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In This Edition

Matt Taibbi studies the, "Presidential Debate Aftermath."

Uri Avnery considers, "Of Bombs And Comics."

Bruce A. Dixon explains, "Why This Black Man Is Watching the Debates, And Voting Green."

Greg Palast visits, "Jose Crow."

Jim Hightower says, "The GOP Rejects, Then Embraces, And Now Is Stuck With Todd Akin."

Bernie Sanders gives, "A Floor Statement."

James Donahue finds, "US Prisons; Corporate Slave Labor Camps."

David Swanson reports, "Veterans And Allies Arrested In New York As Afghanistan War Enters Year."

Amy Goodman discovers, "Workers Fight For Justice, From Wal-Mart To Chipotle."

Glenn Greenwald examines, "The US Presidential Debates' Illusion Of Political Choice."

Paul Krugman tells, "The Truth About Jobs."

William Rivers Pitt sings, "Hey, Joe."

Robert Reich explores, "The Politics Of The Jobs Report."

Republican State Representative Jon Hubbard of Arkansas wins the coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

John Nichols asks, "More NAFTA Anyone? Romney Positions as Free-Trade 'Champion'."

Adam Keller journey's, "Between Naples And Gaza."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst reviews, "The Audacity Of Mendacity" but first Uncle Ernie warns, "It Really Isn't Yours To Sell."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Dwayne Booth, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Derf City, Micah Wright, Ted Rall, Richard Rowley, Charlie Neibergall, War Is A Crime.Org, The Other 98%, James Hill, The New York Times, UFCW, AP, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

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It Really Isn't Yours To Sell
By Ernest Stewart

It's always something
There's always something going wrong
That's the only guarantee
That's what this is all about
Life Is A Lemon ~~~ Meatloaf

"The minimum wage should be set at zero. It is simply a lie that raising the minimum wage helps people at the low end of the pay scale." ~~~ Charlie Fuqua

"One of the stated purposes of school integration was to bring black students up to a level close to that of white students. But, to the great disappointment of everyone, the results of this theory worked exactly in reverse of its intended purpose, and instead of black students rising to the educational levels previously attained by white students, the white students dropped to the level of black students. To make matters worse, the lack of discipline and ambition of black students soon became shared by their white classmates, and our educational system has been in a steady decline ever since." ~~~ Jon Hubbard

You know, the landlord rang my front door bell.
I let it ring for a long, long spell.
I went to the window,
I peeped through the blind,
And asked him to tell me what's on his mind.
He said,

Money, honey.
Money, honey.
Money, honey, if you want to get along with me.
Money, Honey ~~~ Elvis Presley

From our "It's Always Something" department comes this classic case of Crony Capitalism. The Extreme Court is set to hear a case that could ban yards sales, flea markets, eBay and Craig's List, amongst other things!

Market Watch reports:

"In 1997, Supap Kirtsaeng relocated from Thailand to attend Cornell University. Kirtsaeng was not on campus long before he realized how much more expensive college text books were in America than his native Thailand.

The industrious young man asked his family to buy a whole lot of books and ship them to him in the United States. Kirtsaeng reportedly made a $1.2 million profit by selling the academic books on eBay at prices which undercut bookstores across the country, Death and Taxes Magazine reports. Wiley, the textbook manufacturer, sued Kirtsaeng for copyright infringement, Market Watch notes.

During the first court battle, which Supap Kirtsaeng lost, the judge ruled that the first-sale principle only applies to items manufactured in the United States. The law basically states that a company or business can only get paid one time for a product, and a customer has the right to re-sell it later and keep the proceeds.

Once upon a time, when most of the items Americans used where actually made here, the law did not spark much controversy. But, if the US Supreme Court upholds the lower court's ruling, yard sales and making some extra cash by getting rid of unwanted items online would likely come to an end."

That's just not about those marble candle holders made in Italy, it's about anything made in another country, like your car or your house, both of which contain things made overseas. So how do you like NAFTA so far? This will do two things right off the bat!

First, it will piss off the 47% to the point of revolution, which is, after all, a good thing and perhaps wake up our redneck brothers and sisters to what happens when you pack the Extreme Court with corpo-rat goons. Those ten mile-long flea markets that are so popular down below that Manson/Nixon Line will disappear as you'll need proof of where every item is made; and since we sent all of our manufacturing jobs overseas, thanks to Willard and Bain Capital, The Koch Brothers and the like, so nothing's made here anymore.

, it will create jobs by the millions because to halt those millions of yard sales, and garage sales will take every law enforcement goon in America -- doing nothing but enforcing the new law and leaving time for doing nothing else -- so much for Homeland Security. Now we know why they needed those millions of rounds of dum-dum bullets, look out Auntie Flo! So, of course, they need more deputies to watch granny's every move and inspect every piece of property at the flea market. PAPERS, show me ze papers for this salt and pepper shaker set! It says made in Mexico on the bottom, you'll have to come with me! Which will, in turn, just drive it underground, or they'll be filling up the landfill with three year old Fords, Chevys and Subarus! Forget all those cheap books and library sales, "Put those J.K. Rowling books down and step away from the table, STEP AWAY FROM THE TABLE LITTLE GIRL OR I SWEAR I'LL SHOOT!"

Pssst, over here in the shadows. I've got the DVD versions of Monty Python and Farscape as I just converted to Blue Ray. I can give you a good deal on some Johnny Depp... Oh, and some African red bud too! Shhhh, keep it down, Big Brother is everywhere. Wanna buy a Toyota, real cheap? I'll trade ya this Sony flat screen for your Boogie Board!

Your Tax dollars at work, America!

In Other News

As I say in the "And Finally" part of this column; of this week's Vidkun Quisling Award winner, "we had plenty of competition this week for the award" and here is the guy who came in second, also by a strange, or perhaps, not so strange coincidence, a former member of the Arkansas house Charlie Fuqua! You know with a name like Fuqua, he'd have to be good; unfortunately, like Smuckers, he isn't!

Charlie's another bible thumper and his bright ideas, that he mentions in his self-published book "God's Law" (Having a deja vu yet?) calls for the state-sanctioned killing of rebellious children and the expelling of all Muslims. (Don't you have to catch and eat them first before you can expel them?) Charlie's not about to let the Constitution, or human rights, or even Yahweh's commandment # 6, i.e., "Thou Shalt Not Kill," get in his way! Funny how all the bible-thumpers always forget that one when they trying to get us in a war? However, Charlie's found the asterisk to that!

In his book, Charlie wrote "...while parents love their children, a process could be set up to allow for the institution of the death penalty for 'rebellious children.'"

I'm going to repeat that again, for those of you on drugs...

Charlie wants to kill all of your children in Jesus' name!

Here's Charlie's thoughts;

"The maintenance of civil order in society rests on the foundation of family discipline. Therefore, a child who disrespects his parents must be permanently removed from society in a way that gives an example to all other children of the importance of respect for parents. The death penalty for rebellious children is not something to be taken lightly. The guidelines for administering the death penalty to rebellious children are given in Deut 21:18-21.

This passage does not give parents blanket authority to kill their children. They must follow the proper procedure in order to have the death penalty executed against their children. I cannot think of one instance in the Scripture where parents had their child put to death. Why is this so? Other than the love Christ has for us, there is no greater love then [sic] that of a parent for their child. The last people who would want to see a child put to death would be the parents of the child. Even so, the Scripture provides a safe guard to protect children from parents who would wrongly exercise the death penalty against them. Parents are required to bring their children to the gate of the city. The gate of the city was the place where the elders of the city met and made judicial pronouncements. In other words, the parents were required to take their children to a court of law and lay out their case before the proper judicial authority, and let the judicial authority determine if the child should be put to death. I know of many cases of rebellious children; however, I cannot think of one case where I believe that a parent had given up on their child to the point that they would have taken their child to a court of law and asked the court to rule that the child be put to death. Even though this procedure would rarely be used, if it were the law of land, it would give parents authority. Children would know that their parents had authority and it would be a tremendous incentive for children to give proper respect to their parents."

Need I say or add another thing more to that statement? Oh and did I mention that he's running for reelection?

Then there is his bright idea of expelling all Muslims as he describes it, to take care of the "Muslim Problem!" I wonder if it's the "final solution" to the "Muslim Problem," don't you? When the above surfaced along with Hubbard's endorsement of slavery which caused a big brouhaha, even the state GOP who'd been backing Charlie for his comeback bid slinked away from him! In his defense Charlie said,

"I think my views are fairly well-accepted by most people.

There is a strange alliance between the liberal left and the Muslim religion. It may be that since both are the enemies of Christianity, that they both believe that, my enemy's enemy is my friend. However, there are several similarities between the two. Both are antichrist in that they both deny that Jesus is God in the flesh of man, and the savior of mankind. They both also hold that their cause should take over the entire world through violent, bloody, revolution."

Trouble is, that's just the tip of the iceberg for this week's award. There has never been a lack of possible winners; but the trouble is in the overwhelming mass of them, that we have to deal with, each, and every week, which to choose, which to choose?

And Finally

This week's Vidkun Quisling Award winner is Republican State Representative Jon Hubbard of Arkansas. This was a tough choice as we had plenty of competition this week for the award; but Jon did stand out -- head and shoulders above the rest in the final analysis. We get a lot of our winners from Arkansas, funny thing that, eh? Jon in his spare time has self-published a new book "Confessions of a Frustrated Conservative" that should be a must buy for all the Ku Klux Klanner's on your Xmas list! Jon vents his frustration and gives some insight to all of us former non-slaves to what life was really like in those antebellum daze down below the Manson/Nixon Line! For example, Jon says:
"The institution of slavery that the black race has long believed to be an abomination upon its people may actually have been a blessing in disguise. The blacks who could endure those conditions and circumstances would someday be rewarded with citizenship in the greatest nation ever established upon the face of the Earth."
Jon goes on to argue that a life of slavery would have been "likely much better" than a life back in Africa: "Knowing what we know today about life on the African continent, would an existence spent in slavery have been any crueler than a life spent in sub-Saharan Africa?" WTF? Slavery would have been much worse, you blithering idiot!

Jon's book would be shockingly racist for anyone - let alone a state representative. His worldview is grounded in centuries-old racism, including the stereotypes that blacks are lazy, unintelligent, and generally unproductive members of society, i.e, typical red neck sh*t!

Hubbard asks, "Will it ever become possible for black people in the United States of America to firmly establish themselves as inclusive and contributing members of society within this country." Perhaps the President can answer that question for him?

According to Jon school integration was a bad thing, as blacks can't "learn to appreciate the value of a good education." If your white student is failing algebra, then blame it on desegregation, says Jon.

Keepin' On

It's that time of the year again when we're running out of time and are still short of our operating funds, about $750 short as once again "the cupboard," i.e., PO Box, was bare. It's time to start making plans for what to do when we run out of time. One, of course, is to quit all this and go back to writing books and try to rebuild my empty bank account; but if you know one thing about me, it's that I am tenacious; I'm not a quitter, no matter the cost. Or I could go on bended knee and borrow the needed cash, and hope to raise the money in time to make said payments.

I'm sure you've noticed that I'm not the only one trying to raise money for their site on the Internet. However, most are trying to raise anywhere from $50,000 to $250,000 for the coming quarter to keep going. Our total bill for operating is slightly below $12,000 for the year, and half of that is paid for by our advertisers. I could also start charging everyone for the info like most others do, but the whole point was to keep it free for all; if you can get on the Internet, you can read the magazine at no charge. Funny how most the people we serve are as broke as we are; funny that, huh? Now, at the end of our 12th year, nothing has changed. Once upon a time, just a couple of you was all that was needed to the point that we never asked anyone for a dime. We had a few anonymous supporters that took care of everything, but they faded away as soon as we told the same truth about Obama that we were telling about Bush! So many of our readers held on with both hands and feet, clinging to the outdated notion that there is some major difference between the parties, when, of course, they are the same on 95% of everything and only differentiate 5% to their bases. So, it really doesn't matter who wins or loses, the 1% wins in either case. No one else can be the President unless they are carefully vetted by the powers that be; ergo, there wasn't five candidates debating together last week, and there never will be. The choice will always be between Hitler and Himmler; so either way, we're screwed!

Whether or not the Mayans were right, chances are we are a few months away from an economic collapse, and having us around to steer you through it might be handy! As Derf pointed out in his cartoon this week, and as I''ve been pointing out for the last 12 years, they're not building all those new Happy Camps because they like the architecture; they're getting ready to do some awful things right here in America, and again, who ya gonna call, The New York Times? Please... So please send us what you can, as often as you can; and we'll put it to good use. Or, if you hold the purse strings to some advertising dollars and want to reach the intellectually stimulated then look no farther you'll get great rates and good results!


07-15-1935 ~ 10-10-2012
Thanks for the laughs!


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


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

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

Presidential Debate Aftermath
Mitt Romney Wins All-Important BS Contest
By Matt Taibbi

I didn't watch the debate - I just couldn't. I read it in transcript form afterwards. I know it is widely believed that Mitt Romney won, but I don't agree. I think both candidates lost. I think they both sucked. Romney told a series of outright lies - the bit about the pre-existing conditions was incredible - while Barack Obama seemed unaccountably disinterested in the intellectual challenge of the exercise, repeatedly leaving the gross absurdities hurled his way by Romney unchallenged.

Romney's performance was better than Obama's, but only if you throw out criteria like "wasn't 100% full of shit from the opening bell" and "made an actual attempt to explain who he is and what his plans are." Unfortunately, that is good enough for our news media, which drools over the gamesmanship aspects of these debates, because it loves candidates who sink their teeth into the horse-race nonsense that they think validates their professional lives.

For instance: in my local paper, the Star-Ledger in New Jersey, I read an analysis entitled, "Romney's debate performance was presidential game changer, analysts say."

The unnamed authors of this analysis delivered a blizzard of sports metaphors about Romney's performance. "It's a new race for the White House," they said, after Romney "changed the game with an aggressive, confident performance" - needed, because "Obama's forces had hinted earlier that all they needed from the debate was one good punch to knock Romney out," after the challenger "spent the summer and early fall stumbling." On the internet, they complemented this keen analysis with a cartoon picture of the two candidates as superheroes punching each other, complete with "Pow!" and "Bam!" Batman-style effects.

Why was Romney so effective, according to the Star-Ledger? Because "the Romney viewers saw during the nationally televised debate from Denver was the one his friends have long known: a conversational, smart, decent-on-his-feet guy, eager to defend his plans to cut taxes and change government health insurance for future generations."

Obama, meanwhile, came off as "wonky and lacking punch," because he was "so intent on answering questions."

The piece literally had nothing to say about the substance or accuracy of the two arguments. Like, not one thing. It did, however, speculate that Obama might be in trouble if his performance ended up getting parodied on the Daily Show, because he might end up with a reputation for being "too academic, too cold and uneasy with being challenged."

What the hell does any of this have to do with being president? It's one thing for reporters to talk shop behind the scenes about which candidate they think is doing a better job of slinging bull. But to legitimize it as real is just nuts.

Analysts like this were, however, right in a way. Romney did come across as the more confident and aggressive candidate, and Obama did come across as "wonky" and "lacking punch." Just visually and dramatically, Romney met the spectacle on its terms better than Obama did, much the way John F. Kennedy did in his celebrated debate with Richard Nixon. In that legendary meeting, radio viewers thought Nixon won, but TV viewers, blown away by Kennedy's smile and tan, thought was a landslide for the Democrat.

Journalists who cite that Nixon-Kennedy debate always forget that the lesson of that night is that the new broadcast media technology made superficiality and nonsense more important - that thanks to the press, it was now possible to get someone elected to the most powerful office on earth because he had a superior tan. Reporters love this story because it reminds everyone that the medium they work in has the power to overcome substance and decide elections all by itself. What's amazing is that they don't have the good sense to be ashamed of this.

I read the transcript of the debate and all I got from Romney was either outright factual lies, or total rhetorical dishonesty. He even tried out a version of the for-years-debunked death panel business:

"In order to bring the cost of health care down, we don't need to have a -- an -- a board of 15 people telling us what kinds of treatments we should have."

Really? Hey, Mitt - what do you think health insurance is? It is, by definition, a bunch of people deciding what kinds of treatments we should have.

Of course, Romney's point is that there's allegedly going to be a bloodless government board somewhere deciding upon treatment options, as opposed to some bloodless corporate board making those decisions, but even that's not true at all. Romney was talking about the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which exists solely to make cuts in Medicare if its costs rise beyond a certain level and congress doesn't do anything about them.

That board is specifically barred by law from making the kinds of care decisions Romney is talking about. Obama did at least point this out, but weakly, and that's not even the point. I mean, practically in the same breath of his "unelected board" attack, Romney criticized Obama's plan because it cut Medicare. So he's clearly not against government bureaucrats making decisions about treatment, because what the hell does Romney think Medicare does? He should try getting an eye job and billing Medicare for it. The whole thing was a non-sequitur, insincere and substantively meaningless - but if you had no clue what you were watching, it looked like Romney was confidently attacking and Obama was backtracking.

Romney's entire debate performance was like this. He said absolutely nothing, but got lots of credit for style points. Here's Romney's answer on what budget cuts he would make, addressing perhaps-soon-to-be-ex-PBS employee, Jim Lehrer:

"I'm sorry, Jim. I'm going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I'm going to stop other things. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you too. But I'm not going to -- I'm not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it. That's number one.

Number two, I'll take programs that are currently good programs but I think could be run more efficiently at the state level and send them to state.

Number three, I'll make government more efficient, and to cut back the number of employees, combine some agencies and departments. My cutbacks will be done through attrition, by the way.

So the answer to the question, "What will you do to rein in the biggest budget deficit in history?" comes down to, "I'll cut PBS, which is about one millionth of the federal budget, and some other stuff."

For God's sake - "I'll take programs that could be run more efficiently at state and send them to state"? Is that a joke? That's worse than a Bill Belichick answer: "What's our plan against the Broncos? We're going to watch the film and do what's best for our football team."

Reporters should have instantly pelted Romney with bags of dogshit for insulting the American people with this ridiculous non-answer, but he was instead praised for the canny "strategy" hidden in the response. Despite the fact that Romney is running as a budget hawk and yet has refused to name any actual programs (except Obamacare and PBS) he will cut, reporters gave him credit in the debate for being willing to be the bearer of bad budgetary news, because he essentially advance-fired Jim Lehrer on TV. Many also complimented the "humor" of the line about Big Bird.

Typically, Obama is the recipient of the breathless media plaudits for meaningless imageering and iconography, but Romney scooped it all up this time. Ugh. At least there are only two more!
(c) 2012 Matt Taibbi

Of Bombs And Comics
By Uri Avnery

MY FIRST reaction to Binyamin Netanyahu's exhibition of comics at the UN General Assembly was shame.

Shame that the supreme elected representative of my country would stoop to such a primitive rhetorical device, bordering on the childish.

(One Israeli commentator suggested putting him on a rug with a lot of paper and Indian ink, and letting him play to his heart's content.)

He was speaking to a half-empty chamber (Israeli TV was careful not to show the entire hall during the speech), and the audience consisted of second-grade diplomats, but these were still educated people. Even Netanyahu must have realized that they would despise this display.

But Netanyahu was not talking to them at all. He was talking to the Jewish audience at home and in the US.

THIS AUDIENCE was proud of him. He succeeded in touching their deepest emotions.

To understand this, one must recall the historical memories. Jews were a small, powerless community everywhere. They were completely dependent on the Gentile ruler.

Whenever their situation was in danger, the Jews chose the most prominent person among them to plead their cause before the emperor, king or prince. When this "pleader" (Shtadlan in Hebrew) was successful and the danger was averted, he won the gratitude of the whole community. In some cases, he would be remembered for generations, like the mythical Mordecai in the Book of Esther.

Netanyahu fulfilled this function. He went to the very center of Gentile power, today's equivalent of the Persian Emperor, and pleaded the case of the Jews threatened with annihilation by the current heir of Haman the Evil (same Book of Esther).

And what an idea of genius to exhibit the drawing of the Bomb! It was reproduced on the front pages of hundreds of newspapers and on TV news programs around the world, including the New York Times!

For Netanyahu this was "the Speech of his Life". To be precise, as one TV commentator dryly pointed out, it was the 8th Speech of his Life at the General Assembly.

His popularity soared to new heights. Moses himself, the supreme pleader at the court of Pharaoh, could not have done better.

BUT THE crux of the matter was hidden somewhere between the torrents of words.

The "inevitable" attack on Iran's nuclear installations to prevent the Second Holocaust was postponed to next spring or summer. After blustering for months that the deadly attack was imminent, any minute now, no minute to spare, it disappeared into the mist of the future.

Why? What happened?

Well, one reason was the polls indicating that Barack Obama would be reelected. Netanyahu had doggedly staked all his cards on Mitt Romney, his ideological clone. But Netanyahu is also a True Believer in polls. It seems that Netanyahu's advisors convinced him to hedge his bet. The evil Obama might win, in spite of the Sheldon Adelson millions. Especially now, after George Soros has staked his millions on the incumbent.

Netanyahu had the brilliant idea of attacking Iran just before the US elections, hoping that the hands of all American politicians would be tied. Who would dare to restrain Israel at such a time? Who would refuse help to Israel when the Iranians counter-attacked?

But like so many of Netanyahu's brilliant ideas, this one, too, flopped. Obama has told Netanyahu in no uncertain terms: No attack on Iran before the elections. Or else...

THE NEXT President of the United States of America - whoever that may be - will tell Netanyahu the same after the elections.

As I have said before (excuse me for quoting myself again), a military attack on Iran is out of the question. The price is intolerably high. The geographic, economic and military facts all conspire to prevent it. The Strait of Hormuz would be shut, the world economy would collapse, a long and devastating war would ensue.

Even if Mitt Romney were in power, surrounded by a crowd of neocons, it would not change these facts one bit.

Obama's case is very much strengthened by the economic news coming out of Iran. The international sanctions have had amazing results. The skeptics - led by Netanyahu - are in disarray.

Contrary to the anti-islamic caricature, Iran is a normal country, with a normal middle-class and citizens with a high political awareness. They know that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a fool and if he had really wanted to produce a nuclear bomb, would he have made all these idiotic speeches about Israel and/or the Holocaust? Shouldn't he have kept his mouth shut and worked hard at it? But since he is about to go away anyhow, no need to make a revolution just now.

The practical upshot: Sorry, no war.

THE WHOLE affair brings up again the Walt-Mearsheimer controversy. Does Israel control US policy? Does the tail wag the dog?

To a very large extent, that is undoubtedly the case. Enough to follow the present election campaign and perceive how both candidates treat the Israeli government obsequiously, competing to outdo the other with words of flattery and support.

Jewish votes play an important role in swing states, and Jewish money plays a huge role in financing both candidates. (O tempora, o mores! Once there was a Jewish joke: A Polish nobleman threatens his neighboring nobleman: "If you hit my Jew, I shall hit your Jew!" Now one Jewish billionaire threatens another Jewish billionaire: If you give a million to your Goy, I shall give a million to my Goy!")

The Obama administration's Middle East policy staff is manned by Zionist Jews, down to the US ambassador in Tel Aviv, who speaks better Hebrew than Avigdor Lieberman. Dennis Ross, the grave digger of Middle East peace, seems to be everywhere. Romney's neocons, too, are mostly Jews.

Jews have a huge influence - up to a point. This point is extremely significant.

There was a minor illustration: Jonathan Pollard, the American-Jewish spy, was sent to prison for life. Many people (including myself) consider this penalty unduly harsh. Yet no American Jew dared to protest, AIPAC kept quiet and no American president was swayed by Israeli calls for clemency. The US security establishment said No, and No it was.

The war on Iran is a million times more important. It concerns vital American interests. The American military opposes it (as does the Israeli military). Everybody in Washington DC knows that this is no side issue. It touches the very basis of American power in the world.

And lo and behold, the US says NO to Israel. The President says coolly that in matters of vital security interests, no foreign country can order the US Commander in Chief to draw red lines and commit himself to a war. Especially not with the help of a comic-book drawing.

Israelis are astounded. What? We, the country of God's chosen people, are foreigners? Just like other foreigners?

This is a very important lesson. When things really come to a head, the dog is still the dog and the tail is still the tail.

SO WHAT about Netanyahu's Iran commitment?

Recent I was asked by a foreign journalist if Netanyahu could survive the elimination of the "military option" against Iran, after talking for months about nothing else. What about the Iranian Hitler? What about the coming Holocaust?

I told him not to worry. Netanyahu can easily get out of it by claiming that the whole thing was really a ruse to get the world to impose tougher sanctions on Iran.

But was it?

People of influence in Israel are divided.

The first camp worries that our Prime Minister is really off his rocker. That he is obsessed with Iran, perhaps clinically unbalanced, that Iran has become an idee fixe.

The other camp believes that the whole thing was, right from the beginning, a hoax to divert attention from the one issue that really matters: Peace with Palestine.

In this he has been hugely successful. For months now, Palestine has been missing from the agenda of Israel and the entire world. Palestine? Peace? What Palestine, What peace? And while the world stares at Iran like a hypnotized rabbit at a snake, settlements are enlarged and the occupation deepened, and we are sailing proudly towards disaster.

And that is not at all a comic book story.
(c) 2012 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Why This Black Man Is Watching the Debates, And Voting Green
By Bruce A. Dixon

I'll be watching the debates. Not on CNN or ABC, but online at Occupy the Debates or at Democracy Now or Free Speech TV, where the third party candidates and others have a chance to answer questions and comment in real time.

I can't say I'm not mad at anybody. If being ripped off and lied to, and having murders committed in your name around the world don't make you mad, there's something wrong with you, and whatever is wrong with me, it's not that. I'll be watching tonight's presidential debates, but like most people, I already know what I'll do on November 6.

I won't vote Republican, because among other things, the GOP is the permanent party of white supremacy. Republicans are also the permanent party of Wall Street, the party of Big Agriculture, the party of Big Insurance, Big Oil, Big Real Estate, Big Pharma, of more nukes Republicans are the party of privatizers, jailers, charter schools and military contractors. Republicans started the 40 years war on drugs, and of course they remain the party of Empire and Permanent War. Republicans hate brown people and threaten to jail and deport as many as they possibly can.

Democrats on the other hand, are the permanent party of Wall Street. Democrats are the party of Big Agriculture, Big Insurance, Big Oil, Big Real Estate, Big Pharma and more nukes, more jails and continuing the 40 years war on drugs. Democrats are the party of more privatizations --- Corey Booker is trying to privatize the water in Newark New Jersey for instance.

Democrats are the party of military contractors and charter schools as well. When Obama Secretary of Education Arne Duncan ran the school system in Chicago he gave several high schools and even a middle school to the US military to run as their own charter schools. Obama's Race To The Top program bludgeons school districts around the country into closing public schools, firing teachers and replacing them with charters, and is lauded by Democrat big city mayors in places like Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

Unlike Republicans, Democrats often say they like brown people, and they get the lion's share of the Latino vote. But President Obama's words don't match his actions. Obama has deported more brown people in 3 years than the last three Republicans put together.

On the good side, this Democratic president, and many other Democrats even support gay marriage and the right to access birth control and abortions. And although Democratic congressional leaders, when they controlled the House during and after Katrina, refused to hold hearings on the disaster because they were afraid of looking too pro-black, Democrats are emphatically NOT the party of white supremacy. In fact all the black elected officials elected with majorities of actual black votes are Democrats.

So there are differences. But down here on the ground where people actually live, those differences don't amount to much. Both are war parties, parties of the rich, parties that want to privatize roads, water, public schools (that's what charters are about --- privatization!) parties that will continue the war on drugs and policies that feed our American prison state.

I grew up believing my vote meant something, that it was my voice. The people I called my teachers taught me to raise my voice against unjust wars and economic oppression, the same way I'd raise it against racism. Exchanging a few white faces in city halls, legislatures and the White House for black and brown ones isn't really such a big deal.

What passes for black political power nowadays isn't such a big deal to me because poverty rates are as high now as when a bygone Democratic president declared a war on poverty --- a project that failed because he spent all the money in a colonial war that killed millions in Vietnam, and climbing still higher. Prolonging the careers of black Democrats like Atlanta's Kasim Reed, Newark's Corey Booker, Philly's Mike Nutter or even of congressmen John Lewis and Jim Clyburn as they front for gentrifiers, charter schools, and power companies that build new nukes in the middle of poor black towns being poisoned by old ones is just not anything I want to do with my voice.

I can see why all the big preachers want black folks to vote Democratic. Most of them are part of, or aspiring parts of the black political class, the black misleadership class themselves. Many depend on so-called "faith based" funding to keep their ministries alive. The black church has been captured, and is a kind of "state religion" of the black political class, divorced from the lives of the class of black people who provide over 40% of the nation's prisoners.

I'm an old guy now, past sixty but not yet senior enough for Medicare, and I've been in the movement a long time. Younger people sometimes ask me what to do. After telling them not to respect their elders all that much --- we didn't respect them that much 45 years ago either --- the main thing I tell them is that movement leaders and participants back in the day had visions and horizons longer than the next election cycle or the one after that. They were prepared to fight whether they had allies in city hall, the legislature or the courts or not. Unlike today's NAACP and NAN, they developed agendas without the guidance of corporate funders and their recommended professionals.

We've proved we can elect as many Democrats as we want, all the way up the food chain without changing much here at the bottom. I know this well. I gave more than 20 years of my own life to electing better Democrats, helping Democrats run better campaigns, and registering more Democrat voters. I met Barack Obama 20 years ago on one of those gigs in Project VOTE Illinois, where he was state director and I was one of three field organizers who signed up 130,000 new voters and flogged them out to the polls that year. We elected Harold Washington, and a lot of state legislators and a few Congressional reps. The Democratic party will still let you work for it, but once in office, big money calls the shots. It's time to leave that house and build a new one.

It's an uncomfortable truth: the present US political system is largely people-proof and democracy-proof. The time and treasure we've sunk into supporting Democrats the last seventy years is gone. It's a horse we raised and watered and fed that somebody else has ridden off and it won't be back.

I still believe my voice and my vote mean something. Kwame Toure used to say the thing to do is find an organization you're in substantial agreement with and join it, or if it does not exist, start one and recruit your neighbors.

So I've joined the Georgia Green Party, and I'm recruiting those of my neighbors who still believes that unemployment and mass incarceration have to be addressed, that illegal wars and deportations must be stopped, that Wall Street must be reined in, and that gentrification and privatization have to be stopped. Most voters who call themselves Democrats, in fact millions of those voting for President Obama believe exactly these things already, but are substantially disinformed about what their elected officials actually DO.

I was at a demonstration in support of Chicago teachers Saturday, and some participants seemed to assume that the president was on their side, that maybe they could enlist figures like Rev. Al Sharpton to aid their struggle to mobilize people against the inroads of school privatizaters. It fell to me to tell them the bad news --- that Sharpton took a half million dollar bribe years ago to jump on the charter school bandwagon, that he toured the country with Newt Gingrich and Arne Duncan beating the bushes for high stakes testing and charters, and the administration is actually the enemy on this one.

Eventually they and many like them, if they want a party that stands up for what they believe, will have to become Greens. It's my job to make sure that happens.

So I'll watch the debates, sure. The crooks who run them won't let Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate on the same stage with the corporate candidates. So I'll watch Democracy Now's coverage, in which Jill Stein and another candidate in real time answer the same questions as they do. My colleague Glen Ford will be a guest at Occupy The Debates in Baltimore as well.

So yes, I'll watch. And I'll vote. But not for a Republican and not for a Democrat, not again. I'll vote like my voice means something. I won't be coerced into voting for a 100% evil Democrat just because the Republicans are 120% evil. I'm voting Green this year, and helping build a Green Party, right here in Georgia where I live.
(c) 2012 Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, a state committee member of the GA Green Party, and a partner in a technology firm. He lives and works in Marietta GA, and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)

Jose Crow
Arizona Fights Aliens(aka Democrats)
By Greg Palast

"There is a massive effort underway to register illegal aliens in this country!" ~~~ Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce

The Arizona Republican hunt for "aliens" from Uranus to the Rio Grande has led to the removal of over 200,000 citizens, overwhelmingly Latino, from the state's voter rolls. There's more than an even chance that vote "suppression" - the polite word for racist, Jose Crow racial tactics - will result in the Democrats losing an open seat in the U.S. Senate where Democratic Hispanic Richard Carmona is pulling ahead of Republican Jeff Flake.

But I don't think Carmona wants to win with illegal alien votes. After all, an alien voting has committed a crime- yet no one was arrested. Why? I flew out to Phoenix to investigate-and ended up in jail. That is, I visited the infamous tent prison of Sheriff Joe Arpaio who has led the alien hunt in his state.

But before I broke into Arpaio's prison, I called his political ally, Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, who sponsored one of the nation's nastiest ID laws, Prop 200. It requires all new voting registrants to prove they are US citizens.

"How many illegal aliens have actually been registered?" I asked.

Pearce's PR flak told me, five million. All Democrats too.

FIVE MILLION? WOW!! Our investigations team flew to Arizona to look for these hordes of voters swimming the Rio Grande - just so they could vote for Obama.

We wanted Pearce to give us their names and addresses so we could bust a bunch and get a Pulitzer Prize. It should be easy: their names and addresses are on their felonious registration forms. I'd happily make a citizen's arrest of each one, on camera. But Pearce ducked us, literally hiding from our cameras. Turns out, he didn't have five million names. He didn't have five. He didn't have one.

His five million alien voters came from a Republican website that extrapolated from the number of Mexicans in a border town who refused jury service because they were not citizens. Not one, in fact, had registered to vote: they had registered to drive. They had obtained licenses as required by the law.

The illegal voters, "wetback" welfare moms, and alien job-thieves are just GOP website wet-dreams, but their mythic PR power helps the party's electoral hacks chop away at voter rolls and civil rights with little more than a whimper from the Democrats.

There are only four proofs of citizenship in the USA:

1. If you have your original birth certificate. Good luck with that, especially among the Hispanic poor who had home births and little access to such records.

2. A US passport. (Not many of the clerks working at Wal-Mart look like they'd just come back from their ski vacation in the Alps.)

3. Naturalization papers. If you become a citizen, you have documents that say so. The problem is that most Hispanic families in Arizona were citizens of the USA before there was a USA. They are natural, not naturalized, citizens, and so don't have the papers.

4. White skin. In Arizona, according to the US Justice Department, the cops accept that white skin is a proof of citizenship. Maricopa County (Phoenix) Sheriff Joe Arpaio is on trial for having his cops stop citizens of brownish hue, demanding their citizenship papers and tossing them in the hooskow when they don't.

I tested the white-skin-is-citizenship rule myself. I went to visit Arpaio's famous (infamous?) open-air prison in the desert. You can see the sign, ILLEGAL ALIENS ARE PROHIBITED FROM VISITING ANYONE IN THIS JAIL - SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO. What if he found out that Grandma Palast snuck in from Windsor, Canada!

Not to worry: the sheriff 's crew was happy to escort me and my investigations chief, Badpenny, around Tent City, and the deportee-sniffing professionals never asked for her citizenship papers. She doesn't have them because she's not a citizen. But she did remember to bring her white skin.

But hunting for illegal aliens isn't the point. Arizona Hispanics vote two-to-one Democratic and if they were all allowed to register, the Republican sheriff and the state GOP would be toast. Or, I should say, tortillas.

And it's darn effective. So far, not one illegal alien has been caught voting - but one in three registrations in Phoenix have been rejected.

Ole, Senor Rove!

But you can't fool all of the voters all of the time. On November 21, 2011, Russell Pearce was re-called and removed from office by the voters of Arizona. Apparently, his Jose Crow tactics are alien to most citizens of the state.

Much of the work exposing Pearce and his racial trickery goes to Democracy for America. We are proud to have DFA as an action group partner in the release of Billionaires & Ballot Bandits. Go to for other Action Groups, the book, excerpts and the 7 Ways to Beat the Ballot Bandits free poster/leaflet download.
(c) 2012 Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy." His investigations for BBC TV and Democracy Now! can be seen by subscribing to 's reports at. Greg will be providing investigative reports for

The GOP Rejects, Then Embraces, And Now Is Stuck With Todd Akin

Hail, hail the GOP gang's all here - so let us now welcome Rep. Todd Akin back into the fold!

Todd, the present Republican nominee for a Missouri U.S. Senate seat, was coldly cast aside by his own partisan flock just a few weeks ago because well, because he's truly goofy. He's the "legitimate rape" guy who put forth a theory of voodoo "science" that would prevent even pregnant rape victims from being allowed abortions. If a woman endures a "legitimate" rape, explained this member of - believe it or not - the U.S. House science committee, her body would magically generate some sort of occult hormone that would prevent her from becoming pregnant. Thus, spake Todd, any woman who gets pregnant from an unwanted sexual "encounter" - even a violent one forced upon her - has not experienced a legitimate rape and must bear the rapist's child.

Oh, cried every GOP politico from Mitt Romney to the county dogcatcher, this is too weird even for us, so Todd must resign as our party's nominee, forthwith! Only he didn't. And guess what? The moral purists who so loudly reviled Akin a few weeks ago are now hugging him, tucking campaign checks in his sordid coat pockets, hoping he'll win so they - and he - can take over the U.S. Senate. What's a little rape compared to political expediency?

But - whoops - Todd wasn't through with his goofiness binge. Now, a video has surfaced in which Mr. Legitimate Rape-Man doubles as Mr. Legitimate Discrimination-Man. Asked at a public meeting why a woman shouldn't get equal pay for doing the same work as a man, the guy who would be senator explains - on video - that free enterprise means that corporations are free to discriminate in what they pay women - or people of color, immigrants, older workers, or others.

Keep talking, Todd - we're all listening.
(c) 2012 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

A Floor Statement
By Bernard Sanders

Madam President, the American people are angry.

They are angry because they are living through the worst recession since the great depression.

Unemployment is not 8.2%, real unemployment is closer to 15%.

Young people who are graduating high school and graduating college, they're going out into the world, they want to become independent, they want to work, and there are no jobs.

There are workers out there 50, 55 years old who intended to work the remainder of their working lives, suddenly they got a pink slip, their self-esteem is destroyed, they're never going to have another job again and now they're worried about their retirement security.

What the American people are angry about is they understand that they did not cause this recession. Teachers did not cause this recession. Firefighters and police officers who are being attacked daily by governors all over this country did not cause this recession. Construction workers did not cause this recession. This recession was caused by the greed, the recklessness and illegal behavior of the people on Wall Street.

These people on Wall Street spent billions of dollars, billions of dollars, trying to deregulate Wall Street and they got their way. $5 billion in ten years is what was spent, and then they were able to merge investment banks with commercial banks, with insurance companies. They got everything they wanted. They said get the government off the backs of Wall Street. They got it. And the end result was that they plunged this country into the worst recession since the great depression.

Now, four years after the financial crisis caused by J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and the other huge financial institutions, one might have thought that perhaps they learned something, that maybe the lesson of the great financial crisis was you cannot continue to maintain the largest gambling casino in the history of the world. But apparently they have not learned that lesson. They are back at it again and we have recently seen the $2 billion or $3 billion or $5 billion in gambling losses at J.P. Morgan Chase. If we're going to put people back to work we need Wall Street to invest in the productive economy. Small and medium-sized businesses all over this country need affordable loans and that's what financial institutions should be doing. They should be helping us create jobs, expand businesses, not continue to engage in their wild and exotic gambling schemes. Now, Madam President, when we talk about why the American people are angry, they are angry because they understand that Wall Street received the largest taxpayer bailout in the history of the world. But it was not just the $700 billion that congress approved through the TARP program. As a result of an independent audit that some of us helped to bring about in the Dodd-Frank bill, we learned, Madam President, that the Federal Reserve provided a jaw-dropping $16 trillion in virtually zero interest loans to every major financial institution in this country, central banks all over the world, large corporations and, in fact, to wealthy individuals. And what the American people are saying is if the Fed can provide $16 trillion to large financial institutions, why can't they begin to move to protect homeowners, unemployed workers, and the middle class of this country?

The American people are looking, and they are angry not just because unemployment is high, they're angry not just because millions of people have lost their homes and their life savings. They are angry because they understand that the middle class of this country is collapsing, poverty is increasing, while at the same time the people on top are doing phenomenally well. They, the taxpayers of this country, bail out Wall Street, and Wall Street recovers. Wall Street does well, but now we have kids in this country graduating college deeply in debt, can't find a job. We have older workers losing their jobs and people are saying what is going on in America?

The American people ultimately, I believe, are angry because they are looking at this great country, a country which many of our veterans fought and died for and what they are seeing is that this nation is losing its middle class, is losing its democratic values, and, in fact, is moving toward an oligarchic form of government where a handful of billionaires control the economic and political life of this nation.

In the United States today we have the most unequal distribution of wealth and income since the 1920's. Now, you're not going to see what I'm talking about on Fox, you're not going to see it on NBC or CBS, but it's important that we discuss this issue because it's one of the most important issues facing America.

Today the wealthiest 400 individuals in America own more wealth than the bottom half of America, 150 million people.

Today, the six heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune now own more wealth than the bottom 30% of the American people. One family owns more wealth than the bottom 30%, 90 million Americans.

Today the top 1% own 40% of all of the wealth in America. The top 1% owns 40% of all the wealth in America. What do we think the bottom 60% of the American people own?

I ask this question a lot around Vermont. People say maybe they own 15%, maybe they own 20%. Well, the answer is they own less than 2%. Less than 2%. So you got the bottom 60% of the American people owning less than 2% of the wealth, top 1% own 40% of the wealth.

Here's another astounding fact and we don't see this too much in the media. Many of my colleagues don't talk about it too often but incredibly, the bottom 40% of the American people own 0.3% of the wealth of this country. And I know we have some of my colleagues coming up here and say look, not everybody in America is paying taxes.

We have millions of people not paying any taxes. No kidding. They don't have any money. Because all of the money is on the top.

According to a new study from the Federal Reserve, median net worth for middle-class families dropped by nearly 40% from 2007 to 2010, primarily because of the plummeting value of homes. That is the equivalent of wiping out 18 years of savings for the average middle-class family. Now, I talked a moment about distribution of wealth. That's what you accumulate in your lifetime. Let me say a word about income, which is what we earn in a year. The last study on income distribution showed us that between the years 2009 and 2010 -- 2009 and 2010 -- 93% of all new income created went to the top 1%, while the 99% had the privilege of enjoying the remaining 7%. In other words, the wealthy people in this country are becoming wealthier, the middle class is disappearing and poverty is increasing. Now, when we talk about an oligarchic form of government, what we're talking about is not just a handful of families owning entire nations. We're also talking about the politics of the nation.

And as a result of this disastrous Citizens United decision which is now two years old, one of the worst decisions ever brought about by the Supreme Court of this country, a decision that they just reaffirmed a few days ago with regard to Montana, what the Supreme Court has said to the wealthiest people in this country, okay, you own almost all the wealth of this nation -- that's great -- now we're going to give you an opportunity to own the political life of this nation. And if you're getting bored by just owning coal companies and casinos and manufacturing plants, you now have the opportunity to own the United States government. So we have people like the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson. The Koch Brothers are worth $50 billion. That's what they're worth. And, they have said they're prepared to put $400 million into this campaign to defeat Obama, to defeat candidates who are representing working families.

Sheldon Adelson says he's only worth $20 billion. He's kind of a pauper. But he's willing to spend what it takes to buy the government. And if you look at it, it ain't a bad deal. If you're worth $50 billion and you spend a billion or two, you can buy the United States government. That's a pretty good investment. And that's what they are about to do. So on one hand we have a grossly unequal distribution of wealth and income. These guys control the economy.

You have the six largest financial institutions in this country that have assets equivalent to two-thirds of the GDP. of America. Over $9 trillion. These six financial institutions write half the mortgages, two-thirds of the credit cards in America. Huge impact on the economy. That's not enough for these guys. Top 1% owns half of the wealth. Not enough for these guys. Now they have the opportunity to buy the United States government. So that's where we are.

Now, in my view, working families all over this country are saying, enough is enough. They want this congress to start standing for them and not just the millionaires and the billionaires who are spending unbelievable sums of money in this campaign. So it seems to me, Mr. President, that what we have got to do is start listening to the needs of working families, the vast majority of our people, and not just the people who make campaign contributions. And I know that's a very radical idea. I do know that. But, you know, it might be a good idea to try a little bit to reaffirm the faith of the American people in their democratic form of government. Let them know just a little bit that maybe we are hearing their pain, their unemployment, their debt. The fact that they don't have any health care. The fact they can't afford to send their kids to college. Maybe, just maybe, we might want to listen to them before we go running out to another fund-raising event with millionaires and billionaires.

I do know that is a radical idea. So let's talk about what we can actually do for the American people. In the midst of this terrible recession, where real unemployment is closer to 15% if you include those folks who have given up looking for work and those people who are working part time when they want to work full time, we know that the fastest way to create decent paying jobs is to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.

In Vermont, many of our bridges are in desperate need of repair, our roads are in need of repair, and our rail system is falling further and further behind Europe and China. We've got water systems that desperately need repair, wastewater plants, we have schools that need repair. We can put millions of people back to work making our country more competitive, more efficient by addressing our infrastructure crisis. Let's do it. It is beyond my comprehension that we can't even get a modest transportation bill signed into law. I know that Chairwoman Boxer and Senator Inhofe are working on a modest transportation bill. We can't even get that through the house. In fact, we've got to do a lot more than that. But at least they're making the effort.

Mr. President, at a time when we spend some $300 billion a year importing oil from Saudi Arabia and other foreign countries, at a time when this planet is struggling with global warming and all of the extreme weather disturbances that we see and the billions of dollars that we are spending in response to these extreme weather disturbances, we need to move toward energy independence, we need to reverse greenhouse gas emissions. In other words, we need to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel into energy efficiency and into sustainable energy like wind, solar, geothermal and biomass. And when we do that, we also create a substantial number of decent paying jobs. And, by the way, in the midst of a very competitive global economy, what we should not be doing is laying off teachers and child care workers. We should be investing in education, not laying off those people who are educating our kids.

I know that there is a lot of discussion on the floor with regard to the national debt, almost $16 trillion. The deficit over $1 trillion. That is a serious issue and we've got to deal with it. But my view is a little bit different than many of my colleagues in terms of how we deal with it.

I think most Americans understand the causation of the deficit crisis.

President Bush went to war in Iraq and he went to war in Afghanistan. And, you know, he just forgot something. We all have memory lapses, don't we?

We go shopping and we forget to buy the milk or the bread. He had a memory lapse. He forgot to pay for them. Now, a couple a trillion dollars and he forgot to pay for them. And all of our deficit hawks out here, all of those folks that say, "You got to cut food stamps, you got to cut education, you got to cut health care." Oh, two wars, $2 trillion, $3 trillion, $4 trillion, no problem. No problem at all. And, for the first time, as I understand it, in the history of this country, we went to war -- which is an expensive proposition -- and at the same time not only did we not raise the money to pay for the war, we went the other way, we decided to give huge tax breaks, including to the wealthiest people in this country. You spend trillions going to war, you give tax breaks to the wealthiest people in this country, well, that begins to add up.

That's called creating a deficit. And then on top of that, because of the greed and the recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street which drove us into this recession, when you're in a recession and people are unemployed and small businesses go under, less revenue is coming in to the federal treasury.

You're spending a whole lot, less revenue is coming in, and you have a deficit crisis. Now, some of my Republican friends -- and some Democrats, I should say -- they say, well, maybe, maybe we should have paid for the war. Yeah, you're right. Maybe we shouldn't have given those tax breaks to the rich. Yeah, maybe you're right. But, be that as it may, we are where we are, and we need deficit reduction and we know how to do it.

We're going to cut Social Security. And my friends back home, when you hear folks talking about Social Security reform, hold on to your wallets because they are talking about cuts in Social Security. Nothing more, nothing less. They're talking about something that in Vermont, nobody has heard of, the concept called chained CPI.

Every time I go home, I ask them. People don't know what chained CPI is. The so-called chained CPI is the belief -- and I know senior citizens back home are going to start laughing when I say this -- that COLAs (cost of living adjustments) for Social Security are too high. And seniors back home start scratching their heads and say wait, we just went through two years when my prescription drug costs went up, my health care costs went up and I got no COLA and there are people in Washington, Republicans, some Democrats, they think I my COLA was too high?

What world are these people living in?

And that's the reality. So some of the folks here want to pass something called a chained CPI, which, if it were imposed --and I will do everything I can to see that it does not get imposed -- would mean that between the ages of 65 and 75, a senior would lose about $560 a year, and then when they turn 85 and they're trying to get by off of $13,000 or $14,000 a year, they would lose about a thousand bucks a year. That's what some of our colleagues want to do. Virtually all the Republicans want to do it. Some Democrats want to do it as well. As chairman of the defending Social Security caucus, I'm going to do everything that I can to prevent that. Now, they also want to cut Medicare and they want to cut Medicaid. Well, we've got 50 million people without any health insurance at all. We've got people paying huge deductibles. Medicaid covering nursing home care. They want to cut Medicare and Medicaid. They have the brilliant idea, some of them, that maybe we should raise the retirement age for Medicare from 65 to 67.

Mr. President, tell me about somebody in Minnesota who's 66 and is diagnosed with cancer, and if we do what the republicans want us to do in the house, which is to create a voucher plan for Medicare, we'd give that person a check for, I don't know, $7,000 I think or $8,000 and say, you can go out to a private insurance company - anyone you want -- here's your $7,000 or $8,000, you're suffering with cancer, go get your insurance. And I guess that would last you maybe one day or two days in the hospital. That's what it would do. That's the republican plan. So, Mr. President, I agree that deficit reduction is a real issue and I think we have got to deal with it. But we are not, if I have anything to say about it, going to deal with it on the backs of the elderly, the children, the sick, the poor and the hungry. The way you deal with deficit reduction in a responsible way, in a fair way is you say to the billionaires in this country, who are doing phenomenally well, that there's something a little bit absurd that millionaires and billionaires today, in the midst of the deficit crisis, are paying the lowest tax rates that they have paid in decades.

So, yes, we're going to have to ask the wealthiest people in this country to start paying their fair share of taxes. I saw a piece in the paper the other day. It was quite incredible. Some billionaires apparently are leaving America, they're giving up their citizenship, and they're going abroad. These great lovers of America who made their money in this country, when you ask them to start paying their fair share of taxes, they're running abroad. We have 19-year-old kids in this country who've died in Iraq and Afghanistan defending this country, they went abroad not to escape taxes, they're working-class kids who died in wars and now some billionaires want to run abroad in order to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. What patriotism, what love of country. So, Mr. President, yeah, we've got to deal with deficit reduction. But you don't cut Social Security, you don't cut Medicare, you don't cut Medicaid, you don't cut education.

You ask the wealthiest people, the millionaires and billionaires, to start paying their fair share of taxes. You end these outrageous corporate loopholes. Senator Conrad showed a picture of a building in the Cayman Islands where there are 18,000 corporations. They're there in the Cayman Islands using a postal address in order to avoid paying their taxes. We're losing about a hundred billion a year. You've got large corporations making billions, paying in some cases nothing in taxes. That's the way you go to deficit reduction, not on the backs of people who are already hurting. So, Mr. President, we are in a very difficult moment in American history. We are in the process of losing the great middle class. We're seeing more of our people living in poverty. We're seeing savage attacks being waged against the elderly in terms of cuts in Social Security and Medicare, attacks against those who get sick in terms of going after Medicaid and Medicare. And I think what the American people are saying is enough is enough. This country, this great country, belongs to all of us. It cannot continue to be controlled by a handful of billionaires who apparently want it all. You know, I, for the love of me, I cannot understand why people who have billions of dollars are compulsively driven for more and how many people have got to die because they don't go to a doctor because you want to avoid paying your taxes?

Well, that's not what America is about. That's not what people fought and died to create. With that, we have got a fight on our hands. The job of the United States national is to represent the middle-class families of this country, all of the people, and not just the super-rich. I hope we can begin to do that.
(c) 2012 Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 after serving 16 years in the House of Representatives. He is the longest serving independent member of Congress in American history. Elected Mayor of Burlington, Vt., by 10 votes in 1981, he served four terms. Before his 1990 election as Vermont's at-large member in Congress, Sanders lectured at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and at Hamilton College in upstate New York. Read more at his website.

US Prisons; Corporate Slave Labor Camps
By James Donahue

What do the nation's "War on Drugs," the privatization of the operation of American prisons, our military involvements in Afghanistan, Vietnam, Nicaragua and other places around the world have in common? The wars have opened secret drug commerce into the United States which feed the drug war, keep an army of police, court officials and prison officials living high on taxpayer dollars and provides an estimated 2.3 million slave laborers for private industry.

It is all part of a complex rip-off of America, at taxpayer expense, that provides disguised slave labor camps for big business.

It has been common knowledge that prison inmates have been given jobs making automobile license plates and other items for use by the military, postal workers and other government-run offices. And "chain gangs" of state and county detention facilities have long been put to work, under guard, to clean brush along highways and maintain public parks and government properties. But now that a large part of the state and federal prison system has been turned over to private corporate operators, this enslaved labor force appears to have been made available to labor for private industry.

The United States boasts to be "the land of the free" and we teach our children in school the Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves. But slavery has never gone away. It has existed in the sweat shops all around the world, and including America, where an army of workers has been forced to work long hours at low wages manufacturing the products produced by industry.

Notice the political battle now occurring throughout America as right-wing conservative politicians manipulate the destruction of organized labor. The union shops fought successfully against the sweat shop mentality, and this has caused industry to move overseas in a quest for cheap non-union labor.

The privatization of American prisons in recent years, however, has opened the door to seizing upon this niche market for a massive reserve army of workers that are being forced to work for industry for pennies a day. And don't think it isn't happening.

Mostly because of the drug war, the United States currently maintains the highest prison rate per capita in the world. As of 2009, the rate was 743 per 100,000 of the national population. The crowding of local jails, state and federal prisons, and the rising cost of housing prisoners and building new prison facilities has led to the concept of privatization of prisons. As of 2001, the average cost of housing a single prison inmate was costing taxpayers just over $62 a day. Imagine how much higher that cost has risen in the last decade?

Two of the largest private corporations that own and contract with the government to house prisoners are Corrections Corporation of America and G4S. A recent report in Tom Dispatch noted that both are selling inmate labor at wages of between 93 cents and $4.73 per day to Fortune 500 corporations like Chevron, Bank of America, AT&T and IBM.

These companies actually lease factories in prisoners, or the prisoners work on the outside making office furniture, working in call centers, fabricating body armor, taking hotel reservations, working in slaughterhouses and manufacturing shoes and clothing. A lot of it is stuff folks are buying at stores like Wal-Mart.

What a perfect slave labor set-up they have created right under our noses. Most people don't think much about what is going on in our prisons. If they are convicted felons, they deserve the sentence imposed upon them by the courts. At least that is the implant we have been given for personal perception. But what if you personally know someone, or are personally related to someone condemned to serve time in one of those facilities? Suddenly the truth of what is happening to them becomes more real and personable.

The prison system has become forced slave labor camps in the United States, and possibly all over the world. Indeed, Wall Street investors and big corporations are investing in the prison industry because the use of the inmates allows them to find low-cost labor without worrying about things like health and unemployment insurance, vacation time, sick time, strikes or all of the other things demanded by organized labor. The prisoners can be threatened with things like solitary confinement if they refuse to work. Best of all, the companies using this labor force do not have to consider moving their plants overseas in search of cheap labor. Most of the cost of housing these workers is borne by American taxpayers. For industry it is a win-win situation.

While the United States has about five percent of the world's population, we house a quarter of all the prisoners in the world.

This is why our elected "leadership" refuses to put an end to the terrible war against drugs that is tearing up the heart of our nation. It is why the drug cartels are conducting wars in the streets over which gang gets to profit from the sales of the flow of narcotics. It is a major reason America appears to be in a constant state of war in countries where marijuana, poppy plants and cocoa grow in abundance. It explains why we have so many police operating in our midst. It explains the high salaries paid our lawyers, judges and court workers. It is all big business. It is all for money.
(c) 2012 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site

Veterans And Allies Arrested In New York As Afghanistan War Enters Year 12
By David Swanson

Twenty-five people, most of them U.S. military veterans, were arrested while laying flowers at a war memorial in New York City Oct. 7. They were engaged in a peaceful vigil to honor those killed and wounded in war and to oppose the U.S. war in Afghanistan as it entered its 12th year.

The vigil was held at Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza in lower Manhattan and began with a program of music and speakers including Vietnam veteran Bishop George Packard, Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent Chris Hedges, and Iraq combat veteran Jenny Pacanowski. At 8:30, the protesters began reading the names of the New York soldiers killed in Vietnam who are commemorated at the plaza and the military dead in Afghanistan and Iraq.

At 10:15 pm, the police informed the group that the park was officially closed and that if they remained they would be arrested. Many chose to continue reading names and laying flowers until they were handcuffed and taken away. One of the arrestees was Word War II Army combat veteran, Jay Wenk, 85, from Woodstock, NY.

The veterans had four aims:

Demand an end to the 11-year war in Afghanistan
Demand an end to all U.S. wars of aggression
Remember all those killed and wounded by war
Stand up for our right, and duty, to assemble and organize

Photojournalist, poet and Vietnam veteran Mike Hastie was the first arrested, after appealing to police not to force the veterans out of the war memorial: "This is a sad day. I was a medic in Vietnam. I watched soldiers commit suicide. I had soldiers' brains all over my lap. How can you do this? How can you arrest me for being at a war memorial?"

Former VFP President Mike Ferner said, "I bet a lot of the arresting officers tonight were also military veterans; a number of them didn't look too happy with the job they were told to do."

"War is a public health problem, not only because of those killed directly, but also for the lingering trauma it causes," said leading health care activist Dr. Margaret Flowers. "Ending war would be a good preventive health care measure." Poet Jenny Pacanowski read part of her poem "Parade," which began "The funeral procession from Syracuse airport to Ithaca NY was over 50 miles long./Dragging his dead body through town after town of people, families and children waving flags./The fallen HERO had finally come home./I wonder how many children who saw this, will someday want to be dead HEROS too./I did not wave a flag that day or any day since my return." She went on, "I live in a dream called my life. Where the good things don't seem real or sustainable./I live in the nightmares of the past called Iraq and PTSD that never run out of fuel./Is it better to be dead hero?/Or a living fucked up, addicted, crazy veteran?"

"As long as we keep exposing the truth about these wars, then these people will not have died in vain," said VFP board member Tarak Kauff.

Veterans For Peace was founded in 1985 and has approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters across the U.S. VFP has official "Observer" status at the United Nations, and is the only national veterans organization calling for the abolition of war
(c) 2012 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

Walmart Associates across the country are walking off the job to
protest Walmart's attempts to silence their right to voice grievances.

Workers Fight For Justice, From Wal-Mart To Chipotle
By Amy Goodman

The great recession of 2008, this global economic meltdown, has wiped out the life savings of so many people and created a looming threat of chronic unemployment for millions. This is happening while corporate coffers are brimming with historically high levels of cash on hand, in both the "too big to fail" banks and in nonfinancial corporations. Despite unemployment levels that remain high, and the anxiety caused by people living paycheck to paycheck, many workers in the United States are taking matters into their own hands, demanding better working conditions and better pay. These are the workers who are left unmentioned in the presidential debates, who remain uninvited into the corporate news networks' gilded studios. These are the workers at Wal-Mart, the largest private employer in the United States. These are the tomato pickers from Florida. With scant resources, armed with their courage and the knowledge that they deserve better, they are organizing and getting results.

This week, Wal-Mart workers launched the first strike against the giant retailer in its 50-year history, with protests and picket lines at 28 stores across 12 states. Many of these nonunion workers are facing retaliation from their employer, despite the protections that exist on paper through the National Labor Relations Board. The strikers are operating under the banner of OUR Walmart: Organization United for Respect at Wal-Mart, started with support from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. OUR Walmart members protested outside Wal-Mart's "Meeting for the Investment Community 2012" in Bentonville, Ark. Demanding a stop to the company's retaliations, the group promised a vigorous national presence at Wal-Mart stores on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the largest retail shopping day of the year. The workers have an impressive array of allies ready to join them, including the National Organization for Women.

Wal-Mart has historically shrouded its business practices by engaging subcontractors to perform tasks like warehousing and delivery. In Elwood, Ill., warehouse workers employed by Wal-Mart subcontractor RoadLink went out on strike immediately after a similar strike in California. According to Warehouse Workers for Justice (WWJ), "warehouse workers labor under extreme temperatures, lifting thousands of boxes that can weigh up to 250lbs each. Workplace injuries are common; workers rarely earn a living wage or have any benefits."

According to WWJ, after 21 days on strike in Elwood, the workers "won their principal demand for an end to illegal retaliation against workers protesting poor conditions. They will return to work ... with full pay for the time they were on strike."

I spoke with one of the Elwood strikers, Mike Compton, who described just one of the awful conditions they endured at their low-wage job:

"We have a big problem with dust. You know, all our containers that we unload come from China, and they're just filled with black dust. It's horrible, breathing the stuff in all day, you know, and we'd have to ask seven, eight times to get a dust mask. We'd just be pointed in different directions, to a different manager, to a different department. And half the time we'd walk away empty-handed at the end of it anyway. We've actually had trailers that were labeled 'defumigated in Mexico.' We don't know why. People have had trouble breathing in the trailers. You know, dust—something as simple and as cheap as a dust mask should just be readily available to anyone, in my opinion, especially a company as wealthy as Wal-Mart."

Compton was in Bentonville, Ark., Wal-Mart's corporate headquarters, to protest at the Wal-Mart investor meeting.

Meanwhile, immigrant farmworkers have for generations labored under brutal conditions, picking tomatoes in the rural town of Immokalee, Fla. In 1993, they formed the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to organize in solidarity with consumers to demand that major restaurant chains source their tomatoes from farms that pay a fair wage to their workers.

I spoke with farmworker and CIW organizer Gerardo Reyes-Chavez. He was in Denver, where the fast-food outlet Chipotle is based. CIW has been working on Chipotle for 10 years. He told me: "We have been able to create a Fair Food Program, addressing abuses in the tomato industry. We created a whole new system ... to identify where abuses are going on and uproot them from the system. This is an opportunity for Chipotle to do the right thing. They claim that they sell food with integrity, and they are really focused on the sustainability ... what we are saying is, this is an opportunity for them to make it a reality."

The day after I spoke with Reyes-Chaves, Chipotle signed the Fair Food Agreement. As the presidential candidates trade barbs over jobs in their heavily-controlled debates, workers at the grass roots are organizing for change, from Florida to California.
(c) 2012 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 750 stations in North America. She is the co-author of "Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times," recently released in paperback and "Breaking The Sound Barrier."

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama participate in the first presidential debate at the University of Denver.

The US Presidential Debates' Illusion Of Political Choice
The issue is not what separates Romney and Obama, but how much they agree. This hidden consensus has to be exposed
By Glenn Greenwald

Wednesday night's debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney underscored a core truth about America's presidential election season: the vast majority of the most consequential policy questions are completely excluded from the process. This fact is squarely at odds with a primary claim made about the two parties - that they represent radically different political philosophies - and illustrates how narrow the range of acceptable mainstream political debate is in the country.

In part this is because presidential elections are now conducted almost entirely like a tawdry TV reality show. Personality quirks and trivialities about the candidates dominate coverage, and voter choices, leaving little room for substantive debates.

But in larger part, this exclusion is due to the fact that, despite frequent complaints that America is plagued by a lack of bipartisanship, the two major party candidates are in full-scale agreement on many of the nation's most pressing political issues. As a result these are virtually ignored, drowned out by a handful of disputes that the parties relentlessly exploit to galvanise their support base and heighten fear of the other side.

Most of what matters in American political life is nowhere to be found in its national election debates. Penal policies vividly illustrate this point. America imprisons more of its citizens than any other nation on earth by far, including countries with far greater populations. As the New York Times reported in April 2008: "The United States has less than 5% of the world's population. But it has almost a quarter of the world's prisoners."

Professor Glenn Loury of Brown University has observed that these policies have turned the US into "a nation of jailers" whose "prison system has grown into a leviathan unmatched in human history." The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik called this mass incarceration "perhaps the fundamental fact [of American society], as slavery was the fundamental fact of 1850."

Even worse, these policies are applied, and arguably designed, with mass racial disparities. One in every four African-American men is likely to be imprisoned. Black and Latino drug users are arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned at far higher rates than whites, even though usage among all groups is relatively equal.

The human cost of this sprawling penal state is obviously horrific: families are broken up, communities are decimated, and those jailed are rendered all but unemployable upon release. But the financial costs are just as devastating. California now spends more on its prison system than it does on higher education, a warped trend repeated around the country.

Yet none of these issues will even be mentioned, let alone debated, by Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. That is because they have no discernible differences when it comes to any of the underlying policies, including America's relentless fixation on treating drug usage as a criminal, rather than health, problem. The oppressive system that now imprisons 1.8 million Americans, and that will imprison millions more over their lifetime, is therefore completely ignored during the only process when most Americans are politically engaged.

This same dynamic repeats itself in other crucial realms. President Obama's dramatically escalated drone attacks in numerous countries have generated massive anger in the Muslim world, continuously kill civilians, and are of dubious legality at best. His claimed right to target even American citizens for extrajudicial assassinations, without a whiff of transparency or oversight, is as radical a power as any seized by George Bush and Dick Cheney.

Yet Americans whose political perceptions are shaped by attentiveness to the presidential campaign would hardly know that such radical and consequential policies even exist. That is because here too there is absolute consensus between the two parties.

A long list of highly debatable and profoundly significant policies will be similarly excluded due to bipartisan agreement. The list includes a rapidly growing domestic surveillance state that now monitors and records even the most innocuous activities of all Americans; job-killing free trade agreements; climate change policies; and the Obama justice department's refusal to prosecute the Wall Street criminals who precipitated the 2008 financial crisis.

On still other vital issues, such as America's steadfastly loyal support for Israel and its belligerence towards Iran, the two candidates will do little other than compete over who is most aggressively embracing the same absolutist position. And this is all independent of the fact that even on the issues that are the subject of debate attention, such as healthcare policy and entitlement "reform", all but the most centrist positions are off limits.

The harm from this process is not merely the loss of what could be a valuable opportunity to engage in a real national debate. Worse, it is propagandistic: by emphasising the few issues on which there is real disagreement between the parties, the election process ends up sustaining the appearance that there is far more difference between the two parties, and far more choice for citizens, than is really offered by America's political system.

One way to solve this problem would be to allow credible third-party candidates into the presidential debates and to give them more media coverage. Doing so would highlight just how similar Democrats and Republicans have become, and what little choice American voters actually have on many of the most consequential policies. That is exactly why the two major parties work so feverishly to ensure the exclusion of those candidates: it is precisely the deceitful perception of real choice that they are most eager to maintain.
(c) 2012 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy.

Satan's minion and former GE CEO Jack Welch.

The Truth About Jobs
By Paul Krugman

If anyone had doubts about the madness that has spread through a large part of the American political spectrum, the reaction to Friday's better-than expected report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics should have settled the issue. For the immediate response of many on the right - and we're not just talking fringe figures - was to cry conspiracy.

Leading the charge of what were quickly dubbed the "B.L.S. truthers" was none other than Jack Welch, the former chairman of General Electric, who posted an assertion on Twitter that the books had been cooked to help President Obama's re-election campaign. His claim was quickly picked up by right-wing pundits and media personalities.

It was nonsense, of course. Job numbers are prepared by professional civil servants, at an agency that currently has no political appointees. But then maybe Mr. Welch - under whose leadership G.E. reported remarkably smooth earnings growth, with none of the short-term fluctuations you might have expected (fluctuations that reappeared under his successor) - doesn't know how hard it would be to cook the jobs data.

Furthermore, the methods the bureau uses are public - and anyone familiar with the data understands that they are "noisy," that especially good (or bad) months will be reported now and then as a simple consequence of statistical randomness. And that in turn means that you shouldn't put much weight on any one month's report.

In that case, however, what is the somewhat longer-term trend? Is the U.S. employment picture getting better? Yes, it is.

Some background: the monthly employment report is based on two surveys. One asks a random sample of employers how many people are on their payroll. The other asks a random sample of households whether their members are working or looking for work. And if you look at the trend over the past year or so, both surveys suggest a labor market that is gradually on the mend, with job creation consistently exceeding growth in the working-age population.

On the employer side, the current numbers say that over the past year the economy added 150,000 jobs a month, and revisions will probably push that number up significantly. That's well above the 90,000 or so added jobs per month that we need to keep up with population. (This number used to be higher, but underlying work force growth has dropped off sharply now that many baby boomers are reaching retirement age.)

Meanwhile, the household survey produces estimates of both the number of Americans employed and the number unemployed, defined as people who are seeking work but don't currently have a job. The eye-popping number from Friday's report was a sudden drop in the unemployment rate to 7.8 percent from 8.1 percent, but as I said, you shouldn't put too much emphasis on one month's number. The more important point is that unemployment has been on a sustained downward trend.

But isn't that just because people have given up looking for work, and hence no longer count as unemployed? Actually, no. It's true that the employment-population ratio - the percentage of adults with jobs - has been more or less flat for the past year. But remember those aging baby boomers: the fraction of American adults who are in their prime working years is falling fast. Once you take the effects of an aging population into account, the numbers show a substantial improvement in the employment picture since the summer of 2011.

None of this should be taken to imply that the situation is good, or to deny that we should be doing better - a shortfall largely due to the scorched-earth tactics of Republicans, who have blocked any and all efforts to accelerate the pace of recovery. (If the American Jobs Act, proposed by the Obama administration last year, had been passed, the unemployment rate would probably be below 7 percent.) The U.S. economy is still far short of where it should be, and the job market has a long way to go before it makes up the ground lost in the Great Recession. But the employment data do suggest an economy that is slowly healing, an economy in which declining consumer debt burdens and a housing revival have finally put us on the road back to full employment.

And that's the truth that the right can't handle. The furor over Friday's report revealed a political movement that is rooting for American failure, so obsessed with taking down Mr. Obama that good news for the nation's long-suffering workers drives its members into a blind rage. It also revealed a movement that lives in an intellectual bubble, dealing with uncomfortable reality - whether that reality involves polls or economic data - not just by denying the facts, but by spinning wild conspiracy theories.

It is, quite simply, frightening to think that a movement this deranged wields so much political power.
(c) 2012 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"Societies in decline have no use for visionaries."
~~~ Anais Nin

Hey, Joe
By William Rivers Pitt

During a Wednesday morning radio interview with host Tom Joyner, President Obama made the following observation about his first debate with Mitt Romney last week: "I think it's fair to say I was just too polite."

Gee, you think?

Breaking News: Water Remains Wet, Sky Is Up, Gravity Sucks.

A week later, and the point has been clearly made about the degree to which Mr. Obama's poor showing in that debate has damaged his campaign's standing. According to pretty much every available poll, an entire Summer and early Fall's worth of gains were wiped away in one 90-minute span. At a minimum, according to Nate Silver of the New York Times, Mr. Obama's post-convention bounce has been erased. Political debates are part of a candidate's job, and it is pretty damned amazing to witness what happens when the President of the United States decides he doesn't feel like working on a night when more than 70 million people are watching.

There was more to it than that, of course. Mr. Obama was plainly put off by the tsunami of pure falsehood pouring from the gob of his opponent. Some have pointed to a debate tactic known as the Gish Gallop to explain what Mr. Romney pulled last Wednesday. To wit, when you spew an enormous volume of outright lies, your opponent becomes incapable of countering them all. Mr. Obama was clearly left flat-footed and tongue-tied by what happened, and I among many others seethed in frustration because he utterly failed to call Romney's lies out for what they were. I knew Romney was lying, you knew Romney was lying, coal miners ten miles below the surface of the Earth knew Romney was lying. Then again, I am not Mr. Obama, and it is entirely possible that just about anyone would be left sputtering, "''s...but...oh, to hell with it," in the face of such a concentrated onslaught of deceit.

The real losers and failures last Wednesday were the denizens of the "news" media, and because of them, the American people at large lost big as well. In the week after that debate, the entire "news" media infrastructure unplugged its collective intelligence, sent the fact-checkers off on an extended lunch break, and extolled the virtues of Mr. Romney's "strong" performance without bothering to mention the degree to which he had lied, reversed himself and completely mischaracterized virtually every aspect of his campaign to date. One online wag surmised that Romney knew he was dealing with an utterly incompetent political media, and so deployed the "Kitty Laser Debate Tactic." Know how you can send a cat sprinting and gyrating around the room by flashing a laser pointer around? That's what Romney did with his "facts," and the media kitties went wild chasing after his little red dot, never once pausing to say, "Hey, wait, that isn't real."


So here we are a week later, ensconced in a political world where facts don't stand a chance against a barrage of falsehoods, brazen liars are called "bold," and an entire election can swing wildly within a short span of days because the "news" media needs a close race to make money, and be damned to doing their jobs. It does not have to stay this way; Mr. Obama has pretty clearly seen the writing on the wall (in 50-foot tall Day-Glo letters) that he has to step up his game, that the media isn't going to help him, and that time is very demonstrably running out. The current dire poll numbers don't reflect last Friday's positive jobs report, so there may well be some movement away from the cratering phenomenon we witnessed this week.

And so much for all that.

For the moment, all eyes are focused on tonight's vice presidential debate in Kentucky. Joe Biden and Paul Ryan will engage each other in what has suddenly become the most important VP debate in modern political history. Unlike Mr. Obama, Joe Biden is not what anyone would call the quiet, retiring type, and if Mr. Ryan decides to go into full-lie mode, Mr. Biden might actually throw the podium at him. To be sure, Biden will be the aggressor tonight, but it would be foolish for anyone to underestimate his opponent. Paul Ryan is the lean and hungry type, and unlike his running mate (who looks like an egg-sucking dog every time he drops a whopper), Ryan can and does lie without so much as a muscle twitch to betray him.

They will debate Medicare, and Medicaid, and tax policy, and the details of the sulfurously disliked "Ryan Budget Plan." If Biden is firing on all cylinders, Romney's "47 Percent" beliefs, the GOP's all-out national assault on the rights of women, and the GOP's generally wretched record over the last decade will be brought into play. Romney will not be there, of course, but Biden will have a golden opportunity to begin the process of pinning Romney's dazzling array of lies and reversals on Ryan, and dare Ryan to justify or explain them. Joe Biden is a grizzly bear in human skin, and all the qualities that lead pundits to call him "gaffe-prone" are the same ones that could very well serve to blast Paul Ryan right out of the auditorium. Or not. Tonight will tell the tale one way or the other.

The president dropped the ball, the "news" media kicked it into the gutter, and now the eyes of the entire political universe are fixed on the Vice President. If Joe Biden can park it deep tonight, the Obama campaign can correctly claim to have gone a fair ways toward righting their listing ship. If not - if Joe blows it, if Ryan outduels him, and if the media once again decides to laud flash over substance - the time between now and election day will become very short indeed for the president to find a way to keep his job.

Three Tuesdays, plus five days, and counting.
(c) 2012 William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: "War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know" and "The Greatest Sedition Is Silence." His newest book, "House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation." He lives and works in Boston.

The Politics Of The Jobs Report
By Robert Reich

The White House is breathing easier this morning. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent - the first time it's been under 8 percent in 43 months.

In political terms, headlines are everything - and most major media are leading with the drop in the unemployment rate.

Look more closely, though, and the picture is murkier. According to the separate payroll survey undertaken by the BLS, just 114,000 new jobs were added in September. At least 125,000 are needed per month just to keep up with population growth. Yet August's job number was revised upward to 142,000, and July's to 181,000.

In other words, we're still crawling out of the deep crater we fell into in 2008 and 2009. The percent of the working-age population now working or actively looking for work is higher than it was, but still near a thirty-year low.

But at least we're crawling out.

Romney says we're not doing well enough, and he's right. But the prescriptions he's offering - more tax cuts for the rich and for big companies - won't do anything except enlarge the budget deficit. And the cuts he proposes in public investments like education and infrastructure, and safety nets like Medicare and Medicaid, will take money out of the pockets of people who not only desperately need it but whose spending is necessary to keep the tepid recovery going.

Romney promises if elected the economy will create 12 million new jobs in his first term. If we were back in a normal economy, that number wouldn't be hard to reach. Bill Clinton presided over an economy that generated 22 million new jobs in eight years - and that was more than a decade ago when the economy and working-age population were smaller than now.

Both Obama and Romney assume the recovery will continue, even at a slow pace, and that we'll be back to normal at some point. But I'm not at all sure. "Normal" is what got us into this mess in the first place. The concentration of income and wealth at the top has robbed the vast middle class of the purchasing power it needs to generate a full recovery - something that was masked by borrowing against rising home values, but can no longer be denied. Unless or until this structural problem is dealt with, we won't be back to normal.
(c) 2012 Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His "Marketplace" commentaries can be found on and iTunes.

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Unterfuhrer Hubbard,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your explaining how being a slave in ante-bellum America was better than being a free man in Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Syria and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

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

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

More NAFTA Anyone? Romney Positions as Free-Trade 'Champion'
By John Nichols

In his "big" foreign policy speech Monday, Mitt Romney said of Barack Obama: "I know the president hopes for a safer, freer, and a more prosperous Middle East allied with the United States. I share this hope."

If that sounds milder, more moderate, than Romney was playing it a few weeks ago, welcome to the "let Mitt be Mitt" era.

Romney and Obama are different players, taking different stands. But Romney's veering more and more toward the old Michael Dukakis line from 1988: "This election isn't about ideology. It's about competence."

Mitt has not blurring all the margins, however.

Consider the domestic component of Romney's foreign-policy speech: the section where the Republican nominee for president committed himself to a dramatically more aggressive embrace of "free-trade" than Obama.

In his speech, Romney said: "I will champion free trade and restore it as a critical element of our strategy, both in the Middle East and across the world. The President has not signed one new free trade agreement in the past four years. I will reverse that failure. I will work with nations around the world that are committed to the principles of free enterprise, expanding existing relationships and establishing new ones."

Those of us who pay serious attention to trade debates know that Barack Obama has signed "free-trade agreements" with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. (The disingenuous distinction Romney makes is that negotiations on those deals began under George W. Bush.)

What Romney's actually complaining about are the indicators-few and far between as they may be-that the current president is more inclined toward mitigating the damage done by those deals than George W. Bush or Bill Clinton, who took their orders from Wall Street as opposed to Main Street when it came to global trade issues. And the key word there is "modestly." Obama has not begun to do enough to develop the "high-road" approach to trade policy that has worked reasonably well for nations such Germany, which place an emphasis on implementing strong industrial policies at home while developing international relationships that benefit domestic manufacturing concerns and workers.

But Romney thinks that Obama's small steps in the right direction-through action to address specific abuses and a more cautious approach to negotiating new deals-are a problem.

Making free-trade on the Clinton-Bush continuum "a critical element of our strategy" will mean more North American Free Trade Agreements, more most-favored-nation trading relationships with countries like China, more outsourcing and more de-industrialization.

That's a prospect that ought to terrify voters in states that still make things-such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and North Carolina.

Folks in battleground states actually "get" trade.

Former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold got it right when he said a few years back: "c in hundreds of communities around my State. As one might expect, our largest communities-places like Milwaukee, Madison, and Green Bay-lost thousands of jobs as a result of those trade policies, most notably NAFTA and permanent most-favored-nation status for China."

Feingold opposed Democratic and Republican presidents when they proposed free-trade agreements. And he was right to do so. But even he was stunned by the devastation those agreements wrecked upon the industrial states of the Great Lakes region and the Upper Midwest.

"I voted against NAFTA, GATT, and Permanent Most Favored Nation status for China, in great part because I felt they were bad deals for Wisconsin businesses and Wisconsin workers," explained Feingold. "At the time I voted against those agreements, I thought they would result in lost jobs for my state. But, Mr. President, even as an opponent of those trade agreements, I had no idea just how bad things would be."

The simple fact is that "free trade" agreements as dictated by Wall Street are never about freedom or trade. They are about making it easy for speculators to engage in a global "race to the bottom," where workers, the environment, sovereignty and democracy are sacrificed in the name of borderless profiteering.

Honest players on the left and the right, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Texas Congressman Ron Paul, Wisconsin Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, have at critical points rejected the simplistic notion that free trade as imagined by the CEOs of multinational corporations and the "vulture" investors in firms such as Bain Capital is necessarily beneficial to American workers, to American industries or to the American economy.

Wise players have argued that the United States must adopt a fair-trade policy that places a focus on raising wages and living standards in the here and in the countries with which we develop bilateral trade agreements. They have recognized that simply letting Wall Street write the rules undermines the ability of the United States to advocate on the global stage for human rights, environmental protection and democracy.

Feingold argued correctly that it is possible, and necessary, to develop fair trade agreements that are "fair to American businesses, workers and farmers, as well as the small businesses, workers and farmers of our trading partners."

It is unfortunate that Barack Obama has not been more inclined toward Feingold's view, and that of savvy internationalists such as Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, who explains that: "I want to see more trade. I just don't want one-way free trade where our biggest export is jobs to Mexico and China. I want fair trade, with more exports, not this free trade that causes the kind of job loss that we're seeing. We simply have abandoned the middle class when we passed these trade agreements."

But while Obama could be better, his Republican challenger could not be worse.

Romney's promise to "champion free trade," like his championship of Bain Capital's outsourcing, ought to scare the wits out of voters who want America to be a serious competitor on the global competition of the 21st century.
(c) 2012 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His new book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, has just been published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Between Naples And Gaza
By Adam Keller

The city of Gaza is on the shore of the Mediterranean. Like in many other coastal cities, there are inhabitants of Gaza who are interested in sailing as a sport and hobby. But putting such interests into practice is far more complicated in Gaza than in most other coastal cities. In 2006 Qatar donated ten small sailing boats to the newly-founded Gaza Sailing and Surfing Association, but it took until September 2012 for the Israeli military inspectors to make up their minds and conclude that there was no security threat involved in letting them through.

The boats' arrival in Gaza provided a rare chance for a bit of positive news, with the twelve-year-old Darin Kabariti enthusiastically telling journalists that she feels completely free when launching her sailboat off the Gaza coast.

Not long after the sailing boats' joyous entry into Gaza, the 22-year-old fisherman Fahmi Abu Rayash was shot near Beit Lahiya and hit in the abdomen and foot. At first his wounds were not considered fatal but he succumbed after two days in hospital.

What did happen there? According to the Israeli military communique, he had approached too close to a forbidden zone, arousing the suspicion that he intended to carry out an armed attack. According to the Palestinians, he had intended harm to nobody (at least, to none but fish). There had not been - and it is very unlikely that there will ever be - an impartial investigation. There had been no report of his death in the Israeli or international media, and not very much in the Palestinian press, either. It is too much of a daily routine. And nowadays, Israeli officials have a ready-made answer to anyone who asks too many questions about such things: "More horrible things are happening all the time in Syria." Which is a matter of undoubted, documented fact

The gunboats which are Israeli Navy's own pride and joy continue patrolling day and night off the Gaza shore, charged - as they had been over more than a decade with making the siege of Gaza, so to say, watertight. It is the gunboats' daily job to prevent Gazan fishing boats and Gazan sailing boats and any other kind of Gazan boat from venturing "too deep" into the open sea, and to equally prevent any other vessel from any other place on Earth from approaching anywhere close to the shores of Gaza

And just now, there is such a vessel approaching besieged Gaza from the west. Not by stealth - in fact, its approach had been announced and heralded many months in advance. The Estelle had been purchased by the Swedish "Ship To Gaza" association and had set out last May from Finland by a long a complicated route, touching at ports in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Holland, France and Spain.

The seventeen activists on board - Swedes and Norwegians and also some dissident Israelis - had had many interesting experiences en route. There were rallies and artistic performances in every port, and they participated in a film festival in Bretagne, and in Barcelona the well-known artist Manu Chao came to take part in the solidarity concert, as did Adeila Guevara, daughter of the legendary Che Guevara. And by now they have reached Naples and are engaged in a very full program: a concert, and Catholic Mass celebrated on the pier, and an organized tour of the ship for Neapolitan school children, and also a visit by Naples Mayor Luigi de Magistris, who has declared himself the Estelle's official protector for the length of her stay in Naples. Meanwhile Avigdor Lieberman, Netanyahu's Foreign Minister, is exerting considerable pressure on the Italians to block the ship from departing - but unlike the case of last year's Freedom Flotilla, blocked at Athens, he does not seem to get very far.

So, the Estelle will shortly depart on the final lap of its journey. It is not so far from Naples to Gaza, as nautical miles go. The Israeli Navy gunboats are equipped with high-quality radar, and it is not difficult to detect a ship which makes no effort to hide (quite the opposite, in fact). And so the outcome, sometime later this month, is fairly predictable.

Most probably, it will not be anywhere near the actual shores of Gaza. In the past, Israeli Navy gunboats have eagerly gone deep into the Mediterranean to intercept Gaza-bound vessels, sometimes, as far as 65 kilometers from the shore. (In undoubted international waters, but the Foreign Ministry's lawyers in Jerusalem have come up with a legal opinion explaining why this was OK, digging up some precedents from bold actions taken by the British Royal Navy in its bygone proud days of empire...)

The Estelle will be sternly warned to turn aside, the activists on board will ignore all warnings, and the crack Naval Commandos will come aboard. The ship will be towed to the Port of Ashdod, and the Swedes and Norwegians aboard will be remanded in custody and charged with "Illegally entering Israel" and their plea that they had no intention of entering Israel and that Gaza is not Israel will be ignored by the learned judges. And the Israelis on board will be charged with... Well, there are creative minds in the Israeli Public Prosecution, and they will think of something.

Will it end the siege of Gaza? Definitely not. But for at least a few days it might remind some people who don't want to be reminded that Gaza is still under siege, out of sight and out of mind, and that this siege is causing a considerable daily suffering to a million and six hundred thousand people, a large part of them children. Even though it is quite true that at this moment there is a worse suffering in Syria.
(c) 2012 Adam Keller is an Israeli peace activist who was among the founders of Gush Shalom.

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The Audacity Of Mendacity
By Will Durst

A surprisingly large segment of America tuned into the first presidential debate, but for some odd reason, President Obama did not appear among them. Who was in charge of his debate prep, Clint Eastwood? Even an empty chair would have provided a sturdier obstinacy.

The committee to re-elect the president will obviously try to convince us that, like the economy, the Commander-in-Chief's sub-par debate performance can be traced back to the Bush administration, but darker forces may be at work here. The ghosts of debaters past.

We learned Mitt Romney wants to kill Big Bird, but that was about it as far as fireworks go. No word on the Cookie Monster. But it doesn't look good. Mr. Romney always seemed more of a Masterpiece Theatre sort of guy anyway.

Perhaps the president was suffering from altitude poisoning, or distracted by missing his 20th wedding anniversary, or maybe the duties of Leader of the Free World are more exhausting than one thinks, because he fumbled and rambled, and gave the overall impression he was told the winner would be determined by time of possession.

And what was so interesting on the podium that compelled him to keep looking down at it? Was he taking one last longing look at his iPad with the pretty embossed presidential seal or focused on a particularly frustrating sequence in Angry Birds?

With an aggressive energy reminiscent of a well- groomed rescue terrier, the Republican challenger immediately charged into the Oval ringship steamrolling both the president and the moderator. He didn't just dominate the debate, he twisted it into a logical Mobius strip.

Contradicting almost every one of his previously stated core beliefs, the former governor of Massachusetts claimed to have no plan for tax cuts, said good things about portions of Obamacare and demonstrated concern over the bailout of big banks. Don't know whom it was that blitzed onstage in Denver, but that guy could have done pretty well in Democratic primaries.

In the 38 minutes Romney spoke, he put on a verbal gymnastics exhibition worthy of an Olympics final. Obscuring. Dissembling. Whitewashing. Changing positions. Twisting facts. Denying assertions. Just making stuff up. Doubling down on his own personal Etch- A- Sketch. Candidate Gumby. Only less green. Marginally. Let the bendy shaking begin. Next thing you know he'll deny his 47 percent statement. What? Already? Wow.

One possible excuse for Obama's shocking passivity is he was stunned by the audacity of Romney's mendacity. There were traces of "I can't believe he just said that in front of people" smiles. It seemed all he could to keep from falling into the much-warned eye-rolling Al Gore sigh trap.

Maybe watching Obama sleepwalking was responsible for time slowing down, but the debate went on forever. At least way past Jim Lehrer's bedtime, who morphed from deferential to obsequious to invisible. Made the NFL replacement refs look effective.

There's plenty of time for both sides to retool messages for the next two confrontations. The White House can be expected to encourage the President to more energetically nail Romney to his own words. And despite renewed confidence, Romney will surely run intensive rehearsals to practice a different listening face that doesn't reflect an annoyed patience, slight smugness and just a disconcerting pinch of Sling Blade.
(c) 2012 Will Durst, is a San Francisco based political comedian, Will Durst, often writes: this is an example. Don't forget his new CD, "Raging Moderate" from Stand-Up Records now available on both iTunes and Amazon. The New York Times says Emmy-nominated comedian and writer Will Durst "is quite possibly the best political satirist working in the country today." Check out his website: to find out about upcoming stand-up performances or to buy his book, "Will Durst's Totally Indispensable Guide to the 2012 Election."

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Issues & Alibis Vol 12 # 41 (c) 10/12/2012

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