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In This Edition

Paul Craig Roberts with a must read, "The Day America Died."

Uri Avnery sees a, "Mutiny On The Titanic."

Ted Rall watches, "America's New Radicals Attack A System That Ignores Them."

Phil Rockstroh is, "Occupying The Heart Of The Beast."

Jim Hightower concludes Eric Cantor is, "Playing Politics With Humanitarian Aid."

Helen Thomas sees Obamahood, "Dealing The Veto Blow."

James Donahue considers, "The Capital Punishment Issue."

Sam Harris with some good news, "Twilight Of Violence."

David Swanson invites you to, "Rebuild The Dream In The Streets."

Ralph Nader is, "Putting The Lie To The Republicans."

Paul Krugman demands, "Holding China To Account."

Glenn Greenwald introduces, "Andrew Ross Sorkin's Assignment Editor."

William Rivers Pitt sends, "An Open Letter To Wall Street."

Wilson Intermediate School Principle Terri Bryant wins the coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

John Nichols says, "As Obama Goes Abroad Searching for Monsters to Destroy, Ron Paul Rightly Rejects Assassinating Americans."

Matthew Rothschild reports, "Obama Wrong To Rub Out Al-Awlaki."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst oversees, "Prom Queen Anguish" but first Uncle Ernie wonders, "When Did Tony Soprano Take Over The White House?"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Steve Benson, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Peter Berman & Phil Fountain, Angela Tyler-Rockstroh, BDog23, Radical Graphics.Org, Brent Murray, Damon Winter, Steve Janke, Viking Adult, 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."

When Did Tony Soprano Take Over The White House?
By Ernest Stewart

The precedent set by the killing of al-Awlaki establishes the frightening legal premise that any suspected enemy of the United States - even if they are a citizen - can be taken out on the President's say-so alone. Part of the very concept of citizenship is the protection of due process and the rule of law. The President wants to spread American values around the world, but continues to do great damage to them here at home, appointing himself judge, jury, and executioner by Presidential decree.

When Nazi leader and Holocaust mastermind Adolf Eichmann was convicted and executed by the Israeli government in 1962, it was after he was captured, extradited, and tried. Respect for the rule of law never has been for the protection of monsters like Eichmann or al-Awlaki, who should meet their just fate - but for the protection of the vast majority of innocent citizens who should never become subject to mere governmental whim. ~~~ U.S. Congressman Ron Paul

Fight the good fight every moment
Every minute every day
Fight the good fight every moment
It's your only way
Fight The Good Fight ~~~ Triumph

I saw cotton
And I saw blacks
Tall white mansions
And little shacks.
Southern man
When will you
Pay them back?
I heard screamin'
And bullwhips crackin'
How long? How long?
Hoooooow long?
Southern Man ~~~ Neil Young

"Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin." ~~~ Sly and the Family Stone

After last week, you may, be asking when was it exactly that Tony Soprano took over the White House? Did you intend to elect a Gangsta, America? When Obamahood put out a contract on an American citizen, without a charge, evidence, a trial, and a conviction, we're told that it was done for convenience; we couldn't catch him; ergo, we murdered him, but I don't believe convenience was a major player in that decision. I think it was about reaching out for more power over us all. If today no one arrests Barry for murder, who will Barry murder tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that? Who will President Perry (the killer) kill?

I'm not defending Anwar, nor will I prosecute him, as I have no facts at my disposal, and neither does anyone else -- they're all top secret! Nor will anybody else see them, as Barry says there is not a single judge in all of America who can be trusted to see the evidence -- so you certainly can't be trusted. Evidence? We don't need no stinking evidence!

Hell, I got in an argument about this with a friend who is a lawyer, an officer of the court who has sworn to uphold the law, who has made it his life's work to not only to obey the law, but to see that others do, too, and he was jumping for joy, wallowing in the blood, excited to near orgasm that Anwar al-Awlaki was murdered. Since there was no evidence of any kind presented, like with Osama, no habeas corpus; in fact, no evidence presented to a court, not even the FBI charged bin Laden with 9/11, and certainly no proof of death, we need no evidence about Anwar, either. Lawyers have always been shysters, but generally not blind to reality! They may be crooked as can be, but they still know the truth, or, until now -- that was my assumption!

Sure, Anwar MAY have been the SOB that the government said he was, hell maybe worse, and the planet MAY be a better place without him? But the matter that matters is that we're supposed to be a nation of laws -- of checks and balances. You may recall that we fought two major wars with the British to keep from having Kings and Queens dictate our laws. Supposedly, American law applies equally to all Americans, without exception, whether President or cleric, but it's becoming more obvious that it doesn't. Of course, it's always been this way; that great genocidal maniac George Washington put out hits on whole Indian nations for their lands, towns, and farms. In fact, George had become the richest man in America from stealing from the tribes; so Obama's murder of Anwar is nothing new, but because it's being done so openly, Barry has no fear of being held accountable; he's above the law! You should be afraid, America! You should BE VERY AFRAID of your own government!

In Other News

By the time this sees the light of day, we will have another major occupation going on, this time in Washington D.C.. Methinks we finally have learned our lessen about how to get attention to our cause! As they did in Washington in 2001, as tens of thousands marched by, the media turned a blind eye, because we were there and then we were gone -- so now we're here to stay! Also, in the last ten years, the bottom has dropped out of the newspaper business, and for those struggling to stay alive, ignoring what's gone viral and all over publications on the Internet will certainly have a bad effect on your bottom line -- no matter who is pulling your puppet strings!

That's the nice thing about working on the Internet, I have but three advertisers, all of whom are behind what we are doing 100%, and won't leave us dangling, as we are all in this together: ergo, they can't get to us the way they would normally, i.e., going after our sponsors! So, I can tell you the truth without the Sword of Damocles hanging over my head. Of course, Barry could put out a contract on me either by spook or drone, but he hasn't quite got to that stage as yet; apparently, that's not going to be here for another 14 months!

While "Occupy Wall Street" is more or less a happening without leadership, the occupation of Washington is made of a federation of folks under the umbrella of October 2001.Org with a long list of famous and not-so famous folks, but has no single spokesman. While this is slightly confusing, for it to really work, it has to be this way so everyone in America can join in, regardless of their political leanings. Occupying Washington is important, as the city is a partnership between the banksters and politicians that have caused all of our current, and many of our past, problems. With 60 million Americans unemployed or underemployed, the potential for building another Hooverville on The Mall is outstanding. However, protestors beware; you may recall what happened when that went on too long for the power elite. The last time General "Dugout Doug" MacArthur sent in tanks and calvary to destroy Hooverville with the charge of the horse soldiers being led by Major Dwight David Eisenhower. The Army was used against American men, women and children! Ike's only combat duty in his entire career. Which begs the question, how did Ike go from a Lt. Colonel at the beginning of the war to a five star general without the combat infantry badge? I wonder which unknown major will lead the next charge against US citizens for daring to use their Constitutional-guaranteed rights to assemble and peacefully protest, or will they just use a couple of drones and a half dozen Hellfire missiles? It couldn't happen? Of course, it could; Barry now has the right, or at least he thinks he does, to murder US citizens by simply calling them terrorists. Ask those two U.S. citizens in Yemen that Barry murdered last week if that could happen! Oh yeah, you can't; because Barry murdered them!

To those of you who are going, good luck, kick ass, take names, and fight the good fight, and remember the whole world is watching our "American Spring!"

And Finally

In these daze of constant change, isn't it good to see some of the old values are still with us? No, not really! For example, if you are black or brown way down yonder, then you're in for a heap of trouble, boy, and they do mean "boy." Yes, racism is still alive and well down in Dixie! Yes, I know, no sh*t!

That little nest of vipers commonly called Arkansas was in the spot light once again. Can I get a Hot Damn? Or a Yeee Hawww?

Just a few burning crosses southwest of Little Rock (where they use to have to bring out the US Army to allow kids to go to school) is Malvern, Ark. home of pee wee football and a rule to keep those pesky darkies in their place if they achieve and excel in sports. It's called the "Madre Hill Rule" for former student Madre Hill, who got out of Malvern after being held back by this act of infamy, and went on to star at the University of Arkansas and for the Oakland Raiders, amongst other pro teams, before becoming a coach. Madre was so good, and made those white kids look so bad, that they came up with this rule to hold him down by making him leave the game after two touchdowns; the rule was retired after Madre graduated and went on to junior high; well, that is, until school Principle Terri Bryant and Demias Jimerson came upon the scene.

Principle Bryant is also in charge of the Pee Wee league in Malvern and when Demias began to do what Madre had done decades before she whipped out the darkie rule and Demias took his seat on the bench. Did I mention that this "rule" has only applied to black children? So, you know what I did? No, let's not see the same hands every time! That's right, I sent Terri an email:

Hey Terri,

Boy, did you screw up, huh? Whenever a black child achieves something over the white kids, it's time to whip out the "darkie rule!" Oh, I know; it's not about that. Really, who else has this been applied to? Oh yeah, just one other student, the student that rule is named after, who by a strange coincidence is also a black achiever. Imagine that! What are the odds? Has there ever been any white kids that the "Madre Hill rule" was applied against? Funny thing that, huh? Yes, another black child taught a valuable lesson about the red neck, dark ages, racist, south. The next time ya'll want to secede, we're going to let you and good riddance to you ignorant, fascist, bastards!

Anything to say for yourself, Terri? I'm sure my readers would really like to hear your defense, that is, if you have one! And "I was only following ze orders" doesn't work anymore. Still, I must admit, Terri, that I do admire your shiny-new Jack Boots and that Rethuglican armband is to die for, quite literally!

Ernest Stewart
Managing editor
Issues & Alibis Magazine
PS: Thanks for helping me write next week's editorial, oh, and congratulations, Terri; you've just won the Vidkun Quisling Award for the week of October 7-13! That's the magazine's weekly award for the biggest traitor in America!

That's my note to Terri; if you'd like to share your thoughts with her, too, just write her at:

Keepin' On

Well, we came right down to the wire, but didn't make it! However, we did come within $250 of reaching our goal, thanks to Marc from Florida and our good neighbor to the north, Ernie from Ontario! Thanks, guys; we'll spend it wisely. The $250 we're short, I've borrowed from a friend who'll let me pay him back at $50 a month.

Considering how bad off our readership is, it's a bit amazing that we did manage to raise $5150 of the $5400 needed to pay half our bills for the year. We'd like to thank our sponsors and advertisers who picked up the other half! We'd like to thank everybody who helped us out in this fund raising drive as I personally know how hard money is to come by in this day and age! Thanks, Ya'll!

In the past year since I got run out of North Carolina, it was only the kindness of our readership that kept me afloat and fighting the good fight for us all! If for whatever reason, you didn't contribute to the cause, but would like to, please send us what you can, and we'll put it on next year's bills, because it never ends; it never ends! Once again, thanx, and it's back to the trenches; ya'll keep your heads down!


06-13-1941 ~ 09-30-2011
Thanks for the R&B bro!

07-19-1945 ~ 10-04-2011
Thanks for the acid folk!

02-24-1955 ~ 10-05-2011
Thanks for making a computer that even I could use!

04-12-1936 ~ 10-05-2011
Thanks for the films!


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


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

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

The Day America Died
By Paul Craig Roberts

September 30, 2011 was the day America was assassinated.

Some of us have watched this day approach and have warned of its coming, only to be greeted with boos and hisses from "patriots" who have come to regard the US Constitution as a device that coddles criminals and terrorists and gets in the way of the President who needs to act to keep us safe.

In our book, The Tyranny of Good Intentions, Lawrence Stratton and I showed that long before 9/11 US law had ceased to be a shield of the people and had been turned into a weapon in the hands of the government. The event known as 9/11 was used to raise the executive branch above the law. As long as the President sanctions an illegal act, executive branch employees are no longer accountable to the law that prohibits the illegal act. On the president's authority, the executive branch can violate US laws against spying on Americans without warrants, indefinite detention, and torture and suffer no consequences.

Many expected President Obama to re-establish the accountability of government to law. Instead, he went further than Bush/Cheney and asserted the unconstitutional power not only to hold American citizens indefinitely in prison without bringing charges, but also to take their lives without convicting them in a court of law. Obama asserts that the US Constitution notwithstanding, he has the authority to assassinate US citizens, who he deems to be a "threat," without due process of law.

In other words, any American citizen who is moved into the threat category has no rights and can be executed without trial or evidence.

On September 30 Obama used this asserted new power of the president and had two American citizens, Anwar Awlaki and Samir Khan murdered. Khan was a wacky character associated with Inspire Magazine and does not readily come to mind as a serious threat.

Awlaki was a moderate American Muslim cleric who served as an advisor to the US government after 9/11 on ways to counter Muslim extremism. Awlaki was gradually radicalized by Washington's use of lies to justify military attacks on Muslim countries. He became a critic of the US government and told Muslims that they did not have to passively accept American aggression and had the right to resist and to fight back. As a result Awlaki was demonized and became a threat.

All we know that Awlaki did was to give sermons critical of Washington's indiscriminate assaults on Muslim peoples. Washington's argument is that his sermons might have had an influence on some who are accused of attempting terrorist acts, thus making Awlaki responsible for the attempts.

Obama's assertion that Awlaki was some kind of high-level Al Qaeda operative is merely an assertion. Jason Ditz on concluded that the reason Awlaki was murdered rather than brought to trial is that the US government had no real evidence that Awlaki was an Al Qaeda operative.

Having murdered its critic, the Obama Regime is working hard to posthumously promote Awlaki to a leadership position in Al Qaeda. The presstitutes and the worshippers of America's First Black President have fallen in line and regurgitated the assertions that Awlaki was a high-level dangerous Al Qaeda terrorist. If Al Qaeda sees value in Awlaki as a martyr, the organization will give credence to these claims. However, so far no one has provided any evidence. Keep in mind that all we know about Awlaki is what Washington claims and that the US has been at war for a decade based on false claims.

But what Awlaki did or might have done is beside the point. The US Constitution requires that even the worst murderer cannot be punished until he is convicted in a court of law. When the American Civil Liberties Union challenged in federal court Obama's assertion that he had the power to order assassinations of American citizens, the Obama Justice (sic) Department argued that Obama's decision to have Americans murdered was an executive power beyond the reach of the judiciary.

In a decision that sealed America's fate, federal district court judge John Bates ignored the Constitution's requirement that no person shall be deprived of life without due process of law and dismissed the case, saying that it was up to Congress to decide. Obama acted before an appeal could be heard, thus using Judge Bates' acquiescence to establish the power and advance the transformation of the president into a Caesar that began under George W. Bush.

Attorneys Glenn Greenwald and Jonathan Turley point out that Awlaki's assassination terminated the Constitution's restraint on the power of government. Now the US government not only can seize a US citizen and confine him in prison for the rest of his life without ever presenting evidence and obtaining a conviction, but also can have him shot down in the street or blown up by a drone.

Before some readers write to declare that Awlaki's murder is no big deal because the US government has always had people murdered, keep in mind that CIA assassinations were of foreign opponents and were not publicly proclaimed events, much less a claim by the president to be above the law. Indeed, such assassinations were denied, not claimed as legitimate actions of the President of the United States.

The Ohio National Guardsmen who shot Kent State students as they protested the US invasion of Cambodia in 1970 made no claim to be carrying out an executive branch decision. Eight of the guardsmen were indicted by a grand jury. The guardsmen entered a self-defense plea. Most Americans were angry at war protestors and blamed the students. The judiciary got the message, and the criminal case was eventually dismissed. The civil case (wrongful death and injury) was settled for $675,000 and a statement of regret by the defendants.

The point isn't that the government killed people. The point is that never prior to President Obama has a President asserted the power to murder citizens.

Over the last 20 years, the United States has had its own Mein Kampf transformation. Terry Eastland's book, Energy in the Executive: The Case for the Strong Presidency, presented ideas associated with the Federalist Society, an organization of Republican lawyers that works to reduce legislative and judicial restraints on executive power. Under the cover of wartime emergencies (the war on terror), the Bush/Cheney regime employed these arguments to free the president from accountability to law and to liberate Americans from their civil liberties. War and national security provided the opening for the asserted new powers, and a mixture of fear and desire for revenge for 9/11 led Congress, the judiciary, and the people to go along with the dangerous precedents.

As civilian and military leaders have been telling us for years, the war on terror is a 30-year project. After such time has passed, the presidency will have completed its transformation into Caesarism, and there will be no going back.

Indeed, as the neoconservative "Project For A New American Century" makes clear, the war on terror is only an opening for the neoconservative imperial ambition to establish US hegemony over the world.

As wars of aggression or imperial ambition are war crimes under international law, such wars require doctrines that elevate the leader above the law and the Geneva Conventions, as Bush was elevated by his Justice (sic) Department with minimal judicial and legislative interference.

Illegal and unconstitutional actions also require a silencing of critics and punishment of those who reveal government crimes. Thus Bradley Manning has been held for a year, mainly in solitary confinement under abusive conditions, without any charges being presented against him. A federal grand jury is at work concocting spy charges against Wikileaks' founder Julian Assange. Another federal grand jury is at work concocting terrorists charges against antiwar activists.

"Terrorist" and "giving aid to terrorists" are increasingly elastic concepts. Homeland Security has declared that the vast federal police bureaucracy has shifted its focus from terrorists to "domestic extremists."

It is possible that Awlaki was assassinated because he was an effective critic of the US government. Police states do not originate fully fledged. Initially, they justify their illegal acts by demonizing their targets and in this way create the precedents for unaccountable power. Once the government equates critics with giving "aid and comfort" to terrorists, as they are doing with antiwar activists and Assange, or with terrorism itself, as Obama did with Awlaki, it will only be a short step to bringing accusations against Glenn Greenwald and the ACLU.

The Obama Regime, like the Bush/Cheney Regime, is a regime that does not want to be constrained by law. And neither will its successor. Those fighting to uphold the rule of law, humanity's greatest achievement, will find themselves lumped together with the regime's opponents and be treated as such.

This great danger that hovers over America is unrecognized by the majority of the people. When Obama announced before a military gathering his success in assassinating an American citizen, cheers erupted. The Obama regime and the media played the event as a repeat of the (claimed) killing of Osama bin Laden. Two "enemies of the people" have been triumphantly dispatched. That the President of the United States was proudly proclaiming to a cheering audience sworn to defend the Constitution that he was a murderer and that he had also assassinated the US Constitution is extraordinary evidence that Americans are incapable of recognizing the threat to their liberty.

Emotionally, the people have accepted the new powers of the president. If the president can have American citizens assassinated, there is no big deal about torturing them. Amnesty International has sent out an alert that the US Senate is poised to pass legislation that would keep Guantanamo Prison open indefinitely and that Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) might introduce a provision that would legalize "enhanced interrogation techniques," an euphemism for torture.

Instead of seeing the danger, most Americans will merely conclude that the government is getting tough on terrorists, and it will meet with their approval. Smiling with satisfaction over the demise of their enemies, Americans are being led down the garden path to rule by government unrestrained by law and armed with the weapons of the medieval dungeon.

Americans have overwhelming evidence from news reports and YouTube videos of US police brutally abusing women, children, and the elderly, of brutal treatment and murder of prisoners not only in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and secret CIA prisons abroad, but also in state and federal prisons in the US. Power over the defenseless attracts people of a brutal and evil disposition.

A brutal disposition now infects the US military. The leaked video of US soldiers delighting, as their words and actions reveal, in their murder from the air of civilians and news service camera men walking innocently along a city street shows soldiers and officers devoid of humanity and military discipline. Excited by the thrill of murder, our troops repeated their crime when a father with two small children stopped to give aid to the wounded and were machine-gunned.

So many instances: the rape of a young girl and murder of her entire family; innocent civilians murdered and AK-47s placed by their side as "evidence" of insurgency; the enjoyment experienced not only by high school dropouts from torturing they-knew-not- who in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, but also by educated CIA operatives and Ph.D. psychologists. And no one held accountable for these crimes except two lowly soldiers prominently featured in some of the torture photographs.

What do Americans think will be their fate now that the "war on terror" has destroyed the protection once afforded them by the US Constitution? If Awlaki really needed to be assassinated, why did not President Obama protect American citizens from the precedent that their deaths can be ordered without due process of law by first stripping Awlaki of his US citizenship? If the government can strip Awlaki of his life, it certainly can strip him of citizenship. The implication is hard to avoid that the executive branch desires the power to terminate citizens without due process of law.

Governments escape the accountability of law in stages. Washington understands that its justifications for its wars are contrived and indefensible. President Obama even went so far as to declare that the military assault that he authorized on Libya without consulting Congress was not a war, and, therefore, he could ignore the War Powers Resolution of 1973, a federal law intended to check the power of the President to commit the US to an armed conflict without the consent of Congress.

Americans are beginning to unwrap themselves from the flag. Some are beginning to grasp that initially they were led into Afghanistan for revenge for 9/11. From there they were led into Iraq for reasons that turned out to be false. They see more and more US military interventions: Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and now calls for invasion of Pakistan and continued saber rattling for attacks on Syria, Lebanon, and Iran. The financial cost of a decade of the "war against terror" is starting to come home. Exploding annual federal budget deficits and national debt threaten Medicare and Social Security. Debt ceiling limits threaten government shut-downs.

War critics are beginning to have an audience. The government cannot begin its silencing of critics by bringing charges against US Representatives Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich. It begins with antiwar protestors, who are elevated into "antiwar activists," perhaps a step below "domestic extremists." Washington begins with citizens who are demonized Muslim clerics radicalized by Washington's wars on Muslims. In this way, Washington establishes the precedent that war protestors give encouragement and, thus, aid, to terrorists. It establishes the precedent that those Americans deemed a threat are not protected by law. This is the slippery slope on which we now find ourselves.

Last year the Obama Regime tested the prospects of its strategy when Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence, announced that the government had a list of American citizens that it was going to assassinate abroad. This announcement, had it been made in earlier times by, for example, Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan, would have produced a national uproar and calls for impeachment. However, Blair's announcement caused hardly a ripple. All that remained for the regime to do was to establish the policy by exercising it.

Readers ask me what they can do. Americans not only feel powerless, they are powerless. They cannot do anything. The highly concentrated, corporate-owned, government-subservient print and TV media are useless and no longer capable of performing the historic role of protecting our rights and holding government accountable. Even many antiwar Internet sites shield the government from 9/11 skepticism, and most defend the government's "righteous intent" in its war on terror. Acceptable criticism has to be couched in words such as "it doesn't serve our interests."

Voting has no effect. President "Change" is worse than Bush/Cheney. As Jonathan Turley suggests, Obama is "the most disastrous president in our history." Ron Paul is the only presidential candidate who stands up for the Constitution, but the majority of Americans are too unconcerned with the Constitution to appreciate him.

To expect salvation from an election is delusional. All you can do, if you are young enough, is to leave the country. The only future for Americans is a nightmare.
(c) 2011 Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and professor of economics in six universities. He is coauthor of "The Tyranny of Good Intentions," co-authored with Lawrence Stratton, a documented account of how Americans lost the protection of law, was published by Random House. He can be reached at:

Mutiny On The Titanic
By Uri Avnery

HERE IS a story that has never been told before:

When the Titanic was well out into the Atlantic, its crew mutinied.

They demanded higher wages, less cramped quarters, better food. They assembled on the lower decks and refused to budge from there.

A few old hands from the engine room tried to extend the scope of the protest. They claimed that the captain was grossly incompetent, that the officers were nincompoops and that the voyage was bound to end in disaster.

But the leaders of the protest resisted. "Let's not go beyond our practical demands," they said. "The course of the ship is none of our business. Whatever some of us may think about the captain and the officers on the bridge, we must not mix matters. That would only split the protest."

The passengers did not interfere. Many of them sympathized with the protest, but did not want to get involved.

It is said that one drunken English lady was standing on deck, a glass of whisky in her hand, when she saw the huge iceberg looming. "I asked for some ice," she murmured, "but this is ridiculous!"

FOR A WEEK, or so, all the Israeli media were riveted to the goings on at the UN.

Ehud Barak had warned of a "tsunami". Avigdor Lieberman foresaw a "bloodbath". The army was prepared for huge demonstrations that were certain to end in unprecedented violence. No one could think of anything else.

And then, overnight, the bloody tsunami faded like a mirage, and the social protest reappeared. State of war Out, welfare state In.

Why? The commission appointed by Binyamin Netanyahu to examine the roots of the protest and propose reforms had finished its work in record time and laid a thick volume of proposals on the table. All very good ones. Free education from the age of 3, higher taxes for the very rich, more money for housing, and so on.

All very nice, but far short of what the protesters had demanded. The almost half a million demonstrators some weeks ago did not go out into the streets for that. Economics professors attacked, other economics professors defended. A lively debate ensued.

This can go on for a few days. But then something is bound to happen -perhaps a border incident, or a settlers' pogrom against a Palestinian village, or a pro-Palestinian resolution at the UN -and the whole media pack will veer around, forget about the reforms and return to the good old scares.

In the meantime, the military budget will serve as a bone of contention. The government commission has proposed reducing this budget by 3 billion shekels -less than a billion dollars -in order to finance its modest reforms. Netanyahu has voiced agreement.

No one took this very seriously. The slightest incident will enable the army to demand a special budget, and instead of the suggested tiny reduction, there will be another big increase.

But the army has already raised hell -quite literally -describing the disasters that will surely befall us if the diabolical reduction is not choked in its cradle. We face defeat in the next war, many soldiers will be killed, the future investigation committee will blame the present ministers. They are already shaking in their shoes.

ALL THIS goes to show how quickly national attention can swing from "protest mode" to "security mode". One day we are shaking our fists in the street, the next we are manning the national ramparts, resolved to sell our lives dearly.

This could lead to the idea that the two problems are really one, and can only be solved together. But this conclusion meets with resolute resistance.

The young leaders of the protest insist that the demand for reform unites all Israelis -male and female, young and old, leftist and rightist, religious and secular, Jew and Arab, Ashkenazi and Oriental. Therein lies its power. The moment the question of national policy comes up, the movement will break apart. End of protest.

Difficult to argue with that.

True, even so the rightists accuse the protesters of being leftists in disguise. Very few national-religious people appear at the demonstrations, and no orthodox at all. Oriental Jews, traditional voters for the Likud, are underrepresented, though not altogether absent. People speak of a movement of the "White Tribe" -Jews of European descent.

Still, the movement has succeeded in avoiding an open split. The hundreds of thousands of demonstrators have not been called upon to identify themselves with any particular political party or creed. The leaders can rightly claim that their tactic -if it is a tactic -has worked up to now.

THIS CONVICTION has been reinforced by recent events in the Labor Party.

This moribund congregation, down in the polls to a mere 7% of the votes, has suddenly sprung to new life. A lively primary election for the party leadership has restored some color to its cheeks. In a surprise victory, Shelly Yacimovich has been elected party chairwoman.

Shelly (I dislike these long foreign surnames) was in the past an assertive, abrasive radio journalist with very pronounced feminist and social-democratic views. Six years ago she joined Labor and was elected to the Knesset under the wing of Amir Peretz, the then leader, who she has now soundly beaten.

In the Knesset, Shelly has distinguished herself as a diligent and relentless militant on social issues. She is a girlish-looking 51, a lone she-wolf, disliked by her colleagues, devoid of charisma, not at all the hail-fellow-well-met type. Yet the party rank and file, perhaps out of sheer desperation, preferred her to the members of the bankrupt old guard. The atmosphere in the country produced by the social protest movement certainly contributed to her success.

In all her years in the Knesset, she has not mentioned any of the national problems -war and peace, occupation, settlements. She has concentrated exclusively on social issues. On the eve of the primary, she shocked many members of her party by publicly embracing the settlers. "The settlements are no sins or crimes," she asserted, they were put there by Labor Party governments and are a part of the national consensus. Shelly may really believe this or she may consider it good tactics -the fact is that she has adopted the same line as the protest movement: that social affairs should be separated from "national" affairs. Seems you can be rightist on the occupation and leftist on taxing the rich.


On the morrow of the Labor primaries, something amazing happened. In a respected opinion poll, Labor rose from 8 to 22 Knesset seats, overtaking Tzipi Livni's Kadima, which sank from 28 to 18.

A revolution? Not quite. All the new Labor votes came from Kadima. But a move from Kadima to Labor, while interesting in itself", is not important. The Knesset is divided into two blocs -the nationalist-religious and the center-left-Arab. As long as the rightist bloc has a 5% edge, there will be no change. To effect change, enough voters must jump from one side of the scales to the other.

Shelly believes that by shunning national issues and concentrating on social matters, voters can be moved to make the jump. Some say: that's all that counts. What's the use of putting forward a program of peace, if you can't change the government? Let's first come to power, by whatever means, and than see to peace.

Against this logical argument, there is the contrary contention: that if you start to embrace the settlers and ignore the occupation, you will end up as a minor partner in a right-wing government, as has happened before. Ask Shimon Peres. Ask Ehud Barak.

And then there is the moral question: can you really chant "the People Demand Social Justice" and ignore the daily oppression of four million Palestinians in the occupied territories? When you abandon your principles on the way to power, what are you likely to do with that power?

THE JEWISH High Holidays, which started the day before yesterday, provide a pause for reflection. Politics are at a standstill. The protest leaders promise another huge demonstration, restricted to the social demands, in a month's time.

In the meantime, the Titanic, this beautiful masterpiece of naval architecture, is riding the waves.
(c) 2011 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

America's New Radicals Attack A System That Ignores Them
By Ted Rall

"Enraged young people," The New York Times worries aloud, are kicking off the dust of phony democracy, in which "the job of a citizen was limited to occasional trips to the polling places to vote" while decision-making remains in the claws of a rarified elite of overpaid corporate executives and their corrupt pet politicians.

"From South Asia to the heartland of Europe and now even to Wall Street," the paper continues, "these protesters share something else: wariness, even contempt, toward traditional politicians and the democratic political process they preside over. They are taking to the streets, in part, because they have little faith in the ballot box."

The rage of the young is real. It is justified. It is just beginning to play out.

The political class thinks it can ignore the people it purports to represent. They're right--but not forever. A reckoning is at hand. Forty years of elections without politics will cost them.

Americans' pent-up demand for a forum to express their disgust is so vast that they are embracing slapdash movements like Occupy Wall Street, which reverses the traditional tactic of organizing for a demonstration. People are protesting first, then organizing, then coming up with demands. They have no other choice. With no organized Left in the U.S., disaffected people are being forced to build resistance from the ground up.

Who can blame young adults for rejecting the system? The political issue people care most about--jobs and the economy--prompts no real action from the political elite. Even their lip service is half-assed. Liberals know "green jobs" can't replace 14 million lost jobs; conservatives aren't stupid enough to think tax cuts for the rich will help them pay this month's bills.

The politicians' only real action is counterproductive; austerity and bank bailouts that hurt the economy. Is the government evil or incompetent? Does it matter?

Here in the United States, no one should be surprised that young adults are among the nation's angriest and most alienated citizens. No other group has been as systematically ignored by the mainstream political class as the young. What's shocking is that it took so long for them to take to the streets.

Every other age groups get government benefits. The elderly get a prescription drug plan. Even Republicans who want to slash Medicaid and Medicare take pains to promise seniors that their benefits will be grandfathered in. Kids get taken care of too. They get free public education. ObamaCare's first step was to facilitate coverage for children under 18.

Young adults get debt.

The troubles of young adults get no play in Washington. Pundits don't bother to debate issues that concerns people in their 20s and 30s. Recent college graduates, staggering under soaring student loan debt, are getting crushed by 80 percent unemployment--and no one even pretends to care. Young Americans tell pollsters that their top concerns are divorce, which leaves kids impoverished, and global warming. Like jobs, these issues aren't on anyone's agenda.

This pot has been boiling for decades.

In 1996 I published "Revenge of the Latchkey Kids," a manifesto decrying the political system's neglect and exploitation of Generation X, my age cohort, which followed the Baby Boomers.

We were in our 20s and low 30s at the time.

Un- and underemployment, the insanity of a job market that requires kids to take out mortgage-sized loans to attend college just to be considered for a low-paid entry-level gig in a cube farm, the financial and emotional toll of disintegrating families, and our fear that the natural world was being destroyed left many of my peers feeling resentful and left out--like arriving at a party after the last beer was gone.

Today the oldest Gen Xers are turning 50. Life will always be harder for us than it was for the Boomers. If I had to write "Latchkey Kids" for today's recent college grads, it would be bleaker still. Today's kids--demographers call them Gen Y--have it significantly worse than we did.

Like us, today's young adults get no play from the politicians.

The debts of today's Gen Yers are bigger ($26,000 in average student loans, up from $10,000 in 1985). Their incomes are smaller. Their sense of betrayal, having gone all in for Obama, is deeper.

Young adults turned out big for Obama in 2008, but he didn't deliver for them. They noticed: The One's approval rating has plunged from 75 percent among voters ages 18-29 when he took office in January 2009 to 45 percent in September.

Politicians like Obama ignore young adults, especially those with college degrees, at their--and the system's--peril. Now, however, more is at stake than Obama and the Democrats' 2012 election prospects. The entire economic, social and political order faces collapse; young people may choose revolution rather than accept a life of poverty in a state dedicated only to feeding the bank accounts of the superrich.

As Crane Brinton pointed out in his seminal book "The Anatomy of Revolution," an important predictor of revolution is downward mobility among strivers, young adults whose education and ambition would traditionally have led to a brighter future.

In February Martin Wolf theorized in The Financial Times that the Arab Spring rebellions in Egypt and Tunisia owed their success to demographics; those countries have more young people than old ones. On the other hand "middle-aged and elderly rig political and economic life for their benefit in the U.K. [he could also have said the U.S.]: hence the way in which policies on housing or education finance are weighted against the young."

Right here and right now, though, the young and the old are on the same side. Though the young are getting screwed the hardest, almost everyone else is getting screwed too. And with 80 percent unemployment, the young have a lot of free time to rise up.
(c) 2011 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."

Occupying The Heart Of The Beast
Observations, Impressions And Images From Amid The Multitudes In Liberty Plaza
By Phil Rockstroh

The ongoing exercise in democracy transpiring in and around the Occupy Wall Street site in Lower Manhattan imbues one's heart with resonances of the real. Many reasons factor into the phenomenon: Here, for example, one does not feel scammed and demeaned...gripped by the sense of futility, even embarrassment, experienced at even the thought of participating in the big money-skewed, sham elections staged in the corporate oligarchic state.

In our era, in which our mind's are distracted and circumscribed by relentless, manic formations of instant information and evanescent imagery, we too often dwell in domains devoid of musk and fury, of the implications carried by mind meeting flesh; therefore, one is often nettled by an abiding hollowness resultant from voluntary exile in these weightless realms of electronic ghosts.

The events unfolding in this place bear little resemblance to contrived reality TV tawdriness or pro sports/corporate rock, empty spectacle. Although some of the event transpiring here have been broadcast, webcast and tweeted in "real time" -- in vivid contrast -- events are unfolding in time that is real.

In Liberty Plaza, both the winged spirit of commitment and the rag and bone shop of the heart abide. Acting upon the human yearning not to live in chains, those assembled here are attempting to navigate their way out of the wasteland of isolation and alienation inflicted by the inverted totalitarianism of the corporate/consumer/national security state.

"Protest that endures, I think, is moved by a hope far more modest than that of public success: namely, the hope of preserving qualities in one's own heart and spirit that would be destroyed by acquiescence." ~ Wendell Berry

The barriers: This photo (of Occupy Wall Street protesters entrapped on the Brooklyn Bridge by the NYPD) is emblematic of existence within the constraints of inverted totalitarianism. The image is evocative of how the present order works to contain and narrow (if you will, kettle and cage) our conception of both the right to free expression in the public sphere and, by implication, within the psyche of an individual.

For instance: Notice, under "normal circumstances," how even the thought of pamphleteering or making an attempt at public oration in those areas of hyper-commercialized commerce - e.g., malls, big box retail stores and sports arenas -- squatting upon most of the landscape of the U.S. is summarily dismissed. An individual who attempts to exercise his right to free speech and free assembly in those locations is expelled on sight by private security types maintaining that the reach of one's rights to free expression ends where private property begins.

In general, in daily life, living under the inverted totalitarian nature of the corporate state, the walls that imprison an individual are invisible to the eye, even as they create bleak barriers within. For example, if you are arrested while exercising your (allegedly) constitutionally guaranteed rights during an act of public protest, future employers will be privy to the information and chances are that such information will not be exactly helpful in your attempt to gain employment; hence, many are dissuaded from protest.

Yet, the New York City power elite can be thanked for the following: By actions such as these, captured in photos like this one, they reveal to us the true nature of the society that they have created, both extant and internalized within.

And this is what the implicit oppression of the corporate oligarchic state transforms into when challenged. Take a good look, then, ask yourself, as the song goes, which side are you on?

The agenda of the parasitic corporate and criminal Wall Street elite (whose financial power and political influence has increased unchecked for more than thirty years) has been: to attain maximum profits by maximum exploitation of labor and resources. To ensure the labor pool remains submissive, the corporate class tyrannizes the workforce with threats to their job security and other Shock Doctrine strategies designed to beat an individual down, as all the while, their PR flacks promulgate the Orwellian doublethink at the empty core of corporate/consumer state propaganda i.e., submission to exploitation will, one day, yield to financial freedom...that the economic shackles that yoke an individual to a life of "free" market-enforced submission are, in fact, his wings of liberty.

And that is something one should bear in mind when considering the subject of the attitudes and actions of the NYPD regarding popular uprisings such as the one ongoing in Lower Manhattan.

In the first few days of the occupation of Liberty Plaza, I stopped by and spoke with protesters and police. (The latter only agreed to speak to me, with much hesitation, and, in a few cases outright contempt, if I promised not to record them or reveal their badge numbers.) I told them that I understand and experience the sort of fear that such dictates, issued from above, level upon a person. I averred the fear instilled in rank and file officers by their "superiors" in the department is similar to the fear that folks in the park possess for police in general.

And the fear is identical to that OWS protesters hold in regard to the power Wall Street exerts over their lives.

In this, we, the beleaguered "99 percenters," share a common plight--an affinity of fear instilled within us by economic coercion.

One cop told me it was nothing personal: He appreciated the protest because of the overtime pay he was pulling as a result of it. I asked him if he feared that Wall Street might squander his pension fund, and that, "if you come down with a case of 'billy club elbow' from beating on the folks here...that the crooks on Wall Street might make off with your medical benefits."

Moreover, that if he saw a man trying to rob the pizza restaurant on the end of the block, he had the power to make an arrest, and, by that token, would it be possible for he and his crew - who it appeared didn't have a lot to do at Liberty Plaza - could see fit to move down the street a where the real criminal activity comes down - billion dollar heists, in fact - and make a few arrests when the banksters open for business tomorrow? He said he couldn't comment on the subject...but I could tell he found the fantasy appealing.

But, bear this in mind, when considering the uncivil attitudes and unconstitutional actions of the NYPD regarding street protest such as the Occupy Wall Street activities ongoing in Lower Manhattan, in particular, and the lack of deference to the rights of the public, in general, displayed by police agencies, at both the local and federal level: Police forces, by and large, are bureaucratic organizations, comprised of authoritarian personalities who evince a topdown, militarized organizational structure. Most of the individuals therein harbor a hierarchical concept regarding the exercise of power and possess an unquestioning fealty to the maintenance of order.

Therefore, the police will serve as a defacto private security force for the corporate oligarchs and Wall Street elite, as well as the structure of the National Security State. Accordingly, the safeguarding of individual rights and providing security for those groups and individuals bereft of power means little to them. Even if an individual officer harbors sympathy for those who dissent, his mission is not to protect the powerless; conversely, the mission of police organizations is to maintain the status quo; and the status quo of the present order translates into vast wealth inequity created by an entrenched system in place to protect the powerful (in this case Wall Street Banksters) from the consequences of their criminal activities.

(Apropos, the 4.6 million dollars with which J.P. Morgan Chase, last week, greased the palm of the NYPD.)

Thus Freedom will be pepper sprayed and thrown face first upon the pavement, while Wall Street Banksters' Gulf Stream Jets lift off from the ground and slice the clear, thin air.

There is a sign in Liberty Plaza proclaiming, "occupy everything" and its sentiment arrives at the essence of the situation. Yes, occupy everything, starting with your own heart. Otherwise, it will be commandeered by the forces of the church, the state, the corporation, the bully on your block, the passive-aggressive friend who is "just here to help", even the demands of your own egoist agendas that bore to indifference the heart of the world and soul of the age. If you don't recognize your humanity, who will? Who is more qualified to occupy your life than you? Who is closer to the situation? Who else is qualified to arrive at an original take of the question at hand?

And you might find the place to make a stand in the struggle to retake your essential self is in public space, among throngs of others engaged in likeminded struggle...among others who have heeded a similar call and thus have arrived in those equally troubled locations -- the U.S. public arena and the American heart.

Occupy your own heart; the soul of the world longs for your companionship.

"The question is not what am I doing in here, but what are you doing out there?"
~~~ Henry David Thoreau ~~~

(c) 2011 Phil Rockstroh, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. Visit Phil's website, and at FaceBook.

Playing Politics With Humanitarian Aid

"You saw the House act," snapped Rep. Eric Cantor. Yeah, act like a petulant four-year-old!

The GOP's House majority leader has long been a whiney ideological brat who stamps his tiny feet in peevish anger whenever he can't get his way on legislation. This time he was sabotaging federal aid for thousands of Americans devastated by natural disasters.

"Federal aid" is a four-letter word to right-wing ideologues like Eric, so for weeks he stalled the emergency funding, turning a straightforward humanitarian bill into his political football, insisting that any funding increase must first be wholly paid for by cutting spending on other public needs. Deficit purity first, people's needs last!

Actually, his this-for-that demand could've easily been met if he'd agreed to cut things America definitely does not need, such as the $4-billion-a-year subsidy for Big Oil. But - whoa! - in Cantorworld, oil giants are gods that shower manna from heaven on Republican campaigns, so it's blasphemy even to think of cutting that money.

Instead, Cantor went after Big Oil's most-dreaded nemesis: companies making fuel-efficient and clean energy vehicles. Thus, the Cantorites decreed that there'd be no more disaster relief until the federal loan program to foster development of this job-creating, green industry was slashed by $1.5 billion. This would have been a political hat trick for the GOP extremists - striking a blow for anti-government absolutism, doing a favor for a major campaign funder, and defunding an Obama-backed program that helps him with voters.

Luckily, his nuttiness was so extreme that a bipartisan vote by 79 senators killed his political scheme - this time. You'd think that aid for storm victims would be beyond politics. But nothing is too far out for right-wing cultists like Cantor.
(c) 2011 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

Dealing The Veto Blow
By Helen Thomas

President Barack Obama is all for freedom and democracy in the Middle East, but not for the brutally occupied Palestinians.

U.S. officials have made it clear that Obama intends to veto the Palestinian bid for statehood in the U.N. Security Council. This is an obscene act that will shame America - especially when Arabs are dying throughout the region for freedom from autocratic one-man rule.

Obama's brazen obedience to the Israeli lobby (AIPAC) is understandable. He's running for reelection. The problem is the Republicans; especially the new Evangelical Tea Partiers, who have already been wined and dined by the Israeli government. Furthermore, they don't quite trust Obama even when he gives them the sun, moon and the stars.

There is no question Obama and his team did everything to block Palestinians seeking human dignity after living for more than 60 years in serfdom under the Israeli heel.

The Israeli oppressors have been subsidized to the tune of billions of dollars and aim to win wars against the freedom-seeking Palestinians in the West Bank and the blockaded Gaza.

If the Palestinian government fails to get statehood, Israel will retaliate, keeping Palestinian tax money in its own well-padded treasury. Who wouldn't fight for his land? Palestinian land has never been negotiable.

The Zionist movement began in the 19th century under Theodor Herzl, a Pole who decided the world's Jews needed their own country. The problem is the country he chose was already occupied by the Palestinians. Many falsely claimed, "A land without people, a people for a land."

The U.S. used all its power to beat down the Palestinians' hope for statehood. Israel, of course, did not want to go to the negotiating table with an opponent that has as much status and recognition as it has.

Israel has always had the upper hand. She has broken international laws by expansive occupation, building illegal walls and kicking Palestinians out of their homes and off of their land.

Obama evidently doesn't mind the oppression of the Arab people, who had counted on his sympathy and heart.

Palestinians fled, hearing of the massacres of their neighbors. Many of the refugees are still in camps run by the U.N.

President Harry S. Truman mentioned in his memoirs his later regret to being awakened at the White House, May 15, 1948, by Israeli supporters who insisted Israel become a state at 3 o'clock in the morning, while the issue was still being debated at the U.N.

The British eventually pulled out of Palestine, having been killed by the Zionists. British soldiers were hung from trees. Perhaps Mr. Blair, special envoy to Quartet on the Middle East, needs a history lesson.

The Western powers betrayed the Palestinians who at first sold their homes and holdings to rich Israelis. By the time the Palestinians realized that the Israelis planned to take over their land by military force, it was too late.

The influx of the Jews after the horror of Hitler gave them the sympathy of the world - but a world not ready to give them their land. With U.S. military support, the Israelis managed to take three quarters of Palestinian land for their own.

Now the nuclear armed Israelis are being urged to negotiate. Why should they with all the cards and military backing of the U.S., bother negotiating?

No American Jew can visit Jerusalem and not see the hundreds of Arabs going through brutal checkpoints. The rank humiliation of the natives is much like the treatment of the blacks in the segregated south before the civil rights laws.

David Kuttab, a journalist and former professor at Princeton, wrote in Newsweek, "The impasse over direct talks has given cover to Israeli expansionism; Palestinian lands continue to be confiscated. Jewish only settlements continue to be built, and the Israeli constructed security wall strangulates the Palestinians."

The International Court of Justice at The Hague ruled in 2004 that the wall built inside Palestine territory is illegal, according to international law, yet it continues to be a concrete example of the oppressive occupation.

So I say to the President, "What does it matter if you win the whole world and lose your soul?"
(c) 2011 Helen Thomas is a columnist for the Falls Church News-Press. Among other books she is the author of Front Row At The White House: My Life and Times.

The Capital Punishment Issue
Murdering The Murderer
By James Donahue

Americans like to think they have evolved since the old days when teams of vigilantes held instant trials and hung horse thieves and alleged black rapists of white women from the nearest tree.

Indeed, we have become more refined at the way we arrest and convict, but the United States still remains high among the nations of the world that still execute convicted felons. Horse thieves usually don't get the death penalty, but rapists who kill and anyone convicted of pre-meditated murder and especially the killing of innocent children and police officers end up on death row in most states of the union. And more black than white males appear to find their way to the modern killing rooms. It's an ugly and barbaric practice.

We are happy to say that 14 states and the District of Columbia have abolished the death penalty. They are Alaska, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The other states have maintained the death penalty, with some like Texas apparently operating almost assembly-line killings since the Supreme Court opened the door to capital punishment in America in 1976.

The issue has risen to national attention since Troy Davis was put to death in Georgia, in spite of new evidence suggesting that witnesses in his alleged fatal shooting of an off-duty police officer were coerced by police into fingering him as the shooter.

Capital punishment has been brought into the public spotlight because of the controversial presidential candidacy of Texas Governor Rick Perry, who has presided over 235 executions, more than any other governor in any state in history. Many believe that some of the people put to death under Perry's watch were wrongly convicted. They say Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed after being charged with setting fire to his house and killing his children, was later found innocent after it was determined that the fire was never a case of arson.

Groups like Amnesty International have been working hard to get the death penalty abolished in all 50 states. Opponents of capital punishment argue that new DNA testing has been used to prove the innocence of a number of people convicted of rape and murder cases. They argue that testimony by witnesses at the scene of any crime cannot always be trusted.

When we look at the practice of capital punishment around the world, it is shocking to realize just how barbaric the United States appears. We are the only nation in the Americas to conduct executions and we stand among the top five nations in the world in the number of people put to death each year.

The others are China, Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan.

So what does anyone gain by murdering the murderer? Is justice truly served? The violent act of killing the killer may appear to be the correct thing to do in the heat of the moment but does it really appease the victims of such heinous acts? If the truth were to be told, further acts of violence only create more victims.

We believe the old and outmoded religious dogmas that preach "an eye for an eye" have had a lot to do with the belief that capital punishment is correct justice for killers in the eyes of the Creator. After all it is so commanded in the Old Testament.

But who really recorded the old laws found in the Old Testament books? Did a mighty force really carve them in stone when it confronted Moses on the mountain or was that merely one of the many ancient myths that found their way into religious books from the shadowy past?

If an almighty God in the clouds really gave humanity these laws, then we also should be executing the adulterers, masturbators and fornicators in our midst. The Old Testament laws also issued a death penalty for men who are not circumcised, people who eat leavened bread, drink blood (or ate raw meat), commit blasphemy, practice forms of magic or spiritualism, or worship idols and other gods than Jehovah.

A lot of children would be sentenced to death for striking, cursing or just disobeying their parents or coming home drunk. If we stuck to those Biblical laws the way some fundamental Christians think we should, we fear that few contemporary children would have a chance to grow up.

There is one positive thought about all of this. If we followed all of the old laws to the letter we might quickly solve our problem of overpopulation. But then we would create another problem of disposing all the bodies.
(c) 2011 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site.

Twilight Of Violence
An Interview with Steven Pinker
By Sam Harris

Steven Pinker is a Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, the author of several magnificent books about the human mind, and one of the most influential scientists on earth. He is also my friend, an occasional mentor, and an advisor to my nonprofit foundation, Project Reason.

Steve's new book is The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. Reviewing it for the New York Times Book Review, the philosopher Peter Singer called it "a supremely important book." I have no doubt that it is, and I very much look forward to reading it. In the meantime, Steve was kind enough to help produce a written interview for this blog.


I suspect that when most people hear the thesis of your book-that human violence has steadily declined-they are skeptical: Wasn't the 20th century the most violent in history?

Probably not. Data from previous centuries are far less complete, but the existing estimates of death tolls, when calculated as a proportion of the world's population at the time, show at least nine atrocities before the 20th century (that we know of) which may have been worse than World War II. They arose from collapsing empires, horse tribe invasions, the slave trade, and the annihilation of native peoples, with wars of religion close behind. World War I doesn't even make the top ten.

Also, a century comprises a hundred years, not just fifty, and the second half of the 20th century was host to a Long Peace among great powers and developed nations (the subject of one of the book's chapters) and more recently, to a New Peace in the rest of the world (the subject of another chapter), with unusually low rates of warfare.

Need I remind you that the "atheist regimes" of the 20th century killed tens of millions of people?

This is a popular argument among theoconservatives and critics of the new atheism, but for many reasons it is historically inaccurate.

First, the premise that Nazism and Communism were "atheist" ideologies makes sense only within a religiocentric worldview that divides political systems into those that are based on Judaeo-Christian ideology and those that are not. In fact, 20th-century totalitarian movements were no more defined by a rejection of Judaeo-Christianity than they were defined by a rejection of astrology, alchemy, Confucianism, Scientology, or any of hundreds of other belief systems. They were based on the ideas of Hitler and Marx, not David Hume and Bertrand Russell, and the horrors they inflicted are no more a vindication of Judeao-Christianity than they are of astrology or alchemy or Scientology.

Second, Nazism and Fascism were not atheistic in the first place. Hitler thought he was carrying out a divine plan. Nazism received extensive support from many German churches, and no opposition from the Vatican. Fascism happily coexisted with Catholicism in Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Croatia.

Third, according to the most recent compendium of history's worst atrocities, Matthew White's Great Big Book of Horrible Things (Norton, 2011), religions have been responsible for 13 of the 100 worst mass killings in history, resulting in 47 million deaths. Communism has been responsible for 6 mass killings and 67 million deaths. If defenders of religion want to crow, "We were only responsible for 47 million murders-Communism was worse!," they are welcome to do so, but it is not an impressive argument.

Fourth, many religious massacres took place in centuries in which the world's population was far smaller. Crusaders, for example, killed 1 million people in world of 400 million, for a genocide rate that exceeds that of the Nazi Holocaust. The death toll from the Thirty Years War was proportionally double that of World War I and in the range of World War II in Europe.

When it comes to the history of violence, the significant distinction is not one between theistic and atheistic regimes. It's the one between regimes that were based on demonizing, utopian ideologies (including Marxism, Nazism, and militant religions) and secular liberal democracies that are based on the ideal of human rights. I present data from the political scientist Rudolph Rummel showing that democracies are vastly less murderous than alternatives forms of government.

Your claim that violence has declined depends on comparing rates of violence relative to population size. Is that really a fair measure? Should we give ourselves credit for being less violent just because there has been population growth?

You can think about it in a number of ways, but they all lead to the conclusion that it is the proportion, rather than the absolute number, of deaths that is relevant. First, if the population grows, so does the potential number of murderers and despots and rapists and sadists. So if the absolute number of victims of violence stays the same or even increases, while the proportion decreases, something important must have changed to allow all those extra people to grow up free of violence.

Second, if one focuses on absolute numbers, one ends up with moral absurdities such as these: (a) it's better to reduce the size of a population by half and keep the rates of rape and murder the same than to reduce the rates of rape and murder by a third; (b) even if a society's practices were static, so that its rates of war and violence don't change, its people would be worse and worse off as the population grows, because a greater absolute number of them would suffer; (c) every child brought into the world is a moral evil, because there is a nonzero probability that he or she will be a victim of violence. 

As I note in the book, "Part of the bargain of being alive is that one takes a chance at dying a premature or painful death, be it from violence, accident, or disease. So the number of people in a given time and place who enjoy full lives has to be counted as a moral good, against which we calibrate the moral bad of the number who are victims of violence. Another way of expressing this frame of mind is to ask, `If I were one of the people who were alive in a particular era, what would be the chances that I would be a victim of violence?' [Either way, we are led to] the conclusion that in comparing the harmfulness of violence across societies, we should focus on the rate, rather than the number, of violent acts."

Where did you get your data?

It depends. For the contrast between nonstate and state societies, I used data from forensic archeology and from quantitative ethnography. For the history of homicide in Europe, data from coroners and town records go back centuries. Western governments today keep good data on homicides (the violent crime of choice, because a dead body is hard to explain away), and several of them conduct crime victimization surveys for other crimes (which avoid the distortion of how willing victims are to report crimes to the police). For wars large and small, and other kinds of armed conflict since 1946, we have the Uppsala Conflict Data Project/Human Security Report Project and the Peace Research Institute of Oslo. For larger wars since 1816, I used datasets from the Correlates of War Project. Some historians and political scientists (such as Pitirim Sorokin, Quincy Wright, Peter Brecke, and Jack Levy) have tried to quantify war deaths in earlier periods, and "atrocitologists" such as Matthew White and Rudolph Rummel have done so for genocides, deliberate famines, and other kinds of mass violence. And of course in recent decades almost no aspect of life has gone unquantified by pollsters, government bureaucrats, and social scientists.

Haven't we just been lucky? If Churchill hadn't stood up to Hitler, if Stalin hadn't been willing to sacrifice tens of millions of Russians, if German scientists had succeeded in their nuclear program, then most of the world would be living under the horrors of the Third Reich.

True, but these counterfactuals go both ways. As John Mueller has put it, "had Adolf Hitler gone into art rather than politics, had he been gassed a bit more thoroughly by the British in the trenches in 1918, had he, rather than the man marching next to him, been gunned down in the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923, had he failed to survive the automobile crash he experienced in 1930, had he been denied the leadership position in Germany, or had he been removed from office at almost any time before September 1939 (and possibly even before May 1940), Europe's greatest war would most probably never have taken place."

One could argue that in fact the world has just emerged from a run of stupendous bad luck, one in which three extraordinarily bloodthirsty men-Hitler, Stalin, and Mao-managed to take over powerful states, and were responsible for a majority of the deaths from war and genocide in the 20th century. Many historians have argued as follows: No Hitler, no Holocaust; no Stalin, no Purge; no Mao, no Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution.

I repeat: Haven't we just been lucky? On a number of occasions, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis, the world seems to have come dangerously close to nuclear annihilation.

According to the most recent analyses of documents from the Cuban Missile Crisis (see, e.g., Max Frankel's High Noon in the Cold War), both the US and USSR desperately tried to get out of the crisis, avoiding unnecessary provocations and offering greater concessions than they had to. Other allegedly just-this-close brushes with Armageddon, such as the Vietnam and Yom Kippur wars, were even less perilous. As Mueller puts it, the metaphor of an escalator, in which one misstep could have carried leaders up and away to all-out nuclear war, is misleading. A better metaphor is a ladder: each rung made leaders increasingly acrophobic, and in every case they nervously sought a way to step back down.

You attribute a part of the decline of violence to the forces of modernity and enlightenment. Yet Germany before the Nazi takeover was the most cultured, advanced, and cosmopolitan society in the world. Doesn't this show that cultural and intellectual sophistication are no protection against barbarism?

It's misleading to essentialize an entire society as if it were a single mind. Weimar Germany did have subcultures that were sophisticated and cosmopolitan. But it also had subcultures, both elite and grassroots, that loathed secular modernity and Enlightenment universalism and signed on to Counter-Enlightenment sentiments of romantic militarism and nationalism-the valorization of blood and soil. The problem was that members of the second subculture murdered the members of the first. In a section called "Ideology" I discuss social psychology experiments showing how the silencing of dissenting views can result in the takeover of a society by a belief system that few of its individual members hold individually-the phenomenon of "extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds."

Have there been times in history when violence has increased? If so, couldn't it happen again?

Of course. Examples of increases of violence I discuss include a rise in the concentration of destructiveness of European wars up until World War II, the heyday of genocidal dictators in the middle decades of the 20th century, the rise of crime in the 1960s, and the bulge of civil wars in the developing world following decolonization. Yet every one of these developments has been systematically reversed.

The decline of violence isn't a steady inclined plane from an original state of maximal and universal bloodshed. Technology, ideology, and social and cultural changes periodically throw out new forms of violence for humanity to contend with. The point of Better Angels is that in each case humanity has succeeded in reducing them. I even present some statistical evidence for this cycle of unpleasant shocks followed by sadder-but-wiser recoveries.

As to whether violence might increase in the future: of course it might. My argument is not that an increase in violence in the future is impossible; it's that a decrease in violence has taken place in the past. These are different claims.

Most people seem to think that wars erupt over scarce resources? Is this true?

Most wars are not fought over shortages of resources such as food and water, and most shortages of resources don't lead to war. The Dust Bowl of the 1930s did not lead to an American Civil war; nor did the tsunamis of 2003 and 2011 lead to war in Indonesia or Japan. And several statistical studies of recent armed conflicts have failed to find a correlation between drought or other forms of environmental degradation and war. Climate change could produce a lot of misery and waste without necessarily leading to large-scale armed conflict, which depends more on ideology and bad governance than on resource scarcity.

Are you willing to make any predictions about violence in the future?

I think that the humanitarian movements that have gathered momentum since the Enlightenment will continue to make progress. The burning of heretics, gruesome executions, blood sports, slavery, debtors' prisons, foot-binding, eunuchism, and wars between developed states won't make a comeback any time soon. Most likely capital punishment, violence against women, human trafficking, the beating and bullying of children, and the persecution of homosexuals will continue to decline, albeit bumpily and unevenly, over a span of decades. I'm willing to go out on this limb because international moral shaming campaigns in the past (such as those against piracy, whaling, and slavery) have generally succeeded over the long term. I think there is also a non-negligible chance that within the next 25-50 years there will be fewer bloodthirsty despots, and that nuclear weapons could be abolished. But terrorist attacks, civil war, and wars involving non-democracies are too capricious to predict, since they depend so much on the actions of individuals. Also, crime rates have defied every expert prediction, and it would be foolish to say that they could not go back up.

One of my great concerns is that technology is making it easier for one person to harm vast numbers of other people. It is certainly conceivable that one event-a hugely successful act of bioterrorism, for instance-could suddenly displace us from this historical trend toward pacifism that you describe. And, as Jonathan Glover pointed out in his fine book Humanity-technology has made it so that those things that are most harmful are not necessarily most disturbing. Thus, if waging war becomes increasingly like playing a video game, the gamer-soldiers of the future might be appalled by the brutality of a bar fight but capable of annihilating whole populations by remote control with a clear conscience. There is also the worry that the most destructive technologies will find their way into the hands of people who have not had their moral intuitions tuned by modernity-think Mongols with nuclear weapons. I'm wondering to what degree you share these concerns.

Yes, I discuss all of them. It's an interesting question-almost a philosophical question-whether a single kook with a nuke, or a small number of fanatics with other weapons of mass destruction, would count as displacing the world from its historical trend toward pacifism, if the vast majority of the world were appalled by the destruction and continued its pacific trajectory. A large number of deaths from a single renegade perpetrator would be a misleading indicator of the state of the world. But more to the point, I don't think that it's inevitable, or even particularly likely, that a terrorist group will get its hands on a loose nuke or build a garage nuke, nor that it would engineer an epidemic-scale pathogen.

I also admire Glover's Humanity (I wrote a glowing review of it for the New York Times when it came out), but I don't think that the transition from face-to-face to remote-control styles of killing have led to an increase in deaths. In past centuries, men with swords, spears, daggers, bows and arrows, pikes, bayonets, and muskets could kill people by the millions, while today's drones are targeted to take out enemies in the single digits-and when an errant drone in Afghanistan killed ten civilians (which would have been a rounding error in previous wars), it was an international incident that brought out profuse apologies. I argue in the book that weaponry is overrated as a driver of violence-human intentions are vastly more important. And while it's true that people have an aversion to causing direct bodily harm to a stranger, this skittishness is easily set aside, or even inverted into a ferocious savagery, under a variety of circumstances, including vengeance, panic, and sadism.
(c) 2011 Sam Harris is the author of "The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason" and "Letter to a Christian Nation" and is the co-founder of The Reason Project, which promotes scientific knowledge and secular values. Follow Sam Harris on Twitter.

Rebuild The Dream In The Streets
By David Swanson

Remarks at Take Back the Dream conference, October 3, 2011.

For videos of this speech and of remarks by Derrick Crowe and Jo Comerford click here:

Back around May or June a bunch of us announced plans for this coming Thursday, October 6th, to occupy Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., not for a march or a rally, and not for a day or a weekend, but to create a central space for an ongoing occupation from which we would engage in nonviolent resistance.

We were inspired by the Arab Spring and Wisconsin and working for a U.S. Autumn. Now of course we are also inspired by the Occupation of Wall Street. It's been wonderful to see more and more people and organizations compelled to join in that action, and to see militarism and plutocracy opposed together by a movement that refuses to be dumbed down into a sound bite.

Over 150 organizations are part of the planning for Freedom Plaza at and all are encouraged to join. Wall Street's servants on K Street, in the Pentagon, and in our government may be feeling comfortably distant from Wall Street right about now. But I don't see any reason to support protests of the wealth that corrupts our government and not protests of the government corrupted by that wealth. Choosing to be corrupted is an active choice. Corruption is not something imposed on helpless victims.

We chose October 6th because the Afghanistan War was due to begin its second decade. Over 4,000 people have taken this pledge:

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

I hope you'll go and pledge the same at

It has been three years now since a Russian ambassador to Afghanistan said the United States had repeated all of the Soviet Union's mistakes in Afghanistan and had moved on to new ones. Mistakes is a common euphemism for crimes and other words that we would be applying were ours the country violently occupied, were ours the bulk of the deaths and misery, were our doors being kicked in and our loved ones disappeared, were the missiles hitting our homes.

Every year, of course, as British Member of Parliament Rory Stewart recently pointed out, top western officials have claimed that whatever year it was would be the decisive one. And each year it has not been. This past week, the United Nations reported an increase in violence in Afghanistan of about 40 percent over last year. NATO deemed that story inappropriate and announced its own findings the very next day. It turns out that, if you believe violence isn't violence when it's committed by the United States and allies, then you can look at certain types of violence initiated purely by Afghans and identify a dramatic decrease of . . . wait for it . . . 2 percent.

But don't book that Afghan vacation just yet.

Migratory birds have been avoiding Afghanistan for some years now. Afghans with higher educations have been leaving for decades. War profiteers, and occupation profiteers, and so-called reconstruction profiteers seem to know their way out. But imperial rulers, whether British or Soviet or U.S., Nobel Peace Prize winners or otherwise, seem utterly incapable of withdrawing other people's kids from Afghan wars until no other option remains.

And why this inability to leave? Why stay? It's not to track down Osama bin Laden on the off chance he wasn't really given that proper Muslim sea burial. It's not to find the number 8 regional leader in al Qaeda, and certainly not to oppose the Taliban which feeds off the occupation. It may be for politics, but U.S. opinion polls could hardly scream "Get out!" more clearly. It is almost certainly for profits and pipelines and permanent bases. A U.S. executive, er excuse me "job creator," told NPR this summer that if the occupation of Afghanistan were scaled back he really hoped there could be a big occupation of Libya.

But there's apparently another reason why armed U.S. citizens and their foreign workers are still in Afghanistan, and it's not to keep us safe. The 2006 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, among other studies, made clear that these wars make us less safe, not more. Almost four years ago, at a conference in Washington, D.C., on al Qaeda, former State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism Daniel Benjamin listed ways to reduce the threat of terrorism. Afterwards, journalist Gareth Porter asked him whether ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq should have been on his list.

"You're right," he answered. And then he added, "But we can't do that."

"Why not," Porter asked.

"Because," he said, "we would have to tell the families of the soldiers who have died in those wars that their loved ones died in vain."

Since then, of course, a lot more people have died in vain.

This is what it comes to, and why nonviolent occupations of our own back in Der "Homeland" are required. Our government has gone insane. It is killing people purely because it has already killed people.

War was banned by the nations of the world in 1928 and an 85-1 vote in the U.S. Senate in 1929 following a decade of work by a peace movement that refused to give up. And now we accept war as the air we breathe. In 2008 we may not have voted in "four more years," but we did get four more wars: Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, added to Iraq and Afghanistan, with routine murders of particular human beings and those standing too close to them now openly inclusive of U.S. citizens.

To a growing extent, we see through this just as we see through austerity, environmental destruction, corporate welfare, and political corruption. But merely waiting for another money-soaked, gerrymandered, cable-tv-controlled election on unverifiable voting machines is not going to be sufficient. We're not against elections. This is not either-or. We're not against elections: we're demanding reforms that would allow us to have meaningful elections. But redirecting OccupyWallStreet energy into elections, as was done to Wisconsin, would be an act of betrayal.

Super Congress Member John Kerry's home state is fifth in the nation in military spending, employing lots of registered voters building machines of death for Raytheon, the former head of which company was brought in by the Obama administration as Deputy Secretary of Defense and who told the Washington Times in June, "The wars of the future will be longer, deadlier and waged against a more diverse variety of enemies than ever before."

Super Congress Co-Chair Patty Murray, Democrat from Boeing, since 2007 has taken $276,000 from war industries, Max Baucus $139,000, Dave Camp $130,000, John Kerry $73,000, and so on. The President who must sign or veto whatever comes out of the Super Congress and the Less Than Super Congress took over $1 million from war industries just in the 2008 election, not to mention $39 million from finance, insurance, and real estate. Targeting our social safety net is a goal that Wall Street and the military industrial complex have shared for many years. And of course the general corporate exploitation of foreign resources and workers depends on the threat of military force. Military spending has increased at the President's request each year since 2008 as well as since 2001.

Thanks to Occupy Wall Street, a conversation has been launched about the damage the wealthiest one percent is doing to the rest of us. California just pulled out of a mortgage fraud settlement deal that is expected to let the crooks off easy. Who's to say Occupy Wall Street didn't influence that decision.

The Super Congressional crusade to slash spending can only be carried through without causing massive misery and death in one of two ways, neither of which the U.S. Congress or President wants to touch, but both of which are central demands of the Occupation movement. The first is to significantly raise taxes on the super wealthy. The second is to significantly cut spending on the military. A progressive demand right now is not "Jobs Not Cuts" but "Jobs Not Wars."

Seventy members of Congress have pointed out that ending the two biggest current wars in fiscal year 2012 would save $1.8 trillion over the following decade, above planned savings from promised reductions in troops. But war spending is pocket change in comparison with the overall military and security budget. Economists have studied the impact on job creation of various types of government spending. It turns out that we could have full employment in the United States purely by redirecting a fraction of the Pentagon's budget. We could create 29 million jobs above and beyond reemployment for workers displaced in a conversion, just by moving funds from the Pentagon into education, healthcare, clean energy, and tax cuts. This calculation, if not my ideal plan, would leave military spending in several departments including Homeland Security untouched and leave the Department of So Called Defense more money than it had 10 years ago.

Leon Panetta, who holds the position that we used to more usefully call "Secretary of War," considers $350 billion over 10 years, or $35 billion per year, to be serious cuts to the national security budget. But he's discussing cuts to dreamed of future budgets. The current budget would still increase under those so-called cuts. But imagine really taking $35 billion from a budget of well over a trillion. (According to Chris Hellman of National Priorities Project, the security budget is $1.2 trillion, including the spy agencies and various other departments.) That would be a cut of less than 3.5 percent.

China spends about $114 billion per year on its military. Let's generously assume there are enough hidden costs in China's budget to double it to $228 billion. And let's assume that we must spend twice as much as they do, because . . . well, just because. Now we're at $456 billion. How do we get from there to Panetta describing a U.S. security budget of $965 billion as the lowest we can safely go, and a budget of $950 billion as "doomsday"? Is the danger here to us or to the profits of the weapons makers who are also demanding that any cuts made be made to troops' benefits rather than to weaponry?

"Every gun that's made," said Dwight David Eisenhower, "every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed." It also signifies death and injury to those on the receiving end, almost all of whom are non-Americans. But we cannot have a movement in this country demanding funding for anything decent or humane without having a movement to restrain the machine that is sucking down over 63 percent of discretionary spending (including care of veterans but not including Homeland Security or interest payments on war debt), serving as our biggest polluter of the natural environment, and providing the leading justification for eroding our civil liberties.

These are the demands we will bring to Freedom Plaza beginning Thursday:

* Tax the rich and corporations

* End the wars, bring the troops home, cut military spending

* Protect the social safety net, strengthen Social Security and improved Medicare for all

* End corporate welfare for oil companies and other big business interests

* Transition to a clean energy economy, reverse environmental degradation

* Protect worker rights including collective bargaining, create jobs and raise wages

* Get money out of politics

There's a widespread belief that such a list of demands must be reduced to one bumper sticker. But is what I just read really too many words for people who pass 10,000-word laws meant to govern us? There are 100s of times as many words as in this list of demands in the instruction booklet for a blueray player, something your average American seems able to handle. Nobody insisted that Thomas Jefferson reduce the Declaration of Independence to an eight-second sound bite. We aren't going to win this by getting pithier, and let me let you in on a little secret: Corporate television doesn't dislike resistance to corporate power because its advocates are unskilled at framing and messaging. We aren't going to win this by kicking ourselves. We aren't going to win this by dividing ourselves: we need to be willing to stand in uncomfortably large coalitions, side by side with people who like different parties or candidates or who hold what we think are bizarre views of the world. In Freedom Plaza there will be no promotion of any party or any candidate. We will be speaking as we the people to them our government.

And we will have a lot more fun than can be had sitting home and griping or even engaging in all variety of other useful activities, from phone calling to emailing to tweeting to sitting in conferences listening to me. I mean way more fun, the kind of fun in solidarity with others that medical science says is good for our health, the kind of fun that can take young people buried in student debt and joblessness away from enormous signing bonuses offered by the war machine. Young people will be reached in Freedom Plaza through seminars, libraries, outdoor films, and the experience of democratic decision making and risk taking. And the price is right. Compared with $259 per night here in the Hilton, the accommodations in Freedom Plaza will be priceless.

"Power concedes nothing without a demand," said Frederick Douglass. "It never did and it never will."
(c) 2011 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

Putting The Lie To The Republicans
By Ralph Nader

Masters of the repeated lying sound byte, the craven Congressional Republicans are feasting on the health and safety of the American people with gleeful greed while making the corporate and trade association media swoon. "Job-killing regulations," exudes daily from the mouths of Speak John Boehner, his Wall Street-licking side-kick Eric Cantor and Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell.

Then all the way down the line, the Republicans are on cue bellowing "job-killing regulations" must be revoked or stopped aborning over at OSHA (protecting workers), EPA (protecting clean air and water), FDA (safer drugs and food), and NHTSA (making your vehicle safer). Imagine how much more civil servants could do to accomplish the statutory missions of their respective agencies if they could get the Republicans and their corporate pay masters off their backs.

These same Republicans get in their cars with their children and put on their seat belts. Out of sight are the air bags ready to deprive them of their freedom to go through the windshield in a crash. Who makes those seat belts and air bags? Workers in the USA.

The jobs these regulations may be "killing" are those that would have swelled the funeral industry, or some jobs in the healthcare and disability-care industry. On the other hand, by not being injured, workers stay on the job and do not drain the workers' compensation funds or hamper the operations of their employer.

About twenty years ago, Professor Nicholas Ashford of MIT came to Washington and testified before Congress in great detail about how and where safety regulations create jobs and make the economy more efficient in avoiding the costs of preventable injuries and disease. He received a respectful hearing from members of the Committee. It is doubtful whether Messers Boehner, Cantor, McConnell and Dr. Coburn (Senator from Oklahoma) are reading Professor Ashford these days, who just co-authored a book with Ralph P. Hall called Technology, Globalization, and Sustainable Development.

The corporatist Republicans' minds are made up; don't bother them with the facts. But we must keep trying to dissolve the Big Lie.

In 2009 Professor David Hemenway published a stirring book titled While You Were Sleeping: Success Stories in Injury and Violence Prevention which in clear language described the success stories of people, often with the support of a past, more enlightened Congress, made lives safer and healthier in the U.S. Yes, life-saving, injury-preventing, disease-stopping regulations resulting in life-sustaining technology produced by American industry and workers.

Wake up Democrats. Learn the political art of truthful repetition to counter the cruelest Republicans who ever crawled up Capitol Hill. You've got massive, documented materials to put the Lie to the Republicans.

President Obama should set an example. For instance, on September 2, 2011 President Obama fell for the regulation costs jobs lie. He said: "[I] have continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover."

Pete Altman, from the Natural Resources Defense Council wrote:

"In reversing his Administration's previously strong support for ozone regulations to protect the health of American children, President Obama (in the words of one observer): "drank the conservative Kool-Aid, and agreed that tightening ozone emission rules would have cost billions and hurt the economy. But clean air is very popular politically, and the EPA's own studies show that a tighter standard could have created $17 billion in economic benefits."

Earlier this month, Public Citizen issued a report about five regulations that spurred innovation and a higher quality of economic growth. As one of the authors Negah Mouzoon wrote, when federal agencies implement rules for efficiency, worker safety, or public health and welfare, companies need to reformulate their products and services to comply. And so begins good ol' American competition. To comply with federal standards, companies need to invest in research and development, which often yields to new products and systems that both solve public policy problems and, often, boost business. The result? A brighter idea emerges.

It is important to note that such regulations give companies lengthy lead times to comply and, under the daily sandpapering of corporate lobbyists, regulations issued lose much of their early industry-controlling reach.

Here are the report's five innovation-spurring products or processes that at their outset encountered significant industry resistance and inflated estimates of complying with the regulations. Before that is, the companies came to their senses, responded and found that such changes were not just good for the people but for their own bottom line.

1. Protecting workers from poisonous vinyl chloride.
2. Reducing sulfur dioxide emissions.
3. Preventing ozone-layer-destroying CFC emissions from aerosols.
4. Improving the energy efficiency of home appliances.
5. Utilizing energy-efficient light bulbs.

For the full report go to Maybe some "kids"-between the ages of 10 and 12 - having learned from their parents the importance of telling the truth, can start a Kiddy Corps for a Truthful Congress drawn from the Internet-savvy children all over the U.S. What a wonderful expression of grassroots truth-telling directed toward the Great Prevaricators on Capitol Hill. Yes -job-producing, life-saving, economy-stimulating, innovation-producing regulations for a more secure future for our children.

Interested parents may contact us at
(c) 2011 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book - and first novel - is, Only The Super Wealthy Can Save Us. His most recent work of non-fiction is The Seventeen Traditions.

Holding China To Account
By Paul Krugman

The dire state of the world economy reflects destructive actions on the part of many players. Still, the fact that so many have behaved badly shouldn't stop us from holding individual bad actors to account.

And that's what Senate leaders will be doing this week, as they take up legislation that would threaten sanctions against China and other currency manipulators.

Respectable opinion is aghast. But respectable opinion has been consistently wrong lately, and the currency issue is no exception.

Ask yourself: Why is it so hard to restore full employment? It's true that the housing bubble has popped, and consumers are saving more than they did a few years ago. But once upon a time America was able to achieve full employment without a housing bubble and with savings rates even higher than we have now. What changed?

The answer is that we used to run much smaller trade deficits. A return to economic health would look much more achievable if we weren't spending $500 billion more each year on imported goods and services than foreigners spent on our exports.

To get our trade deficit down, however, we need to make American products more competitive, which in practice means that we need the dollar's value to fall in terms of other currencies. Yes, some people will shriek about "debasing" the dollar. But sensible policy makers have long known that sometimes a weaker currency means a stronger economy, and have acted on that knowledge. Switzerland, for example, has intervened massively to keep the franc from getting too strong against the euro. Israel has intervened even more forcefully to weaken the shekel.

The United States, given its special global role, can't and shouldn't be equally aggressive. But given our economy's desperate need for more jobs, a weaker dollar is very much in our national interest -and we can and should take action against countries that are keeping their currencies undervalued, and thereby standing in the way of a much-needed decline in our trade deficit.

That, above all, means China. And none of the arguments against holding China accountable can stand serious scrutiny.

Some observers question whether we really know that China's currency is undervalued. But they're kidding, right? The flip side of the manipulation that keeps China's currency undervalued is the accumulation of dollar reserves -and those reserves now amount to a cool $3.2 trillion.

Others warn of bad consequences if the Chinese stop buying United States bonds. But our problem right now is precisely that too many people want to park their money in American debt instead of buying goods and services -which is why the interest rate on long-term U.S. bonds is only 2 percent.

Yet another objection is the claim that Chinese products don't really compete with U.S.-produced goods. The rebuttal is fairly technical; let me just say that those making this argument both overstate the case and fail to take the indirect effects of Chinese currency policy into account.

In the last few days a new objection to action on the China issue has surfaced: right-wing pressure groups, notably the influential Club for Growth, oppose tariffs on Chinese goods because, you guessed it, they're a form of taxation -and we must never, ever raise taxes under any circumstances. All I can say is that Democrats should welcome this demonstration that antitax fanaticism has reached the point where it trumps standing up for our national interests.

To be fair, there are some arguments against action on China that would carry some weight if the times were different. One is the undoubted fact that inflation in China, which is raising labor costs in particular, is gradually eliminating that nation's currency undervaluation. The operative word, however, is "gradually": something that brings the United States trade deficit down over four or five years isn't good enough when unemployment is at disastrous levels right now.

And the reality of the unemployment disaster is also my answer to those who warn that getting tough with China might unleash a trade war or damage world commercial diplomacy. Those are real risks, although I think they're exaggerated. But they need to be set against the fact -not the mere possibility -that high unemployment is inflicting tremendous cumulative damage as we speak.

Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, said it clearly last week: unemployment is a "national crisis," with so many workers now among the long-term unemployed that the economy is at risk of suffering long-run as well as short-run damage.

And we can't afford to neglect any important means of alleviating that national crisis. Holding China accountable won't solve our economic problems on its own, but it can contribute to a solution -and it's an action that's long overdue.
(c) 2011 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously. It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the Government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a war, but at the same time, through this employment, accomplishing great - greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our great natural resources....

And finally, in our progress towards a resumption of work, we require two safeguards against a return of the evils of the old order. There must be a strict supervision of all banking and credits and investments. There must be an end to speculation with other people's money. And there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency. These, my friends, are the lines of attack."
~~~ Franklin Delano Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933 ~~~

Andrew Ross Sorkin's Assignment Editor
By Glenn Greenwald

The Occupy Wall Street protest has been growing in numbers, respectability, and media attention for several weeks now. Despite that, The New York Times‘ financial columnist who specializes in Wall Street coverage, Andrew Ross Sorkin, has neither visited the protests nor written about them - until today. In a column invoking the now-familiar journalistic tone of a zoologist examining a bizarre new species of animal discovered in the wild, Sorkin explains what prompted him to finally pay attention (via Michael Whitney):

I had gone down to Zuccotti Park to see the activist movement firsthand after getting a call from the chief executive of a major bank last week, before nearly 700 people were arrested over the weekend during a demonstration on the Brooklyn Bridge.

"Is this Occupy Wall Street thing a big deal?" the C.E.O. asked me. I didn't have an answer. "We're trying to figure out how much we should be worried about all of this," he continued, clearly concerned. "Is this going to turn into a personal safety problem?"

How interesting that when a CEO "of a major bank" wants to know how threatening these protests are, he doesn't seek out corporate advisers or dispatch the bank's investigators, but instead gets the NYT‘s notoriously banker-friendly Wall Street reporter on the phone and assigns him to report back. How equally interesting that if this NYT financial columnist can't address the concerns and questions of a CEO "of a major bank," he hops to it to find out what was demanded of him. Sorkin did what he was told, cautiously concluding:

As I wandered around the park, it was clear to me that most bankers probably don't have to worry about being in imminent personal danger. This didn't seem like a brutal group - at least not yet.

As I noted last week when critiquing the patronizing, dismissive and scornful attacks on these protests from establishment circles, the "message" is clear and obvious enough, and Sorkin had no trouble discerning a significant part of it: "the demonstrators are seeking accountability for Wall Street and corporate America for the financial crisis and the growing economic inequality gap." He added: "that message is a warning shot about the kind of civil unrest that may emerge - as we've seen in some European countries - if our economy continues to struggle." His CEO banking friend is right to be concerned: if not about this protest in particular then about the likelihood of social unrest generally, emerging as a result of their plundering and pilfering. That healthy fear on the part of the oligarchs has been all too absent.

Though it's not evident in Sorkin's column (nor in this characteristically snotty, petty, pseudo-intellectual condescension of yesterday from The New Republic), the prevailing media (and progressive) narrative about the protests has rapidly shifted from these-are-childish-vapid-losers to there-is-something-significant-happening-here. In part that's because the protests have endured and grown; in part it's because the participants are far less homogeneous and suscepitble to caricature than originally assumed; in part it's because they are motivated by genuine and widespread financial suffering that huge numbers of Americans know intimately even though it receives so little attention from insulated media stars; in part it's because NYPD abuse became its own galvanizing force and served to highlight the validity of the grievances; and in part because their refusal to adhere to the demands from the political and media class for Power Point professionalization and organizational hierarchies has enabled the protests to remain real, organic, independent, and passionate.

What will determine how long-lasting and significant is the impact of these protests is whether they allow themselves to be exploited into nothing more than vote-producing organs of the Democratic Party - the way the GOP so successfully converted the Tea Party into nothing more than a Party re-branding project. There is no question that such efforts are underway, as organizations that serve as Party loyalists try to glom onto the protests and distort them into partisan tools.

I have a hard time seeing that working. After all, the reason this is a street protest movement (rather than, say, a voter-registration crusade or an OFA project) is precisely because the protesters concluded that dedicating themselves to the President's re-election and/or the Democratic Party is hardly a means for combating Wall Street's influence, rising wealth inequality or corporatist control of the political process. Still, it's hard to avoid the suspicion that the reason these protests are now receiving more respect in establishment venues is because those venues now see some potential use to be made of them. Those dedicated to the original purpose and message of the protest - and Matt Stoller defined that as well as anyone here - will need to make resisting those efforts a top priority if they want to succeed. Though the Tea Party was effectively annexed into the GOP, it did succeed in creating itself as a force within the Party which must be heeded and which cannot be entirely controlled by party leaders. Aaron Bady suggested today that perhaps that's the best-case scenario to be realistically hoped for here: that these protests metastasize into a genuine protest movement that at least forces the Democratic Party to take heed, pay attention, and periodically make substantial concessions. That's a reasonable view, but the unique value and promise of these protests is that they are independent of prevailing political institutions, and it's difficult to see how these protests can simultaneously be fully integrated into those institutions while preserving that value. The dynamics they are contesting are overwhelmingly systemic, not partisan. The call between Sorkin and his banking-CEO-friend that caused the NYT columnist to make his anthropological foray into the street jungle to report back on the discontented animals is a perfect symbol of the institutional forces that are the target of this unrest. Dedicating oneself principally to the Democratic Party's electoral prospects or Barack Obama's re-election campaign would seem a glaring non sequitur to those concerns.

UPDATE: Last week's NYT article scoffing at the protesters (that one by Ginia Bellafante) ended by noting what NYT editors apparently thought was the towering irony that some of the protesters use Apple computers; Sorkin today invokes the same trite mockery, ending his column with the pierecing observation that he saw "two of them walking over to the A.T.M. at Bank of America." Apparently, you're not allowed to protest rampant criminality on Wall Street and the corruption of corporatist control of the political process unless you keep your money under your mattress and communicate by carrier pigeon - at least not without incurring the derision of those wicked satirists at the NYT.

As usual, note that these brave, intrepid watchdog journalists heap huge amounts of scorn on the most marginalized and powerless segments of the society, yet would never dare direct even a fraction of that mockery to those who wield power, such as Sorkin's "CEO of a major bank" friend. Modern establishment journalists have taken what should be the credo and mission of actual journalism - afflict the powerful and comfort the powerless - and completely reversed it (note, too, that Sorkin, for no journalistic reason whatsover and in violation of the NYT's own guidelines, protects the identity of his CEO-friend with anonymity when writing this story; is it not newsworthy that a CEO of a major bank fears these protests)?

I genuinely wonder whether, before descending into the protesting hordes, Sorkin donned one of those masks popularized in Asia during the height of the SARS epidemic. When visiting strange and exotic cultures, one can never be too careful. Is it any mystery that the severe economic suffering and anxiety pervading American society recieves so little attention and concern from establishment media outlets and their stars?
(c) 2011 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy.

Protesters, some dressed as zombies, walk the streets as part of the
Occupy Wall Street protests, which began three weeks ago, in New York.

An Open Letter To Wall Street
By William Rivers Pitt

Cancel my subscription
To the resurrection
Send my credentials to the
House of detention
I got some friends inside...
James Douglas Morrison

Before anything else, I would like to apologize for the mess outside your office. It's been three weeks since all those hippies and punk-rockers and students and union members and working mothers and single fathers and airline pilots and teachers and retail workers and military service members and foreclosure victims decided to camp out on your turf, and I'm sure it has been quite an inconvenience for you. How is a person supposed to spend their massive, virtually untaxed bonus money on a double latte and an eight-ball with all that rabble clogging the sidewalks, right?

Your friends at JP Morgan Chase just donated $4.6 million to the New York City Police Foundation, the largest donation ever given to the NYPD. You'd think that much cheese would buy a little crowd control, but no. Sure, one of the "white shirt" commanding NYPD officers on the scene hosed down some defenseless women with pepper spray the other day, and a few other protesters have been roughed up here and there, and having any kind of recording device has proven to be grounds for immediate arrest, but seriously...for $4.6 million, you'd think the cops would oblige you by bulldozing these troublemakers right into the Hudson River. Better yet, pave them over with yellow bricks, so you can walk over them every day on your way in to work.

That's what you do anyway, right? Every single day. I know it. You know it. We might as well be honest about it, and if some shiny golden bricks wind up serving as anonymous tombstones for your working-class doormats, well, that's just what they call in Wisconsin "hard cheese." You're a Master of the Universe, after all, and this recess(depress)ion hasn't touched you to any great degree. Sure, you have to shoulder your way through more homeless people these days, and damn if there aren't a lot more potholes to tax the undercarriage of your Audi R8 GT, but your money is making money at a fantastic rate, and paying taxes is for other people; I mean, come on, your accountant bursts out laughing whenever he hears the words "capital gains tax," so your egregious sense of entitlement is entirely understandable.

Now is the time to bone up on your coping skills, because three weeks is nothing. The people camped out on Wall Street are not leaving unless and until they are cleared out by force. They look all kinds of silly in their outfits, and some of their statements don't make a whole lot of sense to people like you, but they have put down roots, and you better get used to them. I'm sure the whole phenomenon is quite perplexing to you - really, why don't they just go home? Don't these people have jobs?

I hate to be the Irony Police, but that's pretty much the whole point. They can't, and they don't. Have homes and jobs, I mean. There was a guy out there a few days ago holding a sign in front of a mortgage-lending institution that read "These People Took My Parent's Home." There are all sorts of people walking around Wall Street yelling their lungs out at you because, well, they really would like the opportunity to find gainful employment, as well as a future, but that nifty shell game you and yours pulled off (on our dime) wound up immolating the economy of the common man/woman, and so the common man/woman has decided - in lieu of anything else better to do - to spend their you-created idle hours on your doorstep.

Let's face it: the mess outside your office is your doing. You and your friends bought this democracy wholesale - ah, yes, the irony of freedom is found in the way you were able to corrupt so many legislators with your money, always legally, because the legislators you bought are the ones writing the laws covering political contributions, and thus the wheel of corruption turns and turns - and now you want this democracy to do your bidding after the bill for your excess and fathomless greed has come due.

You are always taken care of - see the Citizens United decision, which unleashed you in a way not seen since the dregs of the Roman empire - but, still, there are those pesky protesters, exercising their freedom of expression in order to expose you for the brigands that you are.

They're staying put, with many more on the way - to New York as well as every major city from sea to shining sea - and none of them are going anywhere else until people like you are taken from your citadels in handcuffs and made to pay for the ongoing rape of what was once quaintly called the American Dream...a dream that used to be something other than a dated metaphor, and can be something true and real and genuine once again, but only after we pave you under, and walk over you, on our way to a better, brighter future.
(c) 2011 William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: "War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know" and "The Greatest Sedition Is Silence." His newest book, "House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation," is available from PoliPointPress.

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Schulleiterin Bryant,

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

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

Along with this award you will be given the Iron Cross, first class, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 10-31-2011. We salute frau Bryant, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

As Obama Goes Abroad Searching for Monsters to Destroy, Ron Paul Rightly Rejects Assassinating Americans
By John Nichols

President Obama's authorization of the assassination of an American citizen, New Mexico-born Anwar al-Awlaki-in a drone attack that also killed American citizen Samir Khan, who was raised in New York City and North Carolina-drew high praise from execution-enthusiast Rick Perry, who congratulated Obama by name for "getting another key terrorist."

But the bipartisan disregard for the Constitution and the rule of law stopped when Texas Congressman Ron Paul was asked about the air strike that on Friday killed the two Americans in Yemen.

The congressman, who is competing with Perry and others for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, has long complained about "war on terror" abuses that he sees as part of "the disintegration of American jurisprudence."

And he was blunt in rejecting the victory-lap mentality that saw Obama Democrats and Perry Republicans celebrating the killing of American citizens.

"I don't think that's a good way to deal with our problems," Paul said in New Hampshire. "Al-Awlaki was born here; he is an American citizen. He was never tried or charged for any crimes. Nobody knows if he killed anybody. We know he might have been associated with the underwear bomber. But if the American people accept this blindly and casually-that we now have an accepted practice of the president assassinating people who he thinks are bad guys-I think it's sad."

Noting that no move was made to assassinate Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, who was arrested, tried and executed, Paul said: "To start assassinating American citizens without charges, we should think very seriously about this."

The congressman, who has been an outspoken critic on the expansion of the September 2001 Congressional authorization of a response to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon to support a perpetual "war on terror," said, "I voted to authority to go after those individuals responsible for 9/11. Nobody ever suggested that [Awlaki] was a participant in 9/11."

Paul's statement, and a slightly less pointed response from another libertarian-leaning presidential contender, reflects a more traditionalist view of the Constitution. As recently as the 1950s, "old-right" Republicans such as Ohio Senator Robert Taft and Nebraska Congressman Howard Buffett (Warren's father) opposed undeclared wars and military adventures. Their stances extended from founding principles outlined by James Madison, when he warned that "no nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."

It was a successor to Madison, John Quincy Adams, who warned against searching the globe for targets of assassination and military conquest.

"Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will [America's] heart, her benedictions and her prayers be," Adams told Congress in 1821. "But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy."
(c) 2011 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. He is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers.

Obama Wrong To Rub Out Al-Awlaki
By Matthew Rothschild

Forgive me while I don't cheer the assassination of Anwar Al-Awlaki, the New Mexico-born cleric whom the United States just killed in Yemen.

He was a U.S. citizen, after all.

He had never been indicted for a crime here, much less convicted of one, much less sentenced to death.

Still, the President rubbed him out.

We are told that he was a high-ranking member of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and there is some evidence that his preachings influenced Al Qaeda terrorists, including a few of the 9/11 attackers and the shoe bomber.

He's no angel. No doubt about that.

But does that give the President the right to summarily execute a U.S. citizen?

Did FDR have the right to murder Ezra Pound during World War II for vocally supporting the fascists?

President Obama asserts that right, not just to bump off Al-Awlaki but also other U.S. citizens, too.

On what basis? Where will it end?

The ACLU, which, along with the Center for Constitutional Rights, represented Al-Awlaki's father last year in an attempt to block his assassination, denounced this action.

"The targeted killing program violates both U.S. and international law," says ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer. "This is a program under which American citizens far from any battlefield can be executed by their own government without judicial process, and on the basis of standards and evidence that are kept secret not just from the public but from the courts. The government's authority to use lethal force against its own citizens should be limited to circumstances in which the threat to life is concrete, specific and imminent. It is a mistake to invest the President - any President - with the unreviewable power to kill any American whom he deems to present a threat to the country."

"If the Constitution means anything, it surely means that the President does not have unreviewable authority to summarily execute any American whom he concludes is an enemy of the state," added Ben Wizner, ACLU National Security Project litigation director.

Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul, much to his credit, also objected to the hit.

"To start assassinating American citizens without charges-we should think very seriously about this," Paul said.

Yes, we should.

Who does Obama think he is, Michael Corleone?

His Justice Department went into court last year to make the claim that no judge in the entire United States has the right to oversee the President's assassination policy.

The President has become judge, juror, and literally executioner, and that's not the way our system is supposed to work.

And it sets a new low, and a terrible precedent, for the abuse of Presidential powers.
(c)2011 Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine

The Cartoon Corner...

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

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Prom Queen Anguish
By Will Durst

It's human nature. We mostly want what we can't have. Grass is greener. The romantic lure of the unattainable. Knowledge that high school girls have long-since weaponized. Nothing entices a hormonally imbalanced freshman like flouncing down a crowded hall laughing through a gaggle of friends with a flip of the pony- tail and nary a backwards glance. Of course, a short skirt doesn't hurt.

Same holds true in politics. A short skirt doesn't hurt. No matter how many dance partners the Republicans convince to attend their courtship gala, you'd swear their head was on ball bearings the way they keep swiveling to the door to see who might be lurking outside. Waiting for the bad boy rock stars to finish their smokes in the parking lot and make a grand entrance. Or spin out to the highway spitting a rooster-tail of gravel.

Can't blame them. The Right is just getting over its relationship with an older man, which ended badly, and hungering for some excitement.

The reason they can't get it up for the geeks and dorks and stalwarts like Huntsman and Paul and Santorum and Cain. Oh sure, they're tolerated and marginally encouraged but with an enthusiasm one normally associates with favorite dish- towels and serviceable oil filters. Library boys. Not the smooching kind.

But to the GOP's dismay, all the heartthrobs have left the building. Donald Trump flirted extensively this spring, but then ran away with his true love, reality television, that tramp. Ms. Popular Transfer Student, Sarah Palin, dragged out her coquettish tease so long, even the most bewitched of beaus lost interest. On the rebound, blushing and gushing, Michele Bachmann accepted a corsage, but shortly after was discovered cheating with a corn dog, and jittery suitors fell out of love faster than a middle school girl vis-a-vis Justin Beiber.

After extended entreaties, Rick Perry triumphantly waltzed in to the fanfare of a conquering quarterback, and was immediately voted Homecoming King. No more calls, we have a winner. For about a week. Then, the Texas Governor unraveled like a badly knitted letter sweater caught in a threshing machine. A series of threshing machines. Seven to ten.

Even he admits he may have stumbled in debate class. Yeah. Stumbled being a polite way of saying "dug a hole deep enough to hide at least half of those very threshers of which earlier we spoke." The more the cheerleaders saw of Captain Haircut, the more the bloom vamoosed the rose. Zero to 60 in 5.6.

With the dance but a couple months away, conservatives are franticly whining and pining for a savior to rise from these streets, turning their attention east to woo another Governor, Chris Christie of New Jersey. They're Crazy for Christie. The right Mr. Right. Too big to fail. Flattered, Christie toned down his persistent "Not interested" to a titillating "let's wait and see." Oooh. Shivers.

Christie clearly relishes the role of vamping vixen, but continues to dither, aware that his date is a bit fickle, having tossed prospective partners like Kleenex in the midst of a bad cold. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney patiently waits dressed in his gown standing at the door. Wondering when the GOP will settle down, come to their senses and get their philandering over with. Might want to change out of those heels, and while you're at it, a short skirt doesn't hurt.
(c) 2011 Will Durst, is a San Francisco based political comedian, Will Durst, often writes: this is an example. Don't forget his new CD, "Raging Moderate" from Stand-Up Records now available on both iTunes and Amazon. The New York Times says Emmy-nominated comedian and writer Will Durst "is quite possibly the best political satirist working in the country today." Check out his website: to find out about upcoming stand-up performances or to buy his book, "The All-American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing."

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