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In This Edition

Will Potter joins us with, "Seven Examples Of A "Police State," And How They Are Appearing In The US."

Uri Avnery observes, "The Grand Default."

Glen Ford studies, "The ICC: Imperialism Court."

Chris Floyd says to, "Pay In Blood."

Jim Hightower finds, "Mitt Supports What He Opposed - And Vise-Versa."

Bernie Sanders demands we, "Cut Deficit, But Not On Backs Of Needy."

James Donahue explains, "Why A Full Democratic Slate Is Our Best Choice."

David Swanson reports, "Italians Protest Weapons Shipments To Israel."

Ted Rall wonders, "Is America's Decline Inevitable?"

Frank Scott returns with, "Democracy - People, Not Money."

Paul Krugman considers, "The Real Referendum."

Joel S. Hirschhorn advises you to, "Fire Congress, Vote Out Incumbents."

Robert Reich gives, "Questions Unlikely To Be Asked Wednesday Night."

Bishop John Paprocki wins the coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

John Nichols asks, "Perhaps Obama Should Simply Ask Romney To 'Go Through All The Math.'"

Adam Keller sees, "Bugs Bunny In The United Nations, Again."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion discovers, "Obama Makes Surprise Visit To Quantum-Branching Multiverse On Alternate Hyperdimensional Plane" but first Uncle Ernie listens to, "The Great Debate."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Chip Bok, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Derf City, Tom Tomorrow, Kate Sheets, MVD, Alenia Aermacchi, Face Book.Com/Assblasting, Black Agenda Report, AP, Liberals Are Cool, The Onion, Reuters, 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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The Great Debate
By Ernest Stewart

After last night's debate, the reputation of Messieurs Lincoln and Douglas is secure. ~~~ Edward R. Murrow

"I share and understand the renewed anxiety of members of the St. Louis communities that were exposed to the spraying of (the chemicals) as part of Army tests during the Cold War. The impacted communities were not informed of the tests at the time and are reasonably anxious about the long term health impacts the tests may have had on those exposed to the airborne chemicals." ~~~ Senator Claire McCaskill to Army Secretary John McHugh

Sky pilot
How high can you fly
You'll never, never, never reach the sky
Sky Pilot ~~~ Eric Burdon and the Animals

Nothing is easy, nothing good is free
But I can tell you where to start
Take a look inside your heart
There's an answer in your heart
Fight The Good Fight ~~~ Triumph

I'm sorry; I really tried to watch the debate; I did; but try as I might, I couldn't. I lasted a whole 20 minutes, which was 18 minutes longer than I thought I could. As usual, I'll read the debate. I'm mean, how long could you watch a debate between a consummate liar and an incredibly obvious liar? The lies are the same no matter who says them, or so it seems to me!

Playing referee was the Paranoid Broadcasting System's Jim Lehrer, whose main job was apparently to see that no important questions would be asked, or any that the candidates hadn't prepared for well in advance, so there'd be nothing to impair smooth sailing for the networks! However, after that sleeper of a debate, I'm sure viewership will fall for the last two.

The MSM says Willard won the debate because Barry didn't attack most of Willard's outrageous, obvious lies. When Barry did rebut him, Willard looked like a deer caught in the headlights! So, I think it was typical right-wing prejudice expressed through the various 1% news outlets. But if that was the best they could do, having had the script and time to memorize it and their answers to those questions, then as I've often said, we are sooooooo screwed, regardless of who wins, America!

Heading into the debate, there was an expectation that Obama would challenge Romney on the infamous 47% remark -- in an attempt to paint the former Massachusetts governor as a cold-hearted patrician with little empathy for the middle class and poor. If executed correctly, it could've put Romney on defense and changed the tenor of the debate. Obama didn't do it -- a major mistake. Willard has been giving Barry a huge list of things that Barry could've used to destroy Willard with; but Barry didn't use a single one! No mention, for example, of Bain Capitol or offshore bank accounts! Is he trying to lose?

Nor did the President question Romney on why he wouldn't release more details about his taxes. Another opportunity lost in an effort to try and portray Romney as being an out-of-touch elitist. Of course, this didn't affect either camp; but for those fence sitters, it might have brought more to Willard than Barry. And for those who plan to sit out the election, viz., the majority of American voters, it meant nothing.

Obama's failure to take the fight to Romney and the challenger's ability to dictate the tone and pace of the debate helped Romney win. I can imagine that the Obama camp went just a bit berserk with Barry's poor performance. Meanwhile, the two candidates that could actually save us were pretty much ignored by the corpo-rat media.

Also debating Wednesday night were the Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson, who weren't invited by the corpo-rat media -- either of which would make a far better President than the one we're going to get saddled with come November!

In Other News

I see where our military got exposed again for experimenting on American citizens, especially children again! Sociologist Lisa Martino-Taylor, a sociologist at St. Louis Community College at Meramec, published a recent report saying, that the United States Military conducted top secret experiments on the citizens of St. Louis, Missouri for years, exposing them to radioactive compounds. While it was known that the government sprayed "harmless" zinc cadmium silfide particles over the general population in St Louis, Professor Lisa Martino-Taylor, claims that a radioactive additive was also mixed with the compound.

She has gathered detailed descriptions, as well as photographs of the spraying, which exposed the unwitting public, predominantly in low-income and minority communities, to radioactive particles as part of their "tumors for the ghettos" projects!

"The study was secretive for reason. They didn't have volunteers stepping up and saying, "Yeah, I'll breathe zinc cadmium sulfide with radioactive particles," said Professor Martino-Taylor.

Through her research, she found photographs of how the particles were distributed from 1953-1954 and 1963-1965.

In Corpus Christi, Texas, the chemical was dropped from airplanes over large swathes of city. In St Louis, the Army put chemical sprayers on buildings, like schools and public housing projects, and mounted them in station wagons for mobile use!

"The people of St Louis were told that the Army was testing smoke screens to protect cities from a Russian attack. It was pretty shocking. The level of duplicity and secrecy. Clearly they went to great lengths to deceive people," Professor Martino-Taylor said.

The Army has admitted that it added a fluorescent substance to the "harmless" compound, but whether or not the additive was radioactive remains classified. Funny thing that, huh?

In her research, she found that "the greatest concentration of spraying in St Louis was at the Pruitt-Igoe public housing complex, which was home to 10,000 low income residents." She said that, "70 per cent of those residents were children under the age of 12."

Professor Martino-Taylor became interested in the topic after hearing independent reports of cancers among city residents living in those areas at the time.

"This was a violation of all medical ethics, all international codes, and the military's own policy at that time," said Professor Martino-Taylor. "There is a lot of evidence that shows people in St. Louis and the city, in particular minority communities, were subjected to military testing that was connected to a larger radiological weapons testing project."

Previous investigations of the compound were rebuffed by the military, which insisted it was safe.

However, Professor Martino-Taylor believes the documents she's uncovered prove the zinc cadmium sulfide was also mixed with radioactive particles.

She has linked the St Louis testing to a now-defunct company called US Radium. The controversial company came under fire, and numerous lawsuits, after several of its workers were exposed to dangerous levels of radioactive materials in its fluorescent paint.

Are you surprised by this? I am certainly not surprised -- not with the military's record of using the unknowing US public as Guinea Pigs. You'll recall how they used unknowing black men in their syphilis studies where they gave innocent folks the disease, or, in the case of men already with it, pretended to give them all the cure, but really watched them deteriorate and die, marking each stage! Doctor Mengele would be proud!

Or what was actually worse was having American citizens, from children through the elderly expose themselves to radioactive fallout from near-by, above-ground A-bomb tests. Going as far as to let schools out and stopping work in factories. so everyone could play in all that lovely pink snow falling all around them, calling it patriotic and assuring everyone that it was "harmless." Within 20 years every man, women and child had died from horrible tumors who were exposed to the fallout. Not to mention Zeus only knows what the CIA was spraying in subway systems from coast to coast. Or, one can often just look up to what the Air Force is currently spraying in their chemtrails. Makes you wonder why we owe allegiance to people who would do this to us and to our children? Your tax dollars at work, America!

And Finally

There's the strange case of Bishop John Paprocki! Bishop Paprocki issued a video message recently warning Catholics that they risk going to hell if they vote for Democrats!

"I am not telling you which party or who to vote for or against," he said (IRS regulations mean a bishop risks his church's tax-exempt status if he endorses a candidate). "But I am saying you have to think and pray very carefully about your vote, because a vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your soul in serious jeopardy. I have read the Republican Party platform and there is nothing in it that supports or promotes an intrinsic evil or a serious sin."

Just like in Newark, N.J., where Archbishop John J. Myers released a pastoral letter suggesting that Catholics who don't agree with church teachings on homosexual marriage should "in all honesty and humility refrain from Holy Communion. Jesus had very harsh things to say to those whose false teachings led others, especially the young, astray." Birth control "makes it difficult for young people today to grasp the intrinsic meaning and relation between sexual activity and procreation that has always been one of the fundamental meanings of marriage."

I wrote Bishop Paprocki this short note on the church's web site...

Dear sir or madam,

Please remind Bishop Paprocki, that he who is without sin may cast the first stone, and that sure as hell isn't the Bishop. If he wants to delve into politics then the church should be paying taxes like any other entertainment service; and shouldn't the Bishop spend his time doing Catholic things, like molesting little boys, instead of political things like threatening us with his mythological madness, if we don't vote for Willard?


Ernest Stewart
Managing editor
Issues & Alibis Magazine

I got this reply...

Dear Mr. Steward,

Your e-mail message to Bishop Paprocki has been received. Due to the volume of communications received, Bishop Paprocki regrets that he cannot reply to each of them personally.

To those who have offered words of support and prayers, please know that Bishop Paprocki is deeply grateful.

To those who have attempted to articulate a rationale basis for their opinion, Bishop Paprocki respects freedom of speech.

To those who have misconstrued and misrepresented his remarks, Bishop Paprocki asks that they re-read his words carefully with a mind open to the truth.

To those who have responded with hatred and vitriol, Bishop Paprocki offers forgiveness.

To one and all, Bishop Paprocki assures you of his prayers.

Very truly yours,

Reverend Daren J. Zehnler

Priest Secretary to the Bishop


Reverend Daren J. ZehnleR
Priest Secretary and Master of Ceremonies to the Bishop
Associate Director of the Office for Vocations
Diocese of Springfield in Illinois
1615 West Washington Street . Springfield, Illinois 62708-3187
(217) 698-8500 ext. 194 . .

If you have any thoughts for Bishop Paprocki or his lackey Daren, do use the info above to do so!

Keepin' On

I got a little surprise last week as my father's old cottage sold with a land contract. I split the down payment with my sister and the lawyer. I had planned to buy a car with it, but it wasn't enough. I thought about paying off the magazines bills, now down to $750, but remembered that was how I got in this situation in the first place by draining my bank account till it was gone. Instead, I decided to blow it all on a new iMac computer.

You long time readers know how I was cast out by my ex who kept the new iMac, and I was forced to buy a used iBook on Craig's List that had the keyboard burned out, and the only way I could do that was by the generous donations from Ernie from Ontario and several other members of the "Usual Suspects," and thank Zeus for them or the magazine would have ended back in October of 2010. This new computer should last me until they bury me. Actually, I've instructed my sister to take my body to the city walls and throw it over to let the wolves eat me; hey, wolves gotta eat!

However, that doesn't pay the magazines bills, so I still need $750. We've raised $5010 so far of the $5760 that it takes to put this out, well, that and the $6000 we take in on ads of the $11,760 that it costs to do this. That's less than 10% of what similar magazines cost to run for a quarter, so you get a lot more bang for your buck with Issues & Alibis! If you'd like to see us continue in the fight to restore our republic, please send in what you can as often as you can, and we'll keep fighting the good fight for you and yours!


05-06-1952 ~ 09-28-2012
Thanks for the film!

02-14-1941 ~ 10-02-2012
Thanks for the music!


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) 2012 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 11 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Face Book. Follow me on Twitter.

Seven Examples Of A "Police State," And How They Are Appearing In The US
By Will Potter

"Has the United States become a police state?"

That's the stark question I was asked at the beginning of a recent radio interview. Framing the current political climate in these terms is quite blunt, and can be jarring to some people because it automatically conjures images of, for example, Nazi Germany. That's clearly different than what is occurring right now in the United States. So how do we conceptualize the current state of government repression, and how do we put it in a historical context?

Is this a police state? If not, what is it?

The image that most people hold of a "police state" is a representation of extreme power dynamics, and repressive tactics to maintain them, at specific points of history. The current political climate in the United States is unique in many ways, and distinct from those eras. However, it shares core attributes that we generally associate with a "police state":

1. Raids, Harassment, and Intimidation of Dissidents by Police

When FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force agents raided multiple activist homes in the Northwest recently, they were in search of "anti-government or anarchist literature."

2. Militarization of Domestic Law Enforcement

As Arthur Rizer wrote for The Atlantic:

In an effort to remedy their relative inadequacy in dealing with terrorism on U.S. soil, police forces throughout the country have purchased military equipment, adopted military training, and sought to inculcate a "soldier's mentality" among their ranks.

3. Disproportionate Prison Sentences for Political Activists

The reason Marie Mason, who destroyed property, received a prison sentence twice as long as racists, who harmed human beings, is because of her politics. Likewise Tim DeChristopher was sentenced to two years in prison for non-violent disrupting an illegal oil and gas lease auction because he cost corporations thousands of dollars.

4. Creation of New Laws for People Because of Their Political Beliefs

The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act was created solely to prosecute activists who threaten the "loss of profits" for corporations.

And now 10 states have considered "Ag Gag" bills that go so far as to criminalize non-violent undercover investigations. The new bills have passed in two states, Utah and Iowa.

5. Creation of Special Prison Units

In addition to Guantanamo Bay, which Obama has refused to close, there are now two experimental prison units on U.S. soil for "domestic terrorists." These Communications Management Units are for political prisoners that the U.S. Bureau of Prisons describes as having "inspirational significance."

6. Pervasive Use of Surveillance

Spy drones are being used by domestic law enforcement for surveillance, artificial intelligence, and monitoring social movements (here's a great overview from Salon). Recently, Tampa police wanted to use them against RNC protesters.

This is in addition to widespread surveillance measures such as TrapWire.

7. Criminalization of Ideology

In my opinion this is the hallmark of any police state: the targets of the state have little to do with criminal activity, and everything to do with their perceived subversive ideology. For example, consider these FBI "domestic terrorism" training documents which say that anarchists are "criminals seeking an ideology to justify their activities."

There Is No "Tipping Point"

A final, more nebulous characteristic of a police state is the extent to which all of the tactics above take place. It's a question of degree and intensity, and some would argue that, even though these tactics are occurring with increasing frequency, they are not at the level that would merit this kind of "police state" language. I think that's completely reasonable.

But no matter how you feel about the characterization of what is occurring right now, the most important point is this: if we're not a police state already, we are marching closer and closer every day.

In the following interview, I try to dispel some of the myths about police states and how they are created, including the flawed idea of a "tipping point" leading up to extreme states of repression.

Listen to the full interview here (starting at 55:43) or download it from iTunes (it's the 8/23/12 show)
(c) 2012 Will Potter is the author of "Green Is the New Red: An Insider's Account of a Social Movement Under Siege," recently published by City Lights.

The Grand Default
By Uri Avnery

I AM sitting here writing this article 39 years to the minute from that moment when the sirens started screaming, announcing the beginning of the war.

A minute before, total quiet reigned, as it does now. No traffic, no activity in the street, except a few children riding bicycles. Yom Kippur, the holiest day for Jews, reigned supreme. And then...

Inevitably, the memory starts to work.

THIS YEAR, many new documents were released for publication. Critical books and articles are abundant.

The universal culprits are Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan.

They have been blamed before, right from the day after the war, but only for superficial military offences, known as The Default. The default was failing to mobilize the reserves, and not moving the tanks to the front in time, in spite of the many signs that Egypt and Syria were about to attack.

Now, for the first time, the real Grand Default is being explored: the political background of the war. The findings have a direct bearing on what is happening now.

IT TRANSPIRES that in February 1973, eight months before the war, Anwar Sadat sent his trusted aide, Hafez Ismail, to the almighty US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger. He offered the immediate start of peace negotiations with Israel. There was one condition and one date: all of Sinai, up to the international border, had to be returned to Egypt without any Israeli settlements, and the agreement had to be achieved by September, at the latest.

Kissinger liked the proposal and transmitted it at once to the Israeli ambassador, Yitzhak Rabin, who was just about to finish his term in office. Rabin, of course, immediately informed the Prime Minister, Golda Meir. She rejected the offer out of hand. There ensued a heated conversation between the ambassador and the Prime Minister. Rabin, who was very close to Kissinger, was in favor of accepting the offer.

Golda treated the whole initiative as just another Arab trick to induce her to give up the Sinai Peninsula and remove the settlements built on Egyptian territory.

After all, the real purpose of these settlements -including the shining white new town, Yamit - was precisely to prevent the return of the entire peninsula to Egypt. Neither she nor Dayan dreamed of giving up Sinai. Dayan had already made the (in)famous statement that he preferred "Sharm al-Sheik without peace to peace without Sharm al-Sheik." (Sharm al-Sheik, which had already been re-baptised with the Hebrew name Ophira, is located near the southern tip of the peninsula, not far from the oil wells, which Dayan was also loath to give up.)

Even before the new disclosures, the fact that Sadat had made several peace overtures was no secret. Sadat had indicated his willingness to reach an agreement in his dealings with the UN mediator Dr. Gunnar Jarring, whose endeavors had already become a joke in Israel.

Before that, the previous Egyptian President, Gamal Abd-al-Nasser, had invited Nahum Goldman, the President of the World Jewish Congress (and for a time President of the World Zionist Organization) to meet him in Cairo. Golda had prevented that meeting, and when the fact became known there was a storm of protest in Israel, including a famous letter from a group of eighth-graders saying that it would be hard for them to serve in the army.

All these Egyptian initiatives could be waved aside as political maneuvers. But an official message by Sadat to the Secretary of State could not. So, remembering the lesson of the Goldman incident, Golda decided to keep the whole thing secret.

THUS AN incredible situation was created. This fateful initiative, which could have effected an historic turning point, was brought to the knowledge of two people only: Moshe Dayan and Israel Galili.

The role of the latter needs explanation. Galili was the eminence grise of Golda, as well as of her predecessor, Levy Eshkol. I knew Galili quite well, and never understood where his renown as a brilliant strategist came from. Already before the founding of the state, he was the leading light of the illegal Haganah military organization. As a member of a kibbutz, he was officially a socialist but in reality a hardline nationalist. It was he who had the brilliant idea of putting the settlements on Egyptian soil, in order to make the return of northern Sinai impossible.

So the Sadat initiative was known only to Golda, Dayan, Galili and Rabin and Rabin's successor in Washington, Simcha Dinitz, a nobody who was Golda's lackey.

Incredible as it may sound, the Foreign Minister, Abba Eban, Rabin's direct boss, was not informed. Nor were all the other ministers, the Chief of Staff and the other leaders of the armed forces, including the Chiefs of Army Intelligence, as well as the chiefs of the Shin Bet and the Mossad. It was a state secret.

There was no debate about it - neither public nor secret. September came and passed, and on October 6th Sadat's troops struck across the canal and achieved a world-shaking surprise success (as did the Syrians on the Golan Heights.)

As a direct result of Golda's Grand Default 2693 Israeli soldiers died, 7251 were wounded and 314 were taken prisoner (along with the tens of thousands of Egyptian and Syrian casualties).

THIS WEEK, several Israeli commentators bemoaned the total silence of the media and the politicians at the time.

Well, not quite total. Several months before the war, in a speech in the Knesset, I warned Golda Meir that if the Sinai was not returned very soon, Sadat would start a war to break the impasse.

I knew what I was talking about. I had, of course, no idea about the Ismail mission, but in May 1973 I took part in a peace conference in Bologna. The Egyptian delegation was led by Khalid Muhyi al-Din, a member of the original group of Free Officers who made the 1952 revolution. During the conference, he took me aside and told me in confidence that if the Sinai was not returned by September, Sadat would start a war. Sadat had no illusions of victory, he said, but hoped that a war would compel the US and Israel to start negotiations for the return of Sinai.

My warning was completely ignored by the media. They, like Golda, held the Egyptian army in abysmal contempt and considered Sadat a nincompoop. The idea that the Egyptians would dare to attack the invincible Israeli army seemed ridiculous.

The media adored Golda. So did the whole world, especially feminists. (A famous poster showed her face with the inscription: "But can she type?") In reality, Golda was a very primitive person, ignorant and obstinate. My magazine, Haolam Hazeh, attacked her practically every week, and so did I in the Knesset. (She paid me the unique compliment of publicly declaring that she was ready to "mount the barricades" to get me out of the Knesset.)

Ours was a voice crying in the wilderness, but at least we fulfilled one function: In her "March of Folly", Barbara Tuchman stipulated that a policy could be branded as folly only if there had been at least one voice warning against it in real time.

Perhaps even Golda would have reconsidered if she had not been surrounded by journalists and politicians singing her praises, celebrating her wisdom and courage and applauding every one of her stupid pronouncements.

THE SAME type of people, even some of the very same people, are now doing the same with Binyamin Netanyahu.

Again, we are staring the same Grand Default in the face.

Again, a group of two or three are deciding the fate of the nation. Netanyahu and Ehud Barak alone make all the decisions, "keeping their cards close to their chest." Attack Iran or not? Politicians and generals are kept in the dark. Bibi and Ehud know best. No need for any other input.

But more revealing than the blood-curdling threats on Iran is the total silence about Palestine. Palestinian peace offers are ignored, as were those of Sadat in those days. The ten-year old Arab Peace Initiative, supported by all the Arab and all the Muslim states, does not exist.

Again, settlements are put up and expanded, in order to make the return of the occupied territories impossible. (Let's remember all those who claimed, in those days, that the occupation of Sinai was "irreversible". Who would dare to remove Yamit?)

Again, multitudes of flatterers, media stars and politicians compete with each other in adulation of "Bibi, King of Israel". How smoothly he can talk in American English! How convincing his speeches in the UN and the US Senate!

Well, Golda, with her 200 words of bad Hebrew and primitive American, was much more convincing, and she enjoyed the adulation of the whole Western world. And at least she had the sense not to challenge the incumbent American president (Richard Nixon) during an election campaign.

IN THOSE days, I called our government "the ship of fools". Our current government is worse, much worse.

Golda and Dayan led us to disaster. After the war, their war, they were kicked out - not by elections, not by any committee of inquiry, but by the grassroots mass protests that racked the country.

Bibi and Ehud are leading us to another, far worse, disaster. Some day, they will be kicked out by the same people who adore them now - if they survive.
(c) 2012 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

The ICC: Imperialism Court
By Glen Ford

The International Criminal Court, a dispenser of one-sided justice to a select group of Africans targeted by the U.S. and its allies, "violates the letter and spirit of the UN Charter, principles of legality, and fair and equal justice for all without discrimination." That was the sentiment of many of the 100 or so lawyers, law students and human rights activists who gathered in Montreal, Quebec, for a conference under the heading: "International justice for whom?" This Third International Conference on the Defense of International Criminal Law found little to defend in the conduct of the ICC.

The International Criminal Court is a strange legal animal. Despite its global mandate to prosecute persons for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, the ICC has pursued indictments only in Africa, where it has charged 29 people in cases involving eight countries. The organization, based in The Hague, Netherlands, purports to fight against a "culture of impunity," yet is prohibited from prosecuting crimes committed prior to July 2002, the date of its founding under the Treaty of Rome. Thus, hundreds of years of European slavery, genocide, and every other conceivable form of human rights atrocity are beyond the reach of the ICC. Europe is effectively granted impunity from centuries of crimes in Africa and around the globe.

Countries that are not signatories to the founding treaty, such as the United States, remain outside its jurisdiction, yet cases can be referred to the ICC for prosecution by the United Nations Security Council, where the U.S. is by far the most influential player. The ICC's former chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, actively sought to enlist the "special forces" and "rare and expensive capabilities" of the U.S. to enforce ICC arrest warrants, and U.S. "observers" take part in most high-level ICC parlays.

"African states did not contemplate that the administration of justice at the ICC, in particular within its first decade of existence, would be discriminatory, selective justice and focused totally on Africa," said Chief Charles A. Taku, a traditional leader from Cameroon who is also legal counsel at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and the African Court on Human Rights and Peoples Rights in Arusha. The ICC has turned out to be "a tool of imperialism," said Taku.

Selective, or discriminatory, justice is no justice at all. The West - meaning Europe's former colonial powers and the U.S. - is allowed to posture and pontificate about "fighting impunity," while the ICC's exclusive prosecution of Africans gives the impression that "Blacks are inherently criminal and have a propensity to kill each other," said Taku.

Who pulls the ICC's strings? In the ICC's Kenya case, the Court initiated the proceedings on its own authority against Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of the country's founding father, Jomo Kenyatta, and others in the deaths of 1,200 people in violence following disputed elections in 2007. However, it is widely believed that the United States and Britain are using the Court to favor Kenyatta's political rival, Raila Odinga, and to chastise the country for opening up to diversified trading partners, especially China.

"The U.S. controls the ICC, first of all through the NGOs," said Otachi Bw'Omanwa, defense lawyer for Kenyatta and his co-defendant, cabinet secretary Francis Muthaura. Much of the evidence used in ICC indictments is actually gathered by non-governmental organizations funded by the United States, said Bw'Omanwa. "More importantly, the U.S. exerts political and military muscle through the UN Security Council."

Both the Kenyan administration and the national assembly tried to stop the ICC's intervention in the country's affairs, and many fear the process will inflame tensions, rather than promote reconciliation. However, reconciliation among Africans does not appear to be the ICC's mission, especially in its cases stemming from the 1994 mass killings of Tutsis and Hutus in Rwanda and the genocide of six million Congolese that followed. Instead, the ICC behaves much like an international arm of Rwanda's minority Tutsi government and its U.S.-trained president, Paul Kagame.

Iain Edwards is a young lawyer based in London, defense counsel for Victoire Ingabire. A leader of the opposition to Kagame, Ingabire returned to Rwanda from exile in 2010, intending to run in elections under the Unified Democratic Forces banner. Instead, she was charged with collaborating with terrorists and promoting "genocidal ideology" - a catch-all for anyone that does not buy into the version of events that put Kagame in power after the bloodletting of 1994 and drove much of the majority Hutu political class into hiding.

Ingabire's legal prospects are not good. "The law is simply not respected in the courts of Rwanda," said Edwards. It is nearly impossible to mount a defense when potential witnesses are treated as accomplices in crime. Yet, the ICC routinely extradites Rwandans back home, despite zero prospects of even rudimentary justice. Edwards say he has 49 witnesses who would testify that one of his clients, Jean-Bosco Uwinkindi, a Pentacostal pastor, was not involved in killing Tutsis in 1994. However, none of them "will accept guarantees of safety" to testify in a Rwandan court "whilst the current regime is in power," said Edwards. "It is not clear if the accused could even testify in his own defense."

"ICC behaves much like an international arm of Rwanda's minority Tutsi government and its U.S.-trained president, Paul Kagame."

The test for ICC extradition to Rwanda should be: Will the defendant receive a fair trail? The answer is clearly, No, yet the ICC sends most defendants to Kagame's courts, anyway. "Things look pretty bleak for Rwandans in the diaspora," said Edwards.

If that is the case, then "isn't the whole reason for the ICC undermined by transferring defendants to Uganda?" asked David Jacobs, a labor and civil liberties lawyer from Toronto. "Why did it exist in the first place?"

One speaker came to the ICC's defense. Professor Fannie Lafontaine, of Laval University, a specialist in international humanitarian and human rights law, noted the ICC's many mistakes, including its "idiotic decision" to issue an arrest warrant against Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir for genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur, which "simply alienated the African Union." However, she declared: "We will simply not go back to where the worst criminals are sitting on a beach sipping a drink."

We? Who is "we"? Are "we" the North Americans and Europeans that run the ICC show? And who are "the worst criminals"? Are they the all-African defendants in the ICC's dock, or the imperial powers that dominate international structures, including the ICC? Aren't there war criminals sipping drinks in the halls of power in Washington, London and Paris? "The ICC has been used as an instrument of war, not an instrument of peace, but war by other means," said Toronto's David Jacobs. It's time to "scrap it."

Phil Taylor, a journalist who has worked as an investigator for the ICC, mocked the Court's claim to seek "an end to a culture of impunity." The Rwandan Patriotic Front, Paul Kagame's army, which has been repeatedly implicated in the Congolese genocide and the mass killing of Hutus in Rwanda, "was never charged with any crime," said Taylor.

"A racist, biased, colonialist court has no credibility," said John Philpot, a defense counsel at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the ICC, and an organizer of the conference. Junking the ICC is not akin to "throwing out the baby with the bathwater." Under the current political arrangements, the ICC is hopelessly selective in its prosecutions. "If there is a political change, then proper international tribunals can arise. But you cannot respect these [current] tribunals."

Defense lawyers, whose natural inclination is to work behind the scenes, to speak within the narrow confines of legal immediacies, must expose the ICC as a tool of global power, not justice.

"We have to go public. We cannot limit our work to technical work," he said.
(c) 2012 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

Pay In Blood
The Bipartisan Terror Machine Stripped Bare
By Chris Floyd

In the category of "the sky is blue," "fire is hot" and "the sun rises in the east," the Guardian reports on a new study showing that Washington's murderous drone killing campaign in Pakistan is "counterproductive."

The sarcasm above is not meant to cast aspersions on the report itself -- which is detailed, devastating, and very productive -- but on the prevailing mindset in the ruling circles of the West (the self-proclaimed "defenders of civilization") that makes such a study even necessary, much less 'controversial.'

For of course even the denizens of the many secret services and black-op armies and intelligence agencies that make up America's world-straddling security apparat have said, repeatedly, that Washington's policy of murdering, torturing, renditioning and indefinitely detaining innocent people all over the world -- day after day, week after week, year after year -- is in fact creating the very extremism and anti-Americanism the policy purports to combat.

Thus the new report, by the law schools of New York University and Stanford (a famously if not notoriously conservative institution) should be, in a sane and rational world, a case of carrying coals to Newscastle or selling ice to the Inuit: an exercise in redunancy.

But instead, sadly, the report, "Living Under Drones," is a very, very rare instance of speaking truth to the power that is waging a hideous campaign of terror -- there is no other word for it -- against innocent people all over the world.

The personal testimonies gathered by the researchers -- on the ground, in Pakistan -- are shattering ... at least for those who actually believe that these swarthy foreigner are actually human beings, with "hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions .. fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is." You can be sure -- you can be damned sure -- that the Nobel Peace Laureate in the White House has never and will never read these stories of the ones he is terrorizing, night and day. These testimonies will never appear beside the scraps of rumor, conjecture and brutal prejudice that constitute the "reports" he sees each Tuesday -- "Terror Tuesday" -- when he meets in the Oval Office with his death squad team to decide who will be assassinated that week.

The Guardian gives a good overview of the report:

The CIA's programme of "targeted" drone killings in Pakistan's tribal heartlands is politically counterproductive, kills large numbers of civilians and undermines respect for international law, according to a report by US academics. The study by Stanford and New York universities' law schools, based on interviews with victims, witnesses and experts, blames the US president, Barack Obama, for the escalation of "signature strikes" in which groups are selected merely through remote "pattern of life" analysis.

Families are afraid to attend weddings or funerals, it says, in case US ground operators guiding drones misinterpret them as gatherings of Taliban or al-Qaida militants.

"The dominant narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan is of a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the US safer by enabling 'targeted killings' of terrorists, with minimal downsides or collateral impacts. This narrative is false," the report, entitled Living Under Drones, states. ...

The "best available information", they say, is that between 2,562 and 3,325 people have been killed in Pakistan between June 2004 and mid-September this year -of whom between 474 and 881 were civilians, including 176 children. The figures have been assembled by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which estimated that a further 1,300 individuals were injured in drone strikes over that period. ...

"US drones hover 24 hours a day over communities in north-west Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning," the American law schools report says. "Their presence terrorises men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities. Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves.

"These fears have affected behaviour. The US practice of striking one area multiple times, and evidence that it has killed rescuers, makes both community members and humanitarian workers afraid or unwilling to assist injured victims."

The study goes on to say: "Publicly available evidence that the strikes have made the US safer overall is ambiguous at best ... The number of 'high-level' militants killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low -estimated at just 2% [of deaths]. Evidence suggests that US strikes have facilitated recruitment to violent non-state armed groups, and motivated further violent attacks ... One major study shows that 74% of Pakistanis now consider the US an enemy."

A powerful story, setting out the lineaments of the report with admirable concision. But then the Guardian correspondent, Owen Bowcott [or his inserting editors], betray heartbreaking naivete:

Coming from American lawyers rather than overseas human rights groups, the criticisms are likely to be more influential in US domestic debates over the legality of drone warfare.

The truth, of course, is that regardless of its "Homeland" provenance, this report will have no influence whatsoever on the non-existent "debate over the legality of drone warfare" in the United States. For beyond the rare, isolated op-ed, there is no "debate" on drone warfare in American political or media circles. The bipartisan political establishment is united in its support of the practice; indeed, both parties plan to expand the use of drones on a large scale in the future. This murderous record -- and this shameful complicity -- will be one of the Peace Laureate lasting legacies, whether he wins re-election or not.

As the story notes:

Reprieve's director, Clive Stafford Smith, said: "An entire region is being terrorised by the constant threat of death from the skies. Their way of life is collapsing: kids are too terrified to go to school, adults are afraid to attend weddings, funerals, business meetings, or anything that involves gathering in groups. George Bush wanted to create a global 'war on terror' without borders, but it has taken Obama's drone war to achieve his dream."

Stafford Smith gives more detail of the reality of Washington's terror campaign in his own Guardian piece on the report:

However, there can be no sensible disagreement over certain salient facts: first, the US now has more than 10,000 weaponised drones in its arsenal; second, as many as six Predator drones circle over one location at any given time, often for 24 hours a day, with high-resolution cameras snooping on the movements of everyone below; third, the Predators emit an eerie sound, earning them the name bangana (buzzing wasp) in Pashtu; fourth, everyone in the area can see them, 5,000ft up, all day -and hear them all night long; fifth, nobody knows when the missile will come, and turn each member of the family into what the CIA calls a "bugsplat". The Predator operator, thousands of miles away in Nevada, often pushes the button over a cup of coffee in the darkest hours of the Waziristan night, between midnight and 5am. So a parent putting children to bed cannot be sure they will wake up safely.

Stafford Smith also speaks of his mother, who lived through the attacks by Adolf Hitler's drones -- the V1 and V2 rockets -- toward the end of World War II, and he notes:

So little changes. Current RAF doctrine tells us, euphemistically, how "the psychological impact of air power, from the presence of a UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] to the noise generated by an approaching attack helicopter, has often proved to be extremely effective in exerting influence ..." Perhaps they mean "terror", as described by David Rohde, a former New York Times journalist kidnapped and held by the Taliban for months in Waziristan. Rohde, quoted in Living Under Drones, describes the fear the drones inspired in ordinary civilians: "The drones were terrifying. From the ground, it is impossible to determine who or what they are tracking as they circle overhead. The buzz of a distant propeller is a constant reminder of imminent death."

Again -- and we've said here over and over, for months, even years: when you vote for one of the factions in the imperial power bloc -- Democrat or Republican -- this is what you are supporting. You are empowering, enabling and associating yourself with an extremist regime that visits bin Laden-like terror on innocent people, day after day, night after night: killing them, traumatizing them, deranging their lives, destroying their families, their hopes and dreams. This is what you are voting for, you stalwart Tea Party patriots. This is what you are voting for, you earnest humanitarian progressives. This and nothing else but this: terror, murder, fear and ruin, in a never-ending, self-perpetuating, all-devouring cycle.
(c) 2012 Chris Floyd

Mitt Supports What He Opposed - And Vise-Versa

Geez - does Mitt Romney's brain-bone even connect to his tongue-bone?

He went haywire again in a recent TV interview, declaring that there's no need for the government to make sure that every American has health-care coverage, for there's always the ER. Launching into a little anecdote to show his connectedness to the real-world of not-millionaires, Mitt explained that "If someone has a heart attack, they don't sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance and take them to a hospital, and give them care."

Well, actually, since many uninsured Americans don't get any preventative care, they do indeed suffer a Big One and die in their apartments. That aside, however, plenty of knowledgeable people have pointed out that emergency room care is exorbitantly expensive, so it's far more sensible to provide universal health care. One of these knowledgeable and sensible people was a guy named - guess who? - Mitt Romney. Asked just two years ago if he supported universal coverage, Romney said "Oh, sure. Look," he added, "it doesn't make a lot of sense for us to have millions and millions of people who have no health insurance and yet who can go to the emergency room and get entirely free care." The wandering presidential wannabe used to denounce the ER as "a form of socialism" and hail mandatory health insurance as the "ultimate conservatism."

And don't forget that the guy who's now touting the ER as a health-care plan is the same one who passed a mandatory health insurance program in Massachusetts specifically to limit emergency room overuse. And it worked! ER use is way down and 98 percent of Bay State residents now have health coverage (including 99.8% of children).

Maybe that old-but-effective 2006 Romney model could be brought back to replace this year's defective version of the Romney.
(c) 2012 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.

We must address the deficit in a way that is fair, says Vermont senator. (Reuters)

Cut Deficit, But Not On Backs Of Needy
By Bernie Sanders

Yes. We must address the very serious problem of a $16 trillion national debt and a $1 trillion federal deficit.

But at this pivotal moment in American history, it's essential that we understand how we got into this deficit crisis in the first place and who was responsible for it. More important, we must address the deficit in a way that is fair and does not balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor - people who are already hurting.

Let us never forget that when Bill Clinton left office in January 2001, this country enjoyed a healthy $236 billion surplus, and the projections were that this surplus would grow by a total of $5 trillion over a 10-year period.

What happened? How did we go from a significant federal budget surplus to a massive deficit? Frankly, it is not that complicated.

President George W. Bush and the so-called deficit hawks chose to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq and put the funding for those wars on our nation's credit card. By the time the last wounded veteran is cared for, those wars will end up adding more than $3 trillion to our national debt.

During this same period, Bush and the "deficit hawks" provided huge tax breaks to the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans who were already doing phenomenally well. These tax breaks for the very rich will increase our national debt by about $1 trillion over a 10-year period.

In addition, Bush and the "deficit hawks" established a Medicare prescription drug program written by the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. This program, which is far more expensive than it should be because it prohibits the federal government from using its purchasing power to negotiate cheaper drug prices, was not paid for. As a result, about $400 billion will be added to our national debt over a 10-year period.

Further, as a result of the deregulation of Wall Street, and the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior of the major financial institutions, this country was driven into the worst recession since the 1930s, which resulted in a massive reduction in revenue coming into the federal government.

And now, as we approach the election and a lame-duck session of Congress, these very same Republican "deficit hawks," the folks who, to a significant degree, created the deficit crisis, are presenting some horrendous ideas about how we should get out of the mess that they caused. Sadly, they have been joined by some Democrats.

First, in order to cover the cost of the unpaid-for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they want to make significant cuts to Social Security that will affect not only seniors but disabled veterans as well. They want to do this despite the fact that Social Security is funded by the payroll tax, has not caused the deficit and has a $2.7 trillion surplus. Their favorite approach to cutting Social Security is through a reformulation of the way cost-of-living adjustments are calculated through the creation of a so-called chained consumer price index. Enacting this policy would result in a $560-a-year cut in Social Security benefits for 65-year-olds once they turn 75 and about a $1,000-a-year cut when they reach 85. The chained CPI will also make substantial cuts to the benefits of more than 3 million veterans, with the largest cuts affecting young, permanently disabled veterans who were seriously wounded in combat.

Second, in order to cover the cost of tax breaks given to millionaires and billionaires, they want to increase the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 and throw millions of families with children off of Medicaid.

Third, in order to cover the cost of the Medicare prescription drug program, they want to cut Pell Grants, student loans, nutrition and other programs vitally important to working families.

Fourth, at a time when the United States has the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is growing wider, their deficit-reduction plan calls for lowering the top tax rates for the rich to about 28 percent or even lower.

Fifth, while the United States military budget has virtually tripled since 1997 and we now spend nearly as much as the rest of the world combined on defense, they want to increase defense spending.

There are fair and sensible ways to reduce deficits, but balancing the budget on the backs of the weak and vulnerable while lowering tax rates for the rich and increasing military spending are not among them.
(c) 2012 Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 after serving 16 years in the House of Representatives. He is the longest serving independent member of Congress in American history. Elected Mayor of Burlington, Vt., by 10 votes in 1981, he served four terms. Before his 1990 election as Vermont's at-large member in Congress, Sanders lectured at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and at Hamilton College in upstate New York. Read more at his website.

Why A Full Democratic Slate Is Our Best Choice
By James Donahue

After months of listening to all of the political rhetoric, hearing all of the opinions by the talking heads, and considering all of the facts, I have concluded that America's best choice this election year is to pull the lever for the "Big D" for all Democratic party candidates.

I say this not because I believe incumbent President Barack Obama is any more trustworthy than Mr. Romney, or the Democratic Party candidates are any less in the pockets of big money interests than the Republicans. I just believe Mr. Obama has not been given a chance to fully prove himself as a worthy leader since he took office four years ago.

Obama and his staff have managed to get a less-than-perfect health care plan passed and written into law, he pulled off a bail-out of the automobile industry despite strong Republican opposition. He also pushed through a small job stimulus bill that put a lot of people to work repairing some of America's crumbling infrastructure. This president, with the help of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, have been walking on eggs attempting to shut down the 12-year-old war in Afghanistan and tame a growing world unrest that threatens a possible Third World War at every turn.

I believe all of these efforts would have produced better outcomes and he could have achieved much more if his every move had not been constantly blocked by a rebellious pack of extreme right-wing conservatives bent on making the people perceive Mr. Obama as a failed one-term president.

Because of their failure to work with the Obama Administration to get things done at a time when America has been facing some of the most serious issues in history . . . both at home and abroad . . . it is my opinion that the whole tea-party, Bible-thumping, right-wing gang of conspirators does not deserve re-election. It is time for these and perhaps a few Democratic legislators who got caught up in the campaign to "get the nigger out of the White House," to go home and make room for some real leadership.

If Mr. Obama could win re-election this fall by an overwhelming majority vote, and pull a majority number of party legislative candidates into office on his shirt tails, voters will have given this president the tools to keep the promises of change that were made four years ago. To maintain the status quo would be to experience four more years of gridlock. To tip the scales in the opposite direction, and put the Romney-Ryan gang in power, would lead us down a path of twisted financial play that promises even more hardship for the majority of Americans.

While the office of President of the United States is looked at by Americans and people all over the world as a position of great power and influence, a lot of people don't seem to realize that the president is limited in what he can accomplish if he does not have the support of the Congress and Senate. A president must ask for certain legislative action. His power lies in his ability to persuade the legislative action he wants, and sign the bills he likes, and veto those he disagrees with. He also has the power of executive order that can be used in the case of national emergency.

We know that many voters are so disgusted at the way things have been going in Washington that they plan to vote for lesser-known Libertarian, Green or even Socialist Party candidates. While we agree that these candidates appear to be offering more appealing platforms, voting for any of them would be a waste of effort. That is because the media has totally ignored these candidates, refused to give them equal time to be heard or space on stage during the public debates, Thus the corporate-controlled media in America has seen to it that the nation continues to maintain its old two-party system.

While the conservative followers of Paul Ryan's call to slash government spending and reduce the federal debt may be justified in their concerns, they must remember that it was the Bush-Cheney Republican regime and failed banking practices during those years that put us in this situation. The two parties appear divided over just which plan to use to get us out of this debt.

The Republicans propose maintaining the "Bush tax cuts" for all Americans and making severe cuts in social programs like food stamps, Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, but continuing big spending in national defense. The Democrats believe more government spending for education, alternative green energy, high speed mass transit systems and restoring the nation's crumbling infrastructure . . . projects designed to put a lot of Americans back to work, is the better route to go.

This is why I believe the best choice for American electors this year is to vote a straight Democratic Party ticket. If we can't get this, and the people fail to make the right moves to get America moving back on the right track, we may all be skunked.
(c) 2012 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

Italians Protest Weapons Shipments To Israel
By David Swanson

On Saturday, October 13, 2012, a national demonstration will be held in Varese, Italy, where most of the country's military aircraft production is located, to denounce the weapons industry, in particular the sale of 30 M-346 trainer jets to Israel. The protest will take place at the Alenia Aermacchi headquarters, manufacturers of the M-346 and part of Finmeccanica Group, one of the world's top weapons producers.

The M-346, defined as a "technologically advanced trainer jet," is in fact designed to be armed with missiles or bombs. These weapons will undoubtedly be "tested" first and foremost on Palestinians. As a trainer jet, the M-346 is designed to prepare fighter pilots in the use of the most "technologically sophisticated" attack aircraft, such as the "netcentric" and "invisible" F-35 from US weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin. Israel has signed on to purchase 19 F-35 fighter jets, with an option for 56, and Italy is also unfortunately in line to purchase the combat aircraft for future wars.

Recently, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman stopped off at Alenia Aermacchi headquarters near Varese during his semi-secret tour of Italy, which was soon followed by the signing of the M-346 contract.

Local and national politicians, from center-left to center-right, have promoted the deal, conveniently "overlooking" the December 2008 - January 2009 "Operation Cast Lead", which saw Israel's "air power" rain down on the unarmed civilian Palestinian population, killing 1400, of which 400 children. A brutal military action, in which Israel used new unknown weapons as well as those already prohibited by international conventions (white phosphorus, DIME bombs, depleted uranium) and committed war crimes and crimes against humanity as documented in the UN "Goldstone Report".

In addition to halting the sale of M-346 jets to Israel, the demands of the demonstration include suspension of the military cooperation agreement between Italy and Israel signed in 2005.

In recent years, local groups in Varese have denounced the chronic dependence of their territory on war production, organizing assemblies and protests against Agusta Westland (helicopters) and Alenia Aermacchi (aircraft) and, more recently, the F-35.

The demonstration also calls on workers at AleniaAermacchi and all weapons producers to rejects employment based threats and to work to convert factories from producing instruments of death to socially beneficial and environmentally friendly products.

Moreover, local groups have called this national demonstration in opposition to the practice of war, which has intensified over the last 20 years, where military action is called "peace", justified as an instrument of "preventive security" and to "export democracy", and even defined as "humanitarian."

"Humanitarian war" is instead an oxymoron: war causes nothing but death, injuries, destruction, generating hatred, resentment and revenge, it is the most inhumane act imaginable.

There will never be peace as long as the most profitable industry is that of producing weapons and instruments of death.

Participants include Father Alex Zanotelli, Prof. Massimo De Santi, Prof. Mauro Cristaldi, dr Mario Agostinelli and former Vice President of European Parliament Luisi Morgantini.

Endorsements and statements of support can be sent to:

Varese organizing committee:
(c) 2012 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

Is America's Decline Inevitable?
By Ted Rall

This November: The Pessimist vs. the Cynical Pessimist

This week, decline is on my brain. Specifically, the decline of America.

"There's not a country on Earth that wouldn't gladly trade places with the United States of America," President Obama says, denying Republican assertions that the U.S. is in decline.

(I don't know about that. Would sick people in the 36 nations that have better healthcare systems than the U.S. want to switch places?)

Clearly we believe our country is in decline-polls show that Americans think that the next generation will live worse than we do. Pessimism about the future is reflected in a 2011 survey in which 57 percent of the public identified the U.S. as the world's most powerful nation, but just 19 percent thought that we'll still be #1 20 years from now.

Now The New York Times reports that life expectancy for white people without a high-school degree fell precipitously between 1990 and 2007. It's shocking news. "We're used to looking at groups and complaining that their mortality rates haven't improved fast enough, but to actually go backward is deeply troubling," the newspaper quoted John G. Haaga, head of the Population and Social Processes Branch of the National Institute on Aging.

"The five-year decline for white women rivals the catastrophic seven-year drop for Russian men in the years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, said Michael Marmot, director of the Institute of Health Equity in London," reports The Times.

Bear in mind, the study includes the Clinton boom of the 1990s. And it doesn't include the period after 2007, when the global fiscal crisis set off the current depression. It's almost certainly worse now.

Even the two major presidential candidates seem to think that the U.S. doesn't have much of a future. During his "60 Minutes" interview on Sunday, President Obama was asked what his big idea was for his next term. Interviewer Steve Kroft mentioned the Marshall Plan and sending a man to the moon as examples of big ideas.

Obama ducked.

"I think there's no bigger purpose right now than making sure that if people work hard in this country, they can get ahead," replied Obama. "That's the central American idea. That's how we sent a man to the moon. Because there was an economy that worked for everybody and that allowed us to do that. I think what Americans properly are focused on right now are just the bread-and-butter basics of making sure our economy works for working people." A nonsensical answer. Yes, we should strive to get back to the lower gap between rich and poor that existed during the 1960s-but lower income inequality didn't create the space program.

All Obama has to offer is a vague desire to restore the American Dream. Sorry, Mr. President, but getting back something we used to take for granted is the opposite of a big idea.

Though depressing, Obama's pessimism is dwarfed by Mitt Romney's.

Romney's 2011 tax returns reveal that not only did he bet against the value of the American dollar-a staggeringly unpatriotic move for a presidential candidate-he received a quarter of his income from investments in other countries.

Romney, putting his money where his mouth isn't, is literally betting his millions that the U.S. economy will head south. That the dollar will lose value. That foreign equities will outperform U.S. stocks. He even bought shares in the Chinese state oil company, which has contracts with Iran

He's worse than a hypocrite. He's an economic traitor.

Whether better, worse, or the same as today, the U.S. has a future. Who will lead us into that future? The person or movement that can credibly articulate a positive vision of a United States that doesn't stand still, but actually moves forward-you know, like Obama's campaign slogan. But who and where are they?

This presidential campaign is shaping up as a race between a pessimist and a cynical pessimist, and in such a contest the mere pessimist is likely to win. But it isn't good for us in the long run.

"Never have American voters reelected a president whose work they disapprove of as much as Barack Obama's," observes the Associated Press' Bill Barrow. "Not that Mitt Romney can take much comfort-they've never elected a challenger they view so negatively, either."

Obama has the edge in the polls, partly because he presents a less somber vision despite his lack of big ideas. (It helps that Romney is a terrible politician.)

"This is America. We still have the best workers in the world and the best entrepreneurs in the world. We've got the best scientists and the best researchers. We've got the best colleges and the best universities," said the President in his "not in decline" remarks. (Never mind that there's no point going into debt to attend school if there aren't any jobs when you graduate.)

Well, the United States IS rich. Staggeringly so. The problem is that our wealth has become so unevenly distributed that there is no longer enough consumer demand to support the population. It's a like a marriage in which both spouses can make it work-if they change their attitudes. If we began focusing on the problems of poverty, unemployment and underemployment, as well as rising income and wealth inequality-i.e., economic injustice-and then fix them-we'll be OK.

I don't think we'll be OK.

The U.S. doesn't have to be in decline. Some liberal elites, like Fed chairman Ben Bernanke and investor Warren Buffett, understand the need to redistribute wealth. They're one side of a split in the ruling classes. Unfortunately for the system and for many Americans, they're losing the argument to greedpigs like Romney.
(c) 2012 Ted Rall is the author of the new books "Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?" and "The Anti-American Manifesto." His newest book is, "The Book of Obama: How We Went From Hope and Change to the Age of Revolt."

Democracy - People, Not Money
By Frank Scott

"For at the very delivery of their money, they immediately ask it back, taking it up at the same moment they lay it down; and they let out that again to interest which they take for the use of what they have before lent." ~~~ Plutarch

He was describing the money lenders of his day, which was about 100 A.D. Some scams have been going on even longer than we might imagine. Slowly but surely we seem to be catching on, but we really need to pick up the pace.

The two major parties of capital, debt and credit are busy, as usual, arguing over whether to let their market deity rule with minimal or maximal human manipulation on behalf of the rich. Republicans favor overt control by royal wealth and let the common folk be damned, while Democrats favor a more covert style which offers some props for the peasants in order to prevent revolution. Republican party servants to wealth are so out of touch they might bring on total collapse or worse, open rebellion. So Democratic party servants to wealth protect capital by showing some concern for the majority whose losses are the actual substance of all profits, thereby avoiding rebellion if not collapse. But even with this slight difference, the presidential election is simply an ad campaign for human detergents arguing over which party is newer, bluer, softer, and even whiter, but with affirmative action highlights in its servant class.

Unmentioned by the two major corporadoes of capital is a global economic crisis threatening more wars, environmental destruction, financial collapse and even survival of the race. That is, the human race and not one of the fractured sectors separated by induced theories of superiority or inferiority to make it seem that master race/chosen people mental disorders represent sanity. In essence we are all equal, but capitalism and the profit-loss system have little to do with essence. When the Titanic sank, poor people in the lower decks may have died first, but many of the rich people also went down to a wet grave. In keeping with class bigotry and social division, a newspaper of the time headlined :

"Col John Jacob Astor Drowns:
Millionaire Among Hundreds Of Others Who Lost Their Lives In Catastrophe"

That one millionaire among hundreds of "others" matches present reality, considering how many of us are among the "others" and how many of us are "millionaires". Of the hundreds of millions of dollars already paid to the campaigns, how much has come from honest and gulled "others" financing those who will take their money and charge them interest for it, and how much from the minority rich? And the wealthy minority get exactly what they pay for:

Continued ownership and control of a system which is making less people much more rich, while giving more people much less democracy. And simultaneously destroying the natural and social environments.

Still, in the tradition of electoral shams offering capital's servants as alleged people's tribunes, we will be implored to please, please, please not vote for the greater evil and choose the lesser evil. Or we will all die. Many of us will follow custom but even if we don't - the vote against either servant combined with those who don't bother to vote is always the majority of the electorate - the day after the election we will face a declining global environment no matter which lesser evil is chosen by the minority of voters who will obey the panic and conscientiously vote for polio instead of cancer. Voters are being told - as usual - that this is the most important election in history, and the supreme court selections, if any - as usual - will assure a millennia of change or reaction, depending on which side of the coin we are shown and forgetting that is only an either/or choice between heads or tails and hardly anything really different, which is what we need.

Past historic court decisions have been very good for some of us, but always at the expense of others. What else is new? Those who profit are always balanced by others showing a loss and the loser group is growing in numbers - and losses - while the other side shrinks in numbers as its profits expand. All of the courts - supreme, subservient, activist, passivist, strict constructionist or even controlled demolitionist, represent the laws of a failing system, not the people it is failing.

Given the choice between cancer and polio, many good people will choose potentially crippling polio, since potentially terminal cancer would be so much worse. But the malignant social disease will continue and become terminal unless those good people demand, work for, vote for and finally get real change beyond putting an allegedly multi-cultural minority-divided individualistic warrior smiley-face on a social body suffering a disaster.

There is a way for the vote to actually mean something and that is to select Jill Stein of the Green Party. She not only represents a party and perspective beneficial to all and not just a tiny minority at the top, but a vote for the immediate future that can help greatly in the next election. A 5% vote for the Greens will mean millions of dollars in public funds - our money - to make it possible to not only mount an even greater campaign in four years but to establish a party presence in every one of the fifty states to act as a potential core for all the activists operating outside electoral politics because they find it so repulsive in its present form.

Until we reject the dualistic trap of voting for either bad or worse, a more recent quote from only a century or two back will still describe our electoral reality:

"In politics, as on the sickbed, people toss from one side to the other, thinking they will be more comfortable." ~~~ Goethe
(c) 2012 Frank Scott writes political commentary and satire which appears in print in The Independent Monitor and online at the blog Legalienate

The Real Referendum
By Paul Krugman

Republicans came into this campaign believing that it would be a referendum on President Obama, and that still-high unemployment would hand them victory on a silver platter. But given the usual caveats - a month can be a long time in politics, it's not over until the votes are actually counted, and so on - it doesn't seem to be turning out that way.

Yet there is a sense in which the election is indeed a referendum, but of a different kind. Voters are, in effect, being asked to deliver a verdict on the legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society, on Social Security, Medicare and, yes, Obamacare, which represents an extension of that legacy. Will they vote for politicians who want to replace Medicare with Vouchercare, who denounce Social Security as "collectivist" (as Paul Ryan once did), who dismiss those who turn to social insurance programs as people unwilling to take responsibility for their lives?

If the polls are any indication, the result of that referendum will be a clear reassertion of support for the safety net, and a clear rejection of politicians who want to return us to the Gilded Age. But here's the question: Will that election result be honored?

I ask that question because we already know what Mr. Obama will face if re-elected: a clamor from Beltway insiders demanding that he immediately return to his failed political strategy of 2011, in which he made a Grand Bargain over the budget deficit his overriding priority. Now is the time, he'll be told, to fix America's entitlement problem once and for all. There will be calls - as there were at the time of the Democratic National Convention - for him to officially endorse Simpson-Bowles, the budget proposal issued by the co-chairmen of his deficit commission (although never accepted by the commission as a whole).

And Mr. Obama should just say no, for three reasons.

First, despite years of dire warnings from people like, well, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, we are not facing any kind of fiscal crisis. Indeed, U.S. borrowing costs are at historic lows, with investors actually willing to pay the government for the privilege of owning inflation-protected bonds. So reducing the budget deficit just isn't the top priority for America at the moment; creating jobs is. For now, the administration's political capital should be devoted to passing something like last year's American Jobs Act and providing effective mortgage debt relief.

Second, contrary to Beltway conventional wisdom, America does not have an "entitlements problem." Mainly, it has a health cost problem, private as well as public, which must be addressed (and which the Affordable Care Act at least starts to address). It's true that there's also, even aside from health care, a gap between the services we're promising and the taxes we're collecting - but to call that gap an "entitlements" issue is already to accept the very right-wing frame that voters appear to be in the process of rejecting.

Finally, despite the bizarre reverence it inspires in Beltway insiders - the same people, by the way, who assured us that Paul Ryan was a brave truth-teller - the fact is that Simpson-Bowles is a really bad plan, one that would undermine some key pieces of our safety net. And if a re-elected president were to endorse it, he would be betraying the trust of the voters who returned him to office.

Consider, in particular, the proposal to raise the Social Security retirement age, supposedly to reflect rising life expectancy. This is an idea Washington loves - but it's also totally at odds with the reality of an America in which rising inequality is reflected not just in the quality of life but in its duration. For while average life expectancy has indeed risen, that increase is confined to the relatively well-off and well-educated - the very people who need Social Security least. Meanwhile, life expectancy is actually falling for a substantial part of the nation.

Now, there's no mystery about why Simpson-Bowles looks the way it does. It was put together in a political environment in which progressives, and even supporters of the safety net as we know it, were very much on the defensive - an environment in which conservatives were presumed to be in the ascendant, and in which bipartisanship was effectively defined as the effort to broker deals between the center-right and the hard right.

Barring an upset, however, that environment will come to an end on Nov. 6. This election is, as I said, shaping up as a referendum on our social insurance system, and it looks as if Mr. Obama will emerge with a clear mandate for preserving and extending that system. It would be a terrible mistake, both politically and for the nation's future, for him to let himself be talked into snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
(c) 2012 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through this sequence:

From bondage to spiritual faith;
from spiritual faith to great courage;
from courage to liberty;
from liberty to abundance;
from abundance to selfishness;
from selfishness to complacency;
from complaceny to apathy;
from apathy to dependence;
from dependency back again into bondage.
Sir Alex Fraser Tyler ~ (1742-1813) Scottish jurist and historian

Fire Congress, Vote Out Incumbents
Joel S. Hirschhorn

For politicians to do what is right, first citizens must do what is right.

Of all the many, many stupid things that most Americans do, nothing is more insane than the ritual every two years of reelecting incumbent members of Congress. Countless opinion polls find that the public has incredibly low levels of positive regard for Congress. Just one in 10 Americans approves of the job Congress is doing, according to a Gallup poll released a few weeks ago, tying the branch's lowest approval rating in 38 years.

Yet this year as in past years, unless Americans take back control of their country, voters will again reelect nearly all incumbents. Often, some incumbents do not even have any significant opposition. For example, in the 2000 election cycle, out of 435 House seats, 64 members had no major-party opponent, and in 2008 every House race in Arkansas was uncontested by a major party according to the Center for Voting and Democracy. Political redesign of congressional districts, gerrymandering, is widely done to ensure reelection of incumbents or one party.

The main way that incumbents get removed from office these days is when they lose in a party primary election, or die, or get themselves into a sex or corruption scandal. Primaries often replace the incumbent with someone else from the same party who will, in time, become an incumbent. That replacement is often a more extreme partisan than the previous incumbent.

The usual rationale for this survival of incumbents given by political analysts and writers is that although the public correctly sees Congress as a whole as incompetent, dysfunctional and incapable of serving critical public interests, they somehow think that their own Representatives and Senators are worth reelecting. This, of course, makes no sense. If this had validity, then cumulatively and nationally it would make sense to keep incumbents in office and Congress would get better and better with each election. In fact, Congress has become worse and worse with each election. This holds true in a genuine bipartisan sense, as nearly all incumbents, regardless of party, do not deserve to be reelected.

If Congress as a whole stinks, which it clearly does, then it is only logical to believe that this bleak condition must result from nearly all incumbents contributing to the mess. The exceptions are not defined by simply being the ones on your ballot.

How can a democracy function and have any deserved credibility when the electorate stubbornly refuses to act honestly and appropriately to get rid of the elected representatives who have proven themselves incapable of governing with competence and honor?

There must be better explanations.

Here is a likely one. Most Americans have become beholden to one of the two major political parties even if they are not officially members of them and may even consider themselves as uncommitted or independent. Moreover, a majority of people find themselves living in places where their favored party has predominated. When election time rolls around they cannot get themselves to vote for the candidate from the "other" party and they refuse to vote for third party candidates. Or they are so fed up with an awful government and political system that they do not vote at all, or not for congressional races.

Another contributing factor might be related to the lesser evil mode of thinking. The incumbent loser that you know is, somehow, thought to be better than the competing candidate you do not know, especially one from the "other" party. Reelecting incumbents is like some form of hallucinatory fantasy deemed the safer choice as if keeping them in office will magically turn out to be different and better than in previous times. They have seen the light, gotten the message, turned the corner, become what they once promised to be, and so on. Nuts. Congressional experience is not to be rewarded; it must be penalized for rotten performance.

Third, incumbents almost always have the most money because they have already been corrupted by money. More money means more advertising and more lies. Lies work. Especially for the many information-poor voters that are easily swayed by campaign propaganda. The big popular lie of omission these days is staying completely away from their congressional record. No incumbent wants to be seen as an experienced Washington insider. If you failed on the job, why would you?

In our country effective representative government is crucial. To keep reelecting congressional incumbents that nearly always deserve to be fired is unpatriotic, subversive and antithetical to the ideals of our constitutional republic.

This year ten Senators and 42 Representatives are not running for reelection. Odds are that far fewer incumbents will be voted out of office, if historic trends continue. For House elections from 1982 to 2008 only one in three voters did not vote for a winning House representative and 73 percent of House races were won by landslide margins of at least 20 percentage points. The power of incumbency reduces much needed political competition which a healthy democracy requires.

If the royalty of incumbency does not stop there is no hope whatsoever of putting the nation on a much better track. It does not matter who is elected president. In the end, if the fractured Congress we have witnessed for years perseveres the US is doomed to join the list of once great global powers that went down the toilet.

Flush congressional incumbents out. Now. Or be complicit in the death of American democracy. Stop making excuses, rationalizing. Throw incumbent turds out of office. Even more important than not voting for the challenger or incumbent from the "other" party is not voting for the incumbent of your party, even if it threatens party control of the House or Senate.

If you do not help fire Congress, then you deserve to suffer personally from what the federal government does or does not do. Make you voice really heard this year.
(c) 2012 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.

Questions Unlikely To Be Asked Wednesday Night
By Robert Reich

Governor Romney: You've said that you have used every legal method to reduce your tax liability. You've also said that as president you would close tax loopholes in order to help finance a major across-the-board tax cut. What specific tax loopholes have you used that you would close? A followup: Would you close the loophole that allows private-equity managers to treat their income as capital gains, subject to a 15 percent tax, even when they risk no capital of their own?

President Obama: You have spoken eloquently of the need to reduce the influence of big money in politics. What specific measures will you advance if you are reelected to accomplish this goal?

Governor Romney: You have promised to repeal the Dodd-Frank bill if you're elected. Yet our largest Wall Street banks are significantly larger than they were before the near meltdown of 2008. How would you prevent another bank from being too big to fail?

President Obama: The Dallas Federal Reserve Board, one of the most conservative in the nation, has called for a limit to the size of Wall Street banks. Sanford Weill, the creator of Citigroup - one of the largest Wall Street banks - says Wall Street banks should be broken up. If you are reelected, will you support capping the size of Wall Street banks?

Governor Romney: You have said you'd repeal the Affordable Care Act if you're elected. That would leave 30 million Americans without health insurance. You championed a small version of the Affordable Care Act in Massachusetts. Does that mean you believe it's more efficient for each state to have its own system for insuring the uninsured?

President Obama: Last December, in a speech you gave in Osawatomie, Kansas, you noted that in the last few decades the average income of the top 1 percent has gone up by more than 250 percent, to $1.2 million per year. For the top one hundredth of 1 percent, the average income is now $27 million per year. And yet, over the last decade the incomes of most Americans have actually fallen by 6 percent. If you're reelected president, what do you propose to do about this trend?

Governor Romney: Your mathematics has been attacked by those who say it's impossible to provide the tax cut you propose; expand the military, as you want to do; preserve Medicare and Social Security, as you promise to do; and at the same time balance the federal budget, as you say you'll do. Can you take us through the math, please, with specific numbers?

President Obama: You have called for equal marriage rights for gay Americans. If you're reelected, will you support repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act?

Governor Romney: You support states' rights, and don't support wealth redistribution. Yet as you know, the citizens of most so-called "blue" states - notably California, New York, and Massachusetts - send more federal tax revenue to Washington than they receive back from Washington, while most of the citizens of "red" states send less tax revenue to Washington than their citizens receive back. Would you, as president, seek to end this subsidy of red states by blue states?

President Obama: In the 2008 campaign you and your opponent, Senator McCain, both supported some version of a "cap and trade" system for limiting emissions of carbon into the atmosphere. During the last four years, evidence has mounted that climate change may be doing irreversible damage to the planet. If you are reelected, will you push for a "cap and trade" system, or a carbon tax, or both?

Governor Romney: America has had some very wealthy men elected president. Your wealth is estimated to be more than a quarter of a billion dollars. The wealthy men elected president - a Republican, Teddy Roosevelt; Franklin D. Roosevelt; and John F. Kennedy - all fought for equal opportunity, reduced the power of large corporations and Wall Street, and gave average working Americans more economic security. Do you share these objectives, and, if you're elected president, what will you do to achieve them? Please be specific.

President Obama: TARP authorized not only a bailout of Wall Street banks but help to distressed homeowners. You chose not to condition the bailout of Wall Street on the banks reducing the amount people owed on their mortgages. In hindsight, do you think that was a mistake? A follow up question, if I may: It is estimated that one in five American families is still underwater - owing more on their home mortgages than their homes are worth. So far your efforts to help them have fallen far short of the goals you set. If you are reelected, what specific measures will you initiate do more for these families?

Governor Romney: You have campaigned as a "businessman" who has the managerial experience to turn the economy around. Yet some say you've run one of the worst campaigns in recent memory - filled with gaffes, misstatements, poor timing, Clint Eastwood, and much else. Conservative columnist Peggy Noonan, for example, calls your campaign a "calamity." Should Americans be concerned about your management abilities?

President Obama: You faced a particularly truculent Republican congress. But some say you didn't fight Republicans hard enough during your first term, that you often began negotiations with compromises, and you didn't use the full powers of your office to get more of what you wanted. Do you think there's any validity to this criticism and, if so, what will you do differently in your second term?
(c) 2012 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, Supercapitalism. His "Marketplace" commentaries can be found on and iTunes.

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Bischof Paprocki,

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 Antonin (Tony light-fingers) Scalia.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your telling Catholic voters if you vote for Barry you'll go to hell, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Syria and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Mythological whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Iron Cross first class presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 10-30-2012. We salute you Herr Paprocki, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Perhaps Obama Should Simply Ask Romney To 'Go Through All The Math'
By John Nichols

Paul Ryan revealed every bit as much about the agenda of a Romney-Ryan ticket in his Sunday interview with Fox News as Mitt Romney did in his speech to that now-infamous fundraising event in Boca Raton.

Ryan acknowledged during a very long and very painful interview with Fox's Chris Wallace that nothing matters to a Republican ticket populated by sons of privilege than lowering taxes for sons of privilege.

Here's the critical exchange:

WALLACE: [What's] more important to Romney? Would he scale back on the 20 percent tax cut for the wealthy? Would he scale back and say, OK, you know, we're going to have to raise taxes for the middle class? I guess the question is what's most important to him in his tax reform plan?

RYAN: Keeping tax rates down. By lowering tax rates, people keep more of the next dollar that they earn. That matters. That is incentives. That's pro-growth policy. That creates 7 million jobs. And what should go first...

WALLACE: So that's more important than...

RYAN: That's more important than anything.

Cutting taxes for the rich is "more important than anything."

More important than creating jobs.

More important than renewing manufacturing.

More important than maintaining Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

More important that reducing deficits.

More important than addressing debts.

"More important than anything."

That's a striking statement of anti-tax absolutism that goes far beyond any agenda Ronald Reagan or most of the great conservative leaders of the past would have dared to advance. And it defines the Republican ticket every bit as thoroughly as did Mitt Romney's remarks at the fundraising event in Boca Raton.

Romney said to the wealthy donors who had gathered to provide the money needed to elect a Romney-Ryan ticket: "there are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it-that that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.... These are people who pay no income tax.... my job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

So Romney does not "worry about those people."

But that is just part of the equation. It prompts another question:

Who would a Romney-Ryan administration worry about?

Ryan has provided the answer: the recipients of the Bush-Cheney tax cuts, who for a decade now have enjoyed the benefits of a redistribution of the wealth upward so sweeping that it has opened a yawning gap between rich and poor.

That's a political position that Ryan has every right to take. And there is no reason to doubt that he is sincere-as sincere as Mitt Romney was when he said it was not his job to worry about the 47 percent of the American population that has been on the losing end of that redistribution of the wealth upward.

But it is, as well, a position that President Obama and Vice President Biden have every right-and, arguably, every responsibility-to discuss.

When he was being interviewed by Wallace, Paul Ryan was asked to explain the details of his economic agenda. He replied, "It would take me too long to go through all of the math."

That caused a bit of an outcry.

Ryan responded by telling Milwaukee radio talk show host Charlie Sykes: "I like Chris; I didn't want to get into all of the math on this because everyone would start changing the channel."

Ryan argued that "when you're offering very specific, bold solutions, confusion can be your enemy's best weapon."

On Wednesday night, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will take the stage for the first debate between the major-party presidential nominees.

The debate could go anywhere.

The candidates have a good deal of freedom to provide direction.

Perhaps President Obama should simply open up with a simple restatement of what Romney and Ryan have said about dismissing the most vulnerable half of Americans while pouring their energies into maintaining tax breaks for a very wealthy and very politically connected few. Then, on the assumption that an hour and a half might be enough time to "go through all the math," the president might invite Mitt Romney to take all the time he needs to explain an economic agenda that certainly sounds like a plan to "take" from the 99 percent and "give" to the 1 percent.
(c) 2012 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.


Bugs Bunny In The United Nations, Again
By Adam Keller

This speech I wrote myself. Who needs speechwriters? I personally wrote it, I have been working on it for a whole week. I prepared public opinion in advance to tune in to the best show in town. It is not every day that I get again to be the Israeli Ambassador to the UN. Those were the days, the good old days. No need to maintain a government coalition, no need to deal all the time with the economy. Just take the stand in New York and put on a show and go get them!

And the subject? What a question. I told everybody in advance. This subject is Iran, Iran and Iran - and Iran again. That's my greatest achievement. The Palestinians are out! Who's talking about them nowadays? Who is Abu Mazen, anyway? We can throw him some crumbs so that he could pay his officials, and let him shut up. The main thing today is Iran. I'm the one who set the global agenda! I personally did that, nobody can take it away from me.

What a pleasure it is to stand before the cameras and attack the evil Ahmadinejad. Since he started spitting out a new villainy every day, my speeches have become so easy. They virtually write themselves. I hear they are going to replace him next year. A pity, I will really miss him. I hope his replacement will not prove a disgrace, will continue to provide us with juicy gimmicks.

So what do I say now? When do I actually go to war? It will not do to give too close a date. Our dear country people are a bit scared, they take this war a bit too seriously. And also all these military officers and intelligence personnel and former high officials making so much trouble, chattering and chattering nonstop. Also Barak can't be trusted anymore. So what to say? The Summer of 2013! The Summer of 2013 is now our Red Line. The final Red Line. Completely final. The war will be in the summer! You can take Bibi's word! Yes, that's good. We have nine or ten months until then, that's virtually an eternity.

In the meantime, until then we can get through elections in Israel. Of course, the elections would be about Iran, Iran and Iran. What a beauty! Let's see that Shelly conduct an election campaign with no economy and no social issues and no housing shortage and no rising cost of living and no suffering workers. Who is interested in all that now? The Social Protest is out, too! Iran, only Iran! The elections campaign will provide more opportunities for fiery speeches about the scoundrels from Tehran. Maybe we will include selected Ahmadinejad appearances in our election campaign TV spots. For example the Holocaust denial cartoons. They could not have made it more graphical.

Which reminds me, here too I must have a gimmick to catch the eye. Where did I put it? Here, here is the Iranian bomb, I brought it with me for all to see and understand who we're dealing with. Here you can see, I marked all the stages - the centrifuges which constantly go around enriching uranium, turning and turning and threatening the entire world. How backward these Iranians are, only now they arrive at this point. We went through all that in Dimona fifty years ago, when I was still a child. But who would dare compare us to them?

Anyway, pay attention to me now. Now is the crucial moment when I pull out my red marker and mark for all the world to see our last and final Red Line. What does it mean? I think it is quite clear, even a little boy who loves Looney Tunes would understand immediately. Once they have finished enriching uranium to twenty percent, they have already completed ninety percent of the process. That is the time to stop them. That and not a minute later. Here, I marked the red line where it says ninety percent. No, no, I definitely did not mean that they are allowed to enrich uranium up to ninety percent! Absolutely not, absolutely not! Are you crazy? Such stupid people. Oh well. But my picture with the gimmick of the bomb went straight to the front page of the New York Times. That's also something.

Here they are in the stands, all my best friends clapping. What a speech that was! Everybody is here. Here is Sheldon, what a good friend. Without his money, where would I find a newspaper to print the whole text of my speech, word by word, and add three very, very flattering commentaries? There they are, all the good friends clapping for me.

Among them Alan Dershowitz. Alan is such a good guy, doing a great PR job for us voluntarily. But something went wrong this week, he is a little bit freaked out. Why meet with Abu Mazen? With Abu Mazen, of all people? And not just meet him, but talk of a settlement freeze. A settlement freeze? That's really too much. Why the hell talk of a settlement freeze?

Here, just this week the bulldozers went out, to prepare the ground for yet another big neighborhood of Efrat. A beautiful settlement, Efrat. A pleasure to visit. A very dynamic place, constantly growing and growing and growing. They always come up with new projects. I gave a nice speech there, too. A month ago, when I came together with the Minister of Education to greet the children at the beginning of the new school year. What had I said over there? Oh, yes. "Efrat and the Gush Etzion settlement bloc are an integral and fundamental part of Greater Jerusalem. They are the southern gate of Jerusalem and will always be part of Israel. We are building up Efrat and Gush Etzion with energy, faith and responsibility, and so will we build up education, too."

Well, better not say all this here in New York. No need to go too far. Here it would suffice to say a few general words about Jerusalem being Ours Forever and mention King David. That's it, finished. Get down from the stand. One more Historic Speech which would be Long Remembered etc. etc. Hooray, Bibi!
(c) 2012 Adam Keller is an Israeli peace activist who was among the founders of Gush Shalom.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Chip Bok ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

President Obama, delivering a surprise speech in a quantum branch of Hilbert space separate from our own.

Obama Makes Surprise Visit To Quantum-Branching Multiverse On Alternate Hyperdimensional Plane

EVERYWHERE IN SPACE-TIME SIMULTANEOUSLY-Attempting to appeal to the widest possible demographic base as Election Day draws near, President Obama made a surprise campaign stop Monday to visit an infinite series of alternate universes that vibrate on a hyperdimensional plane different from the three spatial dimensions observable in our own universe.

Occupying an M-theory-postulated "brane," or multidimensional "membrane," of either 11 or 22 dimensions depending on the chirality of the observer, Obama urged any hypothetical sentient consciousnesses within that multiverse to vote for him in November, or in whatever analogous chronological period their version of space-time specifies as extant.

"I come here today to stress the importance of finishing the work we've started and moving our political discourse forward," said the president, his voice confident and assured despite its sound waves propagating in wildly divergent modes incompatibly different from that of his and our native universe, due to differences in the fundamental physical constants guiding the alternate existence in which he stood. "It's time we talked about the issues that truly matter to voters, and not just to a select few."

Our plane of reality as it existed during Obama's speech.

"If we all work together, we can do this," said Obama, maintaining his composure despite the fact that a "rippling" effect was causing concentric waveforms to appear in the surface of his podium as his hand inadvertently passed through it. "We can start building a better tomorrow."

At times contracting in size to near Planck-length in the subatomic realm of quantum foam, and at other times seeming to hover alone in a vast empty expanse of macrocosmic scale, the president spoke on a variety of topics, defending his oft-attacked economic policies and stressing the importance of alternative energy development, even as the subjective reality of his own consciousness fluctuated randomly between differing mutually incompatible percept-states.

As his physical form split in two, diverged along parallel but separate time streams, and veered into realms that cannot be expressed by any known mathematical formulations, Obama stayed firmly on message throughout his address, despite the massive cosmological forces unleashed by the contradicting realities constituting the event.

Several times during the speech, a blaring sound was reportedly heard as the multiverse threatened to collapse due to the paradoxical impossibility of Obama and itself existing simultaneously in the same plane of reality.

"This is a bold move on Obama's part," said pollster Gregory Shire, a three-dimensional occupant of the universe knowable through our own current conception of reality. "By reaching out to include regions of purely mathematical speculation unverifiable by observable phenomena, the president is showing greater coalition-building ambition than any politician in recent history. And I think this ambition will pay significant dividends come Election Day."

Despite the apparent political value of the speech, some Democratic insiders expressed concern that he is leaving himself open to criticism by the many thinkers who view non-empirically-observable constructs such as the one he visited Monday to be fundamentally invalid. Other critics have noted that the president runs the risk of being crushed in universes where gravity is 10,000 times more powerful than in our own, and where all the matter in his physical makeup could at any moment be converted into powerful, condensed energy in a miniature "big bang" event that would hasten the destruction of every universe, including our own.

Still, the president's surprise visit to the M-theory-postulated multiverse has for the most part been met with considerable acclaim, with many hailing it as one of the stronger stump speeches of his campaign.

"I will never stop fighting for the values and the policies that truly matter," said Obama, who according to aides may be considering a potentially infinite number of campaign stops in additional multiverses­, all of which occupy alternate segments of the totality of possible realities and are continually splitting into different quantum branches of Hilbert space. "The era of politics as partisan gamesmanship must come to an end. We must all work together to accomplish this."

After speaking for what may have been 15 minutes, five days, or no elapsed time at all, the president closed his hyperdimensional remarks by clutching his head, screaming "Aaaaaauuuuugggghhh!!" and suddenly finding himself back in the Oval Office five hours earlier than he left.
(c) 2012 The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 12 # 40 (c) 10/05/2012

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