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In This Edition

Robert Scheer points out the fact that, "The Government Leakers Who Truly Endanger America Will Never Face Prosecution."

Uri Avnery reveals, "The Real Bomb."

Glen Ford sees, "Detroit As Bantustan: Wall Street's Black Goons."

Norman Solomon concludes, "The NSA Deserves A Permanent Shutdown."

Jim Hightower discovers that, "Fining Banks Won't Stop Banksters."

David Swanson says, "Save The Nobel Peace Prize From Itself."

James Donahue exclaims, "Fight Back - Shut Everything Down!"

John Nichols reminds us, "Amid Shutdown Scrambling, A Powerful Reminder That DC Should Be A State."

Chris Hedges fans, "The Sparks Of Rebellion."

Glenn Greenwald reviews, "Brian Williams' Iran Propaganda."

Paul Krugman introduces, "Rebels Without A Clue."

David Sirota demands that we begin, "Fessing Up To Our Imperial Footprint."

Joel S Hirschhorn explains why we should, "Replace Third Party Delusions With A Political Boycott."

Republican State Representative William O'Brien of New Hampshire wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich tells why, "Why Obama And The Democrats Shouldn't Negotiate With Extortionists."

Frank Scott prophesieses, "Another World Is Coming."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst reports, "Senator Ahab Is A Sneetch" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "It Hit The Fan!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Bruce Plante, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Brian McFadden, Clay Bennett, John Sherffius, Sean K. Harp, Ebrahim Noroozi, Pablo Martinez, Poster Boy NYC, Img Flip.Com, Press TV, AP, Black Agenda Report, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

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It Hit The Fan!
By Ernest Stewart

"There will be opportunities ahead, but do you want to risk the full faith and credit of the United States government over ObamaCare? That's a very tough argument to make." ~~~ John Boehner

"The government needs to resolve the problem by standing at the forefront. Discarding the current, impromptu response, we will set up our basic policies for a fundamental resolution of the contaminated water problem.

"The government will do its best and take the necessary fiscal actions. The world is paying attention to whether we can realise the decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi, including the contaminated water problem." ~~~ Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

"Barack Obama and our allies fooled us long enough to pass a law that is clearly among the worst ever enacted by Congress." ~~~ William O'Brien

"He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help." ~~~ Abraham Lincoln

Yes, it hit the fan as I knew it would; but it's all part of a plan hatched last January! You may recall that last January, "demoralized House Republicans retreated to Williamsburg, Virginia, to plot out their legislative strategy for President Obama's second term. Conservatives were angry that their leaders had been unable to stop the expiration of the Bush tax cuts on high incomes, and sought assurances from their leaders that no further compromises would be forthcoming. The agreement that followed, was called 'The Williamsburg Accord.'"

As you may also have noticed that since Boner and Ryan started pushing this accord, the Demoncrats have been bending over backwards to give the above-mentioned dynamic duo everything their hearts desire, and then some -- except for Obamacare. I'm sure the only reason why that was sacrificed was that our 1% masters want it kept intact; so the shut down has really nothing to do with Obamacare, but is just a ploy to get what they really want, viz., cuts in all the programs that are designed to help the little guy -- even the ones that have nothing to do with the budget like Social Security and Medicare -- so the economy doesn't collapse under the tax cuts for the uber-wealthy.

You'll recall that Obamacare was a sell-out to the insurance goons which both sides agreed upon -- behind closed doors -- when they were taking the single-payer option off the table long before they started their song and dance in public with Barry saying right up to the last minute that the public option was still on the table. Remember that? This disaster in the making took over 2000 pages to write out; and not a single politician took the time to read it before signing off on it, just like they did with the "Patriot" Act. All of this could've been done with a single sentence -- which would've taken all the fighting points away from both sides. For example: "For anyone who wants it, Medicare from birth till death." Simple, huh? Just ten words! If you don't want it, then keep your insurance death panels, by all means -- sure would cull the brain-dead from the herd. Not to mention, it would've, no doubt, brought more of the folks without insurance into having insurance than the current plan will do. About half of the uninsured will remain uninsured under Obamacare.

NO, the shutdown wasn't about Obamacare; it's about a minority -- a minority that was rejected by the people -- taking control from the majority, a majority of cowards. Sure, shutting down this moving-paper fantasy sounds like a real good idea; but in this socialist nation, it isn't such a good idea when you look into it -- and understand the reasons for it. It's all about total control -- which both parties are doing their best to bring to fruition for their 1% masters. It's all about getting rid of the middle class and returning us to those exciting daze of yore. You remember when there was only slaves and masters and the working poor who were just like slaves but without slavery's advantages? Basically doing the same work as slaves, but having to buy their own food, clothing, and a roof over their heads that the master was providing for his slaves. Trouble is, our Robin Hood is stealing from the poor and giving it to the rich; but that's Obamahood for you -- robbing us blind since 2009!

I'm guessing that this will last a couple of weeks until the Rethuglicans wring a whole new load of concessions out of Barry and Harry, quickly passing a new spending bill just in time, perhaps, for a permanent shutdown of America with the Debt Limit, provided the Wall Streeters can't reach the tea-baggers with a suitable bribe before a new depression sets in to stay!

In Other News

Where's Godzilla now that we need him? It's a pity the Japanese didn't take the fable seriously -- with their cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki having first hand knowledge of atomic radiation, you would've thought they'd have gone green. If only they had!

No, they chose to make a fast buck and damn the consequences of what will happen a few years down the road. Three out of four reactors melted down as in the China Syndrome; and the fourth about half way there with most all of the water, the millions of gallons a day they they need to keep the cores from exploding, going directly into the sea or into the ground water and then into the sea; it may become the greatest disaster that the human race has had to face. Trouble is nobody's facing it.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, has been lying its ass off since Day One, as has the Government of Japan, and as has Barry and the US government. You'll recall Barry's been bought and sold to the nuclear powers that be, and hence is going to build three new reactors built by the same folks that built the four reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear power station. Barry and the various departments of health have failed to make mention of the dangerous of the Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear power station to the folks on the West Coast, not to mention the radiation in the air over the crippled reactors, which just rises into the air, getting picked up by the Jet Stream for deposit all over Canada and the United States, so like Barry, we won't mention those facts. No, according to Barry and the CDC, things are just peachy-keen!

Those freshly-built storage tanks to handle the run-off from the reactors and from the skies pick up huge amounts of radiation every time it rains, and have started to leak -- and leak in a big way. In order to stop the leaks, they rely on the handy-man's "secret weapon," Duct Tape; I know, Red Green must be so proud; and you can imagine how well that repair tactic has worked. But have no fear; the Japanese government is about to spend half a billion dollars to build an ice wall under and around the Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear power station. Abe said, "scientists will freeze the soil around the stricken reactors to form an impenetrable wall they hope will direct groundwater away from the plant."

This will entail burying pipes vertically and passing refrigerant through them. Officials estimate the whole project will take two years and cost around $320 million dollars.

I'm looking forward to all the athletes in their finest radiations suits for the Olympics. A sight to see for sure, though you wouldn't expect many records to be broken in them, would you? If you're going, don't forget your radiation badge and large bottle of potassium iodide pills! Might be a good time to buy some stock in companies that make geiger counters, too!

And Finally

Just when you think the Rethuglicans couldn't get any lower, one of them leaps to the forefront to prove you wrong. You may've thought the federal shutdown, caused by a handfull of tea-baggers and a majority of Rethuglican cowards was bad; but it doesn't stop there! No, I stand corrected!

Republican State Representative William O'Brien of New Hampshire said Obamacare is every bit as bad as the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. "Just as the Fugitive Slave Act was an overreach by the federal government," Billy told the Manchester Union Leader, "so. too. we understand that ObamaCare is an assault on the rights of individuals." I'm going to repeat that again for those of you on drugs.

"The government forcing innocent people into slavery by law is the very same thing as forcing people to buy health care."

WTF? Sure, as you know I'm no fan of Obamacare; but as you also know, I'm no fan of fascist morons either; so can you guess what I did? I bet you can! I wrote Willy a short note!

Hey William,

Boy, did you screw up, huh? So Obamacare is just like slavery? I wonder, Con-gressman, which would you chose, if you had to chose one over the other, Obamacare or slavery? Sure, I know some of you Rethuglicans are masochists, enjoy a good beating from Barry as you tried 42 times to stop it -- all to no avail. You remember how Einstein defined insanity? Probably not, huh? Albert defined it, Insanity: "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results!" Who does that remind you of?

Therefore, by the vote of the board of directors of Issues & Alibis Magazine, you win this week's Vidkun Quisling Award! This is our weekly award for the biggest traitor in the United States. I bet your mama's proud, William!

Ernest Stewart
Managing editor
Issues & Alibis Magazine
As always if I get a reply I share it with you.

Give Willy a piece of your mind at:

And tell'em Uncle Ernie sent you!

Keepin' On

No, it don't look good either for this country, or this magazine. Time is running out on both of us and only you, my friends, can save both of us. Question is: will you?

We're still $1000 short of keeping up the good fight for you. We need to raise that $1000 in the next four weeks or go under as so many others sites that were fighting for the people have done. As you can plainly see this "moving-paper fantasy" is beginning to fall apart as this might just be the straw that broke America's back. This is no time fo us to go our separate ways, not just when it's about to hit the fan, is it?

If you think that the truth is an important commodity to help you face the reality that we just beginning to circle the drain, wouldn't it be handy to know what's really going down both for, and against us? Can you see how you could use this to your family's advantage, and it'd be worth your while to keep us fighting on? If so, just send us whatever you can as often as you can; and we'll keep you informed of what's really happening and how it affects you and yours!


04-14-1930 ~ 09-27-2013
Thanks for the film!

04-12-1947 ~ 10-01-2013
Thanks for the read!


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) 2013 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 12 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. Visit the Magazine's page on Facebook and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

The Government Leakers Who Truly Endanger America Will Never Face Prosecution
By Robert Scheer

Secrecy is for the convenience of the state. To support military adventures and budgets, vast troves of U.S. government secrets are routinely released not by lone dissident whistle-blowers but rather skilled teams of government officials. They engage in coordinated propaganda campaigns designed to influence public opinion. They leak secrets compulsively to advance careers or justify wars and weapons programs, even when the material is far more threatening to national security than any revealed by Edward Snowden.

Remember the hoary accounts in the first week of August trumpeting a great intelligence coup warranting the closing of nearly two dozen U.S. embassies in anticipation of an al-Qaida attack? Advocates for the surveillance state jumped all over that one to support claims that NSA electronic interceptions revealed by Snowden were necessary, and that his whistle-blowing had weakened the nation's security. Actually, the opposite is true.

The al-Qaida revelation, first reported Aug. 2 by Eric Schmitt in The New York Times, came not from the classified information released by Snowden but rather from leaks deliberately provided by U.S. intelligence officials eager to show that the NSA electronic data-gathering program was necessary. On Sunday, Schmitt co-wrote another Times article, similarly quoting American authorities, conceding that the officially condoned August leaks had caused more damage than any of the leaked information attributed to Snowden.

That's because the government leak, which revealed that the United States had intercepted messages between two top al-Qaida leaders discussing a pending attack, resulted in a sharp decrease in their use of the communications channel that was being monitored by U.S. authorities, leaving the U.S. officials to try to find new avenues of surveillance.

According to the story, "As the nation's spy agencies assess the fallout from disclosures about their surveillance programs, some government analysts and senior officials have made a startling finding: the impact of a leaked terrorist plot by al Qaeda in August has caused more immediate damage to American counterterrorism efforts than the thousands of classified documents disclosed by Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor."

Schmitt and his New York Times editors have stressed that the original Times story did not go as far as one in the McClatchy newspapers two days later, which identified the "senior operatives of al Qaeda," as they were referenced in the Times story, as being the terrorist group's reputed top leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, and Nasser al-Wuhayshi, who is said to head al-Qaida in Yemen. The Times, which was leaked those names, kept them out of the first story at the request of "senior American intelligence officials" but printed them when those officials granted permission after the McClatchy story appeared.

The Times and McClatchy stories, along with another on CNN, were based on the deliberate leaks of highly classified information intended to advance the case for extensive government data surveillance at a time when the NSA program was being widely criticized in the wake of Snowden's revelations. U.S. officials, who were operating in an approved manner when they provided the pro-surveillance but still highly classified material, will not be prosecuted for violating the Espionage Act. Not so Snowden, whose revelation of the historically unprecedented intrusion into the private communications of American citizens as well as of foreigners who are supposed to be U.S allies, proved so embarrassing.

The material released by Snowden does not represent a threat to legitimate U.S. national security interests but rather reveals the arrogance of government power. As the Times cited Sunday in an example of the damage of Snowden's disclosures: "Diplomatic ties have also been damaged, and among the results was the decision by Brazil's president, Dilma Rousseff, to postpone a state visit to the United States in protest over revelations that the (NSA) agency spied on her, her top aides and Brazil's largest company, the oil giant Petrobras."

Embarrassing indeed! It mocks the claims of those in both political parties who are ever eager to justify the antics of the surveillance state, like Rep. C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger of Maryland, the leading Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, who told ABC's "This Week" that the "NSA's sole purpose is to get information intelligence to protect Americans from attack." Or Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, quoted on CNN following its breathless report on the August intercept of an impending Yemen attack that never occurred. "Al Qaeda is on the rise in this part of the world and the NSA program is proving its worth yet again," he said.

Rubbish. Al-Qaida is hardly on the rise anywhere in the world, with much of its leadership now dead and the remaining elements barely able to communicate. But until a more vigorous enemy turns up, the overblown terrorist enemy used to justify the vastly profitable surveillance state, with selective scary news leaks, is all the military-industrial complex has got.
(c) 2013 Robert Scheer is the editor of Truthdig. A journalist with over 30 years experience, Scheer has built his reputation on the strength of his social and political writing. His columns have appeared in newspapers across the country, and his in-depth interviews have made headlines. He is the author, most recently, of "The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America," published by Twelve Books.

The Real Bomb
By Uri Avnery

YEARS AGO I disclosed one of the biggest secrets about Iran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was an agent of the Mossad.

Suddenly, all the curious details of his behavior made sense. His public fantasies about the disappearance of Israel. His denial of the Holocaust, which until then had been typical only of a lunatic fringe. His boasting about Iran's nuclear capabilities.

Cui bono? Who had an interest in all this nonsense?

There is only one sensible answer: Israel.

His posturing depicted Iran as a state which was both ridiculous and sinister. It justified Israel's refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention. It diverted attention from Israel's refusal to discuss the occupation of the Palestinian territories or hold meaningful peace negotiations.

ANY DOUBT that I may have felt about this international scoop has evaporated now.

Our political and military leaders almost openly bemoan the demise of Ahmadinejad.

Obviously, the Supreme Guide, Ali Khamenei, decided that I was right and has quietly disposed of this clown.

Worse, he has reaffirmed his deadly enmity to the Zionist Entity by pushing forward a person like Hassan Rouhani.

Rouhani is the very opposite of his predecessor. If the Mossad had been asked to sketch the worst possible Iranian leader Israel could imagine, they would have come up with someone like him.

An Iranian who recognizes and condemns the Holocaust! An Iranian man who offers sweetness and light! An Iranian who wishes peace and friendship on all nations - even hinting that Israel could be included, if only we give up the occupied Palestinian territories!

Could you imagine anything worse?

I AM not joking. This is deadly serious!

Even before Rouhani could open his mouth after his election, he was condemned outright by Binyamin Netanyahu.

A wolf in sheep's clothing! A real anti-Semite! A cheat out to deceive the whole world! A devious politician whose devilish aim is to drive a wedge between Israel and the naive Americans!

This is the real Iranian bomb, far more threatening than the nuclear one that will be built behind the smokescreen of Rouhani's sweet talk!

A nuclear bomb can be deterred by another nuclear bomb. But how do you deter a Rouhani?

Yuval Steinitz, our failed former Minister of Finance and at present responsible for our "strategic thinking" (yes, really!) exclaimed in despair that the world wants to be deceived by Iran. Binyamin Netanyahu called it a "honey trap". Commentators who are hand-fed by "official circles" (i.e. the Prime Minister's Office) proclaim that he is an existential threat.

All this before he had uttered a word.

WHEN ROUHANI at long last made his Grand Speech at the UN General Assembly, all the dire forebodings were confirmed.

Where Ahmadinejad had set off a stampede of delegates from the hall, Rouhani packed them in. Diplomats from all over the world were curious about the man. They could have read the speech a few minutes later, but they wanted to see and hear for themselves. Even the US sent officials to be present. No one left.

No one, that is, except the Israelis.

The Israeli diplomats were instructed by Netanyahu to leave the hall demonstratively when the Iranian started to speak.

That was a stupid gesture. As rational and as effective as a little boy's tantrum when his favorite toy is taken away.

Stupid, because it painted Israel as a spoiler, at a time when the entire world is seized by an attack of optimism after the recent events in Damascus and Tehran.

Stupid, because it proclaims the fact that Israel is at present totally isolated.

BY THE way, did anyone notice that Rouhani was constantly wiping his brow during his half-hour speech? The man was obviously suffering. Did another Mossad agent sneak into the UN maintenance room and shut down the air-conditioning? Or was it just the heavy robes?

I never became a priest, not only because I am an atheist (in common with many priests, I suspect) but also because of this obligation to wear the heavy clothes which all creeds demand. Same goes for diplomats.

After all, priests and diplomats are human beings, too! (Many of them, at least.)

ONLY ONE Israeli cabinet member dared to criticize the Israeli exit openly. Ya'ir Lapid. What has come over him? Well, polls show that the rising star is not rising any more. As Minister of Finance he has been compelled to take very unpopular steps. Since he does not speak about things like the occupation and peace, he is considered shallow. He has almost been pushed aside. His blunt criticism of Netanyahu may bring him back into the center.

However, he has put his finger on a central fact: that Netanyahu and his crew behave exactly as the Arab diplomats used to do a generation ago. Meaning, they are stuck in the past. They don't live in the present.

Living in the present needs something politicians are loath to do: thinking again.

Things are changing. Slowly, very slowly, but perceptibly.

It is far too early to say much about the Decline of the American Empire, but one does not need a seismograph to perceive some movement in that direction.

The Syrian affair was a good example. Vladimir Putin likes to be photographed in judo poses. In judo, one exploits the momentum of one's opponent to bring him down. That is exactly what Putin did.

President Obama has painted himself into a corner. He mouthed belligerent threats and could not retreat, though the US public is in no belligerent mood. Putin released him from the dilemma. For a price.

I don't know if Putin is such an agile player that he pounced on a side remark by John Kerry about Bashar Assad's chance of relinquishing his chemical weapons. I rather suspect that it was all arranged in advance. Either way, Obama got off the hook and Putin was in the game again.

I have very mixed feelings about Putin. He has done to his Chechen citizens very much what Assad is doing to his Sunni citizens. His treatment of dissidents, such as the Pussy Riot band, is abominable.

But on the international stage, Putin is now the peacemaker. He has taken the sting out of the chemical weapons' crisis, and may quite possibly take the initiative in providing a political settlement for that dreadful civil war.

The next step could well be to play a similar role in the Iranian crisis. If Khamenei has come to the conclusion that his nuclear program may not be worth the economic misery of the sanctions, he may well sell it to the US. In this case, Putin can play a vital role, mediating between two tough traders who have a lot to trade.

(Unless, of course, Obama behaves like the American who bought a carpet in a Persian bazaar. The seller asked for 1000 dollars, and the American paid up without haggling. When told that the carpet was worth no more than a hundred dollars, he answered: "I know, but I wanted to punish him. Now he won't be able to sleep, cursing himself for not asking 5000 dollars.")

HOW DO we fit into this changing scene?

First of all, we must starting thinking, much as we would prefer to avoid it. New circumstances demand new thoughts.

In his own US speech, Obama made a clear connection between the Iranian bomb and the Israeli occupation. This linkage cannot be unlinked. Let's grasp it.

The US is today a bit less important than it was yesterday. Russia is a bit more important than it was. As its futile attack on Capitol Hill during the Syrian crisis shows, AIPAC is also less powerful.

Let's think again about Iran. It's too early to conclude how far Tehran is moving, if at all. But we need to try. Walking out of rooms is not a policy. Entering rooms is.

If we could restore some of our former relationship with Tehran, or even just take the sting out of the present one, that would be a huge gain for Israel. Combining this with a real peace initiative vis-a-vis the Palestinians would be even better.

Our present course is leading towards disaster. The present changes in the international and the regional scenes can make a change of course possible.

Let's help President Obama change American policy, instead of using AIPAC to terrorize Congress into blindly supporting an outdated policy towards Iran and Palestine. Let's extend cautious feelers towards Russia. Let's change our public stance, as the leaders of Iran are doing with such success.

Are they more clever than us?
(c) 2013 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Detroit As Bantustan: Wall Street's Black Goons
By Glen Ford

Detroit's Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) dictatorship runs the city the way Samuel L. Jackson's "Stephen" character ran the white man's plantation in Django. Without warning, and just to let the niggras know who's boss, Chief Compliance Officer Gary Brown shut off the electricity to much of the public infrastructure in the downtown area on Friday, September 11th - of all days! - stranding numerous frightened people in elevators in 90-degree-plus heat, resulting in a least one injury. Asked why he had given no warning to the thousands affected before pulling the switch, Brown smiled like a bad cop who had just beat the hell out of a street kid (he's a former deputy chief of police). "We did start calling our customers prior to taking them down and asking them to turn off air conditioners, but they weren't responding as fast as we would like them to so we had to send them a strong message by turning the power off." Who's The Man? Me and my boss are The Man!

Brown handles the day-to-day overseer duties for EFM Kevyn Orr, the bankruptcy lawyer whose mission is to strip Detroit of its assets and privatize its services for the benefit of Wall Street banks. The power shut-off was a voluntary initiative by Brown in response to problems with the power grid on an unseasonably warm day. Brown's gratuitous display of disregard for the people and the public servants of the Black metropolis served two purposes: 1) It dramatized deficiencies in the city's infrastructure at a time when a judge is deciding whether Detroit should be allowed to handle its own affairs, thus enhancing the prospects for privatization of services, and 2) the exercise of arbitrary power allows the "Stephens" of the Black Misleadership Class (he's also a former City Council president pro-tem) to feel more a part of the oligarchy they are pleased to serve.

Under the New American Apartheid, Detroit has been reduced to a South Africa-style Bantustan, administered by hired Black goons in the interests of multinational capital. Just as American slavery cannot be fully comprehended without an understanding of the roles played by the "Stephens," so the evisceration of "home rule" in Black urban America requires the active collaboration of the Orrs and Browns. In the struggle for self-determination, they are the enemies within who eagerly throw themselves into the buffer zone between the people and their tormentors - for a fee, and the privilege of lording it over the Bantustan. (Brown resigned from his $75,000 a year City Council position to sign on as Orr's lieutenant for $225,000 - and, of course, an inside track in the corporate looting that will accompany Detroit's fiscal dissolution.)

The appointed Bantustan administrators behave as they do because their antics are sanctioned by White Power - not just by the predators of Wall Street, who are keenly aware that racism allows them to use Detroit as the model for the next stage of "austerity" mega-thefts, but by white society in general. How else to explain why Boston's "wildly popular" five-term mayor, Tom Menino, could casually declare that, if he were running Detroit, he'd "blow up the place and start all over." You could be seized by Homeland Security for mouthing the words "blow up" in connection with any mostly white city in America, but 85 percent Black Detroit is fair game. The worst elements among the strivers of Black America know exactly how to please Bwana. (That's also why President Obama cannot help but insult Black people, even at the March on Washington anniversary; it's for white people's consumption.)

It was like a scene from a bygone world. Nearly 50 citizens lined up to appeal to Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes to safeguard their democratic and paid-for pension rights. Rhodes will decide whether the imposition of an unelected dictatorship in Detroit represents a "Constitutional crisis" that should be addressed before the process of cutting pensions and selling off assets should begin. Certainly, the cancellation of white people's voting rights, to be followed by confiscation of their personal and collective property, would merit Constitutional scrutiny on a priority basis. But, for African Americans, it is an open question.

"This [Emergency Financial Manager] law has been applied in cities and school districts where the majority population is African American, and I find this to be racist in both its aims, and its application," Bill Hickey, a 50-year resident of the city, told the judge. Indeed, more than half of Michigan's Black population has been disenfranchised, a shocking state of affairs that is generally treated as a non-event - or, maybe, in the popular consciousness, it is the world as it should be.

Judge Rhodes responded sympathetically to the pleas of pensioners who feared destitution in their old age. However, people's advocates worry that Rhodes will reason that the best way to allay pensioners' anxieties is to forge ahead with bankruptcy - in effect, using one set of victims' fears as an excuse to crush the rights of all Detroiters. Rhodes sees himself as a practitioner of "compassionate" bankruptcy - much like "humanitarian" military intervention.

"The cancellation of white people's voting rights would merit Constitutional scrutiny on a priority basis."

On October 2, he'll hold a hearing on the NAACP's bid to proceed with its challenge to the Constitutionality of Wall Street's rule-by-proxy through Kevyn Orr. The thrust of Rhodes' decisions to date has been to smack down, as disruptive, any legal obstacle in the sprint to bankruptcy - full steam ahead.

Bankruptcy Judge Rhodes' agenda has so far been in sync with bankruptcy lawyer Orr's strategy: to keep the battle for Detroit in the realm of corporate law rather than the arena of civil, human and Constitutional rights.

Last November, a large majority of Detroiters and 53 percent of Michigan voters rejected the Emergency Manager legislation, but Republican governor Rick Snyder rammed it through the legislature, anyway. A new survey shows 75 percent of Detroit residents don't want any cuts in public employee's pensions, and 78 percent oppose selling any of the precious works at the Detroit Institute of Art. The people of Detroit did not choose bankruptcy - which is an option, not a mandate - and cannot legally be imposed against the city's will unless the voters have been disenfranchised to more effectively enshrine the rule of capital.

A brother who they used to call Detroit "Red" coined a formula for this predicament: The ballot or the bullet. The applicability of his words in the current situation shows that we have regressed further than we have overcome.
(c) 2013 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

The NSA Deserves A Permanent Shutdown
By Norman Solomon

To the people in control of the Executive Branch, violating our civil liberties is an essential government service. So -- to ensure total fulfillment of Big Brother's vast responsibilities -- the National Security Agency is insulated from any fiscal disruption.

The NSA's surveillance programs are exempt from a government shutdown. With typical understatement, an unnamed official told The Hill that "a shutdown would be unlikely to affect core NSA operations."

At the top of the federal government, even a brief shutdown of "core NSA operations" is unthinkable. But at the grassroots, a permanent shutdown of the NSA should be more than thinkable; we should strive to make it achievable.

NSA documents, revealed by intrepid whistleblower Edward Snowden, make clear what's at stake. In a word: democracy.

Wielded under the authority of the president, the NSA is the main surveillance tool of the U.S. government. For a dozen years, it has functioned to wreck our civil liberties. It's a tool that should not exist.

In this century, the institutional momentum of the NSA -- now fueled by a $10.8 billion annual budget -- has been moving so fast in such a wrong direction that the agency seems unsalvageable from the standpoint of civil liberties. Its core is lethal to democracy.

A big step toward shutting down the National Security Agency would be to mobilize political pressure for closure of the new NSA complex that has been under construction in Bluffdale, Utah: a gargantuan repository for ostensibly private communications.

During a PBS "NewsHour" interview that aired on August 1, NSA whistleblower William Binney pointed out that the Bluffdale facility has a "massive amount of storage that could store all these recordings and all the data being passed along the fiberoptic networks of the world." He added: "I mean, you could store 100 years of the world's communications here. That's for content storage. That's not for metadata."

The NSA's vacuum-cleaner collection of metadata is highly intrusive, providing government snoops with vast information about people's lives. That's bad enough. But the NSA, using the latest digital technology, is able to squirrel away the content of telephone, e-mail and text communications -- in effect, "TiVo-ing" it all, available for later retrieval.

"Metadata, if you were doing it and putting it into the systems we built, you could do it in a 12-by-20-foot room for the world," Binney explained. "That's all the space you need. You don't need 100,000 square feet of space that they have in Bluffdale to do that. You need that kind of storage for content." Already the NSA's Bluffdale complex in a remote area of Utah -- seven times the size of the Pentagon -- is serving as an archive repository for humungous quantities of "private" conversations that the agency has recorded and digitized.

Organizing sufficient political power to shut down the entire National Security Agency may or may not be possible. But in any event, we should demand closure of the agency's mega-Orwellian center in Bluffdale. If you'd like to e-mail that message to your senators and representative in Congress, click here.

"The U.S. government has gone further than any previous government … in setting up machinery that satisfies certain tendencies that are in the genetic code of totalitarianism," Jonathan Schell wrote in The Nation as this fall began. "One is the ambition to invade personal privacy without check or possibility of individual protection. This was impossible in the era of mere phone wiretapping, before the recent explosion of electronic communications -- before the cellphones that disclose the whereabouts of their owners, the personal computers with their masses of personal data and easily penetrated defenses, the e-mails that flow through readily tapped cables and servers, the biometrics, the street-corner surveillance cameras."

"But now," Schell continued, "to borrow the name of an intelligence program from the Bush years, 'Total Information Awareness' is technologically within reach. The Bush and Obama administrations have taken giant strides in this direction."

Those giant strides have stomped all over the Fourth Amendment, leaving it gasping for oxygen. That amendment now reads like a profound articulation of opposition to present-day government surveillance -- a declaration of principle that balks at the lockstep of perpetual war mentality and rote surrender of precious civil liberties. To acceptance of the NSA and what it stands for, we must say and say and say: No way. No way. No way.
(c) 2013 Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."

Fining Banks Won't Stop Banksters

Someone should make a movie about JPMorgan Chase and title it: "Bankers Gone Wild!"

Not long ago, America's biggest Wall Street Empire was hailed as a paragon of financial integrity. But now it's been assessed record fines of nearly a billion bucks for management illegalities and is being investigated for other crimes by seven federal agencies, several states, and two foreign nations.

The billion-dollar punishment was levied because top-level mismanagement caused shareholders to lose a whopping $6 billion in a trade scandal last year, and because the CEO and other ranking executives tried to cover up the loss. Media reports say the bank agreed to pay the fine to settle those charges, but therein lies yet another crime committed by the bankers-gone-wild - a crime sanctioned by regulators who made the charges. When it's reported that "the bank" will pony up a billion dollars, who exactly is that?

Not the bankers who committed the illegalities, but Chase's shareholders. Wow. The money the bankers lost belonged to shareholders, yet they're being socked for another billion to cover the bankers' fine. Imagine if you were burglarized, then were fined for being burglarized! As one law professor said, "It's not just adding insult to injury, it's adding injury to injury."

Federal regulators say it's easier to get bankers to settle a case if they can hand the fine to shareholders, who don't even get a say in the decision. But going after the bankers, they claim, would require a jury trial - and jurors might not convict.

Huh? What kind of bassackwards justice is that? Besides, it's ridiculous to think that jurors wouldn't jump at the chance to convict Wall Street banksters. That's a jury I'd like to serve on, wouldn't you? Nail a couple of those bankers, and that'd chill all of their finagling.
(c) 2013 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.

Save The Nobel Peace Prize From Itself
By David Swanson

On October 11, we'll learn whether the Norwegian Nobel Committee is interested in reviving the Nobel Peace Prize or putting another nail in its coffin.

Alfred Nobel's vision for the Nobel Peace Prize created in his will was a good one and, one might have thought, a legally binding one as well.

The peace prize is not supposed to be awarded to proponents of war, such as Barack Obama or the European Union.

It is not supposed to be awarded to good humanitarians whose work has little or nothing to do with peace, such as most other recent recipients. As with the Carnegie Endowment for Peace which works for almost anything but, in violation of its creator's will, and as with many a "peace and justice" group focused on all sorts of good causes that aren't the elimination of militarism, the Nobel has become a "peace" prize, rather than a peace prize.

The peace prize was not supposed to be given even to war reformers or war civilizers. The peace prize is for: "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses." The prize is not a lifetime award, but goes, along with the other Nobel prizes, "to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind."

Nobel laureates are not even asked whether they support the abolition of standing armies. Few have taken the approach of Barack Obama, who praised wars and militarism in his acceptance speech, but many others would almost certainly have to respond in the negative; they do not support and have not worked for the abolition of standing armies. Nor do they plan to put the prize money to work for that goal.

Norwegian author and lawyer Fredrik Heffermehl has for years now been leading an effort to enforce Alfred Nobel's will. "Letters Nobel wrote confirm," says Heffermehl, "that he established his prize to fulfill a promise to Bertha von Suttner," a promise to create a prize to fund work toward war abolition. In March 2012 the Swedish Foundations Authority ordered the Nobel Foundation to examine the will and ensure compliance. When the next award was given to the European Union in blatant violation of the will, former recipients -- including Adolfo Esquivel, Mairead Maguire, and Desmond Tutu -- protested. The Nobel Foundation has defied the order to comply with the will and applied for a permanent exception from such oversight.

This year there are 259 nominees, 50 of which are organizations. (Even Heffermehl does not object to the practice of giving the prize meant for a "person" to an organization.) The list of nominees is kept secret, but some are known. In Heffermehl's view, none of the favorites for this year's prize legally qualifies. That includes Malala Yousafzai, whose work for education certainly deserves a prize, just not this one. And it includes Denis Mukwege, whose work to aid victims of sexual violence should be honored, just not with the prize intended for those working to abolish armies. Civil rights in Russia, freedom of the press in Burma, and many other great causes could end up being awarded with a prize for opposition to war next week.

The name Steve Pinker has been mentioned along with the proposal that he be given the peace prize as reward for having written a grossly misleading and deceptive book falsely arguing that war is going away on its own. That would at least be a new twist on the abuse and degradation of this prize, although with Bill Clinton on the nominees list the options for truly disgusting outcomes are not exactly limited.

Heffermehl has found some names on the list that do actually qualify. They include American professor Richard Falk, Norwegian ambassador Gunnar Garbo, American David Krieger of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, the former director general of UNESCO Federico Mayor of Spain, Swedish peace scientist and organizer Jan Oberg, and American professor of peace education Betty Reardon. "These clearly are," says Heffermehl, "the kind of 'champions of peace' described in Nobel's will, working for global disarmament based on global law." I would include Gene Sharp, from among the list of nominees, as someone who probably qualifies, although there are certainly arguments against it. Among qualified organizations nominated for 2013, in Heffermehl's view, are the International Peace Bureau, the Transnational Foundation, UNESCO, and the Womens' International League for Peace and Freedom.

Other indivuals and organizations on the list, Heffermehl thinks, are "dedicated peacemakers or have courageously exposed the dangers of militarism, but they may not pursue the vision of general and complete disarmament that Nobel saw as essential for world peace." These include Norwegian Steinar Bryn, Americans Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning and Edward Snowden (the latter not nominated by the 2013 deadline), Israeli Mordechai Vanunu, and Abolition 2000.

Many of us have urged that Manning be given the prize, arguing with Norman Solomon that "the Nobel Peace Prize needs Bradley Manning more than Bradley Manning needs the Nobel Peace Prize." There are, however, many options for the Norwegian Nobel Committee to begin to redeem itself, and many options for its continued desecration of a noble ideal.
(c) 2013 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

Fight Back - Shut Everything Down!
By James Donahue

A growing number of American truckers are seriously considering a three-day national truck strike starting next Wednesday. The idea was proposed on Facebook and within hours Facebook shut down the page after 53,000 "likes" were filed. The almost instant reaction to the idea apparently frightened some of the very people who need to have their behinds kicked, and a nation-wide trucker's strike for three consecutive days would certainly get some attention.

Remember about two weeks ago when thousands of motorcycles flooded Washington in a similar public protest. You don't probably remember because the media was careful not to tell us about it. But it happened. The cyclists came from all over the country to make a proclamation of dissatisfaction about the way our elected legislators are doing their jobs and it didn't even get mentioned on the nightly news.

But if the truckers collectively park their rigs and stop delivery of food, merchandise, mail and other essentials for three days, we can't ignore that. It will literally bring an abrupt stop to a lot of business. And in America, where money is God, this will not go unnoticed.

The Huffington Post didn't ignore the trucker's planned action. In a story that ran on September 20, the Post said the participating truckers will not only be parking their rigs, but a lot of them plan to gather in Washington in front of the Capital to protest the inaction by our elected representatives. They are calling it a "Ride for the Constitution."

The truckers threaten to call in sick, park their rigs, and refuse to haul freight from October 11 to Oct. 13. They are asking consumers to "not buy or sell anything" during those three days. The call is for everyone to "stay home! Buy nothing!"

If it happens, Sean McNally, spokesman for the American Trucking Association, said a trucker strike for three days would create "significant shortages" especially for perishable items. McNally said his organization does not condone such a strike and he was confident that it probably will not happen.

We think McNally is underestimating the power of the Internet and mass communication system that exists these days among the truckers. If they get angry enough . . . and a shut-down of our government over a failure by our legislatures to do a simple thing like pass a budget for the new fiscal year starting October 1 might just make a lot of people mad . . . such a shut-down might just happen.

Sure, it was be an inconvenience for the general public. But imagine the money it would cost shippers and realtors depending on delivery of those goods. There couldn't be a more powerful political statement sent to Washington.

It is also time for the general public to wake up to what has, or has not been going on in our nation's capital, and in state governments as well. We believe it is due time for a grass roots rebellion at the polls, starting in 2014. We also believe it is due time for a national Constitutional Convention and a complete overhaul of the way our government is run. There has to be a way of cleaning house at the Supreme Court, setting new rules for the House and Senate, shortening election campaigns, setting limits on costly television political advertising, and above everything else, prohibiting lobbyists and big corporate gangsters from using money to influence the way our legislators vote on issues affecting the rest of us.
(c) 2013 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.

Amid Shutdown Scrambling, A Powerful Reminder That DC Should Be A State
By John Nichols

If the federal government shuts down because of the shenanigans of John Boehner and his congressional minions, most American cities will muddle through. They control their own budgets and have the power to tax and spend at sufficient levels to manage even when federal officials cannot seem to do so.

But it's different for Washington.

The residents of the capital city of the United States are not merely denied elected representation in the United States Congress-creating a classic "taxation without representation" circumstance. They are denied the sort of budget autonomy that would allow the district's elected officials to easily -- without controversy or even comment -- access funds and resources needed to maintain local services.

"The city is an innocent bystander in this federal fight, but a local D.C. shutdown will amount to a great deal more than collateral damage," says Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, the veteran civil rights activist who represents the District of Columbia as a non-voting delegate.

DC officials have emergency plans to maintain services-with Mayor Vincent Gray declaring all government operations essential and DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson developing legislation to pay the 32,000 municipal employees from the district's contingency cash reserve fund. Gray says that "everything the District government does-protecting the health, safety and welfare of our residents and visitors-is essential."

This is a strategy that relies on creative reading of the federal Antideficiency Act. It may work, at least in part because, as Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney notes, there is no history of prosecuting local officials under the act and it's unlikely the Obama administration's Department of Justice "would decide to start charging people now."

"President Obama, along with practically all Democrats and many Republicans, supports extending to the District the right enjoyed by the 50 states to spend money without waiting for Congress's approval," observes McCartney. "It hasn't happened because other Republicans are worried about giving up their power to use the District budget to push cherished causes, such as blocking abortion funding or helping people get guns."

That tendency to play games with regard to the District of Columbia creates lingering concerns, however.

So Norton has been scrambling to get House and Senate leaders to agree to a deal-like the one she arranged out with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich during the federal government shutdown of late 1995 and early 1996-that would allow Washington's city government to maintain operations if Congress cannot reach a broader agreement on a continuing resolution.

"The Republican CR containing Obamacare may have a point to make, but shutting down the D.C. government is pointlessly destructive to the nation's capital," says Norton. "No member has ever indicated he or she wanted D.C. to shut down, many members are unaware that our local budget even comes to Congress, and most members do not know that the city government would be caught up in a federal shutdown. With the multiple steps we are taking, our goal is to convince the Congress that D.C. does not even rise to the rank of a hostage in this struggle between the administration and the Republican Congress. The city is irrelevant to any solution that might be needed. Since none of the parties has anything to gain, the least the city is entitled to is being allowed to remain open for all of the 2014 fiscal year."

Norton is right, and she's found sympathy for her arguments even among some key Republicans, such as House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chair Darrell Issa, R-California. But as a shutdown looms, tensions are rising since, as Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee chair Tom Carper, D-Delaware, even a short government shutdown would have a "swift and severe" impact on the district.

Ultimately, this crisis within a crisis provides a reminder of the absurd circumstance of the District of Columbia.

Residents of Washington are taxed. They are subject to federal laws. They serve in America's wars.

Yet, they have limited control over their own affairs and-despite Norton's best efforts-a constrained voice in Congress.

The remedy is not complicated.

The District of Columbia should become an American state.

According to the latest Census estimates, the district has a larger population than two states-Vermont and Wyoming-and a larger level of economic activity than 16 states.

More than 40 years ago, then President Richard Nixon urged Congress to address the district's circumstance, saying, "it should offend the democratic sense of this nation" that the residents of the nation's capital city were then denied a voice in Congress and control over their own affairs.

The passage of time only makes the offense more severe and-as US politics grows more petty and petulant-more threatening to the taxed-but-not-represented residents of the District of Columbia.
(c) 2013 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His new book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, has just been published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

The Sparks Of Rebellion
By Chris Hedges

I am reading and rereading the debates among some of the great radical thinkers of the 19th and 20th centuries about the mechanisms of social change. These debates were not academic. They were frantic searches for the triggers of revolt.

Vladimir Lenin placed his faith in a violent uprising, a professional, disciplined revolutionary vanguard freed from moral constraints and, like Karl Marx, in the inevitable emergence of the worker's state. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon insisted that gradual change would be accomplished as enlightened workers took over production and educated and converted the rest of the proletariat. Mikhail Bakunin predicted the catastrophic breakdown of the capitalist order, something we are likely to witness in our lifetimes, and new autonomous worker federations rising up out of the chaos. Pyotr Kropotkin, like Proudhon, believed in an evolutionary process that would hammer out the new society. Emma Goldman, along with Kropotkin, came to be very wary of both the efficacy of violence and the revolutionary potential of the masses. "The mass," Goldman wrote bitterly toward the end of her life in echoing Marx, "clings to its masters, loves the whip, and is the first to cry Crucify!"

The revolutionists of history counted on a mobilized base of enlightened industrial workers. The building blocks of revolt, they believed, relied on the tool of the general strike, the ability of workers to cripple the mechanisms of production. Strikes could be sustained with the support of political parties, strike funds and union halls. Workers without these support mechanisms had to replicate the infrastructure of parties and unions if they wanted to put prolonged pressure on the bosses and the state. But now, with the decimation of the U.S. manufacturing base, along with the dismantling of our unions and opposition parties, we will have to search for different instruments of rebellion.

We must develop a revolutionary theory that is not reliant on the industrial or agrarian muscle of workers. Most manufacturing jobs have disappeared, and, of those that remain, few are unionized. Our family farms have been destroyed by agro-businesses. Monsanto and its Faustian counterparts on Wall Street rule. They are steadily poisoning our lives and rendering us powerless. The corporate leviathan, which is global, is freed from the constraints of a single nation-state or government. Corporations are beyond regulation or control. Politicians are too anemic, or more often too corrupt, to stand in the way of the accelerating corporate destruction. This makes our struggle different from revolutionary struggles in industrial societies in the past. Our revolt will look more like what erupted in the less industrialized Slavic republics, Russia, Spain and China and uprisings led by a disenfranchised rural and urban working class and peasantry in the liberation movements that swept through Africa and Latin America. The dispossessed working poor, along with unemployed college graduates and students, unemployed journalists, artists, lawyers and teachers, will form our movement. This is why the fight for a higher minimum wage is crucial to uniting service workers with the alienated college-educated sons and daughters of the old middle class. Bakunin, unlike Marx, considered déclassé intellectuals essential for successful revolt.

It is not the poor who make revolutions. It is those who conclude that they will not be able, as they once expected, to rise economically and socially. This consciousness is part of the self-knowledge of service workers and fast food workers. It is grasped by the swelling population of college graduates caught in a vise of low-paying jobs and obscene amounts of debt. These two groups, once united, will be our primary engines of revolt. Much of the urban poor has been crippled and in many cases broken by a rewriting of laws, especially drug laws, that has permitted courts, probation officers, parole boards and police to randomly seize poor people of color, especially African-American men, without just cause and lock them in cages for years. In many of our most impoverished urban centers-our internal colonies, as Malcolm X called them-mobilization, at least at first, will be difficult. The urban poor are already in chains. These chains are being readied for the rest of us. "The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets or steal bread," Anatole France commented acidly.

Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan examined 100 years of violent and nonviolent resistance movements in their book "Why Civil Resistance Works." They concluded that nonviolent movements succeed twice as often as violent uprisings. Violent movements work primarily in civil wars or in ending foreign occupations, they found. Nonviolent movements that succeed appeal to those within the power structure, especially the police and civil servants, who are cognizant of the corruption and decadence of the power elite and are willing to abandon them.

"History teaches that we have the power to transform the nation," Kevin Zeese said when I interviewed him. Zeese, who with Dr. Margaret Flowers founded and helped plan the occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., continued: "We put forward a strategic framework that would allow people to work together in a common direction to end the rule of money. We need to be a nationally networked movement of many local, regional and issue-focused groups so we can unite into one mass movement. Research shows that nonviolent mass movements win. Fringe movements fail. By 'mass' we mean with an objective that is supported by a large majority and 1 percent to 5 percent of the population actively working for transformation."

Zeese said this mass resistance must work on two tracks. It must attempt to stop the machine while at the same time building alternative structures of economic democracy and participatory democratic institutions. It is vital, he said, to sever ourselves from the corporate economy. Money, he said, has to be raised for grass-roots movements since most foundations that give grants are linked to the Democratic Party. Radical student and environmental groups especially need funds to build national networks, as does the public banking initiative. This initiative is essential to the movement. It will never find support among legislative bodies, for public banks would free people from the tyranny of commercial banks and Wall Street.

The most important dilemma facing us is not ideological. It is logistical. The security and surveillance state has made its highest priority the breaking of any infrastructure that might spark widespread revolt. The state knows the tinder is there. It knows that the continued unraveling of the economy and the effects of climate change make popular unrest inevitable. It knows that as underemployment and unemployment doom at least a quarter of the U.S. population, perhaps more, to perpetual poverty, and as unemployment benefits are scaled back, as schools close, as the middle class withers away, as pension funds are looted by hedge fund thieves, and as the government continues to let the fossil fuel industry ravage the planet, the future will increasingly be one of open conflict. This battle against the corporate state, right now, is primarily about infrastructure. We need an infrastructure to build revolt. The corporate state is determined to deny us one.

The corporate state, unnerved by the Occupy movement, has moved to close any public space to movements that might reignite encampments. For example, New York City police arrested members of Veterans for Peace on Oct. 7, 2012, when they stayed beyond the 10 p.m. official closing time at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The police, who in some cases apologized to the veterans as they handcuffed them, were open about the motive of authorities: Officers told those being taken to jail they should blame the Occupy movement for the arrests.

The state has, at the same time, heavily infiltrated movements in order to discredit, isolate and push out their most competent leaders. It has used its vast surveillance capacities to monitor all forms of electronic communications, as well as personal relationships between activists, giving the state the ability to paralyze planned actions before they can begin. It has mounted a public relations campaign to demonize anyone who resists, branding environmental activists as "ecoterrorists," charging activists under draconian terrorism laws, hunting down whistle-blowers such as Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden who shine a light on the inner secrets of power and condemning them as traitors and threats to national security. The state has attempted-and in this effort some in the Black Bloc proved unwittingly useful-to paint the movement as violent and directionless.

Occupy articulated the concerns of the majority of citizens. Most of the citizenry detests Wall Street and big banks. It does not want more wars. It needs jobs. It is disgusted with the subservience of elected officials to corporate power. It wants universal health care. It worries that if the fossil fuel industry is not stopped, there will be no future for our children. And the state is using all its power to stymie any movement that expresses these concerns. Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show Homeland Security, the FBI, the Federal Protective Service, the Park Service and most likely the NSA and the CIA (the latter two have refused to respond to FOIA requests) worked with police across the country to infiltrate and destroy the encampments. There were 7,765 arrests of people in the movement. Occupy, at its peak, had about 350,000 people-or about 0.1 percent of the U.S. population.

"Look how afraid the power structure was of a mere 1/10th of 1 percent of the population," Zeese said. "What happens when the movement grows to 1 percent-not a far reach-or the 5 percent that some research shows is the tipping point where no government, dictatorship or democracy can withstand the pressure from below?"

The state cannot allow workers at Wal-Mart, or any other nonunionized service center, to have access to an infrastructure or resources that might permit prolonged strikes and boycotts. And the movement now is about nuts and bolts. It is about food trucks, medical tents, communications vans and musicians and artists willing to articulate and sustain the struggle. We will have to build what unions and radical parties supplied in the past.

The state, in its internal projections, has a vision of the future that is as dystopian as mine. But the state, to protect itself, lies. Politicians, corporations, the public relations industry, the entertainment industry and our ridiculous television pundits speak as if we can continue to build a society based on limitless growth, profligate consumption and fossil fuel. They feed the collective mania for hope at the expense of truth. Their public vision is self-delusional, a form of collective psychosis. The corporate state, meanwhile, is preparing privately for the world it knows is actually coming. It is cementing into place a police state, one that includes the complete evisceration of our most basic civil liberties and the militarization of the internal security apparatus, as well as wholesale surveillance of the citizenry.

The most pressing issue facing us right now is the most prosaic. Protesters attempting to block the Keystone XL pipeline can endure only for so long if they have nothing to eat but stale bagels. They need adequate food. They need a system of communication to get their message out to alternative media that will amplify it. They need rudimentary medical care. All of these elements were vital to the Occupy movement. And these elements, when they came together, allowed the building of a movement that threatened the elite. The encampments also carried within them internal sources of disintegration. Many did not adequately control some groups. Many were hijacked or burdened by those who drained the political work of the movement. Many found that consensus, which worked well in small groups, created paralysis in groups of several hundred or a few thousand. And many failed to anticipate the numbing exhaustion that crushed activists. But these encampments did provide what was most crucial to the movement, something unions or the old Communist Party once provided to militants in the past. They provided the logistics to sustain resistance. And the destruction of the encampments, more than anything else, was a move by the state to deny to us the infrastructure needed to resist.

Infrastructure alone, however, will not be enough. The resistance needs a vibrant cultural component. It was the spirituals that nourished the souls of African-Americans during the nightmare of slavery. It was the blues that spoke to the reality of black people during the era of Jim Crow. It was the poems of Federico Garcia Lorca that sustained the republicans fighting the fascists in Spain. Music, dance, drama, art, song, painting were the fire and drive of resistance movements. The rebel units in El Salvador when I covered the war there always traveled with musicians and theater troupes. Art, as Emma Goldman pointed out, has the power to make ideas felt. Goldman noted that when Andrew Undershaft, a character in George Bernard Shaw's play "Major Barbara," said poverty is "[t]he worst of crimes" and "All the other crimes are virtues beside it," his impassioned declaration elucidated the cruelty of class warfare more effectively than Shaw's socialist tracts. The degradation of education into vocational training for the corporate state, the ending of state subsidies for the arts and journalism, the hijacking of these disciplines by corporate sponsors, severs the population from understanding, self-actualization and transcendence. In aesthetic terms the corporate state seeks to crush beauty, truth and imagination. This is a war waged by all totalitarian systems.

Culture, real culture, is radical and transformative. It is capable of expressing what lies deep within us. It gives words to our reality. It makes us feel as well as see. It allows us to empathize with those who are different or oppressed. It reveals what is happening around us. It honors mystery. "The role of the artist, then, precisely, is to illuminate that darkness, blaze roads through the vast forest," James Baldwin wrote, "so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place."

Artists, like rebels, are dangerous. They speak a truth that totalitarian systems do not want spoken. "Red Rosa now has vanished too. ..." Bertolt Brecht wrote after Luxemburg was murdered. "She told the poor what life is about, And so the rich have rubbed her out." Without artists such as musician Ry Cooder and playwrights Howard Brenton and Tarell Alvin McCraney we will not succeed. If we are to face what lies ahead, we will not only have to organize and feed ourselves, we will have to begin to feel deeply, to face unpleasant truths, to recover empathy and to live passionately. Then we can fight.
(c) 2013 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, ""Death Of The Liberal Class."

Brian Williams' Iran Propaganda
By Glenn Greenwald

The NBC star tells his viewers that Iranian leaders are 'suddenly claiming they don't want nuclear weapons,' even though they've been saying it for years.

There is ample reason for skepticism that anything substantial will change in Iran-US relations, beginning with the fact that numerous US political and media figures are vested in the narrative that Iran is an evil threat whose desire for a peaceful resolution must not be trusted (and some hard-line factions in Iran are similarly vested in ongoing conflict). Whatever one's views are on the prospects for improving relations, the first direct communications in more than 30 years between the leaders of those two countries is a historically significant event.

Here is what NBC News anchor Brian Williams told his viewers about this event when leading off his broadcast last night, with a particularly mocking and cynical tone used for the bolded words:

This is all part of a new leadership effort by Iran - suddenly claiming they don't want nuclear weapons! ; what they want is talks and transparency and good will. And while that would be enough to define a whole new era, skepticism is high and there's a good reason for it."

Yes, Iran's claim that they don't want nuclear weapons sure is "sudden" - if you pretend that virtually everything that they've said on that question for the past ten years does not exist. Here, for instance, is previous Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in an August 13, 2011, interview:

"Q: 'Are you saying that at some point in the future you may want to acquire a nuclear deterrent, a nuclear weapon?'

"Ahmadinejad: 'Never, never. We do not want nuclear weapons. We do not seek nuclear weapons. This is an inhumane weapon. Because of our beliefs we are against that.

"Firstly, our religion says it is prohibited. We are a religious people. Secondly, nuclear weapons have no capability today. If any country tries to build a nuclear bomb, they in fact waste their money and resources and they create great danger for themselves. . . .

"Nuclear weapons are the weapons of the previous century. This century is the century of knowledge and thinking, the century of human beings, the century of culture and logic. . . . Our goal in the country and the goal of our people is peace for all. Nuclear energy for all, and nuclear weapons for none. This is our goal.

"All nuclear activities in Iran are monitored by the IAEA. There have been no documents against Iran from the agency. It's just a claim by the US that we are after nuclear weapons. But they have no evidence that Iran is diverting resources to that purpose."

In fact, the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a 2005 religious edict banning the pursuit of nuclear weapons, and in January of this year, Iranian official Ramin Mehmanparast declared: "There is nothing higher than the exalted supreme leader's fatwa to define the framework for our activities in the nuclear field." He added: "We are the first country to call for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons. When the highest jurist and authority in the country's leadership issues a fatwa, this will be binding for all of us to follow. So, this fatwa will be our top agenda."

The following month, Khamenei himself said: "We believe that nuclear weapons must be eliminated. We don't want to build atomic weapons." The New York Times noted that "American officials say they believe that Ayatollah Khamenei exercises full control over Iran's nuclear program."

These are identical to the statements top Iranian officials have been making for years. In 2012, Khamenei "insisted his country was not seeking nuclear weapons, claiming that 'holding these arms is a sin as well as useless, harmful and dangerous.'" The following month, Iran's top leader gave what Professor Juan Cole described at the time as "a major foreign policy speech" and said:

"The Iranian nation has never pursued and will never pursue nuclear weapons. There is no doubt that the decision makers in the countries opposing us know well that Iran is not after nuclear weapons because the Islamic Republic, logically, religiously and theoretically, considers the possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin and believes the proliferation of such weapons is senseless, destructive and dangerous."

Can that be any more absolute? Iran's top leadership has been making similarly unambiguous statements for almost a full decade, even taking out a full page ad in the New York Times in 2005 to counter the growing clamor in the US for a military attack by proclaiming that Iran had no desire for nuclear weapons, was not pursuing them, and wanted transparency, accountability and peace - exactly what Brian Williams told his viewers last night was a "sudden" and newfound claim.

Obviously, the fact that Iran claims it does not want nuclear weapons is not proof that it is not seeking them or will not seek them at some point in the future; all government statements should be subjected to skepticism (and one can only dream of the day when US media stars subject the statements of their own government to the same skepticism accorded to those of leaders of non-allied countries). But what is true is that US intelligence agencies have repeatedly though secretly concluded that they do not believe that Iran is building a nuclear weapon, and even top Israeli military officials have expressed serious doubts that Iran is building, or will build, a nuclear weapon.

But whether Iran is sincere is an entirely separate question from the one about which Williams radically misled his viewers last night. While Iran's actual intentions regarding nuclear weapons may be debatable, the fact that they have repeatedly and over the course of many years emphatically disclaimed any interest in acquiring nuclear weapons is not debatable. It is indisputable fact that they have done exactly that. There is nothing new or "sudden" about this claim.

To the contrary, Iran has been trying to make Americans hear for years that they have no interest in nuclear weapons. Indeed, they have repeatedly made clear that they have not only banned such weapons but favor region-wide nuclear disarmament, including of Israel's vast nuclear arsenal, which actually exists. It is Israel, not Iran, which has steadfastly refused to allow inspections of its nuclear arsenal (despite UN demands they do so) or to join the NPT or other conventions designed to monitor and regulate nuclear weapons.

But these facts have been excluded almost entirely from the dominant US media narrative for years. The fact that Iran, at its highest leadership levels, has repeatedly and unequivocally disavowed any interest in nuclear weapons is something that most Americans simply don't know, because the country's media stars have barely ever mentioned it. Brian Williams himself was either ignorant of this history, or chose to pretend last night that it did not happen when framing this historic event for his viewers.

Whichever of those two options is true, NBC News feels free to spout such plainly false propaganda - "suddenly claiming they don't want nuclear weapons!" - because they know they and fellow large media outlets have done such an effective job in keeping their viewers ignorant of these facts. They thus believe that they can sow doubts about Iran's intentions with little danger that their deceit will be discovered. Many NBC News viewers have likely never heard before that Iran has emphatically claimed not to want nuclear weapons and have even formally banned them, and thus are easily misled into believing Williams when he tells them that these current claims represent some "sudden", inexplicable, and bizarre reversal that are not to be trusted.
(c) 2013 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. His most recent book is, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. 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. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism.

Rebels Without A Clue
By Paul Krugman

This may be the way the world ends - not with a bang but with a temper tantrum. O.K., a temporary government shutdown - which became almost inevitable after Sunday's House vote to provide government funding only on unacceptable conditions - wouldn't be the end of the world. But a U.S. government default, which will happen unless Congress raises the debt ceiling soon, might cause financial catastrophe. Unfortunately, many Republicans either don't understand this or don't care.

Let's talk first about the economics.

After the government shutdowns of 1995 and 1996 many observers concluded that such events, while clearly bad, aren't catastrophes: essential services continue, and the result is a major nuisance but no lasting harm. That's still partly true, but it's important to note that the Clinton-era shutdowns took place against the background of a booming economy. Today we have a weak economy, with falling government spending one main cause of that weakness. A shutdown would amount to a further economic hit, which could become a big deal if the shutdown went on for a long time.

Still, a government shutdown looks benign compared with the possibility that Congress might refuse to raise the debt ceiling.

First of all, hitting the ceiling would force a huge, immediate spending cut, almost surely pushing America back into recession. Beyond that, failure to raise the ceiling would mean missed payments on existing U.S. government debt. And that might have terrifying consequences.

Why? Financial markets have long treated U.S. bonds as the ultimate safe asset; the assumption that America will always honor its debts is the bedrock on which the world financial system rests. In particular, Treasury bills - short-term U.S. bonds - are what investors demand when they want absolutely solid collateral against loans. Treasury bills are so essential for this role that in times of severe stress they sometimes pay slightly negative interest rates - that is, they're treated as being better than cash.

Now suppose it became clear that U.S. bonds weren't safe, that America couldn't be counted on to honor its debts after all. Suddenly, the whole system would be disrupted. Maybe, if we were lucky, financial institutions would quickly cobble together alternative arrangements. But it looks quite possible that default would create a huge financial crisis, dwarfing the crisis set off by the failure of Lehman Brothers five years ago.

No sane political system would run this kind of risk. But we don't have a sane political system; we have a system in which a substantial number of Republicans believe that they can force President Obama to cancel health reform by threatening a government shutdown, a debt default, or both, and in which Republican leaders who know better are afraid to level with the party's delusional wing. For they are delusional, about both the economics and the politics.

On the economics: Republican radicals generally reject the scientific consensus on climate change; many of them reject the theory of evolution, too. So why expect them to believe expert warnings about the dangers of default? Sure enough, they don't: the G.O.P. caucus contains a significant number of "default deniers," who simply dismiss warnings about the dangers of failing to honor our debts.

Meanwhile, on the politics, reasonable people know that Mr. Obama can't and won't let himself be blackmailed in this way, and not just because health reform is his key policy legacy. After all, once he starts making concessions to people who threaten to blow up the world economy unless they get what they want, he might as well tear up the Constitution. But Republican radicals - and even some leaders - still insist that Mr. Obama will cave in to their demands.

So how does this end? The votes to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling are there, and always have been: every Democrat in the House would vote for the necessary measures, and so would enough Republicans. The problem is that G.O.P. leaders, fearing the wrath of the radicals, haven't been willing to allow such votes. What would change their minds?

Ironically, considering who got us into our economic mess, the most plausible answer is that Wall Street will come to the rescue - that the big money will tell Republican leaders that they have to put an end to the nonsense.

But what if even the plutocrats lack the power to rein in the radicals? In that case, Mr. Obama will either let default happen or find some way of defying the blackmailers, trading a financial crisis for a constitutional crisis.

This all sounds crazy, because it is. But the craziness, ultimately, resides not in the situation but in the minds of our politicians and the people who vote for them. Default is not in our stars, but in ourselves.
(c) 2013 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"The owners of this country know the truth... it's called the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it!"
~~~ George Carlin

Fessing Up To Our Imperial Footprint
By David Sirota

Is America an empire or not? It is a loaded question because in the modern age, that word - empire - is not a moniker citizens proudly embrace in the way we might imagine the Ottomans or the Romans did during their reigns. Instead, the word today evokes images of the Death Star. And so we shirk the term's implications and insinuations, much as President Obama did this week at the United Nations.<>P "The United States has a hard-earned humility when it comes to our ability to determine events inside other countries," he declared in his speech to the General Assembly. "The notion of American empire may be useful propaganda, but it isn't borne out by America's current policy."

The rhetoric sounds nice and it deftly portrays the United States as the sympathetic victim of an international conspiracy. The problem is that it glosses over how current U.S. policies do, in fact, create an imperial footprint.

This is most easy to see when it comes to our military. According to a 2010 report by the Pentagon, the United States has 662 overseas bases in 38 different countries. Additionally, the United States recently invaded and occupied Iraq and Afghanistan and helped invade Libya. It is also prosecuting undeclared wars in Yemen and Pakistan, while propping up dictators in most of the Middle East. Oh, and we are also the world's biggest exporter of weapons and spend more on our military than most of the world combined.

On the intelligence side of things, it is a similar story. The National Security Administration is not only collecting domestic communications, it is constructing a global surveillance system. That includes collecting communications data from countries across the world, surveilling heads of state in Brazil and Mexico, hacking computers at the Indian embassy, spying on the United Nations and wiretapping Brazil's state-owned oil company.

And that's just what we know about.

To know if this is imperial behavior, simply ask yourself whether you would label another country an empire if it were doing this kind of thing. Of course you would (and you'd probably call that nation even worse things, too).

At his United Nations speech, though, President Obama justified this all as something wholly different from empire. In a signature Obama-ism, he portrayed the United States' actions as a benevolent effort to prevent "a vacuum of leadership" - but not an imperial project worthy of international resentment.

Yet, that whole "vacuum" idea is, unto itself, an imperial concept - one straight out of the "Star Wars" trilogy. In the megalomanical words of Darth Vader, it assumes that there must be one dominant power to "bring order" to the world - and it further assumes that without such an empire, there will be unacceptable chaos.

Such presuppositions are a failure of both imagination and foresight. They outright reject the notion of a multipolar world of truly sovereign nations - and they ignore the fact that such a multipolar world will be a reality, whether we like it or not. Indeed, though we've been telling ourselves since the end of the Cold War that we are the world's sole superpower, the rise of China, India and Brazil, the re-emergence of Russia and the persistent power of the European Union say otherwise.

The inability to acknowledge this changing reality, in fact, is the ultimate sign that for all the rhetoric to the contrary, the United States government does see itself as running an empire. Such intransigence and hubris, after all, have defined the decline of empires into the very chaos they so fear. Perhaps the only way to halt such a decline is to finally admit we are an empire - and then take the necessary steps to start shedding that label for good.
(c) 2013 David Sirota is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and the best-selling author of "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee. Follow him on Twitter @davidsirota .

Replace Third Party Delusions With A Political Boycott
By Joel S. Hirschhorn

Recently, Jonathan Cymberknopf wrote a very upbeat article where he makes it sound like third party presidential candidates in 2012 achieved remarkable, even historic, success. He provides considerable data on how a number of third party candidates did better in 2012 than in the previous presidential election. For many years I strongly advocated third party options and even was a state chairperson for a major third party. But over time I realized what a fool's effort third parties are for presidential elections and also for nearly all congressional ones. Why? Because anyone who thinks clearly and understands the US electoral system should know that the system is so rigged against third parties that they are mostly a wasted effort. Worse even, and this is my major point, because third parties provide a kind of high pressure escape valve for very unhappy Americans to express their anger and frustration. In so doing, they perversely help to sustain the very corrupt, dysfunctional two-party system they reject and want to change but cannot possibly do.

Let me further explain. As someone who worked within the federal and state political system for a long time I am totally convinced that the American political system has become a farce, actually an evil system for the vast majority of Americans. Why? Because this political system has become the tool for sustaining the upper, wealthy class and is destroying the middle class and succeeding in creating a two-class society. Economic inequality is now at its highest level. This has resulted because the rich, upper class controls the political system through money that more than earns a terrific return on the funds invested, because the political system has also corrupted the economic system.

We desperately need a second American revolution. But it will not and cannot come through elections. Elections merely represent a delusional notion that American democracy still works, when in fact it is nothing more now than a delusional democracy. Beyond the top 1 percent so talked about as the very wealthy grabbing nearly all the increases in economic growth and prosperity, it is probably the top 10 percent or more that enjoys fabulous lives. There really are two economies. The one for the top on the economic ladder is working wonderfully. They are gobbling up luxury cars, jewelry and all kinds of products, eating expensive foods at home and in fancy restaurants, getting the very best medical care, and experiencing the joys of luxury travel and entertainment. The lives of some 30 million Americans are truly wonderful. But the remaining vast majority of Americans who constitute most of the voters are leading very, very different economic lives with much diminished quality of lives and considerable economic insecurity.

So, rather than celebrate that less than 2 percent of voters supported third party presidential candidates and, in so doing, legitimized the US electoral system, what the country really needs are millions of Americans more forcefully attacking the status quo that the two-party plutocracy uses to serve and protect the upper, wealthy class. Americans who happily and proudly vote and work for third party candidates are delusional if they think that their actions are helping to bring down our corrupt political system. They need to realize that in a perverse way they are protecting and sustaining the status quo political system. It would be far better if many millions of Americans who, as expressed in virtually all surveys and polls, have no trust and confidence in both major political parties and all the elected politicians chose to express their discontent by NOT voting in elections. Yes, that is what we need. We need to concretely show our rejection of the political system by not honoring it through voting. The sad joke is that not much more than half of eligible voters actually vote, far worse than in other advanced, industrialized nations. What the goal of Americans who correctly see both major parties as rigidly corrupt and useless for most citizens should be is to attack the legitimacy of the political system by cutting voter turnout substantially.

Stop feel-good voting for third party candidates and reject the current electoral system altogether. Do that and think more about other ways to destroy this system. Think in terms of a political boycott just as you would an economic boycott against a company. Never delude yourself that by electing Republicans or Democrats you will see the many necessary, fundamental changes for restoring true democracy and honoring the values of the Constitution. The one most powerful tactic to restore democracy and economic freedom is removing all private money from the entire political system. That requires a constitutional amendment, and that can only happen through an Article V convention that recently Mark Levin so powerfully advocated in his new book, but which he, sadly, failed to present the full truth about, namely that Congress has already failed to obey the Constitution and recognize the sufficient number of state applications for a convention.

This failure of Congress, like so many other circumstances, decisions and events, only further proves just how awful American democracy has become. And it shows just how much we need millions of Americans to fight for what is necessary, rather than think that third party candidates are the answer. Interestingly, third party presidential candidates have not made the Article V convention option a major campaign issue, just as Republicans and Democrats have ignored this constitutional option.
(c) 2013 Joel S. Hirschhorn observed our corrupt federal government firsthand as a senior official with the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association and is the author of Delusional Democracy =Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. To discuss issues write the author. The author has a Ph.D. in Materials Engineering and was formerly a full professor of metallurgical engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear New Hampshire Unterfuhrer O'Brien,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your tying Obamacare to enslaving folks by the federal government, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Iran 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 1st class, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 11-30-2013. We salute you Herr O'Brien, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Why Obama And The Democrats Shouldn't Negotiate With Extortionists
By Robert Reich

As a child I was bullied by bigger boys who threatened to beat me up if I didn't give them what they wanted. But every time I gave in to their demands their subsequent demands grew larger. First they wanted the change in my pocket. Next it was the dessert in my lunchbox. Then my new Davy Crockett cap. Then the softball and bat I got for my birthday.

Finally I stopped giving in. When the bullies began roughing me up on the playground some older boys came to my rescue and threatened my tormenters with black eyes if they ever touched me again. That ended their extortion racket.

What's happening in Washington these days may seem far removed from my boyhood memories, but Washington is really just another children's playground. Its current bullies are right-wing Republicans, now threatening that if they don't get their way they'll close down the government and cause the nation to default on its debts.

"The American people don't want a government shutdown, and they don't want Obamacare," House Republican leaders said in a statement over the weekend. "We will do our job and send this bill over, and then it's up to the Senate to pass it and stop a government showdown."

Really? The American people don't want Obamacare as much as I didn't want my softball and bat.

Okay, maybe not quite as much. But the only settled way we know what the American people want is through the democratic process. And the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is the law of the land. A majority of the House and Senate voted for it, the President signed it into law, its constitutionality has been upheld by the Supreme Court, and a majority of Americans reelected the President after an election battle in which the Affordable Care Act was a central issue.

Moreover, we don't repeal laws in this country by holding hostage the entire government of the United States.

The bullies are a faction inside the Republican Party - extremists who are threatening more reasonable Republicans with primary challenges if they don't go along.

And where are the Tea Party extremists getting their dough? From even bigger bullies - a handful of hugely wealthy Americans who are sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into this extortion racket.

They include David and Charles Koch (and their front group, "Americans for Prosperity'); Peter Thiel, leverage-buyout specialist John Childs, investor Howie Rich, Stephen Jackson of the Stevens Group, and executives of JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, (all behind the "Club for Growth"); and Crow Holdings' Harlan Crow, shipping magnate Richard Uihlein, and investment banker Foster Friess; executives of MetLife and Philip Morris, and foundations controlled by the Scaife family (all bankrolling "FreedomWorks.")

Their game plan is to not just to take over the Republican Party. It's to take over America. The showdown over the budget and the debt ceiling is a prelude to 2016, when they plan to run Texas Senator Ted Cruz for President. (Cruz, if you haven't noticed, is busily establishing his creds as the biggest flamer in Washington - orchestrating not only the current extortion but also the purge of reasonable Republicans from the GOP.)

Obama and the Democrats must not give in. They shouldn't even negotiate with extortionists. As I learned the hard way, giving in to bullies just encourages them to escalate their demands.

The President began negotiations with the Republican bullies in 2011 when they first threatened to default on the nation's debt if they didn't get the spending cuts they wanted. He negotiated again at the end of 2012 when they threatened to go over the fiscal cliff and take the rest of the nation with them if they didn't get the budget they wanted. Now they want to repeal a law they detest. If we give in again, what's next? A coup d'etat?
(c) 2013 Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, "Beyond Outrage," is now out in paperback. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. His new film, "Inequality for All," will be out September 27.

Another World Is Coming
By Frank Scott

The government shutdown, whether it causes a minor economic bleep or major economic explosion, is another indicator of the larger crisis of global capital. This emergency is especially critical at its U.S. headquarters where a deteriorating situation has factions fighting for control and calling upon the gods of creation, madness or both in backing their efforts. This is a further sign of what international events - and some public response - may be showing more clearly.

The American people finally said no to an attack on a foreign country, Syria, and in the process added to the well-deserved decline in reputation of their president. This expression of the public's opposition to its usual knee-jerk support of murderous foreign policy may not seem like much to pessimists who never see anything but doom and defeat, thus playing into the hands of ruling power. But that power is worried far more than they are by current events and it may be closer to the truth.

Present matters are causing great concern for the ruling minority and should bring great hope to the potential democratic majority they most fear.

The stature of the USA has been sinking for a long time but foreign policy failures are coming closer together and involve nations and their leaders not only standing up to american threats but doing so very openly and on a global stage. Putin of Russia seemed to rebuke a spoiled child when he admonished Obama for his weak imitation of Reagan/Bush in referring to America as an exception among nations, and while his take-down of our master race/chosen people place in the world may have shocked the few remaining fans of the president it helped the real international community to see the former imperial dominator as well as its flip-flopping leader, with new eyes. And to understand that his bi-polar performance, one moment bragging bully the next pleading victim, was not just driven by personal shortcomings but far more by the contradictions of the failing empire he has been employed to maintain. It's no longer possible for even a more competent employee of capital to do that job.

Given much less publicity but even more stern a dismissal of American arrogance was Brazilian president Rouseff's justifiable trashing of the U.S. policy of disrespect towards her people and government in the NSA eavesdropping case. And while refusing to meet with diplomatic protocol by canceling a visit with the fading leader of a fading empire, she also articulated global desires for better life not just her nations but also the world's poor. Her words were dismissed by media lapdogs here as a "tirade" against America, but rest assured that the global community to which she really spoke was more than receptive and even jubilant at a national leader getting into America's face and expressing open disgust with its policies and attitudes.

Even the new Iranian president who has political stenographers madly tweeting about how moderate he is compared to Ahmadinejad often seemed to be speaking to a child when addressing America. Fully aware that whether he was talking to an infantile idiot or a senile simpleton, the creature was armed with enough weapons and political warheads to destroy much of the planet, he still not only supported Syria ridding itself of chemical weapons but also called for Israel to dump its unmentioned-in-polite-international-hypocritical-circles nuclear weapons. In fact, nothing Rouhani said was different in essence from anything Ahmadinejad had ever said; only the slant and spin of mind control media made him sound different, in its usual fashion of taking quotes out of context or excluding the most substantial quotes entirely.

And while the Israeli president of America's Israeli caucus hectored his underlings to continue support for destruction of Iran, the newly weakened USA leadership has been forced by circumstance to move diplomatically and for the first time openly act in opposition - however limply- to its Zionist sub-government.

Perhaps most in line with a newer and more general stance of open defiance, the Venezuelan president western profiteers thought would bring relief from Hugo Chavez accused American diplomats in his nation of consorting with its internal enemies and plotting insurrection. He boldly tossed them out of his country, publicly shouting, "Yankee go home" in English as he slammed the door. The tumultuous applause from a global majority may not have been heard in America but likely resonated in the ears of a few billion other inhabitants of the planet.

This growing attitude around the world is another sign of a sinking empire, but actions for radical change at home need to become even more urgent to truly make a difference. The expression of opposition to the incredibly hypocritical charges against Syria were a sign that attitudes are changing here in America. Unfortunately, they need to change at a quicker pace. While many joke that the wretched Democratic Party secretly finances the Republican Party in an attempt to look good by comparison to something, the public wisely seems to be losing any faith in either of the two parties of capital. But many still worship at the throne of wealth and power having been force fed since childhood the myths of pleasure for everyone with market control in the hands of small minorities and public control of anything meaning pain and suffering. The Ayn Rand worshipping market fundamentalists and others who become sexually aroused watching films of money piling on top of money are not really that different from those who ridicule them while extolling the virtues of private control of markets which make small minorities wealthy beyond belief while millions sink into despair and poverty in order to finance those private profits with their enormous social loss.

It is the minority rule of capital that must be changed, not the particular servants and stylists it employs to carry out its policies. Whether those employees wear suits, dresses, dashikis or saris, if they adhere to the domination of the market under private minority control they are against democracy and part of the problem. The rest of the world seems to be getting closer to that fact and we in America need to join them.
(c) 2013 Frank Scott writes political commentary and satire which appears online at the blog Legalienate.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Bruce Plante ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Senator Ahab Is A Sneetch
By Will Durst

There no longer lies any shame in obsession. Monomania reigns supreme in this country. Along with twerking. Once a month the local news features sports fans who have turned entire houses into shrines to their favorite team. We all know the conspiracy guy with his bootleg DVDs and liquid limber logic. Every neighborhood has at least one cat lady. And if you protest that your neighborhood doesn't, you may be her.

The U.S. Senate has its own cat lady, and his name is Ted Cruz. For the first nine months of his incumbency in the World's Greatest Deliberative Body, the man graduated from distressed to obsessed to a little shy of possessed. Recently we were held hostage to the focus of his idee fixe: an entire day devoted to his delirious struggle to kill the white whale; that is, repeal ObamaCare.

Speaking from the floor of the Senate for 21 hours and 19 minutes, Senator Ahab singlehandedly gave the American people another reason to look forward to a government shutdown. His long and loud faux filibuster seemed mostly a way to raise his profile and money for an inevitable presidential run. Another side effect of Obama lowering the qualification bar.

Inexplicably, in the midst of his impassioned C-SPAN salvo, the junior senator from Texas stopped speaking of Duck Dynasty, White Castle, Christmas pig roasts and Ashton Kutcher while regaling Obama as a socialist terrorist and his own party as Nazi appeasers to read a bedtime story directed at his children back home; Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs & Ham. Following which he made suppositions raising questions as to whether he fully understood the book's complicated ramifications.

Cruz took pains to differentiate himself from the recalcitrant protagonist of the book who wouldn't eat green eggs and ham in a house with a mouse in the dark on a boat with a goat in the rain here and there and everywhere by saying he himself had indeed tried green eggs and ham (read Obamacare) and didn't like it. And the American people didn't like it either. The problem is, Obamacare hasn't really kicked in yet.

Saying you tried it but didn't like it is real similar to saying you didn't enjoy Bruno Mars' halftime show at next year's Super Bowl. That you think Ben Affleck's portrayal of Batman fell far short of the exacting standards previously set by George Clooney. That you found the church basement covered-dish spread following your funeral service to be underwhelming.

But the media coverage was so intense and overwhelming, it would be a surprise on the order of cast iron Frisbees if he didn't try this tact again. Perhaps next he will favor us with the importance of proper potty training. One sequel we are definitely not destined to see is Teddy Hears a Who. Although he could adapt One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish to explain his food stamp elimination proposal.

Cruz has managed to prove he's confused by the space-time continuum, not to mention a book aimed at a kindergarten reading level, and he still wants to be president? Of course, knowing the Republican Party, Rafael Edward Cruz has a very good chance at securing the nomination, because after all, as Doctor Seuss himself famously said you can't teach a Sneetch.
(c) 2013 Will Durst's, the recipient of 7 consecutive nominations for Stand Up of the Year, Will Durst's new one-man show "BoomerAging: From LSD to OMG" is presented every Tuesday, at the Marsh, San Francisco. Go to... for more info. Use code "boomer" for $10 tix. And check out the trailer for the new documentary "3 Still Standing."

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Issues & Alibis Vol 13 # 38 (c) 10/04/2013

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