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In This Edition

Noam Chomsky studies, "The Obama Doctrine."

Uri Avnery says, "Killjoy Was Here."

Glen Ford won't play, "The Shutdown Game."

Norman Solomon announces, "Here Comes The 2013 Nobel Peace Prize, Dragging A Broken Moral Compass."

Jim Hightower finds the Waltons, "Getting Ahead On The Backs Of Others."

David Swanson wonders, "Is The Federal Government A Drug-Induced Hallucination?"

James Donahue explores, "The Insane Impact Of Teabag Sequestering."

John Nichols examines, "Paul Ryan's Shock Doctrine 'Fix' For The Budget Stalemate."

Chris Hedges with a must read, "The Radical Christian Right And The War On Government."

Ralph Nader reveals, "Tea Party Energy Vs. Progressive Lassitude In Congress."

Paul Krugman examines, "The Boehner Bunglers."

David Sirota exclaims, "Big Oil Loses It: ExxonMobil claims it owns the letter 'X'!"

Joel S Hirschhorn wonders, "How Stupid Are Limbaugh Listeners?"

Con-gressman Paul Ryan wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich hears, "Republican Crazy Talk About The Debt Ceiling."

John Pilger concludes, "More Than Jihadism Or Iran, China's Role In Africa Is Obama's Obsession."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Boehner: Obama Stubbornly Refusing To End Crisis I Created" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Well, So Much For Thanksgiving."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Milt Priggee, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Cal Grondahl, Doug Mills, J. Scott Applewhite, Carolyn Kaster, Andrew Harrer, Gene J. Puskar, AP, Reuters, The Guardian, The New York Times, Black Agenda Report, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

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Well, So Much For Thanksgiving!
By Ernest Stewart

"The war against hunger is truly mankind's war of liberation." ~~~ John F. Kennedy

We want to bear witness today that we know the relation between corporate greed and what goes on too often in the Supreme Court decisions. ~~~ Cornel West

"To break the deadlock, both sides should agree to common-sense reforms of the country's entitlement programs and tax code." ~~~ Paul Ryan "It's bad enough in life to do without something YOU want; but confound it, what gets my goat is not being able to give somebody something you want THEM to have." ~~~ Truman Capote

Well, so much for Thanksgiving for the 48 million Americans on food stamps. The government, with Barry's endorsement, is cutting back on food stamps for every man woman and child on the program. Apparently, there were still several poor billionaires that weren't trillionaires yet; and Barry had to make amends by stealing the money from SNAP. So as not to be confused, this, of course, has nothing to do with the $40 billion the Rethuglicans want to cut out of the program over ten years. No money for Head Start, but money to keep Boner's private gym open for House members; but no money for the staff gym! That in itself tells you all you need to know about Rethuglicans -- no money for hungry children, but plenty of money for congressional steam rooms!

Well, for someone on food stamps, I can say from hard experience, you don't receive enough as is to eat decent food every day. Sure, if you don't mind eating Ramen noodles for a meal every day, you can get by. Oh, and did I mention those lovely organic foods that I see advertised everyday aren't for the likes of the poor; they're only for the rich. Would someone explain to me if it takes less to grow an organic crop, than regular food or GMOs, why do they charge twice as much? I mean, other than being greedy bastards; but that is what we are in this country -- greedy bastards who constantly spin and lie to seem otherwise. I wonder if Barry will admonish his girls to clean their plates on Thanksgiving, saying, "Don't you know there are children starving in America?"

I'll get by, of that I have no doubt; but for the other 47 million -- almost half of whom are children, I'm not so sure. In the richest country in the world, 47 million people go to bed hungry. NO money to feed the hungry; but plenty of money for wars; plenty for turning this country into Nazi Germany. Plenty to bail out the banksters; plenty for more tax cuts for the insanely wealthy; but not enough for hungry children! So much money, in fact, the Boner can spend $2 billion a week on this shutdown. Funny thing that, huh?

Just wait until the 16th -- when the money runs out -- as Boner threatens to bankrupt us; I wonder what kind of deal old cave-in will propose? Next up on the docket is to get rid of Social Security and Medicare! You may remember Barry keeps putting those two up for the Grand Ripoff and will sign them into law in a heartbeat!

Thinking of complaining? I wouldn't if I were you. You may recall Fatherland oops, Homeland security bought enough bullets to run an Iraq-style war for 20 years. Don't you wonder why they bought all that ammo? The military takes care of foreign wars and is standing by to bring the war back home -- regardless of what posse comitatus says; so why the billions of bullets; I wonder; don't you? Well, you shouldn't wonder; they're for us -- if we get too uppity!

In Other News

The Extreme Court is back in session; so look out, America; we're about to get screwed again! Oral arguments on McCutcheon v. FEC began Tuesday with the Court's conservative majority signaling a readiness to overturn regulations that set limits on how much an individual may donate to political parties and candidates themselves. This means that the 1% can open up their big bank books and buy every election; and nothing can be done to stop them! Does the word "oligarchy" mean anything to you? At last, the rich and powerful can speak for all! Oh wait, that's the way it's been since Day One, eh?

Speaking outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) warned that "the nation's justices are preparing to cement the power of American oligarchs to influence elections through unlimited campaign donations."

See, even Bernie agrees! Standing on the steps of the Extreme Court, Bernie said!

"Right now, as we speak, in the House of Representatives, there are people who are being threatened that if they vote for what we call a clean CR, to open the government without destroying the Affordable Care Act, then huge sums of money will be spent against them in the next election. We are living in a society where a handful of people with incredible sums of money, folks like the Koch brothers and others, are undermining what this democracy is supposed to be about.

"The bottom line here is, if we don't want to move this nation to an oligarchic form of society, where a handful of billionaires can determine the outcome of these elections, then it is imperative that not only we overturn Citizens United, but that we put a lid on how much people can contribute to elections. Freedom of speech, in my view, does not mean the freedom to bribe the United States government."

Barry chimed in telling reporters during a mid-afternoon press conference on Tuesday that he believes the Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United contributed significantly to the Republican Party's decision to force a government shutdown. The president also warned that a similar ruling in McCutcheon could spell disaster, saying...

"The latest case would go even further than Citizens United. It would essentially say anything goes. There are no rules in terms of how to finance campaigns. There aren't a lot of functioning democracies around the world that work this way where you can basically have millionaires and billionaires bankrolling whoever they want, however they want, in some cases undisclosed. What it means is ordinary Americans are shut out of the process."

Another case coming up is yet another restriction on abortion (Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice) in regards to a law written by the fascist government of Oklahoma tying doctors hands in prescribing the morning-after pill; and I have no doubt about how the ruling on that one will end, too! It's time to drop your drawers and bend over, America -- because, "here comes old one eye!"

And Finally

I see that Wisconsin's national embarrassment, Paul Ryan, has a solution for the impasse. Can any of you guess what that just might be? If you said gut Social Security and Medicare, you may stay after class and clean the erasers and have two graham crackers!

Paul in a Wall Street Journal piece, "Here's How We Can End This Stalemate" said he just wants a nibble here and a nibble there on Social Security and Medicare, for now -- until the next time the tea baggers shut down the government; and then they'll hold the country hostage for a little more and a little more; and pretty soon you'll have what Paul has been pushing all along for the last ten years, i.e., replace Medicare with vouchers from the insurance lords and hand all those lovely trillions in Social Security over to the schemes of the Banksters. Paul's popularity is somewhere around that of a rabid skunk. You'll recall he almost lost the last election with this same stance; so he's tip-toeing around it now; but if Obama the caveman caves again to this act of treason, then Paul and his corpo-rat pals will be back for more and more and more!

Ergo, Paul wins this week's Vidkun Quisling Award for being the rat bastard that he is!

Keepin' On

We'd like to thank Steve from Bowling Green and Rebecca from Lake Havasu for sending some nice checks. Thank you both so very much for stepping up! Without our readership's help we would have been gone a long time ago. A good thing about these donations is they aren't members of "The Usual Suspects," at least not yet, which is what we need to have if we're going keep on keeping on.

Our current balance for breaking even is now $800; but we're still running out of time; so we need to get it up and get it on in the next three weeks. We have about the lowest budget of any news magazine on the internet; what we need to raise every year after what we bring from advertisement is less then some magazines have to raise every month, and in some caes every week; so you get more bang for your bucks with us. The reason is simple: those other folks pay their writers and staff and themselves big bucks; everyone here gets nothing. We don't do it for money; we do it because we have to -- because if we don't, it won't get done! This isn't a job; it's a fight for the people -- and the power that used to be invested in the people.

If you think telling the truth is revolutionary -- and it certainly is in this day and age -- and is important to you, then please join Steve and Rebecca to do your fair share in keeping us fighting the good fight for you and yours. And if the Usual Suspects are going to push us over the top, now would be a good time to do so! If you can help us out please send whatever you can, as often as you can, and we'll keep on keeping on for you and yours.


08-26-1911 ~ 10-04-2013
Thanks for the humility!


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


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

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

President Barack Obama speaks at Prince George's Community College in Kettering, Md., Sept. 26, 2013.

The Obama Doctrine
By Noam Chomsky

The recent Obama-Putin tiff over American exceptionalism reignited an ongoing debate over the Obama Doctrine: Is the president veering toward isolationism? Or will he proudly carry the banner of exceptionalism?

The debate is narrower than it may seem. There is considerable common ground between the two positions, as was expressed clearly by Hans Morgenthau, the founder of the now dominant no-sentimentality "realist" school of international relations.

Throughout his work, Morgenthau describes America as unique among all powers past and present in that it has a "transcendent purpose" that it "must defend and promote" throughout the world: "the establishment of equality in freedom."

The competing concepts "exceptionalism" and "isolationism" both accept this doctrine and its various elaborations but differ with regard to its application.

One extreme was vigorously defended by President Obama in his Sept. 10 address to the nation: "What makes America different," he declared, "what makes us exceptional," is that we are dedicated to act, "with humility, but with resolve," when we detect violations somewhere.

"For nearly seven decades the United States has been the anchor of global security," a role that "has meant more than forging international agreements; it has meant enforcing them."

The competing doctrine, isolationism, holds that we can no longer afford to carry out the noble mission of racing to put out the fires lit by others. It takes seriously a cautionary note sounded 20 years ago by the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman that "granting idealism a near exclusive hold on our foreign policy" may lead us to neglect our own interests in our devotion to the needs of others.

Between these extremes, the debate over foreign policy rages.

At the fringes, some observers reject the shared assumptions, bringing up the historical record: for example, the fact that "for nearly seven decades" the United States has led the world in aggression and subversion - overthrowing elected governments and imposing vicious dictatorships, supporting horrendous crimes, undermining international agreements and leaving trails of blood, destruction and misery.

To these misguided creatures, Morgenthau provided an answer. A serious scholar, he recognized that America has consistently violated its "transcendent purpose."

But to bring up this objection, he explains, is to commit "the error of atheism, which denies the validity of religion on similar grounds." It is the transcendent purpose of America that is "reality"; the actual historical record is merely "the abuse of reality."

In short, "American exceptionalism" and "isolationism" are generally understood to be tactical variants of a secular religion, with a grip that is quite extraordinary, going beyond normal religious orthodoxy in that it can barely even be perceived. Since no alternative is thinkable, this faith is adopted reflexively.

Others express the doctrine more crudely. One of President Reagan's U.N. ambassadors, Jeane Kirkpatrick, devised a new method to deflect criticism of state crimes. Those unwilling to dismiss them as mere "blunders" or "innocent naivete" can be charged with "moral equivalence" - of claiming that the U.S. is no different from Nazi Germany, or whoever the current demon may be. The device has since been widely used to protect power from scrutiny.

Even serious scholarship conforms. Thus in the current issue of the journal Diplomatic History, scholar Jeffrey A. Engel reflects on the significance of history for policy makers.

Engel cites Vietnam, where, "depending on one's political persuasion," the lesson is either "avoidance of the quicksand of escalating intervention [isolationism] or the need to provide military commanders free rein to operate devoid of political pressure" - as we carried out our mission to bring stability, equality and freedom by destroying three countries and leaving millions of corpses.

The Vietnam death toll continues to mount into the present because of the chemical warfare that President Kennedy initiated there - even as he escalated American support for a murderous dictatorship to all-out attack, the worst case of aggression during Obama's "seven decades."

Another "political persuasion" is imaginable: the outrage Americans adopt when Russia invades Afghanistan or Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait. But the secular religion bars us from seeing ourselves through a similar lens.

One mechanism of self-protection is to lament the consequences of our failure to act. Thus New York Times columnist David Brooks, ruminating on the drift of Syria to "Rwanda-like" horror, concludes that the deeper issue is the Sunni-Shiite violence tearing the region asunder.

That violence is a testimony to the failure "of the recent American strategy of light-footprint withdrawal" and the loss of what former foreign service officer Gary Grappo calls the "moderating influence of American forces."

Those still deluded by "abuse of reality" - that is, fact - might recall that the Sunni-Shiite violence resulted from the worst crime of aggression of the new millennium, the U.S. invasion of Iraq. And those burdened with richer memories might recall that the Nuremberg Trials sentenced Nazi criminals to hanging because, according to the Tribunal's judgment, aggression is "the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."

The same lament is the topic of a celebrated study by Samantha Power, the new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. In "A Problem from Hell: America in the Age of Genocide," Power writes about the crimes of others and our inadequate response.

She devotes a sentence to one of the few cases during the seven decades that might truly rank as genocide: the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1975. Tragically, the United States "looked away," Power reports.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, her predecessor as U.N. ambassador at the time of the invasion, saw the matter differently. In his book "A Dangerous Place," he described with great pride how he rendered the U.N. "utterly ineffective in whatever measures it undertook" to end the aggression, because "the United States wished things to turn out as they did."

And indeed, far from looking away, Washington gave a green light to the Indonesian invaders and immediately provided them with lethal military equipment. The U.S. prevented the U.N. Security Council from acting and continued to lend firm support to the aggressors and their genocidal actions, including the atrocities of 1999, until President Clinton called a halt - as could have happened anytime during the previous 25 years.

But that is mere abuse of reality.

It is all too easy to continue, but also pointless. Brooks is right to insist that we should go beyond the terrible events before our eyes and reflect about the deeper processes and their lessons.

Among these, no task is more urgent than to free ourselves from the religious doctrines that consign the actual events of history to oblivion and thereby reinforce our basis for further "abuses of reality."
(c) 2013 Noam Chomsky is emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is co-author, with Gilbert Achcar, of Perilous Power: The Middle East & U.S. Foreign Policy: Dialogues on Terror, Democracy, War, and Justice. His most recent book is Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire.

Killjoy Was Here
By Uri Avnery

BINYAMIN NETANYAHU aroused my pity. From my 10 years of membership in the Knesset I know how unpleasant it is to speak before an empty hall.

His die-hard followers - a pathetic residue of Casino magnates and burnt-out Zionist right-wingers - sat in the gallery and an over-blown Israeli delegation sat in the hall, but they only underlined the general emptiness. Depressing.

How different from President Hassan Rouhani's reception! Then the hall was overcrowded, the General Secretary and the other dignitaries leapt from their seats to congratulate him at the end, the international media could not get enough of him.

Much of Netanyahu's misfortune was just bad luck. It was the end of the session, everybody was eager to get home or go shopping, no one was in the mood to listen to yet another lecture on Jewish history. Enough is enough.

Worse, the speech was totally eclipsed by a world-shaking event - the shutdown of the federal government. The breakdown of the celebrated US system of governance - something like an administrative 9/11 - was a riveting sight. Netanyahu - Netanya who? - just could not compete.

PERHAPS THERE there was also a tiny bit of schadenfreude in the delegates' reaction to our Prime Minister.

In his General Assembly speech last year he assumed the role of the world's primary school teacher, using primitive teaching aids on the rostrum, drawing a line in red ink on a third-grade presentation of the Bomb.

For weeks now Israeli propaganda has been telling the world's leaders that they are childishly naive or just plain stupid. Perhaps they didn't didn't appreciate being told that. Perhaps they were reinforced in their belief that the Israelis (or worse, the Jews) are overbearing, condescending and patronizing. Perhaps it was just one arrogant speech too many?

All this is very sad. Sad for Netanyahu. He invested so much effort in this speech. For him, a speech before the General Assembly (or the US Congress) is like a major battle for a renowned general, a historic event. He lives from speech to speech, weighing in advance every sentence, practicing over and over again the body language, the inflections, like the accomplished actor he is.

And here he was, the great Shakespearean, declaiming "To be or not to be" before an empty hall, rudely disturbed by the snoring of the sole gentleman in the second row.

COULD OUR propaganda line have been less boring?

Of course it could.

Before setting foot on American soil, Netanyahu knew that the world was sighing with relief at the signs of the new Iranian attitude. Though he may be convinced that the ayatollahs were cheating (as usual, he would say) was it wise to appear as a serial killjoy?

He could have said: "We welcome the new tones coming out of Tehran. We listened with much sympathy to Mr. Rouhani's speech. Together with the entire world, represented by this august assembly, we very much hope that the Iranian leadership is sincere, and that in serious negotiations a fair and effective solution can be found.

"However, we cannot ignore the possibility that this charm offensive is but a smokescreen behind which Mr. Rouhani's internal enemies continue to build the nuclear bomb, which threatens all of us. Therefore we expect all of us will exercise utmost caution in conducting the negotiations..."

It's the tone that makes the music.

INSTEAD, OUR Prime Minister threatened again - and more sharply than ever - with an Israeli attack on Iran.

He brandished a revolver which, everybody knows, is empty.

This possibility - as I have repeatedly pointed out - never really existed. Geography, world economic and political circumstances make an attack on Iran impossible.

Bur even if it had been real at some time - it is quite out of the question now. The world is against it. The US public is most definitely against it.

An attack by Israel acting alone, in face of resolute American opposition, is as probable as an Israeli settlement on the moon. Slightly unlikely.

I don't know about the military feasibility. Could it be done? Could our Air Force do it without US assistance and support? Even if the answer were positive, the political circumstances forbid it. Indeed, our military chiefs seem singularly uninterested in such an adventure.

THE CLIMAX of the speech was Netanyahu's grandiose declaration: "if we have to stand alone, we shall stand alone!"

What did it remind me of? In late 1940 there appeared in Palestine - and, I suppose, throughout the British Empire - a superb propaganda poster. France had fallen, Hitler had not yet invaded the Soviet Union, the US was still far from intervening. The poster showed Winston Churchill, undaunted, and a slogan: "Alright then, alone!"

Netanyahu could not remember this, though his memory does seem to be pre-natal. I call it "Alzheimer in reverse" - vividly remembering things that never happened. (He once recounted at length how he, as a boy, had a discussion with a British soldier in the streets of Jerusalem - though the last British soldier left the country more than a year before he was born.)

The phrase Netanyahu was looking for dates from 1896 - the year Theodor Herzl published his epochal work "Der Judenstaat". A British statesman coined the catchword "Splendid Isolation" to characterize British policy under Benjamin Disraeli and his successor.

Actually, the slogan originated in Canada, when a politician spoke about Britain's isolation during the Napoleonic wars: "Never did the 'Empress Island' appear so magnificently grand - she stood by herself, and there was a peculiar splendor in the loneliness of her glory!"

Does Netanyahu see himself as the reincarnation of Winston Churchill, standing proud and undaunted against a continent engulfed by the Nazis?

And where does that leave Barack Obama?

WE KNOW where. Netanyahu and his followers constantly remind us.

Obama is the modern Neville Chamberlain.

Chamberlain the Appeaser. The man who flourished a piece of paper in the fall of 1938 and proclaimed "Peace in Our Time.. The statesman who almost brought about the destruction of his country.

In this version of history, we are now witnessing the Second Munich. A repeat of the infamous agreement between Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Edouard Daladier and Neville Chamberlain, in which the Sudetenland, a province belonging to Czechoslovakia though inhabited by Germans, was turned over to Nazi Germany, leaving democratic little Czechoslovakia defenseless. Half a year later, Hitler invaded and occupied Czechoslovakia. Another few months and World War II broke out when he marched into Poland.

Historical analogies are always dangerous, especially in the hands of politicians and commentators with only superficial historical knowledge.

Let's see about Munich. In the analogy, Hitler's place is taken by Ali Khamenei, or perhaps Hassan Rouhani. Indeed? Do they have the world's strongest military machine, as Hitler already had at that time?

And does Netanyahu himself look like Eduard Benes, the Czech president who trembled before Hitler?

And President Obama, does he resemble Chamberlain, the leader of an enfeebled and practically defenseless Britain, in desperate need of time to rearm? Does Obama surrender to a fanatical dictator?

Or is it Iran that is giving up - or pretending to give up - its nuclear ambitions, brought to its knees by the stringent set of American-dictated international sanctions?

(By the way, the Munich analogy was even more cockeyed when it was recently applied in Israel to the American-Russian agreement about Syria. There, Bashar al-Assad assumed the role of the victorious Hitler, and Obama was the naïve Englishman with the umbrella. Yet it was Assad who gave up his precious chemical weapons, while Obama gave nothing, except a postponement of military action. What kind of a "Munich" was that?)

COMING BACK to reality: there is nothing splendid about the isolation of Israel these days.

Our Isolation means weakness, a loss of power, a diminishing of security.

It is the job of a statesman to find allies, to build partnerships, to strengthen the international position of his country.

Netanyahu has lately taken to quoting our ancient sages: "If I am not for me, who is for me?"

He forgets the next part of that same sentence: "And if I am for myself, what am I?"
(c) 2013 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

The Shutdown Game
By Glen Ford

"The sanctity of U.S. Treasury notes is what holds the nation - and its global empire - together." The government shutdown battle is more like a Civil War reenactment than the real thing. A face-saving bargain will soon be struck, returning 825,000 furloughed federal employees to their jobs at wages that have been frozen for the past two years - not by the Republicans, but on President Obama's orders. The clock has been stuck with both hands on "austerity" since Obama came fully out of the closet as a GOP fellow-traveler following the 2010 midterm elections. From that moment on, Republican-imposed gridlock has been the only barrier to Obama's long-sought Grand Bargain to eviscerate entitlement programs. When the current theatrics are over, Obamacare will remain intact and the president will be back on his ever-rightward stride. The GOP will take Obama up on his offer, earlier this year, to cut Social Security and will probably be offered other bits and pieces of the social safety net in the interest of "shared sacrifice" and domestic peace.

In the interim, while the reenactors haul their cannons around the cow pasture, waiting for the rich people who call themselves "markets" to signal an end to the charade, rest assured that national security is sacrosanct.

For example, the pause in some government spending will have minimal effect on the National Security Agency's spying on Americans and the rest of the Earth's inhabitants. The NSA circulated a memo stating that its "intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance activities required to support national or military requirements necessary for national security" are exempt from the fiscal exercise, as are all programs that are necessary for "protection of life and property." Presumably, that means President Obama can still spend next Tuesday morning selecting the week's victims for his Kill List.

Protection of property being the prime directive of both wings of the Corporate Party, democracy will remain in shutdown mode in Detroit and all of Michigan's largely Black cities, whatever happens on Capitol Hill. The markets are hungry to devour the nation's pension funds, and have chosen Black locales to perfect the model, secure in the knowledge that nobody of consequence will raise a finger to stop them from filching the nest-eggs of the undeserving classes.

The disenfranchisement of Detroit under the iron rule of a corporate lawyer is simply another form of "shared sacrifice" necessitated by austerity - which is why the Obama administration challenges voter ID cards in North Carolina but does not deploy the Justice Department to re-enfranchise the majority of Blacks in the state of Michigan, whose votes have been rendered worthless. Detroit's ability to borrow money - or, in this case, to be stripped of every asset of value for the benefit of Wall Street bankers - trumps citizenship rights, every time.

The same logic will dictate that the Republicans turn the spigot back on. Forget about social justice, the rule of law, and political decorum. The sanctity of U.S. Treasury notes is what holds the nation - and its global empire - together. As the "liberal" economist Paul Krugman writes, "Financial markets have long treated U.S. bonds as the ultimate safe asset; the assumption that America will always honor its debts is the bedrock on which the world financial system rests." Which is another way of saying that the U.S. maintains its supremacy in the world, not merely by force of arms, but through the artificial supremacy of the dollar, as the world reserve currency. Should the dollar fall from its pedestal, the Empire would have to go out with guns blazing. Or, alternatively, the U.S. would be compelled to adjust to simply being one nation among many on the planet - a prospect too horrible to contemplate.

Therefore, for the sake of the almighty dollar (blessed be its name) - and because the shutdown has already achieved its purposes - the GOP will call a halt to its action before any money-changers get hurt. The Republicans will have shown their willingness to fight The Obama. Obama will appear to be defending the people from The Republicans. And then they will both slash away at social spending, as was the intention, all along.
(c) 2013 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

Our mass murdering, war criminal, gets his "peace prize"

Here Comes The 2013 Nobel Peace Prize, Dragging A Broken Moral Compass
By Norman Solomon

The announcement of this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, set for October 11, is sure to make big news. The prize remains the most prestigious in the world. But the award has fallen into an evasive pattern, ignoring the USA's continuous "war on terror" and even giving it tacit support.

In his 1895 will, the dynamite inventor and ammunition magnate Alfred Nobel specified that Norway's parliament should elect a five-member committee for awarding the prize to "champions of peace." Yet the list of recent Nobel peace laureates is notably short on such champions. Instead, the erstwhile politicians on the Norwegian Nobel Committee have largely bypassed the original purpose of the prize.

Despite all its claims of independence, the Oslo-based Nobel Committee is enmeshed in Norwegian politics. The global prestige of the Nobel Peace Prize has obscured the reality that its selection committee is chosen by leaders of Norway's main political parties-and, as a member of NATO, Norway is deeply entangled in the military alliance.

When the Nobel Peace Prize went to President Obama in 2009, he was in the midst of drastically escalating the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan, in tandem with the rest of NATO. The same prize went to the European Union in 2012, a year after many of its member states intervened with military force in Libya. On both occasions, in effect, the Nobel Committee bestowed a "good war-making seal of approval."

Since 2001, the Nobel Peace Prize has been on a prolonged detour around the U.S. government's far-flung warfare, declining to honor anyone who had challenged any of it anywhere in the world. But the Nobel Committee has done more than just ignore peace activism seeking to stop U.S.-led war efforts. By giving the Peace Prize to Obama and the E.U., the committee has implicitly endorsed those military efforts as part of a rhetorical process that conflates war-making with peace-making. Orwell's 1984 specter of "War Is Peace" looms uncomfortably large.

At times, the Peace Prize has earned goodwill in NGO circles by honoring humanitarian work that is laudable but not directly related to peace. And so far in this century, when the Nobel Committee has focused the prize on human rights, it has danced around Uncle Sam's global shadow. The Peace Prize has gone only to dissidents in countries where governments are in conflict with Washington-such as Shirin Ebadi of Iran in 2003 and Liu Xiaobo of China in 2010-while failing to honor any of the profuse activism against severe abuses by U.S.-backed governments.

It was not always this way. During previous decades, the annual announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize might alternately please or enrage the top leaders in the capital of a world power. In 1983, the awarding of the prize to Poland's Solidarity leader Lech Walesa infuriated the Kremlin. When the 1992 prize went to Rigoberta Menchu, an indigenous foe of U.S.-supported tyrants killing Guatemalan civilians in large numbers, it was a much-needed rebuke to Washington.

Yes, some Peace Prize choices were dubious or worse. After an Orwellian one, the caustic songwriter Tom Lehrer commented: "Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize." In an exercise of absurd equivalency, the Nobel Committee had given the 1973 prize to Kissinger and North Vietnam's negotiator Le Duc Tho.

The 1980s brought the Peace Prize to brave activists like Adolfo Perez Esquivel of Argentina and Desmond Tutu of South Africa, as well as International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. In 1996, longtime opponents of Indonesia's U.S.-backed genocidal occupation of East Timor had reason to cheer when the Nobel Peace Prize went to East Timorese heroes Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo and Jose Ramos-Horta. The next year also brought good news when the prize went to Jody Williams and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

But in the "war on terror" world of this century, the Nobel Committee-far from an independent, evenhanded course-has steered the Peace Prize away from terrain where the U.S. government and its allies might appear to be anything other than noble peace-seekers. Relying on such a broken moral compass, the mission to assist "champions of peace" with the Nobel Peace Prize has lost its way.
(c) 2013 Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."

Getting Ahead On The Backs Of Others

Having been raised in a small-business family and now running my own small business, I always find it heartwarming to see hardworking, enterprising folks get ahead.

So I was really touched when I read that, even in these hard times, one extended family with three generations active in their enterprise is hanging in there and doing well. Christy, Jim, Alice, Robbie, Ann, and Nancy are their names - and with good luck and old-fashioned pluck, they have managed to build a family nest egg that totals right at $103 billion. Yes, six people, 100-plus billion bucks. That means that these six hold more wealth than the entire bottom 40 percent of American families have - a stash of riches greater than the combined wealth of some 49 million American households.

How touching is that?

The "good luck" that each of them had is that they were either born into or married into the Walton family, which makes them heirs to the Walmart fortune. That's where old-fashioned "pluck" comes in, for the world's biggest retailer plucks its profits from the threadbare pockets of low-wage American workers and impoverished sweatshop workers around the world.

Four of the Walton heirs rank as the sixth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh richest people in our country, possessing a combined net worth of $95 billion. But bear in mind that "net worth" has no relationship to worthiness - these people did nothing to earn their wealth, they just inherited it. And, as Walmart plucks more from workers, the heirs grow luckier. In recent years, while the wealth of the typical family plummeted by 39 percent, the Waltons saw their wealth grow by 22 percent - without having to lift a finger.

How odd that the 1-percenters consider themselves "the makers" and consider workaday people to be "takers." With the Waltons, it's the exact opposite.
(c) 2013 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

Is The Federal Government A Drug-Induced Hallucination?
By David Swanson

You laugh, but that could be a side-effect. Consider:

The Capitol Police just murdered an unarmed mother fleeing her car on foot, declared her child "unharmed," and received the longest standing-ovation in Congress since Osama bin Laden's Muslim sea burial. Try holding your breath until Congress takes the standing ovation back, and you'll wish your were in the "Holy Land" having your house sprayed with "Skunk" artificial sewage by the Israeli military or in Old Town Alexandria tasting the air of the authentic raw sewage across the river until it's "treated" and spread on farms in the exurbs for the benefit of we the people.

Why? Because freedom.

Who would give all of this up in exchange for a reduced military costing less than $1 trillion per year? Well, maybe the dude who just cremated himself alive on the National Mall, it's hard to know. Or possibly me the next time a tourist asks me why they named it the National Mall knowing fully damn well that they'd confuse everyone who arrived expecting department stores and food courts.

This weekend, government programs aimed at slowing the starvation or other premature death of the least well off among us were closed, out of business, gone fishing. But the fucking football game between the Navy and the Air Force was an essential government service proudly played for the honor of "everyone fighting for this country" as one brainwashed midshipman put it. Did you know the top paid people in the U.S. military are all football coaches, and essential public servants?

President after president of countries 8% of us could find on a map are going to the United Nations to compare U.S. "exceptionalism" to Nazi Ubermenschen. Can you imagine the anti-American idiocy involved? But the last living prosecutor at Nuremberg, an American, has been saying the same thing. What's his problem? And how could he dare if this weren't all hallucinatory?

President Obama was praised for his speech at the United Nations because he didn't threaten a first nuclear strike. That's the standard. Now he's getting credit for locking people up on ships outside of any system of law, because he can't have murdered them if he locked them up on ships. That's progress! If you squeeze down the passages of this psychedelic rabbit hole and peer out a window, you see a radically different world outside.

Switzerland is working on a maximum wage and a guaranteed basic income. But how many wars are they going to be able to join in after that colossal waste of funding? Their entire population is already suffering war deprivation. The Swiss can't expect the U.S. to pick up the tab for their wars while they make chocolate and don't even have the decency to spray sewage on anyone.

I once heard a likely lunatic propose that instead of paying farmers not to farm (and dumping sludge on their land) the U.S. government could pay weapons makers not to make weapons, stop giving and selling weapons to everybody else's governments, and ban U.S. troops and mercenaries from any distance greater than 500 miles from the United States. I say lunatic, because in this particular hallucination that we're all living through money multiplies itself if it's spent on killing people. A half a billion dollars for Solyndra is an outrageous waste that kills nobody and is lost forever. But a half billion dollars for two days -- give or take a speech by Congressman Cruz -- of blowing stuff up in Afghanistan is cost-free since the half billion dollars reproduces itself at the Federal Reserve which not only grows laboratory hamburgers but sells them to foreigners for national security resources misplaced beneath the wrong nations.

The winding down drawdown ending of the gradual scaling back of the wrapping up completed war on Afghanistan has eaten the wrong sort of size pill somehow. There are now almost twice as many U.S. troops in Afghanistan as when Barack Obama became president.

We're still spending over $10 million every hour (even during a government shutdown) for a war in Afghanistan that has now completed its 12th year and begins its 13th today. This spending drains rather than fueling the U.S. economy. Inflicting more war on Afghanistan has involved the killing of thousands of civilians. Experts in the U.S., British, and Afghan governments agree that this is making us less safe, not protecting us.

Why? Because Obama.

Captain Peace Prize is attempting what he failed at in Iraq: an agreement with a puppet to continue an "ended" war indefinitely. President Obama is trying to negotiate a deal with corrupt lame-duck President Hamid Karzai to keep some U.S. troops in Afghanistan, with immunity from prosecution for crimes and the right to continue attacking Afghans including with raids on their homes at night. This could mean nine major U.S. military bases remaining in Afghanistan at a huge cost in dollars, lives, safety, and environmental destruction for decades to come.

Oh, and the good, smart, humanitarian, not-Iraq war on Afghanistan is as illegal as whatever we consumed to induce this bizarre hallucination.

There's a place to scream I'm Not Going to Take It Anymore right here. Al Jolson wrote a note to President Harding some years back now:

"The weary world is waiting for
Peace forevermore
So take away the gun
From every mother's son
And put an end to war."

And still, 86 new Adolf Hitler misidentifications later, they do not listen. Except that they listened on missiles into Syria. The two parties wanted the missiles. Raytheon's stock was through the roof. And we said no, no, and hell no, and go Dick Cheney yourselves. And the bipartisan agreement was stopped by our 90% opposition and 0.5% actively expressed outrage. And within a couple of weeks the zombie of pretended partisanship was back in the form of a shutdown dispute that, through a perfectly harmonious bipartisan agreement, didn't shut down the military or the NSA or the Navy v. Air Force football game.

Everything useful is shut down. Everything deadly is up and running. And a gang of truckers is on its way to DC to shut down the government. Make sense of any of this if you dare, and I'm willing to bet you've worn a Redskins shirt to the Holocaust museum.
(c) 2013 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

The Insane Impact Of Teabag Sequestering
By James Donahue

The City of Santa Cruz, California, has for years been known for its street artists, writers and historic charm. It was common to hear music as young starving artists performed on city streets with their hats out for donations from passers-by. Off-beat writers like Robert Anton Wilson dined in some of the town's quaint little restaurants. Everywhere you looked there was something interesting occurring.

That was then. Now, thanks to major cuts in government assistance programs to states, Santa Cruz, like cities all over America, have lost their charm. People are staying at home behind locked doors rather than deal with what awaits them on the open streets.

Instead of music from the starving artists, the streets are encumbered by demented characters begging for "spare change" and wandering around aimlessly with no apparent place to go. Drugs are a growing problem as is violent behavior. An understaffed and overworked police department has lost its friendly hometown edge and turned to harsh enforcement behavior.

For the first time any of the locals can remember two Santa Cruz police officers were recently killed in a shootout with a suspect in a sexual abuse case. The man who opened fire on them had just been released from a mental institution in another state.

And there lies the crux of the problem in Santa Cruz, San Francisco and so many other towns and cities across California and the nation. Because of the sequester . . . the federal spending cuts imposed by right-wing tea-bagger influenced Republicans in Congress, states, counties, cities and school districts are finding themselves financially squeezed and forced to cut public services. Among the hard hit has been mental health services.

The State of Nevada has been handling this problem by simply busing hundreds and perhaps thousands of mentally ill patients into other states and just dropping them off, with no medications and no place to go. California, because of its mild climate, has been a popular destination.

Santa Cruz doesn't get all of the Nevada cases, but the community is getting its fair share. And it has changed the climate of the city and created a major social problem for everybody involved.

The City of San Francisco recently filed suit against the State of Nevada and the Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas, seeking reimbursement for the care of the indigent patients that have been "dumped" into California. The suit alleged that the Nevada mental health administrators are "intentionally and wrongfully" issuing bus tickets out of town without making proper arrangements for the care of these patients once they arrive at their destination.

Some believe a similar practice may be going on in other states because of a growing budget crunch.

The federal sequester mindset is hitting the nation in so many other ways that it is almost impossible to put it all in perspective. Things we regard as important like child care, shelter and food for the unemployed and poverty stricken are eroding. Local food pantries are becoming overwhelmed in attempting to make up the difference as government food stamp programs are trimmed.

Meat, vegetable and local sanitary inspection services are losing manpower as the nation opens its doors to more and more food imports from around the world, where sanitation concerns are not as strictly imposed.

Our infrastructure is crumbling while the flooding, violent storms and other issues brought on by global warming is bringing down power lines, washing out roads and bridges and mixing raw sewage with fresh water sources.

Is it not due time to clean house in Washington? We believe the tea baggers and other ultra conservative Republicans pack their bags and vacate the premises. After over a year of non-accomplishment we propose that this gang also return the money spent on them so it can be used to help feed a lot of very hungry people, or give comfort for a lot of very wounded and sick military personnel returning home from unnecessary wars abroad.
(c) 2013 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site.

Paul Ryan's Shock Doctrine 'Fix' For The Budget Stalemate
By John Nichols

Forget about death and taxes.

If you are looking for certainties in American politics, count on this one: If a crisis of governing develops, the advocates for cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will arrive with a plan to resolve the "stalemate" by implemeting their favorite "fixes."

Cue Paul Ryan.

The House Budget Committee chairman has for the better part of a decade been the most determined advocate on Capitol Hill for the Wall Street agenda that says earned-benefit programs should be reshaped as investment vehicles and voucher schemes that will benefit brokers and the health-insurance industry. The key to the project is to get Americans talking about "reforming" popular programs.

Unfortunately for Ryan, his previous attempts to peddle "reforms" have proven to be supremely unpopular-so much so that, when he was nominated in 2012 as the Republican vice presidential candidate, he became a burden on the ticket. His performance in the single vice presidential debate proved to be a comic exercise in the avoidance of his own past positions. And as Election Day approached, Ryan was bundled off to safety Republican states in the South, where his appearances would do no harm. NBC's Saturday Night Live parodied the Wisconsin congressman's inability to deliver his home state for the Romney-Ryan ticket. And he actually lost his own precinct, city and county in the industrial city of Janesville where voters began to realize that their representative was more interested in delivering for the financial-services industry interests that fill his campaign coffers than for Americans who rely on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Ryan's kept reasonably quiet since the election that saw him run worse than the vast majority of his House GOP colleagues. But now he is back, trying to position himself as the Republican who can heal the great divide in Washington. In a much-discussed Wall Street Journal column-published at the critical juncture between the beginning of the government shutdown that was engineered by his caucus and the beginning of what could be a debt-ceiling standoff-the Budget Committee chairman scopes out what is supposedly a middle ground where Democrats and Republicans might get together an "actually agree on some things."

What things? "Reforms to entitlement programs and the tax code..."

If that sounds like the austerity agenda that Ryan has been proposing for years, well, yes, it is.

What's different is that the congressman thinks he can sell his failed ideas now as a way out of an otherwise irresolvable "standoff." Readers of Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine will recognize the scenario: a politician waits for a crisis to pitch an unappealing and otherwise unacceptable "fix." Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher employed this approach with her "TINA"-"there is no alternative"-pronouncements about so-called "reforms" of popular programs.

The key to the strategy is to make radical changes sound reasonable and necessary.

Ryan recognizes this.

In his Wall Street Journal op-ed, he buffs the rough edges that got him in trouble in the past. There's no talk of individual accounts and vouchers."

But the program remains the same.

"Here are just a few ideas to get the conversation started," Ryan announces. "We could ask the better off to pay higher premiums for Medicare. We could reform Medigap plans to encourage efficiency and cut costs. And we could ask federal employees to contribute more to their own retirement."

Translation: means-testing of Medicare. Make way for more price-gouging by the private companies that sell supplemental insurance. Launch a new assault on public employees who have already been hit with wage freezes and furloughs.

Ryan suggests that the Obama administration has shown some openness to some of these proposals, but that does not mean that the Ryan plan can or should appeal to the American people, or to the House and Senate Democrats who were elected in 2012 to preserve Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Or for anyone who thinks that the better program for meeting America's economic challenges might be to ask the wealthiest among us to pay a little more into Social Security and into the general fund.>{? Ryan assures his readers that his latest proposal is a sincere effort to end the "stalemate" in Washington-even as he takes swipes at President Obama for "giving Congress the silent treatment." And he promises: "This isn't a grand bargain."

Sly move there. While his proposal may not be a full "grand bargain"-with partial privatization, vouchers and all the other highlights of past Ryan budgets-the plan that the Wisconsin Republican has rolled out is a downpayment on the grand bargain he's been seeking for years. And, at a political juncture when Ryan's Republicans can gin up a "crisis" whenever they like, no one should imagine that the congressman and his generous campaign donors are dreaming dreams of a much grander bargain. Lee Fang introduces the "evangelical cabal" behind the government shutdown.
(c) 2013 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His new book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, has just been published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, talks to reporters.

The Radical Christian Right And The War On Government
By Chris Hedges

There is a desire felt by tens of millions of Americans, lumped into a diffuse and fractious movement known as the Christian right, to destroy the intellectual and scientific rigor of the Enlightenment, radically diminish the role of government to create a theocratic state based on "biblical law," and force a recalcitrant world to bend to the will of an imperial and "Christian" America. Its public face is on display in the House of Representatives. This ideology, which is the driving force behind the shutdown of the government, calls for the eradication of social "deviants," beginning with gay men and lesbians, whose sexual orientation, those in the movement say, is a curse and an illness, contaminating the American family and the country. Once these "deviants" are removed, other "deviants," including Muslims, liberals, feminists, intellectuals, left-wing activists, undocumented workers, poor African-Americans and those dismissed as "nominal Christians"-meaning Christians who do not embrace this peculiar interpretation of the Bible-will also be ruthlessly repressed. The "deviant" government bureaucrats, the "deviant" media, the "deviant" schools and the "deviant" churches, all agents of Satan, will be crushed or radically reformed. The rights of these "deviants" will be annulled. "Christian values" and "family values" will, in the new state, be propagated by all institutions. Education and social welfare will be handed over to the church. Facts and self-criticism will be replaced with relentless indoctrination.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz-whose father is Rafael Cruz, a rabid right-wing Christian preacher and the director of the Purifying Fire International ministry-and legions of the senator's wealthy supporters, some of whom orchestrated the shutdown, are rooted in a radical Christian ideology known as Dominionism or Christian Reconstructionism. This ideology calls on anointed "Christian" leaders to take over the state and make the goals and laws of the nation "biblical." It seeks to reduce government to organizing little more than defense, internal security and the protection of property rights. It fuses with the Christian religion the iconography and language of American imperialism and nationalism, along with the cruelest aspects of corporate capitalism. The intellectual and moral hollowness of the ideology, its flagrant distortion and misuse of the Bible, the contradictions that abound within it-its leaders champion small government and a large military, as if the military is not part of government-and its laughable pseudoscience are impervious to reason and fact. And that is why the movement is dangerous.

The cult of masculinity, as in all fascist movements, pervades the ideology of the Christian right. The movement uses religion to sanctify military and heroic "virtues," glorify blind obedience and order over reason and conscience, and pander to the euphoria of collective emotions. Feminism and homosexuality, believers are told, have rendered the American male physically and spiritually impotent. Jesus, for the Christian right, is a man of action, casting out demons, battling the Antichrist, attacking hypocrites and ultimately slaying nonbelievers. This cult of masculinity, with its glorification of violence, is appealing to the powerless. It stokes the anger of many Americans, mostly white and economically disadvantaged, and encourages them to lash back at those who, they are told, seek to destroy them. The paranoia about the outside world is fostered by bizarre conspiracy theories, many of which are prominent in the rhetoric of those leading the government shutdown. Believers, especially now, are called to a perpetual state of war with the "secular humanist" state. The march, they believe, is irreversible. Global war, even nuclear war, is the joyful harbinger of the Second Coming. And leading the avenging armies is an angry, violent Messiah who dooms billions of apostates to death.

"What we have here is our core values as Americans and Christians slipping away into this facade where we should take care of our poor, sick, and disabled," Ted Cruz said in the Senate last month during a 21-hour speech that he gave in an attempt to block the funding of Obamacare. "It is disheartening to know that the nation our forefathers built is no longer of importance to our president and his Democratic counterparts. Not only that, we are falling away from core Christian values. I don't know about you, but I believe in the Jesus who died to save himself, not enable lazy followers to be dependent on him. He didn't walk around all willy-nilly just passing out free health care to those who were sick, or food to those who were hungry, or clothes to those in need. No, he said get up, brush yourself off, go into town and get a job, and as he hung on the cross he said, 'I died so that I may live in eternity with my Father. If you want to join us you can die for yourself and your own sins. What do I look like, your savior or something?' That's the Jesus I want to see brought back into our core values as a nation. That's why we need to repeal Obamacare."

Dominionists believe they are engaged in an epic battle against the forces of Satan. They live in a binary world of black and white. They feel they are victims, surrounded by sinister groups bent on their destruction. They have anointed themselves as agents of God who alone know God's will. They sanctify their rage. This rage lies at the center of the ideology. It leaves them sputtering inanities about Barack Obama, his corporate-sponsored health care reform bill, his alleged mandated suicide counseling or "death panels" for seniors under the bill, his supposed secret alliance with radical Muslims, and "creeping socialism." They see the government bureaucracy as being controlled by "secular humanists" who want to destroy the family and make war against the purity of their belief system. They seek total cultural and political domination.

All ideological, theological and political debates with the radical Christian right are useless. It cares nothing for rational thought and discussion. Its adherents are using the space within the open society to destroy the open society itself. Our naive attempts to placate a movement bent on our destruction, to prove to it that we too have "values," only strengthen its supposed legitimacy and increase our own weakness.

Dominionists have to operate, for now, in what they see as the contaminated environment of the secular, liberal state. They work with the rest of us only because they must. Given enough power-and they are working hard to get it-any such cooperation will vanish. They are no different from the vanguard described by Lenin or the Islamic terrorists who shaved off their beards, adopted Western dress and watched pay-for-view pornography in their hotel rooms the night before hijacking a plane for a suicide attack. The elect alone, like the Grand Inquisitor, are sanctioned to know the truth. And in the pursuit of their truth they have no moral constraints.

I spent two years inside the Christian right in writing my book "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America." attended services at megachurches across the country, went to numerous lectures and talks, sat in on creationist seminars, attended classes on religious proselytizing and conversion, spent weekends at "right-to-life" retreats and interviewed dozens of followers and leaders of the movement. Though I was sympathetic to the financial dislocation, the struggles with addictions, the pain of domestic and sexual violence, and the deep despair that drew people to the movement, I was also acutely aware of the dangerous ideology these people embraced. Fascist movements begin as champions of civic improvement, communal ideals, moral purity, strength, national greatness and family values. These movements attract, as has the radical Christian right, those who are disillusioned by the collapse of liberal democracy. And our liberal democracy has collapsed.

We have abandoned our poor and working class. We have created a government monster that sucks the marrow out of our bones to enrich and empower the oligarchic and corporate elite. The protection of criminals, whether in war or on Wall Street, is part of our mirage of law and order. We have betrayed the vast and growing underclass. Most believers within the Christian right are struggling to survive in a hostile world. We have failed them. Their very real despair is being manipulated and used by Christian fascists such as the Texas senator. Give to the working poor a living wage, benefits and job security and the reach of this movement will diminish. Refuse to ameliorate the suffering of the poor and working class and you ensure the ascendancy of a Christian fascism.

The Christian right needs only a spark to set it ablaze. Another catastrophic act of domestic terrorism, hyperinflation, a series of devastating droughts, floods, hurricanes or massive wildfires or another financial meltdown will be the trigger. Then what is left of our anemic open society will disintegrate. The rise of Christian fascism is aided by our complacency. The longer we fail to openly denounce and defy bankrupt liberalism, the longer we permit corporate power to plunder the nation and destroy the ecosystem, the longer we stand slack-jawed before the open gates of the city waiting meekly for the barbarians, the more we ensure their arrival.
(c) 2013 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, ""Death Of The Liberal Class."

Pretend liberal Alan Grayson

Tea Party Energy Vs. Progressive Lassitude In Congress
By Ralph Nader

The difference between the sheer energy levels of far Right and the progressive Left in Congress is stunning. There is no comparison. The extreme Right know who they are: bulls. Their pathway to public recognition comes by defying the Republican Party leadership, thereby securing major media attention. This helps these extremists advance their minority-supported goals of privileges for the few at the expense of the many.

Progressive Left activists, on the other hand, make good speeches and statements but generally defer to their Party leaders who are largely out of gas, except when it comes to raising money from commercial interests.

Let's go to the specifics and proper names. Whatever your opinions may be, it is hard to argue that Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Rand Paul, Senator Mike Lee, Representative Justin Amash and about 35 other Tea Party fighters aren't getting the daily attention of the mass media and setting the agenda for their Congressional leaders.

Republican Representative Amash even managed to get both House Republicans and Democrats within a whisker of properly stopping some of the NSA's blanket snooping on Americans in July.

The high-energy extreme Right-wing in Congress can nullify the effects of overwhelming public sentiment on many matters that benefit the American people. Where is the pushback by the fifty single-payer (full Medicare for everyone) supporters in Congress as represented by H.R.676 and supported by a majority of the American people, physicians and nurses? Nowhere. The Congressional drums are being beaten against Obamacare. Both Right and Left believe, for different reasons, that Obamacare is seriously flawed. But the progressives have left this best alternative on the shelf.

Where is the progressive Left's political energy in Congress behind raising the federal minimum wage? Thirty million workers are making less today than workers made in 1968, adjusted for inflation. Had the minimum wage kept pace with inflation over these forty-five years, it would be $10.56 per hour instead of the current federal minimum wage of $7.25. A few members of Congress have put their modest bills in the hopper, but not on the Table. Meanwhile, the far Right opponents can focus their energies on their agenda, unworried that the progressive-Left activists are even going to seriously bestir themselves on what should be a signature issue for them.

After much exhortation by worker-allied groups, Senator Tom Harkin and Representative George Miller introduced legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 over three years. Remember over 70 percent of the American people support such an increase. Even Republican Rick Santorum, the 2012 presidential candidate, supports raising the minimum wage.

Speaking with the Democrats' leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi, earlier this year at a social gathering, I raised the need to "catch up with 1968" for thirty million American workers. "That's a good thing," she said smiling and moving to the next series of handshakes.

Apparently, not enough of a "good thing" for the comfortable veteran Democrats, with their secure Congressional seats, to aggressively champion the cause of thousands of workers picketing fast food chains, Walmart and federal contractors who pay low wages, while many of their CEOs make millions of dollars a year. Dozens of non-profit advocacy groups and social service associations for the poor, whose members lean heavily Democratic, want an increase in the minimum wage to meet the necessities of life. Even that support, with majority poll-backing, is not enough to get progressive members of Congress to go 'hell-bent for leather' like the Tea Partiers.

The self-styled progressive Democrats actually outnumber the self-described Tea Partiers in the Congress. But the latter vastly outhustle their opponents and pressure their own leadership either to go along or be neutral.

Great majoritarian issues such as cracking down on corporate crime, ending tax havens for corporations and the rich, creating public works programs with good paying jobs, pulling back on the Empire abroad, and rejecting corporate welfare and bailouts cannot seem to arouse what is left of the Left in Congress. Sure, here and there these lawmakers are on the record. But they're not on the ramparts. The mocking Tea Partiers, along with the corporate opponents, know the difference.

Even the best of the Left, legislators such as Senators Bernie Sanders and Sherrod Brown, seem unable to vigorously network their like-minded colleagues and allied citizen groups and rev up the horsepower behind their beliefs. At best, with few exceptions, they are Lone Rangers.

Long-time Congressman, now Senator, Edward Markey has taken many a leading stand warning about climate change and the Greenhouse effect on the planet. Yet when Republican Senator James Inhofe, who has called climate change a "hoax," agreed to debate the then-Congressman Markey, Mr. Markey said he too was willing to debate but then found every scheduling excuse he could to avoid the debate over a period of 18 months! The willing sponsor, Politico, was kept waiting to no avail.

Legislators like Senator Markey are losing the public opinion battle over taking hold of the climate change issue, notwithstanding the issuance of more reports that more extensively confirm the science and point to the already damaging effects on the polar ice caps and the acidification of the Oceans.

Citizen groups are frustrated that their allies on Capitol Hill are continually defeatist and unwilling to shake the place up as the Tea Partiers have been doing even as their financiers in the big business community have become appalled by the Tea Party's leveraged partial government shutdown and its curled lip against the upcoming debt ceiling crisis.

Progressive words must never mask the absence of progressive action in Congress. The people deserve better than progressive sinecurists in Congress who are so smug that they increasingly do not return calls from civic leaders who press them to move out of their comfort zones and from words to deeds. Many can learn from the very few determined, energetic exceptions within their ranks like the wave-making Congressman Alan Grayson from Florida.
(c) 2013 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.

The Boehner Bunglers
By Paul Krugman

The federal government is shut down, we're about to hit the debt ceiling (with disastrous economic consequences), and no resolution is in sight. How did this happen?

The main answer, which only the most pathologically "balanced" reporting can deny, is the radicalization of the Republican Party. As Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein put it last year in their book, "It's Even Worse Than It Looks," the G.O.P. has become "an insurgent outlier - ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition."

But there's one more important piece of the story. Conservative leaders are indeed ideologically extreme, but they're also deeply incompetent. So much so, in fact, that the Dunning-Kruger effect - the truly incompetent can't even recognize their own incompetence - reigns supreme.

To see what I'm talking about, consider the report in Sunday's Times about the origins of the current crisis. Early this year, it turns out, some of the usual suspects - the Koch brothers, the political arm of the Heritage Foundation and others - plotted strategy in the wake of Republican electoral defeat. Did they talk about rethinking ideas that voters had soundly rejected? No, they talked extortion, insisting that the threat of a shutdown would induce President Obama to abandon health reform.

This was crazy talk. After all, health reform is Mr. Obama's signature domestic achievement. You'd have to be completely clueless to believe that he could be bullied into giving up his entire legacy by a defeated, unpopular G.O.P. - as opposed to responding, as he has, by making resistance to blackmail an issue of principle. But the possibility that their strategy might backfire doesn't seem to have occurred to the would-be extortionists.

Even more remarkable, in its way, was the response of House Republican leaders, who didn't tell the activists they were being foolish. All they did was urge that the extortion attempt be made over the debt ceiling rather than a government shutdown. And as recently as last week Eric Cantor, the majority leader, was in effect assuring his colleagues that the president will, in fact, give in to blackmail. As far as anyone can tell, Republican leaders are just beginning to suspect that Mr. Obama really means what he has been saying all along.

Many people seem perplexed by the transformation of the G.O.P. into the political equivalent of the Keystone Kops - the Boehner Bunglers? Republican elders, many of whom have been in denial about their party's radicalization, seem especially startled. But all of this was predictable.

It has been obvious for years that the modern Republican Party is no longer capable of thinking seriously about policy. Whether the issue is climate change or inflation, party members believe what they want to believe, and any contrary evidence is dismissed as a hoax, the product of vast liberal conspiracies.

For a while the party was able to compartmentalize, to remain savvy and realistic about politics even as it rejected objectivity everywhere else. But this wasn't sustainable. Sooner or later, the party's attitude toward policy - we listen only to people who tell us what we want to hear, and attack the bearers of uncomfortable news - was bound to infect political strategy, too.

Remember what happened in the 2012 election - not the fact that Mitt Romney lost, but the fact that all the political experts around him apparently had no inkling that he was likely to lose. Polls overwhelmingly pointed to an Obama victory, but Republican analysts denounced the polls as "skewed" and attacked the media outlets reporting those polls for their alleged liberal bias. These days Karl Rove is pleading with House Republicans to be reasonable and accept the results of the 2012 election. But on election night he tried to bully Fox News into retracting its correct call of Ohio - and hence, in effect, the election - for Mr. Obama.

Unfortunately for all of us, even the shock of electoral defeat wasn't enough to burst the G.O.P. bubble; it's still a party dominated by wishful thinking, and all but impervious to inconvenient facts. And now that party's leaders have bungled themselves into a corner.

Everybody not inside the bubble realizes that Mr. Obama can't and won't negotiate under the threat that the House will blow up the economy if he doesn't - any concession at all would legitimize extortion as a routine part of politics. Yet Republican leaders are just beginning to get a clue, and so far clearly have no idea how to back down. Meanwhile, the government is shut, and a debt crisis looms. Incompetence can be a terrible thing.
(c) 2013 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested.

Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents." ~~~ Marine Corp. Major General Smedley D. Butler, War is a Racket: The Antiwar Classic by America's Most Decorated Soldier

Big Oil Loses It: ExxonMobil claims it owns the letter 'X'!
World's richest oil company sues FX television network in act approaching self-parody
By David Sirota

Apparently if you are the world's richest oil company used to making $104 million in profit every day, no lawsuit is too frivolous, expensive or downright hilarious when you are the plaintiff. That's the message from ExxonMobil this week as it filed a lawsuit against the FX television network. In court papers, the oil behemoth effectively argues that it owns the exclusive right to put two X's next to each other.

Underscoring the ridiculousness of a company claiming to own a letter of the alphabet, Deadline notes, "This double-cross brawl may come as a surprise to Dos Equis, which also has a double-X logo, and we assume the legal wrangling will be watched with considerable interest by the XX chromosome, and the roman numeral for 20." Same thing for any clothing companies that make T-shirts marked double extra large.

In an interview with Ad Age, an FX spokesperson called the suit "entirely meritless" and said, "We are confident that viewers won't tune into FXX looking for gas or motor oil and drivers won't pull up to an Exxon pump station expecting to get 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.'"

ExxonMobil's narcissistic presumption seems, in part, to be that a television station would want its brand to be synonymous with the largest and most rapacious oil company on the planet. Considering the public's view of the oil industry, though, that seems like a, um, baseless presumption. Sure, a TV network probably does want the advertising dollars that ExxonMobil spends on its greenwashing campaigns, but it probably doesn't want to be confused for Exxon TV.

ExxonMobil's suit instantly makes it a candidate for the list of the most famous intellectual property claims of all time. Among others on that list are:

- Spike Lee claiming exclusive ownership rights of his first name in a suit against Viacom's Spike TV.

- Fox News being laughed out of court after claiming exclusive ownership of the phrase "fair and balanced."

- Warner/Chappell Music arguing in court that the 120-year-old "Happy Birthday" song is its exclusive property.

- Huey Lewis suing Ray Parker Jr. over allegations that the latter's "Ghostbusters" anthem resembled the former's "I Want a New Drug."

- Larrikin Music suing Men at Work for damages, based on the company's claims that the music group's flute in the song "Down Under" derives from a 75-year-old children's song called "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree." The music company claiming the rights to the Kookaburra song didn't file suit until 28 years after Men at Work's hit was released. That's when a television quiz show in Australia claimed there was a resemblance between the two tunes.

While intellectual property is, in general, real and protectable property, and while stealing intellectual property is a serious crime, let's be honest: Many of the aforementioned suits — including ExxonMobil's — seem more than a bit absurd. Then again, the Supreme Court just ratified the right of companies to claim patent protections for DNA. So in the brave new world of intellectual property, "absurd" is apparently in the eye of the beholder.
(c) 2013 David Sirota is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and the best-selling author of "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee. Follow him on Twitter @davidsirota .

How Stupid Are Limbaugh Listeners?
By Joel S. Hirschhorn

While driving on my usual errands run the other day I listened a little to Limbaugh's radio show. As usual I was completely amazed at the incredible misinformation vomited by the champion of stupidity.

Limbaugh strongly condemned Obamacare because he was convinced that the government has no constitutional right to require citizens to purchase anything, certainly not health insurance. Interestingly, he did not condemn the conservative controlled Supreme Court for allowing this to happen. Apparently, superrich Limbaugh forgets that car owners are required to buy automobile insurance. And there are now jurisdictions where home owners are required to buy flood insurance. There are also places where people must pay for an ambulance if they do not have insurance coverage. And let us not forget that government mandates parents to send their children to schools, which requires various kinds of spending (as does even home schooling). To get from one place to another by car often requires paying a bridge or tunnel toll, as yet another example. When I travel by air my ticket includes several government mandated costs.

You might think that a genuine conservative would strongly support public policy that prevented people from shifting costs that they should be responsible for to the general public. Individual responsibility in other words is not some socialist belief as much as it is a true conservative one.

The other ludicrous point he kept making was that Obamacare was a devious plot to ruin private health insurance companies. Again and again he was misinforming his loyal listeners to the incorrect notion that by forcing people to use health exchanges the hidden goal was to put private health insurance companies out of business. Just one very big problem. Health exchanges offer insurance provided by private health insurers, not some government provider.

Indeed, a major reason why many people on the left and independents were and still are unhappy with Obamacare is that they wanted a government single payer system, essentially Medicare for everyone, rather than a system that maintains the grip of private health insurance companies on the health system, because so much money is siphoned out by the insurance companies.

The next day offered another example of Rush slush: He repeated endlessly that the government entities that created the websites for the new Obamacare health exchanges had "limitless" money for the task. Limitless? You really mean all the money they could possibly want? Give me a break. Shut the fruck up Rush.

I doubt that Limbaugh himself does not know the true facts. He is criminally guilty of using the public airwaves to promote and expand the stupidity of Americans. His lying has reached such high levels that I hope some entity would go to the courts and attempt to get him off the public airwaves, and force him to spread his dung propaganda on media that must be purchased. What Limbaugh is getting away with is akin to shouting fire ina public place when there is no fire. In other words, there are limits to constitutionally protected free speech. Constantly telling lies that are designed to screw up our political system should not be been as allowable free speech. And his sponsors should also take umbrage at his irresponsible pattern of behavior and stop supporting him.

How stupid are Limbaugh listeners? Very, if they get their information from him.
(c) 2013 Joel S. Hirschhorn observed our corrupt federal government firsthand as a senior official with the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association and is the author of Delusional Democracy =Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. To discuss issues write the author. The author has a Ph.D. in Materials Engineering and was formerly a full professor of metallurgical engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Unterfuhrer Ryan,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your tying Obamacare to enslaving folks by the federal government, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Iron Cross 1st class, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 11-30-2013. We salute you Herr O'Brien, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Tom gives the corpo-rat salute

Republican Crazy Talk About The Debt Ceiling
By Robert Reich

"I would dispel the rumor that is going around that you hear on every newscast, that if we don't raise the debt ceiling, we will default on our debt," says Sen.Tom Coburn, R-Okla. "We won't. We'll continue to pay our interest."

This is crazy talk. While the Treasury Department could prioritize interest payments after October 17 - the day the Treasury Department says it no longer has legal authority to pay the nation's debts - and not pay Social Security and Medicare, this would buy a few days at most.

Meanwhile, interest rates will soar, stock prices will plummet, the global economy will begin spiraling downward, and millions of Americans wouldn't receive their Social Security and Medicare.

So why are Republicans talking like this? Because they want to sound as if they're willing to blow up the economy if they don't get their way. A crazy person with a bomb is much scarier than someone holding a bomb who looks and acts reasonable. Sounding crazy is part of the Republican bargaining strategy.

But the President and the Democrats must not give in.

If we get to October 17th and the Republicans are still holding the nation hostage, the President has only one option: He must ignore the debt ceiling and order the Treasury to continue to pay all the nation's bills.

He should rely on Section 4 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which says the "validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law ... shall not be questioned." The debt itself is clearly "authorized by law" because it's the direct result of laws authorizing the U.S. to spend and to tax. The showdown over the debt ceiling is over payment of the debt, not the legality of the debt itself. Arguably, what the Constitution requires trumps any law governing the debt-ceiling.

If Republicans disagree, let them try to impeach the President. Their polls are already dropping. The latest Washington Post-ABC poll shows 70 percent of the public disapproving of their tactics (65 percent disapproved before the shutdown), while the President's disapproval remains at 51 percent. An attempted impeachment would reveal to the public just how crazy Republicans have become.
(c) 2013 Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, "Beyond Outrage," is now out in paperback. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. His new film, "Inequality for All," will be out September 27.

Hu Jintao, who stepped down as Chinese president last year, in
Tanzania on a tour intended to cement China's ties with Africa.

More Than Jihadism Or Iran, China's Role In Africa Is Obama's Obsession
Where America brings drones, the Chinese build roads. Al-Shabaab and co. march in lockstep with this new imperialism
By John Pilger

Countries are "pieces on a chessboard upon which is being played out a great game for the domination of the world," wrote Lord Curzon, the viceroy of India, in 1898. Nothing has changed. The shopping mall massacre in Nairobi was a bloody facade behind which a full-scale invasion of Africa and a war in Asia are the great game.

The al-Shabaab shopping mall killers came from Somalia. If any country is an imperial metaphor, it is Somalia. Sharing a language and religion, Somalis have been divided between the British, French, Italians and Ethiopians. Tens of thousands of people have been handed from one power to another. "When they are made to hate each other," wrote a British colonial official, "good governance is assured."

Today Somalia is a theme park of brutal, artificial divisions, long impoverished by World Bank and IMF "structural adjustment" programmes, and saturated with modern weapons - notably President Obama's personal favourite, the drone. The one stable Somali government, the Islamic Courts, was "well received by the people in the areas it controlled," reported the US Congressional Research Service, "[but] received negative press coverage, especially in the west." Obama crushed it; and last January Hillary Clinton, then secretary of state, presented her man to the world. "Somalia will remain grateful to the unwavering support from the United States government," effused President Hassan Mohamud. "Thank you, America."

The shopping mall atrocity was a response to this - just as the Twin Towers attack and the London bombings were explicit reactions to invasion and injustice. Once of little consequence, jihadism now marches in lockstep with the return of unfettered imperialism.

Since Nato reduced modern Libya to a Hobbesian state in 2011, the last obstacles to Africa have fallen. "Scrambles for energy, minerals and fertile land are likely to occur with increasingly intensity," report Ministry of Defence planners. As "high numbers of civilian casualties" are predicted, "perceptions of moral legitimacy will be important for success." Sensitive to the PR problem of invading a continent, the arms mammoth BAE Systems, together with Barclays Capital and BP, warns that "the government should define its international mission as managing risks on behalf of British citizens." The cynicism is lethal. British governments are repeatedly warned, not least by the parliamentary intelligence and security committee, that foreign adventures beckon retaliation at home.

With minimal media interest, the US African Command (Africom) has deployed troops to 35 African countries, establishing a familiar network of authoritarian supplicants eager for bribes and armaments. In war games a "soldier to soldier" doctrine embeds US officers at every level of command from general to warrant officer. The British did this in India. It is as if Africa's proud history of liberation, from Patrice Lumumba to Nelson Mandela, is consigned to oblivion by a new master's black colonial elite - whose "historic mission", warned Frantz Fanon half a century ago, is the subjugation of their own people in the cause of "a capitalism rampant though camouflaged." The reference also fits the son of Africa in the White House.

For Obama, there is a more pressing cause - China. Africa is China's success story. Where the Americans bring drones, the Chinese build roads, bridges and dams. What the Chinese want is resources, especially fossil fuels. Nato's bombing of Libya drove out 30,000 Chinese oil industry workers. More than jihadism or Iran, China is Washington's obsession in Africa and beyond. This is a "policy" known as the "pivot to Asia", whose threat of world war may be as great as any in the modern era.

This week's meeting in Tokyo between John Kerry, the US secretary of state, Chuck Hagel, the defence secretary, and their Japanese counterparts accelerated the prospect of war. Sixty per cent of US naval forces are to be based in Asia by 2020, aimed at China. Japan is re-arming rapidly under the rightwing government of Shinzo Abe, who came to power in December with a pledge to build a "new, strong military" and circumvent the "peace constitution."

A US-Japanese anti-ballistic-missile system near Kyoto is directed at China. Using long-range Global Hawk drones the US has sharply increased its provocations in the East China and South China seas, where Japan and China dispute the ownership of the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. Both countries now deploy advanced vertical take-off aircraft in Japan in preparation for a blitzkrieg.

On the Pacific island of Guam, from where B-52s attacked Vietnam, the biggest military buildup since the Indochina wars includes 9,000 US marines. In Australia this week an arms fair and military jamboree that diverted much of Sydney is in keeping with a government propaganda campaign to justify an unprecedented US military build-up from Perth to Darwin, aimed at China. The vast US base at Pine Gap near Alice Springs is, as Edward Snowden disclosed, a hub of US spying in the region and beyond; it is also critical to Obama's worldwide assassinations by drone.

"We have to inform the British to keep them on side," McGeorge Bundy, an assistant US secretary of state, once said. "You in Australia are with us, come what may." Australian forces have long played a mercenary role for Washington. However, China is Australia's biggest trading partner and largely responsible for its evasion of the 2008 recession. Without China, there would be no minerals boom: no weekly mining return of up to a billion dollars.

The dangers this presents are rarely debated publicly in Australia, where Rupert Murdoch, the patron of the prime minister, Tony Abbott, controls 70% of the press. Occasionally, anxiety is expressed over the "choice" that the US wants Australia to make. A report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute warns that any US plan to strike at China would involve "blinding" Chinese surveillance, intelligence and command systems. This would "consequently increase the chances of Chinese nuclear pre-emption ... and a series of miscalculations on both sides if Beijing perceives conventional attacks on its homeland as an attempt to disarm its nuclear capability." In his address to the nation last month, Obama said: "What makes America different, what makes us exceptional, is that we are dedicated to act."
(c) 2013 John Pilger was born and educated in Sydney, Australia. He has been a war correspondent, film-maker and playwright. Based in London, he has written from many countries and has twice won British journalism's highest award, that of "Journalist of the Year," for his work in Vietnam and Cambodia.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Wilt Priggee ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Boehner: Obama Stubbornly Refusing To End Crisis I Created
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)-Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) said that he was disappointed after meeting with President Obama at the White House on Wednesday afternoon, telling reporters, "The President is stubbornly refusing to end the crisis I created."

"Government is about teamwork," Mr. Boehner continued. "I've done my part by putting together an entirely optional crisis that has shut down the government and will throw thousands out of work. Now it's up to the President to do his part by ending it."

Mr. Boehner said that he was "flabbergasted" that the President was looking to him to bring the current government shutdown to an end: "So after doing all of the hard work to push the country to the brink, I'm supposed to pull it back, too? How about you pitching in a little, Mr. President?"

The House Speaker said that he hoped he did not have to manufacture another entirely avoidable crisis over the debt ceiling in order to stir the President to action. "Quite frankly, orchestrating these unnecessary stalemates takes a lot of energy and I could really use a rest," he said.

But Mr. Boehner seemed pessimistic that the President "got the message."

"Because of my actions, thousands of federal workers have already been furloughed," he said. "How many more people do I have to throw out on the street before the President wakes up?"
(c) 2013 Andy Borowitz

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Issues & Alibis Vol 13 # 39 (c) 10/11/2013

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