying the word "Bueller" in a movie 25 years ago. Which doesn't bother me in the slightest, it's just that at a time when people in America are desperate and you're raking in the bucks promoting some sleazy Free Credit Score dot-com... maybe you shouldn't be asking us for sympathy. Instead, you should be down on your knees thanking God and/or Ronald Reagan that you were lucky enough to be born in a country where a useless schmuck who contributes absolutely nothing to society can somehow manage to find himself in the top marginal tax bracket.

And you're welcome to come on the show anytime.

Now I can hear you out there saying, "Come on Bill, don't be so hard on Ben Stein, he does a lot of voiceover work, and that's hard work." Ok, it's true, Ben is hardly the only rich person these days crying like a baby who's fallen off his bouncy seat. Last week Mayor Bloomberg of New York complained that all his wealthy friends are very upset with mean ol' President Poopy-Pants: He said they all say the same thing: "I knew I was going to have to pay more taxes. But I didn't expect to be vilified." Poor billionaires -- they just can't catch a break.

First off, far from being vilified, we bailed you out -- you mean we were supposed to give you all that money and kiss your ass, too? That's Hollywood you're thinking of. FDR, he knew how to vilify; this guy, not so much. And second, you should have been vilified -- because you're the vill-ains! I'm sure a lot of you are very nice people. And I'm sure a lot of you are jerks. In other words, you're people. But you are the villains. Who do you think outsourced all the jobs, destroyed the unions, and replaced workers with desperate immigrants and teenagers in China. Joe the Plumber?

And right now, while we run trillion dollar deficits, Republicans are holding America hostage to the cause of preserving the Bush tax cuts that benefit the wealthiest 1% of people, many of them dead. They say that we need to keep taxes on the rich low because they're the job creators. They're not. They're much more likely to save money through mergers and outsourcing and cheap immigrant labor, and pass the unemployment along to you.

Americans think rich people must be brilliant; no -- just ruthless. Meg Whitman is running for Governor out here, and her claim to fame is, she started e-Bay. Yes, Meg tapped into the Zeitgeist, the zeitgeist being the desperate need of millions of Americans to scrape a few dollars together by selling the useless crap in their garage. What is e-Bay but a big cyber lawn sale that you can visit without putting your clothes on?

Another of my favorites, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann said, "I don't know where they're going to get all this money, because we're running out of rich people in this country." Actually, we have more billionaires here in the U.S. than all the other countries in the top ten combined, and their wealth grew 27% in the last year. Did yours? Truth is, there are only two things that the United States is not running out of: Rich people and bullshit. Here's the truth: When you raise taxes slightly on the wealthy, it obviously doesn't destroy the economy -- we know this, because we just did it -- remember the '90's? It wasn't that long ago. You were probably listening to grunge music, or dabbling in witchcraft. Clinton moved the top marginal rate from 36 to 39% -- and far from tanking, the economy did so well he had time to get his dick washed.

Even 39% isn't high by historical standards. Under Eisenhower, the top tax rate was 91%. Under Nixon, it was 70%. Obama just wants to kick it back to 39 -- just three more points for the very rich. Not back to 91, or 70. Three points. And they go insane. Steve Forbes said that Obama, quote "believes from his inner core that people... above a certain income have more than they should have and that many probably have gotten it from ill-gotten ways." Which they have. Steve Forbes, of course, came by his fortune honestly: he inherited it from his gay egg-collecting, Elizabeth Taylor fag-hagging father, who inherited it from his father. Of course then they moan about the inheritance tax, how the government took 55% percent when Daddy died -- which means you still got 45% for doing nothing more than starting out life as your father's pecker-snot.

We don't hate rich people, but have a little humility about how you got it and stop complaining. Maybe the worst whiner of all: Stephen Schwarzman, #69 on Forbes' list of richest Americans, compared Obama's tax hike to "when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939." Wow. If Obama were Hitler, Mr. Schwarzman, I think your tax rate would be the least of your worries.
(c) 2010 Bill Maher is host of HBO's, "Real Time with Bill Maher."

The Cartoon Corner...

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

To End On A Happy Note...

Bad Things
Jace Everett

When you came in the air went out
And every shadow filled up with doubt
I don't know who you think you are
But before the night is through
I wanna do bad things with you

I'm the kind to sit up in his room
Heart sick an' eyes filled up with blue
I don't know what you've done to me
But I know this much is true
I wanna do bad things with you, okay

When you came in the air went out
And all those shadows there filled up with doubt
I don't know who you think you are
But before the night is through
I wanna do bad things with you
I wanna do real bad things with you

I don't know what you've done to me
But I know this much is true
I wanna do bad things with you
I wanna do real bad things with you
(c) 2005/2010 Jace Everett

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Man Oh Man I'm Mad
By Will Durst

Man oh man, I'm mad. I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore. Take what? I don't know. And that makes me mad too. Angry. Riled up. Cranky. Irate. Livid. Bellicose. Splenetic. Which has something to do with the spleen. Think it involves leakage. Whatever it is, it can't be good and I got it.

I'm mad at everything and everybody, but especially at career politicians. Not to mention career pediatricians. From now on, one of my kids gets sick, I'm taking them to see some incensed old coot straight off the street carrying a misspelled sign. Experience is way overrated. Why can't US Senator be an entry- level position?

I'm mad about paying taxes. Because I don't like paying taxes. I'm tired of my hard earned money wasted on silly things like roads and air traffic controllers and paramedics and pipeline inspectors. And flossing. I hate that too. Who needs teeth? Members of the lamestream media elite, that's who. So they can lie through them. Those guys I'm mad at because they keep running stories about me being mad.

I'm mad at the government's nit picking rules. Let corporations regulate themselves. They know what they're doing. I'm mad because I have to work two jobs just to get by and I'm mad rich people don't get more tax cuts. I'm mad about all the jobs that went overseas and I'm mad at unions demanding a living wage. I'm mad my life isn't better than my parents' and I'm mad I can't have everything now and force my children to pay for it. And knowing I'm confused just fuels my maddening.

I'm mad our Muslim President was born in Kenya. And don't bother me with your so- called facts. I know what I know and it makes me so mad I could just spit. So I do. Often. Right into the wind. And having the front of my shirt constantly moist just gooses the scale of how mad I am.

I'm mad at both of the parties. All of the parties. Political parties and birthday parties and tailgate parties. I'm mad at Democrats because they're the polar opposite of mad and I'm mad at Republicans because they're mad at me. And if my maddish spews hurt them, tough. Because they're not as mad as I am. I'm so mad I'll bite off both my hands one finger at a time if that's what it takes. To prove I'm mad. Which I am.

I'm mad at immigrants for doing jobs that are beneath me. I'm mad at the French. I'm mad at French's mustard. I'm mad at people who put ketchup on hot dogs. I'm even mad at people who are mad at people who put ketchup on hot dogs. You can never hope to replicate the purity of my precious maditude.

Some folks don't ever get mad which makes me maddest of all. The hell is wrong with these people? These uppity madless ones. Oooh, they make me so mad. But they will be mad. Soon enough. Because my madness is going to bloom and grow until everyone is as mad as me. Which, is going to be tough. Because I'm really really mad. Did I mention I was mad? Good. Because I am. Mad, that is. Man oh man, I'm mad.
(c) 2010 Will Durst, is a San Francisco based political comic, who often writes. This being an example of questionable merit. Don't forget his new CD, "Raging Moderate" from Stand-Up Records now available on both iTunes and Amazon.

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Issues & Alibis Vol 10 # 40 (c) 10/01/2010

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