Issues & Alibis

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In This Edition

Noam Chomsky returns with, "Barack Obama And The 'Unipolar Moment'."

Uri Avnery wonders, "Where Have All the Friendships Gone...."

Greg Palast explores, "The S-Word And Dr. Kevorkian's Accountant."

Jim Hightower needs your help, "Let's Help Goldman Sachs Get A Clue."

Cynthia McKinney brings a, "Report From South Africa."

John Nichols concludes, "Congressman Grayson Wins Another Round In Healthcare Debate."

Paul Krugman shows his naivete in, "After Reform Passes."

Chris Floyd studies, "Debased Coinage."

Case Wagenvoord thinks Obama is, "Making a Mountain Out Of Dead Moles."

Mike Folkerth reports, "Figures Don't Lie, But Liars Figure."

Chris Hedges says, "War Is A Hate Crime."

Michael T. Klare gives a, "Welcome To 2025."

The "Vampire Squid" of Wall Street, Lloyd C. Blankfein wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Glenn Greenwald explains, "Benjamin Netanyahu's Definition Of 'War Crimes.'"

Mary Pitt dares them in, "Let Them Filibuster."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department the 'Landover Baptist University' For The Saved Opens "Halloween Hell Hospital" but first Uncle Ernie asks, "Do You Want To See Something Really Scary?"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Bob Englehart, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Married To The Sea, Khalil Bendib, Dees Illustration.Com, Pavlovian Obeisance.Com, Cindyville, John Trever, Ted Rall, Left Wing Conspiracy.Com, Parker Brothers 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."

Do You Want To See Something Really Scary?
By Ernest Stewart

"Do you want to see something really scary?"
The Twilight Zone ~~~ Dan Akroyd

"One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter!" ~~~ Anonymous

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

As Woody Allen once said, "More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." While Woody was joking it seems to me that's about where we are today.

Our needless, immoral, illegal wars go on and on and on. Oh, we went into Iraq to stop Saddam from killing and to bring enlightenment and democracy to the Iraqis. In two years George W. Bush had murdered more Iraqis than Saddam did in 30 years. As bad as Iraq was, it was without a doubt the one bright spot in the Middle East. Women had all but equal rights; school flourished for girls and the horrible Muslim Shi'i law was nowhere to be found. Six years down line we have destroyed all that and brought the Iranians to power with their Islamic revolution. A quarter of the population has fled with the clothes on their back; we've killed well over a million people, and women who try to behave like they did under Saddam find themselves raped and murdered, etc. etc. etc.

Our first war against the people across the border in Afghanistan is going on and on and on. It's in its 8th year with absolutely no way out or even a stated purpose, much the same as Iraq. Except now we are paying our arch enemies, the CIA created Taliban and Al Qaeda, bribe money by the tens of billions. See how well this is working? 24 dead American kids this week with scores coming home missing arms and legs and their minds!

Meanwhile, just across the next border Barry is bombing everything in sight, killing more innocent men, women and children than combatants, and setting up a takeover of the Pakistani government by Muslim revolutionaries who can't wait to get their hands on Pakistan's A-Bombs. Every minute of every hour of everyday we make more enemies, cause more hatred toward America, and total up a bill that will completely destroy our currency.

All over the world people are getting rid of their dollars and replacing them with other forms of currency, trying to stop what's about to happen to us from happening to them. When it takes a wheelbarrow of dollars to buy a loaf of bread it will be a little too late to protect your retirement money! Remember what happened to the German Republic? Have no fear, America has a bumper crop of young, astute, wellspoken, fascist swine just waiting in the wings to take over once it happens.

How's that for being scary? And you know what is scarier still, Mr. & Mrs. America? You won't do a thing to prevent it from happening.

In Other News

It seems that every time some politician opens his cake hole, out springs the word "terrorist" or "terrorism." A terrorist is someone who uses terror to achieve his goals. The folks over at Yale University define terrorism as, "the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear."

Today when said politico mentions terrorism, it's usually followed by the worlds Al Qaeda or the Taliban and, while both are indeed terrorist organizations, one should remember that both are creations of the good old United States. Al Qaeda or, as they say down in Langley, Virginia, "The Method," was a CIA group of spooks created and run by the CIA to help the Afghanis defeat the Soviet Union in its decade long war against Afghanistan. Up until 911 they were on the payroll and under the control of the CIA and who knows, they probably still are! The Taliban is another one of Langley's creations and was the democratically elected government of Afghanistan before refusing a carpet of gold for Dick (the psycho) Cheney's pipeline. Both are terrorist organizations, no doubt, but compared to some they are rank amateurs!

The top three terrorist groups are found amongst six parties that have been terrorist groups for decades if not hundreds of years.

The newcomers at number three are, of course, the Labor and Likud parties in Israel who have been creating terrorist acts of murder and mayhem for almost 90 years in Palestine, Lebanon, and the surrounding areas!

The number two groups are the Labour and Conservative parties in England who have been a royal, worldwide, pain-in-the-ass for almost ten centuries!

And the number one terrorist groups in the world belongs to the Republican and Democratic parties in these here United Snakes who have been creating murder and mayhem locally for over four hundred years and on the world stage since 1898.

While a terrorist may in reality be a freedom fighter without an air force, our terrorist groups are never freedom fighters unless you mean it as the freedom to steal other people's property, minerals, rights and lives!

And Finally

We're back and we're beautiful America! Well we're back anyway and just in time too, it seems. I spent last week driving to and from Detroit and central Michigan back to our aerie in the Misty Mountains. A couple of days later parts of I-40, the main east-west in these parts, got blocked by those pesky falling rocks in the Pigeon River Gorge just a couple miles from the Tennessee border. I take I-40 from Asheville to Knoxville where I get on I-75 north. The upshot is it won't be cleared for months, sometime well into the new year, which means huge detours as I-40 is the only way through the Blue Ridge and Smokey mountains in this area.

So I'm glad my timing was perfect. I got the only five-day sunny weather window in what seems like months, which made the trip that much easier and managed to empty our storage, get rid of a lot of junk and put what remained in my sister's spare rooms in central Michigan. What a financial relief that is! And I escaped relatively unharmed, although the small of my back will probably never be the same!

We're back America, refreshed, recharged and ready to kick some political ass! Do you read me Foggy Bottom?

Oh And One More Thing

For all of you who have written in over the last four years wanting to see my pet project, i.e., "W The Movie" and couldn't get to it's very limited run in the theatres or film festivals, here's your chance. "W The Movie" is now available on DVD through If you are so inclined please use the link/portal for the film, which maybe found towards the bottom of this page. That way Amazon will send me a few pennies for each purchase, which may allow the continuation of the magazine as donations have been few and far between in this year of depression and we're running at a loss that we cannot afford to sustain.

This film, unlike Oliver Stone's love fest of W, takes our side. Thanks to Ollie and Lions Gate films, you weren't allowed to see "W The Movie" in the theatres or at most film festivals because, like in those Communist Witch Hunts daze of the 1950's, we were black listed by Ollie and company, less we cut into their profits. When exactly was it that Ollie joined the dark side and became a capitalist swine? Does anybody know?

While "W The Movie" is campy, surreal and side-splittingly funny, it is also as serious as a heart attack. "W The Movie" dares to ask the question, "What if the 'Crime Family Bush' came from outer space to rule the world? Wouldn't that explain a lot of things? I mean, wouldn't it?" Hear award-winning music from Beethoven, Mahler and DJ Monkey! See the Issues & Alibis office complex and your wicked old Uncle in action. See if you can find me playing four different roles including myself, by far the most difficult role! See for yourself through the portal below! Makes the perfect gift!


We don't sell our readers new cars, fancy homes or designer clothes. We don't advocate consumerism nor do we offer facile solutions to serious problems. We do, however, bring together every week writers and activists who are not afraid to speak the truth about our country and our world. The articles we print are not for the faint of heart.

As access to accurate information becomes more difficult and free speech and the exchange of ideas becomes more restricted and controlled, small publications and alternative presses disappear. Issues and Alibis may soon join that list.

We aren't asking for much-not thousands of dollars a month, not tens of thousands a year. What we need is simply enough money to cover expenses for the magazine. A few thousand dollars a year. A few hundred dollars a month. We cannot continue to go into debt to publish Issues and Alibis but at the same time we cannot, in good conscience, go quietly about our daily lives, remaining silent in face of the injustices perpetrated by our leaders and our government. So we need your help. We need your spare change. A dollar, five dollars, whatever you can contribute. Every penny makes a difference.

Ernest & Victoria Stewart


01-08-1926 ~ 10-22-2009
Thanks for everything from "Birdbath" # 717

04-09-1926 ~ 10-25-2009
I'll never forget that time at Premier Talent, Bro!


The "W" theatre trailers are up along with the new movie poster and screen shots from the film. They are all available at the all-new "W" movie site: All five "W" trailers are available along with the trailer from our first movie "Jesus and her Gospel of Yes" at the Pink & Blue Films site on YouTube.


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) 2009 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 8 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. In his spare time he is an actor, writer and an associate producer for the new motion picture "W The Movie."

Barack Obama And The 'Unipolar Moment'
By Noam Chomsky

Every powerful state relies on specialists whose task is to show that what the strong do is noble and just and, if the weak suffer, it is their fault.

In the West, these specialists are called "intellectuals" and, with marginal exceptions, they fulfill their task with skill and self-righteousness, however outlandish the claims, in this practice that traces back to the origins of recorded history.

With just that much background, let us turn to the so-called unipolar moment. Symbolized by the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago, the collapse of the Soviet Union putatively left a unipolar world, with the United States as the sole global superpower and not merely the primary superpower, as it was before.

Within months, the George H. W. Bush administration outlined Washington's new course: Everything will stay much the same, but with new pretexts.

We still need a huge military system, but for a new reason: the "technological sophistication" of Third World powers. We have to maintain the "defense industrial base" -- a euphemism for state-supported high-tech industry.

We must maintain intervention forces directed at the energy-rich Middle East -- where the significant threats to our interests "could not be laid at the Kremlin's door," contrary to decades of deceit.

All this was passed over quietly, barely reported. But for those who hope to understand the world, it is quite instructive.

The George W. Bush administration went far to the extreme of aggressive militarism and arrogant contempt. It was harshly condemned for these practices, even within the mainstream.

Bush's second term was more moderate. Some of the most extreme figures were expelled: Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and others. Vice President Richard Cheney could not be removed because he WAS the administration. Policy began to return toward the norm.

As Barack Obama came into office, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice predicted he would follow the policies of Bush's second term, and that is pretty much what happened, apart from a different rhetorical style that seems to have charmed much of the world.

One basic difference between Bush and Obama was expressed very well in another era, by a senior adviser of the Kennedy administration at the height of the Cuban missile crisis.

Kennedy planners were making decisions that threatened Britain with obliteration, but they were not informing the British about it.

At that point the advisor defined the "special relationship" with Britain: "our lieutenant -- the fashionable word is `partner."'

Bush and his cohorts addressed the world as "our lieutenants." Thus, in announcing the invasion of Iraq, they informed the United Nations that it could follow U.S. orders or be "irrelevant." Such brazen arrogance naturally aroused hostility.

Obama adopts a different course. He politely greets the leaders and people of the world as "partners," and only in private does he continue to treat them as "lieutenants."

Foreign leaders much prefer this stance, and the public is also sometimes mesmerized by it. But it is wise to attend to deeds, not rhetoric and pleasant demeanor.

The current world system remains unipolar in one dimension: the arena of force. The United States spends almost as much as the rest of the world combined on its military and it is far more advanced in the technology of destruction.

The United States is also alone in having hundreds of global military bases and in occupying two countries in the crucial energy-producing regions.

NATO is part of the Cold War apparatus that Obama can deploy.

As the unipolar moment dawned, the fate of NATO came to the fore. The traditional justification for NATO was defense against Soviet aggression. With the USSR gone, the pretext evaporated. But NATO has been reshaped into a U.S.-run global intervention force, with special concern for control over energy.

Post-Cold War NATO has inexorably pushed to the east and south. Obama apparently intends to carry forward this expansion.

In July, on the eve of Obama's first trip to Russia, Michael McFaul, his special assistant for national security and Russian and Eurasian affairs, informed the press, "We're not going to reassure or give or trade anything with the Russians regarding NATO expansion or missile defense."

McFaul was referring to U.S. missile defense programs in Eastern Europe and to NATO membership for Russia's neighbors, Ukraine and Georgia, both steps understood by Western analysts to be serious threats to Russian security that would likely inflame international tensions.

A few weeks ago the Obama administration announced a readjustment of U.S. anti-missile systems in Eastern Europe. That led to a great deal of commentary and debate, which, as in the past, skillfully evaded the central issue.

Those systems are advertised as defense against an Iranian attack. But that cannot be the motive. The chance of Iran launching a missile attack, nuclear or not, is about at the level of an asteroid hitting the Earth -- unless, of course, the ruling clerics have a fanatic death wish and want to see Iran instantly incinerated.

The purpose of the U.S. interception systems, if they ever work, is to prevent any retaliation to a U.S. or Israeli attack on Iran -- that is, to eliminate any Iranian deterrent. In this regard, antimissile systems are a first-strike weapon, and that is understood on all sides. But that seems to be a fact best left in the shadows.

The Obama plan may represent less provocation to Russia but, rhetoric aside, it is irrelevant to defending Europe -- except as a reaction to a U.S. or Israeli first strike against Iran.

The present nuclear standoff with Iran summons the Cold War's horrors -- and hypocrisies.

The outcry over Iran overlooks the Obama administration's assurance that the Indo-U.S. nuclear agreement is exempt from the just-passed U.N. resolution on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which India greeted by announcing that it can now build nuclear weapons with the same destructive power as those in the arsenals of the world's major nuclear powers, with yields up to 200 kilotons.

And, over the objections of the United States and Europe, the International Atomic Energy Agency called on Israel to join the NPT and open its nuclear facilities for inspection. Israel announced it would not cooperate.

Though the world is unipolar militarily, since the 1970s it has become economically "tripolar," with comparable centers in North America, Europe and northeast Asia. The global economy is becoming more diverse, particularly with the growth of Asian economies.

A world becoming truly multipolar, politically as well as economically, despite the resistance of the sole superpower, marks a progressive change in history.
(c) 2009 Noam Chomsky is emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is co-author, with Gilbert Achcar, of Perilous Power: The Middle East & U.S. Foreign Policy: Dialogues on Terror, Democracy, War, and Justice. His most recent book is Hegemony or Survival Americas Quest for Global Dominance. His writings on linguistics and politics have just been collected in The Essential Noam Chomsky, edited by Anthony Arnove, from the New Press.

Where Have All the Friendships Gone...
By Uri Avnery

ACCORDING TO a Chinese saying, if someone in the street tells you that you are drunk, you can laugh. If a second person tells you that you are drunk, start to think about it. If a third one tells you the same, go home and sleep it off.

Our political and military leadership has already encountered the third, fourth and fifth person. All of them say that they must investigate what happened in the "Molten Lead" operation.

They have three options:

- to conduct a real investigation.

- to ignore the demand and proceed as if nothing has happened.

- to conduct a sham inquiry.

IT IS easy to dismiss the first option: it has not the slightest chance of being adopted. Except for the usual suspects (including myself) who demanded an investigation long before anyone in Israel had heard of a judge called Goldstone, nobody supports it.

Among all the members of our political, military and media establishments who are now suggesting an "inquiry", there is no one - literally not one - who means by that a real investigation. The aim is to deceive the Goyim and get them to shut up.

Actually, Israeli law lays down clear guidelines for such investigations. The government decides to set up a commission of investigation. The president of the Supreme Court then appoints the members of the commission. The commission can compel witnesses to testify. Anybody who may be damaged by its conclusions must be warned and given the opportunity to defend themself. Its conclusions are binding.

This law has an interesting history. Sometime in the 50s, David Ben-Gurion demanded the appointment of a "judicial committee of inquiry" to decide who gave the orders for the 1954 "security mishap", also known as the Lavon Affair. (A false flag operation where an espionage network composed of local Jews was activated to bomb American and British offices in Egypt, in order to cause friction between Egypt and the Western powers. The perpetrators were caught.)

Ben-Gurion's request was denied, under the pretext that there was no law for such a procedure. Furious, Ben-Gurion resigned from the government and left his party. In one of the stormy party sessions, the Minister of Justice, Yaakov Shimshon Shapira, called Ben-Gurion a "fascist". But Shapira, an old Russian Jew, regretted his outburst later. He drafted a special law for the appointment of Commissions of Investigation in the future. After lengthy deliberations in the Knesset (in which I took an active part) the law was adopted and has since been applied, notably in the case of the Sabra and Shatila massacre.

Now I wholeheartedly support the setting up of a Commission of Investigation according to this law.

THE SECOND option is the one proposed by the army Chief of Staff and the Minister of Defense. In America it is called "stonewalling". Meaning: To hell with it.

The army commanders object to any investigation and any inquiry whatsoever. They probably know why. After all, they know the facts. They know that a dark shadow lies over the very decision to go to war, over the planning of the operation, over the instructions given to the troops, and over many dozens of large and small acts committed during the operation.

In their opinion, even if their refusal has severe international repercussions, the consequences of any investigation, even a phony one, would be far worse.

As long as the Chief of Staff sticks to this position, there will be no investigation outside the army, whatever the attitude of the ministers. The army chief, who attends every cabinet meeting, is the largest figure in the room. When he announces that such and such is the "position of the army", no mere politician present would dare to object.

In the "Only Democracy in the Middle East", the law (proposed at the time by Menachem Begin) stipulates that the Government as such is the Commander in Chief of the Israel Defense Forces. That is the theory. In practice, no decision at variance with the "position of the army" has ever been or will ever be adopted.

The army claims to be investigating itself. Ehud Barak represents - willingly or unwillingly - this position. The cabinet has postponed dealing with the matter, and that's where things stand today.

ON THIS occasion, the spotlight should be turned on the least visible person in Israel: the Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, the ultimate Teflon-man. Nothing sticks to him. In this debate, as in all others, he just is not there.

Everybody knows that Ashkenazi is a shy and modest man. He hardly ever speaks, writes or speechifies. On television, he merges into the background.

This is how he looks to the public: an honest soldier, without tricks or ploys, who does his duty quietly, receives his orders from the government and fulfills them loyally. In this he differs from almost all his predecessors, who were boastful, publicity-crazy and loquacious. While most them came from famous elite units or the arrogant Air Force, he is a grey infantry man. The Duke of Wellington, seeing the huge amount of paperwork in his army, once exclaimed: "Soldiers should fight, not write!" He would have liked Ashkenazi .

But reality is not always what it seems. Ashkenazi plays a central role in the decision-making process. He was appointed after his predecessor, Dan Halutz, resigned after the failures of Lebanon War II. Under Ashkenazi's leadership, new doctrines were formulated and put into action in the "Molten Lead" operation. I defined them (on my own responsibility) as "Zero Losses" and "Better to kill a hundred enemy civilians than to lose one of our own soldiers". Since the Gaza war did not lead to a single soldier being put on trial, Ashkenazi must bear the responsibility for everything that happened there.

If an indictment were issued by the International Court in The Hague, Ashkenazi would probably be accorded the place of honor as "Defendant No. 1". No wonder that he objects to any outside investigation, as does Ehud Barak, who would probably occupy the No. 2 place.

THE POLITICIANS who oppose (ever so quietly) the Chief of Staff's position believe that it is impossible to withstand international pressure completely, and that some kind of an inquiry will have to be conducted. Since not one of them intends to hold a real investigation, they propose to follow a tried and trusted Israeli method, which has worked wonderfully hundreds of times in the past: the method of sham.

A sham inquiry. Sham conclusions. Sham adherence to international law. Sham civilian control over the military.

Nothing simpler than that. An "inquiry committee" (but not a Commission of Investigation according to the law) will be set up, chaired by a suitably patriotic judge and composed of carefully chosen honorable citizens who are all "one of us". Testimonies will be heard behind closed doors (for considerations of security, of course). Army lawyers will prove that everything was perfectly legal, the National Whitewasher, Professor Asa Kasher, will laud the ethics of the Most Moral Army in the World. Generals will speak about our inalienable right to self-defense. In the end, two or three junior officers or privates may be found guilty of "irregularities".

Israel's friends all over the world will break into an ecstatic chorus: What a lawful state! What a democracy! What morality! Western governments will declare that justice has been done and the case closed. The US veto will see to the rest.

So why don't the army chiefs accept this proposal? Because they are afraid things might not proceed quite so smoothly. The international community will demand that at least part of the hearings be conducted in open court. There will be a demand for the presence of international observers. And, most importantly: there will be no justifiable way to exclude the testimonies of the Gazans themselves. Things will get complicated. The world will not accept fabricated conclusions. In the end we will be in exactly the same situation. Better to stay put and brave it out, whatever the price.

IN THE meantime, international pressure on Israel is increasing. Even now it has reached unprecedented proportions.

Russia and China have voted in favor of the endorsement of the Goldstone report by the UN. The UK and France "did not take part in the vote", but demanded that Israel conduct a real investigation. We have quarreled with Turkey, until now an important military ally. We have altercations with Sweden, Norway and a number of other friendly countries. The French Foreign Minister has been prevented from crossing into the Gaza Strip and is furious. The already cold peace with Egypt and Jordan has become several degrees colder. Israel is boycotted in many forums. Senior army officers are afraid to travel abroad for fear of arrest.

This raises the question once more: can outside pressure have an impact on Israel?

Certainly it can. The question is: what kind of pressure, what kind of impact?

The pressure has indeed convinced several ministers that an inquiry committee for the Goldstone report has to be set up. But no one in the Israeli establishment - no one at all! - has raised the real question: Perhaps Goldstone is right? Except for the usual suspects, no one in the media, the Knesset or the government has asked: Perhaps war crimes have indeed been committed? The outside pressure has not forced such questions to be raised. They must come from the inside, from the public itself.

The kind of pressure must also be considered. The Goldstone report has an impact on the world because it is precise and targeted: a specific operation, for which specific persons are responsible. It raises a specific demand: an investigation. It attacks a clear and well-defined target: war crimes.

If we apply this to the debate about boycotting Israel: the Goldstone report may be compared to a targeted boycott on the settlements and their helpers, not an unlimited boycott of the State of Israel. A targeted boycott can have a positive impact. A comprehensive, unlimited boycott would - in my opinion - achieve the opposite. It would push the Israeli public further into the arms of the extreme Right.

The struggle over the Goldstone report is now at its height. In Jerusalem, the rising energy of the waves can be clearly felt. Does this portend a tsunami?
(c) 2009 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

The S-Word And Dr. Kevorkian's Accountant
Health care Rx from my socialist fire department
By Greg Palast

Greg Palast interviews Wendell Potter

Tell me where it hurts, Mr. President.

What's killing you, Barack, is what's killing us all: an evil germ called "Medical Loss Ratio."

"Medical Loss Ratio" [MLR] is the fancy term used by health insurance companies for their slice, their take-out, their pound of flesh, their gross - very gross - profit.

The "MLR" is the difference between what you pay an insurance company and what that insurer pays out to doctors, hospitals and pharmacists for your medical care.

I've totted it up from the raw stats: The "MLR," insurance companies' margins, is about to top - holy mama! - a quarter trillion dollars a year. That's $2.7 trillion over the next decade.

Until the 1990's, insurers skimmed only about a nickel on the dollar for their "service," Wendell Potter told me. Potter is the CIGNA insurance company PR man who came in from the cold to tell us about what goes down inside the health insurance gold mine. Today, Potter notes (and I've checked his accuracy), porky operators like AIG have kicked up their Loss Ratio by nearly 500 percent.

The industries' slice is growing to nearly a quarter of your insurance bill. All of it just paperwork and profiteering.

President Obama is never going to pull the insurance company piggies from a trough this big, especially when the industry has made room for Congressional snouts.

So what's the Rx? Easy: Kill the pigs and call the fire department.

The only solution to Loss Ratio piggery is to kill the pigs: eliminate health insurers from the health industry entirely.

We can't cure our ills, as our president has attempted, by attacking the problem ass-backwards. No, Mr. Obama, we don't need HEALTH INSURANCE for everyone, we need HEALTH CARE for everyone. There's a giant difference. Instead of concentrating on PAYMENT, we need to focus solely on providing the health SERVICE.

From my London days writing for The Guardian, I can tell you the British do NOT have national health insurance. They have a National Health Service.

The government builds hospitals, hires doctors and, when you need the service, you just go and get it. It's kind of like the fire department. When your house is on fire, you don't call your fire insurance company, you call THE FIRE DEPARTMENT. We care first about the service, not the payment.

The British government hires the doctors, like firemen, and Brits use them, like firemen, as they need them.

It works. My mother-in-law, a nurse, on a visit to England, was stunned at the speed, quality and absence of mad paperwork to fix her broken arm.

But, you might say, that's, that's SOCIALISM! Well, yes, it is. And I'm not afraid to use the S-word: Socialized Medicine. Just like America's Socialized Fire Departments. (Fun fact: socialized, i.e. publicly funded, fire departments were 'invented' by the revolutionary Ben Franklin.)

And Yes We Can get socialized medicine passed into law.

Really. It's simple: we sneak it in with the kids.

We can learn from Lyndon Johnson's sale of Socialist Medicare. Johnson knew that no one could argue that Granny do without a doctor. Can the "Pro-Life" Republicans now tell us that pregnant moms and children ages 0 to 3 should be denied care? Therefore, to the Medicare program for those 65-or-older, we simply add "Kiddie Care," for those from Negative 9 months through age 3.

But instead of the wallet-busting Medicare system, in which doctors and hospitals are paid for each suture, bag of blood and pat on the head, Kiddie Care will be provided by Kiddie Care Service salaried doctors.

How do we get doctors (who now AVERAGE $240,575 a year) to take well-paid, but not pig-paid, posts? We grab'm while they're young. We pay doctors the full cost of their medical education; and we treat them as humans during internship, not as in the current system where interns are treated as medi-slaves. In return for the public paying for their medical education, the public gets the young doctors' ten-year commitment to work for the health service at a reasonable salary.

That's not my invention. The free-education idea for staffing a national health service had long ago been proposed by that wily old dog Ted Kennedy. (Damn, we miss him.)

Once the first wave of three-year-olds are about to turn four and their families face having to buy them health insurance, these millions of parents will become an unstoppable army of lobbyists screaming for the extension of Kiddie Care to age four, then to age five, then to age six and so on. Get it?

Yes, Mr. Limbaugh, I am another bleeding heart trying to sneak socialized medicine into America. Yes, I am trying to rid us of the "free-market" insurers who are causing the bleeding. Health insurers are as useful to our health care system as a bicycle is useful to a goldfish.

Free-Market Fantasia

There ain't no such thing as a "free market" in medical care, as there is a free market in food. You can eat peanut butter instead of dining at Maxime's. But you can't tell the surgeon, "No thanks, I can't afford a new kidney this week - I'll just have a broken arm."

A free-market for-profit insurance system means that, when you need a new pancreas, your fate is left to an insurance company computer programmed by Franz Kafka, Dr. Kevorkian and his accountant. It's you versus the Medical Loss Ratio. Good luck.

In olden days, doctors would attach leeches to suck a patient's blood. Today, we have insurance companies' Medical Loss Ratio. Both can kill you. If Obama and America want to end this sickness in the body politic, start with Dr. Kennedy's sure-fire cure: a national health service for kids - and get rid of the bloodsuckers.


I Quit: A Personal Note

I learned of the Kiddie Care solution during my brief and ill-starred tenure at the Center for Hospital Administration Studies at the University of Chicago "Billings" Hospital. I couldn't make up that name. Years later, they hired Michelle Obama as their vice president for community affairs.

In my time, three decades ago, "Billings" handled the affairs of that poor community by shipping the uninsured, sometimes bleeding, to poor-folks hospitals. One wounded patient died on the poverty shuttle.

I quit, and swore that one day I'd write about it. I just did.
(c) 2009 Forensic economist Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy." His investigations for BBC TV and Democracy Now! can be seen by subscribing to Palast's reports at.

Let's Help Goldman Sachs Get A Clue

Bankers at Goldman Sachs have a problem and I'm sure you can empathize. Maybe you can even help them!

Here's the problem: They're making too much money. Altogether now: Awwww.

The Wall Street colossus has set aside nearly $17 billion to pay end-of-year bonuses to its bankers, with the biggest chunk going to top executives and the casino dealers in Goldman's trading department, where exotic, high-risk betting games are played.

Yes, these are the same financial whizzes whose exotic investments turned toxic last year, crashing America's real economy and hurting millions of regular folks who weren't in on the game. Indeed Goldman remains in the game today only because it was bailed out with our tax money - Goldman got $22.9 billion in cash from us, plus many billions more in cheap federal loans and government guarantees. With this public support, the bankers can now lavish bonuses on themselves.

So, you see, their problem is one of public perception: they are widely viewed as immoral, greedy banksters. This perception hurts their feelings, so to buff their image the ruling poobahs at Goldman have announced that the bank will magnanimously donate $200 million to the bank's own charitable foundation, hoping that you and I will applaud this generosity and show them some love.

Generosity? Two hundred million is less than two percent of the bonus money they're grabbing! They think that's going to win us over?

Let's help them out. What do you think these clueless narcissists could do to earn any real appreciation from the American people? Send your ideas to, and we'll forward them to Goldman's CEO. We'll also select the three best ideas, with the winners getting a free one-year subscription to the Hightower Lowdown monthly newsletter.
(c) 2009 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.

Report From South Africa
By Cynthia McKinney

Here, as promised, I'll give you a brief report from my visit to Cape Town, South Africa.

First of all, I was hosted by two activists who founded Channel Four News, a hard-hitting, truth-telling, non-special interest news outlet serving Cape Town and all of South Africa. But because of their hard-hitting questions to elected leaders, the post-apartheid era government chose to enact regulations that resulted in their temporary shutdown. Undaunted, they organized a very informative film festival chock full of documentaries recalling the South Africa-Israel connections that beefed up repressive capabilities in both states; the role of Coca Cola during the sanctions era; scenes from Gaza after Israel's Operation Cast Lead; and stories of general Palestinian life with plays, songs, and films. Please see the "To End On A Happy Note" department below to hear one of the most moving songs I have heard in a very long time.

The name of the group is Desert Rose. The woman singing loaned me her makeup because I was without my suitcases, and it turned out that she sang the most heart-wrenching song of the night, Ayala Katz. The song has been banned by certain Rabbinical authorities in South Africa. Please share this song with all of your friends. I listen to it every day.

Much is at stake today in South Africa at a time when criminal charges have been brought against the South African National Police Commissioner and those charges have implications for the country's leading political party; in addition, there are ongoing investigations into arms deals that could lead all the way to top ANC leaders; information is beginning to leak out about secret negotiations between certain elements of the black resistance and the global elite even before ANC took power; and all of this information coming out at this time might indicate that the people's interests were sold out long before the ink was dry on these arms deals. It is good that South Africans are beginning to look critically and more closely at what they (and we, the progressive forces in the world) actually won and to investigate whether they voluntarily stopped short of complete victory. Of course, it was the people on the ground, inside South Africa, who bore the brunt of the struggle and who should reap the benefits of the victory. And they are not, and that's why this line of questioning is more prevalent.

Likewise, for us, prudence dictates that we all now pay very close attention to what is happening in the "post-racial" economy of the U.S. I am absolutely certain that there are lessons in the South African experience for us today.

Just before I arrived in Cape Town, approximately 60,000 textile workers had been on strike all over the country since September 15th. Before that, South Africa had seen general strikes called by municipal workers (over 150,000), construction workers, doctors, and taxi drivers.

I've just been told that the second electricity price hikes have been announced in order to pay for the 2010 World Cup infrastructure needs. If you'll recall, the 2006 World Cup was stolen from South Africa by one racist voter on the Committee who refused to follow his country's instructions and vote for South Africa and instead voted for Germany and the World Cup governing body, FIFA, allowed the vote to stand, so the 2006 World Cup went to Germany, instead. Well, 2010 is South Africa.

And are they building stadium after stadium! And they're beautiful. But the problem is that apartheid-era economic divisions remain and they are stark. On one side of the mountain are the pristine manses, but they have to be served by the blacks, who still live in squalor, so on the other side of the mountain is the most putrid poverty one could witness. Unfortunately, ANC leadership went along with changing the face of the political apartheid regime while allowing the gross, mean, ugly economic apartheid to remain rigidly in place. Land reform, one of the more obvious disparities, is not even on the agenda, I was told.

At the Film Festival, I debuted a short documentary on the murder of Oscar Grant in Oakland, California. This documentary shows the occupation of black and brown neighborhoods by a militarized, local law enforcement apparatus that parallels, in many ways, the current experiences of neighborhoods of color in post-apartheid South Africa, and of Palestinians on their own occupied land.

The film was done by Operation Small Axe (from the Bob Marley song) and it is narrated by Pacifica's and the San Francisco Bay View Newspaper's own J.R. Valrey, known in the Bay Area as the Minister of Information. The film was very well received by the South African audience who told me that their experience is exactly like that experienced by the young people of the Bay Area, up to and including the murder of Oscar Grant, as chronicled in the film. The South African audience could not believe that they were watching actual footage of a young man's murder.

After seeing what I've seen in Cape Town, it appears to me that the World Cup in South Africa will be just like the Olympics were in Atlanta: the public treasury was expended for the benefit of the fat cats and political insiders who managed most of the private reward. In Atlanta, the citizens were lucky if they got street lights and sidewalks from the deal. Gentrification, a nice way of saying ethnic cleansing, was accelerated and black homeowners were pushed out of the central city--much by design. And along with them went much of their powerful political punch.

A blockbuster book is about to be written by one of South Africa's leading journalists, whom I was able to meet, about the still-brewing arms scandal where, upon inauguration of the post-apartheid government, $5 billion was spent on arms with BAE Systems, rather than on the people. The only thing is that the deal was sealed with what authorities call "financially incentivising" politicians to the tune of 100 million pounds.

And remember, just last year, Mark Thatcher, Margaret Thatcher's son pleaded guilty to gun running and coup plotting in oil-rich West Africa, in a story that Channel Four News played a central role in breaking and developing.

So, I was with this same Channel Four News outfit that was so chock-full of information about post-apartheid South Africa, from the triumphs to the disappointments of the people. It was sad as I rode through the many townships of the Cape Town area and saw sewage running through the streets, no land for any type of community gardening or farming, not even trees for a brief respite from the sun, or from which to pluck a piece of fruit.

As we made our way to Robben Island, the famous prison of South Africa's most famous political prisoners, I could see and hear Steve Biko, Chris Hani, Robert Sobukwe in my mind; my hosts told of their apartheid-era exploits--everyone played a role in the liberation of South Africa, but everyone must now also play a role in its stewardship and the management of the reward and the people's resources.

I'll go back to South Africa, I want to spend even more time with my hosts, and learn more about their struggle, experience the incredible vistas, and find ways to apply their knowledge to the problems confronting us inside this country today.

Probably, the most important lesson from Cape Town and Paris is this: We are a part of a global movement for truth and justice. And we cannot be stopped.

Coming up:

1. Houston
2. Glen Ford at U Maryland
3. Paris
4. Bike Ride for Peace
5. Pacifica Subscribers, Please Vote Today
6. The Progressive Candidate Coalition (Alfred Molison, Deb Shafto, Don Cook)
(c) 2009 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.

Congressman Grayson Wins Another Round In Healthcare Debate
By John Nichols

Florida Congressman Alan Grayson keeps provoking congressional Republicans and their media allies with fact-based challenges to the lies being used to block health care reform.

The insurance-industry stooges keep taking the bait.

And the truth about the high cost of delaying needed changes in America's health care delivery system keeps getting the attention it deserves.

Why is Grayson so effective?

Because, unlike many other Democrats and mainstream Republicans, he refuses to be intimidated by the bullying tactics employed by the GOP's "Party of 'No' caucus" and its accomplices.

No matter how desperately Republicans in Congress and their amen corner in the media may try to the censor the dissident Democrats, Grayson is reminding America about the trail of dead left by insurance-company greed and political neglect.

The Florida Democrat who drew national attention last month when he declared on the House floor that the Republican plan for uninsured Americans was "don't get sick, and if you do get sick, die quickly," was back on the House floor this week to announce the creation of a website to honor the victims of the current system.

Grayson, who has taken the lead in highlighting a Harvard study that shows 44,000 Americans die annually because they have no health insurance, told the House and the nation: "I think it dishonors all those Americans who have lost their lives because they had no health coverage, by ignoring them, by not paying attention to them, and by doing nothing to change the situation that led them to lose their live."

With that in mind, he announced the launch of a Names of the Dead website.

Grayson's welcoming message at the site declares:

Every year, more than 44,000 Americans die simply because have no health insurance.

I have created this project in their memory. I hope that honoring them will help us end this senseless loss of American lives. If you have lost a loved one, please share the story of that loved one with us. Help us ensure that their legacy is a more just America, where every life that can be saved will be saved.

Visitors to the site are invited to add the names and stories of people who have died. They're also asked where they stand with regard to the health-care reform debate. There are links to the Harvard study, Grayson's speeches and his congressional and campaign websites.

The last link stirred predictable objections from Republican political operatives who are not used to Democrats who take the health care debate seriously enough to try and win it.

"What is wrong with this man? Alan Grayson's morbid exploitation of 'the dead' for personal political gain may be the most shameless stunt he's pulled yet," grumbled Andy Sere, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Sere and his compatriots -- who are paid to pull shameless stunts for political gain -- charged that Grayson had committed some kind of ethics violation. They weren't sure what kind exactly, but they wanted to get the term "ethics violation" in play.

As when congressional Republicans threatened to sanction him for bringing up the fact that people die when they are denied insurance and health care, Grayson responded with a cry of: Bring it on!

"Let them file a complaint," said the congressman, who reminded reporters that he had paid for the website with his own money. "I'm sure I'll be vindicated."

Actually, he's already been vindicated.

Opponents of health care reform are so desperately frightened by Grayson's tactics that they immediately attacked the "Names of the Dead" site and posted false names -- "Wile E. Coyote" and "Hugh G. Reckshinn" -- to mock the reality that Americans die because our insurance industry.

When your critics are reduced to making light of the innocent dead, you have won the debate.
(c) 2009 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. He is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers.

After Reform Passes
By Paul Krugman

There's a part of me that can't believe I'm asking that question. After all, serious health reform has long seemed like an impossible dream. And it could yet go all wrong.

But the teabaggers have come and gone, as have the cries of "death panels" and the demonstrations by Medicare recipients demanding that the government stay out of health care. And reform is still on track. Right now it looks highly likely that Congress will, indeed, send a health care bill to the president's desk. Then what?

Conservatives insist (and hope) that reform will fail, and that there will be a huge popular backlash. Some progressives worry that they might be right, that the imperfections of reform - what we're about to get will be far from ideal - will be so severe as to undermine public support. And many critics complain, with some justice, that the planned reform won't do much to contain rising costs.

But the experience in Massachusetts, which passed major health reform back in 2006, should dampen conservative hopes and soothe progressive fears.

Like the bill that will probably emerge from Congress, the Massachusetts reform mainly relies on a combination of regulation and subsidies to chivy a mostly private system into providing near-universal coverage. It is, to be frank, a bit of a Rube Goldberg device - a complicated way of achieving something that could have been done much more simply with a Medicare-type program. Yet it has gone a long way toward achieving the goal of health insurance for all, although it's not quite there: according to state estimates, only 2.6 percent of residents remain uninsured.

This expansion of coverage has tremendous significance in human terms. The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured recently did a focus-group study of Massachusetts residents and reported that "Health reform enabled many of these individuals to take care of their medical needs, to start seeing a doctor, and in some cases to regain their health and control over their lives." Even those who probably would have been insured without reform felt "peace of mind knowing they could obtain health coverage if they lost access to their employer-sponsored coverage."

And reform remains popular. Earlier this year, many conservatives, citing misleading poll results, claimed that public support for the Massachusetts reform had plunged. Newer, more careful polling paints a very different picture. The key finding: an overwhelming 79 percent of the public think the reform should be continued, while only 11 percent think it should be repealed.

Interestingly, another recent poll shows similar support among the state's physicians: 75 percent want to continue the policies; only 7 percent want to see them reversed.

There are, of course, major problems remaining in Massachusetts. In particular, while employers are required to provide a minimum standard of coverage, in a number of cases this standard seems to be too low, with lower-income workers still unable to afford necessary care. And the Massachusetts plan hasn't yet done anything significant to contain costs.

But just as reform advocates predicted, the move to more or less universal care seems to have helped prepare the ground for further reform, with a special state commission recommending changes in the payment system that could contain costs by reducing the incentives for excessive care. And it should be noted that Hawaii, which doesn't have universal coverage but does have a long-standing employer mandate, has been far more successful than the rest of the nation at cost control.

So what does this say about national health reform?

To be sure, Massachusetts isn't fully representative of America as a whole. Even before reform, it had relatively broad insurance coverage, in part because of a large union movement. And the state has a tradition of strong insurance regulation, which has probably made it easier to run a system that depends crucially on having regulators ride herd on insurers.

So national reform's chances will be better if it contains elements lacking in Massachusetts - in particular, a real public option to keep insurers honest (and fend off charges that the individual mandate is just an insurance-industry profit grab). We can only hope that reports that the Obama administration is trying to block a public option are overblown.

Still, if the Massachusetts experience is any guide, health care reform will have broad public support once it's in place and the scare stories are proved false. The new health care system will be criticized; people will demand changes and improvements; but only a small minority will want reform reversed.

This thing is going to work.
(c) 2009 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

Debased Coinage
Centuries of Counterinsurgency - Past and Future
By Chris Floyd

A few quick takes on the Long, Long War of Empire.

COIN Machine Out of Change

Nick Turse examines the effectiveness of the "counterinsurgency doctrine" so beloved by the Pentagon and eagerly embraced by Barack Obama. Turse begins with the stellar success of American COIN operations in the Philippines - still going strong after more than 100 years. It certainly bodes well for Barack's big adventure in Bactria and environs, doesn't it?

Pumping (Blood and) Iron

Another venerable tradition of our militarist state is "rolling out the product" - i.e., playing the "free press" like a pump organ to sing the siren song of war. David Bromwich admires the masterclass in this pernicious process put on by the New York Times in a recent five-day blitz to push a "counterinsurgency" escalation on the Af-Pak front.

Class Warfare

The Bush-minted, Petraeus-stamped COIN in Iraq is now regarded by some poor fools (i.e., 97 percent of the political and media establishments) as an "extraordinary achievement," to use Obama's preferred term for the "surge." That's not true, of course; the "surge" was actually a partially successful intervention on the part of one faction in the multi-sided civil war set off by the American military aggression. (Much as the American military aggression in Cambodia destroyed that society and led directly to the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge - who were, in any case, later backed by the Americans when Vietnam launched a "humanitarian intervention" to kick them out. Yes, it's very confusing, isn't it, these questions of when an invasion is "humanitarian" or not, and under what circumstances you should support genocidal berserkers. Such a tricky business; that's why we leave it to our wise leaders, like Nixon, Bush and Obama, to figure it all out for us.)

In any case, the armed extremist factions that America empowered are now putting their stamp on the "democracy" in Iraq. And here's what your tax dollars - and the blood of your compatriots (not to mention the blood of more than a million innocent Iraqis; but then, who does mention them?) - has paid for: Iraqi Campus Is Under Gang's Sway. This is from the NY Times -- which, when not obliged to do its civic duty as a pipeline for war propaganda, can sometimes actually dig up a few useful facts:

Mustansiriya University, one of Iraq's most prestigious universities, was temporarily closed this month by the prime minister in an effort to rid it of a shadowy student gang accused of murdering, torturing and raping fellow students, and killing professors and administrators....

Mustansiriya... is under the sway of an armed group of violent Shiite students in engineering, literature, law and other disciplines; faculty members; and campus security guards. Abed Thiab al-Ajili, Iraq's minister of higher education, and administrators and professors at the university said in interviews that it was commonly believed that violence continued there because of ties between some of the officials in Mr. Maliki's Shiite party, Dawa, and the Students League through university administrators who shielded the group from prosecution....

The Students League, they said, controls campus activities and security, as well as aspects of grading, admissions and even which courses professors teach. ... The Students League has also asserted control by sharing money with some school administrators through bid-rigging of campus contracts and various other illegal means, said a university administrator whom the group had threatened to kill.

An extraordinary achievement, or what? Unfortunately, America's empowered poobah doesn't seem quite empowered enough to get the country ready for the ballyhooed elections in January, after which we're promised that American forces can finally begin some serious withdrawing of their occupation forces down to an as-yet unspecified level of troops who will remain behind as, uh, occupation forces (albeit with a more PC description). Why, we hear tell that Maliki and the gang might even have to postpone the elections - which will doubtless "force" the occupiers to delay any meaningful pull-out, in order to provide "continuing stability in a time of political turmoil" or some such.

Bet you didn't see that one coming!
(c) 2009 Chris Floyd

Making a Mountain Out Of Dead Moles
By Case Wagenvoord

It looks like the sabers are rattling, again, over Iran's nuclear program. Now the great white powers have their knickers in a knot over a supposedly "secret" nuclear facility Iran is constructing near the city of Qom without informing the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Obama stood before the September meeting of the G-20 and solemnly declared that "Iran's decision to build yet another nuclear facility without notifying the IAEA represents a direct challenge to the basic compact at the center of the non-proliferation regime...Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow...and threatening the stability and security of the region and the world."

As always, when Iran comes up, the hype outstrips the reality by several light years. It's taken some pretty powerful hair splitting to come up with this one.

The plant will not be operational for eighteen months. The terms and conditions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) require signatories to report new facilities 180 days before the introduction of nuclear material.

Nor is the plant a complete surprise since western intelligence agencies have been aware that the plant was under construction since 2006.

So why the fuss?

Well, for one thing, Israel still thinks Iran is an "existential threat," even though the only thing Iran could threaten is Israel's nuclear monopoly in the Middle East.

Then there's the oil and the administration's naive belief that it can militarily control oil in the Middle East militarily. It's a fool's dream. It is said that in discussing military affairs, amateurs talk strategy while professionals talk logistics. One only has to look at a globe to see the length of the supply line we'd have to maintain and protect to keep a massive force supplied. It would be cheaper and burn a lost less fuel simply to fly a trade delegation over there to cut the best deal we could. This is what the Chinese are dong, and they're having better luck than we are.

The absurdity, here, is that Iran appears to have no interest in producing nuclear weapons. To date, their nuclear industry in only able to achieve five-percent enrichment of its nuclear material, which is acceptable under the NPT. Weapon-grade nuclear material must be enriched to 95 percent. This would require more and refigured centrifuges, and Iran couldn't do that without the IAEA finding out.

There are two other factors at play here. First, Iran is the last dying gasp of an Euromerican imperial wet dream that has been the guiding light of western policy for five-hundred years. Natives simply are not allowed to thumb their noses at their betters. If they do, they must be disciplined as children are. The problem is that the children can now kick ass, so it's not as easy as it use to be.

Throw into the mix the sting of imperial pique still felt by the United States over Iran's overthrow of their puppet, the Shah, coupled with the seizure of the American embassy, and it becomes clear why Obama is talking about no options being off the table.

Imperial nations dig their own graves. They become so blinded by power and hubris that they come eventually believe themselves invincible. This hubris peaks just before they go bankrupt. In the United States, factories are shutters, homes are foreclosed, people are homeless, children go to bed hungry, but our administration continues to pursue two unnecessary wars because it's the robust thing to do.

It's a deluded pantomime that would be amusing if it didn't leave so much suffering in its wake.
(c) 2009 Case Wagenvoord. Some years ago, Case Wagenvoord turned off the tube and picked up a book. He's been trouble ever since. His articles have been posted at The Smirking Chimp, Countercurrents and Issues & Alibis. When he's not writing or brooding, he is carving hardwood bowls that have been displayed in galleries and shows across the country. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two cats. His book, Open Letters to George W. Bush is available at

Figures Don't Lie, But Liars Figure
By Mike Folkerth

Good Morning all of you happy weekenders out there in reality land; your King of Simple News is on the air.

The Dow Jones Industrial average screamed past the 10,000 mark on the same day that home sales were announced as being up by more than 9.4%; a number not seen in 26 years! Banks set new profit records and manufacturing is up big time. Cap all of this with the news that employment numbers are showing a tremendous improvement. Wow, break out the good stuff and start up the band. What a relief. For a while there I thought this recession would go on forever.

Get out there and shop till you drop folks, burn up that plastic and take out another loan against your home to celebrate the holiday season and to commemorate our emergence from the grips of recession. At least, that's what the main stream news would have you believe and do; but here at the King of Simple News, I'm not buying any of it.

Did I tell you that the Dow screamed past the 10,000 mark in reverse to land back at 9972? Did I tell you that home sales are up more than any time in the past 26 years as a percentage gain compared to virtual free fall? And that home sales remain off by more than 23% as compared to 2006? Certainly I couldn't have forgotten to tell you that the bulk of these home sales were fostered by a government giveaway program of $8,000 for first time home buyers and that the remaining sales were primarily sales of foreclosed homes to speculators?

And without doubt I didn't forget to tell you that while the large banks made a ton of money gambling (not from loan production) that 106 banks have failed this year alone and many more are extremely weak? Did I mention that manufacturing is up, but is still contracting? In other words, manufacturing is getting worse slower.

Employment numbers show tremendous improvement alright, only 250,000 people lost their jobs as compared to 500,000. Just recently I wrote an article demonstrating, that should employment turn positive and 350,000 jobs were added each would take 8 years just to rehire those who have lost their jobs in this recession!

Those people who have lost their jobs are in, or approaching, depression. Just ask any of those who are on unemployment how many weeks of benefits that they have left. That is how far they are from depression.

I get so sick of hearing these outright fabricated lies perpetrated by our government damage control team and the mainstream media that I could puke. Perhaps I over utilize the following quote, but when the shoe fits.... "Torture numbers, and they'll confess to anything." _ Gregg Easterbrook. It's culinary accounting here folks; they're cookin' the books.

Many of the so-called "experts," cite the fact that we have no inflation as being good news. When a country has an oversupply of labor and manufacturing capacity, combined with a realistic total unemployment - underemployment rate of 17% (40 Million people), raising prices is hardly an option.

Instead, we are relying on government handouts, bailouts, unemployment benefits, food stamps, and a myriad of other social-safety-net programs to see us through to a time when the "Great Mystical Obama," can work his magic. That magic is being brought to you courtesy of a $1.75 TRILLION annual budget shortfall!!

We must realize that rather than attempt to raise prices to maintain their profit margins, companies continue to trim back workers and benefits. There is an end to amount of trimming that can be done before all of the fat is gone and we are down to the meat of the operation. And, there is an end to the amount of money that can be printed and doled out before hyper-stagflation becomes a reality in a neighborhood near all of us.

My point in being such a cynic is to encourage as many people as possible to see through the smoke and mirrors of the spin-doctors and to plot your own course of action. If you know the airplane lacks the fuel to arrive at the planned destination; don't board in the first place!
(c) 2009 Mike Folkerth is not your run-of-the-mill author of economics. Nor does he write in boring lecture style. Not even close. The former real estate broker, developer, private real estate fund manager, auctioneer, Alaskan bush pilot, restaurateur, U.S. Navy veteran, heavy equipment operator, taxi cab driver, fishing guide, horse packer...(I won't go on, it's embarrassing) writes from experience and plain common sense. He is the author of "The Biggest Lie Ever Believed."

The Quotable Quote...

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."
~~~ Abraham Lincoln

War Is A Hate Crime
By Chris Hedges

Violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is wrong. So is violence against people in Afghanistan and Iraq. But in the bizarre culture of identity politics, there are no alliances among the oppressed. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the first major federal civil rights law protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, passed last week, was attached to a $680-billion measure outlining the Pentagon's budget, which includes $130 billion for ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Democratic majority in Congress, under the cover of protecting some innocents, authorized massive acts of violence against other innocents.

It was a clever piece of marketing. It blunted debate about new funding for war. And behind the closed doors of the caucus rooms, the Democratic leadership told Blue Dog Democrats, who are squeamish about defending gays or lesbians from hate crimes, that they could justify the vote as support for the war. They told liberal Democrats, who are squeamish about unlimited funding for war, that they could defend the vote as a step forward in the battle for civil rights. Gender equality groups, by selfishly narrowing their concern to themselves, participated in the dirty game.

"Every thinking person wants to take a stand against hate crimes, but isn't war the most offensive of hate crimes?" asked Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who did not vote for the bill, when I spoke to him by phone. "To have people have to make a choice, or contemplate the hierarchy of hate crimes, is cynical. I don't vote to fund wars. If you are opposed to war, you don't vote to authorize or appropriate money. Congress, historically and constitutionally, has the power to fund or defund a war. The more Congress participates in authorizing spending for war, the more likely it is that we will be there for a long, long time. This reflects an even larger question. All the attention is paid to what President Obama is going to do right now with respect to Iraq and Afghanistan. The truth is the Democratic Congress could have ended the war when it took control just after 2006. We were given control of the Congress by the American people in November 2006 specifically to end the war. It did not happen. The funding continues. And while the attention is on the president, Congress clearly has the authority at any time to stop the funding. And yet it doesn't. Worse yet, it finds other ways to garner votes for bills that authorize funding for war. The spending juggernaut moves forward, a companion to the inconscient force of war itself."

The brutality of Matthew Shepard's killers, who beat him to death for being gay, is a product of a culture that glorifies violence and sadism. It is the product of a militarized culture. We have more police, prisons, inmates, spies, mercenaries, weapons and troops than any other nation on Earth. Our military, which swallows half of the federal budget, is enormously popular-as if it is not part of government. The military values of hyper-masculinity, blind obedience and violence are an electric current that run through reality television and trash-talk programs where contestants endure pain while they betray and manipulate those around them in a ruthless world of competition. Friendship and compassion are banished.

This hyper-masculinity is at the core of pornography with its fusion of violence and eroticism, as well as its physical and emotional degradation of women. It is an expression of the corporate state where human beings are reduced to commodities and companies have become proto-fascist enclaves devoted to maximziing profit. Militarism crushes the capacity for moral autonomy and difference. It isolates us from each other. It has its logical fruition in Abu Ghraib, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with our lack of compassion for our homeless, our poor, our mentally ill, our unemployed, our sick, and yes, our gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual citizens.

Klaus Theweleit in his two volumes entitled "Male Fantasies," which draw on the bitter alienation of demobilized veterans in Germany following the end of World War I, argues that a militarized culture attacks all that is culturally defined as the feminine, including love, gentleness, compassion and acceptance of difference. It sees any sexual ambiguity as a threat to male "hardness" and the clearly defined roles required by the militarized state. The continued support for our permanent war economy, the continued elevation of military values as the highest good, sustains the perverted ethic, rigid social roles and emotional numbness that Theweleit explored. It is a moral cancer that ensures there will be more Matthew Shepards.

Fascism, Theweleit argued, is not so much a form of government or a particular structuring of the economy or a system, but the creation of potent slogans and symbols that form a kind of psychic economy which places sexuality in the service of destruction. The "core of all fascist propaganda is a battle against everything that constitutes enjoyment and pleasure," Theweleit wrote. And our culture, while it disdains the name of fascism, embraces its dark ethic.

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, interviewed in 2003 by Charlie Rose, spoke in this sexualized language of violence to justify the war in Iraq, a moment preserved on YouTube (see video):

"What they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, and basically saying, 'Which part of this sentence don't you understand?' " Friedman said. " 'You don't think, you know we care about our open society, you think this bubble fantasy, we're just gonna let it grow? Well, suck on this.' That, Charlie, is what this war is about. We could have hit Saudi Arabia, it was part of that bubble. Could have hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could."

This is the kind of twisted logic the killers of Matthew Shepard would understand.

The philosopher Theodor Adorno wrote, in words gay activists should have heeded, that exclusive preoccupation with personal concerns and indifference to the suffering of others beyond the self-identified group made fascism and the Holocaust possible.

"The inability to identify with others was unquestionably the most important psychological condition for the fact that something like Auschwitz could have occurred in the midst of more or less civilized and innocent people," Adorno wrote. "What is called fellow traveling was primarily business interest: one pursues one's own advantage before all else, and simply not to endanger oneself, does not talk too much. That is a general law of the status quo. The silence under the terror was only its consequence. The coldness of the societal monad, the isolated competitor, was the precondition, as indifference to the fate of others, for the fact that only very few people reacted. The torturers know this, and they put it to test ever anew."
(c) 2009 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. His latest book is 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."

Welcome To 2025
American Preeminence Is Disappearing Fifteen Years Early
by Michael T. Klare

Memo to the CIA: You may not be prepared for time-travel, but welcome to 2025 anyway! Your rooms may be a little small, your ability to demand better accommodations may have gone out the window, and the amenities may not be to your taste, but get used to it. It's going to be your reality from now on.

Okay, now for the serious version of the above: In November 2008, the National Intelligence Council (NIC), an affiliate of the Central Intelligence Agency, issued the latest in a series of futuristic publications intended to guide the incoming Obama administration. Peering into its analytic crystal ball in a report entitled Global Trends 2025, it predicted that America's global preeminence would gradually disappear over the next 15 years -- in conjunction with the rise of new global powerhouses, especially China and India. The report examined many facets of the future strategic environment, but its most startling, and news-making, finding concerned the projected long-term erosion of American dominance and the emergence of new global competitors. "Although the United States is likely to remain the single most powerful actor [in 2025]," it stated definitively, the country's "relative strength -- even in the military realm -- will decline and U.S. leverage will become more constrained."

That, of course, was then; this -- some 11 months into the future -- is now and how things have changed. Futuristic predictions will just have to catch up to the fast-shifting realities of the present moment. Although published after the onset of the global economic meltdown was underway, the report was written before the crisis reached its full proportions and so emphasized that the decline of American power would be gradual, extending over the assessment's 15-year time horizon. But the economic crisis and attendant events have radically upset that timetable. As a result of the mammoth economic losses suffered by the United States over the past year and China's stunning economic recovery, the global power shift the report predicted has accelerated. For all practical purposes, 2025 is here already.

Many of the broad, down-the-road predictions made in Global Trends 2025 have, in fact, already come to pass. Brazil, Russia, India, and China -- collectively known as the BRIC countries -- are already playing far more assertive roles in global economic affairs, as the report predicted would happen in perhaps a decade or so. At the same time, the dominant global role once monopolized by the United States with a helping hand from the major Western industrial powers -- collectively known as the Group of 7 (G-7) -- has already faded away at a remarkable pace. Countries that once looked to the United States for guidance on major international issues are ignoring Washington's counsel and instead creating their own autonomous policy networks. The United States is becoming less inclined to deploy its military forces abroad as rival powers increase their own capabilities and non-state actors rely on "asymmetrical" means of attack to overcome the U.S. advantage in conventional firepower.

No one seems to be saying this out loud -- yet -- but let's put it bluntly: less than a year into the 15-year span of Global Trends 2025, the days of America's unquestioned global dominance have come to an end. It may take a decade or two (or three) before historians will be able to look back and say with assurance, "That was the moment when the United States ceased to be the planet's preeminent power and was forced to behave like another major player in a world of many competing great powers." The indications of this great transition, however, are there for those who care to look.

Six Way Stations on the Road to Ordinary Nationhood

Here is my list of six recent developments that indicate we are entering "2025" today. All six were in the news in the last few weeks, even if never collected in a single place. They (and other events like them) represent a pattern: the shape, in fact, of a new age in formation.

1. At the global economic summit in Pittsburgh on September 24th and 25th, the leaders of the major industrial powers, the G-7 (G-8 if you include Russia) agreed to turn over responsibility for oversight of the world economy to a larger, more inclusive Group of 20 (G-20), adding in China, India, Brazil, Turkey, and other developing nations. Although doubts have been raised about the ability of this larger group to exercise effective global leadership, there is no doubt that the move itself signaled a shift in the locus of world economic power from the West to the global East and South -- and with this shift, a seismic decline in America's economic preeminence has been registered.

"The G-20's true significance is not in the passing of a baton from the G-7/G-8 but from the G-1, the U.S.," Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University wrote in the Financial Times. "Even during the 33 years of the G-7 economic forum, the U.S. called the important economic shots." Declining American leadership over these last decades was obscured by the collapse of the Soviet Union and an early American lead in information technology, Sachs also noted, but there is now no mistaking the shifting of economic power from the United States to China and other rising economic dynamos.

2. According to news reports, America's economic rivals are conducting secret (and not-so-secret) meetings to explore a diminished role for the U.S. dollar -- fast losing its value -- in international trade. Until now, the use of the dollar as the international medium of exchange has given the United States a significant economic advantage: it can simply print dollars to meet its international obligations while other nations must convert their own currencies into dollars, often incurring significant added costs. Now, however, many major trading countries -- among them China, Russia, Japan, Brazil, and the Persian Gulf oil countries -- are considering the use of the Euro, or a "basket" of currencies, as a new medium of exchange. If adopted, such a plan would accelerate the dollar's precipitous fall in value and further erode American clout in international economic affairs.

One such discussion reportedly took place this summer at a summit meeting of the BRIC countries. Just a concept a year ago, when the very idea of BRIC was concocted by the chief economist at Goldman Sachs, the BRIC consortium became a flesh-and-blood reality this June when the leaders of the four countries held an inaugural meeting in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

The very fact that Brazil, Russia, India, and China chose to meet as a group was considered significant, as they jointly possess about 43% of the world's population and are expected to account for 33% of the world's gross domestic product by 2030 -- about as much as the United States and Western Europe will claim at that time. Although the BRIC leaders decided not to form a permanent body like the G-7 at this stage, they did agree to coordinate efforts to develop alternatives to the dollar and to reform the International Monetary Fund in such a way as to give non-Western countries a greater voice.

3. On the diplomatic front, Washington has been rebuffed by both Russia and China in its drive to line up support for increased international pressure on Iran to cease its nuclear enrichment program. One month after President Obama cancelled plans to deploy an anti-ballistic missile system in Eastern Europe in an apparent bid to secure Russian backing for a tougher stance toward Tehran, top Russian leaders are clearly indicating that they have no intention of endorsing strong new sanctions on Iran. "Threats, sanctions, and threats of pressure in the current situation, we are convinced, would be counterproductive," declared the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, following a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Moscow on October 13th. The following day, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said that the threat of sanctions was "premature." Given the political risks Obama took in canceling the missile program -- a step widely condemned by Republicans in Washington -- Moscow's quick dismissal of U.S. pleas for cooperation on the Iranian enrichment matter can only be interpreted as a further sign of waning American influence.

4. Exactly the same inference can be drawn from a high-level meeting in Beijing on October 15th between Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and Iran's first vice president, Mohammed Reza Rahimi. "The Sino-Iran relationship has witnessed rapid development as the two countries' leaders have had frequent exchanges, and cooperation in trade and energy has widened and deepened," Wen said at the Great Hall of the People. Coming at a time when the United States is engaged in a vigorous diplomatic drive to persuade China and Russia, among others, to reduce their trade ties with Iran as a prelude to toughened sanctions, the Chinese statement can only be considered a pointed rebuff of Washington.

5. From Washington's point of view, efforts to secure international support for the allied war effort in Afghanistan have also met with a strikingly disappointing response. In what can only be considered a trivial and begrudging vote of support for the U.S.-led war effort, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced on October 14th that Britain would add more troops to the British contingent in that country -- but only 500 more, and only if other European nations increase their own military involvement, something he undoubtedly knows is highly unlikely. So far, this tiny, provisional contingent represents the sum total of additional troops the Obama administration has been able to pry out of America's European allies, despite a sustained diplomatic drive to bolster the combined NATO force in Afghanistan. In other words, even America's most loyal and obsequious ally in Europe no longer appears willing to carry the burden for what is widely seen as yet another costly and debilitating American military adventure in the Greater Middle East.

6. Finally, in a move of striking symbolic significance, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) passed over Chicago (as well as Madrid and Tokyo) to pick Rio de Janeiro to be the host of the 2016 summer Olympics, the first time a South American nation was selected for the honor. Until the Olympic vote took place, Chicago was considered a strong contender, especially since former Chicago resident Barack Obama personally appeared in Copenhagen to lobby the IOC. Nonetheless, in a development that shocked the world, Chicago not only lost out, but was the city eliminated in the very first round of voting.

"Brazil went from a second-class country to a first-class country, and today we began to receive the respect we deserve," said Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva at a victory celebration in Copenhagen after the vote. "I could die now and it already would have been worth it." Few said so, but in the course of the Olympic decision-making process the U.S. was summarily and pointedly demoted from sole superpower to instant also-ran, a symbolic moment on a planet entering a new age.

On Being an Ordinary Country

These are only a few examples of recent developments which indicate, to this author, that the day of America's global preeminence has already come to an end, years before the American intelligence community expected. It's increasingly clear that other powers -- even our closest allies -- are increasingly pursuing independent foreign policies, no matter what pressure Washington tries to bring to bear.

Of course, none of this means that, for some time to come, the U.S. won't retain the world's largest economy and, in terms of sheer destructiveness, its most potent military force. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the strategic environment in which American leaders must make critical decisions, when it comes to the nation's vital national interests, has changed dramatically since the onset of the global economic crisis.

Even more important, President Obama and his senior advisers are, it seems, reluctantly beginning to reshape U.S. foreign policy with the new global reality in mind. This appears evident, for example, in the administration's decision to revisit U.S. strategy on Afghanistan.

It was only in March, after all, that the president embraced a new counterinsurgency-oriented strategy in that country, involving a buildup of U.S. boots on the ground and a commitment to protracted efforts to win hearts and minds in Afghan villages where the Taliban was resurgent. It was on this basis that he fired the incumbent Afghan War commander, General David D. McKiernan, replacing him with General Stanley A. McChrystal, considered a more vigorous proponent of counterinsurgency. When, however, McChrystal presented Obama with the price tag for the implementation of this strategy -- 40,000 to 80,000 additional troops (over and above the 20,000-odd extra troops only recently committed to the fight) -- many in the president's inner circle evidently blanched.

Not only will such a large deployment cost the U.S. treasury hundreds of billions of dollars it can ill afford, but the strains it is likely to place on the Army and Marine Corps are likely to be little short of unbearable after years of multiple tours and stress in Iraq. This price would be more tolerable, of course, if America's allies would take up more of the burden, but they are ever less willing to do so.

Undoubtedly, the leaders of Russia and China are not entirely unhappy to see the United States exhaust its financial and military resources in Afghanistan. Under these circumstances, it is hardly surprising that Vice President Joe Biden, among others, is calling for a new turn in U.S. policy, foregoing a counterinsurgency approach and opting instead for a less costly "counter-terrorism" strategy aimed, in part, at crushing Al Qaeda in Pakistan -- using drone aircraft and Special Forces, rather than large numbers of U.S. troops (while leaving troop levels in Afghanistan relatively unchanged).

It is too early to predict how the president's review of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan will play out, but the fact that he did not immediately embrace the McChrystal plan and has allowed Biden such free rein to argue his case suggests that he may be coming to recognize the folly of expanding America's military commitments abroad at a time when its global preeminence is waning.

One senses Obama's caution in other recent moves. Although he continues to insist that the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran is impermissible and that the use of force to prevent this remains an option, he has clearly moved to minimize the likelihood that this option -- which would also be plagued by recalcitrant "allies" -- will ever be employed.

On the other side of the coin, he has given fresh life to American diplomacy, seeking improved ties with Moscow and approving renewed diplomatic contact with such previously pariah states as Burma, Sudan, and Syria. This, too, reflects a reality of our changing world: that the holier-than-thou, bullying stance adopted by the Bush administration toward these and other countries for almost eight years rarely achieved anything. Think of it as an implicit acknowledgement that the U.S. is now descending from its status as the globe's "sole superpower" to that of an ordinary country. This, after all, is what ordinary countries do; they engage other countries in diplomatic discourse, whether they like their current governments or not.

So, welcome to the world of 2025. It doesn't look like the world of our recent past, when the United States stood head and shoulders above all other nations in stature, and it doesn't comport well with Washington's fantasies of global power since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. But it is reality.

For many Americans, the loss of that preeminence may be a source of discomfort, or even despair. On the other hand, don't forget the advantages to being an ordinary country like any other country: Nobody expects Canada, or France, or Italy to send another 40,000 troops to Afghanistan, on top of the 68,000 already there and the 120,000 still in Iraq. Nor does anyone expect those countries to spend $925 billion in taxpayer money to do so -- the current estimated cost of both wars, according to the National Priorities Project.

The question remains: How much longer will Washington feel that Americans can afford to subsidize a global role that includes garrisoning much of the planet and fighting distant wars in the name of global security, when the American economy is losing so much ground to its competitors? This is the dilemma President Obama and his advisers must confront in the altered world of 2025.
(c) 2009 Michael T. Klare is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and author of Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy (Owl Books). A documentary film version of his previous book, Blood and Oil, is available from the Media Education Foundation.

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Generaldirektor Blankfein,

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, Vidkun Quisling and last year's winner Volksjudge Clarence (slappy) Thomas.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution, your giving $10,000,000,000.00 in bonuses while you still owe many times that to the treasury which takes the spotlight off of us, Afghanistan, Pakistan and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Corpo-rat 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 diamonds clsters, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 10-31-2009. We salute you Herr Blankfein, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Benjamin Netanyahu's Definition Of "War Crimes"
By Glenn Greenwald

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded yesterday to the U.N. Report finding Israel guilty of war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity by pointing out that Hamas committed war crimes -- a fact nobody disputes but which doesn't exonerate Israel in any way. Netanyahu argued, accurately, that Hamas committed four types of war crimes, one of which is this: "they've been holding our captured soldier, Gilad Shalit, without access to the Red Cross, for three years."

So holding prisoners without providing access to the Red Cross is a "war crime"? Who knew?

The CIA quietly moved scores of detainees out of its own "black site" prisons in recent years and turned them over to foreign governments, refusing to provide the International Red Cross any information about their treatment or whereabouts, according to a report made public this week.

There is substantial reason to believe that these "ghost detainees" included some high-profile suspects, including Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a Libyan-born jihadist captured in Afghanistan whose claims about ties between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were prominently used by top Bush administration officials to justify the war in Iraq, according to human-rights activists who have closely followed the issue. Following the U.S. invasion, al-Libi recanted those claims, saying he fabricated his story about Iraq-Qaeda ties in order to get his interrogators to stop their abusive treatment of him. After his recantation became known in 2004, U.S. government officials dropped all public references to him and he was never heard from again -- even though he was once hailed as the U.S. military's first big "catch" after the 9/11 attacks.

When Red Cross officials later pressed for information about what happened to such "ghost" detainees, U.S. government officials insisted they were returned to their country of origin under assurances they would be given "humane" treatment, the report states. But the Red Cross was never given access to the detainees -- nor told anything about what happened to them after they were sent back. Nor were U.S. State Department officials given details of the transfers or details about the nature of the "assurances" of humane treatment provided by foreign intelligence services to the CIA, according to a former top Bush administration official who was aware of the transfers but who asked not to be publicly identified because the issue remains highly classified. "This issue has been hiding in plain sight -- but nobody has connected the dots," said the former official.

The Red Cross remains "gravely concerned" that a "significant number" of these prisoners may have been subjected to abusive treatment -- and that the organization "has not received any clarification of the fate of these persons," the report states.

So according to Netanyahu's own definition, the U.S. committed "war crimes" continuously and in numerous cases. We didn't merely imprison them secretly and without allowing Red Cross access -- a "war crime" by itself, according to the Israeli Prime Minister -- but we abused these disappeared prisoners to induce them to provide information to "justify" an aggressive war against Iraq, one that resulted in the deaths of at least 100,000 people, almost certainly many times that number. Robert Jackson, the lead prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, said in his Closing Argument of the case against the Nazis that "the central crime in this pattern of crimes" was not genocide or mass deportation or concentration camps; rather, "the kingpin which holds them all together, is the plot for aggressive wars."

Just looking at what Netanyhau said constitutes "war crimes," can anyone anywhere possibly doubt that the U.S. committed them -- gravely, deliberately and continuously? Does that matter at all? Isn't it so striking how we don't even bother with the pretense of caring about that, let alone imposing even symbolic consequences on those responsible?
(c) 2009 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.

Let Them Filibuster
By Mary Pitt

The Democrats are terribly worried about their ability to gain the sixty votes required for cloture in order to vote for passage of their health plan in the Senate. There are many of us, particularly on the Progressixe side who see the benefits of bringing the bill to the floor regardless of the pre-vote count and let the speeches begin!

The Republicans are griping that the discussions regarding the content of the bill have not been open and transparent as promised by Candidate Obama. Committees have had meetings and administration officials have consulted experts in closed door sessions. Now it is time for the "transparecy" for which they pine.

Those bills should be brought to the floor in the state prepared by the respective committees and then allow the floor debates to be aired on C-Span. The benefits for the American people will be enormous. There in all their splendor will stand various and assorted "statesmen" in the very act of speaking for the people of their own states and giving their reasons for the direction of their impending vote.

Allow all the seniors who have been told that their benfits would be threatened by the passage of these measures understand precisely what is in the proposed legislation. Let them know without a doubt that there is no provision for "unplugging Granny".

Allow the unemployed heads of household to watch C-Span as they attempt to pay the family bills with not quite enough money while they worry about the cough that awoke them during the night. They live daily with the fear of yet another doctor's bill which could cost them their home and require that they seek shelter elsewhere.

Allow the low-income worker who is suffering from an ache or an intermittant pain who dares not go to the doctor to have it checked out because of the high deductible required by his employer's decision to cut the coverage to save on expenses. These things may not generate enough pressure against the nay-sayers but it will certainly be remembered by the voters in each and every district next November.

Then let them stand before the final Court of the land. the people, whom they vowed to represent in the Halls of Congress and try to persuade them that the reasons they gave their fellow solons were for the good of the listeners. We have seen the Tea Baggers and the other manipulated minions of the Right with their prepared talking points. Now let the "public advocates" explain the facts to their fellow legislators and the angry voters why they should vote on their behalf rather than for the insurance companies who have filled the campaign coffers with all those lovely dollars.

"We, the people" have limited opportunity to make our needs felt and to offer direction to our representative to Congress. The next chance for us to speak with authority will be next year. Let us really witness the performance of those who were elected to represent us and then to determine whether they have done it properly or whether some changes need to be made. That decision will only be made easier if we are allowed to see their performance in their own arena.

Please, let them filibuster!
(c) 2009 Mary Pitt is a very "with-it" old lady who aspires to bring a bit of truth, justice, and common sense to a nation that has lost touch with its humanity in the search for societal "perfection." Huzzahs and whiney complaints may be sent to

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Bob Englehart ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Who Is Your God?
By Desert Rose









(c) 2009 Desert Rose ~ (English only version without Arab verses and replies)

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Landover Baptist University For The Saved Opens Halloween Hell Hospital!

Freehold, Iowa - Students at Landover Baptist University for the Saved will be presenting this year's Hell House in the Old Rocky Creek Sanatorium for Presumptuous Coloreds, an abandoned mental hospital off route 43, 20 miles east of Des Moines. Landover Baptist acquired the property 87 years ago and has been using it to store Pastor's enormous collection of antique luxury cars. "All of that has been moved out to make room for Hell Hospital," said Pastor Deacon Fred. "Unsaved folks from miles around will be lining up throughout October to pay the $75 admission fee for Healthscare. I believe it is the most frightening Hell House we've ever done."

Hell Hospital will give visitors a blood-curdling, authentic peek inside one of Obama's government-run hospitals. Visitors will line up and be seated inside Hell Hospital's filthy waiting room, which is the size of nearly two football fields. "This is REAL TERROR," says Pastor. "Visitors will wait for hours -- sometimes days! -- just like they'll wait in one of Obama's hospitals just to get a used Band-Aid. Lead paint will be peeling off the walls, cathode ray televisions will be spooling hours of PBS specials on the Obama family's clothing and eating habits, all while hundreds of Baptist University students painted to look like Mexicans wearing little pink ears and snouts mingle with the crowd, dancing around sombreros and coughing into the faces of white children, passing on swine flu and Chlamydia," Pastor continued. "It is a real rip-roaring production!"

After a wait that will seem longer than sitting around for the Second Coming, a big fat Demoncrat nurse will finally call your ticket number over the crackling loud speaker and shove you into one of Hell Hospital's four rooms, depending on what you look like. After you visit one of the rooms described below, you will be shuffled out quickly to hear the plan of salvation and meet with one of four Republican Prayer and "Pay For Your Own Damned Surgery!" commandos to sign a letter of spiritual commitment to Christ and financial commitment to Landover Baptist Church. The large community pool previously used to clean retards and now posing as a mandatory water abortion clinic will also double as baptismal pool.

A Peek Inside Hell House 2009: The Rooms of Obama's Hell Hospital:

Mandatory Abortion Clinic and Water Abortion Pool: Pregnant women and any female under the age of 21 wearing makeup or displaying a bare midriff or knee will visit Obama's Abortion Factory. Upon entering the room, they will be overcome with the vile stench of rotting fetuses, left dangling from rusty OB/GYN stirrups and dripping onto the filthy linoleum. As the gals move through the room on the Abortion Factory assembly line, into the darkness, they will hear a crunching sound under their feet. The lights will flash to reveal a floor covered with the skulls of little human babies! Just before the room is plunged back into darkness, the guests will see the enormous grinning white teeth of someone from across the room. Is it a linebacker in a black wig? No! It's negress, Michelle Obama, and as she drop-kicks a baby skull across the factory, she lets out a blood-curdling laugh and screams: "Bring on the next bitch!"

Geriatrics Euthanasia Mill: Located in Hell Hospital's basement, visitors over the age of 40 (and under the age of 40 with any disability) will witness an Obama Death Panel firsthand. They will enter a dark area and a spotlight will appear over a table where two men are seated in the center of the room. The light will then pan across the walls where visitors will see hundreds of elderly men and women chained to a damp wall and dressed in rags, with urine and other body fluids running down their emaciated, mottled legs.

As visitors approach the table at the center of the room, they will see that the two men are Obama Administration-appointed officials, illiterate black thugs hired through affirmative action, who demand to be called "His Highness Potentate Judge." One of the judges will announce, "Now, it time to be deciding which one of you white folks get you some medical cares!" The other judge will then pick up a sawed-off shotgun, which he points at the old people against the blood-speckled wall. Each time he says, "You ain't getting none!" he shoots the patient in the head. Visitors will be splattered with warm pig's blood that is forcefully jet-sprayed from behind the wall where the elderly patient was standing. Visitors will witness at least three shootings per session. Plastic ponchos are available in the Hell Hospital lobby for $75.

Sexual Reorientation Room: All children under the age of 21 without any disability will be taken directly to this room after the four-hour wait. They will witness patients being stripped of their clothes by wild, drunk dogs and prodded in the bottom by effeminate surgeons dressed in rubber, Roman Catholic priest outfits.

One priest will say, "I think we should use the taxpayer dollars to see what would happen if we attached a boy's penis to the back of a monkey's butt -- or, for convenience, the inside of the Pope's mouth!" A light will flash to show a dead monkey on an operating table with a erect penis crudely attached to its red rump. Then the Pope will appear in a mustard colored Hitler Youth blouse and a German beer garden wench's full, Bavarian skirt, making obscene sucking noises, before writhing and passing out in ecstasy on a pile of naked altar boys. As the Pope falls onto the boys, the visitors will see clearly that he isn't wearing undergarments.

Another doctor will say, "I think we should use the taxpayer dollars to see if we can turn a pretty little girl into one of those Rosie O'Donnell-type bull dykes." A light will flash to show a little girl sitting in a chair with her eyes being held open by tomboys with tweezers. She is watching "The Greta Van Susteren Story," a pornographic lesbian movie. When visitors move closer, they will see that an old nun is hungrily lapping at something between the young girl's legs.

The final doctor will announce: "I think we should use the taxpayer dollars to make every last person in Freehold, Iowa into a damned, penis-crazed homo! A light will shine onto a door in the back of the room where the Lord Jesus rushes into the room and hacks the doctors to pieces with a five-foot serrated machete made of gold and a rusty can-opener.

The Catch-All Sickness Room: Visitors who do not fit into any of the other categories will be shoved by a burly black nurse into a large sick room where they will witness dozens of ill and diseased patients, many in the country illegally, laying on the floor or slouched over wooden benches. Some patients will have open head wounds bleeding onto other patients; others will be moaning and screaming for green cards and medicine. The room will have very poor ventilation; the stink from feces and refried beans will be overwhelming.

After a moment, a spotlight will appear over a desk in front of the room where a doctor of African descent sits watching Oprah. He will call out a number and a patient will get up off the floor and crawl toward the doctor's desk made of precious stones. The doctor will ask them, "What be ailin' you muh brudda?" while not making eye contact with the patient. The war veteran patient will mumble something and the inattentive doctor will point to a giant bowl of assorted pills (some are aspirin, some Viagra, some anti-psychotics, but most are just Tic-Tacs) on the desk next to a jar of pickled pigs feet. Patients will pick a random pill and be given a glass of water, which is drawn from a clogged toilet with a ladle. Some will make it to the door; others will have seizures or start to attack other patients. The entire office will become a blood bath before visitors are walked out. As they leave, they will see the African doctor still sitting quietly at his desk, still watching Oprah and diddling something enormous under his smock.

Landover Baptist University for the Saved - Hell Hospital runs from September 27th through November 2nd. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster or by inquiring at any local fundamentalist Baptist church within a 200-square-mile radius of Des Moines.

Hell Hospital Tickets are not Exchangeable for Jerry Falwell's "Liberty University for the Saved's" - 2009 Baptist Scare You Into Heaven House! - Which covers the South Eastern region of the United States Only!
(c) 2009 The Landover Baptist Church

The Gross National Debt

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Issues & Alibis Vol 9 # 40 (c) 10/30/2009

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