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In This Edition

Naomi Klein with a must read on, "Geoengineering."

Uri Avnery considers a, "Drought In Texas."

Bruce A. Dixon wonders, "Is This Really The Most Important Election Ever? If So, Then Where Are Our Issues?"

Greg Palast reports, "UAW Files Charges Against Romney On His Auto Bail-Out Profiteering."

Jim Hightower outs, "Ryan & Romney's Dream For America."

Bill McKibben explains, "Why 'Frankenstorm' Is Just Right for Hurricane Sandy."

James Donahue asks, "Mind Control Technology - How Far Has It Gone?"

Chris Floyd says, "Welcome To The Age Of Hell."

Frank Scott reminds you to, "Vote The Greater Good, Not The Lesser Evil."

William Rivers Pitt looks into, "The Eye Of The Storm That Sees Us All."

Paul Krugman warns, "Medicaid On The Ballot."

David Swanson introduces Con-gressional candidate, "John Douglass."

Chris Hedges tells, "Why I'm Voting Green."

Rethuglican Senate candidate Richard Mourlock wins the coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

John Nichols finds, "Mitt Romney Is Just Not That Into Federal Disaster Relief."

Adam Keller explores, "Ammunition Hill And The Not Theoretical Occupation."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "God Distances Self From Christian Right" but first Uncle Ernie wonders, "So How Is That Denying Global Warming Thing Working Out For You?"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Daryl Cagle, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Derf City, Jacob Escobedo, The Weather Channel, Freaking News.Com, Meme GOP/Face Book, Michael ONeil, NY 1.Com, Warner Brothers Pictures, The Onion, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

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So How Is That Denying-Global-Warming Thing Working Out For You?
By Ernest Stewart

"The positive aspects of global warming appear to have been downplayed."
~~~ A UK House of Lords report on the science of Kyoto ~~~

"And yet: Republicans and Democrats fight hard over elections, and partisans on both sides certainly feel that there's a lot at stake. Are they nuts?" ~~~ Doug Mataconis

"I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And, I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen." ~~~ Richard Mourdock

If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day, go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.
~~~ Old Chinese proverb ~~~

A lot of folks are calling Hurricane Sandy a Frankenstorm; but that's not quite right; and the difference is the really scary part. Yes, Sandy was a monster -- as was Frankenstein's prodigy; but the resemblance should end there. Although Hollywood had the doctor make two monsters, Mary only made one; and there has already been two monster storms in the area in the last two years. While the Monster was a freak, Irene and Sandy aren't -- just the beginning of things to come!

One would have to be blind and deaf not to realize what is happening with Mother Nature. The old girl is starting to show her displeasure with our destruction of our life boat, Planet Earth. All the money in the world from the polluters is not going to be able to hide the truth for much longer. This record-breaking year is finally starting to sink in to the Sheeple's tiny little brains, and they're beginning to realize that their talking head pals on Fox Spews and the Corpo-rat News Network have been lying their asses off for quite some time for some big paychecks from big coal, gas, and nuclear. Sorry, Bozos; but you can't drive that gas hog SUV when it's underwater!

The truth is the rich are not suffering from global warming, nor will they for quite some time; it's the other 99% which are dying from Wall Street's greed. The rich got in their private jets and flew away from Sandy long before it closed the airports for the rest of us. They jetted away to another mansion, where it was sunny and pleasant -- while the poor folks all along the East Coast died or lost everything.

Meanwhile, back in New York, whole neighborhoods burned to the ground. All over the East Coast, rivers burst their banks and flooded everything downstream -- just like they did last year during Irene. And as they will again next year, and the year after that, and the year after that and the... get the picture?

From our week of 90 degree temperatures in Detroit and Chicago last March, to the hottest July ever recorded, to another "freak" Hurricane in New England, that wasn't so much a freak storm as it is turning into par for the course at this time of the year. Imagine what's going to happen when a Category Five storm like Katrina comes ashore in south Manhattan pushing a 40 foot wall of water all the way into Central Park, instead of a category one pushing a 13 foot wall of water which has done 10's of billions of dollars worth of damage already. Or even worse when the rest of the ice caps melt and the ocean permanently rises 30 feet! Even 600 miles away on Lake Huron we got 35 ft waves, higher than the ones in NY harbor and a 74 mile an hour wind, one mile shy of being a hurricane itself, just from the outer bands from this Category One!

Meanwhile, with all the various crop failures due to the drought and heat waves, who other than the rich will be able to afford to buy organic food, as those will be the only crops surviving. Since most corn, sugar beets, soya beans, rice and rape seed are GMO and are the staple crops of American farmers, what are you going to eat? Everywhere up and down the coast grocery stores sold out until the shelves were bare. What are you going to do when they sell out and there is no restocking for a week, or a month, or forever? What then? What happens when the lights go out and don't come back on for a week or a month or forever, what then? I'll tell you what then, you'll be rounded up and sent to a Happy Camp, is what then. How many black folks do you supposed disappeared into Happy Camps after Katrina and were never to be heard from again? They're already declaring Marshal Law in Pennsylvania! Get the picture, America?

In Other News

Well, this time next week we'll know who we're stuck with for the next four years, provided those old Mayans were wrong about 12-21-2012. If they were right, then whoever was selected to be our next Fuhrer won't matter, whether it's the War Criminal or the 1% Pirate; it certainly won't be who should have won for our sake, viz., Dr. Jill Stein. Dr. Stein is just what we needed to avoid Doomsday; but the Sheeple all have their panties in a bunch over either one of the corporate candidates, both sides assuring their followers that the other one is just the opposite of what we need to thrive when their isn't "a dimes worth of difference," between them.

I've been making a list of some of my "friends" on Facebook, i.e., the Romneybots and the Obamabots, both to check out their reactions come next Wednesday morning and also to remove them from my "friends" list as both groups are really too stupid to remain my friends. So I'll thin out the herd a bit, as I have done several times before, so I won't have to listen to their bullshit any more. Up until now it has been interesting in a professional social science sort of way, just to study the species; but their insanity of reality is hard to stand without strangling them, so it's ta ta, ya'll!

Yes, I've given up trying to rescue the Sheeple from the Matrix as it's a colossal waste of time. You can unhook them and pull them free; but 99 times out of 100 they'll run straight back and plug themselves in and roll over and go back to sleep. You'd think that the truth would set them free; but the truth is scary and all those big lies are comforting; and after a few centuries of American brainwashing, they're beyond rescue and hope -- at least as far as my abilities can reach.

Either way, come Wednesday morning we're going to be "SOL" and one step closer to our fate. There are, however, some things that can be done to mitigate our circumstances a bit. For example, in California we have a chance to begin the labeling of the poisons in our food if Prop 37 passes. California can be the start of the end of GMOs in our food so billions have been spent in commercials and bribes by the food companies and the poisoners that grow this garbage as they know, when we know, and can choose, those poison will disappear and they'll lose billions in profits when we know the score and they'll be forced to dump the poisons like a bad habit or go out of business!

In my home state of Michigan, there are 6 props that must be dealt with and my recommendation would be to vote no on #1 to take back our state from Emperor Snyder and his minions of morons. I'm voting yes on #2, #3, #4, #5 and #6 all of which are pro people, so billions more are being spent by our masters to keep us in our place and keep them going to the bank with the people's money. I have no faith that in either state the Sheeple will vote for what's good for all of us because some talking head on Fox Spews told a comforting lie to them and they bought it. Of course, I could be wrong and this could be the turning point where we take back our country and restore the old Republic and our Constitution and Bill of Rights and bring the criminals from the last five Juntas to trial and punishment but there is a better chance of being stuck repeatedly by lighting inside a bank vault than that happening, but we can but hope. Got any hope left, America?

And Finally

Are the Rethuglicans trying to commit suicide? That's a question I've been asking more and more frequently over the last two years. Whose bright idea was it to declare war on women? Since women make up more than half the population, why would you go out of your way to piss off the majority? Sure, there are a few Stepford wives-types that don't get it; but the vast majority do; ergo, there are some very pissed off ladies. And who could blame them?

The latest to open his cakehole and lose the ladies' vote is would be Indiana Senator Richard Mourdock. Richie thinks that rape is nothing to get your panties in a bunch about, ladies, as it's all in god's plan that they got raped. In case you missed it, god spoke up and says just the opposite in this weeks "Parting Shots" department!

This war must be approved and promoted by the RNC and as dumb as they are, they must be aware of what the consequences will be come November 6th with their "War on Women?" Even if this is their deep down feeling about the fairer sex, what would make you say it out loud, and then expect to get elected? I realize that most Rethuglicans are gay from Willard Romney on down to Ted Nugent; but when did gays start hating women? I'm guessing that out gays don't, just the ones that haven't come out of the closet yet, do?

Be that as it may, Mrs. Mourdock's boy Richard does and I guess the voters of Indiana do, too, as they are certainly a red state and a little to the right of Darth Vader! Sure it seems like suicide to me; but then again, I love women; and want to do everything I can to help them out to gain equality and independence from the likes of Richard! So it's not surprising that Richard won this weeks "Vidkun Quisling Award." I bet mama Mourdock would agree and will vote for Richard's opponent Joe Donnelly!

Keepin' On

I get these all the time, not only from Nation of Change but about a dozen other groups, as well:

"This week is Nation of Change's Fall Fundraiser and so far we're off to a slow start. We must raise $50,000 before next Wednesday in order to continue to examine, out, question, resist, fight, unite, and every other "verb" required to make meaningful impact."

$50 G's by next Wednesday, boy it must be nice! I have a year to raise slightly more than 10% of that amount and it's all that I can do, to raise it. On what they want for a quarter I could get by for 9 years, talk about more bang for your buck, America! And this is only typical, with most asking for twice that amount. This also speaks volumes of why they're doing what they're doing. Compare and contrast!

Be that as it may, I'm still $400 short of making our goal to keep publishing, which is mere "chump change" for some of you! So, if you think what we do is important, and to your family's advantage, please send us whatever you can, whenever you can; and in return we'll be here for you when it hits the fan while keeping you informed and entertained in the meantime!


05-31-1940 ~ 10-30-2012
Thanks for the visions!


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


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

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

Testing the Waters
By Naomi Klein

For almost 20 years, I've been spending time on a craggy stretch of British Columbia's shoreline called the Sunshine Coast. This summer, I had an experience that reminded me why I love this place, and why I chose to have a child in this sparsely populated part of the world.

It was 5 a.m. and my husband and I were up with our 3-week-old son. Looking out at the ocean, we spotted two towering, black dorsal fins: orcas, or killer whales. Then two more. We had never seen an orca on the coast, and never heard of their coming so close to shore. In our sleep-deprived state, it felt like a miracle, as if the baby had wakened us to make sure we didn't miss this rare visit.

The possibility that the sighting may have resulted from something less serendipitous did not occur to me until two weeks ago, when I read reports of a bizarre ocean experiment off the islands of Haida Gwaii, several hundred miles from where we spotted the orcas swimming.

There, an American entrepreneur named Russ George dumped 120 tons of iron dust off the hull of a rented fishing boat; the plan was to create an algae bloom that would sequester carbon and thereby combat climate change.

Mr. George is one of a growing number of would-be geoengineers who advocate high-risk, large-scale technical interventions that would fundamentally change the oceans and skies in order to reduce the effects of global warming. In addition to Mr. George's scheme to fertilize the ocean with iron, other geoengineering strategies under consideration include pumping sulfate aerosols into the upper atmosphere to imitate the cooling effects of a major volcanic eruption and "brightening" clouds so they reflect more of the sun's rays back to space.

The risks are huge. Ocean fertilization could trigger dead zones and toxic tides. And multiple simulations have predicted that mimicking the effects of a volcano would interfere with monsoons in Asia and Africa, potentially threatening water and food security for billions of people.

So far, these proposals have mostly served as fodder for computer models and scientific papers. But with Mr. George's ocean adventure, geoengineering has decisively escaped the laboratory. If Mr. George's account of the mission is to be believed, his actions created an algae bloom in an area half of the size of Massachusetts that attracted a huge array of aquatic life, including whales that could be "counted by the score."

When I read about the whales, I began to wonder: could it be that the orcas I saw were on their way to the all-you-can-eat seafood buffet that had descended on Mr. George's bloom? The possibility, unlikely though it is, provides a glimpse into one of the disturbing repercussions of geoengineering: once we start deliberately interfering with the earth's climate systems - whether by dimming the sun or fertilizing the seas - all natural events can begin to take on an unnatural tinge. An absence that might have seemed a cyclical change in migration patterns or a presence that felt like a miraculous gift suddenly feels sinister, as if all of nature were being manipulated behind the scenes.

Most news reports characterize Mr. George as a "rogue" geoengineer. But what concerns me, after researching the subject for two years for a forthcoming book on climate change, is that far more serious scientists, backed by far deeper pockets, appear poised to actively tamper with the complex and unpredictable natural systems that sustain life on earth - with huge potential for unintended consequences.

In 2010, the chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology recommended more research into geoengineering; the British government has begun to spend public money in the field.

Bill Gates has funneled millions of dollars into geoengineering research. And he has invested in a company, Intellectual Ventures, that is developing at least two geoengineering tools: the "StratoShield," a 19-mile-long hose suspended by helium balloons that would spew sun-blocking sulfur dioxide particles into the sky and a tool that can supposedly blunt the force of hurricanes.

THE appeal is easy to understand. Geoengineering offers the tantalizing promise of a climate change fix that would allow us to continue our resource-exhausting way of life, indefinitely. And then there is the fear. Every week seems to bring more terrifying climate news, from reports of ice sheets melting ahead of schedule to oceans acidifying far faster than expected. At the same time, climate change has fallen so far off the political agenda that it wasn't mentioned once during any of the three debates between the presidential candidates. Is it any wonder that many are pinning their hopes on a break-the-glass-in-case-of-emergency option that scientists have been cooking up in their labs?

But with rogue geoengineers on the loose, it is a good time to pause and ask, collectively, whether we want to go down the geoengineering road. Because the truth is that geoengineering is itself a rogue proposition. By definition, technologies that tamper with ocean and atmospheric chemistry affect everyone. Yet it is impossible to get anything like unanimous consent for these interventions. Nor could any such consent possibly be informed since we don't - and can't - know the full risks involved until these planet-altering technologies are actually deployed.

While the United Nations' climate negotiations proceed from the premise that countries must agree to a joint response to an inherently communal problem, geoengineering raises a very different prospect. For well under a billion dollars, a "coalition of the willing," a single country or even a wealthy individual could decide to take the climate into its own hands. Jim Thomas of the ETC Group, an environmental watchdog group, puts the problem like this: "Geoengineering says, 'we'll just do it, and you'll live with the effects.'"

The scariest thing about this proposition is that models suggest that many of the people who could well be most harmed by these technologies are already disproportionately vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Imagine this: North America decides to send sulfur into the stratosphere to reduce the intensity of the sun, in the hopes of saving its corn crops - despite the real possibility of triggering droughts in Asia and Africa. In short, geoengineering would give us (or some of us) the power to exile huge swaths of humanity to sacrifice zones with a virtual flip of the switch.

The geopolitical ramifications are chilling. Climate change is already making it hard to know whether events previously understood as "acts of God" (a freak heat wave in March or a Frankenstorm on Halloween) still belong in that category. But if we start tinkering with the earth's thermostat - deliberately turning our oceans murky green to soak up carbon and bleaching the skies hazy white to deflect the sun - we take our influence to a new level. A drought in India will come to be seen - accurately or not - as a result of a conscious decision by engineers on the other side of the planet. What was once bad luck could come to be seen as a malevolent plot or an imperialist attack.

There will be other visceral, life-changing consequences. A study published this spring in Geophysical Research Letters found that if we inject sulfur aerosols into the stratosphere in order to dial down the sun, the sky would not only become whiter and significantly brighter, but we would also be treated to more intense, "volcanic" sunsets. But what kind of relationships can we expect to have with those hyper-real skies? Would they fill us with awe - or with vague unease? Would we feel the same when beautiful wild creatures cross our paths unexpectedly, as happened to my family this summer? In a popular book on climate change, Bill McKibben warned that we face "The End of Nature." In the age of geoengineering, we might find ourselves confronting the end of miracles, too.

Mr. George and his ocean-altering experiment provides an opportunity for public debate about an issue essentially absent during the election cycle: What are the real solutions to climate change? Wouldn't it be better to change our behavior - to reduce our use of fossil fuels - before we begin fiddling with the planet's basic life-support systems?

Unless we change course, we can expect to hear many more reports about sun-shielders and ocean fiddlers like Mr. George, whose iron dumping exploit did more than test a thesis about ocean fertilization: it also tested the waters for future geoengineering experiments. And judging by the muted response so far, the results of Mr. George's test are clear: geoengineers proceed, caution be damned.
(c) 2012 Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist and syndicated columnist and the author of the international and New York Times bestseller, "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism." To read all her latest writing visit You can follow her on Twitter: @NaomiAKlein.

Drought In Texas
By Uri Avnery

EVERYBODY IN Israel knows this story. When Levy Eshkol was Prime Minister, his assistants rushed up to him in panic: "Levy, there is a drought!"

"In Texas?" Eshkol asked anxiously.

"No, in Israel!" they said.

"Then it doesn't matter," Eshkol assured them. "We can always get all the wheat we need from the Americans." That was some 50 years ago. Since than, nothing much has changed. The elections in the US in 11 days are more important to us than our own elections in three months.

I HAD to stay awake till 3 am again to watch the final presidential debate live. I was afraid that I would doze off, but I did not. On the contrary.

When two chess players are engaged in a game, there is often a person - we call him a "kibitzer" - standing behind one of them, trying to give him unsolicited advice. During the debates, I do the same. In my imagination, I stand behind Barack Obama and think about the right answer to Romney, before Obama himself opens his mouth.

I must admit that on some occasions during this debate, his answers were much better than mine. For example, I did not think up a stinging reply to Romney's contention that the US now has less warships then it had a hundred years ago. Obama's dry reply - that the US army now has fewer horses, too - was sheer genius. The more so since he could not have prepared it. Who could have foreseen such a dumb remark?

Also, when Romney slammed Obama for skipping Israel on his first Middle East tour as president. How to counter such a factual challenge - especially with thousands of Jewish pensioners in Florida listening to every word?

Obama hit the right note. Remarking that Romney had visited with an entourage of donors and fund-raisers (without naming Sheldon Adelson and the other Jewish donors), he reminded us that as a candidate he went instead to Yad Vashem, to see for himself the evil done to the Jews. Touche.

On a few occasions, I thought I had a better answer. For example, when Romney tried to explain away his comment that Russia was the most important "geo-political foe" of the US, I would have reacted with "Excuse my ignorance, governor, but what does 'geo-political' mean?" In his context, it was a highfalutin but meaningless phrase. ("Geo-politics" is not just a juxtaposition of geography and politics. It is a world-view propagated by the German professor Hans Haushofer and others and adopted by Adolf Hitler as a rationale for his plan to create Lebensraum for Germans by annihilating or driving out the population of Eastern Europe.)

I would have talked much more about the wars, Nixon's Vietnam, the two Bushes' Iraq, the second Bush's Afghanistan. I noticed that Obama did not mention that he had been against the Iraq war right from the beginning. He must have been advised not to.

ONE DID not have to be an expert to notice that Romney did not present original ideas of his own. He parroted Obama's positions, changing a few words here and there.

Earlier in the campaign, during the primaries, it did not look like that. Clamoring for the votes of the right-wing base, he was about to bomb Iran, provoke China, battle Islamists of all shades, perhaps resurrect Osama Bin Laden in order to kill him again. Nothing of the sort this time. Only a meek "I agree with the President."

Why? Because he was told that the American people had had enough of the Bush Wars. They don't want any more. Not in Afghanistan, and certainly not in Iran. Wars cost a lot of money. And people even get killed.

Perhaps Romney decided in advance that it was enough for him to avoid looking like an ignoramus on foreign affairs, since the main battleground was in the economic sphere, where he can hope to look more convincing than Obama. So he played it safe. "I agree with the President..."

THE WHOLE concept of a presidential debate on foreign affairs is, of course, nonsensical. World affairs are far too complicated, the nuances far too subtle, to be dealt with in this rough way. It would be like performing a kidney operation with an ax.

One could easily get the impression that the world is an American golf course, in which the US can knock the peoples around like balls, and the only question is which player has the more skill and selects the best club. The will of the peoples themselves is quite irrelevant. What are the feelings of the Chinese, the Pakistanis, the Egyptians? Who cares?!

I am not sure that most of the American viewers could find Tunis on the map. So it makes no sense to argue about the forces at work there, make distinctions between Salafists and Muslim Brothers, preferring these or those. All in four minutes.

For Romney, obviously, all Muslims are the same. Islamophobia is the order of the day, and Romney openly pandered to it. As I have pointed out before, Islamophobia is nothing but the fashionable modern cousin of good old anti-Semitism, seeping from the same sewers of the collective unconscious, exploiting the same old prejudices, transferring to the Muslims all the hatred once directed towards the Jews.

Many Jews, of course, especially the elderly in the nursing homes in warm Florida, are relieved to see the Goyim turn on other victims. And since the new victims happen also to be the foes of beloved Israel, all the better. Romney clearly believed that pouring his bile on "Islamists" was the easiest way to garner Jewish votes.

Trying hard to look tougher than Obama, Romney did, after all, come up with an original idea: provide the Syrian insurgents with "heavy arms". What does that mean? Artillery? Drones? Missiles? And if so, to whom? To the Good Guys, of course. And take care that they do not fall into the hands of the Bad Guys.

What a brilliant idea. But please, who are the Good Guys and who the Baddies? Nobody else seems to know. Least of all the CIA or the Mossad. Dozens of Syrian factions are at work - regional, confessional, ideological. All want to kill Assad. So who will get the cannons?

All this made any serious discussion about the Middle East, now a region of infinite variations and nuances, quite impossible. Obama, who knows a lot more about our problems than his adversary, found it wise to play the simpleton and utter nothing but the most fatuous platitudes. Anything else - for example a plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace, God forbid, could have offended the dear inhabitants of the one old people's home which may change the outcome in Florida.

ANY SERIOUS Arab or Israeli should have been insulted by the way our region was treated in this debate by the two men, one of whom will soon be our lord and master.

Israel was mentioned in the debate 34 times - 33 times more than Europe, 30 times more than Latin America, five times more than Afghanistan, four times more than China. Only Iran was mentioned more often - 45 times - but in the context of the danger it poses to Israel.

Israel is our most important ally in the region (or in the world?) We shall defend it to the hilt. We shall provide it with all the arms it needs (plus those it doesn't need).

Wonderful. Just wonderful. But which Israel, exactly? The Israel of the endless occupation? Of the unlimited expansion of settlements? Of the total denial of Palestinian rights? Of the rain of new anti-democratic laws?

Or a different, liberal and democratic Israel, an Israel of equality for all its citizens, an Israel that pursues peace and recognizes Palestinian statehood?

But not only what was parroted was interesting, but also what was left unsaid. No automatic backing of an Israeli attack on Iran. No war on Iran at all, until hell freezes over. No repetition of Romney's earlier declaration that he would move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. No pardon for the Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard.

And, most importantly: no effort at all to use the immense potential power of the US and its European allies to bring about Israel-Palestine peace, by imposing the Two-State solution that everybody agrees is the only viable settlement. No mention of the Arab peace initiative still offered by 23 Arab countries, Islamists and all.

China, the new emerging world power, was treated with something close to disdain. They must be told how to behave. They must do this or that, stop manipulating their currency, send the jobs back to America.

But why should the Chinese take any notice when China controls the US national debt? No matter, they'll have to do what America wants. Washington locuta, causa finita. ("Rome has spoken, the case is closed," as Catholics used to say, way back before the sex scandals.)

UNSERIOUS AS the debate was, it showed up a very serious problem.

The French used to say that war is too serious to leave to the generals. World politics are certainly too serious to leave to the politicians. Politicians are elected by the people - and the people have no idea.

It was obvious that both contenders avoided any specifics that would have demanded even the slightest knowledge from the listeners. 1.5 billion plus Muslims were considered to fall into just two categories - "moderates" and "Islamists". Israel is one bloc, no differentiation. What do viewers know about 3000 years of Persian civilization? True, Romney knew - rather surprisingly - what or where Mali is. Most viewers surely didn't.

Yet these very same viewers must now finally decide who will be the leader of the world's greatest military power, with a huge impact on everyone else.

Winston Churchill memorably described democracy as "the worst form of government, except for all the other forms that have been tried from time to time."

This debate could serve as evidence.
(c) 2012 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Is This Really The Most Important Election Ever? If So, Then Where Are Our Issues?
By Bruce A. Dixon

This is the most important election ever, black America is told every two and four years. That's probably true if one's own status and political legitimacy are on the line, and for the black political class that's really what this election is all about. It's about their legitimacy. It's about their perks and set-asides, their TV shows and the government grants to their ministries. It's about their careers, and those of their hangers on and aspirants.

This election is not about black unemployment, officially at 14%, actually double that, and in the inner cities of Atlanta, Chicago and like places closer to 50% of young men including ex-prisoners, because no Democrat running at any level proposes to address that. This election is not about black wealth, although the foreclosure epidemic drove the average black family's wealth down to a twentieth, as opposed to a tenth of that possessed by the average white family, because no Democrat running wants to talk about that either.

This election is not about black child poverty, which is the highest it's been since Lyndon Johnson declared a war on poverty nearly fifty years ago, and it's certainly not about rolling back the prison state or reconsidering the drug war because no Democrat wants to talk about any of that either.

This election is not about pursuing a binding climate change treaty, about reining in Big Oil and Big Energy, who are determined to keep on doing what they're doing despite the glaciers and icecaps from Tibet to Greenland, from the Andes to Alaska melting, despite advancing deserts, record storms every year and climate change that could threaten billions of lives worldwide. While Democrats on the stump will admit humans have begun to hideously alter the global climate, Democrats in power DO nothing to slow it down.

This most-important-ever election for black America is not about ending military aid to 53 out of 54 African countries (every one except Eritrea) or cutting off our proxy armies that have killed six million Congolese since 1996. It's not about ceasing to blow up Afghan and Somali and Yemeni and Pakistani children and bystanders into pink mist with robot drones, and it's certainly not about withdrawing our support for apartheid Israel. Our elected Democrats endorse those things just as heartily as Republicans.

This election is not about justice for immigrants. Republicans talk the meaner game, but Barack Obama actually deported more than a million people in his first three years, more than all recent Republicans combined. This election is not about halting the privatization of education, because Romney and Obama agree on that too.

It might be the most important election ever for the black political class, but it's not the least bit about beginning to halt the wave of gentrification that decimates black communities everywhere, or making a start at rolling back the prison state, granting full citizenship rights to and ending discrimination against former prisoners, or even ceasing the incarceration of juveniles with adults. It's not about ending or even slowing down the futile, hypocritical and racist war on drugs.

This election is not even about who will be on the US Supreme Court the next twenty years. The last time a defense lawyer made the Supreme Court was Thurgood Marshall. While on the Senate Judiciary Committee Senator Barack Obama declined to ask nominees Scalia or Roberts about their affiliation with the Federalist Society or query them on any of its radical beliefs like the "takings doctrine." Obama's own nominees, while demographically correct, have moved the court rightward, not leftward in the opinion of many legal scholars.

The election is certainly not about punishing Wall Street for having crashed the economy, or keeping them from repeating their crime in the near future --- Republicans and Democrats alike agree that banksters deserve their bailout while homeowners, credit card debtors and student borrowers deserve to drown.

So for black people, where are our dogs in this race? Voting Republican is out of the question, that's like chickens lining up for Popeye's. If you believe that your vote IS your voice, voting for Democrats who murder civilians, who allow the banks to plunder the economy, who won't address unemployment and want to privatize education and everything in sight is a similar kind of volunteered slavery.

All the talk about "strategic voting" and "safe states" is, for black people, subtrefuge to justify the irrationality, the foolishness of casting your own vote against your own survival. If our votes are our voices, it's time to use those for our own good.

For my own part, I will be voting for Jill Stein, the Green Party's candidate, and Cheri Honkala. These are people unafraid to declare the drug war must be ended, and a WPA-style Green Jobs -Green New Deal program initiated, that we have to bring the troops home and cease supporting apartheid Israel. Stein and Honkala are white, of course. But their politics, by the measure of Martin Luther King at least, are blacker than Barack Obama's have ever been.

The object of present day black politics is preserving their perks and positions as "representatives" of the rest of us, while offering their services as black meat puppets for Wall Street, for privatizers, for Big Ag, Big Oil, Big Real Estate, military contractors and the rest.

The current black political class, and its array of candidates from the president down do not believe in social justice. There are big problems, but they fear big and truthful answers. They don't want to roll back the prison state. They just want to stick around awhile longer. They want to be on TV and collect honorariums. They don't know how to address joblessness or gentrification. That's your issue. They just know how to get paid.
(c) 2012 Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, a state committee member of the GA Green Party, and a partner in a technology firm. He lives and works in Marietta GA, and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)

UAW Files Charges Against Romney On His Auto Bail-Out Profiteering
Broke ethics law hiding millions, say good government groups
By Greg Palast

For Mitt Romney, it's one scary Halloween. The Presidential candidate has just learned that tomorrow afternoon he will charged with violating the federal Ethics in Government law by improperly concealing his multi-million dollar windfall from the auto industry bail-out.

At a press conference in Toledo, Bob King, President of the United Automobile Workers, will announce that his union and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) have filed a formal complaint with the US Office of Government Ethics in Washington stating that Gov. Romney improperly hid a profit of $15.3 million to $115.0 million in Ann Romney's so-called "blind" trust.

The union chief says, "The American people have a right to know about Gov. Romney's potential conflicts of interest, such as the profits his family made from the auto rescue," "It's time for Gov. Romney to disclose or divest."

"While Romney was opposing the rescue of one of the nation's most important manufacturing sectors, he was building his fortunes with his Delphi investor group, making his fortunes off the misfortunes of others," King added.

The Romneys' gigantic windfall was hidden inside an offshore corporation inside a Limited Partnership inside a trust which both concealed the gain and reduces taxes on it.

The Romneys' windfall was originally exposed in Nation Magazine, Mitt Romney's Bail-out Bonanza after a worldwide investigation by our crew at The Guardian, the Nation Institute and the Palast Investigative Fund. [Ed. - The full story of Romney and his "vulture fund" partners is in Palast's New York Times bestseller, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits.]

According to ethics law expert Dan Curry who drafted the ethics complaint, Ann Romney does not have a federally-approved blind trust. An approved "blind" trust may not be used to hide a major investment which could be affected by Romney if he were to be elected President. Other groups joining the UAW and CREW include Public Citizen, the Service Employees International Union, Public Campaign, People for the American Way and The Social Equity Group.

President Obama's approved trust, for example, contains only highly-diversified mutual funds on which Presidential action can have little effect. By contrast, the auto bail-out provided a windfall of over 4,000% on one single Romney investment.

In 2009, Ann Romney partnered with her husband's key donor, billionaire Paul Singer, who secretly bought a controlling interest in Delphi Auto, the former GM auto parts division. Singer's hedge fund, Elliott Management, threatened to cut off GM's supply of steering columns unless GM and the government's TARP auto bail-out fund provided Delphi with huge payments. While the US treasury complained this was "extortion," the hedge funds received, ultimately, $12.9 billion in taxpayer subsidies.

As a result, the shares Singer and Romney bought for just 67 cents are today worth over $30, a 4,000% gain. Singer's hedge fund made a profit of $1.27 billion and the Romney's tens of millions.

The UAW complaint calls for Romney to reveal exactly how much he made off Delphi -- and continues to make. The Singer syndicate, once in control of Delphi, eliminated every single UAW job --25,000-- and moved almost all auto parts production to Mexico and China where Delphi now employs 25,000 auto parts workers.
(c) 2012 Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy." His investigations for BBC TV and Democracy Now! can be seen by subscribing to 's reports at. Greg will be providing investigative reports for

Ryan & Romney's Dream For America

Poor Mitt Romney. To dodge the tax payments he owes to America, the multimillionaire has for years stashed piles of his annual income in such secret offshore hideaways as Swiss bank accounts and the Cayman Islands. This has been very, very good for his personal fortune, but it's been very, very bad for his public political image.

This internal conflict might explain why Romney chose Paul Ryan to be his running mate. Ryan bills himself as a big, big, BIG thinker, and last year he came out with a really big thought that must've touched Mitt's heart, for it offered a happy solution to Romney's tax shelter dilemma. In a magazine interview, Ryan complained about offshore shelters - not because they are tax dodges, but because they're offshore. His solution? "Let's make this country a tax shelter," he bubbled!

How's that for a big idea? Ryan proposes to make America as small and deceitful as the Caymans, a safe harbor where the ultra-wealthy of the world can hide their loot from public need. Yes, this would still leave Mitt a tax dodger, but, by gollies, at least he'd be doing his dodging right here in the USA!

With such a novel, plutocratic twist on "patriotism," I'd say ideas are not the only thing Ryan is full of. In fact, the USA is already closer to Ryan's perverse vision than even he realizes. While U.S. corporations face a 35 percent tax rate, loopholes let them pay an average of only 13.4 percent - one of the developed world's lowest. Also, look at tiny Delaware: With practically zero state regulation of corporate entities, it has become the legal "home" of more anonymous corporations than any other place in the world. So, say Mitt and Paul, "Let's turn all of America into Delaware - a tax dodger's dream world." Now, wouldn't that make the Founders bust their buttons in pride?
(c) 2012 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

Why 'Frankenstorm' Is Just Right for Hurricane Sandy
By Bill McKibben

Watching Sandy on her careening path toward the Eastern Seaboard scares me more than it would have 15 months ago. That's because my home state took the brunt of Irene, last year's "sprawling," "surly," "record-breaking" Atlantic storm. I know now exactly how much power a warm sea can contain and how far that pain can spread.

And in the process, feeling that fear, I begin to sense what the future may be like, as more and more of the world finds itself facing ever-more-frequent assaults from the amped-up forces of the not-so-natural world.

You can't, as the climate-change deniers love to say, blame any particular hurricane on global warming. They're born, as they always have been, when a tropical wave launches off the African coast and heads out into the open ocean. But when that ocean is hot-and at the moment sea surface temperatures off the Northeast are five degrees higher than normal-a storm like Sandy can lurch north longer and stronger, drawing huge quantities of moisture into its clouds, and then dumping them ashore.

Last year that dumping happened across Vermont. In some places we broke absolutely every rainfall record. It turned our streams and rivers into cataracts that took out 500 miles of state highway. A dozen towns were left completely cut off from the rest of the world, relying on helicopters to drop food. I know the odds are slim that we'll find ourselves in the bull's-eye again. But someone will.

This time the great damage may be along the coast. Even as we've built up our coastal populations, sea level has begun to climb. There are already cities along the coast that flood easily at the month's high tide. This storm may hit when the moon is full, and it may dump so much rain that the water will be coming from both directions. Or maybe across the Appalachian highlands will be where it does its biggest damage, mixing with an inland storm front to dump snow on forests still in leaf. But someplace is going to take it on the chin, maybe harder than it ever has before.

And that's the world we live in now. James Hansen, the NASA climatologist, published a paper earlier this year showing how the seemingly small one degree we've already warmed the earth has made extreme weather far more likely. The insurance industry has published a series of warnings in recent years saying the same thing. The world grows steadily more unpredictable, and hence we grow less comfortable in it.

You see the same thing on much smaller scales. In Vermont this fall we had our first deaths ever from Eastern equine encephalitis, a mosquito-borne disease that the experts had predicted would come with a warming climate. They were right, and now when you go out to weed the garden, the dusk carries with it a slight whiff of apprehension it never did before.

Our relationship to the world around us is shifting as fast as that world is shifting. "Frankenstorm" is the right name for Sandy, and indeed for many other storms and droughts and heat waves now. They're stitched together from some spooky combination of the natural and the unnatural. Some state will doubtless bear the brunt of this particular monster, but it also will do its damage to everyone's state of mind.
(c) 2012 Bill Mckibben is the Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College and co-founder of His most recent book is Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.

Mind Control Technology - How Far Has It Gone?
By James Donahue

Scientists have been delving into the brains of both animals and humans for nearly half a century with thoughts of implanting "chips" designed to repair mental illness, deafness, the effects of stroke, dementia and even Alzheimer's. And they have had some interesting success.

A recent article in the Journal of Neural Engineering tells of how researchers at the University of Southern California and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have successfully developed a brain chip that appears to improve memory and decision-making in monkeys. The chip also seems to repair brain damage, or at least help the brain by-pass damaged cells and find new pathways to restore memory and cognizance.

Cochlear implants introduced in the 1980s have actually helped deaf people to "hear" via the telephone.

Yale University neuroscientist Jose Delgado, who has spent a career researching the science of brain control, has successfully used radio-equipped electrodes or "stimoceivers" implanted in the brain to alter the behavior of cats and monkeys and even induce sensations of euphoria, sexual arousal, sleepiness and rage in humans. In 1964 he used this technology to publically control a raging bull in a Spanish bullring.

But Delgado, whose work also received financial support from the military, had what many might conceive as a dark motive behind his research. In his book, Physical Control of the Mind: Toward a Psychyocivilized Society, published in 1969, he promoted the use of brain-stimulation to curb violent aggression and other social behaviors.

Delgado gave the following testimony before Congress in 1974: "We need a program of psychosurgery for political control of our society. The purpose is physical control of the mind. Everyone who deviates from the given norm can be surgically mutilated.

"The individual may think that the most important reality is his own existence, but this is only his personal point of view. This lacks historical perspective. Man does not have the right to develop his own mind. This kind of liberal orientation has great appeal. We must electrically control the brain. Someday armies and generals will be controlled by electric stimulation of the brain."

Has that day arrived? Can this explain the almost irrational behavior occurring among so many people packed in this overcrowded and polluted world? Why can't we collectively work to improve our environment and our political leadership? Why must we be constantly at war with other nations for no logical reason? Have billions of people been secretly implanted with microchips that are electronically controlling their thoughts and behavior? And if this is so, who or what organization is working behind to curtain to push the buttons? The Finnish journal Spekula published a report in 1999 by Dr. Rauni-Leena Luukanen-Kilde that warned that scientists not only had developed the technology, but were using it in the United States and Sweden, without the knowledge of the people.

"In the 50's and 60's, electrical implants were inserted into the brains of animals and humans, especially in the U.S., during research into behavior modification and brain and body functioning. Mind control methods were used in attempt to change human behavior and attitudes. Influencing brain functions became an important goal of military and intelligence services," the story said.

It went on to say: "Thirty years ago brain implants showed up in X-rays the size of one centimeter. Subsequent implants shrunk to the size of a grain of rice. They were made of silicon, later still of gallium arsenide. Today they are small enough to be inserted into the neck or back, and also intravenously in different parts of the body using surgical operations, with or without the consent of the subject. It is now almost impossible to detect or remove them.

"It is technically possible for every newborn to be injected with a micro-chip, which could then function to identify the person for the rest of his or her life. Such plans are secretly being discussed in the U. S. without any public airing of the privacy issues involved," the Spekula story stated.

This story was published in 1999, just over 13 years ago. How far have military and government "leaders" allowed this weapon against human freedom of thought and action to go since that date?

The military classifies mind control technology among its non-lethal weapons. Any person who becomes classified as a threat to national security can be targeted. And with micro-chips now shrunken to extremes via the new science of nanotechnology, who can say that such chips are not injected into our systems when we get winter flu vaccinations, when hospitalized and submit to surgical or even get hooked up to the ever-present bag of fluids flowing into our veins?

All children in the United States are required to receive a series of vaccinations against basic life-threatening diseases before they are allowed to enter school.

It would not take long for the entire population to be secretly implanted with these sinister chips that serve to keep society under the thumb of any agency that seeks to control it.

While scientific journals insist that the human brain has been found to be too complex to control by a simple electronic impulse shot into an implanted chip, the Delgado experiments with animals and his testimony before Congress as early as 1974 suggest that the technology may even then have been perfected.

Conspiracy buffs might perceive this as the biggest threat to humanity and the most sinister plot to enslave the human race ever devised.
(c) 2012 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site

Welcome To The Age Of Hell
Entrenching Murder as the American Way
By Chris Floyd

The Washington Post has just laid out, in horrifying, soul-slaughtering detail, the Obama Administration's ongoing effort to expand, entrench and "codify" the practice of murder and terrorism by the United States government. The avowed, deliberate intent of these sinister machinations is to embed the use of death squads and drone terror attacks into the policy apparatus of future administrations, so that the killing of human beings outside all pretense of legal process will go on, year after year after year, even when the Nobel Peace Laureate has left office.

They have even come up with a new euphemism for state murder: "disposition." The new "counterterrorism matrix" is "designed to go beyond existing kill lists, mapping plans for the 'disposition' of suspects beyond the reach of American drones," the Post reports.

In other words, it involves expanding and varying the menu of arbitrary murder, mixing the blunderbuss of drone blasts and night raids with more selective "bullet-in-the-brain," "bomb-in-the-car-engine," "polonium-in-the-pea-soup," and "doping-and-defenestration" approaches. Arbitrary murder by unaccountable elites and their spies, paid for by money taken from ordinary citizens who have no say in and no knowledge of what is being done in their names (and who will be the victims of the inevitable blowback from the state terror and murder campaign): this is now being "codified," officially, formally, as the American way.

To be fair -- and by all means, let us be fair with these butchers -- the term 'disposition' is also stretched to cover a multitude of sins: kidnapping, rendition, indefinite detention, turning captives over to proxy torturers. But it is worth remembering that all of these dispositions -- including the murders, wholesale and retail -- involve "alleged" terrorists, terrorist "suspects," people who have found themselves, for whatever reason (or no reason at all) on one of the innumerable "lists" gathered by whatever method (or no method at all) by the many fatly-funded agencies now involved in "counter-terrorism."

But that's not all, not by a long shot. These codified murders are also being inflicted on people who are not on any list whatsoever: their names, affiliations, beliefs, intentions -- indeed, their dispositions -- are completely unknown to those who kill them. They are the faceless targets of "signature strikes," which allow American death squads to kill people based on "patterns of activity" which may -- or may not -- signal some possible malign intent -- or none -- toward someone -- or no one -- somewhere -- or nowhere. This rigorous process rests entirely on in the magical mind-reading abilities of drone jockeys ogling a computer screen. If the armchair warrior doesn't like the cut of someone's jib, then he squeezes his joystick and turns the stranger into "bug splatter," to use the term favored by our bold defenders of civilization.

Like last year's NY Times piece that first detailed the murder racket being run directly out of the White House, the new Washington Post story is replete with quotes from "senior Administration officials" who have obviously been authorized to speak. Once again, this is a story that Obama and his team WANT to tell. They want you to know about the murder program and their strenuous exertions to make it permanent; they are proud of this, they think it makes them look good. They want it to be part of their legacy, something they can pass on to future generations: arbitrary, lawless, systematic murder.

Perhaps this fact should be borne in mind by all those anguished progressives out there who keep telling themselves that Obama will "be different, that he will "turn to the left," if we can only get him a second term. No; the legacy of arbitrary, lawless, systematic murder is the legacy he wants. It is the legacy he has been building, with remarkable energy and meticulous attention to detail, day after day, week after week, for the past four years. This is what he cares about. And it is this -- not jobs, not peace, not the environment, not equal rights for women and ethnic and sexual minorities, not the poor, not the middle class, not education, not infrastructure, not science, not diplomacy -- that he will apply himself to in a second term. (Along with his only other political passion: forging a "grand bargain" with Big Money to gut the remaining shreds of the New Deal.)

There is little point in going through the Post story and offering detailed comment. The sickening nature of this perpetual-motion death-machine -- and the husk-like inhumanity of those who operate it and the sycophants who applaud it -- are all too plain. Just read the whole thing, and see for yourself. See how these butchers -- our bipartisan elites, our whole respectable, self-righteous establishment -- have trapped us all in an Age of Hell.

UPDATE: Arthur Silber has much more on the moral implications -- and the heartbreaking historical resonances -- of the state murder program. Get over there now, read it -- and weep for where we are, and where we're going.
(c) 2012 Chris Floyd

Vote The Greater Good, Not The Lesser Evil
By Frank Scott

"...ever more elections, and ever less democracy..." ~~~ Michael K. Smith

We are nearing the end of the billion dollar assault on consciousness that protects corporate power from the threat of democracy. It's called the presidential race, or - in hysterical-get-out-the-vote fashion - the most important election since The Creation, or 911, or the last election. If we don't support the corporate Republican, radical Muslims, socialists , gay illegal immigrants and godless abortion fiends will destroy us all. On the other hand, if we do not re-elect the corporate Democrat, Christian fanatics will murder women, children, gays, blacks, Latinos, and all other minorities except evangelical whites, while invading other nations not already under American attack.

Of course, both corporate flunkies will bipartisanly continue passionately sucking up to Israel and threatening mass murder of Iranians.

All but totally obliterated in the advertising blitz are alternative candidates offering programs that are pro-democracy by being anti-corporate. The electoral system makes it incredibly difficult for so-called minority parties and candidates to ever reach the national ballot, let alone national consciousness. But voters able to break through the plastic curtain and find people like Jill Stein and Rocky Anderson will be delighted to hear and see reflections of themselves and real hope of a better future for America.

In fact, a 5% vote for Jill Stein and the Green party would assure millions of dollars in public funds to help create a real alternative electoral voice for the future. That's why she was locked out of national debates and even locked up by the police to assure her silence. If that had happened in Iran, shrieks of horror would reverberate across the land. Here, it got less attention than soccer scores from Tibet.

No matter which corporado wins a minority vote , things will get worse for some and better for others because that is the nature of the system. It is bringing even greater profits to less and less people while inflicting greater loss on more and more people. That's the way it has always worked and will continue to work until we change it, hopefully before it destroys us all in a final cataclysmic achievement of full, negative equality.

Everything that happens in this economy is to create profit for a minority private sector first and benefit a majority public second, if at all. Birth, death and all the stuff in between are unnaturally treated as commodities, purchased, rented and leased as units of marketable goods. Nature works in a non-profit fashion but capital has had our earth mother locked in a polluted senior facility for generations. She seems to be growing angrier at her treatment and might lash out in a fury we can't anticipate if we don't soon change our behavior towards her family - humanity - and end worshipping a patriarchal dictatorship posing as democracy and destroying our world with its profit and loss perversion.

A form of paternalistic capitalism has had enough crumbs slipping off the table of wealth to afford many among what were once working people to become middle class and buy lots of consumer goods. With identity individualism we've also established the right for some members of alleged minorities to act as complicit in all of this as any other group. This irrational equality sees to it that certain privileged women can profit and be as successful, obnoxious and murderous as men, that certain privileged "people of color" can profit and enjoy the benefits of abuse of less privileged people of color, or no color , and married homosexual couples can profit and join with married heterosexual couples to invest in the same corporate markets that all other people - with enough money - are free to invest in and make even more money. Until the next bubble bursts and the market crashes and all become members of the "loss" majority.

Some have missed out on getting privileged members of their groups to rise in the profit system food chain and feed on other losers rather than being fed to them. For example, not one Arab-American Lesbian HIV-positive Rosicrucian can be found on any corporate board, or managing a professional sport, or fire bombing a suspected drug house in america or a terrorist house in a foreign country. But as long as corporate propaganda works, we may soon have a token member of that group "affirmed" to assure that another reduced segment of humans is appeased and doesn't notice the collective destruction of our race by this forced division into lesser minorities.

Bringing a few of us onto the profit side of our consumer ghetto while leaving most confined to the loss neighborhood has worked so far, from the extremes of gated-to-keep-people-out communities to gated-to-keep-people-in prisons. All remain divided minorities with relatively little to absolutely no power so that the rich minority with almost all the power can keep it, and thereby maintain the process that shows signs of a global breakdown menacing all humanity.

A system close to collapse back in the 1930s was saved by introducing a measure of social democracy called the New Deal. This got profiteer's at the top to give up a little bit of their wealth to trickle down on the great mass of working people so that they might enjoy a better material condition and not rebel against capital. It worked for a generation which saw workers transformed into a middle class in a culture that introduced consumption and wanton waste for the masses in order to create incredible wealth for the few. That began to change in the 1970s when capital reverted to its traditional need to accumulate more by giving people less. Its royal divinity still masquerades as democracy for people who might as well watch tv as bother to vote, since they have far more choice on their multi-channel remotes than on their bi-partisan ballots.

Hopefully, more citizens will tire of being fooled by a voting process which reduces us to acting like a nation of voting fools. This election can be a turning point but only if we reject the lesser evil choice and vote for what we want, need and deserve: A future of real hope based on a political voice that will ultimately represent far more of the 99% along with those in the lower 1% who reject their masters and join with their fellow citizens.

Vote for Jill Stein and The Green Party and give yourself, and everyone else, a chance for that future.
(c) 2012 Frank Scott writes political commentary and satire which appears in print in The Independent Monitor and online at the blog Legalienate.

The Eye Of The Storm That Sees Us All
By William Rivers Pitt

It is Monday afternoon in the city of Boston as I write this, and Hurricane Sandy has begun to flex her considerable muscles even here. Atlantic City is awash in many places, Hoboken is flooding, the Esplanade at Battery Park in New York City is basically underwater, and the worst of the storm is still hours away. Farther south, the eastern seaboard is taking a fearsome beating where Sandy prepares to make direct landfall.

I am sitting here with my whiskey and my wife and my fat cat and my upstairs neighbor who almost hit a cop car when he backed out of the driveway to get smokes, we're all listening to the wind shake the house, and contemplating the ruthless sense of humor of Fate.

Crazy weather - the one all-important topic that has been entirely ignored by both major presidential campaigns - is about to cause billions of dollars in damage along the East Coast, and may very well wind up playing merry hell with the upcoming election.

Funny like a kick in the head.

Remember this summer? All the insane weather everywhere that eventually caused even the most strident climate-change deniers to flee for cover and start hoarding canned goods? Remember when Greenland melted? Remember all the articles about the upside of the accelerating climate disaster happening all around us, vis a vis new shipping lanes and mining possibilities in all the places where there used to be ice?

Remember the drought?

Rivaling the Dust Bowl of the Depression era, the 2012 drought has impacted food production in America across the board, causing food prices to spike in a way that has been felt by everyone not rich enough to laugh off the price of a gallon of milk. More than anything else, it was the drought that brought home the reality of climate change to Americans this past summer.

And now? Poof, like it never happened.

We've heard quite a bit about the economy during the presidential campaign. Hell, almost half of the "foreign policy" debate wound up being about the economy because Bob Schieffer couldn't keep the rudder in the water...but the drought has had as much of an effect on the economy this year as anything else, and yet neither campaign has found it worthy to spare a word on the matter.

Wait, that's not right. Mr. Obama brought it up recently in an interview with MTV.

Mr. Romney brought it up in his acceptance speech during the Republican National Convention: "President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans, and to heal the planet." It was the biggest laugh-line of the night for him.

And that's it.

So let's think about this:

More than 100 million people will die and global economic growth will be cut by 3.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030 if the world fails to tackle climate change, a report commissioned by 20 governments said on Wednesday.

As global average temperatures rise due to greenhouse gas emissions, the effects on the planet, such as melting ice caps, extreme weather, drought and rising sea levels, will threaten populations and livelihoods, said the report conducted by humanitarian organization DARA.

It said the effects of climate change had lowered global output by 1.6 percent of world GDP, or by about $1.2 trillion a year, and losses could double to 3.2 percent of global GDP by 2030 if global temperatures are allowed to rise, surpassing 10 percent before 2100.

And this:

Last month, climate scientists announced that Arctic sea ice had shrunk to its smallest surface area since satellite observations began in 1979. An ice-free summer in the Arctic, once projected to be more than a century away, now looks possible just a few decades from now. Some scientists say it may happen within the next few years.

The loss is hugely significant because Arctic sea ice reflects most solar energy into space, helping to keep the Earth at a moderate temperature. But when the ice melts it reveals dark waters below, which absorb more than 90 percent of the solar energy that hits them, leading to faster warming both locally and globally.

And this:

"We have increased oil production to the highest levels in 16 years," Obama said in Tuesday's debate. "Natural gas production is the highest it's been in decades. We have seen increases in coal production and coal employment."

Romney scoffed that Obama "has not been Mr. Oil, or Mr. Gas, or Mr. Coal," and promised that he, if elected, would be all three. "I'll do it by more drilling, more permits and licenses," he said, adding later that this means "bringing in a pipeline of oil from Canada, taking advantage of the oil and coal we have here, drilling offshore in Alaska, drilling offshore in Virginia, where the people want it."

If this is a contest to see who can pretend to be more ignorant of the environmental locomotive that's barreling down the tracks toward us, Romney wins narrowly.

A presidential campaign offers an opportunity to educate and engage the American people in the decisions that climate change will force us to make. Unfortunately, Obama and Romney have chosen to see this more as an opportunity to pretend that the light at the end of the tunnel is not an approaching train.

Since last Tuesday, about 200 people have kept a round-the-clock vigil to protest the absence of climate change from the political conversation. Today, Hurricane Sandy forced an end to that vigil. Meanwhile, in all the wall-to-wall coverage of the storm on all the major "news" networks, there has been no mention I have seen of the elephant blowing through the room.

The climate is coming down around our ears, and neither big-dollar candidate has felt compelled to date to deign to bring it up, because this is America. We're a funny lot, in that we must be led to the edge of the precipice and then kicked in the back before saying, "Wow, this is dangerous, we should do something about this!"

The lights just flickered, and the wind is picking up, so I have to submit this before everything shuts down.

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

Medicaid On The Ballot
By Paul Krugman

There's a lot we don't know about what Mitt Romney would do if he won. He refuses to say which tax loopholes he would close to make up for $5 trillion in tax cuts; his economic "plan" is an empty shell.

But one thing is clear: If he wins, Medicaid - which now covers more than 50 million Americans, and which President Obama would expand further as part of his health reform - will face savage cuts. Estimates suggest that a Romney victory would deny health insurance to about 45 million people who would have coverage if he lost, with two-thirds of that difference due to the assault on Medicaid.

So this election is, to an important degree, really about Medicaid. And this, in turn, means that you need to know something more about the program.

For while Medicaid is generally viewed as health care for the nonelderly poor, that's only part of the story. And focusing solely on who Medicaid covers can obscure an equally important fact: Medicaid has been more successful at controlling costs than any other major part of the nation's health care system.

So, about coverage: most Medicaid beneficiaries are indeed relatively young (because older people are covered by Medicare) and relatively poor (because eligibility for Medicaid, unlike Medicare, is determined by need). But more than nine million Americans benefit from both Medicare and Medicaid, and elderly or disabled beneficiaries account for the majority of Medicaid's costs. And contrary to what you may have heard, the great majority of Medicaid beneficiaries are in working families.

For those who get coverage through the program, Medicaid is a much-needed form of financial aid. It is also, quite literally, a lifesaver. Mr. Romney has said that a lack of health insurance doesn't kill people in America; oh yes, it does, and states that expand Medicaid coverage show striking drops in mortality.

So Medicaid does a vast amount of good. But at what cost? There's a widespread perception, gleefully fed by right-wing politicians and propagandists, that Medicaid has "runaway" costs. But the truth is just the opposite. While costs grew rapidly in 2009-10, as a depressed economy made more Americans eligible for the program, the longer-term reality is that Medicaid is significantly better at controlling costs than the rest of our health care system.

How much better? According to the best available estimates, the average cost of health care for adult Medicaid recipients is about 20 percent less than it would be if they had private insurance. The gap for children is even larger.

And the gap has been widening over time: Medicaid costs have consistently risen a bit less rapidly than Medicare costs, and much less rapidly than premiums on private insurance.

How does Medicaid achieve these lower costs? Partly by having much lower administrative costs than private insurers. It's always worth remembering that when it comes to health care, it's the private sector, not government programs, that suffers from stifling, costly bureaucracy.

Also, Medicaid is much more effective at bargaining with the medical-industrial complex.

Consider, for example, drug prices. Last year a government study compared the prices that Medicaid paid for brand-name drugs with those paid by Medicare Part D - also a government program, but one run through private insurance companies, and explicitly forbidden from using its power in the market to bargain for lower prices. The conclusion: Medicaid pays almost a third less on average. That's a lot of money.

Is Medicaid perfect? Of course not. Most notably, the hard bargain it drives with health providers means that quite a few doctors are reluctant to see Medicaid patients. Yet given the problems facing American health care - sharply rising costs and declining private-sector coverage - Medicaid has to be regarded as a highly successful program. It provides good if not great coverage to tens of millions of people who would otherwise be left out in the cold, and as I said, it does much right to keep costs down.

By any reasonable standard, this is a program that should be expanded, not slashed - and a major expansion of Medicaid is part of the Affordable Care Act.

Why, then, are Republicans so determined to do the reverse, and kill this success story? You know the answers. Partly it's their general hostility to anything that helps the 47 percent - those Americans whom they consider moochers who need to be taught self-reliance. Partly it's the fact that Medicaid's success is a reproach to their antigovernment ideology.

The question - and it's a question the American people will answer very soon - is whether they'll get to indulge these prejudices at the expense of tens of millions of their fellow citizens.
(c) 2012 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"Liberty is not for these slaves; I do not advocate inflicting it against their conscience. On the contrary, I am strongly in favor of letting them crawl and grovel all they please before whatever fraud or combination of frauds they choose to venerate...Our whole practical government is grounded in mob psychology and.. the Boobus Americanus will follow any command that promises to make him safer."
~~~ H. L. Mencken

John Douglass
Embodiment of a Ruined Election System
By David Swanson

In April I had a chat with Congressional candidate John Douglass who had just about wrapped up his party's nomination for Congress here in Virginia's Fifth District. Douglass is a retired Brigadier General, a former Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and a former deputy U.S. military representative to the NATO Military Committee in Brussels, Belgium. He spent years buying weapons for the military and then years selling weapons to the military as CEO of Aerospace Industries Association. In Congress he would be back on the buying side of the revolving door of death dealing.

Obviously a candidate for war, right? That's not what people were telling me, and not what Douglass himself says. He tells me he's for peace and for moving from an offensive military to one that is truly defensive. Rather than wars in the Middle East, he says, he'd like to search every container that enters our country and control every passage across out country's borders. Such policies, he says, don't threaten anyone or produce terrorism.

But, here's the catch. In recent years in this district, Congressman Virgil Goode (a Democrat turned Republican), Congressman Tom Perriello (Democrat), and the current incumbent Robert Hurt (Republican) have voted for every "emergency" supplemental war spending bill they could get their hands on, along with every "defense" appropriations act. Perriello said he was for peace and justice and the rule of law, but would never commit to anything, and always voted for war, becoming a leading advocate for more wars since leaving office. So, I asked Douglass if he would commit to anything. Douglass, I may have neglected to mention, is a Democrat.

To avoid asking about hypothetical situations, I asked Douglass if he would have voted against any of the war funding bills that his predecessors voted for. "Maybe I would and maybe I wouldn't," he replied. "It's hard for me to put myself in their position from not being there." Think about what that means. In this government of the people, the people have no ability to determine whether a bill deserved support or not, even years after the fact, much less when it counts, because the people are not all members of Congress. Those of us who lobby a Congress member to vote a particular way on something have no business doing that because we are not in their position. Their job is to represent us, then, without asking us what we want, since we are not qualified to say.

Douglass said that, "Once the troops are committed, it would be hard for me not to support them." He said he would vote to fund even wars that he had opposed launching. I asked if it would make a difference to him if the majority of the troops told pollsters they wanted the war ended. I asked if it would make a difference to him if the top cause of death for the troops was suicide. Summing up his answer: Nope, he replied, and the question is too theoretical.

So, I asked about a particular bill now in Congress, Rep. Barbara Lee's bill which limits funding in Afghanistan to withdrawal. Would he sign onto it? Again, no commitment. "Probably," he said. This wasn't a theoretical bill, but it was a bill that he said he hadn't read. Still, he would not commit to the principle or to the bill as I described it. Has he found a moment to read the bill since April? How should we know? He doesn't say, and we don't have media outlets that ask such inconvenient questions.

I asked Douglass if he would have voted, as Rep. Hurt did, against this year's National Defense Authorization Act in opposition to the power of indefinite detention. Again the answer was: "Probably." Probably he would oppose authorizing presidents to lock us up forever without a trial. Probably.

Douglass told me that military spending is too high. I asked him repeatedly for a rough indication of how much too high it is, and I never got even a hint at an answer. Repeatedly Douglass suggested that the problem in Washington is partisan division and polarization, even though both parties overwhelmingly back military spending and wars. Repeatedly Douglass changed the subject to reducing nuclear weapons, but he drew the line at maintaining what he called "a credible deterrent against crazy people like North Koreans or God forbid the Iranians get nuclear weapons." He also promoted "modernizing" U.S. nuclear weapons.

I asked about the roles of Congress and the President in decision making. I asked if an agreement for 10 more years in Afghanistan needed Senate ratification to be Constitutional. Douglass replied that his "first instinct" would be to say yes. I asked if presidents could start wars without Congress, and Douglass replied that some wars are not technically wars, but he could still commit to a definite maybe. Elaborating, Douglass said that while he'd like to allow Congress to make such decisions, he would be opposed to giving that power to the current Congress because it's too polarized. This creates a puzzle, as far as I can see, because if Douglass tries to de-polarize Congress by agreeing with the greatest number of his colleagues, that greatest number clearly favors leaving all war decisions to presidents. If instead Douglass were to take a stand for (and not just swear an oath to) the Constitution, he would become part of the horrifying polarization. I pointed out that neither the Constitution nor the War Powers Act makes exceptions for polarized Congresses, and Douglass said, "There are also practicalities."

Given what I took to be his loose reading of the law, I thought I should ask Douglass about the current practice of murdering people around the world with drones. He said he approved of it, including for U.S. citizens, but only for men, never for women or children. I asked about the killing of Anwar al Awlaki, and Douglass said he did not know that case. Nor did he seem to be aware that the United States had also, in a separate strike weeks later, killed Awlaki's 16-year-old son. In theory, Douglass opposes that act, although he apparently doesn't know of it.

I continued to try to figure out what Douglass would do as a member of Congress if he opposed a war or military spending. Would he vote against funding? Would he vote for defunding? No telling. Would he back a process of economic conversion from weapons industries to civilian industries? Not at all clear. So, how do I know whether to vote for you, I asked.

Vote for my military record, said Douglass.

Can't do it, said I.

In desperation, I asked if he would take a stand against a war on Iran. Douglass replied that Iran might attack U.S. ships. Why not move the U.S. ships away from Iran, I asked.

Responding to that outrageous question, Douglass became more agitated than at any other time in the interview:

"We have a right to send our Navy anywhere we want in the world," he exclaimed. "And the Gulf [sic] of Hormuz is the lifeline of oil for the Western civilization! So why would you want to just walk away from the Gulf [sic] of Hormuz because of those guys?"

Here's audio of the full conversation with John Douglass.
(c) 2012 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

Why I'm Voting Green
By Chris Hedges

The November election is not a battle between Republicans and Democrats. It is not a battle between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. It is a battle between the corporate state and us. And if we do not immediately engage in this battle we are finished, as climate scientists have made clear. I will defy corporate power in small and large ways. I will invest my energy now solely in acts of resistance, in civil disobedience and in defiance. Those who rebel are our only hope. And for this reason I will vote next month for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, although I could as easily vote for Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party. I will step outside the system. Voting for the "lesser evil" - or failing to vote at all - is part of the corporate agenda to crush what is left of our anemic democracy. And those who continue to participate in the vaudeville of a two-party process, who refuse to confront in every way possible the structures of corporate power, assure our mutual destruction.

All the major correctives to American democracy have come through movements and third parties that have operated outside the mainstream. Few achieved formal positions of power. These movements built enough momentum and popular support, always in the face of fierce opposition, to force the power elite to respond to their concerns. Such developments, along with the courage to defy the political charade in the voting booth, offer the only hope of saving us from Wall Street predators, the assault on the ecosystem by the fossil fuel industry, the rise of the security and surveillance state and the dramatic erosion of our civil liberties.

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any," Alice Walker writes.

It was the Liberty Party that first fought slavery. It was the Prohibition and Socialist parties, along with the Suffragists, that began the fight for the vote for women and made possible the 19th Amendment. It was the Socialist Party, along with radical labor unions, that first battled against child labor and made possible the 40-hour workweek. It was the organizing of the Populist Party that gave us the Immigration Act of 1924 along with a "progressive" tax system. And it was the Socialists who battled for unemployment benefits, leading the way to the Social Security Act of 1935. No one in the ruling elite, including Franklin Roosevelt, would have passed this legislation without pressure from the outside. "It is the combination of a social movement on the ground with an independent political party that has always made history together, whether during abolition, women's suffrage or the labor movement," Stein said when I reached her by phone as she campaigned in Chicago. "We need courage in our politics that matches the courage of the social movements - of Occupy, eviction blockades, Keystone pipeline civil disobedience, student strikes, the Chicago teachers union and more. If public opinion really mattered in this race, we [her presidential ticket] would win. We have majority support in poll after poll on nearly all of the key issues, from downsizing the military budget and bringing the troops home, to taxing the rich, to stopping the Wall Street bailouts, to breaking up the banks, to ending the offshoring of jobs, to supporting workers' rights, to increasing the minimum wage, to health care as a human right, through Medicare for all. These are the solutions a majority of Americans are clamoring for."

The corporate state has successfully waged a campaign of fear to disempower voters and citizens. By intimidating voters through a barrage of propaganda with the message that Americans have to vote for the lesser evil and that making a defiant stand for justice and democracy is counterproductive, it cements into place the agenda of corporate domination we seek to thwart. This fear campaign, skillfully disseminated by the $2.5 billion spent on political propaganda, has silenced real political opposition. It has turned those few politicians and leaders who have the courage to resist, such as Stein and Ralph Nader, into pariahs, denied a voice in the debates and the national discourse. Capitulation, silence and fear, however, are not a strategy. They will guarantee everything we seek to avoid.

"The Obama administration has embraced the policies of George W. Bush, and then gone much further," Stein said. "Wall Street bailouts went ballistic under Obama-$700 billion under Bush, but $4.5 trillion under Obama, plus another $16 trillion in zero-interest loans for Wall Street. Obama continues offshoring our jobs. Bill Clinton brought us NAFTA, which was carried out under George W. Bush. It was vastly expanded under Obama to labor abusers in Colombia, and to Panama and South Korea. The Transpacific Partnership, being negotiated behind closed doors by the Obama White House, is NAFTA on steroids. It continues to send our jobs overseas. It undermines wages at home. It overrides American sovereignty by establishing an international corporate board that can overrule American legislation and regulations that protect workers as well as our air, our water, our climate and our food supply."

Obama, who has claimed the power of assassinating U.S. citizens without charge or trial, increased the drone war and has vastly expanded the wars in the Middle East. He is waging proxy wars in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia. His assault on civil liberties-from his use of the Espionage Act to silence whistle-blowers to Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act to the FISA Amendment Act-is worse than Bush's. His attack on immigrant rights has also outpaced that of Bush. Obama has deported more undocumented workers in four years than his Republican predecessor did in eight years. There is negligible difference between Obama and Romney on the issue of student debt, which has turned a generation of college students into indentured servants. But the most important convergence between the Republicans and the Democrats is their utter failure to address the perilous assault by the fossil fuel industry on the ecosystem. It was Obama who undercut the international climate accord reached last year at Durban, South Africa, saying the world could wait until 2020 for an agreement.

"Obama is promoting oil drilling in the Arctic, where the ice cap has already collapsed to one-quarter of its size from a couple decades ago, and he's opened up our national parks for drilling," Stein said. "He has given the green light to fracking. He has permitted the exhaust from shale oil [extraction] to go into the atmosphere. He is building the southern pass of the Keystone pipeline. He brags that he has built more miles of pipeline than any other president.

"There is a protracted drought in 60 percent of the continental U.S.," Stein said. "There are record forest fires and rising food prices. We have just now seen the 12 hottest months on record. Storms are growing in destructiveness. All this is happening with less than 1-degree Celsius temperature rise. Yet we are now on track for a 6-degree Celsius warming in this century alone. This is not survivable. The most pessimistic science on climate change has underpredicted the rate at which climate change is advancing."

The flimsy excuses used by liberals and progressives to support Obama, including the argument that we can't let Romney appoint the next Supreme Court justices, ignore the imperative of building a movement as fast and as radical as possible as a counterweight to corporate power. The Supreme Court, no matter what its composition, will not save us from financial implosion and climate collapse. And Obama, whatever his proclivity on social issues, has provided ample evidence that he will not alter his servitude to the corporate state. For example, he has refused to provide assurance that he will not make cuts in basic social infrastructures. He has proposed raising the eligibility age for Medicare, a move that would leave millions without adequate health care in retirement. He has said he will reduce the cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security, thrusting vast numbers of seniors into poverty. Progressives' call to vote for independents in "safe" states where it is certain the Democrats will win will do nothing to mitigate fossil fuel's ravaging of the ecosystem, regulate and prosecute Wall Street or return to us our civil liberties.

"There is no state out there where either Obama or Romney offers a way out of here alive," Stein said. "It's up to us to create truly safe states, a safe nation, and a safe planet. Neither Obama nor Romney has a single exit strategy from the deadly crises we face."
(c) 2011 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, ""Death Of The Liberal Class."

The Dead Letter Office...

Richard gives the corpo-rat salute

Heil Obama,

Dear Kandidat Mourlock,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your statement that it's god's intent when a women gets raped, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Syria and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Tea Bagger whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Iron Cross first class presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 11-24-2012. We salute you Herr Mourlock, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Mitt Romney Is Just Not That Into Federal Disaster Relief
By John Nichols

Who would have thought that a late-season hurricane would sweep up the East Coast of the United States on the eve of one of the closest election contests in the country's history?

Not, presumably, Mitt Romney.

Let's stipulate that the Republican nominee for president, like the Democratic president he seeks to defeat, hopes and prays that Hurricane Sandy and the storm fronts with which it is likely to combine will not cause the devastation that some predict. Let's also stipulate that both men will support and encourage an aggressive response to any crisis that results from a Halloween-season weather nightmare that has, indeed, been described as a "Frankenstorm."

But, while we're acknowledging things, let's also note the storm is hitting one week before a national election that-even as it is complicated by a natural disaster-will name the leader of the republic for the next four years and select a Congress that will define the direction of the federal government.

Let's also acknowledge that one candidate and his party have proposed balancing the federal budget by making dramatic cuts even to essential programs.

How "essential"?

How about the Federal Emergency Management Agency?

Romney says he "absolutely" wants to decrease the role of FEMA in particular, and the federal government in general, when it comes to dealing with natural disasters. Specifically, he wants to shift more responsibility for responding to storms to the states-despite the fact that, as Hurricane Sandy well illustrates, storms do not respect political jurisdictions. And he appears to be enthusiastic about the idea of substantial privatization of relief initiatives.

Romney is not proposing a radical downsizing of federal disaster preparation and responses in order to improve care and service for those hit by disaster. He proposes pulling the federal government back in order to cut costs, saying: "we cannot afford to do those things."

Indeed, he has suggested, substantial federal spending to address emergencies is "immoral," as in: "It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids..."

Following the brutal tornado hit to Joplin, Missouri, in 2011, CNN's John King asked Romney-during a Republican debate-to discuss disaster relief.

Here's how it went:

KING: Governor Romney? You've been a chief executive of a state. I was just in Joplin, Missouri. I've been in Mississippi and Louisiana and Tennessee and other communities dealing with whether it's the tornadoes, the flooding, and worse. FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis and some people who say, you know, maybe we're learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role. How do you deal with something like that?

ROMNEY: Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that's the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that's even better.

Instead of thinking in the federal budget, what we should cut-we should ask ourselves the opposite question. What should we keep? We should take all of what we're doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we're doing that we don't have to do? And those things we've got to stop doing, because we're borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we're taking in. We cannot... KING: Including disaster relief, though?

ROMNEY: We cannot-we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we'll all be dead and gone before it's paid off. It makes no sense at all.

"It makes no sense at all"?

Actually, it might make sense to a lot of folks by the end of this week.

The 2012 election campaign has, in so many ways, been a referendum on the role of government.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have taken a stand on one side of that referendum. They want to downsize the federal government, reducing its role even when it comes to responding to natural disasters. President Obama and Vice President Biden have been less inclined toward sweeping cuts and the radical restructuring of the role of the federal government when it comes to disaster relief.

Reasonable people might agree with Romney and Ryan, or with Obama and Biden. From the first days of the republic, there have been Americans who have taken the stand that the Republican ticket now espouses. But there have been many more Americans who have held to the view that the constitutional charge to "promote the general welfare" should probably begin with an assurance that a strong federal government can respond to natural disasters that sweep across state lines.

America is always in the process of updating the definition of how we "promote the general welfare" of the republic and its people-and of how we "insure domestic tranquility"-and no one election is going to settle the issue.

But this week should bring some clarity to the debate. The first priority is always to deal with the immediate crisis. But how we respond to this disaster, and future disasters, is always up for interpretation. And the choice between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama will send a strong signal with regard to how and when America promotes the general welfare and insures domestic tranquility.
(c) 2012 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His new book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, has just been published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Ammunition Hill And The Not Theoretical Occupation
By Adam Keller

Eighty years ago, the British Mandatory government founded a Police Academy near the Sheikh Jarrah Neighborhood in the eastern part of Jerusalem.

In the 1960's the Jordanian army established in the same location, then near the front line bisecting Jerusalem, a well-fortified military position.

In June 1967 this place, called "Ammunition Hill" by the fighting soldiers, was the scene of a harsh and bloody battle, around which an enduring myth of heroism was created - a battle which many military historianss consider to have been completely unnecessary. Of the famous song written about this battle, there remained in the Israeli collective memory especially the words "I don't know why I got a medal. I just wanted to get home safely."

Every year, on the day known as "Jerusalem Day", there is held in this location a formal ceremony with the participation of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense and the senior generals of the Israeli armed. Always on this occasion, the Prime Minister makes a speech full of rhetoric and vows that United Jerusalem will always be Eternal Capital of Israel. In the Sheikh Jarrah Neighborhood nearby, which was occupied by the Israel Defense Forces several hours after that titanic battle, settlers listen to the live broadcast of the PM's speech in the Palestinian homes which they have seized.

A few years ago there was at Ammunition Hill a meeting between veteran Israeli and Jordanian soldiers who survived the battle (Thirty Six Israelis had been killed in it, and over seventy Jordanians). They talked to each other quite amicably and none of them used any nationalist cliches.

Morial Rothman had no particular intention to add another chapter to the history of Ammunition Hill. It was the military authorities who determined this as the point to which young Jerusalemites should report when their call-up orders come due.

Moriel Rothman was born in Israel 23 years ago, long after the famous battle on Ammunition Hill. As a child his family moved to the United States where he grew up. He returned to Israel at the age of eighteen, and soon became involved in political activism, meeting Palestinians and taking part in actions against the occupation. The Palestinians in the village of Susiya at the South Hebron Hills, persistently clinging to their piece of land and their miserable homes, seemed to him "more Jewish" then the settlers seeking to expel them and the soldiers aiding the settlers - carrying the historical heritage of Jews striving to maintain their communal life during centuries and millennia of dispersal and persecution.

Moriel Rothman at Susia - a video.

At just the time when Rothman saw more and more soldiers in their daily activities, shooting tear gas and stun grenades and sometimes live ammunition at Palestinians, the army found out that there was an Israeli citizen who had returned from the United States and reached the age of 23 and has not yet done military service. Thus Moriel Rothman duly got a call-up order instructing him to report to the memorial site at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem on Wednesday, October 24, 2012 at 8:00 am, and there board a military bus and embark on his term of military service.

Moriel Rothman arrived precisely at the time set, accompanied by a group of activists and friends - but not in order to don the IDF uniform. In his pocket was a letter he had prepared beforehand:

''It cannot be said lightly, the time has long passed for gentle language and "hear-able" rhetoric: The Occupation is cruelty and injustice manifest. The Occupation is anti-God, anti-Love and staggeringly, constantly violent. The Occupation is based on a system of racial/ethnic separation that does, in fact, resemble South African Apartheid and segregation in the Southern United States until the 1960s. And this "temporary" Occupation is not "on its way out," but is rather growing in strength every single day. There is almost zero political will within Israel's government to end it, and the Israeli public has largely accepted the status quo, in which the occupation is basically a theoretical question, and one of which many have grown tired. But the occupation can only be theoretical if you are not occupied, and thus my refusal to support the occupation by serving in the IDF is also an act of solidarity with Palestinians living under occupation."

At this moment when I am writing, Moriel Rothman is behind bars the Military Prison Six, contributing his modest part in the struggle to end the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.

So, is there an occupation? Are these territories under occupation? Anyone who follows events on the ground, who witnessed even once a confrontation of soldiers (and/or settlers) with Palestinians, cannot really doubt it. The International Court of Justice, established by the International Community as the authorized interpreter of controversial issues of International Law, stated unequivocally that the West Bank is indeed an Occupied Territory. Therefore, it is subject to the Fourth Geneva Convention which forbids an Occupying Power from settling its citizens in the Occupied Territory.

In Israel, however, there are those who think differently. The fact is that a committee of distinguished Israeli jurists, headed by former Supreme Court judge Edmond Levy, had sat down and composed a detailed report stating that this territory is not occupied at all. In a burst of creative energy, Justice Levy and his fellows composed their own unique brand of International Law which would have seemed completely incomprehensible to International Court of Justice. In International Law according to Edmond Levy the territory is not occupied at all, but is an exclusive hereditary property of the Jewish People, and therefore Israeli settlement there is legal and strictly kosher. Accordingly, the Government of Israel should remove every remaining obstacle on the expansion and intensification of the settlement enterprise, and block as much as possible the access of Palestinian upstarts who dare to turn to the courts after their land was robbed in broad daylight.

Already in June this year, Justice Levy and his colleagues submitted their conclusions to Prime Minister Netanyahu. And though it was Netanyahu who appointed them, he seemed a bit scared of the conclusions and of what might happen if they are formally adopted. For, after all, if this territory is not occupied, that what is it? Is it part of Israel? And if it is part of the State of Israel, and if Israel is a democratic country, then where are the Knesset Members representing in Israel's parliament the residents of Nablus and Ramallah and Hebron? And if it is not Israeli territory and also not occupied, what is it? All sorts of questions would immediately pop up to which no Israeli government since 1967 tried or wanted to give a clear answer, nor did Judge Levy provide such an answer.

So, since June the Levy Report lay unopened in the archives. The settlers and their political friends protested and demanded that it be adopted forthwith. But last month Netanyahu decided to call early election and immediately tremendous power struggles entered the fray. Within the Likud Party the settlers have gained significant power, and have an impact on the result if internal party elections. So, Netanyahu suddenly announced that he would soon bring the Levy Report to government approval. No, not the fundamental assertion that the territory is not occupied. Only the practical conclusions helping and facilitating the settlement enterprise. But it turned out that also this could create too many political and judicial complications.

And so the idea of adopting the Levy Report was again shelved. Instead, the Prime Minister got a brilliant political idea and made the dramatic announcement which captured the headlines in our country over the past few days - the joint electoral slate between the ruling Likud Party and the party of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman - the nearest in the Israeli political scene to meet the criteria set by Political Science for a Fascist party. No, Lieberman does not really care about Judge Levy's report. International law in all its forms is not really interesting to the Foreign Minister of the State of Israel. In a TV interview celebrating his intimate new partnership with the Prime Minister, Lieberman announced that it was just no use talking about and deal with the Palestinian question. We know that we have no Palestinian partner and probably never will have such a partner, so for the foreseeable future we can do in these territories as we please and not bother too much about legal theories and legal niceties. Plain and simple.

In the meantime, what of the Palestinians themselves? Last week, Israeli drivers were surprised when traveling on Highway 443 from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, when suddenly dozens of Palestinian protesters burst in, carrying banners and placards and blocking the highway. Palestinians? Why should they appear there?

Those who know the issue are aware that this highway is passing through the West Bank, that it was built on land expropriated from Palestinian villagers living nearby, that these people were denied the possibility of travelling on the highway which was built on their land, and that when the Supreme Court ruled that they should be allowed to travel on it a ploy was soon found to deny it in practice. But ordinary Israeli citizens got the impression that this was just an Israeli highway connecting two Israel cities. Especially since along the highway were built walls concealing the nearby Arab villages, and on them were painted for the benefit of the Israeli drivers pastoral landscapes with no Arabs in them. Suddenly, the reality behind the walls burst out onto the highway for a while, until soldiers arrived with their stun grenades and tear gas canisters.

And a week later - another unpleasant surprise. Palestinians carrying flags, together with international volunteers, penetrated into the shop established by the Rami Levi supermarket chain at the settlement of Sha'ar Binyamin, and raised inside the store their placards:

"Boycott of settlement products" and "As long as Palestinians get no justice, settlers and Israelis will not have a normal life." And again the soldiers came quickly with stun grenades and tear gas.

Both times, at the studio of Israel's State TV, commentators admitted that the Palestinians have managed to "gain the element of surprise" and that this was a grave failure of the Israeli Intelligence Services. This phenomenon seems to have aroused concern among commentators and the military high command. In some ways they find it even more worrying than the repeated rounds of shooting along the Gaza Strip border. Precisely because the demonstrators on Route 443 and at Rami Levy supermarket did not use violence and it would be quite hard to accuse them of terrorism.
(c) 2012 Adam Keller is an Israeli peace activist who was among the founders of Gush Shalom.

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God Distances Self From Christian Right

THE HEAVENS-Responding to inflammatory remarks made by Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock during a debate Tuesday night, Our Lord God the Almighty Father sought today to distance Himself from both Mourdock and the entire right-wing fundamentalist Christian movement, sources confirmed.

"I want to make one thing absolutely clear: Mr. Mourdock's comments from last night in no way reflect my position on this or any other issue," said the Divine Creator, speaking at a press conference this afternoon to address Mourdock's remarks that rape-induced pregnancies were God's intent. "And furthermore, I would like to take this opportunity to say definitively that I, God, do not officially sanction or condone the words or actions of anyone involved in the fanatical, conservative Christian faction that Mr. Mourdock represents."

"Many people hear my name in connection with the Christian Right and start to assume we are aligned in some capacity, and I'm here to say, for the record, that we are not," God continued. "So let me just be clear: I don't want women to get raped-not ever. I don't think their resulting pregnancies are my divine will. And if a woman is raped, then she has the right to get an abortion, period. I do not agree with Mourdock. I do not agree with the Christian Right. End of story."

Calling Mourdock's comments "the last straw," the Lord Our Maker explained that while in the past there have been a few areas where He and the religious Right have been in agreement, more often than not, in recent years, He and Christian conservatives have grown "actually quite far apart" on a wide range of issues.

'Mother Mary Was Essentially Raped,' Mourdock Says While Digging Self Into Deeper Hole

God then went on to cite several incidents-ranging from the Westboro Baptist Church's "God Hates Fags" campaign to Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin's remark this year that victims of "legitimate rape" rarely get pregnant-as examples of what He described as "an unmistakable and disturbing trend toward intolerance that I do not support."

"What these people are saying betrays a worldview that is, frankly, completely different from my own, and it embarrases me to even hear my name mentioned alongside theirs," God told reporters, emphatically. "For example, I'm not into capital punishment at all, or really killing in general, so I'm not sure where that whole talking point came from. On the same token, I don't like guns very much, and I certainly wouldn't say that everyone has a right to own guns-that's absurd. Unlike Mr. Mourdock and many Christian Republicans, I agree with the overwhelming majority of climate scientists that global warming poses a major threat to the planet and must be addressed. I also believe stem cell research is very useful, and I think that if you're gay, that's fine by me."

"Even on some economic issues we don't quite see eye-to-eye," continued the Eternal One, a self-described Keynesian who said He has "serious doubts" about the merits of trickle-down economics. "And, you know, a lot of this stuff is in the Ten Commandments, too, so I'm already on record as being not in agreement with a good majority of the Christian Right's views. In fact, in the future, if people could just refrain from grouping us together in any way, I think that would be ideal."

"That includes members of the Christian Right themselves-if they could stop talking about me entirely, that would be preferable," God added. "In the end, probably best if we just completely went our separate ways here." At press time, God's son, Jesus Christ, offered a countering view and confirmed He strongly believes pregnancies resulting from rape are, in fact, God's gift.
(c) 2012 The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 12 # 44 (c) 11/02/2012

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