Issues & Alibis

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In This Edition

Phil Rockstroh explores, "Economic Inequity, Manufactured Populism, And The Bigot-Whisperers Of The Right."

Uri Avnery examines, "His Father's Boy."

Cynthia McKinney with a, "Bike4Peace Finale."

Bill Quigley discovers, "A Million Haitians Slowly Dying."

Jim Hightower considers, "The Fraud Of Afghan Democracy."

David Sirota concludes we should, "Follow Wyoming On Fracking Regs."

James Donahue wonders, "Should We Consider Returning To The Little Red School?"

Joel Hirschhorn totals up, "Loud Talk, Small Minds."

Chris Floyd studies, "The Altars Of Fear."

Ann Wright demands to know, "Why Is The U.S. Government Deaf To What Has Been Done To My Son?"

Paul Krugman sings, "Hey, Small Spender."

Chris Hedges explains, "How Democracy Dies."

David Michael Green wants to know, "How Do You Take Your Tea? With Heaping Spoonfuls of Irony, Of Course!"

Ohio Congressional candidate Rich Lott wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Glenn Greenwald finds, "More Terrorism Fear-Mongering Exposed As Frivolous."

Sam Harris asks, "Can There Be A Science Of Good And Evil."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Republicans, Leukemia Team Up To Repeal Health Care" but first Uncle Ernie comes, "Back From The Shadows."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Daryl Cagle, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Married To The Sea.Com, Henry Christensen, Rainer Hachfeld, Paul Fell, Vincent Pinto, Jeff Danziger, The Atlantic, Hal Roach Studios 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."

Back From The Shadows
By Ernest Stewart

We're back from the shadows again
Out where an Injuns your friend
Where the vegetables are green
And you can pee right into the stream (And that's important!)
Yes we're back from the shadows again!
Back From The Shadows ~~~ The Firesign Theatre

"These people are very unskilled in arms ... with 50 men they could all be subjected and made to do all that one wished."
~~~ Christopher Columbus ~~~

"This is the Tea Party in a nutshell: a movement of angry reactionaries marked by zealous intolerance of anyone who doesn't fit their demographic profile of a real American, combined with a sociopathic desire to enforce the proper punishment on anyone who doesn't live up to their old-time Judeo-Christian values of crime and punishment." ~~~ Dante Atkins

I'm back
I'm back in the saddle again
I'm back
I'm back in the saddle again
Back In The Saddle ~~~ Aerosmith

Well that was a close one. Talk about dodging a bullet, about escaping by the skin of one's teeth. Thanks to everyone who helped me get through this very difficult time.

As you can see I'm back up and publishing again and somewhat set up in an environment that I can function in so the fight will go on. Two months ago when it hit the fan, not only did it rock my world, but it forced me to realize my delicate situation and focused my attention on my immediate surrounding, instead of the road ahead. Without self-realization, there can be no grand vision, you can't help others if you haven't helped yourself enough to get by on.

I allowed myself to get into a position where one person could do what Nixon, both Bushes and Obama couldn't-namely, shut me the f*ck up! I know they were dancing in the aisles over at The Free Republic and Takis. Sorry to disappoint all you tea baggers but this old dog isn't going anywhere, except back into the fray! To the one who wrote in warning me that I've had a contract put out on me, well, cest' la guerre, let's rock!

I'd like to thank all of you for your well wishing. For your advice and caring. For those of you keeping score I guess I'll have to cop to being financed by a foreign country now, i.e., Canada, who has sent in slightly more money to the cause than the Americans have. Where's your patriotism, America? I'm still alive but miles from being solvent!

In Other News

So how did you celebrate "Indian Genocide Day" America? Did you wipe out a tribe with small pox infested blankets? Did you sell a couple dozen Indian children into slavery or send them off to "Indian" school? Did you place a whole Nation into a Concentration Camp and slowly starve them to death? Did you kidnap a few and take them to a strange land and put them on display. Did you take their acts of kindness and brotherhood and use that against them at a point of a sword? Did you force your god down their throats? Then, why don't we have a holiday in celebration of slavery too? Reliving those good old daze of whoppin' slaves and sellin' cotton and subjugatin' women! Maybe it's just me, but I fail to see the difference between the two, can you?

Columbus Day is an attempt to mask the horrors of two thousand years of massacres and mayhem by the church with a "god like" Columbus. They thought, who better than Columbus as a logo for Catholicism; and I have to agree, Columbus is what the Catholic Church is all about and what America is all about too. Those three simple goals that Chris, the Church and America all have are, "greed, gold and power!" As Chris said,

"Gold is most excellent; gold is treasure, and he who possesses it does all he wishes to in this world."

We get programmed by our programmers in elementary school with stuff like, "In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue." Some of the BS we're taught is that Chris called them Indians because he thought he had found India. Which is of course impossible as there was no such place as India in 1492. India in those days was called Hindustan. He was looking for a shorter route to Japan. He called them Indios, which is Spanish for "children of god" and being an Apocalyptic Christian, naturally wanted to kill them all in god's mercy!

Another lie was that Columbus discovered Vespucciland, something that he was about 40,000 years to late to do, which is when the Asians started arriving in South America. The Vikings were building villages in North America 500 years before Chris was born, not to mention some enterprising English and Irish fishermen who had discovered the banks off Newfoundland just after the Romans left town.

Chris was at his best a genocidal maniac who began a slaughter that would end by 1542 with the death of every native in the Caribbean, some 12 million souls. Certainly no one to have a holiday for, no matter what Joey Ratz the Panzer Pope says!

And Finally

I got to thinking the other day (yes, I know, a dangerous thing for me to do!) about the tea bagger phenomena, and it struck me that I've seen this all before, back about 40 years ago. In fact I've seen this before from the very same people who are tea baggers today! Can the leopard change his spots? NO!

People of my generation can relate to this, i.e., remember those boomers back in the 60s and 70s that didn't smoke pot? You know the youth for Nixon crowd, the Ohio State National Guard kids? Spiro Agnew quoters, all you, "nattering nabobs of negativism." The outcasts, the brainwashed that just didn't get peace and love and brotherhood. Not just the KKK, the Birchers, the DAR and UDC but those who thought they were living in a Walt Disney world. They grew up to be PNAC members, RNC staffers and for the most part "The Sheeple."

The lunatic fringe of the baby boomers raced to become tea baggers, birthers and Fox News talking heads! While always a small minority they have always been backed by our corpo-rat masters who have bottomless wallets when it comes to keeping the people down, so that their voice is way out of proportion to their actual numbers. Just like the Jews who run the media and the government while being only 1.5 % of the population these tea baggers are of a small cult too! While most of the Sheeple are not truly evil they have been programmed to do evil things without even knowing about it, as the mythical Jesus was said to say, "Forgive them for they know not what they do!" However, as Terrance Hill said in the Spaghetti Western of the same title, "God Forgives... I Don't!"

With the help of the Sheeple we are set to return to those golden daze of yesteryear, back to the Ante Bellum south, where if you're not rich and white it's your ass, America!

It's Over: UPDATE!

Well, I finally figured out how to keep Word 2008 from turning my punctuation into numbers, question marks and strange symbols. Also thanks to Dr. Phil and his evil twin brother Mr. Jack from Manassas and their timely donation this week, I have some bread on the table, thanks guys. Also thanks to Matt from Canton who gave me an additional 20% off this computer so I could afford to buy it and keep on, keepin' on!

Trouble is, it's a long way to January when my first government check comes in, don't you just love socialism? I know I do! Hmmm... must be the socialist in me, huh? So I could use a little help in the meantime Ya'll! Jenny, Dr. Bob, Elizabeth or any of Ya'll, a little help please!

On the other note, I'm still having a little problem or two or three with the loss of my family. Like a nightmare scene out of "Shane" I can still see my daughter Juliet's bright green eyes as she cried, "Daddy! Come back Daddy! Daddy come back!" Don't worry, America, it's nothing that a few decades of therapy won't cure, or not, we'll see? Cest la vie!


03-21-1940 ~ 10-10-2010
Thanks for the blues!


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) 2010 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 9 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Face Book. Follow me on Twitter.

Economic Inequity, Manufactured Populism, And The Bigot-Whisperers Of The Right
By Phil Rockstroh

I was born, at slightly past the midpoint of the Twentieth Century, in the deep south city of Birmingham, Alabama -- "The Heart of Dixie." My earliest memories are of a time of societal upheaval and cultural trauma. At the time, as the world witnessed and history chronicles, Birmingham could be an ugly, mean place. My father, employed at the time as a freelance photo-journalist, would arrive home from work, his clothes redolent of tear gas, his adrenal system locked in overdrive, his mind reeling, trying to make sense of the brutality he witnessed, perpetrated by both city officials and ordinary citizens, transpiring on the streets of the city.

The print and media images transmitted from Birmingham shocked and baffled the nation as well. But there was a hidden calculus underpinning the architecture of institutionalized hatred of the Jim Crow south. The viciousness of Birmingham's white underclass served the purpose of the ruling order. The city was controlled, in de facto colonial manner, by coal and steel barons whose seat of power was located up the Appalachian mountain chain in Pittsburgh, PA. The locals dubbed them the Big Mules. They resided in the lofty air up on Red Mountain; most everyone else dwelled down in the industrial smog. These social and economic inequities, perpetuated by exploitive labor practices, roiled Birmingham's white men with resentment. If they asked for higher wages, they were told: "I can hire any n*gg*r off the street for half of what I pay you." In the colonial model, all the big dollars flowed back to Pennsylvania, and economic rivalry and state-codified delusions of racial entitlement vis-a-vis Jim Crow Laws was used to insure the working class white majority rage at the ruling elite remained displaced -- their animus fixed on those with even less power and economic security than themselves. This was the poisoned cultural milieu, wherein George Wallace's "segregation today . . . segregation tomorrow . . . segregation forever" demagogic dirt kicking caused the embedded rage of the white working class to pour forth like fire ants from a trampled bed.

In a similar manner, manufactured controversies such as the gay marriage and gays in the military dust-ups of the present time have little to do with gays nor marriage nor the military. These issues are served as red meat to arouse the passions -- and loosen the purse strings -- of the fear-driven, status quo-enabling, confused souls residing at the center of the black spleen of the Republican ideological base.

Although, as a rule, the right's lies and displacements are most effective when liberals offer working people only bromides, platitudes, and lectures on propriety and good taste. Obama and the Democrats, time and time again, present demagogues with an opening the size of the cracks in Glen Beck's gray matter. Hence, the bigot-whisperers of the right are provided with a void that they can seed with false narratives; wherein, they are given free reign to cloud the air and clog the airwaves with palaver about fifth columnist threats from terrorist-toady mosque builders and gays in uniform undermining moral in the ranks by belting out show tunes in foxholes and impromptu shower stall instruction on the art of hand to hand sodomy.

Cultures are organic in nature. Combine the elements of the scorched earth policies of neoliberal capitalism, its austerity cuts and downsizing, plus the hybrid seeds of the consumer age -- and what alien foliage will rise from the degraded soil -- fields of right-wing astroturf. Add: industrial strength fertilizer. And see how our garden grows, with: Glen Beck and Sarah Palin -- the mutant seed sprouted Chia Pets of corporate oligarchy.

Yet the idea of Beck and Palin leading a populist, pitchforks and torches style uprising in the US is sheer fantasy. Most Americans wouldn't rally en mass unless they could bring their couches with them. It would look like The Prague Spring but held in a Rooms to Go showroom.

The recent demonstrations, in Washington, DC, attended by the ranks of the chronically discontent right, are about as populist as a vintage Soviet-era May Day parade was a celebration of the proletarian masses. By the informal design of our present oligarchs and the self-referential nature of the corporate owned media, US citizens have the right to say almost anything that is on their minds, as long as it has little to no effect on the status quo. If there was ever a mass movement that effectively challenged the nation's massive class inequity and threatened to reign in the excesses of the National Security State, it would be shut down faster than an open air, live sex show in the middle of Temple Square in Salt Lake City. Moreover, the mid-life snit-fest engendered by the fading political power of the country's white, middle class majority, as was the case with the racial resentment of the white underclass of my native Birmingham, serves the agenda of the moneyed elite. And its goals (which its rank and file seem ill-equipped to define i.e., vague resentments and inarticulate rage hardly constitutes an agenda for societal transformation and governmental reform) are equally as self-defeating in their ramifications for debt-beleaguered, economic security-bereft working people as were the racist displacement of rage embraced and perpetuated by the exploited, working class, white majority of the Jim Crow south. Working and middle class Republicans agitating for lower taxes for the wealthy is as silly as gaunt peasants, clutching torches and welding pitchforks, besieging Louis XVI's palace at Versailles, demanding their bread rations be cut so that the royal court could enjoy larger and more lavish feasts.

Part of the irrational fear arising from economically forsaken members of the white laboring class toward President Obama is informed by race. Another aspect of it is more inchoate, as evanescent as the nature of the man himself.

Obama seems no more real, nor connected with the concerns of their lives than any other ghost in the media hologram. But Glen Beck's flutterhead histrionics reflect their desperation. This is the seduction of any garden-variety demagogue: Although their narrative is fictive, even malevolent in its deception, the emotional tone resonates with the deep-seated, helpless rage and nebulous night terrors of their audience. Beck's community theatre actor's ability to cry on cue and work himself into a lather of outrage and anguish reflects the inner desperation of his audience's experiences regarding their powerlessness before the crushing, impersonal complexity of events.

My childhood, in Birmingham, bestowed the knowledge: do not underestimate the danger of ignorant, angry people in large groups.

The feelings of drift of contemporary life in the US: its media empires -- with content as weightless in meaning and resonance as the electrons that transport the images, and the internet's pixel fiefdoms, in combination with the ad hoc, fast-buck-driven architecture of suburban nothingvilles gives present day life in the US a flimsy, provisional quality. President Obama's aura of weightlessness, his quality of emotional remoteness, only exacerbates the nebulous sense of unease on the irrational right who think with their guts not their minds. Conversely, guns feel real to these adrift denizens of the nation's spleenland. The weapon's weight in their hands wards off their unfocused sense of dread; its heft, momentarily, mitigates the unease inherent in feelings of being helplessly unmoored. Looking down the precise beauty of its barrel distills hazy hatreds into identifiable targets. Momentarily, the ground feels solid beneath their feet. Hence, guns must be stockpiled; massive amounts of ammunition stored for ballast. The mystifying events of the era ... so muffled by the white noise of uncertainty, must yield to something as clear and decisive as the crack of a rifle shot.

Human beings will never transcend being capable of dwelling in madness on a collective level. David Hare quotes Rebecca West, in the introduction to his play, The Secret Rapture:

"Only half of us is sane: only part of us loves ... [desires] happiness, wants to die in peace ... in a house that we built, that shall shelter those who come after us. The other half of us is nearly mad. It prefers the disagreeable to the agreeable ... and wants to die in a catastrophe ... and leave nothing of our house save its blackened foundations."

Because we, on a personal level, in most cases, chose the primary option, our hidden, shadow half can live out the latter on a collective basis. Empires gather their Žlan vital from such bacchanals of blood. Individually, the atomized populace of empire attempts to mitigate alienation by a vicarious revelry in violence; collectively, in the manner of any mob, from the road rage and carnage enacted on soul-devoid US interstate to the phosphorous-poisoned flesh of the people of Fallujah, the mob finds its collective comfort zone in catastrophe. Beck, Palin, and their followers are the empire's human delivery system of The Second Law of Thermodynamics. Used as tools, by corporatists, to preserve the status quo, their hidden half might well serve as its wrecking crew.

The paranoid, domestic douchescape works in the service of the US created deathscapes overseas and vice versa in a self-resonating feedback loop. Therefore, whenever the neoliberal economic policies of corporate oligarchy and the empire's ever expanding military industrial/national security/surveillance/prison complex are questioned, many conservatives personalize the critique. In their gut, they feel as if their identity is under attack. Consequently, the limbic system ascends to the throne of consciousness, as palace guards of casuistry defend the status quo. This could be termed Authoritarian Simpatico Syndrome (ASS) -- a pathology manifested in personalities who have been traumatized by authority, but who seek to assuage the hurt and humiliation by identification with their victimizer.

This phenomenon is what is at the root of the rage rising from the faux populist right: the ground level realities of life in the corporate state are vastly incommensurate with the capitalist hagiography they hold in their heads. Moreover, when one's mental imprinting and social conditioning is challenged, one can find oneself in a bewildering place. Though the state is emotional in nature, it feels akin to being physically lost ... same disorientation, same sense of panic. Many people were never given and/or didn't develop a compass of logic by which to navigate the novel landscape that one is cast into when one's sacred beliefs are challenged. This is why change is a long time coming, and when it arrives it will not be greeted fondly.
(c) 2010 Phil Rockstroh, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. Visit Phil's website, and at FaceBook.

His Father's Boy
By Uri Avnery

WHICH IS the real Netanyahu?

- Bibi the weakling, the invertebrate, who always gives in to pressure, who zigzags to the left and to the right, depending whether the pressure comes from the US or from his coalition partners?

- The tricky Likud chief, who is afraid that Avigdor Ivett Lieberman might succeed in pushing him towards the Center and displace him as the leader of the entire Right?

- Netanyahu, the man of principle, who is determined to prevent at any cost the setting up of the State of Palestine, and is therefore using every possible ruse to sabotage real negotiations?

The real Netanyahu stand up!

Hey, wait a minute, what's going on here? Do I see all three of them rising?

THE FIRST Netanyahu is the one who meets the eye. A leaf in the wind. The con man without principles and with plenty of tricks, whose sole aim is to survive in power.

This Netanyahu practically invites pressure on himself.

Barack Obama pressured him, so he agreed to the settlement freeze or the perceived settlement freeze. In order to avoid a crisis with the settlers, he promised them that after the agreed ten months, the construction boom would be resumed with full vigor.

The settlers pressured him, and he did indeed resume the building at the appointed time, in spite of the intense pressure from Obama, who pushed for an extension of the moratorium for another two months. Why two months? Because the congressional elections take place on November 2, and Obama desperately needs to avoid a crisis with the Jewish establishment before that. For this end, he is ready to sell Netanyahu the whole inventory - arms, money, political support, a set of guarantees about the outcome of the negotiations that have not yet even begun. Sixty days! sixty days! My kingdom for sixty days!

Netanyahu is now zigzagging between these pressures, trying to find out which is the stronger, which one to give in to, how much and when. In his dreams he probably feels like the Baron von Munchhausen, who found himself on a narrow path, with a lion behind him getting ready to spring and a crocodile in front of him opening its awesome jaws. (If I remember right, the baron ducked and the lion jumped straight into the jaws of the reptile.)

This is the great hope of Netanyahu. AIPAC will help to deliver Obama a crushing defeat in the elections, Obama will deliver a crushing blow to the settlers, and Baron von Netanyahu will rub his hands and survive to fight another day.

Is this the real Netanyahu? For sure.

BUT THE second Netanyahu is no less real. This is Tricky Bibi who is trying to out-fox Tricky Ivett.

Lieberman astounded the UN General Assembly, when, as the Foreign Minister of Israel, he addressed this august body from the rostrum.

Because our Foreign Minister did not rise to defend the policies of his country, as did his colorless colleagues. Quite the opposite: from the UN rostrum he vigorously attacked the policy of his own government, giving it short shrift.

The official policy of the Government of Israel is to conduct direct negotiations with the Palestinian leadership, in order to achieve a final peace treaty within one year.

Nonsense, said the Foreign Minister of that same government. Rubbish. There is no chance at all of a peace treaty, not within a year and not within a hundred years. What's needed is a Long-Term-Interim-Agreement. In other words, the continuation of the occupation without time limits.

Why did Lieberman give this performance? He was not addressing the few delegates who had remained in the UN assembly hall, but the Israeli public. He challenged Netanyahu: either dismiss me or pretend that the spittle on your face is rain.

But Netanyahu did not dismiss and did not react, except for a weak statement that Lieberman was not expressing his views. And this why? Clearly, if Netanyahu were to kick Lieberman's party out of the government and bring in Tzipi Livni's Kadima Party, Lieberman would do to Netanyahu what Netanyahu did to Yitzhak Rabin. He would declare him a traitor selling out the fatherland, an enemy of the settlements. His devotees would parade around with posters of Netanyahu in SS uniform or wearing a keffiyeh, while others performed arcane Kabbalah rituals to bring about his death.

Lieberman would raise the flag of the Right, split the Likud and take sole possession of the entire Israeli Right. He believes that this is the way to become Prime Minister.

Netanyahu understands this perfectly. That is why he is restraining himself. As a man who grew up in the United States he probably remembers what Lyndon Johnson said about J. Edgar Hoover: Better to have him inside the tent pissing out, then outside the tent pissing in.

AND PERHAPS this Netanyahu "the second one" does not really object to the plan outlined by Lieberman at the UN assembly.

The Foreign Minister was not content with rejecting peace and bringing up the idea of the Long-Term-Interim-Agreement. He described the solution he has in mind. Not surprisingly, it is the electoral platform of his party, Israel Beytenu ("Israel Our Home"). In essence: "Israel, the Nation-State-Of-The-Jewish-People," will be free of Arabs, or, translated into German, Araberrein.

But Lieberman is a humane person, and does not advocate (at least in public) ethnic cleansing. He does not propose a third Naqbah (after the 1948 Palestinian catastrophe and the 1967 expulsion). No, his solution is far more creative: he will separate from Israel the Arab towns and villages along the Eastern border, the so-called "triangle," from Umm al-Fahm in the North to Kufr Kassem in the South This area, together with its inhabitants and lands, would be joined to the territory of the Palestinian Authority, and in return Israel would annex the Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

That raises, of course, several questions. First, what about the Arab concentrations in Galilee, which include dozens of villages, towns like Nazareth and Shefa Amr, and the Arab population in the mixed towns, Haifa and Acre? Lieberman does not propose to transfer them too. Neither does he propose to give up East Jerusalem, with its quarter of a million Arab residents. If that is the case, is he prepared to leave in the "Nation-State-Of-The-Jewish-People" more than three quarters of a million Arabs? Or does he dream at night, lying in his bed, of conducting ethnic cleansing after all?

A second question: to whom will he transfer the Arab towns and villages of the "triangle"? Without a peace treaty, there will be no Palestinian state. Instead, there will remain the Palestinian Authority, with its few small enclaves all subject to Israeli occupation. The Long-Term-Interim-Agreement would leave this situation, more or less, intact. Meaning that this area, now part of Israel, would become a territory under Israeli occupation. Its inhabitants would lose their status as Israeli citizens and become an occupied population, devoid of civil rights and human rights.

As far as is known, not a singe Arab leader in Israel agrees to that. Even in the past, when it seemed that Lieberman agreed to the establishment of a Palestinian state and wanted to transfer to it the Arab areas of Israel, not a single Arab leader in Israel agreed. The Arab citizens of Israel, a population approaching a million and a half, are indeed a part of the Palestinian people, but they are also a part of the Israeli population.

Netanyahu is certainly afraid of Lieberman, but can it be that he did not condemn Lieberman's UN speech because he secretly shares his views?

In any case, this week Netanyahu announced that he is adopting Lieberman's baby, the demand that non-Jewish (meaning Arab) people who wish to obtain Israeli citizenship swear allegiance not just to the State of Israel and its laws, as is usual, but to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state?. This is a nonsensical and meaningless addition, solely devised to provoke the 20% of Israelis who are Arabs. One might as well demand candidates for US citizenship swear allegiance to the "United States as a White Anglo-Saxon Christian and democratic nation."

BUT IT is quite possible that there is a third Netanyahu, who stands taller than the others.

This is the Netanyahu who always believed in a Greater Israel, and who has never given up the ideology, which he suckled with his mother's milk.

The veteran Israeli journalist Gideon Samet goes further: he believes that Binyamin Netanyahu's main motivation is his total obedience to his old father.

Ben-Zion Netanyahu is now 100 years old, and in full possession of his mental faculties. He is a professor of history, born in Warsaw, who came to Palestine in 1920 and changed his name from Mileikowsky to Netanyahu ("God has Given"). He has always been on the extreme right-wing fringe. Ben-Zion Netanyahu spent several periods of his life in the US, where his three sons grew up. When in 1947 the UN General Assembly adopted the plan to partition Palestine between a Jewish state and an Arab state, father Netanyahu signed a petition, published in the New York Times, condemning the resolution in the strongest terms. Returning to Israel, he was not accepted into the new Freedom Party (the forerunner of Likud), because his views were too extreme even for Menachem Begin's tastes. He claims that he was barred from a professorship in the Hebrew University because of his opinions, and his bitterness about this poisoned the atmosphere at home.

The professor's special field is Spanish Jewry, with the emphasis on the Spanish Inquisition. He condemns the Jews who were baptized (the Marranos) and says that the great majority of them were eager to be assimilated into Christian Spanish society, contrary to the official heroic myth, which says that they continued to practice the religion of their forefathers in secret.

When Netanyahu the son transferred a part of Hebron to the Palestinian Authority, his father rebuked him and stated publicly that he was unfit for the job of Prime Minister, fit at most to serve as Foreign Secretary. But the son made a huge effort to remain true to his father's views, and that is the main motivation for his policy. According to Samet, he would not dare to face his father and tell him that he had given away parts of Eretz Israel.

I tend to accept this version. Netanyahu will never agree to be responsible for the establishment of the State of Palestine, will never conduct serious peace negotiations - unless under extreme duress. That is all there is to it, everything else is hollow talk.

If the real Netanyahu were called to stand up, all three, and perhaps a few more, would rise. But the third one is the most real.
(c) 2010 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Bike4Peace Final
Recursive Loops
By Cynthia McKinney

Well, first of all I have to apologize to Uncle Ernie and Reverend Sandra Decker. I didn't get my information to you on time--and to all of you, too! But, I hope you'll understand why when I give this update.

But first, I need to add that one of my favorite books of all time is "Godel, Escher, Bach," in which there is something called a "recursvie loop." Part of the reason for my lateness with this final, wrap-up Bike4Peace 2010 report is that, toward the end of our ride, I became involved in several recursive loops that made me very busy; so much so that the time for writing lapsed while I was coursing the various loops.

The first loop entailed travel from Pueblo, Colorado to deal with a burglary that seems to have netted the burglars my external hard drive containing much of my intellectual property, among other things. Now, what was interesting was that they had to search for it. Well, before I declare it swiped, I'm checking and double checking my belongings. But it's not in its usual place. I'm still coursing through this loop and external hard drive sub-loop.

However, after I had just been thrust into the burglary loop, I received an invitation to become involved in the case of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a woman believed to have been the screaming female voice heard by Moazzem Beg, a U.K. resident of Pakistani descent, who was detained and tortured and by U.S. authorities in various U.S. terror gulags. I have heard and seen Moazzem's riveting testimony of his treatment at the hands of the U.S. military. Of course, Moazzem--just like many others, including Dr. Aafia--just happened to be at the wrong place and the wrong time, and became statistics of torture and injustice in the U.S. prosecution of its so-called "War on Terror." One can get more information on Moazzem Beg at and, the Malaysia War Crimes Tribunal.

At any rate, I had read a riveting account of a witness at her "trial," who was incensed by the glaring injustice. So, when the call came, I was ready to become part of a justice campaign in any way I could be helpful. That necessitated sending a message to the White House and State Department asking for Dr. Aafia's repatriation. I had also been asked to travel to Pakistan to ascertain flood damage and advocate on behalf of innocent victims as well as to share some information about the case of Dr. Aafia with Pakistani government authorities by leading a delegation of Pakistani-Americans and those knowledgeable of the law and certain precedents. That's when I discovered that my passport had been stolen!!!

That sent me into yet another emergency loop to get a replacement passport expedited in time for our travel!!!

After getting the replacement passport, I then sent it to the Pakistani authorities in this country, along with a visa application--where both my passport and my visa application were held hostage for about a week while I idled in Chicago and precious time was being lost endangering our time-sensitive mission. Soon, it became clear that our delegation would not travel and that a game of "four corners" was being played with us to allow the clock to sound the time out alarm before Dr. Aafia's sentencing, which occurred on September 23rd. My effort to help on compassionate grounds a woman who has become known as the "Daughter of Pakistan" came to a standstill and eventually, my passport and visa application were both returned, without explanation, to my representative. More can be learned about the case of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui at

By the time I made it back to my familiar environs of campground, tent, and bicycle, Bike4Peace had crossed Kansas. Missouri, the Mighty Mississippi River, Illinois, and had forged their way into Kentucky! It felt good to be back with biting mosquitoes, annoying flies, buzzing gnats in love with my ears, nose, and eyes, and my all-natural insect repellent that didn't work!

Unfortunately, on the day of my arrival in Kentucky, one of our bikers had to leave and return to California where his partner was waiting for him. Anyone who knew YeYo knew it was impossible to be without him for two entire months!!! But, by the time of his departure, YeYo had picked up a bug and was so sick! Food poisoning was the suspected culprit, a little medicine, and he was good to go--unfortunately, away from us!

I left Bike4Peace once again to participate in a New York 9/11 event that will be broadcast on television soon--we hope--under the auspices of Independent News Network (INN). I can't wait. Lenny Charles invited all of the people who participated in my 2005 Congressional briefing and then some! I was on a panel with Governor Don Siegelman and Senator Mike Gravel. We were there to show the audience what happens to elected officials who represent a threat to the existing political disorder! All of the testimony throughout the day was riveting. Then for me, it was back to Kentucky and Bike4Peace 2010.

And the mental calculation wasn't difficult: after Kentucky there was only Virginia, and after Virginia, there was D.C.!!!!! Wow, honestly, in the beginning, I had been misunderstood in so many quarters for choosing to do this and now, here we were, on the verge of actually reaching our goal. What an amazing feeling!

As it turns out, Bike4Peace 2010 arrived in D.C. one day early!!!! On that day--the last day--I rode 60 miles!! While I was stuck in one of those multi-layered recursive loops, I remembered listening to a lecture about the role of melanin and the production of energy. I seemed to get more energy as the sun's rays penetrated my skin. I didn't know where all the energy was coming from--I imagined a little furnace inside my abdomen, just burning away.

I could see my skin turning black, black again. And I was energized by it--or maybe by the lecture on melanin that I was remembering. Amazingly, I rode more than I had ever ridden in one day on this entire Bike4Peace journey, and I never got a muscle cramp--nor a brain cramp! (A brain cramp is that little voice resident in your imagination that tells you that it's time to stop because you've done enough!)

And Babette Hogan of PoliDocs was there to greet us--kinda! PoliDocs is doing a film entitled, "Seriously Green" and Bike4Peace's triumphal entry into D.C. was captured for the film. How beautiful it must have been: the silhouette of Bike4Peace 2010 against the dusky D.C. skyline. That was September 20--one day early! We ended the day by attending a screening of the film, "GhettoPhysics" (opening in theaters on October 8) in which I have a small cameo! As we left the theater, I read an e-mail message indicating that a 30-year old African American Green Party candidate for the U.S. Senate who was riding her bicycle had been hit by an SUV. Stunned, doesn't even begin to describe how I felt. Natasha Pettigrew, bicycling victim of a hit and run.

On September 21, Bike4Peace boarded a bus headed to New York City to hear Ahmadinejad speak. I was asked to give some brief remarks, which I will send under separate cover, since I believe this e-mail is way too long already! On the way back, I learned from the D.C. Green Party that Natasha was dead. All I could think of was Natasha's mother's complete and utter grief. How could this happen? After having just crossed the country and experienced all kinds of motorists, I knew how it could happen.

On September 22, we participated in our closing events for Bike4Peace 2010. At 10:00 am, Bike4Peace convened at the U.S. Capitol and then rode to the White House. We met our goal--on time! From the House of Common Sense to the White House that needs some common sense. And, as if to underscore the importance of what we had just accomplished, I opened my e-mails after our standing-room-only event at the National Press Club to see that, sandwiched in-between NATO bombing raids that killed civilians and children, President Obama defended his war against Afghanistan and renewed threats against Pakistan. It was also Obama's Pentagon that reportedly flooded a town in Pakistan, killing hundreds of innocents, so as to save the military base from which U.S. drones are launched. Shades of New Orleans and the Lower 9th Ward all over again. Given the circumstances of today, there is very little more important than our engagement for peace. Thank you, Bike4Peace--Ron Toppi and Vernon Huffman--for actualizing personal transformation while visualizing U.S. policy that promotes peace.

On September 24, Zaccai Free, whom we met at the screening of "Ghetto Physics," took Yaney to the airport, signaling the beginning of the end of Bike4Peace 2010. Scott, went to his brother's and will probably shave his beard before he heads back to Boston! Vernon and his daughter, Lucy, took off on their fully-loaded bikes, for another adventure--cycling to New York City, where Lucy lives. Annie visited with friends before heading back to the West Coast. And I attended the vigil for Natasha Pettigrew and hugged her mother in an embrace that lasted way too long--but still wasn't long enough to absorb all the pain. I wish I were a sponge so I could soak up the world's pain and put an end to it once and for all. You can read about Natasha here: The Maryland Green Party has named Natasha's mother, Keniss Henry, as its U.S. Senate nominee. At dusk, the candles were lit for Natasha and Bike4Peace 2010 officially ended.


Silence is the deadliest weapon of mass destruction.
(c) 2010 Cynthia McKinney is a former U.S. Congresswoman, Green Party presidential candidate, and an outspoken advocate for human rights and social justice. The first African-American woman to represent the state of Georgia, McKinney served six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, from 1993-2003, and from 2005-2007.

A Million Haitians Slowly Dying
By Bill Quigley

"If it gets any worse," said Wilda, a homeless Haitian mother, "we?re not going to survive." Mothers and grandmothers surrounding her nodded solemnly.

We are in a broiling tent with a group of women trying to raise their families in a public park. Around the back of the Haitian National Palace, the park hosts a regal statute of Alexandre Petion in its middle. It is now home to five thousand people displaced by the January 2010 earthquake.

Nine months after the quake, over a million people are still homeless in Haiti.

Haiti looks like the quake could have been last month. I visited Port au Prince shortly after the quake and much of the destruction then looks the same nine months later.

The Associated Press reports only 2 percent of the rubble has been removed and only 13,000 temporary shelters have been constructed. Not a single cent of the US aid pledged for rebuilding has arrived in Haiti. In the last few days the US pledged it would put up 10% of the billion dollars in reconstruction aid promised. Only 15 percent of the aid pledged by countries and organizations around the world has reached the country so far.

With other human rights advocates from CCR, MADRE, CUNY Law School, BAI and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, I am huddled under faded gray tarps stamped US Aid. Blue tarps staked into the ground as walls. This is not even the hot season but the weather reports the heat index is 115.

The floor is bare dirt, soft from a recent rain. Our guide works with a vibrant grassroots women's organization, KOFAVIV, which is working with women in many camps, and she encourages residents to tell us their stories.

Anne has seven children. She would really love to have a tent. She and her family live on a small plot of dirt eight feet by eight feet. Sheets are tied to pieces of wood to keep out the sun. Plastic sheeting covers the ground. When it rains everything they have is soaked. She begs every day for food.

Therese has three children, 12, 11, and 9. She has lived in the camps since the quake. A few weeks ago when she went to get a bucket of water, some men grabbed her and raped her. Before the quake she worked as a street vendor but has no money to buy supplies to sell. She prays all day every day for help.

Caroline lived with her husband and three children in an apartment in downtown Port au Prince. The quake took her husband and left the rest of the family homeless. She was raped in the first camp she settled in. When she moved she was raped again and fought back with KOFAVIV. She and other women set up their own security with whistles and flashlights to protect each other. They push the police to arrest. Her life is now in danger because the rapists know who she is and she is vulnerable.

We hear from dozens of other mothers and grandmothers Alana, Beatrice, Celine, Marcie, Rene, Wilda and others. This is what they tell us.

There is no electricity at all in the camps. Some have lights on poles that work some of the time. Many have no lights at all.

There is no food. The children are terribly hungry. The food aid program was terminated in April and nothing took its place. The authorities cut off the food so people would leave the camps, but where is there to go?

Water is hard to find. For the people in Petion Park, water is delivered by truck to a central site a block or two away in the middle of several camps. Thousands of people line up twice a day to get water before it runs out. In another camp we visited Sunday, Camp Kasim, there was no water at all for hundreds of families and none scheduled to be delivered until Monday at the earliest. Boys and girls surged around a pipe several blocks away trying to capture some water in Oxfam marked buckets.

People are coughing, sniffling, and their eyes watering. Quiet babies are the norm. Many have skin rashes and vaginal infections. There are several volunteer clinics but usually only the very sickest are seen because so many people need help. The biggest camps now have some toilets but not enough. Drainage is a big problem especially now during the rainy season.

Children cannot be kept in the suffocating tents. They play in the muddy paths. They would love to return to school but there is no money.

Security is a huge problem. Less than a dozen of the thousand plus camps have official security at night. During the day the police may come around or maybe the heavily armed MINUSTAH UN forces will patrol. But at night security forces vanish. With little or no light at night, tens of thousands of unguarded sheet structures and canvas walls offer thieves and gangs an inviting target. Violence against women and girls is widespread. Women who go to the latrines at night are attacked. Some women talk of carrying rape babies. Others will do anything for the crudest abortion. When they go to the police and ask them to investigate, officers demand money for gas. Even those who pay the police usually end up frustrated. There is a sense of impunity.

There are an estimated 1300 camps of homeless people in Haiti. Homeless people live literally everywhere. People are camped in the middle of many streets. Shanty structures are built right up to the edge of streets. Every park, every schoolyard, every parking lot appear to have people living under sheets or lean to tents.

The most fortunate families live in modest plastic tents. The newest tents are royal blue with red flags with yellow stars on them donated in the last week from China. Less fortunate families, and there are many of them, live under faded sheets stretched between wooden poles made from tree branches.? Within the camps there are dirt paths some only inches wide. Tents and sheet shelters are side by side inches apart.

Evictions are starting. Churches are pushing people off their property. Schools which are reopening are turning off the water to the people camped in the ball fields. Some in authority are openly saying that people must be forced out the camps. But only 13,000 temporary structures have been built and they are far away from family, school, jobs and healthcare. There is no place to go.

The UN, which effectively runs Haiti with the Haitians and the US, holds meetings nearly every day to coordinate responses to dozens of issues like security, food, water, reconstruction, and gender violence. Human rights advocates in Port au Prince complain that no meetings are conducted in Kreyol, the language of the Haitian people.

Yet there is hope. The Haitian mothers and grandmothers we heard from are fighting for their lives. KOFAVIV and BAI and other grassroots human rights groups are speaking out, demonstrating, educating the people in the camps, and working together for social justice.

During a torrential downpour Saturday, dozens gathered on folding chairs under the front porch overhang of BAI to work on how to get the US, the UN, Haiti and the NGOs to do their jobs.

Together the people have a chance. As one woman who works against violence told us, "If there is one woman and one man, maybe the man will win. But if the woman uses whistles to alert other women and gets other women to show up, maybe the man will see he is going to lose and will run away."

Meanwhile, Wilda and a million other Haitians are slowly dying from starvation, illness, lack of security and neglect. Nine months after the quake.
(c) 2010 Bill Quigley is a Katrina survivor and is legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. He can be contacted at

The Fraud Of Afghan Democracy

"What the hell are we doing in Afghanistan," you ask?

According to Washington's war hawks, we're there to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people. Key to this strategy, we're told, is to establish the legitimacy of the central government, led by the famously incompetent, vain, arrogant, aloof, and corrupt president, Hamid Karzai. "And how's that going?"

Well, at least they pulled off a national parliamentary election in September. It was meant to show democratic progress, thus bolstering the stability and credibility of the government. Unfortunately, there were some unpleasant incidents during the balloting. Beaucoup unpleasantness. More than 3,000 cases of gross electioneering fraud have poured into the Election Complaints Commission - with nearly 60 percent of them considered serious enough to have affected the outcome.

"How gross," you ask? In Kandahar Province, where the president's brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, rules as an autocratic strongman, some 50 parliamentary seats were being contested. Amazingly, the list of winners were all from the Karzai political faction, and - get this - Ahmed Wali had the list of winners in his hands before the election!

In a third of the provinces, the fraud was blatant and widespread. A cell phone video, for example, caught officials in one district polling place haggling with a candidate over the price of buying votes. In another district, local police handcuffed and removed three groups of election workers from their polling places, then presented the "results" for them to sign at the end of the day. In a northern province, gunmen slapped, dragged, and otherwise coerced people to go to polling places and vote for the gunmen's candidate.

This so-called election shows that there's nothing legitimate about Karzai's government - and nothing legitimate about America's involvement in Afghanistan. It's time to get out of there!
(c) 2010 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.

Follow Wyoming On Fracking Regs
By David Sirote

Frank Sinatra once said that if he could make it in New York, he could make it anywhere. Thanks to new drilling rules, environmentalists can now say the same about Wyoming.

To review: Wyoming is as politically red and pro-fossil-fuel a place as exists in America. Nicknamed the "Cowboy State" for its hostility to authority, the square swath of rangeland most recently made headlines when its tax department temporarily suspended levies at gun shows for fear of inciting an armed insurrection. The derrick-scarred home of oilman Dick Cheney, the state emits more carbon emissions per-capita than any other, and is as close as our country gets to an industry-owned energy colony.

So, to put it mildly, Wyoming is not known for its activist government or its embrace of green policies.

But that changed last month when Wyoming officials enacted first-in-the-nation regulations forcing energy companies to disclose the compounds they use in a drilling technique called "fracking."

From an ecological standpoint, fracking is inherently risky. Looking to pulverize gas-trapping subterranean rock, drillers inject poisonous solvents into the ground - and often right near groundwater supplies. That raises the prospect of toxins leaking into drinking water - a frightening possibility that prompted Wyoming's regulatory move. Indeed, state officials acted after learning that various local water sources were contaminated by carcinogens linked to fracking.

While the Wyoming examples may seem of little concern to those living outside of Flyover Country, they are more like canaries in the national coalmine (or gas well, as it were) - canaries potentially coming to a watershed near you. Today, 800,000 wells many of which involve fracking - are being plumbed in a total of 34 states. That means fracking is now everywhere.

Not surprisingly, reports of drilling-related groundwater pollution have been pouring in from Colorado to Pennsylvania - and lots of these dispatches come from sites near population centers. Worse, such crises could increase as an unintended consequence of much-needed environmental initiatives. Specifically, with coal-fired power plants being converted into cleaner natural gas-burning facilities, demand for more gas supplies - and, therefore, more fracking - is mounting.

If this wasn't bad enough, the situation is further exacerbated by federal policymakers who have ignored the physician's "first do no harm" principle. Rather than initiating an informed public debate about fracking by forcing companies to at least admit what chemicals they are using, Congress has preserved fracking disclosure loopholes in the Community Right-to-Know Act, exempted fracking from the 2005 Energy Policy Act and blocked new legislation to better regulate fracking.

That has left states to try to deal with the mess.

Colorado, for example, requires companies to partially disclose fracking chemicals, but only in cases of an imminent health emergency (granted, an important step after a Durango nurse almost died when a drilling firm refused to disclose the fracking fluids she had been exposed to).

Others such as Pennsylvania and New York publish lists of fracking chemicals, but according to ProPublica, "these lists simply name chemicals that may be in any given well and do not detail the mixtures or concentrations."

Many, though, do almost nothing. And no state other than Wyoming does what the situation really requires: namely, provide to regulators a well-by-well accounting of chemicals along with the amounts of chemicals being used.

This standard should, of course, be the regulatory rule - not the exception. In a nation that learned harrowing environmental lessons from the General Electric/Hudson River affair and from the 1996 bestseller "A Civil Action," we are well aware of the dark intersection of industrial chemistry, groundwater pollution and public health.

If Wyoming can turn that knowledge into action, then so can - and must - every other state.
(c) 2010 David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @davidsirota. David is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee.

Should We Consider Returning To The Little Red School?
By James Donahue

Alarming new reports conclude that the American education system is failing to meet the standards of at least 11 other world nations and that an alarming number of U.S. students are not graduating from high school.

This news is breaking at a time when the nation is locked in its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, states are going broke, and state and federal dollars for education are being severely cut. Consequently schools are cutting back on teaching staff, doubling up class sizes, cutting school hours to four days a week and halting extracurricular programs like music, sports and school trips.

Because of the high cost of gasoline school districts have already been struggling with spending cuts just to keep their fleets of big gas-guzzling buses on the road. Bus routes are being reduced so children are walking farther to reach pickup points.

As the education crisis intensifies, school boards are choosing to no longer buy textbooks and essential teaching tools, and more and more teachers are getting pink slipped.

And there go all of the arguments used in the 1950s and 1960s for closing the one and two-room country schools and consolidating districts to provide a better education for all children.

We remember the big debates as one-by-one the little red neighborhood schools of our youth lost ground and eventually closed their doors. Many of the buildings fell to ruin. Some were fondly bought up by local historical groups and preserved as extensions of museums. Others were sold and converted into homes.

If you drive around the countryside even today, you can still find the remnants of the 'little red' school buildings. They had a distinct look that even conversion to other uses could not hide. And there was one in just about every neighborhood, within easy walking distance for every child.

The one-room schools are remembered for their old pot-bellied wood-burning stoves, the hard wooden desks with attached straight-backed chairs and the big blackboards that filled the wall behind the heavy oak or maple wood desk used by the teacher. There was sometimes a shelf under the student desk, or in later years, the lids to each desk for students lifted to expose a storage area for books, papers, pencils and other things children used.

All classes were held in the same room, and one teacher taught everybody. In some schools the children attended class there from first through as high as the eighth grade. It was possible for a single teacher to give a child all of the educational training he or she would ever receive. In those days an eighth grade education was considered enough to prepare children for the world.

What was neat about that system of education is that children who didn't get it the first time around, heard the same lesson over and over and by the time they left that school, they had it all down pat.

I knew a lot of people who functioned very well on the education they received in those schools. They knew the basics for left brain activities in the world. They could read, write and spell, and they had enough training in mathematics that they could calculate numbers quickly in their head and do well on just about any job as a clerk, farm worker or factory.

High school was desirable, but a student had to travel some distance from the country to attend. And often the demands on the farm made it difficult for children in many families to get any more education than the eighth grade. Those who went on, however, achieved new pinnacles of scholastic achievement. That was when education was highly regarded. To go on from there to college was a goal that only the brightest and best students dared to achieve.

The big movement just after World War II was for consolidated school districts that offered a complete education, from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Intermediate School offices were established to oversee regional school districts and provide training in specialized job skills like automobile mechanics, computer and office employment, welding and a variety of other functions needed by local employers.

Students attending such schools chose early which direction they wanted to go in life. They either chose vocational skills near home, or took the college preparatory courses and made that dash for admission to a college or university after high school.

That seemed to be the perfect solution to meet the needs of society in those days. There was a nook for every child, no matter how they graded during their primary school years. But over the years troublesome flaws developed. Teachers unions were formed and the unions bargained for benefits including tenure, or a secured position after being on the job for a specific number of years. Once achieving tenure, it was difficult for school administrators and school boards to weed out bad teachers or pressure them to do a better job once they slipped through the cracks.

As the cost of operating these big school systems and erecting new buildings rose, the burden fell on local property owners to approve special millage issues. In many cases the voters balked. Schools began relying on state and federal finance programs to balance their budgets. Once government money began flowing, it came with strings. Local districts no longer had the final say in how the students were to be taught.

That was when experimental ideas like the 'New Math,' a twisted system of teaching numbers that boggled the minds of parents and apparently that of the students. After that came out we noticed young graduates couldn't do such simple tasks as count proper change when clerking stores.

Schools swayed from phonics when teaching reading and spelling. You see the disastrous result of that every day when reading e-mails and other text writings on the Internet. Proper spelling and grammar is a lost art. There hasn't been a really great American novel published since the days of Steinbeck and Hemingway.

The Bush 'No Child Left Behind' education act was among the worst programs ever forced upon the local school districts. Teachers were forced to devote all of their time making sure students were able to pass a battery of government prepared tests. They could answer the questions, but it is questionable whether the children learned much.

While all of this was happening, the building financial crunch forced both parents to go to work to keep the family afloat. Consequently parents had little time to attend school board and Parent Teacher Association meetings or take an interest in the quality of education offered at the local schools.

The stores overcame the problem of employees that could not make change by installing computerized cash registers that did the mathematics for them. Most published book writers today are famous figures that hire ghostwriters to prepare their manuscripts.

(It would be unfair to say that good writing is a lost art. There are many excellent writers at work at some of the nation's best newspapers and magazines. We appreciate their talents every day when reading their well thought-out columns on line. But they are getting few and far-between. For the masses, the task of writing a simple letter appears to be a lost art.)
(c) 2010 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.

Loud Talk, Small Minds
By Joel S. Hirschhorn

In trying to understand how so many Americans adore people like Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh I have come to this critical understanding: Poorly educated, terribly informed, intellectually deficient and downright stupid people need idols. They feel angry, frustrated, ignored, cheated and disillusioned by so much going on in American society. They find the emotional, political and philosophical rants by talk show, loud mouth celebrities matching and justifying their feelings. Of course, those celebrities work hard to fan the flames of all that unhappiness and discontent, and also perpetuate ignorance and hate. They sell stupidity to gullible dummies, teaching them who to blame for their misery.

I am no conservative or liberal and I know I sound terribly condescending and will be viewed as an elitist by those dummies, not that they read much by those they do not idolize. However, I have spent considerable time following what these demon idols say and write to seriously investigate whether I might be missing something of value. But all I see are huge quantities of totally incorrect and distorted information, absolute nonsense, outright insanity, abuse of logic, exaggerations, toxic half truths, intentional disinformation, racism and bigotry, and extreme political views that have no connection to reality and offer no workable solutions to the nation's complex problems. Slick sound-bite slogans push propaganda substitutes for verifiable facts.

How to understand how so many people can listen to such celebrities and not feel as nauseous as I and so many other Americans feel when listening to them? Clearly we must accept the disturbing fact that there are many millions of suffering Americans that are mental midgets, a sign of the dumbing-down of America. No surprise really when you remember there are millions of people wasting their money on gambling, lottery tickets, cons and scams, junk products and unhealthy foods, or unable to qualify for decent jobs because of a lack of knowledge and skills. Either they were born stupid (a harsh but true statistical reality) or the many ups and downs of life have robbed them of any critical thinking ability to see through the idiocy that these purveyors of poison peddle while making obscene millions of dollars.

Consider recent Pew Center Research poll results that showed 18 percent of Republicans do not know that the Democrats control the House of Representatives and 35 percent do not know who the Vice President is. Research has found Fox News butchers facts and its devotees are the most ignorant, and in recent years Republicans have overwhelmingly gone to Fox to get their news and information. Note: 80 percent who regularly listen to Rush Limbaugh or watch Sean Hannity are conservative. I'm not saying that "No truth, just spin" should be the Fox motto, but it sure fits.

I can easily relate to the many people treated unfairly, unjustly and even brutally by the political and economic system. But those who have drifted over to the dark side of the right-wing, conservative arena and become addicted to the rhetoric of delusion have nothing in common with those that once made the United States a noble nation worthy of respect. Their idols talk a lot about the Founders and Constitution, but share none of the fine qualities of those that created our republic. They also pick and choose what parts of the Constitution to adore, mocking the rule of law.

As an independent, I too am extremely critical of the political and economic system and how the middle class has been purposefully harmed by a rich and powerful Upper Class that has turned the nation into a plutocracy serving the greed of individuals and corporations. I want revolution and true reforms. I condemn both major political parties and see elections as useless anachronisms.

I too feel disenfranchised, full of dissent and disgust with broken government, broken educational and health care systems, crumbling inadequate infrastructure, widespread corruption and dishonesty, and an economy dispensing inequality and injustice. Yet, try as I have, I cannot see any merit in what these powerful right-wing demigods dish out, all done to pump millions of dollars into their pockets and pump up their egos. They sell themselves as the defenders of the downtrodden and abused, but this is just a con game designed to keep millions of dollars coming to them and their fellow fat cats. When their supporters vote for Republicans they vote against their own economic interests, unless they are rich.

These false populists are fundamentally no different than the evil elite forces that this fraction of the population despises. Perversely, they have become a part of the ruling class they routinely condemn. They are the worst kind of idols, manipulating and soaking their audiences and admirers. They pitch poisonous, hateful and addicting fast food rhetoric, words as pleasing as salt, sugar and fat laden foods and as eagerly gulped down. This results in mental capacity becoming as clogged as the arteries in overweight and obese Americans.

What is evil? Right-wing hypocritical hucksters pitching messages of values, morals, freedom and patriotism crafted to sucker the least informed, emotionally stressed and unintelligent Americans for the sake of power and money. These idols live like royalty (for example, Limbaugh makes $60 million a year and Beck $35 million) while their loyal fans treasure fantasy expectations and block out information that would cause too much pain by piercing the delusions they have succumbed to. By putting their faith in false idols they become unknowing victims of the media corpocracy profiting from these idols.

What a culture, where so few can take advantage of so many and make fortunes doing it. The real goal of the demon idols is to further divide the nation, not fix it and make it better. Why? Because divisiveness is what sells and makes them big money. Shame on them. Those who worship them need more worthy heroes if they really love their country and want to make it better for all its citizens. The rest of us need to ignore the false idols and their followers, showing them no respect whatsoever, condemning them at every opportunity.
(c) 2010 Joel S. Hirschhorn observed our corrupt federal government firsthand as a senior official with the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association and is the author of Delusional Democracy - Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. To discuss issues write the author. The author has a Ph.D. in Materials Engineering and was formerly a full professor of metallurgical engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The Altars Of Fear
Wrong Turns on a Long, Dark Road
By Chris Floyd

All across Europe, thousands of people have been taking to the streets in angry protests against the "austerity measures" being imposed upon them by their governments. A general strike in Spain. Mass protests in Greece, Ireland, Portugal, France, Lithuania, Belgium and several other nations. Legislators in Iceland had to literally run and hide from their own citizens at the opening of the nation's parliament this week.

Why, ask the outraged crowds, should our lives be degraded in order to pay for the crimes and follies of the financial elite - who are richer, more powerful and more arrogant than ever today, despite having plunged the world into economic catastrophe?

The Europeans, forever cast in American myth as fey, feckless, wine-sipping weaklings, have roused themselves to such an extent that the UN is now warning of years of "social unrest" due to the policies of the austerity zealots -- policies which are greatly exacerbating unemployment (with all the inevitable knock-on effects throughout the economy), while severely corroding the physical and social infrastructure of whole nations. Although the European public might be compelled to submit in the end -- by brute force, if necessary, as governments call out club-wielding cops to put down dissent -- at least they are not going quietly.

The same can't be said for the big, bold, burly American public, who for years have meekly submitted to the ever-accelerating deterioration of their lives and communities with nary a peep of protest. Trillions of their dollars are spent on murderous, pointless, wasteful rampages of war-profiteering in foreign lands, on obscene handouts and "guarantees" for the silk-suited scamsters of Wall Street, and on the monstrous expansion of a covert security apparatus that is seeking to invade and control every aspect of their lives -- but the American people say nothing and do nothing.

But perhaps we are being unfair in such a harsh judgment. After all, it's not entirely true that Americans have completely eschewed protest, is it? In fact, the news has been filled with stories of mass protests across the United States for months on end, with angry citizens taking to the streets -- and the ballot boxes -- to register their stern displeasure.

And what has displeased them so, what has moved them from the quiet simmering of discontent to explosions of public protest? Is it those trillions spent on pointless wars? Is it the coddling of the super-rich? Is it the degradation of their daily lives, and the darkening of their children's future by endless war and lost opportunities in a system skewed sharply -- and punitively -- toward the needs and greeds of powerful elites? Is it the runaway encroachment of civil liberties? Is it mass unemployment, and the relentless rollback of public services essential to a dignified and civilized life?

No, it is none of these. While the Europeans protest for jobs and dignity, Americans pour out into the streets in angry demonstrations against the very idea of helping the poor and the economically devastated, or putting the slightest restraint on the rapacious super-rich. The Europeans protest actual policies, while our American "dissidents" froth and rant about a fantasy world of "socialist" programs that only benefit shiftless darkies and sneaky, border-crossing 'Messicans -- and, of course, the devil-worshiping Muslims, who are plotting every hour to poison the precious bodily fluids of real Americans and take over the country from within.

The American protestors vociferously denounce the healthcare "reform" bill -- not because it is actually a gargantuan corporate boondoggle deliberately crafted to kill off the chance for any genuine reform of the system for generations, but because they believe it is communist Muslim atheist Nazi socialism, and because a few slivers of the boondoggle might possibly trickle down to help a few of those darkies and Messicans. (Although in fact it will imprison them in an inhumane system of corporate control.) They protest against the laughably anemic "financial regulations" that the Administration has meekly proposed for its masters on Wall Street -- PR measures, tissue-paper thin, that fall miles short of the kind of mild regulations that operated during America's greatest periods of growth and broad-based prosperity.

Fantasy is a key component of this elite-funded "protest" movement, which relies strongly on "Big Lies" to stoke the fires of racism, resentment, victimhood and self-righteousness at its proto-fascist core. The primary example of this is of course the entirely manufactured controversy over the "Ground Zero mosque." The element of complete fabrication in this case has been overlooked to some extent. I think it is more portentous, and dangerous, than many have realized. Obviously, there have been elements of fantasy and/or exaggeration in almost all of the shibboleths that have fueled these right-wing eruptions over the years (not to mention bipartisan state policy: e.g., the Gulf of Tonkin, Saddam's phantom WMD, etc.); but few have involved lies that can be easily disproved in an instant, with plain, simple, indisputable facts, by anyone, requiring no specialist knowledge, no whistleblown secrets, no expert interpretation.

There is, of course, no mosque being built at the site of the 9/11 attacks. To say otherwise is a complete falsehood; it is a statement without the slightest element of truth or fact in it. It is the precise equivalent of saying that the moon fell down last night and landed on the Washington Monument. Yet this Big Lie has reverberated across the country like few others in recent years. Millions of people believe it, believe it fervently, and what's more, also believe that the "mosque" is being built there by Islamic extremists as a "trophy" to celebrate the 9/11 attacks.

This radical lie -- eagerly propagated by corporate chieftains like Rupert Murdoch and allowed to fester unchallenged for weeks by the establishment media -- has roused multitudes to angry protests, to attacks on mosques and Islamic centers, and to outpourings of open, unabashed ethnic hatred against Muslims that, yes, echo the anti-Semitism of Nazi-era Germany. (See the much-feted establishment grandee Martin Peretz for a prime example.) Muslim Americans who have lived happily integrated with their communities for decades now feel cast out, threatened by nationally-amplified voices accusing them of disloyalty, of sinister conspiracies to enslave and oppress their fellow citizens, to destroy America and turn it over to its enemies, etc. -- again, tropes which are instantly and alarmingly familiar to anyone with a modicum of knowledge about the febrile hatreds that boiled and churned in Germany between the world wars.

Yet although the main engine currently stoking this hatred is a deliberate and transparent lie, there are people barreling into power on it. In North Carolina, the Republican candidate Ilario Pantano has made the lie a centerpiece of his campaign. As Justin Elliot reports at, Pantano is a former Marine who became a "hero" to the militarist Right for killing two unarmed Iraqis in his charge, filling them with 60 rounds of lead. He boasted that he had intentionally shredded the unarmed men to pieces in order to terrorize Iraqis into compliance with the unprovoked American invasion and occupation of their country. Based on the testimony of other Marines who saw the incident and felt the slaughter was unjustified, Pantano faced murder charges. But the top brass came to his rescue and dropped the charges.

Now Patano has seized on the "Ground Zero mosque" to push his campaign against a "conservative" Democrat? -- the usual timeserver who is in thrall to the corporatism and militarism that his party fully shares with its opponents. In a conservative district, in an anti-incumbent year, Patano has a very good chance of riding the Big Lie -- and his thuggish rep for killing the unarmed -- into Congress.

These then are the issues -- or rather, the resentful fears and hateful fantasies -- that bring Americans out into the street these days. The wars that are devouring the lives of their children and the national treasury, and leading to an ever-more unstable world of violence and hatred -- such things don't move them. Torture, spying on citizens, death squads of American killers roaming the world, presidential assertions of a universal license to kill and incarcerate without due process -- these provoke no anger, no protest. States shutting down or sharply curtailing schools, parks, road programs, electricity and sewer services, garbage pick-up, aid to the sick and elderly -- they don't care. Greedy corporations utterly befouling the water and the air, poisoning the earth for generations to come -- no problem; in fact, we should champion these planet-rapers and protect them from all restraint.

But which, in the end, is worse: proto-fascist fantasy, or the reality of "savvy" progressives in power? Or rather: what, in the end, is the difference? This site has catalogued innumerable crimes committed -- knowingly, deliberately, realistically -- by the "most progressive administration in a generation": crimes against humanity, crimes against liberty. Many other sites have done the same, far more comprehensively. To support this administration is to countenance and collude in those crimes. It is to reward those crimes, and guarantee their continuance, no matter which faction of corporate-sponsored militarists and moral lunatics take power.


So what is the answer? I don't know if there is any "answer" to our plight. I have been following American politics for more than 40 years, and it has been a process of almost unremitting degeneration, punctuated by a very few isolated moments when it seemed a sliver of light was shining in the darkness, pointing toward the possibility of another, different path. But in truth, by the time I first became actively aware of the political process, in the presidential election of 1964, most of the bright, brief flashes had already come and gone, either killed outright or else deeply corrupted.

For example, one of brightest of those lights, the Civil Rights movement, had by then reached its high-water mark and was fragmenting under the covert assault of the national security apparatus, the intransigence of the power structure, the hostility of the white majority, and its own internal contradictions -- chiefly the attempt to find justice, equality and peace in a system that was inherently unjust, unequal and violent. Martin Luther King Jr. was coming to recognize those contradictions, broadening his critique of the system to include the elitist economic structure and the murderous violence of empire. He was also becoming a more and more isolated, death-haunted figure, as if he could see the cynosure closing -- although until the end he raged against the dying of the light.

The War on Poverty was another flash. Lyndon Johnson's speeches about lifting "our brothers and sisters" out of the endemic suffering of poverty sound today not only like oratory from another age but also from another planet. His rhetoric assumed a moral imperative of compassion toward our fellow human beings, a value to be placed at the very heart of our collective life and our instruments of governance. But Johnson, not only a product but the very quintessence of a deeply corrupt system of bribes, backroom deals and bullshit, never genuinely challenged the forces that engendered the suffering of poverty in the first place. And his total capitulation to the War Machine meant that even his weak and compromised stabs at building a "Great Society" were starved of funds, left to malfunction and deteriorate, tainting the ideals behind them in the minds of the public. He too ended his days isolated and death-haunted, with the blood of hundreds of thousands of people killed in an imperial war -- which he himself admitted to intimates was pointless and unwinnable -- hounding him like furies to his grave.

There were other moments -- such as the Church Committee hearings, which for a time held out the possibility of reining in the murderous, liberty-devouring "national security" apparatus. But this too was swiftly quashed, and that same apparatus has metastasized into a monstrous cancer that has completely devoured the state, which now serves merely as its withered appendage and dogsbody. The impeachment of Richard Nixon -- for petty partisan sneakery, not the high war crimes of which he was manifestly, even proudly guilty -- seemed like another potential break in the gloom, but came to nothing; in just a few years time, he was a wealthy, respected elder statesman. And so it has gone with every such moment, although each has left some worthy fragments.

Now, I am no idealist. I don't long for cleansing fires to scour all evil from society, or for the imposition of grand schemes of human perfection or divine order. Like Andre Chenier, the poet-journalist who went down in the flood of the French Revolution, I aspire to be one of those "men upright and unvarying in their principles, who want to neither lead nor follow parties, and who abhor all intrigue." I would much rather not concern myself with politics at all. A well-turned phrase -- or a well-turned ankle -- holds immensely more meaning for me than the machinations of third-rate wretches splashing in the fetid pool of office-seeking. By "slivers of light" I mean only potential opportunities to arrest the pace of our degeneration, and get us to a place where the ordinary corruption endemic to human nature and every single political system devised by human nature operates on its usual vast scale.

In the face of the truly hideous reality of today, where murder, tyranny, war and injustice are the accepted, defended, lauded tools of the trade for "progressive" power-holders, and the only thing that rouses public outrage are proto-fascist fantasies, I don't see any glimpse of light anywhere. I can't even see a way to get to a place where we might see a glimpse of something that might point us to a path toward something different, something better. That could just be a failure of vision, and a lack of knowledge, on my part. I don't know. I hope so.

But for now, all I know to do is to fall back on the bedrock need to bear witness, to speak for the human and the humane in the midst of what seems to be implacable and unbreakable horror all around. To refuse cooperation with evil, in whatever partisan garb it wears. To shore one fragment after another against the ruins, and wait for a glint of broken light to appear.


A Saturday rally in Washington by unions and other groups did turn out several thousand people, calling for more jobs, tax hikes on the rich, immigration reform and defending public services. This, as they say, is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, although it falls far short of the angry, obstreperous crowds in Europe, who are not wanly supplicating their leaders for a few crumbs but demanding action to preserve their quality of life.

However, one's heart sinks to see the event's organizers, and some of the participants, describing it as a get-out-the-vote effort for the Democrats, and a show of support for Obama. Given the horrendous record of the president and his party in prosecuting savage and wasteful wars, overt and covert, all over the world; setting up unaccountable, "extrajudicial" death squads and hit lists; continuing and expanding Bush's assault on civil liberties; aiding and abetting the ever-widening disparity in wealth and opportunity between the sliverous elite and the collapsing middle class and the already poor -- not to mention the president's clear intent, with his stacked-deck "Catfood Commission," to gut Social Security, one of the last remaining shreds of America's never-robust or extensive "safety net," just as soon as the election is over -- what in God's name do they think the Democrats will actually do to advance the organizers' stated "core principles" of "jobs, justice and education," should the party manage to cling to Congressional power in November? There will be no money to support these principles, for one thing; it will all go to the wars, to the burgeoning security apparatus, and to the sacred goal of "deficit reduction." And Obama and the Democrats have already demonstrated, amply, that they have no will or desire to advance these principles or put them into action in any event.

I don't want to belittle the efforts and hopes of thousands of poor and working people who showed up at the rally to fight for a better life. In that, I wish them every success. And I'm glad to see some counterblast in the public square to the violent fantasies of the proto-fascists. But I believe that if your ultimate goal is simply to perpetuate the status quo of rule by two scarcely indistinguishable political factions, both deeply dedicated to militarist empire and the crushing dominance of financial elites, then you will not stop the accelerating degradation of American society or light a path to a genuinely new direction. Instead, the war, murder, chaos and decay will go on, breeding more blowback from abroad and instability at home, and thus giving more fuel to the proto-fascists and their paymasters.
(c) 2010 Chris Floyd

"Why Is The U.S. Government Deaf To What Has Been Done To My Son?"
Asks Father of an American Murdered on the Gaza Flotilla
By Ann Wright

Through his lawyers in Turkey, Ahmet Dogan, the father of Furkan Dogan, the 19 year old American citizen who was executed by Israeli commandos has challenged the U.S. government its lack concern about the death of his son.

Dogan was killed by commandos who shot him twice in the head and three times in other parts of his body on May 31, 2010 on the Mavi Marmara in the Gaza flotilla.

"Up to this moment, I still do not understand why the United States government is deaf to what has been done to my son, an American citizen. I urge the U.S. government to act to defend the rights of my son. I also would like to know why the U.S. voted against the Gaza Flotilla Report of the UN Fact Finding Mission at the Human Rights Council last week, as that report included information about the execution of my son," said Dogan.

U.S. votes against the U.N. Human Rights Council Fact Finding Mission report

The only country to vote against acceptance of the U.N Human Rights Council fact finding report on the Gaza flotilla, was the United States.

Mark Kornblau, a spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations, said "The report's language, tone and conclusions are unbalanced." According to the Washington Post , another senior U.S. official said the Human Rights Council had rushed the establishment of the panel and "not made adequate efforts to get Israeli cooperation in the investigation," although the report itself details the numerous attempts by the fact finding mission to gain cooperation from the Israeli government.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office called the U.N report "biased" and "distorted." In a radio interview, Israel's deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon said the report was "a big lie."

The United States has not conducted its own investigation into the death Furkan Dogan, but instead is relying on Israel to conduct "a thorough investigation" into his death and to "share its findings" with the U.S.

U.S. Passengers Send Letter to Secretary of State Clinton about U.S. Government Lack of Effort in Conducting an Investigation of the Death of a U.S. Citizen

On October 6, Furkan Dogan's father joined the U.S. passengers on the Gaza Flotilla in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that stated that they "are appalled at the lack of any visible, active effort on the part of any agency in our government to conduct and release an independent investigation of the killing of one and assaults on other Americans by a foreign military force, the Israeli commandos."

The U.S. passengers also challenged the Obama administration's protection of criminal actions by Israel at the expense of American citizens. "Protecting Israeli actions, particularly the complete reliance on its reports on the acts of its own military at the expense of American citizens, is an absolute dereliction of the responsibilities of our government. The State Department has allied itself with Israel, ignoring its responsibilities to its own citizens. We have been abandoned by our own government, and we demand an investigation of why and how the Department of State and the American Embassy in Tel Aviv have totally failed in their responsibilities to us."

With passengers' video and photo evidence of the attacks on the Mavi Marmara and the five other ships of the flotilla still in the hands of the Israeli government after four months, the passengers wrote: "We are also angered by lack of any concerted effort by the State Department to secure our possessions. We appreciate the efforts of junior and mid-level officials, but without the full weight of the senior leadership of the State Department, the Israeli government will continue to ignore our concerns."

New Report Gives Minute-by-Minute Timeline of the Israeli Attack on the Gaza Flotilla

Since the U.S. government cannot find the time to conduct its own investigation, U.S. officials might at least look at the 193 page report "Timeline & Inconsistencies Report Relating to the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla Attack" researched by the International Bureau of Humanitarian NGOs (IBH) and the Friends of Charities Association (FOCA) that was published this week that provides a minute-by minute timeline of the Israeli military attack on the Gaza Flotilla.

The report is based on publicly available accounts from the flotilla organizers and participants, ships' logs, reports, photos and video released by the Israeli government, news reports from around the world, the report of the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH), and the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Fact Finding Mission report.

A key part of the report is the evidence provided from film footage of the attack. Official videos from the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) as well as from the Israeli Eiland Team investigation are cited in the report, in addition to video taken by one passenger that escaped confiscation by the Israeli authorities. The "Inconsistencies" portion of the report contrasts the different reporting of the incident, and includes clarifying analysis.

Several of the videos that were released by the Israeli Foreign Ministry and IDF on the Internet and on media broadcasts to support its version of events were found to have been digitally enhanced, computer-manufactured or fraudulent. The report provides screen shots of examples of the computer-generated segments within videos released by the Israeli government, several of which, although already exposed as false, were integrated into the Israeli military report "Eiland Team's Flotilla Incident Timeline."

10-12 Ships in the Next Gaza Flotilla

While investigations continue concerning the Israeli attack on the May, 2010 Gaza flotilla and on the Jewish German boat "Irene" on September 26, 2010, citizen activists from around the world are fundraising for ships to participate in the next flotilla to challenge the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Organizers of the next flotilla are working with groups that may have 10-12 ships in the next flotilla.

U.S. Ship Named "Audacity of Hope"

Join us to launch a U.S. ship in the next flotilla. In a challenge to U.S. complicity in the blockade of Gaza, the U.S. ship will be called "The Audacity of Hope."
(c) 2010 Ann Wright is a 29-year US Army veteran who retired as a Colonel, and a former US diplomat who resigned in March, 2003, in opposition to the war on Iraq. She served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia. In December, 2001, she was on the small team that reopened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. She is the co-author of "Dissent: Voices Of Conscience." Her March 19, 2003, letter of resignation can be read here. She traveled to Gaza three times in 2009 after the Israeli attack on Gaza that killed 1,440, wounded 5,000 and left 50,000 homeless. She was an organizer of the Gaza Freedom March in December, 2009, that brought 1350 persons from 44 countries to Cairo, Egypt, and was one of the passengers on the Gaza flotilla.

Hey, Small Spender
By Paul Krugman

Here's the narrative you hear everywhere: President Obama has presided over a huge expansion of government, but unemployment has remained high. And this proves that government spending can't create jobs.

Here's what you need to know: The whole story is a myth. There never was a big expansion of government spending. In fact, that has been the key problem with economic policy in the Obama years: we never had the kind of fiscal expansion that might have created the millions of jobs we need.

Ask yourself: What major new federal programs have started up since Mr. Obama took office? Health care reform, for the most part, hasn't kicked in yet, so that can't be it. So are there giant infrastructure projects under way? No. Are there huge new benefits for low-income workers or the poor? No. Where's all that spending we keep hearing about? It never happened.

To be fair, spending on safety-net programs, mainly unemployment insurance and Medicaid, has risen because, in case you haven't noticed, there has been a surge in the number of Americans without jobs and badly in need of help. And there were also substantial outlays to rescue troubled financial institutions, although it appears that the government will get most of its money back. But when people denounce big government, they usually have in mind the creation of big bureaucracies and major new programs. And that just hasn't taken place.

Consider, in particular, one fact that might surprise you: The total number of government workers in America has been falling, not rising, under Mr. Obama. A small increase in federal employment was swamped by sharp declines at the state and local level most notably, by layoffs of schoolteachers. Total government payrolls have fallen by more than 350,000 since January 2009.

Now, direct employment isn't a perfect measure of the government's size, since the government also employs workers indirectly when it buys goods and services from the private sector. And government purchases of goods and services have gone up. But adjusted for inflation, they rose only 3 percent over the last two years a pace slower than that of the previous two years, and slower than the economy's normal rate of growth.

So as I said, the big government expansion everyone talks about never happened. This fact, however, raises two questions. First, we know that Congress enacted a stimulus bill in early 2009; why didn't that translate into a big rise in government spending? Second, if the expansion never happened, why does everyone think it did?

Part of the answer to the first question is that the stimulus wasn't actually all that big compared with the size of the economy. Furthermore, it wasn't mainly focused on increasing government spending. Of the roughly $600 billion cost of the Recovery Act in 2009 and 2010, more than 40 percent came from tax cuts, while another large chunk consisted of aid to state and local governments. Only the remainder involved direct federal spending.

And federal aid to state and local governments wasn't enough to make up for plunging tax receipts in the face of the economic slump. So states and cities, which can't run large deficits, were forced into drastic spending cuts, more than offsetting the modest increase at the federal level.

The answer to the second question why there's a widespread perception that government spending has surged, when it hasn't is that there has been a disinformation campaign from the right, based on the usual combination of fact-free assertions and cooked numbers. And this campaign has been effective in part because the Obama administration hasn't offered an effective reply.

Actually, the administration has had a messaging problem on economic policy ever since its first months in office, when it went for a stimulus plan that many of us warned from the beginning was inadequate given the size of the economy's troubles. You can argue that Mr. Obama got all he could that a larger plan wouldn't have made it through Congress (which is questionable), and that an inadequate stimulus was much better than none at all (which it was). But that's not an argument the administration ever made. Instead, it has insisted throughout that its original plan was just right, a position that has become increasingly awkward as the recovery stalls.

And a side consequence of this awkward positioning is that officials can't easily offer the obvious rebuttal to claims that big spending failed to fix the economy namely, that thanks to the inadequate scale of the Recovery Act, big spending never happened in the first place.

But if they won't say it, I will: if job-creating government spending has failed to bring down unemployment in the Obama era, it's not because it doesn't work; it's because it wasn't tried.
(c) 2010 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"Wall Street Journal ... "The CIA runs the biggest news service in the world with a budget larger than those of all the major wire services put together. In 1975, a Senate intelligence committee found that the CIA owned outright 'more than 200 wire services, newspapers, magazines, and book publishing complexes' and subsidized many more ... And the CIA furnishes information to ultra-right groups like Accuracy in the Media, which these groups in turn run in their newsletters and feed to politically sympathetic newspapers."
"Inventing Reality: The Politics of the Mass Media" ~~~ Michael Parenti

How Democracy Dies
Lessons from a Master
By Chris Hedges

The ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes spent his life battling the assault on democracy by tyrants. It is disheartening to be reminded that he lost. But he understood that the hardest struggle for humankind is often stating and understanding the obvious. Aristophanes, who had the temerity to portray the ruling Greek tyrant, Cleon, as a dog, is the perfect playwright to turn to in trying to grasp the danger posed to us by movements from the tea party to militias to the Christian right, as well as the bankrupt and corrupt power elite that no longer concerns itself with the needs of its citizens. He saw the same corruption 2,400 years ago. He feared correctly that it would extinguish Athenian democracy. And he struggled in vain to rouse Athenians from their slumber.

There is a yearning by tens of millions of Americans, lumped into a diffuse and fractious movement, to destroy the intellectual and scientific rigor of the Enlightenment. They seek out of ignorance and desperation to create a utopian society based on "biblical law." They want to transform America's secular state into a tyrannical theocracy. These radicals, rather than the terrorists who oppose us, are the gravest threat to our open society. They have, with the backing of hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate money, gained tremendous power. They peddle pseudoscience such as "Intelligent Design" in our schools. They keep us locked into endless and futile wars of imperialism. They mount bigoted crusades against gays, immigrants, liberals and Muslims. They turn our judiciary, in the name of conservative values, over to corporations. They have transformed our liberal class into hand puppets for corporate power. And we remain meek and supine.

The huge amount of taxpayer money doled out to Wall Street, investment banks, the oil and natural gas industry and the defense industry, along with the dismantling of our manufacturing sector, is why we are impoverished. It is why our houses are being foreclosed on. It is why some 45 million Americans are denied medical care. It is why our infrastructure, from public schools to bridges, is rotting. It is why many of us cannot find jobs. We are being fleeced. The flagrant theft of public funds and rise of an obscenely rich oligarchic class is masked by the tough talk of demagogues, themselves millionaires, who use fear and bombast to keep us afraid, confused and enslaved.

Aristophanes saw the same psychological and political manipulation undermine the democratic state in ancient Athens. He repeatedly warned Athenians in plays such as "The Clouds," "The Wasps," "The Birds," "The Frogs" and "Lysistrata" that permitting political leaders who shout "I shall never betray the Athenian!" or "I shall keep up the fight in defense of the people forever!" to get their hands on state funds and power would end with the citizens enslaved.

"The truth is, they want you, you see, to be poor," Aristophanes wrote in his play "The Wasps." "If you don't know the reason, I'll tell you. It's to train you to know who your tamer is. Then, whenever he gives you a whistle and sets you against an opponent of his, you jump out and tear them to pieces."

Our democracy, through years of war, theft and corruption, is also being diminished. But the example Aristophanes offers is not a hopeful one. He held up the same corruption to his fellow Greeks. He repeatedly chided them for not rising up and fighting back. He warned, ominously, that by the time most citizens awoke it would be too late. And he was right. The appearance of normality lulls us into a false hope and submission. Those who shout most loudly in defense of the ideals of the founding fathers, the sacredness of Constitution and the values of the Christian religion are those who most actively seek to subvert the principles they claim to champion. They hold up the icons and language of traditional patriotism, the rule of law and Christian charity to demolish the belief systems that give them cultural and political legitimacy. And those who should defend these beliefs are cowed and silent.

"For a considerable length of time the normality of the normal world is the most efficient protection against disclosure of totalitarian mass crimes," Hannah Arendt wrote in "The Origins of Totalitarianism." "Normal men don't know that everything is possible, refuse to believe their eyes and ears in the face of the monstrous. ... The reason why the totalitarian regimes can get so far toward realizing a fictitious, topsy-turvy world is that the outside non-totalitarian world, which always comprises a great part of the population of the totalitarian country itself, indulges in wishful thinking and shirks reality in the face of real insanity. ..."

All ideological, theological and political debates with the representatives of the corporate state, including the feckless and weak Barack Obama, are useless. They cannot be reached. They do not want a dialogue. They care nothing for real reform or participatory democracy. They use the tricks and mirages of public relations to mask a steadily growing assault on our civil liberties, our inability to make a living and the loss of basic services from education to health care. Our gutless liberal class placates the enemies of democracy, hoping desperately to remain part of the ruling elite, rather than resist. And, in many ways, liberals, because they serve as a cover for these corporate extremists, are our greatest traitors.

Aristophanes too lived in a time of endless war. He knew that war always empowered anti-democratic forces. He saw how war ate away at the insides of a democratic state until it was hollowed out. His play "Lysistrata," written after Athens had spent 21 years consumed by the Peloponnesian War, is a satire in which the young women refuse to have sex with their men until the war ends and the older women seize the Acropolis, where the funds for war are stored. The play called on Athenians to consider radical acts of civil disobedience to halt a war that was ravaging the state. The play's heroine, Lysistrata, whose name means "Disbander of Armies," was the playwright's mouthpiece for the folly and self-destructiveness of war. But Athens, which would lose the war, did not listen.

The tragedy is that liberals and secularists, like Obama, are not viewed as competitors by the corporate forces that hold power, but as contaminates that must be eliminated. They have sought to work with forces that will never be placated. They have abandoned the most basic values of the liberal class to play a game that in the end will mean their political and cultural extinction. There will be no swastikas this time but seas of red, white and blue flags and Christian crosses. There will be no stiff-armed salutes, but recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance. There will be no brown shirts but nocturnal visits from Homeland Security. The fear, rage and hatred of our dispossessed and confused working class are being channeled into currents that are undermining the last vestiges of the democratic state. These dangerous emotions, directed against a liberal class that as in ancient Athens betrayed the population, have a strong appeal. And unless we adopt the radicalism held by Aristophanes, unless we begin to hinder the functioning of the corporate state through acts of civil disobedience, we are finished.

Let us not stand at the open gates of the city meekly waiting for the barbarians. They are coming. They are slouching towards Bethlehem. Let us, if nothing else, like Aristophanes, begin to call our tyranny by its name.
(c) 2010 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle."

How Do You Take Your Tea? With Heaping Spoonfuls of Irony, Of Course!
By David Michael Green

It's so great that Americans are finally angry about the state of their country.

But it's beyond awful that all the wrong people are beside themselves for all the wrong reasons.

When I look at the tea party movement in America today, any number of words come to mind, most of which are not fit for print in a family newspaper. But, above all, I cannot help but be struck by the irony of it all.

It's ironic, to begin with, that the ones who are bitching loudest today are precisely the people who created the mess we're in.

We're actually in a whole heaping helping lot of messes, but I'm referring principally to the economic one. I suspect that the rabble ranks of the tea party movement are populated by people who have equally bad politics on social matters and foreign policy issues. But - for different reasons - they don't talk about those questions too much. Instead, they largely confine themselves to economic beefs, especially deficits.

These are conservatives, however - more properly labeled as regressives - and the astonishing irony here is that they've had their way with economic policy in this country for thirty years running. And, excuse me, but now they're pissed off at the results?

Think about it. Economic policy can be divided into a handful of key domains, including taxes, trade, labor relations, regulation, privatization, the budget and the welfare state. In every single one of these areas - with one partial exception - regressive policy choices have entirely predominated over the last generation. Only in the latter case of welfare state spending has that not been true, but even there only partially so.

Taxes today are a mere hint of what they used to be, just as the right has insisted must be the case. For the rich especially, top marginal income taxes have come down from 91 percent to 35 percent. But, of course, even that doesn't include earnings on capital gains, a giant portion of their income, which is now at 15 percent. Nor does it include the estate tax, which has now disappeared entirely. Nor does it include deductions and write-offs. Put this all together and you can see why Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in the country, was moved to reveal that he paid a 17.7 percent tax rate on his $46 million of taxable income in 2006, while his employees paid an average of 32.9 percent, and his receptionist's tax rate was 30 percent.

On trade, previously existing barriers and protections for domestic industries have been eviscerated almost completely, so that for much of the world today, it's a single market for products and capital. Labor? Not so much. What a shock, then, that America's good jobs - especially in manufacturing - are now all located in Mexico. Or at least they were, until even those became too expensive and got moved to China and India and Vietnam. Smug Republican whitecollar workers thought they were immune from wealthy corporate masters cutting their legs off from underneath them. Now, when it's too late, they stand in unemployment lines while someone in Bangalore does their job for a tenth of the pay. So how's that whole free-tradey thing workin' out for you now, people?

The story is the same in the domain of labor relations, where the playing field has been slanted massively in the direction of capital, starting with Reagan's firing of the air traffic controllers. The upshot of these rule changes and enforcement laxity has been that the portion of union-protected jobs in America has shrunk from about 35 percent to about 7 percent, with precisely the results for workers that you'd expect.

With deregulation, too, we've seen massive changes as well over the same period, across industries far and wide, not least of which includes the repealing of Glass-Steagal and the unleashing of Wall Street. The right insisted - and still does - that this is great news for the economy. History begs to differ.

Similarly, America looks radically different today in terms of who performs the functions of government, with everything from prisons to the military to espionage having been privatized. With respect to the budget, conservatives say they believe in fiscal responsibility. When they come to power, however, nobody deficit spends like they do. Reagan wanted to triple the nation debt, so he did. Bush wanted to double it again, so he did.

Among all these economic policy domains, then, that leaves welfare state spending as the only one in which regressive policy choices have not been completely dominant, and there the story is somewhat mixed. Spending on social programs dropped - just as regressives wanted it to - under Reagan and Bush, but especially under the conservative Clinton, who eviscerated welfare programs in America. On the other hand, welfare state spending increased dramatically under Bush because of his prescription drug bill, which cost twice as much as he told Congress it would (and he knew it). Obama has, of course, added his health care plan too, but according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, it will not cost any additional revenue. So, in this one economic domain, the record is decidedly mixed.

The point is this: Add all this up and what you see is regressives winning essentially every economic policy fight of the last generation. Nearly every single one. And where they didn't, the biggest example was a policy advanced by George W. Bush.

The result, of course, has been economic devastation far and wide. The rich have gotten massively richer, the rest of us are sinking, the federal debt has skyrocketed, our jobs have been exported to China and India, Wall Street has plunged the global economy into the toilet, corporations like BP do whatever they want without fear of consequence, and the United States is imploding as a great power. These are not coincidences, either. And now here comes the great irony: the same people who have been getting their way on the economy for thirty years now are just absolutely livid about what they themselves have created! They're just completely enraged at the product of their own politics.

Ah, but that's just the beginning. A second great irony is the extent to which the tea party bozos are being manipulated by elites like the Koch Brothers, Rupert Murdoch and the likes of Dick Armey. The very people who created the public's economic insecurity in order to get rich off of it, are now channeling the resulting rage into support for more of the same. And the folks on the street with their signs and their venom think they are manifesting some sort of spontaneous outpouring of patriotic rage, unaware of who is directing their efforts and who will benefit.

Another pretty serious irony is that the tea partiers are likely about to gain some substantial power, but have no solutions to the problems they perceive. Or problem. So much of this seems to be about government spending. And fair enough - it's a good point. Spending is out of control. I've got some ideas for solutions. It's just that they don't.

Unless, of course, they're prepared to slash Social Security and Medicare spending. Which they're not. When the New York Times ran a poll on tea partiers back in April, it found that they tend to favor the generic idea of cutting government programs. Just not the only ones that really matter. Some were unable to reconcile the competing concepts: "That's a conundrum, isn't it?" asked Jodine White, 62, of Rocklin, Calif. "I don't know what to say. Maybe I don't want smaller government. I guess I want smaller government and my Social Security." She added, "I didn't look at it from the perspective of losing things I need. I think I've changed my mind."

Welcome back to sanity, Jodine. But that's a bit of a problem. A Paul Krugman column recently reported why: "Howard Gleckman of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has done the math. As he points out, the only way to balance the budget by 2020, while simultaneously (a) making the Bush tax cuts permanent and (b) protecting all the programs Republicans say they won't cut, is to completely abolish the rest of the federal government: "No more national parks, no more Small Business Administration loans, no more export subsidies, no more N.I.H. No more Medicaid (one-third of its budget pays for long-term care for our parents and others with disabilities). No more child health or child nutrition programs. No more highway construction. No more homeland security. Oh, and no more Congress."

I kinda like that last part. Maybe tea partiers do too. But I don't think they're really contemplating a shut down of the federal government when they insist on slashing spending. More likely they'd have the same reaction to creating the Frankenstein they're policies call for as Jodine did when she found out what the implications of her own tea party rants would be for her nice gubmint bennies. I notice that nobody running for Congress this year is specifying just how they'd kill the deficit. They want to cut spending, and they say they can, but they can't see any rush in specifying how they'll do it. That can wait til after the election. Republican duplicity and hypocrisy - what a shock, eh? Call it irony number four.

Number five is that those who bitch most about the oppressive federal government in America tend almost always to be the ones who benefit most from it. According to Eric Scigliano, writing in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: "In 2003, the top subsidy-sucking state, in percentage terms, was red-lite New Mexico, which received $1.99 in federal money for every dollar it sent to Washington, D.C. All the next eight net recipients of federal spending were redder yet: Kentucky, Virginia, Montana, Alabama, North Dakota, West Virginia, Mississippi and Alaska, which received $1.60 to $1.89 back for each tax dollar. The list of net losers in the state-federal exchange, by contrast, reads like a Who's Who of Blue. Two of the top 14 were traditionally red Western states that are starting to turn purple, Colorado and Nevada. The other 12 are all blue: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Washington, Wisconsin and the biggest chump of all, New Jersey, where the federal government spends just $.57 for every dollar it collects. ... Only five blue states were net recipients of federal subsidies. Only two red states were net payers of federal taxes."

No wonder Sarah Plain and her prot‚g‚, Joe Miller (did I mention that he took federal farm subsidies at one time?) join others in Alaska in getting so upset about the tyranny of the federal government. According to the Tax Foundation, Alaska was number one nationally in federal spending per capita in 18 of the 25 years ending in 2005, pulling in nearly two of your and my tax dollars for every one they sent to Washington. Now that's some serious oppression, people! I for one am sick at heart to think that my tax dollars are being used to brutalize crackers from Alabama to Alaska, bludgeoning them over the head with fat federal subsidies. This must stop! From this moment forward let the word go forth: I am willing to sacrifice having taxes taken out of my paycheck in order to support their brave "Don't tread on me!" campaign to end the oppression of having to receive my money. I know, I know - it's a bold statement. But somebody has to take a stand!

A sixth irony is that tea partiers are better off individually than the rest of us are. They are more likely to be college educated (oh god, I need a new career) and to have a higher income than the rest of the population. They are also older and considerably more likely to be retired. I'm pretty sure that also means that they're sucking up those fat government pay-outs in far greater proportion than the rest of us too, unless they've bravely waived their Social Security and Medicare benefits in the interest of reducing government spending. Call me crazy, but somehow I don't think so.

Seventh, solving the problem that most animates the tea party crowd will do nothing to solve the problems that America faces today. Federal debt is a serious matter, but it is not pinching us in any way right now. In fact, it is probably keeping us (barely) afloat by stimulating some small degree of demand in our wrecked economy. It's absolutely true that this is an issue for the future, and that it must be dealt with. But any fool who really believes that slashing spending is going to make things better now is in for a rude shock. It would almost certainly make things worse in the short term, and potentially in the long term as well.

The last irony that really slays me concerns the timing of the tea party outrage. There's a graphic I've seen online recently that shows a smirking George W. Bush saying, "I fucked you all, but thanks for blaming it on the black guy", and I can't help thinking of that as I survey the indignant outrage on the right these days. Never mind that the tea party crowd is whiter, older and more male than the general population, and never mind the obscene posters they bring to rallies, such as ones saying, "Hitler gave great speeches too", or "Undocumented worker" (under a picture of Obama), or "Acts Muslim, Talks Muslim Equals Mosque (with a picture of Obama in Taliban style garb and beard), or "By ballot or bullet restoration is coming". Maybe those are just "bad" tea partiers who are unrepresentative of the wider movement. Perhaps they haven't quite hit that sweet spot of just the proper amount of permitted outrage toward the democratically elected government chosen by the American people - you know: more than the already crazed GOP average, but less (for now at least) than a white-robed lynch mob.

But even leaving all that aside, those of us barely hanging on here in the still sentient part of the universe really kinda hafta wonder why all the outrage now? After all, it was Ronald Reagan who massively increased the debt of the country, with enormous help from George W. Bush, who took the largest surplus in American history and turned it instantly into the largest deficit. And did so principally to give the rich massive tax breaks and fund an incredibly expensive war based on lies. And, please correct my calendar math if I'm wrong, but wasn't that just two years ago?

But now they're outraged? Now? What, because Obama has been deficit spending even more than Bush? Well, wait a sec here. You know, I'm not the slightest fan of Barack Obama, but I am a very big fan of telling the truth, something, which will get you in a lot of trouble in tea party America, that's for sure. And the truth looks like this: If you take away from Obama's budgets Bush's wars, Bush's tax cuts, Bush's prescription drug plan, and the interest on the debt borrowed by Reagan and Bush, and about all you're left with is two things. First, the stimulus and bailout spending, which only exists at all to deal with Bush's recession. And, second, Obama's health care bill, which the CBO has determined comes at no additional cost whatsoever to the taxpayer, and in any case doesn't even kick in until 2014. Not to mention that Bush had his own stimulus bill and that the hated TARP program came on his watch. But, somehow, the rage of the white male retired guys only appears when "the black guy" is in office. Somehow, the shrill screams about "taking our country back" only show up when the dark-skinned guy who is only nine-tenths beholden to the oligarchy is the president.

What would it look like if Obama didn't have to pay for Bush's wars based on lies, didn't have to pay for Bush's prescription drug plan, didn't have to pay for Bush's tax cuts, didn't have to pay for stimulus funds to rescue the country from Bush's Great Recession, and didn't have to pay interest (one of the biggest items in the federal budget) on the money that Bush and Reagan borrowed previously? Most likely, it would look like it did on January 20, 2001, the day that Bush came to office, and the United States was running the greatest surplus ever in its history.

So here we stand. The people who created endless disaster as far as the eye can see are now completely beside themselves in outrage that someone is spending a few dollars to clean up the mess these same folks have made by convincing America to follow their policies over the last thirty years. They want big changes, right now, even though they can't quite specify what they want - other than changes that won't hurt them, personally - and even though these changes would do absolutely nothing to solve the current problems facing the country, and would in fact probably exacerbate those.

They are absolutely fuming! How dare Obama do that? They've come to take back our country, and most likely they will have great success in the election next month.

What do you call that?

Well, ironic, for sure.

But don't forget tragic, too.

Oh, and massively stupid.
(c) 2010 David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles, but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of his work can be found at his website,

The Dead Letter Office...

Rich 2nd from right models a favorite
uniform from the Waffen SS collection.

Heil Obama,

Dear Kandidatin Lott,

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, Ralph Nader, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Prescott Bush, Fredo Bush, Vidkun Quisling and last year's winner Volksjudge Sonia (get whitey) Sotomayor.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and your promise to get rid of Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance and the Department of Education as part of your tea party pledge, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Iron Cross first class with ruby clusters, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 10-31-2010. We salute you Herr Lott, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

More Terrorism Fear-Mongering Exposed As Frivolous
By Glenn Greenwald

* TPM, November 17, 2009:

Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Cheney and founder of the Keep America Safe PAC, claimed on Fox News last night that holding terrorism trials in New York "endangers the United States" and brings the country "back to a pre-9/11 mentality" . . . .

She also hinted that civilian trials would lead to more terrorist attacks.

New York Times, today:

Not one, not two, but three terrorism cases weaved their way simultaneously this week through the federal courthouse in Lower Manhattan. . . .

The courthouse, on Pearl Street off Foley Square, has become "the cineplex of terrorism trials," said Karen J. Greenberg, executive director of the Center on Law and Security at New York University. Her words may have been mildly flippant, but her point could not have been more serious.

Here we have all these cases unfolding in the civic heart of New York -- people accused or convicted of loathsome deeds involving mass murder, whether planned or carried out. Not only have the proceedings been handled within the rule of law, but also New Yorkers went about their business without so much as a raised eyebrow.

The normality speaks volumes.

What's most striking is how we collectively never learn lessons. These are the same people who ran around screaming for two years that we had to attack Iraq or else Saddam would get us all with his mad chemical scientists (Dr. Anthrax and Mrs. Germ) and nuclear clouds, yet they are still listened to whenever they unleash their newest Scary Villains. Fear is a potent weapon.

Speaking of fear-mongering, The Guardian today has an article with this headline: "Barack Obama accused of exaggerating terror threat for political gain." It quotes numerous Pakistani and European officials as arguing that the Obama administration's travel advisory this week for Europe -- and its accompanying claim about ongoing plots aimed at Germany and France -- "was politically motivated and not based on credible new information." In particular, these sources asserted that the alert "was an attempt to justify a recent escalation in US drone and helicopter attacks inside Pakistan"; was influenced by the imminent elections; and, most of all, that "President Obama was reacting to pressure to demonstrate that his Afghan war strategy and this year's troop surge, which are unpopular with the American public, were necessary."

I wasn't particularly impressed with the reporting here: Pakistani officials always downplay the Terrorism threat coming from their country and the European officials cited in this article are largely (though not exclusively) anonymous. But then I saw this Associated Press article this morning:

NATO: terror threat in Europe justifies Afghan war

An al-Qaida-linked plot that triggered this week's U.S. terror alert for Europe underlines the need for the war in Afghanistan, a top NATO commander argued Friday.

U.S. Adm. James Stavridis, NATO's top commander in Europe, said terrorists using Afghanistan as a base are still trying to target Europe and that this threat justifies a war that has grown unpopular in many places.

This doesn't at all prove that the terror alert was designed to justify the war by spreading fear, but military officials wasted no time seizing on the alert for that purpose. That is essentially how America is governed: constantly ensure that Americans are petrified of an always-changing, always-expanding cast of Horribles so that they submit to whatever policies -- wars -- are alleged to be devoted to eradicating those threats. There isn't much attention paid to what happens to a citizenry that is kept in a constant state of increasing fear, but there should be, because the way that degrades a nation's character can't be overstated.

UPDATE: Several important items relating to these issues:

(1) Here's an excellent 2-minute video of what is actually happening in New York as Terrorist trials proceed, in contrast to the swamp of fear-mongering to which we have been relentlessly subjected (h/t Daphne Eviatar):

(2) As I indicated, the media led the way in War on Terror fear-mongering with articles like the one from CNN linked above, touting the scary Iraqis Villains "Dr. Germ and Mrs. Anthrax." But perhaps the nadir of that fear-mongering was the media's fixation on the Most Wanted Iraqis deck of playing cards, which they touted endlessly. Today, Marc Lynch pointed me to something amazing that I had never seen before: watch this YouTube video from an Al Jazeera documentary on the media's coverage of the Iraq War, beginning at the 4:50 mark, as the U.S. military introduces the playing deck and media figures become instantly desperate to get their own copies and then dutifully march forward to promote them. It's really quite something.

(3) ProPublica's Dafna Linzer has a very worthwhile expose on one of the detainees the Obama administration is attempting to indefinitely imprison without any charges (no trial or even military commission). Using inadvertently disclosed information, she compellingly documents how dubious the case against him is.

(4) Chris Floyd has an important essay on several complex issues, including some discussed here. Without endorsing all of it, I highly recommend it.

UPDATE II: I linked in the prior update to a clip from Control Room, the 2004 Al Jazeera documentary about media coverage and the Iraq War. Despite how highly regarded it is, I was actually unaware of this film until Marc Lynch mentioned it to me today, and having now watched all of it, I can't recommend it highly enough. The fact that it was produced in only the second year of the war makes it all the more extraordinary. You can watch the entire film on YouTube, in 9 parts, beginning here (each successive part appears in the right-hand column on YouTube).
(c) 2010 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.

Can There Be A Science Of Good And Evil?
By Sam Harris

Since the publication of my first book, The End of Faith, I have had a privileged view of the "culture wars" -- both in the United States, between secular liberals and Christian conservatives, and in Europe, between largely irreligious societies and their growing Muslim populations. Having received tens of thousands of letters and emails from people at every point on the continuum between faith and doubt, I can say with some confidence that a shared belief in the limitations of reason lies at the bottom of these cultural divides. Both sides believe that science is powerless to answer the most important questions in human life. And how a person perceives the gulf between facts and values seems to influence his views on almost every issue of social importance -- from the fighting of wars to the education of children.

This rupture in our thinking has different consequences at each end of the political spectrum: Religious conservatives tend to believe that there are right answers to questions of meaning and morality, but only because the God of Abraham deems it so. They concede that ordinary facts can be discovered through rational inquiry, but they think that values must come from a voice in a whirlwind. Scriptural literalism, intolerance of diversity, mistrust of science, disregard for the real causes of human and animal suffering -- too often, this is how the division between facts and values expresses itself on the religious right.

Secular liberals, on the other hand, tend to imagine that no objective answers to moral questions exist. While John Stuart Mill might conform to our cultural ideal of goodness better than Osama bin Laden does, most secularists suspect that Mill's ideas about right and wrong reach no closer to the Truth. Multiculturalism, moral relativism, political correctness, tolerance even of intolerance -- these are the familiar consequences of separating facts and values on the left.

It should concern us that these two orientations are not equally empowering. Increasingly, secular democracies are left supine before the unreasoning zeal of old-time religion. The juxtaposition of conservative dogmatism and liberal doubt accounts for the decade that has been lost in the United States to a ban on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research; it explains the years of political distraction we have suffered, and will continue to suffer, over issues like abortion and gay marriage; it lies at the bottom of current efforts to pass anti-blasphemy laws at the United Nations (which would make it illegal for the citizens of member states to criticize religion); it has hobbled the West in its generational war against radical Islam; and it may yet refashion the societies of Europe into a new Caliphate. Knowing what the Creator of the Universe believes about right and wrong inspires religious conservatives to enforce this vision in the public sphere at almost any cost; not knowing what is right -- or that anything can ever be truly right -- often leads secular liberals to surrender their intellectual standards and political freedoms with both hands.

If we were to discover a new tribe in the Amazon tomorrow, there is not a scientist alive who would assume a priori that these people must enjoy optimal physical health and material prosperity. Rather, we would ask questions about this tribe's average lifespan, daily calorie intake, the percentage of women dying in childbirth, the prevalence of infectious disease, the presence of material culture, etc. Such questions would have answers, and they would likely reveal that life in the Stone Age entails a few compromises. And yet news that these jolly people enjoy sacrificing their firstborn children to imaginary gods would prompt many (even most) anthropologists to say that this tribe was in possession of an alternate moral code, every bit as valid and impervious to refutation as our own. However, the moment one draws the link between morality and human well-being, one sees that this is tantamount to saying that the members of this tribe must be as fulfilled, psychologically and socially, as any people in human history. The disparity between how we think about physical health and mental/societal health reveals a bizarre double standard: one that is predicated on our not knowing -- or, rather, on our pretending not to know -- anything at all about human flourishing.

Imagine that there are only two people living on earth: We can call them "Adam" and "Eve." Clearly, we can ask how these two people might maximize their well-being. Are there wrong answers to this question? Of course. (Wrong answer #1: They could smash each other in the face with a large rock.) And while there are ways for their personal interests to be in conflict, it seems uncontroversial to say that a man and woman alone on this planet would be better off if they recognized their common interests -- like getting food, building shelter and defending themselves against larger predators. If Adam and Eve were industrious enough, they might realize the benefits of creating technology, art, medicine, exploring the world and begetting future generations of humanity. Are there good and bad paths to take across this landscape of possibilities? Of course. In fact, there are, by definition, paths that lead to the worst misery and to the greatest fulfillment possible for these two people -- given the structure of their brains, the immediate facts of their environment, and the laws of Nature. The underlying facts here are the facts of physics, chemistry, and biology as they bear on the experience of the only two people in existence.

As I argue in my new book, even if there are a thousand different ways for these two people to thrive, there will be many ways for them not to thrive -- and the differences between luxuriating on a peak of human happiness and languishing in a valley of internecine horror will translate into facts that can be scientifically understood. Why would the difference between right and wrong answers suddenly disappear once we add 6.7 billion more people to this experiment?

Granted, genuine ethical difficulties arise when we ask questions like, "How much should I care about other people's children? How much should I be willing to sacrifice, or demand that my own children sacrifice, in order to help other people in need?" We are not, by nature, impartial -- and much of our moral reasoning must be applied to situations in which there is tension between our concern for ourselves, or for those closest to us, and our sense that it would be better to be more committed to helping others. And yet "better" must still refer, in this context, to positive changes in the experience of sentient creatures.

The question of how human beings should live in the 21st century has many competing answers -- and most of them are surely wrong. Only a rational understanding of human well-being will allow billions of us to coexist peacefully, converging on the same social, political, economic, and environmental goals. A science of human flourishing may seem a long way off, but to achieve it, we must first acknowledge that the intellectual terrain actually exists.
(c) 2010 Sam Harris is the author of "The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason" and "Letter to a Christian Nation" and is the co-founder of The Reason Project, which promotes scientific knowledge and secular values. Follow Sam Harris on Twitter.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Daryl Cagle ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Paradise By The Dashboard Light
By Meatloaf



I remember every little thing
As if it happened only yesterday
Parking by the lake
And there was not another car in sight
And I never had a girl
Looking any better than you did
And all the kids at school
They were wishing they were me that night
And now our bodies are oh so close and tight
It never felt so good, it never felt so right
And we're glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife
Glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife
C'mon! Hold on tight!
C'mon! Hold on tight!
Though it's cold and lonely in the deep dark night
I can see paradise by the dashboard light


Ain't no doubt about it
We were doubly blessed
'Cause we were barely seventeen
And we were barely dressed
Ain't no doubt about it
Baby got to go and shout it
Ain't no doubt about it
We were doubly blessed


'Cause we were barely seventeen
And we were barely dressed
Baby doncha hear my heart
You got it drowning out the radio
I've been waiting so long
For you to come along and have some fun
Well I gotta let you know
No you're never gonna regret it
So open up your eyes I got a big surprise
It'll feel all right
Well I wanna make your motor run
And now our bodies are oh so close and tight
It never felt so good, it never felt so right
And we're glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife
Glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife
C'mon! Hold on tight!
Well c'mon! Hold on tight!

Though it's cold and lonely in the deep dark night
I can see paradise by the dashboard light
Paradise by the dashboard light
You got to do what you can
And let Mother Nature do the rest
Ain't no doubt about it
We were doubly blessed
'Cause we were barely seventeen
And we were barely-

We're gonna go all the way tonight
We're gonna go all the way
And tonight's the night...
We're gonna go all the way tonight
We're gonna go all the way
And tonight's the night...


OK, here we go, we got a real pressure cooker going here,
Two down, nobody on, no score, bottom of the ninth,
There's the windup, and there it is, a line shot up the middle,
Look at him go. This boy can really fly! He's rounding first and really
turning it on now, he's not letting up at all, he's gonna try for
second; the ball is bobbled out in center, and here comes the
throw, and what a throw! He's gonna slide in head first, here he
comes, he's out! No, wait, safe-safe at second base, this kid
really makes things happen out there. Batter steps up to the
plate, here's the pitch-he's going, and what a jump he's got,
he's trying for third, here's the throw, it's in the dirt-safe at
third! Holy cow, stolen base! He's taking a pretty big lead out
there, almost daring him to try and pick him off. The pitcher
glances over, winds up, and it's bunted, bunted down the third
base line, the suicide squeeze is on! Here he comes, squeeze
play, it's gonna be close, holy cow, I think he's gonna make it!



Stop right there!
I gotta know right now!
Before we go any further!
Do you love me?
Will you love me forever?
Do you need me?
Will you never leave me?
Will you make me so happy for the rest of my life?
Will you take me away and will you make me your wife?
Do you love me!?
Will you love me forever!?
Do you need me!?
Will you never leave me!?
Will you make me happy for the rest of my life!?
Will you take me away and will you make me your wife!?
I gotta know right now
Before we go any further
Do you love me!?
Will you love me forever!?


Let me sleep on it
Baby, baby let me sleep on it
Let me sleep on it
And I'll give you an answer in the morning
Let me sleep on it
Baby, baby let me sleep on it
Let me sleep on it
I'll give you an answer in the morning
Let me sleep on it
Baby, baby let me sleep on it
Let me sleep on it
I'll give you an answer in the morning


I gotta know right now
Do you love me?
Will you love me forever?
Do you need me?
Will you never leave me?
Will you make me so happy for the rest of my life?
Will you take me away and will you make me your wife?
I gotta know right now!
Before we go any further
Do you love me?
And will you love me forever?


Let me sleep on it
Baby, baby let me sleep on it
Let me sleep on it
I'll give you an answer in the morning
Let me sleep on it


Will you love me forever?


Let me sleep on it


Will you love me forever!!!!



I couldn't take it any longer
Lord I was crazed
And when the feeling came upon me
Like a tidal wave I started swearing to my god and on my mother's grave
That I would love you to the end of time
I swore that I would love you to the end of time!
So now I'm praying for the end of time
To hurry up and arrive
'Cause if I gotta spend another minute with you
I don't think that I can really survive
I'll never break my promise or forget my vow
But God only knows what I can do right now
I'm praying for the end of time
It's all that I can do
Praying for the end of time,
So I can end my time with you!!

It was long ago and it was far away
And it was so much better that it is today
Repeat and fade


It never felt so good
It never felt so right
And we were glowing like
The metal on the edge of a knife
Repeat and fade
(c) 1977/2010 Meatloaf/Jim Steinman

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Key Republicans and the blood cancer leukemia make a
joint statement condemning the health care bill.

Republicans, Leukemia Team Up To Repeal Health Care Law

WASHINGTON: Citing a mutually shared vision of health care in America, congressional Republicans and the deadly bone-marrow cancer leukemia announced a joint effort Wednesday to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the historic new bill that extends health benefits to 32 million Americans nationwide.

"Republicans have no greater ally in this fight than leukemia," said Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), who was flanked by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), and the abnormal increase in white blood cells. "Denying insurance to Americans with preexisting conditions and ensuring that low-income Americans stand no chance of receiving quality health care are just a few of the core beliefs that the GOP and leukemia share."

"And believe me, if anyone is angrier than the Republican Party that children can no longer be denied coverage for having preexisting conditions, it's leukemia." DeMint continued. "We're a match made in heaven."

In the coming weeks, Republicans and leukemia will travel the country in an effort to diminish support for the increasingly popular bill, which GOP sources said goes against everything that Republicans and the massive accumulation of toxic cells stand for.

This bone marrow aspirate smear of precursor B-cell acute lymphoblastic
leukemia fully supports overturning the new legislation.

According to party leaders, all forms of the deadly blood disorder, including T-cell prolymphocytic leukemia, hairy cell leukemia, and large granular lymphocytic leukemia will lend their support to the Republican effort.

"I look around and I see Sen. Bob Bennett, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, eosinophilic and megakaryoblastic leukemia, and Sen. Pat Roberts, and I think, 'This is what the Republican Party is all about,'" Sen. McConnell said. "We don't like this new bill. We don't like that it will cut the national deficit by $1.3 trillion over the next 20 years. We don't like that it's now illegal for insurance companies to suddenly drop a parent for getting deathly ill. That's why we're so very proud to be working with leukemia."

While chronic leukemia was reportedly worried about how its association with the Republican Party would affect its public image, the destructive pathogen was ultimately swayed by language in the final bill that offers small business owners tax incentives to provide health care to their employees.

"Getting chronic on board was key," one Republican strategist said. "It made it politically viable for acute [leukemia] to join the repeal the effort."

A longtime ally of the Republican Party, leukemia also supported GOP efforts to stop President Bill Clinton from passing sweeping health care reform in 1994. A decade later it endorsed President George W. Bush's Medicare legislation, which effectively forced many senior citizens to pay full cost for prescription drugs. And in 1971 it supported President Richard Nixon's escalation of the Vietnam War into Laos.

"Leukemia has always been a disease that veers to the right," said Newsweek columnist Ezra Klein, adding that Republicans have also sought out the support of high-profile illnesses such as sickle-cell anemia, type 1 diabetes, and sepsis. "And at the end of the day, you can't ignore the fact that this deadly blood disorder has a lot to lose if the bill remains."

Thus far, Republicans and leukemia are confident that the bill will be repealed.

"In 2010 leukemia and the Republican Party will make history," a spokesman for the illness said. "Because years from now, when people look back and ask who was on the right side of the issue, they'll remember the day that Republicans and leukemia came together to make a real, permanent difference in the lives of millions of Americans."
(c) 2010 The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 10 # 41 (c) 10/15/2010

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