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In This Edition

Tom Engelhardt gives, "The Warning Occupy Wall Street Has For President Obama."

Uri Avnery explores, "The More Enemies, The More Honor."

Randall Amster considers, "Occupational Therapy."

Naomi Klein orates at, "Occupy Wall Street."

Jim Hightower supports, "Occupy Wall Street."

Helen Thomas with, "Kennedy On Kennedy."

James Donahue asks, "What Secret Does The CIA Know About Climate Change?"

Amy Goodman wonders is it, "A New Bush Era or a Push Era?"

David Swanson is, "Dancing On Our Occupation Permit."

Ralph Nader hears a, "Rumble From The People."

Paul Krugman examines, "Panic Of The Plutocrats."

Glenn Greenwald explains, "The Real Danger From Classified Leaks."

William Rivers Pitt warns of, "A Delicate Moment for the Occupy Wall Street Movement."

Attorney General of the United States. Eric H. Holder, Jr wins the coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

John Nichols reports, "Wisconsin Drive To Recall Walker Starts November 15."

Phil Rockstroh is, "Punching A Hole In Bubbles Of Denial And Addiction."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz finds, "Potential Race Between Black Guy and Mormon Poses Dilemma for Bigots" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "We're Occupying The Heart Of Darkness."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Chip Bok, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Brian McFadden, Derf City, Drew Sheneman, Jeff Danziger, Jim Morin, Tauntr.Com, Angela-Tyler-Rockstroh, Michael Appleton, David Shankbone, Vanity Fair, U.P.I., 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."

We're Occupying The Heart Of Darkness
By Ernest Stewart

The horror! The horror!
The Heart Of Darkness ~~~ Trader Kurtz

Celebrate good times, come on! (Let's celebrate)
Celebrate Good Times ~~~ Cool And The Gang

"I'll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one." ~~~ Unknown

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard,
To give the poor dog a bone:
When she came there,
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.
The Comic Adventures Of Old Mother Hubbard And Her Dog ~~~ Sarah Catherine Martin

Guess who came out of the woodwork the other day to make trouble for the peaceful, legal protestors in Washington? Why, none other that perpetual bad boy and agent provocateur Patrick Howley, Assistant Editor of The American Spectator.

As the protestors approached the National Air and Space Museum, Pat rushed forward and joined the crowd, and when they walked up the steps to begin protesting the museum's connection to mass murder via our drones, Pat pushed through the doors and assaulted a guard, and then entered the museum. As Pat tells it, he had consciously infiltrated the group on Friday with the intent to discredit the movement. He states that: "as far as anyone knew I was part of this cause, a cause that I had infiltrated the day before in order to mock and undermine in the pages of The American Spectator, and I wasn't giving up before I had my story."

According to Howley's story, he joined the group in its march toward the Air and Space Museum, but the protesters on the march were unwilling to be confrontational. Pat says, "they lack the nerve to confront authority. From estimates within the protest, only ten people were pepper-sprayed, and as far as I could tell, I was the only one who got inside."

The truth of the matter was that a couple of dozen people got sprayed -- a few protestors near the front door (one of whom is our reporter David Swanson) -- but most were innocent museum visitors who had nothing to do with the protest. I'm waiting to see if Pat is arrested and charged with the various crimes that he acknowledged and that were caught on camera by the prosecutor, and if he is open to lawsuits by the people that were hurt by his stunt? I have no doubt that if you or I had done Pat's crimes we'd be awaiting trial without bond in some sewer-infested D.C. jail cell!

We got the story, Pat; you're an asshole!

In Other News

We've been celebrating a couple of old favorites in the last week. First our tenth anniversary of murdering tens of thousands of innocents under the cover of trying to root out between 50 and 100 members of the CIA black-oops program called "The Method" or in Arabic, Al-Qaeda. Funny how we managed to defeat the three largest armies in the world in less than a third of the time we've wasted in Afghanistan in "Operation Enduring Misery" er "Operation Enduring Freedom," when in reality it's really what I've called it from the very beginning, "Operation Secure The Pipeline!" A Dick Cheney war to build a pipeline from the former USSR oil & gas rich states to the sub-continent and beyond. So far, it's the second-longest running war in US history!

So far, we've murdered tens of thousands of innocent Afghanis. Bombed them back to the "Stone Age" and in some cases, the "Dust Age," while draining our treasury of trillions of dollars, seriously wounding about 20,000 of our kids, and killing about 1600 or so in Cheney's petroleum war.

So how did you celebrate our tenth anniversary? Did you blow up an unsuspecting village? Did the kids bomb a wedding reception? Did Grand Ma and Grand Pa blow up an elementary school? Or did you try to wash all that blood off your hands that you got when you went along with this war crime? It won't come off, by the way, so save the soap, alcohol, and gasoline!

Another holiday has come again celebrating the longest war that we've been in, that makes the second-longest one look like a Swiss picnic by comparison. I refer, of course, to the war that's now in its 519th year -- the war against the natives. The holiday celebrates old Chris Columbus, who doubled down on Hitler and his Jews by beginning the slaughtering of 12 million Caribbean Indians that lasted 50 years. By the time they were finished in 1542, there wasn't a single Caribbean Indian alive! The Spanish were good at murder, but not quite as professional as the Germans, who killed half that many Jews in 10% of the time as us Americans here in Vespucciland who carried on Chris's pogroms. We've been murdering natives for their lands and property since 1588! Thanks to Chris for showing us the way!

So how did you celebrate this holiday? I kept looking for the postman, who had the day off to clean his shotgun and prepare to go "postal" in a few months when they shut down his post office. Did your family go the traditional celebratory route? An early breakfast, then off to the parades, followed by a trip to a ghetto reservation to burn down their trailers and blow up their trading posts? Did you kidnap a few of their children and send them off to Indian school? Or did you just sit on the couch and watch Fox Spews all day?

And Finally

I'm beginning to have deja vu, all over again, about the various protests going on all over the country. I'm having flashbacks to my youth, when similar protests were going on all over America about the Vietnam police action that began our long slide to where we are today -- fast approaching oblivion!

The elite thought by making this war strictly volunteer they could avoid the mass protests of young men who didn't want to go murder and die for Wall Street; so in all that time very little has changed. The banksters began that war to make a profit as they began this depression to make an obscene profit!

Trouble is, that all the protests, all the marchers didn't bring the war to an end. What ended the war was we ran out of real money. We gave so much to the arms dealers and banksters that we could no longer back our currency with gold and "the Trick" took us off the gold standard. What this means is our money today; after 40 or 50 trillion spent on our elites, is totally worthless. Prices really aren't rising; the dollar is worthless! Before we went off the gold standard, $35 would buy you an ounce of gold. Brand-new, fully-loaded Cadillacs were about $5,000, a new Rolls Royce would set you back about $18,000; a three-bedroom brick ranch with attached garage around $25,000, in the city perhaps $15,000 in small town America. Today's current price for an ounce of gold is $1682, so the dollar is really worth slightly over 2 cents, i.e., 1/48th of what it was worth before our worthless, needless wars! As the Firesign Theatre once said, "You're not paying more, you are getting less!"

Also, back in the day, all that a family needed to thrive, i.e., buy a house, a new car, put the kids through school, could be had by one parent, working a 40 hour week and they'd still have money left over, thanks to the brilliance of unions, which made us a thriving middle class. The middle class in America is only about 70 years old, and can be directly traced back to the beginning of the unions. The one percent were still filthy rich and yet they paid a 91% tax rate and the economy boomed and we were about half a trillion light, and it had taken almost 200 years to rack up that deficit. Go ahead and compare and contrast with today. They say we're about 14 trillion short, but the truth is a whole lot closer to $60 trillion than $14! But don't worry, because Barry and the Congress are getting ready to print up even more money, which will send that 2 cents reeling to 1 cent and beyond! Does what happened in the Weimar Republic ring any bells for you, America?

I hope that todays' youth can do a better job than "the Boomers" did with our protests. Fight the good fight Ya'll! This may be our last chance!

Keepin' On

This also maybe the last time I come to you hat in hand until after the first of the year? I still need to raise that last $250 as I can't really afford to pay that money that I borrowed to pay off our bills for the year. I'd much rather have oral surgery without the cocaine than have to do this week after week for seven or eight months at a time.

It's not like it's going into my pocket; it's not. It all goes for the cause. The only time I ever spent any money that was sent to me was when two of you sent me some grocery money so I could get by until the food stamps kicked in which took me five weeks to get and without which money I couldn't have gotten by. Thanks to Ernie from Ontario and Tom from Florida for that!

I have to raise $5400 every year and find it harder and harder to do. Some of my competition raises ten times that every 3 months and we have the same amount of readership, and I have better product, so I need either to get much better at begging, or pick up some more sponsors? If one of you would be kind enough to send in the money, I'll shut TFU, which will, no doubt, be a good thing for all of us!


04-01-1931 ~ 10-07-2011
Thanks for the film!

10-01-1924 ~ 10-08-2011
Thanks for the music!

04-20-1971 ~ 10-08-2011
Thanks for the music and the art!

05-21-1925 ~ 10-11-2011
Thanks for fighting the good fight!


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


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

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

The Warning Occupy Wall Street Has For President Obama
By Tom Engelhardt

On Wednesday afternoon, we marched out of Zuccotti Park, where the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators have bedded down for the duration. Drums were pounding and shouts of "Whose streets? Our streets!" "All day, all week, occupy Wall Street," and "This is what democracy looks like, that is what hypocrisy looks like!" rang out as we headed directly into New York City's version of a police state. The helicopters with the high-tech sensors and high-resolution cameras hovered in the distant sky, the security cams peered down from walls, the barriers the police had set up hemmed us in -- no street, just sidewalk for these demonstrators -- and the cops, scores of flexi-cuffs looped at their belts, were lined up all along the way, while empty buses wheeled past ready for future arrestees.

This was not exactly a shining Big Apple example of the "freedom" to demonstrate. It was demonstration as imprisonment and at certain moments, at least for this 67-year-old, it was claustrophobic. This is the way the state treats 15,000 terrorist suspects, not its own citizens.

Still, the energy and high spirits were staggering. The unions were out -- nurses, teachers, construction workers -- the bands were lively ("... down by the riverside, ain't gonna study war no more..."), and hand-made signs were everywhere and about everything under the sun: "Crime does pay in the USA -- on Wall Street," "When did the common good become a bad idea," "4 years in college, $100,000 in debt, for a hostess job," "Eat the rich," "Arab Spring to Wall Street Fall" (with the final "L" in "Fall" slipping off the sign), "We are the 99%," "Legalize online poker, occupy Wall St."

Amid the kaleidoscopic range of topics on those signs and in those chants and cries, one thing, one name, was largely missing: the president's. In those hours marching and at Foley Square amid the din of so many thousands of massed people, I saw one sign that said "Obama = Bush" and another that went something like "The Barack Obama we elected would be out here with us." That was it. Sayonara.

It's as if the spreading movement, made up of kids who might once have turned out for presidential candidate Obama, had left him and his administration in the dust. Like big labor, the left, and the media, the administration that loved its bankers to death (and got little enough in return for that embrace) is now playing catch-up with a ragtag bunch of protesters it wouldn't have thought twice about if they hadn't somehow caught the zeitgeist of this moment. (Don't forget that the Obama administration was similarly left scrambling and desperately behind events when it came to the demonstrators in Tahrir Square in Cairo last January.)

The best Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner could say a few days ago, when asked about his sympathies for the Occupy Wall Street movement, was: "I feel a lot of sympathy for what you might describe as a general sense among Americans that we've lost a sense of possibility." Really? White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley didn't know if the movement was exactly "helpful" for the White House agenda. Truly? And White House press spokesman Jay Carney commented blandly, "I would simply say that, to the extent that people are frustrated with the economic situation, we understand." Do you?

Suddenly, last Thursday, with news about the anti-Wall Street movement whipping up a storm, the Obama administration found itself out of breath and running hard to reposition itself. Vice President Joe Biden said, "The core is the bargain has been breached with the American people," while at his news conference addressing questions about the movement the president added, "I think it expresses the frustrations that the American people feel... [T]he protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works."

Still, those signs with everything but Barack Obama on them should be considered a warning. Recently, Ariel Dorfman, the Chilean writer and activist, penned a message from a man who died in the attacks of September 11th. His name was Salvador Allende, he was the elected president of Chile, and the "terrorists" on that day in 1973 were the Chilean military backed by the CIA. (Strangely enough, afterwards no one declared a global war on anyone.)

Dorfman, author most recently of Feeding on Dreams: Confessions of an Unrepentant Exile, channels warning words from "the dead" to Barack Obama. But mark my words, Allende's isn't the only warning to the president at this moment. Those kids in downtown Manhattan (and increasingly across the country and the world) are offering their own warning, and theirs, after a fashion, comes from the future, one in which Obama's presidency could someday be seen as little but an irrelevancy.
(c) 2011
Tom Engelhardt is co-founder of the American Empire Project. He is the author of The End of Victory Culture: a History of the Cold War and Beyond, as well as of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing. His most recent book is The American Way of War: How Bush's Wars Became Obama's (Haymarket Books).

The More Enemies, The More Honor
By Uri Avnery

AN OLD photo from World War I shows a company of German soldiers getting on the train on their way to the front. On the wall of the car somebody had scribbled: "viel Feind, viel Ehr'" ("The more enemies, the more Honor".)

In those days, at the very start of what was to be the First World War, country after country was declaring war on Germany. The spirit of the graffito reflected the hubris of the supreme commander, Kaiser Wilhelm, who relied on the war plan of the legendary German General Staff. It was indeed an excellent war plan, and as excellent war plans are apt to do, it started going awry right from the beginning.

The foolish Kaiser now has the heirs he deserves. Israel's Deputy Prime Minister, Moshe Ya'alon, a former army Chief of Staff whose intelligence is below the average even of that rank, has announced that Israel could not possibly apologize to Turkey, even though its national interests may demand it, because it would hurt our "prestige."

Many enemies, much prestige.

It seems that we shall soon run out of friends whom we can turn into enemies to gather even more prestige.

LAST WEEK a black cat came between Israel and its second best friend: Germany.

High-ranking German officials confided to their Israeli colleagues that their Kanzlerin, Angela Merkel, was "furious" when she heard that the Israeli government had approved the building of 1100 housing units in Gilo, a neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem. Just a few days earlier, the Quartet had invited Israel and the Palestinian Authority to restart negotiations and abstain from "provocations". If this is not a provocation, what is?

Merkel, generally a woman of placid equanimity, did not keep her rage to herself. She called Binyamin Netanyahu and gave him a severe dressing-down, something that had never happened before.

Until now, Germany has kept to a strict code of behavior towards Israel: after the unspeakable crimes committed by the Nazis against the Jews, there could be no criticism of any Israeli act, Germany would pay for a crucial component of Israel's armaments, Germany would suspend all moral criteria as far as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was concerned.

Not any more, it seems. We may be losing our only second-best friend.

THE CLASSIC example of "How to lose Friends and Alienate People" is, of course, our affair with Turkey.

David Ben-Gurion, the arch-architect of Israel, believed that peace with the Arabs was neither possible nor desirable. He devised an alternative: a ring to encircle the Arab world - an alliance of non-Arab allies. These included Iran (under the Shah), Ethiopia (under Haile Selassie), several other African states and, of course, Turkey (under the legacy of Kemal Ataturk).

Our relations with Turkey developed over the years into a very close marriage, especially cozy between the armed forces. Joint exercises, sales of lots of arms, intelligence sharing. While Israel was helping the Iraqi Kurds against Saddam Hussein, it helped Ankara to oppress the Turkish Kurds. Jerusalem seriously considered laying a pipeline under the sea from Turkey to bring in water, which Turkey has in abundance and Israel sorely needs.

Suddenly everything changed. Turkish-Israeli relations foundered like a ship hit squarely by a torpedo.

It started when the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, abruptly got up and left a public dialogue with Shimon Peres in Davos. Israelis could understand that: not everybody can stand Peres.

But Avigdor Lieberman's Foreign Office decided to retaliate. His deputy, a genius by the name of Danny Ayalon, summoned the Turkish ambassador to his office for a rebuke and had him sit on a low sofa while towering above him on a high chair. The ambassador did not notice, but little Danny proudly explained his ploy to the assembled Israeli journalists. The Ambassador took his leave and went home.

Turkey reacted unofficially by sending the Mave Marmara to break the Gaza blockade. Nine Turks were killed. Turkey was in uproar. Erdogan demanded an apology. That's where the prestige came in.

One can argue, of course, that the whole business was a premeditated tactic of Erdogan's to change course and dump Israel for other allies. If so, it was even more stupid of our government to play into his hand.

WHEN THE Arab Spring broke out, Turkey jumped on the bandwagon and proposed a Turkish-Egyptian axis, reminiscent of the good old days of the Ottoman empire. Israel, on the other hand, stuck to its customary line.

Instead of realizing what was happening, our government clung to the shattered dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. If it had come out immediately and wholeheartedly in favor of the revolution, it could, perhaps, have gained a foothold in Egyptian public opinion, which had come to detest Mubarak as a well paid American lackey who helped Israel in starving a million and a half Arab brothers in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli intelligence did not realize that we were facing a historic earthquake that would change the region. Actually, it never foresees or understands events in the Arab world, being blinded by its contempt for Arabs.

The result was that Egyptian crowds attacked the Israeli embassy, forcing the ambassador and his staff to flee the country, and that saboteurs repeatedly blew up the pipeline that transports Egyptian gas to Israel at very low prices (probably negotiated after due bribes were paid to the right people.)

People here are now saying that the Egyptian public has always been against the peace with Israel, through no fault of ours. That is quite untrue. I was in Cairo a few days after Anwar Sadat's historic visit to Jerusalem and found the Egyptian capital delirious with joy. Countless Israelis have visited Egypt since then and have been received always and everywhere with utmost friendliness. It was only when Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories became more and more oppressive that Egyptians started to feel betrayed.

Lieberman and Co. have lost Turkey and are losing Egypt, our two stalwart allies in the region, and have insulted, humiliated and trodden on the toes of a dozen other nations. But they have undoubtedly gained much prestige.

PEOPLE WHO look for logic in politics often arrive at conspiracy theories.

When the present government coalition was set up, Lieberman asked for the ministries of immigrants' absorption, justice, interior security (police) and foreign affairs.

Immigrants - that was natural. His voters are mainly immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Justice and police - also natural. The police are conducting an endless investigation against him concerning mysterious funds that he and his very young daughter have received from Eastern European sources.

But the foreign office? What for? Why not the far more prestigious Ministry of Defense or the immensely powerful finance ministry?

One of my acquaintances has come up with a theory: what if the Russians...

Lieberman spends a lot of his time in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and his native Moldova. Who else but Russia has an interest in destroying the international standing of Israel, one of the closest allies of the United States? Wouldn't it have been rational for Vladimir Putin to...

But that is, of course, a joke. Not only is Lieberman known as an upright Israeli patriot, so patriotic that no one can stand next to him, but no handler in Moscow would accept as his agent a man with shifty eyes, who speaks with a thick Russian accent.

No, there must be another reason. But which?

A FOREIGN journalist asked me the other day: "but what do they think?"

"They" - Netanyahu, Lieberman et al - are losing all our remaining friends, humiliating Barack Obama on the way. They sabotage the resumption of peace negotiations. They sprinkle settlements everywhere.

If the Two-State solution is finally made impossible, what remains? A unified state from the Mediterranean to the Jordan? What kind of state would that be? They are dead set against a bi-national state, which would be the total negation of Zionism. An apartheid state? How long could that last?

The only "rational" alternative would be total ethnic cleansing, the driving out of 5.5 million Palestinians from the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Israel proper. Is that possible? Would the world tolerate it, unless it is distracted by an invasion from Mars?

The answer is: "they" just don't think very much at all. Israelis have been conditioned by their experience to think in the very short term. As the Americans say: "A statesman thinks about the next generation, a politician thinks about the next election." Or as the Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann used to say: "The future will come and care for the future."

There is no national debate, only a vague desire to keep everything. Rightist Zionists want to hold on to all of historical Palestine, leftist Zionists want to hold on to as much of it as possible. That's as far as the thinking goes.

The ancient Hebrew sages said: "Who is the bravest hero? He who turns his enemy into a friend." The modern sages who govern us have turned this around: "Who has the most prestige? He who turns his friend into an enemy."
(c) 2011 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Occupational Therapy
Americans Finally Join the Wave of Healthy Global Protest
By Randall Amster

"Hello, you've reached the people of the United States of America. We're away from our desks right now, and perhaps for good -- so instead of leaving a message for us, we encourage you to take your messages directly to the halls of power for their consideration. If you require immediate assistance, do not ask the agents of governments or corporations, but organize in your own communities instead. For directory assistance, get out in the streets and talk to others concerned about the direction of the nation and world. To be connected to an operator, follow the protest signs and/or the smell of teargas in the financial districts across the country. And if you should become disconnected ... we are very happy to welcome you home to the movement!"

Our "interesting times" just got much more interesting. Is it actually possible that the "sleeping giant" that is the American people is finally beginning to join the rest of the world and show a genuine pulse? To be sure, we've been pretty well shell-shocked on these shores in the new millennium, and overall we've been less directly impacted by the ongoing effects of "The Age of Austerity, Degradation, and Warfare" than many others. Our lives of relative privilege in the U.S. also mean that we have farther to fall, and indeed many are finally feeling the fuller brunt of the crisis. Is it too late? Definitely not. Do we need to act immediately? Unquestionably, yes.

Enter the "Occupy Everything" movement. Fanning out from Wall Street, the symbolic epicenter of speculative greed and financial brinksmanship, the concept of occupying space en masse to protest social inequality and environmental devastation has proliferated across the nation. This is, indeed, becoming a full-fledged "occupation" -- which is a doubly poignant notion, considering that one of the trigger issues in the movement is unemployment and a rampant sense of job insecurity. People without work are literally finding a true occupation.

None of this has happened in a vacuum, and undoubtedly there have been many precursors and warning signs of the coming struggle, from the WTO protests in Seattle in 1999 to the more recent mobilizations in Arizona against austerity and racism. Most notable perhaps is the Wisconsin example, which demonstrated the utility of broad-based "people power" actions in pushing back against the ravages of an economic system gone haywire. Critical observers might be able to plausibly say that they could even see this coming...

Yet this is clearly new and different. People aren't just rattling their cages, but are demanding that the penitentiary be dismantled altogether. This doesn't appear to be some parochial, NIMBY, single-issue protest that will melt away once a few minor concessions (or outright bribes) are granted to the affected class. It likely won't be beaten back by pepper spray and billy clubs, since you can't kill an idea. No, this moment of escalating occupation seemingly calls into question the entire imperialist operation, following Martin Luther King, Jr.'s insight that merely "flinging a coin to a beggar" is insufficient since "an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring."

Wall Street, You're Fired!

We've been waiting a long time for this, wondering: how much pain do Americans have to feel before they join the majority of the planet's inhabitants in recognizing the inherent injustice of a global system of production and consumption that pits the elites against everyone else and all of us against the earth itself? Our privilege, comfort, and cultural distractions have largely insulated us from the worst effects, including those that we are responsible for creating and visiting upon hapless, countless, nameless others. But there comes a point when even the bird in the gilded cage sees beyond the bars and recognizes its essential confinement.

The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations seem to be eliciting precisely that response. Indeed, even my local (and generally conservative) paper gets it, as evidenced by this recent editorial:

"The one mistake is for pundits to focus attention on the protesters themselves. That's exactly what Wall Street and oil speculators want -- to keep themselves off the hot seat. About 700 protesters were arrested this past Saturday but, to date, not a single arrest has been made from anywhere in the Wall Street districts regarding the Russian roulette they played with the lives of distant, faceless Americans spread out all over the country who are reeling in the wake of outright investor thievery and negligence."

A few years ago, such a statement would not have been forthcoming, or even possible. But in this climate -- which is rapidly changing in real time, both politically and ecologically -- it's becoming safer for the mainstream to openly oppose the power elite. Such is the virtue of a popular uprising, and when it catches hold widely across all demographics in a given society (as evidenced in Egypt and other locales), major restructuring becomes possible. The challenge will be to sustain it in the face of repression and/or concessions; the test of this will be precisely what makes today's uprising intriguing: its demands are potentially systemic and structural.

Thus, the aim is not to reform Wall Street (and its sponsors/allies within government, corporate America, and the military-industrial complex) but to tear down its misbegotten and historically tainted edifice altogether. No more profligate fatcats, unethical speculators, misery profiteers, or robber barons. Their sort of business is no longer welcome here; the exponential growth and expanding wealth gap model will cease operations immediately or be dismantled by the people who are suffering its indignities and depredations. Shades of one Mario Savio, circa 1964:

"There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!"

In Case of Emergency, Break Glass?

Militant rhetoric notwithstanding, social movements have been schooled repeatedly on the double-edged nature of tactics perceived as confrontational or "violent" in any manner whatsoever. Smashing symbols of oppression has its appeal in a visceral sense, and can be used to galvanize energy around certain issues or targets -- the archetypal example being the shattering of a few corporate windows in Seattle as a means of drawing attention to the previously clandestine workings of the World Trade Organization. But there's a diminishing return involved, in which the direct act garners attention but mainly for the act itself without the larger context and specific grievances being equally reported. And this pattern clearly is more pronounced in the post 9/11 era, where even garden-variety acts of civil disobedience can raise the specter of being branded with the dreaded and media-enticing t-word.

On the other hand, dutifully marching in permitted rows and then going home to watch it on television doesn't exactly "get the goods" either. Orchestrated acts of disobedience possess a choreographed quality that can likewise strip away any deeper communication of the salient issues. So how exactly does a movement in the modern era demonstrate its forcefulness and resolve without alienating others or courting official demonization in the process? How do we convey the gravity of the issues and our rightful frustrations without becoming the very things we're struggling against -- namely intolerance, militarism, domination, and coercion? Unquestionably, the use of "force" from below raises different ethical questions than when it's deployed from above, yet in the minds of many undecided observers the distinction is murky.

After all, if my optimistic reading of the potential of the Occupation Movement is correct, the aim is to shift the paradigm rather than accomplish small reforms or win minor concessions. To accomplish this, it will take more than the energies of dedicated activists around the nation (although that in itself would be an excellent start). There will need to be a critical mass of people and communities resisting business-as-usual and forging new sets of relationships to supplant the old ones that have taken us to the brink of cultural and ecological survivability. The proliferation of #occupy hashtags in nearly every city and town is inspiring and potent -- yet the movement still needs to reach beyond its current adherents to those wedded to the blind privilege of their manufactured, manipulated, medicated lives in the cradle of a dying empire.

A Bridge to Somewhere

This is the moment where a movement either peters out or finds its voice. The ruling elite can endure outbreaks of mass cage-rattling through a combination of repression, provocation, disinformation, and/or censorship. In the end, "the system" can always argue that it might not be perfect, but it's the only game in town capable of meeting life's needs for multitudes of people, and in any event the protestors are just spoiled kids blowing off steam with no real alternative at the ready. "700 arrested shutting down the Brooklyn Bridge" makes a great one-day headline, but if it isn't soon followed by "700 new ways to feed your family and have productive, meaningful lives" it's hard to sustain the public interest in this age of the 24-hour news cycle. Occupation is a strong tactic with definite therapeutic benefits, but it still requires that next (and perhaps harder) step of articulating a better world and not merely end empire.

The seeds are clearly in evidence: an ethical redistribution of wealth and power, sustainable and socially just lifeways, production for utility rather than profit, balancing human needs within the capacity of the biosphere, maximizing societal potential through opportunity and diversity, converting the waste of the war machine into the abundance of a peace economy, dismantling the architecture of oppression in favor of human and political rights, liberating the creativity of humankind from the shackles of eternal indebtedness, making education a universal blessing rather than an individual burden, halting the ravages of climate change, and restoring the planet's life-giving properties by reintegrating self, society, and nature.

Occupying the spaces and places of power and privilege is an outstanding first step that crucially links the U.S. with the myriad popular struggles that have been underway for some time now around the world. It has the look and feel of a "thousand flowers blooming" and represents the combined best virtues of decentralization and solidarity alike. If there are folks reading this still undecided about the efficacy of Occupation, it's at least worth wading out into the streets, since (as the saying goes) the only thing you have to lose is your chains. Let's face it: the window of time in which to act is rapidly closing. Even if we got shafted by those before us, it's still every generation's responsibility to leave the world in better shape than we found it. Indeed, you might even say that this is our highest calling and most worthwhile occupation.
(c) 2011 Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., teaches peace studies at Prescott College and serves as the executive director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association. His most recent book is the co-edited volume "Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009).

Occupy Wall Street
The Most Important Thing in the World Now
By Naomi Klein

I was honored to be invited to speak at Occupy Wall Street on Thursday night. Since amplification is (disgracefully) banned, and everything I say will have to be repeated by hundreds of people so others can hear (a.k.a. "the human microphone"), what I actually say at Liberty Plaza will have to be very short. With that in mind, here is the longer, uncut version of the speech.

I love you.

And I didn't just say that so that hundreds of you would shout "I love you" back, though that is obviously a bonus feature of the human microphone. Say unto others what you would have them say unto you, only way louder.

Yesterday, one of the speakers at the labor rally said: "We found each other." That sentiment captures the beauty of what is being created here. A wide-open space (as well as an idea so big it can't be contained by any space) for all the people who want a better world to find each other. We are so grateful.

If there is one thing I know, it is that the 1 percent loves a crisis. When people are panicked and desperate and no one seems to know what to do, that is the ideal time to push through their wish list of pro-corporate policies: privatizing education and social security, slashing public services, getting rid of the last constraints on corporate power. Amidst the economic crisis, this is happening the world over.

And there is only one thing that can block this tactic, and fortunately, it's a very big thing: the 99 percent. And that 99 percent is taking to the streets from Madison to Madrid to say "No. We will not pay for your crisis."

That slogan began in Italy in 2008. It ricocheted to Greece and France and Ireland and finally it has made its way to the square mile where the crisis began.

"Why are they protesting?" ask the baffled pundits on TV. Meanwhile, the rest of the world asks: "What took you so long?" "We've been wondering when you were going to show up." And most of all: "Welcome."

Many people have drawn parallels between Occupy Wall Street and the so-called anti-globalization protests that came to world attention in Seattle in 1999. That was the last time a global, youth-led, decentralized movement took direct aim at corporate power. And I am proud to have been part of what we called "the movement of movements."

But there are important differences too. For instance, we chose summits as our targets: the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the G8. Summits are transient by their nature, they only last a week. That made us transient too. We'd appear, grab world headlines, then disappear. And in the frenzy of hyper patriotism and militarism that followed the 9/11 attacks, it was easy to sweep us away completely, at least in North America.

Occupy Wall Street, on the other hand, has chosen a fixed target. And you have put no end date on your presence here. This is wise. Only when you stay put can you grow roots. This is crucial. It is a fact of the information age that too many movements spring up like beautiful flowers but quickly die off. It's because they don't have roots. And they don't have long term plans for how they are going to sustain themselves. So when storms come, they get washed away.

Being horizontal and deeply democratic is wonderful. But these principles are compatible with the hard work of building structures and institutions that are sturdy enough to weather the storms ahead. I have great faith that this will happen.

Something else this movement is doing right: You have committed yourselves to non-violence. You have refused to give the media the images of broken windows and street fights it craves so desperately. And that tremendous discipline has meant that, again and again, the story has been the disgraceful and unprovoked police brutality. Which we saw more of just last night. Meanwhile, support for this movement grows and grows. More wisdom.

But the biggest difference a decade makes is that in 1999, we were taking on capitalism at the peak of a frenzied economic boom. Unemployment was low, stock portfolios were bulging. The media was drunk on easy money. Back then it was all about start-ups, not shutdowns.

We pointed out that the deregulation behind the frenzy came at a price. It was damaging to labor standards. It was damaging to environmental standards. Corporations were becoming more powerful than governments and that was damaging to our democracies. But to be honest with you, while the good times rolled, taking on an economic system based on greed was a tough sell, at least in rich countries.

Ten years later, it seems as if there aren't any more rich countries. Just a whole lot of rich people. People who got rich looting the public wealth and exhausting natural resources around the world.

The point is, today everyone can see that the system is deeply unjust and careening out of control. Unfettered greed has trashed the global economy. And it is trashing the natural world as well. We are overfishing our oceans, polluting our water with fracking and deepwater drilling, turning to the dirtiest forms of energy on the planet, like the Alberta tar sands. And the atmosphere cannot absorb the amount of carbon we are putting into it, creating dangerous warming. The new normal is serial disasters: economic and ecological.

These are the facts on the ground. They are so blatant, so obvious, that it is a lot easier to connect with the public than it was in 1999, and to build the movement quickly.

We all know, or at least sense, that the world is upside down: we act as if there is no end to what is actually finite-fossil fuels and the atmospheric space to absorb their emissions. And we act as if there are strict and immovable limits to what is actually bountiful-the financial resources to build the kind of society we need.

The task of our time is to turn this around: to challenge this false scarcity. To insist that we can afford to build a decent, inclusive society-while at the same time, respect the real limits to what the earth can take.

What climate change means is that we have to do this on a deadline. This time our movement cannot get distracted, divided, burned out or swept away by events. This time we have to succeed. And I'm not talking about regulating the banks and increasing taxes on the rich, though that's important.

I am talking about changing the underlying values that govern our society. That is hard to fit into a single media-friendly demand, and it's also hard to figure out how to do it. But it is no less urgent for being difficult.

That is what I see happening in this square. In the way you are feeding each other, keeping each other warm, sharing information freely and proving health care, meditation classes and empowerment training. My favorite sign here says, "I care about you." In a culture that trains people to avoid each other's gaze, to say, "Let them die," that is a deeply radical statement.

A few final thoughts. In this great struggle, here are some things that don't matter.

* What we wear.

* Whether we shake our fists or make peace signs.

* Whether we can fit our dreams for a better world into a media soundbite.

And here are a few things that do matter.

* Our courage.

* Our moral compass.

* How we treat each other.

We have picked a fight with the most powerful economic and political forces on the planet. That's frightening. And as this movement grows from strength to strength, it will get more frightening. Always be aware that there will be a temptation to shift to smaller targets-like, say, the person sitting next to you at this meeting. After all, that is a battle that's easier to win.

Don't give in to the temptation. I'm not saying don't call each other on shit. But this time, let's treat each other as if we plan to work side by side in struggle for many, many years to come. Because the task before will demand nothing less.

Let's treat this beautiful movement as if it is most important thing in the world. Because it is. It really is.
(c) 2011 Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist and syndicated columnist and the author of the international and New York Times bestseller, "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism."

Occupy Wall Street

To paraphrase a Bob Dylan song, "Something's happening here, and you don't know what it is, do you Ms. Bellafante?"

A New York Times writer, Ginia Bellafante is but one of many establishment reporters and pundits who've been covering the fledgling "Occupy Wall Street" movement - but completely missing the story. Instead of really digging into what's "happening here," they've resorted to fuddy-duddy mockery of an important populist protest that has sprouted right in Wall Street's front yard.

In her article, Bellafante dismissed the young people's effort as "fractured and airy," calling it a "carnival" in an "intellectual vacuum." Their cause is so "diffuse and leaderless," she wrote, that its purpose is "virtually impossible to decipher." Participation, she announced, is "dwindling."

Whew - so snide! Yet, so wrong.

While the establishment is befuddled by the plethora of issues and slogans within the protest and put off by its festive spirit, that's their problem. The 20-and-30-somethings who are driving this movement know what they're doing and are far more organized than those accustomed to conventional hierarchical protests seem able to comprehend.

It's silly to say that the protestors' purpose is indecipherable. Hello - they're encamped next door to Wall Street, isn't that a clue? They want what America's workaday majority wants: stop the gross greed of financial and corporate elites, and expel a political class that's so corrupted by the money of those wealthy elites that it has turned its back on the middle class and the poor.

Such movements don't begin with a neat set of solutions, but with roiling outrage focused on the plutocratic perpetrators of injustice. These young people are on target... and on the move. Don't ridicule them, join them! Go to
(c) 2011 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

Kennedy On Kennedy
By Helen Thomas

Reading Jacqueline Kennedy's interviews with historian Arthur Schlesinger reminded me of what we lack in the current presidential candidates - inspiration and hope.

We could also use some new ideas for attacking the 9.1 percent unemployment rate, and the slumping economy. But the silence is deafening and depressing. The GOP candidates are too busy undercutting one another to inspire or bring hope to struggling Americans. But that is another story.

I covered the Kennedy Administration at the White House from Jan. 20, 1961, until John F. Kennedy's tragic assassination on Nov. 22, 1963, and all proceeding Presidents in the White House, through part of the Obama Administration. I too have memories, but as an outside observer.

The gossip around town was that Jackie hated politics. She did skip some of the Democratic ladies' teas at the White House, and she did prefer to spend her weekends fox hunting in Middleburg, Virginia.

To hear her tell it, Jackie was allured by her husband's political ambitions, and the conversation at the White House dinner table was politics. She also pitched in during the 1960 presidential campaign, calling conservative Senator Pat McCarran (with a Kennedy aide) and won McCarran's support and his whole Nevada delegation.

The new book with historic photos of the former first family is titled Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy, and includes a foreword by daughter Caroline Kennedy.

The book is well worth reading, reflecting on a private White House and the insights into the goals and personal ambitions of those surrounding the Kennedys.

Jackie was known as an elegant first lady and a style setter. Although she shunned feminism and the movement for equality in the White House, she caught up when she went to work as an editor at Doubleday after JFK's death.

The former first lady made her mark in history by restoring the White House to its Colonial-era elegance, and helped to preserve the great historic buildings in Washington, which were going to be torn down for the new look of glass and steel.

Jackie also brought great artists to the White House, including a dinner featuring cellist Pablo Casals, an exhibit of the Mona Lisa brought by French Minister of Cultural Affairs André Malraux, and performances by Shakespearean actors like John Gielgud.

Jackie was not above snide remarks about aides and cabinet members in her husband's administration. Ted Sorensen, Kennedy's eloquent speechwriter, became a bete noire when he seemed to promote his authorship of Kennedy's Pulitzer Prize-winning Profiles in Courage. Kennedy put the question to rest by pulling out the yellow legal pad which included his notes for the book.

Jackie made it clear there was no love between Kennedy and Adlai Stevenson, who was twice defeated as the Democratic presidential nominee. She also disdained Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.

Kennedy saw he had some hurdles to win the presidency: His Catholicism, and his youth - he was only 43 years old. Former President Harry Truman attacked his age and inexperience.

To deflect the opposition to his Catholicism, Kennedy went to Houston to address a Presbyterian Convention and won the praises of the ministers by promising not to take orders from the Pope. To this day, his speech remains memorable - something Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor and current candidate for the Republican Party presidential nomination, should be using during his campaign.

Jackie had some reservations about the Kennedy Palace Guard. She said Kennedy "didn't particularly like Lyndon B. Johnson," whom he later picked to be his Vice Presidential candidate, hoping Johnson would bring with him the reluctant South. Jackie thought Johnson was "rude" to her husband, but Kennedy was always sending the jibes back.

Jackie became disenchanted with Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. when Bobby, then attorney general, told her of FBI tapes documenting King's illicit relations with women.

When asked what Kennedy had left as a legacy, she said, "He gave youth and intellect, and taste, a world voice ... and he had extraordinary contribution of idealism and realism." Kennedy told us to reach for the stars during his lifetime. Where are such candidates today?
(c) 2011 Helen Thomas is a columnist for the Falls Church News-Press. Among other books she is the author of Front Row At The White House: My Life and Times.

What Secret Does The CIA Know About Climate Change?
By James Donahue

Of all the strange reports coming out of Washington this year, the decision by the Central Intelligence Agency to keep its own analysis of the effects of global warming "classified" in the interest of national security is among the more peculiar.

While we are still listening to politicians declare that they remain in total denial of climate change and a warming earth, most world scientists have been sounding the alarm for years and some government agencies have warned that weather-related issues like melting ice caps, rising sea levels, depletion of natural resources, severe storms and desertification are already having an impact on our overpopulated world.

If anything, it is perhaps refreshing to know that at least one government agency has concluded that global warming/climate change is a national threat. What is disconcerting is that the agency feels that some of the information obtained in a study, apparently made nearly a decade ago, is too dangerous to be made public.

Thus the question is . . . what do they know that we don't already know? Is the world perhaps caught up under some kind of doomsday clock that the CIA is keeping under wraps?

It was as early as February, 2004 that a Pentagon report about the potentially imminent and colossal national security threat posed by climate change made its way around the Internet. Even then, some publications accused the military of "suppressing" the report even though an entire copy could easily be downloaded from a circulating PDF file on line. Even then, the findings by the military chiefs were grim and the report not only should have been making headlines, but kicking politicians into action to do something about it.

Remember that we still had the village idiot, George W. Bush, in power in 2004. And Mr. Bush and his team were busy that year manipulating the American public into re-electing him to a second term in office. Mr. Bush was a robotic "yes man" for the corporate interests controlling the nation, so his public position was that global warming was a hoax. The Republican position was then, and may still be that the whole story has been perpetuated by "the Chicken Little crowd" that claims the sky is falling.

The Pentagon report didn't fall completely on deaf ears in Washington. It stimulated a bill by Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman to introduce the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act as a first real step toward dealing with the dangers of climate change. But the bill was defeated in the Senate.

The CIA apparently got involved with the Pentagon in 2009, and by early 2010 a story under the by-line Tom Gjelten broke on the Internet announcing that the two military agencies were officially considering global warming a threat to U. S. national security.

The story said the issue was identified for the first time in the Quadrennial Defense Review, a Congress-mandated report that updates Pentagon priorities every four years. Gjelten wrote that "the reference to climate change follows the establishment in October of a new Center for the Study of Climate Change at the Central Intelligence Agency.

"The projections lead us to believe that severe weather events will increase in intensity in the future, perhaps in frequency as well," Gjelten wrote.

The story suggested that military planners were looking at worst case scenarios like pandemics, wars over oil, food, water and other dwindling natural resources and the displacement of millions of people by flooding, drought and pestilence.

In short, the military is busy drawing up detailed plans for handling a wide variety of contingencies caused by extreme heating and weather changes that are already occurring.

Strangely, after announcing that it was creating a center to analyze the geopolitical ramifications of the effects of climate change, the CIA has now "classified" the results of all of the information it now has collected.

American author and academic researcher Jeffrey Richelson, a senior fellow with the National Security Archive, writes on an Internet blog that the CIA denied his recent Freedom of Information Act request for the agencies' findings.

Richelson said a CIA spokesperson told him that after a

"thorough search for records responsive to your request and located material that we determined is currently and properly classified and must be denied in its entirety."

So what more is there to know about future earth changes? The very fact that a government agency like the CIA is holding back information like this suggests some kind of conspiracy may be in the works. Stories have been circulating for years about secret underground bunkers that have been under construction not only in the United States but under Russia, Europe and other nations of the world. There recently has been a strange shortage not only of food but medical supplies. Do the wealthy kings of the earth plan to burrow underground like the ant people foretold in Hopi prophecy? Are they about to leave the rest of us to perish because of a natural disaster that is about to befall us all?
(c) 2011 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site.

The organic strength of Occupy Wall Street defies the standard
dismissals from the corporate media's predictably stale stable of pundits.

A New Bush Era or a Push Era?
By Amy Goodman

Back when Barack Obama was still just a U.S. senator running for president, he told a group of donors in a New Jersey suburb, "Make me do it." He was borrowing from President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who used the same phrase (according to Harry Belafonte, who heard the story directly from Eleanor Roosevelt) when responding to legendary union organizer A. Philip Randolph's demand for civil rights for African-Americans.

While President Obama has made concession after concession to both the corporate-funded tea party and his Wall Street donors, now that he is again in campaign mode, his progressive critics are being warned not to attack him, as that might aid and abet the Republican bid for the White House.

Enter the 99 percenters. The Occupy Wall Street ranks continue to grow, inspiring more than 1,000 solidarity protests around the country and the globe. After weeks, and one of the largest mass arrests in U.S. history, Obama finally commented: "I think people are frustrated, and the protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works." But neither he nor his advisers-or the Republicans-know what to do with this burgeoning mass movement.

Following the controversial Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which allows unlimited corporate donations to support election advertising, the hunger for campaign cash is insatiable. The Obama re-election campaign aims to raise $1 billion. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the financial industry was Obama's second-largest source of 2008 campaign contributions, surpassed only by the lawyers/lobbyists industry sector.

The suggestion that a loss for Obama would signal a return to the Bush era has some merit: The Associated Press reported recently that "almost all of [Mitt] Romney's 22 special advisers held senior Bush administration positions in diplomacy, defense or intelligence. Two former Republican senators are included as well as Bush-era CIA chief Michael Hayden and former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff." But so is the Obama presidency an expansion of the Bush era, unless there is a new "Push era."

The organic strength of Occupy Wall Street defies the standard dismissals from the corporate media's predictably stale stable of pundits. For them, it is all about the divide between the Republicans and the Democrats, a divide the protesters have a hard time seeing. They see both parties captured by Wall Street. Richard Haass, head of the establishment Council on Foreign Relations, said of the protesters, "They're not serious." He asked why they are not talking about entitlements. Perhaps it is because, to the 99 percent, Social Security and Medicare are not the problem, but rather growing inequality, with the 400 richest Americans having more wealth than half of all Americans combined. And then there is the overwhelming cost and toll of war, first and foremost the lives lost, but also the lives destroyed, on all sides.

It's why, for example, Jose Vasquez, executive director of Iraq Veterans Against the War, was down at Occupy Wall Street on Monday night. He told me: "It's no secret that a lot of veterans are facing unemployment, homelessness and a lot of other issues that are dealing with the economy. A lot of people get deployed multiple times and are still struggling. ... I've met a lot of veterans who have come here. I just met a guy who is active duty, took leave just to come to Occupy Wall Street."

The historic election of Barack Obama was achieved by millions of people across the political spectrum. For years during the Bush administration, people felt they were hitting their heads against a brick wall. With the election, the wall had become a door, but it was only open a crack. The question was, would it be kicked open or slammed shut? It is not up to one person. Obama had moved from community organizer in chief to commander in chief. When forces used to having the ear of the most powerful person on earth whisper their demands in the Oval Office, the president must see a force more powerful outside his window, whether he likes it or not, and say, "If I do that, they will storm the Bastille." If there's no one out there, we are all in big trouble.
(c) 2011 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

Dancing On Our Occupation Permit
By David Swanson

Sunday night, our permit expired for occupying Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C. So, we threw a dance party, and when we could dance no more, we went to sleep in Freedom Plaza.

We have until 2 p.m. today to remove our possessions. We do not intend to do so. We suspect that if the police want to remove us by force they will wait until evening. So we're throwing a dinner party, and 99% of the country is invited.

Our permit is now the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

There is no way for the vast majority of people in this enormous country to petition our government for a redress of grievances other than what we are doing. We've phoned, emailed, faxed, and mailed letters. And yet rich people are taxed less than poor people, wars rage on, 65% of discretionary spending goes into the war machine, our social safety net is being shredded, and our environment is being destroyed. So, we're here in person, but most of us cannot afford hotel rooms. We are exercising our First Amendment rights in the only possible way: by camping in Washington, D.C., and protesting our government in a manner it cannot avoid.

Whether or not you are sleeping in Freedom Plaza, you can join us there, whether or not the square has been cleared overnight, whether or not we've been arrested, whether or not you've been arrested, whether or not the weather is fine, meet in Freedom Plaza at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, and we will take our grievances to Capitol Hill.

If we are arrested in Freedom Plaza we will return to it. If we are arrested in Freedom Plaza, we want you to replace us in larger numbers. You will not regret the experience.

A friend caught a cab to Freedom Plaza the other day. The cabbie said "If you're one of the protesters, the ride is free."

Stores are saying the same.

Random people are joining in marches when we march through downtown.

We are the 99%, we say, and so are … You are the 99%, and so are … We are the 99%, and so are …

This is an open and welcoming movement. Some of our brothers and sisters are occupying McPherson Square as well, and they can have 500 there with no permit. Join them too.

We need to hold these two squares, not because the marble or the grass is running our government into the ground, but because people from out of town cannot bring public pressure to bear on Congress, the White House, the Pentagon, K Street, or the Chamber of Commerce if we cannot live here.

We cannot learn democracy at home, and let me tell you it is not an easy thing to learn. It takes us longer to talk about a protest action than to engage in it. But we talk about it together. One person, one voice. No corporate persons. No financial voices. Democracy is indeed the worst form of government except for all the other ones.

If the police had come last night, the crowd of dancing demonstrators would have cheered and asked them to join the party.

And I think it's just possible they would have done so.

What do you say we try that again tonight?
(c) 2011 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

Rumble From The People
By Ralph Nader

Inside the barricading bubbles surrounding the Wall Street plutocrats and the Washington oligarchs who service them, there must be worry. After three years of disclosed "lying, cheating and stealing" as one prosecutor put it, with nary a visible stir from the masses, suddenly the barricades are beginning to quiver.

Could this "Occupy Wall Street" challenge in New York City that is spreading to hundreds of communities from Prescott, Arizona to Hartford, Connecticut, be the real thing they have dreaded? Could this be the revolt of the multitudes, the "reserve army of the unemployed?"

It is remarkable what a little more than 100,000 Americans, showing up and staying awhile have done in three weeks.

They're rattling the corporate supremacists. They have become a mass media story with columnists, editorials and cartoonists grinding out the ever increasing commentary.

There is fascination and curiosity about people who call themselves "The 99 percent!" People are organizing their little societies and 24/7 necessities - food, first aid, shelter, legal advice, music, posters - all without leaders.

The demonstrators are deliberately nonviolent but are angry over deep inequities and entrenched greed and power that are impoverishing and harming millions in need, including hungry children and those without health care. The protesters are keeping the pundits and pontificators guessing about their "real agenda."

Perfect, so far! Keep expanding the numbers of Americans who show up all over, who stay, who discover each other's talents and the emerging power of the powerless. Go to 300,000, then 800,000, then 2 million and onward. There are 25 million Americans who want work but cannot get it to pay their rent, their debts, their mortgages and their multiplying student loans. While big corporate profits, bosses' bonuses and tax loopholes for the wealthy proliferate.

Sparked by an urging from the culture-jamming ADBUSTERS magazine from Vancouver, Canada in July, the Occupy Wall Street effort gets more remarkable by the day. It carries the moral outrage and the moral authority of the vast majority of Americans who are excluded, disrespected, defrauded, unrepresented, underpaid and unemployed. The American dream has turned into a nightmare. They are taught to trust as school children the very public and business institutions that have betrayed them, looted or drained their pensions, their tax dollars and their common properties.

Those protesters at the renamed Liberty Park in New York are going into the nearby stores, with other consumers, and paying nearly 9 percent sales tax on their purchases. While the Wall Streeters are buying trillions of derivatives and stocks without paying a penny in sales tax. Taxing Wall Street speculators could produce hundreds of billions of overdue dollars a year from just a ½ percent sales tax on financial speculation.

The Wall Street "occupiers" and their offspring have good picks for their demonstrations. In Washington, D.C. they chose the insidious corporatists at the Chamber of Commerce building opposite the White House. They went before the building that houses part of the military-industrial complex devouring our public budget that President Eisenhower warned us about in his remarkable farewell address in January 1961. (Read it here.)

It will be only a short time before these resisters point to these multinational corporations' abandonment of America by shipping jobs and industries to dictatorial regimes abroad that repress their 80 cents an hour workers.

Reporters write with some surprise about this new human energy. Look at all the bystanders in suits or uniforms nodding in support at the posters, the signs and the chants. Washington Post columnist, Patula Dvorak was astonished and observed:

"Every Washingtonian I talked to who stepped out to watch the action in Freedom Plaza - from the security guards to the suits - felt a solidarity with the message.

"The banks. The banks are taking all of us for a ride," one security guard told me. "And they're in the right place now, because Congress is behind that."

Though the Occupy surge is going in the right direction - flipping our corporate government from our masters to our servants - no one knows how far it will go, whether it will retain its burgeoning energy and what the backlash will be from the ruling power structures.

Back in October 2008, when Wall Street was crashing on American investors, workers and taxpayers -- in that order -- our independent presidential campaign held a major rally at Wall Street.

Addressing the New York Stock Exchange, with our participators and their signs, I proposed specific recommendations for law enforcement, a financial transaction tax and accountability for those handling "other peoples' money." Few listened.

Now the powers-that-be are starting to listen, because instead of a one day event, they see day-after-day aroused citizens rallying back home and before the perpetrators of the predatory abuses.

When the corporate and political bosses hear the rising roar from the people, they start sweating. Now is time to turn up the heat without pausing.

Visit Occupy Wall Street for more information on how to join the movement.
(c) 2011 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book - and first novel - is, Only The Super Wealthy Can Save Us. His most recent work of non-fiction is The Seventeen Traditions.

Panic Of The Plutocrats
By Paul Krugman

It remains to be seen whether the Occupy Wall Street protests will change America's direction. Yet the protests have already elicited a remarkably hysterical reaction from Wall Street, the super-rich in general, and politicians and pundits who reliably serve the interests of the wealthiest hundredth of a percent.

And this reaction tells you something important - namely, that the extremists threatening American values are what F.D.R. called "economic royalists," not the people camping in Zuccotti Park.

Consider first how Republican politicians have portrayed the modest-sized if growing demonstrations, which have involved some confrontations with the police - confrontations that seem to have involved a lot of police overreaction - but nothing one could call a riot. And there has in fact been nothing so far to match the behavior of Tea Party crowds in the summer of 2009.

Nonetheless, Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, has denounced "mobs" and "the pitting of Americans against Americans." The G.O.P. presidential candidates have weighed in, with Mitt Romney accusing the protesters of waging "class warfare," while Herman Cain calls them "anti-American." My favorite, however, is Senator Rand Paul, who for some reason worries that the protesters will start seizing iPads, because they believe rich people don't deserve to have them.

Michael Bloomberg, New York's mayor and a financial-industry titan in his own right, was a bit more moderate, but still accused the protesters of trying to "take the jobs away from people working in this city," a statement that bears no resemblance to the movement's actual goals.

And if you were listening to talking heads on CNBC, you learned that the protesters "let their freak flags fly," and are "aligned with Lenin."

The way to understand all of this is to realize that it's part of a broader syndrome, in which wealthy Americans who benefit hugely from a system rigged in their favor react with hysteria to anyone who points out just how rigged the system is.

Last year, you may recall, a number of financial-industry barons went wild over very mild criticism from President Obama. They denounced Mr. Obama as being almost a socialist for endorsing the so-called Volcker rule, which would simply prohibit banks backed by federal guarantees from engaging in risky speculation. And as for their reaction to proposals to close a loophole that lets some of them pay remarkably low taxes - well, Stephen Schwarzman, chairman of the Blackstone Group, compared it to Hitler's invasion of Poland.

And then there's the campaign of character assassination against Elizabeth Warren, the financial reformer now running for the Senate in Massachusetts. Not long ago a YouTube video of Ms. Warren making an eloquent, down-to-earth case for taxes on the rich went viral. Nothing about what she said was radical - it was no more than a modern riff on Oliver Wendell Holmes's famous dictum that "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society."

But listening to the reliable defenders of the wealthy, you'd think that Ms. Warren was the second coming of Leon Trotsky. George Will declared that she has a "collectivist agenda," that she believes that "individualism is a chimera." And Rush Limbaugh called her "a parasite who hates her host. Willing to destroy the host while she sucks the life out of it."

What's going on here? The answer, surely, is that Wall Street's Masters of the Universe realize, deep down, how morally indefensible their position is. They're not John Galt; they're not even Steve Jobs. They're people who got rich by peddling complex financial schemes that, far from delivering clear benefits to the American people, helped push us into a crisis whose aftereffects continue to blight the lives of tens of millions of their fellow citizens.

Yet they have paid no price. Their institutions were bailed out by taxpayers, with few strings attached. They continue to benefit from explicit and implicit federal guarantees - basically, they're still in a game of heads they win, tails taxpayers lose. And they benefit from tax loopholes that in many cases have people with multimillion-dollar incomes paying lower rates than middle-class families.

This special treatment can't bear close scrutiny - and therefore, as they see it, there must be no close scrutiny. Anyone who points out the obvious, no matter how calmly and moderately, must be demonized and driven from the stage. In fact, the more reasonable and moderate a critic sounds, the more urgently he or she must be demonized, hence the frantic sliming of Elizabeth Warren.

So who's really being un-American here? Not the protesters, who are simply trying to get their voices heard. No, the real extremists here are America's oligarchs, who want to suppress any criticism of the sources of their wealth.
(c) 2011 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot."
~~~ Mark Twain ~~~

The Real Danger From Classified Leaks
By Glenn Greenwald

It's worthwhile to expand on one point I made at the end of yesterday's discussion of the leaking by anonymous DOJ officials of selected portions of the Awlaki memo to The New York Times' Charlie Savage. As Marcy Wheeler noted, "What was leaked to Savage is MORE classified than anything Bradley Manning is alleged to have leaked." But as I added last night, given that these anonymous DOJ officials appear to have been on a mission to justify the President's assassination order as legal and just, it's probably inadvisable to hold your breath waiting for the criminal leak investigation to begin.

This highlights a vital point: the Obama administration's chronic, self-serving and dangerous game-playing with classified information. The New York Times' Public Editor, Arthur Brisbane, had a good column yesterday on the administration's obsessive secrecy when it comes to assassinations, drones and the killing of U.S. citizens. With regard to the administration's refusal even to account for the legal principles it has embraced governing whom the President can order killed, the Public Editor writes: "it should be intolerable that the question goes unanswered." But far worse, Brisbane notes that the administration manipulates and exploits its secrecy powers by leaking snippets to the media which glorify President Obama while concealing everything else:

After the drone strike, The Times and others lit up with accounts of the event, and unnamed government officials poured forth with comments. There was no mistaking the administration's eagerness to put its antiterrorism success on display. . . . The administration invokes secrecy to shield the details while simultaneously deploying a campaign of leaks to build public support. For The Times, and its peers, this dynamic is beyond awkward: it gives the appearance that the government is manipulating them.

The reason that behavior "gives the appearance that the government is manipulating" the media is because that is the reality. If a government employee leaks classified information that exposes wrongdoing on the part of the President or his aides or otherwise embarrasses them, he is prosecuted without mercy; at the same time, the President and his aides constantly leak bits of classified information (which remain classified) in order to benefit the President politically. Thus, when it suits them, they dole out snippets of information about how the Tough, Strong President killed the Bad Guy with brutal efficiency and bravery - and how his lawyers said it was permissible - but all the details necessary to assess the accuracy of those claims and any information which contradicts them remain suppressed, and if anyone exposes them, they face lengthy prison terms. Brisbane added:

"How can the U.S. government have rules that spell out when it can use lethal force, even against a U.S. citizen, and not let the rest of the citizens know what those rules are?" Jane Mayer, who has written about the drone program for The New Yorker, said in an e-mail to me. "The press ought to be able to get access to and describe the legal opinions that govern this program. As we saw with the torture memos, which eventually leaked, legal reasoning can be extraordinarily revealing, and important" . . . .

The public has a right to know, and assess, the legal rationale for these extraordinary and highly visible state killings. The public should have documented details concerning civilian casualties of the drone strikes.

But while The Most Transparent Adminstration Ever refuses to provide even this basic information about the Awlaki killing, it manipulates its secrecy powers to ensure that the only information that is known is information that can be used to venerate the Leader. The same thing happened with the bin Laden killing: the Obama administration has resisted efforts to declassify and disclose videos, documents and photographs regarding the raid that killed him - requests motivated by the administration's multiple inconsistent and ultimately false statements about what took place and lingering questions about what happened - but then oh-so-mysteriously showed little interest (i.e., none) in discovering and punishing those who orally fed The New Yorker supposed details of the raid that produced an uncritical hagiography of those, including the President, responsible for the bin Laden killing.

This game-playing with secrecy powers has been going on for quite some time. In the wake of the 2005 disclosure that the Bush adminstration was spying on Americans without warrants, we suddenly learned from an anonymous government leaker that the Bush administration had a super-top-secret program in place to detect unusual radioactivity in the nation's mosques and the monitoring was even conducted without warrants - a leak which helpfully suggested, at the height of the NSA controversy, that Muslims in this country may be trying to radiate your children but that the administration is using super-sophisticated and stealth means even if they are a little bit illegal (just like warrantless eavesdropping) to protect and save us all. While the Bush administration was obsessed with punishing those responsible for the NSA leak - to the point of publicly threatening The New York Times with criminal prosecution - they, needless to say, displayed no interest in learning the identity of those who leaked their heroic efforts to detect radiation at mosques.

The problem of "overclassification" receives some attention (though not nearly the level of media condemnation as what is heaped on those who engage in unauthorized leaks (at least the leaks the Government dislikes)). But the problem is much worse than mere execssive secrecy. Anyone who purports concern over the harmful leaking of classified information should look first to the Obama administration, which uses secrecy powers as a manipulative tool to propagandize the citizenry: trumpeting information that makes the leader and his government look good while suppressing anything with the force of criminal law that does the opposite. Using secrecy powers to propagandize the citizenry this way is infinitely more harmful than any of the leaks the Obama administration has so aggressively prosecuted.

* * * * *

Speaking of secrecy obssession: U.S. citizen Jacob Appelbaum was identified as a WikiLeaks spokesman last year. Since then, despite being charged with (let alone convicted of) no crime whatsoever, he has - all without any search warrants - had his laptop, cellphone and camera seized at the airport; been repeatedly subjected to detention every time he re-enters the country; had people whose only crime was to appear in his telephone subjected to similar harrassment; had orders issued for information showing his Twitter activities and communications; and now, as The Wall Street Journal reports today, has had a secret Order served by the DOJ on Google and another internet provider for an array of information relating to his email activity (including the list of those with whom he has corresponded by email over the last two years: I'm happy to say I'm one of those correspondents).

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution guarantees "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures" and that "no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause." In light of everything the U.S. Government has been able to seize regarding Appelbaum without a single search warrant - laptops, cellphones, cameras, memory sticks, Twitter activity, electronic goods of his friends, interrogation via forcible detention, and now lists of his email correspondents and other information showing his email activity - is there any rational conclusion other than to view that Amendment as an absurd joke?
(c) 2011 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy.

A group of children from Central Park East One and Two schools join
demonstrators at the Occupy Wall Street protest in Zuccotti Park,
New York, October 10, 2011.

A Delicate Moment for the Occupy Wall Street Movement
By William Rivers Pitt

Anyone who still thinks the 'Occupy Wall Street' protests are some kind of fluke, an exercise in ego inflation by spoiled college kids and aging hippies, needs to go back to bed. This thing is very much for real, is very large, and is growing exponentially. Similar protests have sprung up in dozens of cities all across the country, and with an 'Occupy the London Stock Exchange' action set to take place on Saturday, the movement is poised to become an international affair.

The New York police have already laid into the Wall Street protesters with unnecessary violence on more than one occasion, and the Boston police have likewise gotten into the action:

In one of the largest mass arrests in recent Boston history, the Boston Police Department cleared a park of activists with the 99 Percent Movement in the early hours of Tuesday morning, dismantling and destroying tents that had been set up on Monday. Startling footage shot by an onlooker shows members of Veterans for Peace, an organization of U.S. military veterans who oppose war, being arrested by members of the Boston Police Department, their flags - including the American flag - being thrown to the ground.

Before the arrests and clearing of the park, the police surrounded it, lining up over a dozen paddy wagons along one side. They told members of the media to leave and not to film proceedings. After a five-minute warning to disperse, police moved in, first arresting the peacefully protesting veterans - who included a female veteran of the Iraq War, according to the Boston Phoenix - and then other Occupy Boston activists. According to Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, about 100 arrests were made.

The police then tore down the protesters' encampment. Live feeds from onlookers showed Boston Police dumping dismantled tents, signs, and chairs into waiting garbage trucks, destroying the protesters' property.

Frontal assaults have not been the only tactic deployed by those who would like to see the OWS movement dry up and blow away. Patrick Howley, an assistant editor for the right-bent publication The American Spectator, bragged on the Spectator's website about deliberately disrupting a peaceful protest at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, for no other reason than to give the protesters a bad name. James O'Keefe, the wannabe gotcha-journalist famous for his manipulative hit pieces on ACORN and NPR, has been spotted skulking around Wall Street...which sets up an amusing potential endgame for him, as he is on probation in New Jersey and requires a judge's permission to leave the state. As best as anyone can determine, that permission was never obtained. Hopefully Mr. O'Keefe can find refuge in an OWS protester's tent to avoid the judge's wrath.

So the cops are getting heavier, the agent provocateurs are out in force, and the protests continue to grow. Now is a most delicate time for the movement. If the protesters react with violence to police, the "mainstream" media will have the opportunity they've been waiting for to disparage and discredit the entire thing. If the fakers and disruptors in the crowd are not exposed immediately, as was the care with Howley and O'Keefe, they will paint a fraudulent picture of the movement that will likewise allow the "mainstream" news to create an inaccurate and unflattering picture. So far so good on these scores, but the protesters absolutely must continue to do what they have been so excellently doing, no matter what provocations they are presented with. The whole world is indeed watching.

Another delicate moment looms for the movement, one you can file under "With Friends Like These..." Yes, everyone can relax, because the Democratic Party is coming to the hoedown. The very politicians whose inactivity and collusion regarding Wall Street excesses made this movement necessary in the first place have licked their finger, put it to the wind, and decided it is safe to come out and play:

Prominent House Democrats are embracing the Occupy Wall Street protests as demonstrations are spreading across the country and gaining support from traditional progressive institutions. Democratic leaders in Congress say that there's a lot to like about movement's central message that corporate greed is fueling a growing income gap. And the enthusiasm from Democrats in Washington suggests that they think this sentiment will resonant across the country.

Other progressive Democrats are even more enthusiastic. "I'm so proud to see the Occupy Wall Street movement standing up to this rampant corporate greed and peacefully participating in our democracy," said Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY). The co-chairs of the Progressive Caucus, Reps. Keith Ellison and Raul Grijalva, issued a joint statement to express "solidarity" with the movement, describing themselves as inspired by the mass movement. "We join the calls for corporate accountability and expanded middle-class opportunity," they wrote. "The silent masses aren't so silent anymore. They are fighting to give voice to the struggles that everyday Americans are going through," added Rep. John Larson in his own statement supporting Occupy Wall Street.

Even Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, the second-ranking House Democrat, agreed that there were similarities between the protesters' message and Democratic priorities. "Certainly, there is an overlap in terms of jobs and economic opportunity, which they want and we want," Hoyer told me. Though he didn't go so far as his Democratic colleagues in embracing the movement wholeheartedly, he said that one "positive aspect" of the protests is that they're "raising issues and raising concerns and asking policymakers to focus on it."

Howls of outrage and disgust from OWS activists and supporters could be heard all up and down the Eastern seaboard when word reached them of their new prospective allies. No, no, and hell no, went the refrain. These are the same politicians who line the pockets of the very people being protested, and now all of a sudden they want to join the struggle? The OWS movement is protesting the Democrats as much as it protesting against the rest of the crooked institutional theft machine that shattered the economy in the first place.

There is a decision to be made here. Does the OWS movement issue a "Thanks But No Thanks" response to the Democrats' sudden interest, or do they open their arms and welcome the Party to the party under the auspices of "The More The Merrier"?

Personally, I incline to the latter choice, distasteful as it may be. Including the Democratic Party will raise the profile of the movement, and make it more difficult for it to be undermined. Time will tell if they are too undermined by their own participation in the economic collapse to be of any assistance, and it is certain that their inclusion will leave a bad taste in many mouths. It is yet another delicate question at a very delicate moment, but if it were up to me, I would say "Better late than never," open up the tent, and let them see for themselves what it looks like when history is being made.
(c) 2011 William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: "War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know" and "The Greatest Sedition Is Silence." His newest book, "House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation," is available from PoliPointPress.

The Dead Letter Office...

Eric gives the corpo-rat salute

Heil Obama,

Dear Deputy Fuhrer Holder,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your using your powers to persecute the sick and the elderly instead of Wall Street criminals, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 10-31-2011. We salute you herr Holder, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Wisconsin Drive To Recall Walker Starts November 15
By John Nichols

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is going to face a recall election next year.

More than 200,000 Wisconsinites have pledged to join the effort to remove the radically-anti-labor governor and pro-recall groups have announced plans to begin circulating the petitions November 15. Even the governor's aides admit that it is all but certain that the groups will collect far more than the 540,000 signatures that are required to force the governor to face a new election next spring.

And the numbers don't look good for Walker.

Polling shows that a solid majority of Wisconsin voters disaprove of the governor's performance, with overwhelming majorities of Democrats and independents favoring his removal. Among self-identified independent voters, a group that favored Walker by a 56-42 margin last November, the split in now 52 percent for recalling the governor to 36 percent for keeping him. Internal polling, which pits the governor against a variety of potential challengers, has him running poorly even against contenders who have never before run statewide races.

Those are nightmarishly bad numbers for a politician who got a taste of the trouble he was in last winter, when his effort to undermine collective bargaining rights for public employees, fill civil service positions with political cronies and undermine local democracy were greeted with some of the largest pro-labor demonstrations in modern American history.

So how does Walker intend to prevail?

By gaming the election process.

Specifically, Walker and his legislative allies have in recent weeks placed enormous pressure on the state Government Accountability Board -- which oversees elecrions -- to refrain from writing rules that might make the recall process easier.

The pressure tactics included consideration by the state's Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules of a proposal to shift final authority over whether GAB rules are implemented to the governor.

That change would create an autocrat's dream scenario. Strongmen and political bosses have always mused that what matters is not who casts the votes but who counts them. What has the potential to matter even more, however, is who decides how everything about an election -- the pettioning, the voter registration, the voter-identification rules, the vote counting, the recounting, everything -- goes down. That's what Walker would have if were to gain control of the rule-making process regarding recalls.

"Allowing Gov. Walker to veto any recall rule from the GAB that he doesn't like, for an election that affects him personally, is the definition of an abuse of power. Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans know that they are in trouble with Wisconsin's working, middle-class families because of their extreme agenda. But rather than let the voice of the people be heard, Republicans are trying to control the recall election rules in favor of Gov. Walker," argued Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha.

Barca's was aghast at the takeover proposal, and rightly so.

With the mere threat of a gubernatorial takeover looming, the GAB backed off on a rule change that Republicans said would have made it easier to gather recall petition signatures. The board is also reconsidering a rule change that would have made it possible for students to avoid some of the most cumbersome challenges created by the state's new Voter ID law.

After the GAB backed down last week, the governor's legislative allies refrained from using their control of the Joint Committee for Review of Adminstrative Rules to implement the scheme that would have given the governor the final say over rules regarding the recall.

For now.

But the ugly wrangling over who gets to set election rules has put the GAB on notice. If the supposedly independent board and its staff step out of line -- by acting in a nonpartisan manner to maintain clean elections, assure that it is easy to vote and generally support and sustain the democratic process -- they will face legislative sanctions and a gubernatorial takeover.

The GAB was established after Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature reached a remarkable bipartisan deal that protected the GAB from meddling by politicians. That 2007 agreement was reached by Democrats such as state Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, the former co-chair of the legislative Joint Finance Committee, and former Assembly leader Mike Huebsch.

Pocan now worries that the Walker administration - in which Huebsch serves as Department of Administration secretary - and its legislative allies are not just ripping up the deal. They are undermining the promise of nonpartisan oversight of ethics and elections.

"With so many clouds hanging over the Walker administration, now is absolutely not the time to cede more authority to Gov. Walker. Instead of attempting to change the rules for their own benefit, legislative Republicans should be working with Democrats to ensure that our election rules continue to be governed by nonpartisan officials and that those who break the rules are held accountable for their actions," Pocan says. "The Government Accountability Board was set up as a nonpartisan agency to regulate elections and ethics. It was never envisioned that any single politician would have the power to control its decisions."

In February, the senior member of the Wisconsin Legislature sounded the alarm. State Sen. Fred Risser warned that, with the extreme power grabs contained in a "budget repair bill" that attacked labor union rights, undermined local democracy and shifted dozens of civil service positions to political jobs he could fill with cronies, Walker was "acting as a dictator."

With legislative Republicans threatening to turn the GAB into the governor's political plaything -- and with supposedly independent officials suddenly deciding to back away from rule changes that those Republicans did not like -- Risser's assessment seems all the more prescient. And unsettling.
(c) 2011 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. He is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers.

Punching A Hole In Bubbles Of Denial And Addiction
Late capitalism and its discontents of the American Autumn
By Phil Rockstroh

The global designs of the neo-liberal agenda have met the living architecture of a larger order -- a portion of which has taken the form of a still coalescing, yet potent, countervailing consciousness, a global-wide Liberty Plaza of the mind -- an order that is not informed by corporate era public relations legerdemain, hyper-adrenaline media sound bites, rightwing emotional displacements, or "sensible" centrist platitudes -- but the type of order that begins to jell when the structures of an existing system lose touch with the realities of daily life.

A ground-level, global-wide movement is afoot and has announced to the economic, media and political elite that they are on to their schemes. Accordingly, the plundering class and their protectors will no longer be afforded the luxury of insulating themselves (almost absent confrontation) within bubbles of privilege, bubbles of denial, bubbles of insularity.

Late capitalism has proven to be wholly reliant upon, in fact, addicted to, the creation of bubbles: market and media bubbles, respectively, serving to create inflated wealth and the manufacturing of closed narratives that shield the privileged players within from being held accountable for the consequences of their schemes.

The system is analogous to a rigged game in a tawdry, traveling carnival. The carnival barker's success hinges on whether or not his audience is seduced by his unctuous pitch, in this case being the dubious claim that, under late capitalism, illusionary economic success is attainable by pluck and perseverance. ("Step right up, folks, all can play"-- but the house will win.) Of course, the game has been rigged from the get-go, has been designed to fleece credulous rubes who have never glimpsed the larger world, and, when any prize at all is won, it is a piece of cheap, disposable consumer junk.

As Autumn stands before us, it will be helpful to allow illusions to fall away like dying leaves. Summer is kind to fools, but winter insists on clarity. Let the old delusions blaze out in Autumnal splendor, and then be mindful of winter's stark perfection...its demarcations...rendering bare branches against a bleak sky.

Know this: The illusions of the corporate empire can no longer provide shelter; the elite and operatives of economic imperium can no longer raid and plunder the easy pickings of summer...hoard and squander its bounty. Therefore, to quote the poet, at present, "One must have a mind of winter" to navigate the white-out winds of new realities.

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;
And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter
Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind [...]
~~~ Wallace Stevens ~ excerpt from The Snow Man ~~~

Yet, with the rise of that wing of the privileged class known as the corporate media, we receive the opposite; instead, we are enveloped within a hothouse bloom of hype, surface-level, adrenaline-activating content bearing misleadingly narrowed context.

On January 17 1991, at the start of the U.S.'s formal military hostilities against Iraq in the first Gulf War, the "folk rapper"/performance poet Chris Chandler and I were in Lafayette Park across the street from the White House. Chris pounded and thrashed at his battered guitar and recited talking blues protest ditties that we composed on the spot.

We were among a crowd of well over a couple of thousand demonstrators, plus scores of homeless people shared the surroundings as well. Shortly after the bombing of Iraq began, many in the park joined in an impromptu march around the metro D.C. area where thousands more protesters joined our ranks.

As we wended our way back to Pennsylvania Avenue, we were met, a block from the White House, by a phalanx of police i.e., full riot gear-clad storm troopers and mounted sons-of-bitches on horseback who charged the crowd.

The following is a close approximation of the account of the events as reported in the next day's Washington Post:

"A few dozen ragged protesters hobbled up Pennsylvania Ave. throwing rocks and taunting the police..."

Bearing that in mind, here is the opening graph of the account of the events on the Brooklyn Bridge, where on Sunday, Oct 2, 2011, demonstrators were herded, kettled and arrested by police:

"NEW YORK (AP) — More than 700 protesters demonstrating against corporate greed, global warming and social inequality, among other grievances, were arrested Saturday after they swarmed the Brooklyn Bridge and shut down a lane of traffic for several hours in a tense confrontation with police."

Buyer beware: If the corporate press reports a breaking story with any degree of accuracy, the act is to be viewed as a fluke and certainly not as an act of honest intention by the reporters, producers and editors involved. On a personal basis, I have yet to be part of an unfolding news story in which the version of events created by these courtesans to power do not seem simply cut out of whole cloth, as they truckled to create an inoffensive narrative for the ruling elite.

"Now, from America, empty indifferent things are pouring across, sham things, dummy life.... A house, in the American sense, an American apple or a grapevine over there, has nothing in common with the house, the fruit, the grape into which went the hopes and reflections of our forefathers ... Live things, things that are alive — that are conscious of us — are running out and can no longer be replaced. We are perhaps the last to have known such things." ~~~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Living in New York City, as I do, brings into stark relief the fact that the city operates as a defacto banana republic/police state. In the same manner that the mission of the police force is to protect the power and privilege of the moneyed classes, mainstream journalists work within the boundaries of its acceptable narratives for the purpose of job security and a bit of privilege.

The general population, buffeted by economic insecurity, at least, up to this point, has remained docile, and, to mitigate the anxiety and depression caused by feelings of powerlessness, many have become addicted to the small perks and bribes and endless distractions of the corporate/consumer state.

Furthermore, these bubble-enclosed states of being constitute addiction in a literal sense: Ergo, the compulsive mechanisms of addictive behavior are an attempt to ease an individual's abiding sense of powerlessness and the attendant feelings of anxiety and despair experienced in the midst of uncontrollable circumstances and to quell troubling, obsessive thoughts and feelings of acute emotional discomfort by an habitual reliance on mood altering substances such as alcohol, food, gambling, work, hoarding, lust for power, wealth and privilege.

Addictive actions arise from the drive of libido, but its energy is usurped and exploited by the relentless will of a rigid, turned in on itself ego..."Self will run riot," as the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous poetically puts it.

Addiction is a pathology of the mechanistic mind; an addict’s disregard for his own body and his exploitative attitude towards the world at large is a microcosmic version of the economic designs of the global economic elite. Apropos, the world is mine to abuse, not to exploit from within a protective bubble of privilege and entitlement, not to be enjoined with in common communion.

The demands of the addicted mind are analogous to that of a bratty child, a high chair tyrant, "his majesty the baby," who is convinced that his wants are the end all be all of all things. Therefore, a childish addict must grow up and ask himself this question: How do I transform my obsessive wants into the rage of my dharma, my un-reflective compulsions into the steady work of my soul.

In our time, when nearly all the apparatus of the corporate/consumer state exist and are maintained by the demeaning, soul-defying dynamics of addiction, as an act of defiance, one should attempt to get drunk on clarity--which is a different matter than a priggish, "dry drunk's" hyper-moralistic refusal of excess, for the primary option does not constitute a puritanical refusal of the world--but, instead, is an embrace of the sacred quality of life, a respect for the finite quality of our fleeting passage through this life.

The voice of addiction (both internal and extant in the consumer state) will say anything and will go to craven lengths to continue on. Withal, its narrative will insist its path is the only passage possible...that its doomed trajectory must be maintained. And when its flimsy, desperate arrangements do collapse, it will insist that it must be propped back up so it can topple once again (or as this destructive act of enabling was called, a few years back, "The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008").

Let the stock market hit bottom and allow "consumer confidence" to plummet...allow the psyches' of consumers, addicted to distraction, to spiral into the abyss. Because, in so doing, one may be compelled to find and grasp onto one's essential self, as the persona of one's false self, addicted to the present order, disappears into the void.

To truly embrace the possibility of change, it is essential to allow putrefied habits to compost into the rich loam that will nourish reborn understandings. Apropos:

I felt a Funeral in my Brain
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading--treading-till it
seemed That Sense was breaking through"
~~~ Emily Dickinson ~ opening stanza from ~ I Felt A Funeral In My Brain

Yes, this is a grievous event...a time of tears, confusion and lamination. Yet:

Let the young tears come
Let the calm hand of grief come
It is not as evil as you think.
~~~ Rolf Jacobsen ~ excerpt from Sunflower ~~~

Within the present societal structure of the corporate state, "learned helplessness" is encouraged (as opposed to embracing reflective sorrow and deploying focused rage). Because it sustains itself by exploiting an individual's instinctual drives and human longings, the present order of late capitalism is depended upon allowing an individual to possess just enough libido to vampirize--but not to retain enough élan vital to be roused to rebellion against the corporate state's relentless practices of economic coercion.

"In a consumer society there are inevitably two kinds of slaves: the prisoners of addiction and the prisoners of envy" ~~~ Ivan Illich

I have noticed that often what is (unconsciously) beneath paranoia is envy. Envy...that others are taking up one's space in the world and are plotting to maintain the arrangement. Solution: Punch a hole in bubbles of denial and addiction and take a look for yourself. Insist on your portion of life -- your portion of fate.

Many situations in this life are rigged e.g., the gamed system of the corporate state. But life itself is too vast, too intricate to be rigged; it is truly too big to fail. Now: To the streets, glistening with renewing the flaming barricades...its flames caress the future. Come out of self-exile; you are the change you can believe in!
(c) 2011 Phil Rockstroh, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. Visit Phil's website, and at FaceBook.

The Cartoon Corner...

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

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Potential Race Between Black Guy and Mormon Poses Dilemma for Bigots
Doomsday Scenario, Haters Say
By Andy Borowitz

MINNEAPOLIS (The Borowitz Report) - A looming presidential race between a black guy and a Mormon is creating a major quandary for America's bigots, a new poll reveals.

According to the poll, conducted by the University of Minnesota's Opinion Research Institute, a broad majority of likely bigot voters "strongly agreed" with the statement, "If it winds up being between a black guy and a Mormon I don't know what I'll do because I don't know which I hate more."

Tea Party activist Eldin Brazelton of Oak Park, Illinois, expressed a frustration typical of the bigots surveyed: "We've spent the last three years stirring up anger towards a black guy, and that's all going to go to waste if we just up and nominate a Mormon."

According to Mr. Brazleton, a presidential choice between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney would be no choice at all: "For the life of me I don't know why we can't just have a regular President."

Mr. Brazleton, who considers himself a sexist as well as a bigot, said that the doomsday scenario unfolding for 2012 offered one small silver lining: "At least we know it's not going to be a woman this time."

Elsewhere, in response to the ongoing Occupy Wall Street protests in lower Manhattan, banking giant Goldman Sachs announced today that it was investing in pepper-spray futures.
(c) 2011 Andy Borowitz

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Issues & Alibis Vol 11 # 40 (c) 10/14/2011

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