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In This Edition

Naomi Klein asks, "Superstorm Sandy-a People's Shock?"

Uri Avnery sees, "Das System."

Glen Ford declares, "Victory! - For The Non-Resistance."

Medea Benjamin has, "A Chat With Counterterrorism Chief John Brennan."

Jim Hightower explores, "The Mad Dogs Of Citizens United."

Robert Kuttner returns with, "Notes For A Manifesto: How Austerity Conservatism Will Screw Us."

James Donahue warns of, "Looming Threat To Internet Freedoms."

Chris Floyd sees, "Napalm In The Morning (Drones in the Afternoon)."

Frank Scott shares, "Election Day Bulletins."

Glenn Greenwald wonders, "Who Is The Worst Civil Liberties President In US History?"

Paul Krugman compares and contrasts, "Sandy Versus Katrina."

David Swanson enquires, "Who's Been Right And Who's Been Wrong."

Chris Hedges examines, "The S&M Election."

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott wins the coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Ralph Nader is, "On A Progressive Civic Agenda."

Adam Keller overlooks, "A Week Of Democracy."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Obamas Return To White House As Romneys Return To 1954" but first Uncle Ernie exclaims, "We Are So Screwed!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Ken Catalino, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Derf City, Ted Rall, Mr. Fish, Greg Palast, Jim Watson, AFP, Getty Images, R.W. Thrupp, Craig Ruttle, AP, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

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We Are So Screwed!
By Ernest Stewart

"Better the devil you know than the devil you don't." ~~~ Jack Heath

"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations..." ~~~ President Woodrow Wilson

"The OSCE's representatives are not authorized by state law to enter a polling place. It may be a criminal offense for OSCE representatives to maintain a presence within 100 feet of a polling place's entrance. Failure to comply with these requirements could subject the OSCE's representatives to criminal prosecution." ~~~ Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott

"I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and I saw that service is joy." ~~~ Kahlil Gibran

Well, there was good news and bad news -- with the bad news slightly out weighing the good news. The good news is that the GOP's war against women went down to defeat. Would-be Teabagger Senators Richard Mourdock, Indiana, and Todd Aiken, Missouri, whose interesting thoughts on rape and mythology cost them their seats, and brought Joe Donnelly into fill the seat of former US Senator Luger(R). While Claire McCaskill kept her seat over Akin. In Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren picked up Ted Kennedy's old seat from Scott Brown and Maine's Senate seat went to liberal independent Angus King, who won a three-way race in Maine to replace retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe.

Over in the house, Teabagger and woman-hater Joe Walsh got his face rubbed in it by Iraq War veteran and double amputee Tammy Duckworth. Hell hath no fury like a woman pissed off, huh, Joe? You go, girl! Ergo, the good news the Rethuglicans lost in the Senate; but the bad news is they kept control of the House; and, of course, our beloved Fuhrer is back for another four years of destroying the Constitution. I guess the devil we know over the pirate, huh? For you Obamabots, expect to hear from me every time Barry commits another act of treason, war crimes, and crimes against humanity! The blood of the innocents is on your hands, not mine! We could've had a new beginning had ya'll just voted Green; but no, you have to be a leftist or even a liberal; but apparently there're no longer any liberals around -- just wannabe fascists! And, as usual, most people didn't bother to vote; the majority said no to plastic, pretend elections -- and who can blame them!??!

The worst news of the day is that the Sheeple in California are an incredibly stupid lot -- way too stupid to live -- but not to fear, as they defeated Prop 37; and hence, they'll all soon die from eating Frankenfoods, which will be a good thing for the rest of us. Bon appetite, you losers! Trouble is, the poisons will remain in everyone's foods; so I'll continue to eat only organic raw foods, even as the organic stores sell Frankenfoods in cans and jars. Remember, don't eat any corn, unless it's "Indian Corn." Eat no beet sugar, only cane sugar. No rice as it's doubly poisoned; it's both GMO and poisoned by being grown in chicken manure from arsenic-fed chickens. Yummy, huh? Better change that rapeseed oil, i.e., Canola oil for Olive Oil as all the Canola oil is now GMO; oh, and lets not forget GMO fish and in Canada swine, too, etc. As the government has been bought and paid for, from Barry on down, allowing Big Food to poison your foods for an extra buck, beware, or be dead -- your choice.

Meanwhile, here in Michigan, the people are just as dumb as the people in California, although they got one thing right out of 6, i.e., they rejected Governor Hitler's power grab attempt and defeated Prop One; but as for the rest, we're as bad off as we were before, and will pay for it in many ways in the daze to come! Have no doubt that the Sheeple will get us all killed!

There is one bright note: Colorado, Washington State, and the city of Detroit have made smoking pot for adults legal; and all we'll have to watch out for is Barry's Gestapo; so I might be moving to Colorado soon. You know, "Friends around the campfire and everybody high -- a Rocky Mountain high -- Colorado!"

Oh, and one final thought, shouldn't Ted Nugent be dead or in jail, now?

In Other News

You may recall that World War I officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles -- hence its title. However, fighting had ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of "the war, to end all wars." That worked out well, huh?

In November of 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. The original concept for the celebration was for a day to celebrate peace.

The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:

Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far-reaching war in human annals, and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and

Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and

Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore, be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.

An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday-a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as "Armistice Day."
Seems simple enough, huh?

Then along came the fascist takeover of Washington in the 50s, (you may recall the witch hunts?) and Armistice Day a day of peace became Veterans Day a celebration of killers. The 83rd Congress, at the urging of the military/industrial complex, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of wars.

Later that same year, on October 8th, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first "Veterans Day Proclamation" which stated:

"In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible."
Screw you, Ike; I refuse to honor veterans on Armistice Day; instead, I honor peace! How about you, America?

And Finally

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is our Vidkun Quisling Award winner this week for his ceaseless fight to reestablish Jim Crow laws in Texas. Under the guise of states rights, he's been challenging every piece of civil rights legislation on the books, and yet, he keeps getting shot down in court. If nothing else, Greg is tenacious! When it comes to spending the peoples' money, Rethuglicans love to get on the gravy train -- which is surprising, considering Greg's Teabagger roots, and, since the average Teabagger has the brains of a duck. How hard could it be if Greg can do it?

This time around, Greg has threatened to arrest the international inspectors from the "Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe" (OSCE) to monitor the process.

The OSCE, a 56-member international organization (including the U.S.), routinely sends observers to monitor and oversee elections in countries around the world, including US elections since the highly controversial presidential election of 2000, which ended up having the Presidential race decided by a split 5-4 decision of the U.S. Extreme Court. (The OECD was surprisingly enough invited to start monitoring US elections in 2004 by none other than President George W. Bush, who was handed the Presidency in the 12/12/2000 coup d'etat led by Antonin "Tony Light-Fingers" Scalia and the "Gang of Five." Until this year, its monitors had no problems doing their job; but this year, hard-right officials in at least two states, viz., Texas and Iowa, threatened to have the international observers arrested and criminally charged if they attempt to monitor any of their polling places.

Can't have them "furreners" messing around in Texas politics, especially when what Greg is up to is not only treason but sedition, as well -- with a healthy dose of racism thrown in for good measure. If there was a drop of justice in this country, Greg and a host of others would be subject to a little slicing and dicing, i.e., drawn and quartered with their heads on pikes as a warning to others! Of course, there is no justice; but still, a happy thought!

Keepin' On

What's it going to take ya'll to cover this last $400? Perhaps the detractors who say that I've only been tilting at windmills were right? Truth be told, I have come to those same conclusion every year at about this time! Is it worth it?

Well, ya'll, is it worth it? Is it worth knowing the things you'll find out in Issues & Alibis. Is our little band of "Merry Pranksters," those writers and artists worth your support? To some, our "Usual Suspects," it obviously is. Even though most of our "Usual Suspects" are like most of you -- just barely getting by -- yet they open their wallets and their hearts -- time and time again -- not only for themselves, but for everyone else, as well. Shouldn't you, too? Shouldn't you pay your fair share?

If you can see the good that we give you each and every week, and wish to lend a helping hand, then just visit the donations page and follow the instructions and leave the rest to us! Together we can take back our old republic -- alone, we'll get run over by the machine!


12-11-1908 ~ 11-05-2012
Thanks for the jams!


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.

Rockaway resident Christine Walker walks along the beach under what is left of the boardwalk in the
borough of Queens, New York, Monday, November 5, 2012, in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

Superstorm Sandy-a People's Shock?
Seizing the climate crisis to demand a truly populist agenda
By Naomi Klein

Less than three days after Sandy made landfall on the East Coast of the United States, Iain Murray of the Competitive Enterprise Institute blamed New Yorkers' resistance to big-box stores for the misery they were about to endure. Writing on, he explained that the city's refusal to embrace Walmart will likely make the recovery much harder: <"Mom-and-pop stores simply can't do what big stores can in these circumstances," he wrote.

And the preemptive scapegoating didn't stop there. He also warned that if the pace of reconstruction turned out to be sluggish (as it so often is) then "pro-union rules such as the Davis-Bacon Act" would be to blame, a reference to the statute that requires workers on public-works projects to be paid not the minimum wage, but the prevailing wage in the region.

The same day, Frank Rapoport, a lawyer representing several billion-dollar construction and real estate contractors, jumped in to suggest that many of those public works projects shouldn't be public at all. Instead, cash-strapped governments should turn to "public private partnerships," known as "P3s." That means roads, bridges and tunnels being rebuilt by private companies, which, for instance, could install tolls and keep the profits.

The overriding principle must be addressing the twin crises of inequality and climate change at the same time.

Up until now, the only thing stopping them has been the law-specifically the absence of laws in New York State and New Jersey that enable these sorts of deals. But Rapoport is convinced that the combination of broke governments and needy people will provide just the catalyst needed to break the deadlock. "There were some bridges that were washed out in New Jersey that need structural replacement, and it's going to be very expensive," he told The Nation. "And so the government may well not have the money to build it the right way. And that's when you turn to a P3."

Ray Lehmann, co-founder of the R Street Institute, a mouthpiece for the insurance lobby (formerly a division of the climate-denying Heartland Institute), had another public prize in his sights. In a Wall Street Journal article about Sandy, he was quoted arguing for the eventual "full privatization" of the National Flood Insurance Program, the federal initiative that provides affordable protection from some natural disasters-and which private insurers see as unfair competition.

But the prize for shameless disaster capitalism surely goes to right-wing economist Russell S. Sobel, writing in a New York Times online forum. Sobel suggested that, in hard-hit areas, FEMA should create "free trade zones-in which all normal regulations, licensing and taxes [are] suspended." This corporate free-for-all would, apparently, "better provide the goods and services victims need."

Yes that's right: this catastrophe very likely created by climate change-a crisis born of the colossal regulatory failure to prevent corporations from treating the atmosphere as their open sewer-is just one more opportunity for more deregulation. And the fact that this storm has demonstrated that poor and working-class people are far more vulnerable to the climate crisis shows that this is clearly the right moment to strip those people of what few labor protections they have left, as well as to privatize the meager public services available to them. Most of all, when faced with an extraordinarily costly crisis born of corporate greed, hand out tax holidays to corporations.

Is there anyone who can still feign surprise at this stuff? The flurry of attempts to use Sandy's destructive power as a cash grab is just the latest chapter in the very long story I have called The Shock Doctrine. And it is but the tiniest glimpse into the ways large corporations are seeking to reap enormous profits from climate chaos.

One example: between 2008 and 2010, at least 261 patents were filed or issued related to "climate-ready" crops-seeds supposedly able to withstand extreme conditions like droughts and floods; of these patents close to 80 percent were controlled by just six agribusiness giants, including Monsanto and Syngenta. With history as our teacher, we know that small farmers will go into debt trying to buy these new miracle seeds, and that many will lose their land.

Unlike the disaster capitalists who use crisis to end-run democracy, a People's Recovery... would call for new democratic processes.

When these displaced farmers move to cities seeking work, they will find other peasants, indigenous people and artisanal fishing people who lost their lands for similar reasons. Some will have been displaced by foreign agribusiness companies looking to grow export crops for wealthy nations worried about their own food security in a climate stressed future. Some will have moved because a new breed of carbon entrepreneur was determined to plant a tree farm on what used to be a community-managed forest, in order to collect lucrative credits.

In November 2010, The Economist ran a climate change cover story that serves as a useful (if harrowing) blueprint for how climate change could serve as the pretext for the last great land grab, a final colonial clearing of the forests, farms and coastlines by a handful of multinationals. The editors explain that droughts and heat stress are such a threat to farmers that only big players can survive the turmoil, and that "abandoning the farm may be the way many farmers choose to adapt." They had the same message for fisher folk inconveniently occupying valuable ocean-front lands: wouldn't it be so much safer, given rising seas and all, if they joined their fellow farmers in the urban slums? "Protecting a single port city from floods is easier than protecting a similar population spread out along a coastline of fishing villages."

But, you might wonder, isn't there a joblessness crisis in most of these cities? Nothing a little "reform of labor markets" and free trade can't fix. Besides, cities, they explain, have "social strategies, formal or informal." I'm pretty sure that means that people whose "social strategies" used to involve growing and catching their own food can now cling to life by selling broken pens at intersections, or perhaps by dealing drugs. What the informal social strategy should be when super storm winds howl through those precarious slums remains unspoken.

For a long time, climate change was treated by environmentalists as a great equalizer, the one issue that affected everyone, rich or poor. They failed to account for the myriad ways by which the superrich would protect themselves from the less savory effects of the economic model that made them so wealthy. In the past six years, we have seen the emergence of private firefighters in the United States, hired by insurance companies to offer a "concierge" service to their wealthier clients, as well as the short-lived "HelpJet"-a charter airline in Florida that offered five-star evacuation services from hurricane zones. "No standing in lines, no hassle with crowds, just a first class experience that turns a problem into a vacation." And, post-Sandy, upscale real estate agents are predicting that back-up power generators will be the new status symbol with the penthouse and mansion set.

It seems that for some, climate change is imagined less as a clear and present danger than as a kind of spa vacation; nothing that the right combination of bespoke services and well-curated accessories can't overcome. That, at least, was the impression left by the Barneys New York pre-Sandy sale-which offered deals on Sencha green tea, backgammon sets and $500 throw blankets so its high-end customers could "settle in with style." Let the rest of the world eat "social strategies, formal or informal."

So we know how the shock doctors are readying to exploit the climate crisis, and we know from the past how that would turn out. But here is the real question: Could this crisis present a different kind of opportunity, one that disperses power into the hands of the many rather than consolidating it the hands of the few; one that radically expands the commons, rather than auctions it off in pieces? In short, could Sandy be the beginning of a People's Shock?

I think it can. As I outlined last year in these pages, there are changes we can make that actually have a chance of getting our emissions down to the level science demands. These include relocalizing our economies (so we are going to need those farmers where they are); vastly expanding and reimagining the public sphere to not just hold back the next storm but to prevent even worse disruptions in the future; regulating the hell out of corporations and reducing their poisonous political power; and reinventing economics so it no longer defines success as the endless expansion of consumption.

At the same time as we ramp up alternatives, we need to step up the fight against the forces actively making the climate crisis worse.

These are approaches to the crisis would help rebuild the real economy at a time when most of us have had it with speculative bubbles. They would create lasting jobs at a time when they are urgently needed. And they would strengthen our ties to one another and to our communities- goals that, while abstract, can nonetheless save lives in a crisis.

Just as the Great Depression and the Second World War launched populist movements that claimed as their proud legacies social safety nets across the industrialized world, so climate change can be a historic moment to usher in the next great wave of progressive change. Moreover, none of the anti-democratic trickery I described in The Shock Doctrine is necessary to advance this agenda. Far from seizing on the climate crisis to push through unpopular policies, our task is to seize upon it to demand a truly populist agenda.

The reconstruction from Sandy is a great place to start road testing these ideas. Unlike the disaster capitalists who use crisis to end-run democracy, a People's Recovery (as many from the Occupy movement are already demanding) would call for new democratic processes, including neighborhood assemblies, to decide how hard-hit communities should be rebuilt. The overriding principle must be addressing the twin crises of inequality and climate change at the same time. For starters, that means reconstruction that doesn't just create jobs but jobs that pay a living wage. It means not just more public transit, but energy efficient affordable housing along those transit lines. It also means not just more renewable power but democratic community control over those projects.

But at the same time as we ramp up alternatives, we need to step up the fight against the forces actively making the climate crisis worse. Regardless of who wins the election, that means standing firm against the continued expansion of the fossil fuel sector into new and high-risk territories, whether through tar sands, fracking, coal exports to China or Arctic drilling. It also means recognizing the limits of political pressure and going after the fossil fuel companies directly, as we are doing at with our "Do The Math" tour. These companies have shown that they are willing to burn five times as much carbon as the most conservative estimates say is compatible with a livable planet. We've done the math, and we simply can't let them.

We find ourselves in a race against time: either this crisis will become an opportunity for an evolutionary leap, a holistic readjustment of our relationship with the natural world. Or it will become an opportunity for the biggest disaster capitalism free-for-all in human history, leaving the world even more brutally cleaved between winners and losers.

When I wrote The Shock Doctrine, I was documenting crimes of the past. The good news is that this is a crime in progress; it is still within our power to stop it. Let's make sure that this time, the good guys win.
(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.

Das System
By Uri Avnery

TO A foreigner, like myself, the US election system looks cockeyed.

The president is elected by an "electoral college", which does not necessarily reflect the will of the people. This system, rooted in the realities of the 18th century, has no connection with the conditions of today. It easily leads to the election of a president who has attracted the votes of only a minority, depriving the majority of its democratic rights.

Because of this archaic system, the final three days of the campaign are devoted solely to "swing states" - those whose electoral college votes are still in doubt.

At best, a curious way of electing the leader of the world's mightiest power and self-proclaimed champion of democracy.

The system of electing governors, senators and representatives is also very dubious, as far as democracy is concerned. It's the ancient British system of "winner takes all". This means that there is no chance at all for ideological or sectarian minorities to be represented in the entire political system. New and controversial ideas have no chance.

The philosophy behind such a system is to prefer stability over full democracy, slow down change and innovation or prevent it altogether. It is typical for a conservative aristocracy.

It seems that no serious voices in the US advocate change in the system. If President Obama or President Romney is elected this week by a tiny majority in Ohio, whatever the popular vote nationwide, so be it. After all, the system has worked well enough for more than 200 years, so why tinker with it now?

IN THE Israel elections, on the contrary, several parties talk incessantly about "The System". "The System is bad". "The System must be changed". "Vote for me, because I am going to change The System".

What system, exactly? Well, that's up to you, the voter. You can read into it whatever you like (or, rather, whatever you dislike). The elections. The economy. The courts. Democracy. Religion. You name it.

Frankly, whenever a politician starts to talk about "The System", I get goose pimples. Translate these two words into German, and you get "Das System".

"Das System" was the main propaganda target of Adolf Hitler throughout his 13-year struggle for power. It was incredibly effective. (The second most effective one was his condemnation of the "November Criminals" who signed the armistice after the defeat of Germany in World War I. Our own fascists now speak about the "Oslo Criminals".)

What did the Nazis mean when they spoke about "Das System"? Everything and nothing. Whatever their audience hated at any particular moment. The economy, which condemned millions to unemployment and destitution. The republic, which was responsible for economic policy. Democracy, which founded the republic. The Jews, for sure, who invented democracy and ruled the republic. The political parties, who served the Jews. And so on.

WHEN ISRAELI politicians thunder against "The System", they generally mean the electoral system.

This started right from the beginning of the state. David Ben-Gurion was a democrat, but he was also an autocrat. He wanted more power. He was disgruntled by the proliferation of political parties, which compelled him to cobble together cumbersome coalitions. Who needs them?

The State of Israel was but a continuation of the Zionist movement, which always had some kind of elections. These were strictly proportional. Every group could set up a party, every party was represented in the Zionist congresses according to the number of its voters. Simple and democratic.

When the Israeli state was founded in 1948, this system was automatically adopted. It has not changed to this day, except that the "minimum clause" was raised from one percent to two. At the last elections, 33 parties competed, 12 of which passed the 2% threshold and are represented in the Knesset, which has just resolved to dissolve itself.

On the whole, this system worked reasonably well. It assured that all segments of society - national, ethnic, confessional, socio-economic and so on - were represented and could feel that they belonged. New ideas could find political expression. I myself was elected three times.

That is one of the explanations for the miracle that was Israeli democracy - a phenomenon that is well-nigh inexplicable, considering that almost all Israelis came from severely anti-democratic countries - Russia of the Czar and the commissars, Morocco, Iraq and Iran of the authoritarian kings, Poland of Jozef Pilsudski and his heirs, and of course Jews and Arabs born in Ottoman and British Palestine.

But the founder of the Zionist movement, Theodor Herzl, was an admirer of the Kaiser's Germany, in which democracy developed to a certain degree, and also of Great Britain. The founding fathers who came from Russia wanted to be progressive like Western Europeans.

Because of this, Israel maintained a democracy that was, at least at the beginning, equal to the best. The slogan "The Only Democracy in the Middle East" was not yet a joke. It also provided stable government, based on changing coalitions.

Ben-Gurion hated the electoral system. His fulminations against it were dismissed by the general public, including his own voters, as a personal quirk. In 1977 a new party, called Dash, gained 15 seats on the sole platform point of changing the electoral system, which it blamed for all the country's ills. The party disappeared at the next election.

THIS DECEASED party's rightful heir is now the new party of Ya'ir Lapid, "There is a Future" which wants to "Change The System", including the electoral system.

In which direction? Up to this moment, that is not clear at all. A US-type presidential system? A British winner-takes-all constituency system? The postwar German system (which I prefer) under which half the Parliament is elected in country-wide proportional elections, and the other half in majority-vote constituencies?

What else does Lapid want to change? Laudably, he is the only one who has brought up the Palestinian issue, declaring that he will be no part of any government that does not resume talks with the Palestinians. This does not mean too much, since talks can go on endlessly and lead nowhere, as in the past. He did not mention the world "peace". He also promised that Jerusalem will not be divided - a promise guaranteed to make any negotiations impossible. He made his statement in Ariel, the capital of the settlers, which is boycotted by the entire peace movement.

HOWEVER, THE main enemy of "The System" is Avigdor Lieberman. In his mouth, the two words regain their original fascist undertones.

This week Binyamin Netanyahu dropped a bombshell: the Likud and Lieberman's "Israel Our Home" party will form a joint election list - thus setting in motion the creation of a joint party. The list will be called "Likud Beiteinu" ("Likud Our Home"). He easily imposed this on his reluctant party - though nobody knew the details of the agreement.

But the main provisions of the oral agreement have already seeped out: Lieberman will be No. 2 on the list and will be able to choose one of the three major ministries in the next government: Defense, Treasury or Foreign Affairs.

There can not be the slightest doubt that Lieberman will chose Defense, though he tried to reassure the public by pretending that he might prefer Foreign Affairs, his present domain, in which he is boycotted by most of the world's major leaders.

The subtext of the agreement is that the two parties will soon become one, that Lieberman will succeed Netanyahu as the leader of the entire right-wing, and that we may see him in a few weeks time as the almighty Minister of Defense, with his finger on the conventional and nuclear triggers, and, even more frightening, as the sole governor of the Palestinian occupied territories.

Many Israelis shudder.

Just a few years ago, such an idea was unthinkable. Though he came to Israel 30 long years ago, Lieberman has remained the quintessential "Russian immigrant". Actually he came from Soviet Moldavia.

There is something deeply sinister about his appearance, facial expression, shifty eyes and body language. His accent in Hebrew is heavily Russian, his language is crude. He projects an unbridled lust for power, in the most brutal sense.

His closest (and perhaps only) foreign friend is Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus and the last remaining dictator in Europe. His main object of admiration is Vladimir Putin.

Lieberman's unabashed credo is ethnic cleansing, an Araber-rein Jewish state. He has brought with him from the Soviet Union an abysmal contempt for democracy and a belief in "strong government".

Years ago I drew up the equation "Bolshevism - Marxism = Fascism".

13 TIMES In his 2-minute announcement to the nation about the fusion, Netanyahu used the words "strong" (strong government, strong Likud, strong I), mighty (mighty Israel, mighty Likud) and "governability", a new Hebrew word beloved by both Lieberman and Netanyahu. (This week several commentators used the name I coined some years ago: Bieberman.)

If the Bieberman wins this election, it will indeed be the end of "Das System" - and the beginning of a frightening new chapter in the history of our nation.
(c) 2012 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Victory! - For The Non-Resistance
By Glen Ford

"Get Away Sandy - God and Obama Will Save Us" read the graffiti, scrawled man-high on a cinderblock wall in the majority Black town of Plainfield, New Jersey. It is an apt articulation of African American politics as we descend into the First Black President's second term.

Black folks may or may not have a prayer, but they certainly don't have any earthly influence on the direction of the nation or on a president for whom they gave near-unanimous support, while asking nothing in return.

Wait a minute! I'm hearing echoes of... a familiar voice:

"We have learned that Black politicians and activist-poseurs have an infinite capacity to celebrate not having engaged in struggle with Power, and that the Black masses can be made drunk by the prospect of vicariously (through Obama) coming to power." - Black Agenda Report, "The Obama '08 Phenomenon: What Have We Learned?" November 4, 2008.

As Marx said, history repeats itself, "first as tragedy, then as farce." Independent Black politics, rooted in the historical African American consensus on social justice, racial equality and peace, definitively collapsed, after a long illness, with the first Obama presidential campaign. The tragedy was compounded, exponentially, by the timing, coinciding with capitalism's greatest crisis since the Great Depression. The autumn of 2008 was an historical juncture for the nation and the world. Either the people would erect structures to protect themselves from being crushed under the dead weight of a system in terminal decay, or the Lords of Capital would swallow the State whole, and buy themselves some time.

African Americans, the most politically volatile and left-oriented U.S. constituency - a people specifically targeted by Wall Street's machinations - had an historical role to play. "The man STRUCK," said Frederick Douglass, "is the man to cry out." But Black folks had already been struck silly with Obama'Laid.

The rulers had, at long last, found our Achilles Heel, the weakest spot in African Americans' political armor. Our reflexive racial solidarity (actually, an aspect of Black nationalism), which had served us so well, for so long, short-circuited our progressive political instincts. We became fodder for Obama, the slicker-than-Slick-Willie corporate guy with the brown face.

Despite his background, Obama knew enough about African Americans to pay us no attention and less respect. There would be no penalty. Black folks had convinced themselves that Obama needed our protection; it never occurred to most of us that we needed protection from him - not during the primaries, when he praised Ronald Reagan's reaction to the "excesses" of the Sixties, or when he refused to endorse even a voluntary halt to home foreclosures (while Hillary Clinton and John Edwards endorsed "voluntary" and mandatory moratoriums, respectively); not in the last weeks before his inauguration, when Obama announced that Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and all "entitlements" would be "on the table" for chopping under his administration.

Instead, a million Black folks gathered on the National Mall for what we at BAR called "The Great Black Hajj of 2009," a pilgrimage, as if to Mecca, in celebration of Obama's ascension. There, he proclaimed to the multitudes: "In the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things."

Dutifully, Black folks set aside the last vestiges of their vaunted distrust of Power. Henceforth, African Americans would consider themselves as a Palace Guard - the antithesis of independent political actors. Thus was Obama empowered to become the "More Effective Evil."

With little resistance on the Left, and virtually none from organized Black America, Obama has worked miracles for the resuscitation of the Lords of Capital and their imperial apparatus - feats that only a Black corporate Democrat could accomplish. After saving George Bush's bank bailout in October of 2008 (it passed only after candidate Obama's intervention), Obama undertook the historic mission of placing the U.S. State at the total disposal of finance capital. Under Obama's watch, the Treasury Department and, especially, the Federal Reserve have funneled at least $16 trillion to Wall Street and its foreign annexes - a sum greater than the national GDP. The "free money" window at the Federal Reserve has become a permanent fixture of the global financial order, permanently blurring the lines between the U.S. state and international finance capital. Obama has embedded the state into the banks, and vice versa, in ways that cannot be undone without causing the system to collapse. In a very real sense, the "good faith and credit" of the United States has become a collective corporate asset of the Lords of Capital - an outcome that fits the classic structural description of fascism. No Republican could have delivered the state apparatus so effectively to the banks - there would have been fierce resistance from within the Democratic base, as well as libertarian Right. But Obama has proven to be the more effective facilitator of the bankers' state.

Social Security was untouchable - until Obama laid his hands on it. Beginning with his pre-inauguration pronouncements on entitlements, Obama has been the guiding hand of an austerity offensive that did not exist on Election Day, 2008. Instead, Obama made deficit reduction his own priority, at a time when pundits were saying obituaries over the GOP. (Much as they are, today.) The Black Democrat appointed the Right-weighted Deficit Reduction Commission to promulgate a $4 trillion blueprint for austerity, a formula that matched Republic proposals in 2011. The blueprint would have been the basis for Obama's cherished Grand Bargain had the GOP not balked at "modest" taxes on the rich - levies that are irrelevant to those who will lose their programs under the axe. Obama is the more effective austerity president - if the Republicans will just let him work his show.

Imperial aggression has never fared better than under the opposition-less Obama. At one point, he was bombing five countries simultaneously, pretty good work for a Nobel Peace Prize winner - or did the prize help empower him to such heights of bellicosity? His ever-evolving "Kill List" includes not only individuals of all nationalities (including our own) but also any country whose government is inconvenient to the United States. With "humanitarian" jargon as his only justification, President Obama has attempted to render international law a dead letter. No nation has any rights that he feels bound to respect. Obama, with his drone armadas and multiplying Special Forces troops, represents a far greater threat to global civilization - which must be rooted in law! - than the failed conquerer George Bush (who actually negotiated the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq). Unlike Bush, Obama has promulgated his own, novel doctrine of war, which declares that wars only exist when sufficient numbers of Americans become casualties. Under this construct, Libya was not a war, and the possibilities for U.S. non-war depredations are endless.

Preventive detention is the crown jewel of Obama's presidential exceptionalism. Statutory authority to imprison Americans without charge or trial was beyond Bush's reach, and he knew it. But Obama guided a bill through the Congress with very little Democratic opposition. He is the more effective secret police warden.

Now Obama has won another "mandate," which he will use to finish the projects he started: wider wars, a more profound government subservience to finance capital, and that "new legal architecture" on national security that he warned about on the Daily Show, a few weeks ago. He looks forward to fulfilling his austerity dreams early in his new term: "I am absolutely confident that we can get what is the equivalent of the grand bargain that essentially I've been offering to the Republicans for a very long time."

The non-resisters have won a non-victory against an unimpressive enemy, while the more effective evil plots new atrocities.

You will note that I have not specifically mentioned Black folks since the beginning of this article; that's because African Americans have made themselves irrelevant - not just for the second Obama presidency, but possibly deep into the future. "Power concedes nothing without a demand," and Black folks have failed to demand even elementary respect from this president, much less concrete programs, or peace. Obama isn't the only one who has noted Black ineffectuality. Until an independent African American politics and political movement can be rebuilt, there is no reason for a president or Congress to pay "the Blacks" any more attention than Obama did.
(c) 2012 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

Counterterrorism advisor John Brennan in this file.

A Chat With Counterterrorism Chief John Brennan
By Medea Benjamin

Having recently returned from Pakistan meeting with drone victims, on November 4 my partner Tighe Barry and I were having a leisurely Sunday morning breakfast. The discussion turned to John Brennan, Obama's counterterrorism chief and the key person making decisions about drone strikes. We wondered if Brennan ever had a chance to meet innocent drone victims, as we did, and feel their pain.

"Maybe we should go to his house and talk to him," quipped Tighe. We laughed at the absurdity of the idea but decided to do a little bit of research. Fifteen minutes later, we were out the door, driving to a Virginia suburb an hour south of Washington DC. I had no idea if it was really John's address, but it was a lovely day for a drive-and Tighe was willing to indulge me.

Exiting the freeway, we came to an area of rolling hills, green grass and private horse farms. As we approached what we thought might be John Brennan's street, we were sure it was a mistake. How could this be? It was a nondescript upper middle class neighborhood, with children playing in the yards-no security, no government vehicles. The house was in a cul-de-sac sandwiched between two other houses, without so much as a fence surrounding it.

I decided to go knock on the door to make sure we were wrong. A middle-aged, white-haired guy in a casual sweater and jeans opened the door, accompanied by someone who l assumed was his wife.

Could this really be John Brennan? The same man who championed "enhanced interrogation techniques" under President Bush? The same man who now decides, on "terror Tuesdays", who will be on the CIA kill list? The guy who developed the Orwellian "disposition matrix"-a blueprint for disposing of terrorist suspects for at least another decade?

I hesitated. He looked much younger and thinner than I remembered, and he looked like such a nice man. And would someone who spent his career in the CIA and was the nation's counterterrorism czar be answering his own door?

"John?," I asked. "Yes," he replied tentatively. I continued, still doubting that he was really John Brennan. "I'm sorry to bother you at your home on a Sunday, but I wanted to talk to you about a recent trip."

"A trip?", he asked, squinting his eyes and cocking his head to the side. "A trip to where?" "Pakistan," I answered. "Ohhhhh," he said.

What he really meant was, "Oh shit." For it was at that moment I realized he was indeed John Brennan, and he realized that I knew exactly who he was.

"How did you know where I live?," the spy-extraordinaire asked. I was suddenly nervous, knowing this was a man who put people on kill lists. Thinking quickly, I told him I had friends in the neighborhood who gave me his address.

He asked for a business card, and I ran back to get one from the car-where Tighe was waiting. We exchange looks, OMG!

When I went back and handed the card to Brennan, he glanced at it and muttered, "Ah, CODEPINK. I thought that's who you were." The last time we met I was being dragged out of the Woodrow Wilson Center by a 300-pound security man while yelling "I love my country! You're making us less safe. Shame on you Mr. Brennan."

I knew I didn't have much time so I starting talking fast-telling him I had just returned from a delegation to Pakistan meeting with drone victims, how heartbroken I was to hear their stories, how terrible it is that these drone attacks are causing so much suffering to innocent people and turning the entire Pakistani population against us.

He insisted that it wasn't true, that we weren't harming civilians. "But we met with people who lost their children, their fathers, their loved ones-we have photos of little children...." I wanted to say so much more. I wanted to tell him about the journalist Karim Khan who lost his son and brother or about 16-year-old Tariq Aziz, who was killed when trying to document drone strikes. I wanted to talk to him about the statistics provided by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism that say conservative estimates of civilian casualties add up over 1,000.

"It's just not true," he repeated, dismissively. "You are being manipulated."

By this time, the woman who joined him at the door had become very agitated. "You shouldn't be coming to our house on a Sunday. We rarely get to see him as it is. You should talk to him in an appropriate place."

I pleaded. "I've tried many times to do that, but never receive a response." I asked for a number where I could reach him to set up a meeting, but he refused. "I have your information, I can reach you," he claimed, waving my bright pink business card in the air.

Worried that he might be about to call in the police, or the CIA, or maybe even a drone, I finally desisted and thanked him for his time. "I want you to know, John, that I am doing this from my heart, because I care about the lives of innocent people everywhere and I care about our country." With that, he slammed the door.
(c) 2012 Medea Benjamin is cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK, which has organized seven humanitarian delegations to Gaza. She is author of Don't Be Afraid Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks from the Heart.

The Mad Dogs Of Citizens United

As feared, our people's democratic authority has been dogged nearly to death by the hounds of money in this year's election go 'round, thanks to the Supreme Court's reckless decree in the Citizens United case.

That rank political power play by five black-robed partisans unleashed the Big Dogs of corporate money to bite democracy right in the butt, poisoning our elections with the venom of unlimited special-interest cash. But there's also been another, little-reported consequence of the malevolent Citizens United decision: It has unleashed mad-dog corporate bosses to tell employees how to vote.

Prior to that 2010 Court ruling, top executives were barred by federal law from using corporate funds to instruct, induce, intimidate, or otherwise push workers to support particular candidates. No more. Having been given a legal pass, bosses are openly conscripting employees to be political troopers for corporate-backed candidates.

For example, CEO David Siegel of Westgate Resorts, a major peddler of time-share schemes, warned his 7,000-strong workforce against voting for Obama. To do so, he wrote in a letter to each of them, would "threaten your job." Obama, Siegel declared, planned to raise taxes on multimillionaires like him, which would give him "no choice but to reduce the size of this company." Likewise, Dave Robertson, president of the Koch brothers industrial empire, notified 30,000 workers that they would suffer assorted "ills" if they helped re-elect Obama. Robertson even included a slate-card of Koch-approved candidates for them to take into the polling booth. How helpful!

Of course, corporate chieftains say they're not making threats - just friendly suggestions on how to vote. Oh, sure. As we know, everyone is equal in the corporate hierarchy, and you're perfectly free to defy the guy who can fire you. Good luck with that.
(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.

Notes For A Manifesto: How Austerity Conservatism Will Screw Us
By Robert Kuttner

The enormity of last week's super-storm is just beginning to sink into political consciousness. Hurricane Sandy should transform what Americans expect from their government, and give the party of government activism new force.

As soon as the election is behind us, the country faces a major struggle over what the super-storm portends and requires. But that struggle will be as much within the Democratic Party as between Democrats and the right, because of the deadweight of austerity politics.

I. The Three Faces of Conservatism.

In this political season, progressives are actually battling three forms of conservatism -- and two of them have made deep inroads in the Democratic Party, especially the presidential party.

The first variety -- call it Yahoo Conservatism -- is epitomized by the Tea Party and Rep. Paul Ryan, and by Mitt Romney's intermittent, clumsy efforts to impersonate it.

Its credo is: cut taxes, privatize social programs, slash government, bash immigrants and gays, deny climate change, dictate reproductive rules, move America in the direction of theocracy, and valorize gun-slinging both at home and globally.

This face of conservatism doesn't represent most Americans. And on the Yahoo front, Barack Obama has done pretty well at pushing back. With Hurricane Sandy, Yahoo conservatism looks even stupider.

But this is not the only brand. The second face is Wall Street Conservatism.

The collapse of 2008 gave the incoming Obama administration a rare chance to remake the financial system. Instead, the team led by Larry Summers and Tim Geithner elected to prop up the big banks that caused the collapse, and not change their business model. Despite the financial fraud and federal rescue, no major banker got fired at government insistence, much less faced prosecution.

The Dodd-Frank Act, which was actually stronger than the legislation that the Treasury sent Congress, is getting weaker by the day, thanks to lobbying pressure to water down regulations that is not being resisted by the administration (with a few heroic exceptions like Gary Gensler at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Martin Gruenberg at the FDIC.)

The mortgage mess continues to drag down the recovery and the Administration won't push stronger relief for fear of the impact on bank balance sheets and the bond market. Executive paydays are richer than ever.

So Wall Street conservatism has infected the Obama presidency. If Obama had not so identified himself with Wall Street, he might have peeled off some of the right-wing populists recruited by the Tea Parties as well as many more independent voters who don't like the reign of the one percent any more than progressives do.

Wall Street conservatism also overlaps the third face of the right -- Austerity Conservatism.

The day after the election, the pressure will be on the White House and Congress to cut a grand budget bargain. The Peterson Foundation has spent half a billion dollars to persuade opinion leaders and voters that austerity is the only road to recovery.

The latest face of the elite austerity lobby, nearly a hundred corporate CEO's working with the detritus of the Bowles-Simpson Commission (the fiscal zombie that just won't die), are spending another hundred million dollars in their campaign to press politicians to "Fix the Debt."

The economics of the proposition are insane. We can't depress our way to recovery. But the Obama Administration has drunken a lot of this Kool-Aid. Obama has pledged to cut the debt by $4 trillion over a decade. It was Obama who appointed the Bowles-Simpson Commission, which helped create this pressure.

Friendly Democratic leaders are already being advised that the administration will offer a grand bargain of tax increases, budget cuts, and hits to Social Security and Medicare to head off the "fiscal cliff" created by the Republican refusal to bargain over the budget. This grand scheme is the long commended recipe of the ultimate Wall Street austerity Democrat, Robert Rubin, whose proteges litter the Obama Treasury and White House.

Seemingly, Wall Street Conservatives and Austerity Conservatives are disdainful of Yahoo Conservatives. The former tend to be relatively liberal on, say, gay rights, reproductive choice, gun control, and they even support some higher taxes. Yet they are doing the bidding of Yahoo conservatives by weakening the Democrats as a party that might actually produce a recovery, and might actually speak for ordinary people devastated by the continuing slump -- which will only deepen if Austerity conservatism prevails.

If Obama wins and he strikes a grand budget bargain with the Republicans, it will paralyze the government's ability to respond to the worst continuing disaster since al-Qaeda's attacks of 9/11.

II. Sandy Changes Everything -- Maybe

The new normal of rising waters and other consequences of intensifying climate change has arrived a generation ahead of schedule. As Americans grasp what has occurred and the likelihood of more intense storm surges in coming years, it will become clear that we need massive public investments to keep our coastlines above water.

America, as I recently wrote, just became a much larger version of Holland.

But below-sea-level Holland, which spends tens of billions on flood prevention, is a thriving, prosperous society. Water control systems are one of its major exports.

For starters, we will need a planning process to identify what combination of storm barriers like Rotterdam's, sea walls, dikes, and pumping systems are necessary to prevent calamities like Sandy from becoming regular events. In addition to physical barriers, we will need to invest large sums in protecting subways, tunnels, power stations, and water and sewer systems.

Beyond that, America will need to get serious about investing in renewable energy, which is the ultimate preventive measure. But climate change has already gone far enough that we have to defend our communities in the meantime.

The money needed will easily reach into the trillions of dollars. And for now, just about nothing is on the books. FEMA's entire budget for this fiscal year is $12.5 billion, and the immediate damage of the storm is $50 billion. The infrastructure spending of the 2009 Recovery Act is nearly used up.

If this were a military threat, we'd simply find the money, through a combination of bonds and surtaxes on the wealthy. After the attacks of 9/11, military spending rose by between two and five trillion dollars, depending on what you count.

It just happens that the money that we need to invest in protecting our coasts and reducing carbon emissions can also power the recovery that the economy needs.

But if Obama and the Republicans strike the grand bargain commended by the austerity lobby, there will not be a penny available. Instead, there will be budget cuts for the next decade.

Many of the corporate CEOs behind Fix the Debt could not work from their flood-damaged, dark Manhattan offices this past week. Maybe they should re-think their priorities.

III. Obama's Challenge -- and Ours

Once the election is behind us, a re-elected Obama can proceed to negotiate the grand budget deal as if nothing had happened. Or he can give a major address pointing out that super-storm Sandy changes everything; that all prior bets are off.

The demands of a post-Sandy America serve to strengthen his hand, and reveal government-bashers as fools. He can simply refuse any budget deal that fails to recognize the new reality of what really threatens America and the needed government response, and invite public pressure to build on the Republican obstructionists. Chris Christie will not be the only GOP convert.

When Obama was elected in November 2008, in the aftermath of the worst financial debacle since the Great Depression, history dealt him an opportunity to drastically reform Wall Street. He didn't take it. As a consequence, the 2012 election is much closer than it should be.

Now, Sandy has given him a change to reboot -- and to be the insurgent president we hoped we were electing last time. He may realize this on his own. And if he doesn't reboot and simply pursues fiscal business as usual, progressives need to put a lot of boots on the ground to insist that he seize the opportunity.

If the fix is in for a budget deal that precludes government's ability to spend serious money on climate remediation, flood protection, and a shift to a non-carbon economy, the United States of America is just plain screwed.

Few presidents get a do over. Let's see whether Obama grasps the challenge and the possibilities.
(c) 2012 Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect magazine, as well as a Distinguished Senior Fellow of the think tank Demos. He was a longtime columnist for Business Week, and continues to write columns in the Boston Globe and Huffington Post. He is the author of A Presidency in Peril: The Inside Story of Obama's Promise, Wall Street's Power, and the Struggle to Control our Economic Future, Obama's Challenge, and other books.

Looming Threat To Internet Freedoms
By James Donahue

With growing reports of cyber-attacks on government and corporate computer systems, there is evidence that President Barack Obama and his staff is preparing a national defense against what he has referred to as "cyber warfare."

The concern is that with so many public and private systems now operating on electronic computerized links to the web it may be possible for hackers to literally shut down banks, the military, government offices, the electric grid, the railroads and just about every phase of the nation's regular business in a series of well-planned attacks.

This is what President Obama was referring to when he spoke of financing defenses against cyber warfare during a recent debate with Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney. Mr. Obama appears to be doing more than just talking about this issue. A recent report in From The Trenches website noted that Associated Press obtained a copy of a draft presidential executive order on "cyber security" that is expected to be issued soon. The story said the order would force "U.S. spy agencies to share the latest intelligence about cyber threats with companies operating electric grids, water plants, railroads and other vital industries to help protect them from electronic attacks."

The story noted that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, in testimony before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, said on September 19 that the executive order granting the president "sweeping power over the Internet" is near completion. She said the order is still being drafted and vetted in high-level offices.

The concern is what Napolitano meant by "sweeping power over the Internet." As has happened in other so-called federal acts allegedly designed to "protect" the people and the operations of business in the United States, we must question whether this looming executive order might be a planned attack on free Internet communications in disguise.

Blogger Stuart Wilde in his October 27 report "Internet Lockdown" suggests that this is exactly what is about to happen. Wilde wrote: "There is talk of Internet control and surveillance loosely veiled as an anti-terrorist device. But it's a lot of cobblers, nothing of the sort is true."

Wilde reports that the major television news outlets "are losing viewers at an alarming rate." People are fed up with the propaganda. CNN's figures are down 25 percent recently. Sixty percent of Americans no longer watch the network news and its nauseous drip feed.

"The alternative news on the Internet has replaced the official media lies. The alternative media has exposed Obama's killer drones, 911, Monsanto and GM foods, contrails, the police state, the bribes American Senators get from Israel, The Federal Reserve, the shysters on Wall Street, Rothschild, Oppenheimer, Goldman Saks, and on and on."

Because of the Internet, Wilde wrote, "people are very aware nowadays of the manipulation of the Fat Controllers and the way people's rights are being eroded. There is a revolution brewing to unseat Bernanke and the Zionist control of America. . .

"Wall Street as a free market is over, and while people may protest, in the end those markets only exist nowadays for the shysters to fleece investors. Volumes have dropped dramatically as investors who have been burned stay away."

Wilde stated that all of this "has spooked the powers-that-be . . . so fascist laws will be enacted to close down the alternative voice and anyone stating 'the Jews dun it' will be labeled a terrorist and their sites will be closed down.

"So Internet control is bound to come, the authorities can't trust the truth coming out," Wilde concluded.
(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

Napalm In The Morning (Drones in the Afternoon)
The Smell of Victory Stirs Progressives to Action
By Chris Floyd

Well, you got your lesser evil. Now all we can do is hope that he will do less evil than he did in his first term. Bitter experience, and a nodding acquaintance with history -- and human nature -- mitigate mightily against such a hope, but we are where we are, and that's all we've got.

In any case, I am eagerly looking forward to seeing how all our super-savvy lesser-evilist progressives "hold Obama's feet to the fire" in the months to come, as they promised so solemnly to do. You remember, don' t you? How they savagely condemned anyone who so much as thought about not supporting Obama, while pledging to unleash their righteous rage at his crimes and follies -- just as soon as he was safely returned to the White House. I'm sure they'll come down hard on him. Why, I can see it all now.....

"OK, now the inauguration's over, let's get to work. First of all, these drone attacks are criminal atrocities killing scores of innocent people. We can organize a protest march to--"

Super-savvy prog: "Hush your mouth! We can't undermine the president right now. We've got to help the Democrats get control of the House in 2014! Or do you want the evil Rethuglicans to keep blocking everything? Wait until after the mid-term elections, then we'll put the pressure on."


"OK, we took back the House in 2014 with a slate of anti-abortion, pro-war, entitlement-slashing, deficit-hawk, Blue Dog Democrats. You said it was the savvy thing to do, the lesser evil to replace the anti-abortion, pro-war, entitlement-slashing, deficit-hawk Republicans. NOW can we go after Obama -- for the state terrorism of the drone campaign, the 'extrajudicial' murders, the 'disposition matrix,' the torture and imprisonment of the truth-teller Bradley Manning, the support of the brutal coup and murderous repression in Honduras, the fracking, the off-shore drilling, the 'Grand Bargaining' with Social Security and Medicare, the protection of CIA torturers, the global arms dealing, the growing prison population, the growing economic inequality, the ever-more draconian 'security apparatus', the bail-out of the oligarchs and the--"

Super- savvy prog: "Bite your tongue! We can't undermine the president right now! It will hurt the chances of his Democratic successor if we make Obama look bad! Or do you want Paul Ryan to be president? What kind of selfish moral purist are you?"

Oh yeah, they're really gonna make Obama sweat. Things will be different this time around. I can't wait!
(c) 2012 Chris Floyd

Election Day Bulletins
Shocking Entrance Poll Results: Ahmadinejad Elected President of USA!
By Frank Scott

A brand new polling technique that questions possible voters as they enter parking lots, shopping centers, gas stations or public toilets prior to possibly voting has revealed surprising results. When confined to Iranian-Americans, critics of Israel and lovers of Iranian food, the overwhelming choice of possible voters was Ahmadinejad for president of the USA.

"We'll have to go back to the drawing boards and reconstruct our surveys. This form had worked in animal food and media daytime tv questionnaires but something obviously went wrong here," said a representative of the Center for the Study of Centers, which created the revolutionary new polling technique.

Shocking Vote Suppression Bulletins From All Over America


Voters forced to disrobe, stand in freezing ice and snow before being allowed to vote. Poll watcher who forced them apologized and claimed he was only part-time and had previously worked at airports.


Multi-Billionaires pay homeless Americans to get green cards and pose as legal immigrants in order to vote for Romney. Plan backfires as Ahmadinejad carries state.


Republicans were accused of beating children, sexually abusing puppies and eating raw cat food in order to sicken, frighten and deny decent citizen voters who would have chosen Obama had they not been beaten, abused and sickened away from the polls.

Democrats responded with claims that Republican mobs molested Women-Americans, African Americans, Gay-Americans, Latin-Americans, Jewish-Americans, Irish- Americans, Italian-Americans and Dreamer-Americans who were sleep walking to the polls, interfering with their constitutional right to dream, walk, be hyphenated and vote.

Washington D.C.

Citizens of the nation's capital who wished to vote were subjected to body searches, forced urine analysis and questioned on the meaning of the Koran in an effort to exclude terrorists, HIV positive people and Muslims from voting. The ACLU was considering a law suit defending the HIV positive people from this kind of harassment.


Voters were asked to show ownership of oil wells or stock in petroleum companies before being allowed into polling places in Tulsa and other major cities.

Early Exit Polls Show Americans Losing...Again...As Usual.
(c) 2012 Frank Scott writes political commentary and satire which appears in print in The Independent Monitor and online at the blog Legalienate.

Barack Obama and George Bush at the White House

Who Is The Worst Civil Liberties President In US History?
Where do the abuses of the last decade from Bush and Obama rank when compared to prior assaults in the name of war?
By Glenn Greenwald

The following interesting question arose yesterday from what at first appeared to be some petty Twitter bickering: who was the worst president for civil liberties in US history? That question is a difficult one to answer because it is so reliant upon which of many valid standards of measurement one chooses; it depends at least as much on the specific rights which one understands the phrase "civil liberties" to encompass. That makes the question irresolvable in any definitive way, but its examination is nonetheless valuable for the light it sheds on current political disputes.

It's worthwhile first to set forth the context in which the question arose. At their Lawfare blog, Ritika Singh and Benjamin Wittes posted an excerpt of an essay they wrote for a new book on the War of 1812; their essay pertains to the impact of that war on civil liberties and executive power. The two Brookings writers note that despite intense domestic opposition to the war, President Madison "eschewed the authority to detain American citizens in military custody or try them in military tribunals, and more generally, declined to undertake the sorts of executive overreaches we have come to expect - and even encourage - from our presidents in war."

After Julian Sanchez, I and others tweeted that essay by remarking that Madison refrained from exploiting the war to abridge civil liberties, Slate's Matt Yglesias' wrote:

That struck me as a cheap and vapid reply. Nobody was suggesting that Madison was the personification of civil liberties nirvana. Rather, the point was a very narrow and discrete one: he largely refrained from exploiting the War of 1812 as a pretext for abridging extant political rights. Whether he owned slaves - or was otherwise the worst monster in history - does not remotely pertain to, let alone negate, that specific and important historical fact about Madison's presidency.

Moreover, the issue raised by the essay on Madison was about the extent to which presidents use their power to erode civil liberties which exist when they assumed the office, or refrain from attacking those rights despite having the opportunity in the form of war or other crises. That a person is born into a society in which the evil of slavery already exists has little to do with that historical question.

That said, once one posits a president's personal slavery ownership as inconsistent with a positive civil liberties record - as Yglesias implicitly did - then that must be the number one factor in assessing a president's place on the civil liberties list. By that metric, all slave-owning presidents, or one who expressly endorsed the Dred Scott decision as James Buchanan did, would automatically have to be deemed the worst.

After all, owning human beings as chattel is the supreme civil liberties violation, by far the gravest civil liberties abuse in US history. That goes without saying. It is sui generis.

That's why it was so bizarre to see that the very same Matt Yglesias, just moments later, pronounced Woodrow Wilson - a president who never owned any slaves and never presided over slavery - to be the "worst-ever president on civil liberties", even suggesting that Wilson has no "serious competition" for that ignominious title. It was when I pointed out the irony of Yglesias' selection of a non-slave-owning president in light of his tweet that the interesting question arose of who should be considered the worst civil liberties president in US history.

If one were simply to consider specific acts which constituted grave assaults on civil liberties - narrowly defined as the core political rights explicitly protected by the Bill of Rights: free speech, freedom from deprivation of life and liberty without due process, etc. - one could make a strong argument for several presidents. John Adams signed The Alien and Sedition Acts, which essentially criminalized certain forms of government criticism in preparation for a war with France, a radical assault on the First Amendment.

Abraham Lincoln illegally suspended the core liberty of habeas corpus without Congressional approval. Wilson's attacks on basic free speech in the name of national security were indeed legion and probably unparalleled. Franklin Roosevelt oversaw the due-process-free internment of more than 100,000 law-abiding Japanese-Americans into concentration camps.

And then there are the two War on Terror presidents. George Bush seized on the 9/11 attack to usher in radical new surveillance and detention powers in the PATRIOT ACT, spied for years on the communications of US citizens without the warrants required by law, and claimed the power to indefinitely imprison even US citizens without charges in military brigs.

His successor, Barack Obama, went further by claiming the power not merely to detain citizens without judicial review but to assassinate them (about which the New York Times said: "It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing"). He has waged an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, dusting off Wilson's Espionage Act of 1917 to prosecute more then double the number of whistleblowers than all prior presidents combined. And he has draped his actions with at least as much secrecy, if not more so, than any president in US history.

Ultimately, it is close to impossible to rank these abuses strictly as a qualitative matter, in terms of the powers seized. How does one say that interning citizens in concentration camps (Roosevelt) is better or worse than imprisoning people for dissent (Adams and Wilson), putting people in cages with no charges (Lincoln, Bush, Obama), or claiming the power to execute citizens in total secrecy and without any checks of any kind (Obama)? If anything, one could reasonably argue that the power of due-process-free executions is the most menacing since it's the only act that is permanent and irreversible.

Certainly, the quantity of abuse matters. In that regard, Roosevelt's interments and Wilson's free speech prosecutions would appear worse than, say, Adams' attacks on dissent, Bush's indefinite detentions, or Obama's citizen assassinations.

Moreover, it is one of the ironies of US history that civil liberties erosions are often accompanied by civil liberties progress from the same leader: Adams was integral in the founding of the republic and its rights-enshrining documents; Lincoln freed the slaves; Wilson supported women's suffrage; Roosevelt appointed two of the most sterling civil liberties advocates to the supreme court; Obama withdrew authorization for some torture techniques (ones that were not in use when he was inaugurated) and banned CIA black sites (ones that were empty when he assumed office).

Ultimately, there are two critical factors that, for me at least, are highly influential if not decisive in determining the proper ranking. The first is the extent to which the civil liberties abuses are temporary or permanent.

Most of the contenders for worst civil liberties abuses were "justified" by traditional wars that had a finite end and thus dissipated once the wars were over. Lincoln's habeas suspension did not survive the end of the Civil War, nor did FDR's internment camps survive the end of World War II. The Alien and Sedition Acts were severely diluted fairly quickly, while the bulk of Wilson's abuses which survived World War I lay dormant until the War on Terror. As horrible as they were, these radical erosions were often finite, arguably by design, since the wars which served as their pretext would foreseeably end at some point.

This is one key factor that distinguishes the War on Terror. By its nature, it will never end, at least not in the foreseeable future. It is a "war" far more in a metaphorical sense than a real one.

Since it began, both administrations who have waged it have expressly acknowledged its virtually indefinite - and thus unique - nature. In May 2009, when Obama unveiled his proposal for "preventive detention," he said: "Unlike the Civil War or World War II, we can't count on a surrender ceremony to bring this journey to an end." He added that we'll still be fighting this war "a year from now, five years from now, and - in all probability - 10 years from now."

Just last week, the Washington Post reported that the Obama administration is creating permanent bureaucratic systems to implement its War on Terror powers as it "expects to continue adding names to kill or capture lists for years." Specifically, "among senior Obama administration officials, there is broad consensus that such operations are likely to be extended at least another decade." That "suggests that the United States has reached only the midpoint of what was once known as the global war on terrorism."

Civil liberties abuses justified by a finite war can be awful while they last, but then they cease. Abuses that are systematized based on the premise that they are to be permanent do far more than that: they radically alter the nature of the government and the relationship of the political class to the citizenry.

This, to me, has always been the most uniquely pernicious aspect of the War on Terror civil liberties assaults of the last decade: they will not end when the "war" does because the "war" will have no end. Each new power is embedded permanently into the political framework, incrementally transforming the political culture and the species of government itself.

The second vital factor is the justification used for these assaults. However critical one wants to be of Lincoln, Wilson and Roosevelt - and harsh criticism is appropriate in all three cases - they were actually fighting major wars that had the potential to severely harm if not destroy the US. To the extent that war is a justification for increasing the powers of the executive, those three wars are clearly the most compelling examples.

By contrast, the "War on Terror" is not even legitimately described as a "war", let alone one anywhere near the magnitude of its predecessors. Shortly after I began writing about politics in late 2005, I examined the inane tactic of Bush-following neoconservatives - one that is, like so many neocon views, now vigorously embraced by many Obama defenders - to cite Lincoln's civil liberties abridgments during the Civil War to justify abridgments in the name of the War on Terror. The fundamental differences are obvious:

"During Lincoln's Presidency, the entire nation was engulfed in an internal, all-out war. Half of the country was fully devoted to the destruction of the other half. The existence of the nation was very much in doubt. Americans were dying violent deaths every day at a staggering rate. One million American were wounded and a half-million Americans died (a total which represented 5% of the total population), making it the deadliest war America has ever faced, by far, including all wars through the present. On multiple occasions, more than 25,000 Americans - and sometimes as many as 50,000 - were killed in battles lasting no more than three days. The scope of carnage, killing, and chaos - all within the country, on American soil - is difficult to comprehend.

"Making matters worse - much worse - the country was only 70 years old at the time. And even before the Civil War began, America was teetering precariously from these unresolved internal conflicts. The country then was a shadow of what it is today, with a tiny faction of the strength, stability and cohesion which, 140 years later, characterize the United States."

It takes little effort to demonstrate that the "War on Terror" is not in the same universe. As Professor Richard Jackson has documented, there is a greater risk of dying from lightning strikes or bathtub falls than terrorism. Professors John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart, writing in the latest issue of International Security, condemned the "extraordinarily exaggerated and essentially delusional response" to 9/11. As Professor Stephen Walt described their article:

"Mueller and Stewart analyze 50 cases of supposed 'Islamic terrorist plots' against the United States, and show how virtually all of the perpetrators were (in their words) 'incompetent, ineffective, unintelligent, idiotic, ignorant, unorganized, misguided, muddled, amateurish, dopey, unrealistic, moronic, irrational and foolish.' They quote former Glenn Carle, former deputy national intelligence officer for transnational threats saying 'we must see jihadists for the small, lethal, disjointed and miserable opponents that they are,' noting further that al-Qaida's 'capabilities are far inferior to its desires.'"

To the extent the validity of the proffered justification matters, and it must matter some, the War on Terror abuses are easily the worst for this metric. Unlike the actual, threatening wars of the past, this "war" is pure pretext, a total farce: so out of proportion to the civil liberties assaults employed in its name as to be inconceivable.

As noted, this discussion assumes a rather narrow range of the term "civil liberties": namely a focus on the original core political liberties expressly guaranteed by the Bill of Rights: freedom of speech, freedom from deprivation of life and liberty without due process, habeas corpus. If one expands the term to include more contemporary debates surrounding issues such as gay equality and reproductive rights, as is proper, then the overall picture meaningfully changes. The one common strain running through these historic civil liberties assaults is war. War almost always erodes political liberties. That has always been true. Cicero famously observed "inter arma, enim silent leges" (in times of war, the law falls mute).

That fact - that wars maximize a political leader's power - is a key reason they often crave war and why wars, under the Constitution, were supposed to be extremely difficult for presidents to start. As John Jay wrote in Federalist 4, "absolute monarchs will often make war when their nations are to get nothing by it, but for the purposes and objects merely personal" (that's also why the absurd contortions invoked by President Obama to fight a war in Libya not only in the absence of Congressional approval, but in the face of formal Congressional disapproval, belongs high on the list of his worst and likely most enduring civil liberties assaults).

But in terms of the role played by war in enabling civil liberties assaults, at least the exploited wars are usually real. In the case of the "War on Terror", it is far more illusory and frivolous than real. That - along with their permanence - is a major factor in determining where the civil liberties erosions of the last decade, and the presidents responsible for them, rank in history.
(c) 2012 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy.

Sandy Versus Katrina
By Paul Krugman

As Sandy barreled toward New Jersey, there were hopeful mutters on the right to the effect that it might become President Obama's Katrina, with voters blaming him for the damage, and that this might matter on Tuesday. Sorry, guys: polls show overwhelming approval for Mr. Obama's handling of the storm, and a significant rise in his overall favorability ratings.

And he deserves the bump. For the response to Sandy, like the success of the auto bailout, is a demonstration that Mr. Obama's philosophy of government - which holds that the government can and should provide crucial aid in times of crisis - works. And conversely, the contrast between Sandy and Katrina demonstrates that leaders who hold government in contempt cannot provide that aid when it is needed.

So, about that response: Much of the greater New York area (including my house) is still without power; gasoline is scarce; and some outlying areas are feeling neglected. Right-wing news media are portraying these continuing difficulties as a disaster comparable to, nay greater than, the aftermath of Katrina. But there's really no comparison.

I could do a point-by-point - and it's definitely worth it, if you're curious, to revisit the 2005 Katrina timeline to get a sense of just how bad the response really was. But for me the difference is summed up in two images. One is the nightmare at the New Orleans convention center, where thousands were stranded for days amid inconceivable squalor, an outrage that all of America watched live on TV, but to which top officials seemed oblivious. The other is the scene in flooded Hoboken, with the National Guard moving in the day after the storm struck to deliver food and water and rescue stranded residents.

The point is that after Katrina the government seemed to have no idea what it was doing; this time it did. And that's no accident: the federal government's ability to respond effectively to disaster always collapses when antigovernment Republicans hold the White House, and always recovers when Democrats take it back.

Consider, in particular, the history of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Under President George H. W. Bush, FEMA became a dumping ground for unqualified political hacks. Faced with a major test in the form of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the agency failed completely.

Then Bill Clinton came in, put FEMA under professional management, and saw the agency's reputation restored.

Given this experience, you might have expected George W. Bush to preserve Mr. Clinton's gains. But no: he appointed his campaign manager, Joe Allbaugh, to head the agency, and Mr. Allbaugh immediately signaled his intention both to devolve disaster relief to the state and local level and to downgrade the whole effort, declaring, "Expectations of when the federal government should be involved and the degree of involvement may have ballooned beyond what is an appropriate level." After Mr. Allbaugh left for the private sector, he was replaced with Michael "heckuva job" Brown, and the rest is history.

Like Mr. Clinton, President Obama restored FEMA's professionalism, effectiveness, and reputation. But would Mitt Romney destroy the agency again? Yes, he would. As everyone now knows - despite the Romney campaign's efforts to Etch A Sketch the issue away - during the primary Mr. Romney used language almost identical to Mr. Allbaugh's, declaring that disaster relief should be turned back to the states and to the private sector.

The best line on this, I have to admit, comes from Stephen Colbert: "Who better to respond to what's going on inside its own borders than the state whose infrastructure has just been swept out to sea?"

Look, Republicans love to quote Ronald Reagan's old joke that the most dangerous words you can hear are "I'm from the government and I'm here to help." Of course they'll do their best, whenever they're in power, to destroy an agency whose job is to say exactly that. And yes, it's hypocritical that the right-wing news media are now attacking Mr. Obama for, they say, not helping enough people.

Back to the politics. Some Republicans have already started using Sandy as an excuse for a possible Romney defeat. It's a weak argument: state-level polls have been signaling a clear and perhaps widening Obama advantage for weeks. But as I said, to the extent that the storm helps Mr. Obama, it's well deserved.

The fact is that if Mr. Romney had been president these past four years the federal response to disasters of all kinds would have been far weaker than it was. There would have been no auto bailout, because Mr. Romney opposed the federal financing that was crucial to the rescue. And FEMA would have remained mired in Bush-era incompetence.

So this storm probably won't swing the election - but if it does, it will do so for very good reasons.
(c) 2012 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"You see, when a nation threatens another nation the people of the latter forget their factionalism, their local antagonisms, their political differences, their suspicions of each other, their religious hostilities, and band together as one unit. Leaders know that, and that is why so many of them whip up wars during periods of national crisis, or when the people become discontented and angry.

The leaders stigmatize the enemy with every vice they can think of, every evil and human depravity. They stimulate their people's natural fear of all other men by channeling it into a defined fear of just certain men, or nations. Attacking another nation, then, acts as a sort of catharsis, temporarily, on men's fear of their immediate neighbors.

This is the explanation of all wars, all racial and religious hatreds, all massacres, and all attempts at genocide."
~~~ Taylor Caldwell

Elihu Burritt

Who's Been Right And Who's Been Wrong
By David Swanson

From 1856 to 1860 Elihu Burritt promoted a plan to prevent civil war through compensated emancipation, or the purchase and liberation of slaves by the government, an example that the English had set in the West Indies. Burritt traveled constantly, all over the country, speaking. He organized a mass convention that was held in Cleveland. He lined up prominent supporters. He edited newsletters.

And he was right. England had freed its slaves in the Caribbean without a war. Russia had freed its serfs without a war. Slave owners in the U.S. South would almost certainly have preferred a pile of money to five years of hell, the deaths of loved ones, the burning and destruction of their property, and the uncompensated emancipation that followed, not to mention the century and a half of bitter resentment that followed that. And not only the slave owners would have preferred the way of peace; it's not as if they did the killing and dying.

What does being right get you? Forgotten. Who's ever heard of Elihu Burritt?

In 1862 four peace activists, including Eliza P. Gurney, met with Abraham Lincoln in the White House. Lincoln, with tears running down his face, told them that he wished there had been no war, and that he would end it immediately if he could, but that he was merely a helpless instrument in the hands of his "Heavenly Father" who no doubt had some high purpose for all the suffering. Lincoln carried a comforting letter from Gurney in his pocket when he was shot three years later.

What comfort did Lincoln's superstition bring to three-quarters of a million dead and wounded? What comfort did it bring to Burritt, who had known how to avoid the war and been forced to watch it proceed along with all the fools who supposed it "unavoidable"? What comfort did it bring to centuries of students cruelly propagandized in elementary schools from that day to this with the idea that slavery can only be ended with war?

In 1885, U.S. peace activists prevented the Atlanta, a ship loaded with arms and munitions, from departing Philadelphia for Cuba. They appealed to the governments in Washington and Madrid to submit their disputes to arbitration. In 1896, the Universal Peace Union urged the Spanish government to give the Cubans their autonomy and withdraw all troops, while opposing any U.S. military intervention. In 1898, the Pen and Sword, edited by D. R. Coude in Chicago, urged the President and Congress not to be "played for suckers" by yellow journalists out to sell more newspapers at the cost of launching a war. Coude documented the lies and deceptions that had been moving the nation toward war.

Peace activists flooded Washington with telegrams and letters insisting that the matter of the Maine be submitted to arbitration. But many who favored peace in the abstract abandoned it, as is the custom, in the concrete. "Though I hate war per se," wrote Elizabeth Cady Stanton, "I am glad that it has come in this instance. I would like to see Spain swept from the face of the earth." If that statement makes you think of what Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said of Israel, it's worth remembering that he actually never said that, but that good U.S. liberals have said it of many nations over and over again for centuries now.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Theodore Roosevelt, and President McKinley were wrong, wrong to go to war, wrong to lust for genocide, and wrong to imagine they could wipe Spain off the earth. D. R. Coude was right. And who has ever heard of D. R. Coude? Google hasn't.

In 1915, Jane Addams met with President Wilson and urged him to offer mediation to Europe. Wilson praised the peace terms drafted by the Hague conference held by women for peace. He received 10,000 telegrams from women asking him to act. Historians believe that had he acted in 1915 or early in 1916 he might very well have helped bring the Great War to an end under circumstances that would have furthered a far more durable peace than the one made eventually at Versailles. Wilson did act on the advice of Addams, and of his Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, but not until it was too late. The Germans did not trust a mediator who had been aiding the British war effort.

What good is being right? As early as 1935, U.S. peace activists were marching against U.S. provocations of Japan. Can you imagine anyone more forgotten than they are? It's almost treasonous to know about them.

But consider this. During the U.S. civil war, pressure from peace activists forced a dispute between the U.S. and Britain to arbitration and away from conflict. They did the same in 1869, leading to momentum in Washington and Europe for treaties of arbitration. Among those celebrating progress in 1869 was Elihu Burritt. Peace activists similarly prevented war with Mexico 20 years later and again advanced the cause of peaceful dispute resolution. Peace groups in Europe helped prevent a war between France and Germany in the early years of the 20th century. And in 1926 -1927 U.S. peace activists again helped forestall war with Mexico. At the same time, they built support for the Kellogg-Briand Pact that in 1928 banned war and proved immediately useful in halting war in Manchuria, Bolivia, and Paraguay.

The education of the U.S. public by peace activists before and after World War I, led to the situation in the 1930s when 62% of college students rejected the idea that a bigger Navy would make them safer and 16% said they would refuse to fight even if the United States were invaded. In 1935, the New York Herald-Tribune's Institute of Public Opinion found that 75% of voters wanted a public referendum before any war could be launched, and 71% opposed joining in any war with other countries to "enforce the peace."

Nuclear bombs have not been dropped in our wars since World War II. The United States has not attacked Iran yet. Israeli troops have refused direct orders to prepare to attack Iran. The victories are never advertised. But neither are the failures. Silence is the strongest supporter of war. In both victories and failures, it's worth knowing the facts and considering: Who has been right every time? And who, in contrast, make up the full roster of experts on network and cable TV?*

* For further reading, pick up "Peace Or War: The American Struggle 1636-1936" by Merle Curti from which almost every incident in this article has been lifted.
(c) 2012 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

The S&M Election
By Chris Hedges

I learned at the age of 10, when I was shipped off to a New England boarding school where the hazing of younger boys was the principal form of recreation, that those who hunger for power are psychopathic bastards. The bullies in the forms above me, the sadistic masters on our dormitory floors, the deans and the headmaster would morph in later life into bishops, newspaper editors, college presidents, politicians, heads of state, business titans and generals. Those who revel in the ability to manipulate and destroy are demented and deformed individuals. These severely diminished and stunted human beings-think Bill and Hillary Clinton-shower themselves, courtesy of elaborate public relations campaigns and an obsequious press, with encomiums of piety, patriotism, devoted public service, honor, courage and vision, not to mention a lot of money. They are at best mediocrities and usually venal. I have met enough of them to know.

So it is with some morbid fascination that I watch Barack Obama, who has become the prime "dominatrix" of the liberal class, force us in this election to plead for more humiliation and abuse. Obama has carried out a far more egregious assault on our civil liberties, including signing into law Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), than George W. Bush. Section 1021(b)(2), which I challenged in federal court, permits the U.S. military to detain American citizens, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military facilities. U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest struck down the law in September. The Obama administration immediately appealed the decision. The NDAA has been accompanied by use of the Espionage Act, which Obama has turned to six times in silencing whistle-blowers. Obama supported the FISA Amendment Act so government could spy on tens of millions of us without warrants. He has drawn up kill lists to exterminate those, even U.S. citizens, deemed by the ruling elite to be terrorists.

Obama tells us that we better lick his boots or we will face the brute down the hall, Mitt Romney. After all, we wouldn't want the bad people to get their hands on these newly minted mechanisms of repression. We will, if we do not behave, end up with a more advanced security and surveillance state, the completion of the XL Keystone pipeline, unchecked pillage from Wall Street, environmental catastrophe and even worse health care. Yet we know on some level that once the election is over, Obama will, if he is re-elected, again betray us. This is part of the game. We dutifully assume our position. We cry out in holy terror. We promise to obey. And we are mocked as we watch promises crumble into dust.

As we are steadily stripped of power, we desire with greater and greater fervor to be victims and slaves. Our relationship to corporate power increasingly mirrors that of ancient religious cults. Lucian writes of the priests of Cybele who, whipped into frenzy, castrated themselves to honor the goddess. Women devotees cut off their breasts. We are not far behind.

"Anyone who wants to rule men first tries to humiliate them, to trick them out of their rights and their capacity for resistance, until they are as powerless before him as animals," wrote Elias Canetti in "Crowds and Power." "He uses them like animals and, even if he does not tell them so, in himself he always knows quite clearly that they mean just as little to him; when he speaks to his intimates he will call them sheep or cattle. His ultimate aim is to incorporate them into himself and to suck the substance out of them. What remains of them afterwards does not matter to him. The worse he has treated them, the more he despises them. When they are no more use at all, he disposes of them as he does excrement, simply seeing to it that they do not poison the air of his house."

Our masters rely on our labor to make them wealthy, on our children for cannon fodder in war and on our collective chants for adulation. They would otherwise happily slip us rat poison. When they retreat into their inner sanctums, which they keep hidden from public view, they speak in the cold words of manipulation, power and privilege, words that expose their visions of themselves as entitled and beyond the reach of morality or law.

The elite have produced a few manuals on power. Walter Lippmann's "Public Opinion," Leo Strauss' work and "Atlas Shrugged" by the third-rate novelist Ayn Rand express the elite's deep contempt for the sans-culottes. These writers posit that the masses are incapable of responding rationally to the complexities of power. They celebrate the role of a tiny, controlling elite that skillfully uses propaganda and symbols to, as Lippmann wrote, "manufacture consent." They call on the power elite to operate in secrecy. The elite's systems of propaganda are designed to magnify emotion and destroy the capacity for critical thought. Kafka was right: The modern world has made the irrational rational.

"Crowds have always undergone the influence of illusions," wrote Gustave Le Bon, one of the first pioneers of the study of mass psychology. "Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim."

The more we believe the lies that saturate our airwaves, the more we salute our "heroes" in Iraq or Afghanistan, the more we militarize social and political values, the more frightened we become, the more we bow down and clamor for enslavement, the more the elite detests us. We are, in their eyes, vermin. We have to be dealt with and controlled. At times we have to be placated. At other times we have to be repressed and even killed. But we are a headache. Our existence interferes with the privileges of the ruling class.

"Those who have put out the people's eyes," John Milton wrote, "reproach them of their blindness."

There are a few writers and artists who give us a view of the dark, corrupt heart of power. The 1972 film "The Ruling Class," a black comedy based on Peter Barnes' play, does this, as does Jean Genet's play "The Balcony." So does Noam Chomsky, Elias Canetti's "Crowds and Power," C. Wright Mill's "The Power Elite," Karl Marx's "Capital," Thomas Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow," Marcel Proust's "In Search of Lost Time" and Louis-Ferdinand Celine's "Castle to Castle." The astute explorations of the pathology of power, however, are buried in the avalanche of Disneyfied popular culture and nationalist cant. The elite deeply fears any art, literature, philosophy, poetry, theology and drama that challenge the assumptions and structures of authority. These disciplines must appear to the public only in bastardized forms, packaged as froth, entertainment or sentimental drivel that celebrates the established hierarchy.

Pynchon in "Gravity's Rainbow" portrays Brigadier Ernest Pudding, the commander of a special psychological operations unit in World War II and a veteran of World War I, as the archetypal member of the elite. Pudding's glory on the battlefield "came in 1917, in the gassy, Armageddonite filth of the Ypres salient, where he conquered a bight of no man's land some 40 yards at its deepest, with a wastage of only 70% of his unit." He holds secret fortnightly trysts with "the Mistress of the Night" where he strips, kisses her boots, receives blows from a cane, drinks her urine and eats her excrement. He dies "of a massive E. Coli infection" that results from his nocturnal coprophagic rituals.

Peter Barnes captures the same dementia in "The Ruling Class," in which Ralph Gurney, the 13th earl of Gurney, accidentally hangs himself in his bedroom while wearing a tutu and playing erotic games with a noose. His successor, Jack Gurney, believes he is God and speaks only of love and charity. This will not do. A psychiatrist is called in to help the new earl adapt to his role as a representative of the ruling class. By the time the psychiatrist's work is complete, Jack is cured of his God delusion. He now believes he is Jack the Ripper. He assumes his seat in the House of Lords. He rails against the unemployed, homosexuals and socialists. He champions God, queen and country, along with corporal and capital punishment. He murders innocent women on the side, including his wife, and becomes an esteemed member of the ruling class.

Genet, who like Pynchon and Barnes equates the lust for power with sexual depravity, sets "The Balcony" in a brothel. Clients don the vestments of power, including those of a judge, a bishop and a general. The "bishop," who outside the brothel works for the gas company, hears the sins of the prostitutes in confession and revels in the power of absolution. The "judge" metes out severe sentences for trivial offenses to maintain law and order. The "general," who rides his prostitute as if she were a horse, demands self-sacrifice, honor and glory for the state. A bank clerk in the brothel, meanwhile, defiles the Virgin Mary. Revolution occurs outside the doors of the brothel. The actual rulers, priests, generals and judges are killed. The patrons step outside, along with Irma, the brothel madam, who is anointed the new queen, to assume the roles in society they once playacted and to mount the counterrevolution.

Irma, at the close of the play, turns to face the audience. She says:

In a little while, I'll have to start all over again ... put all the lights on again ... dress up. ... (A cock crows.) Dress up ... ah, the disguises! Distribute roles again ... assume my own. ... (She stops in the middle of the stage, facing the audience.) ... Prepare yours ... judges, generals, bishops, chamberlains, rebels who allow the revolt to congeal, I'm going to prepare my costumes and studios for tomorrow. ... You must now go home, where everything-you can be quite sure-will be falser than here. ... You must go now. You'll leave by the right, through the alley. ... (She extinguishes the last light. It's morning already. (A burst of machine-gun fire.)
The only recognizable basis for moral and political authority, in the eyes of the elite, is the attainment of material success and power. It does not matter how it is gotten. The role of education, the elites believe, is to train us vocationally for our allotted positions and assure proper deference to the wealthy. Disciplines that prod us to think are-and the sneering elites are not wrong about this - "political," "leftist," "liberal" or "subversive." And schools and universities across the country are effectively stomping out these disciplines. The elites know, as Canetti wrote, that once we stop thinking we become a herd. We react to every new stimulus as if we were rats crammed into a cage. When the elites push the button, we jump. It is collective sadomasochism. And we will get a good look at it on Election Day.
(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...

Heil Obama,

Dear Generalstaatsanwalt Abbott,

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 attempt to bring back Jim Crowe laws to Texas, 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 Abbott, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

On A Progressive Civic Agenda
By Ralph Nader

The "democracy gap" in our politics and elections spells a deep sense of powerlessness by people who drop out, do not vote, or listlessly vote for the 'least worst' every four years and then wonder why after every cycle the 'least worst' gets worse. People need to be "Expert Voters" and "Expert Citizens."

The important work of our democracy does not end on election day, rather it begins anew once the votes are counted.

A civic agenda that starts to end the corporate domination of our country should:

* End ballot access obstructionism
Open up the Presidential debates
Public financing of campaigns
Raise the minimum wage to $10 per hour
Adopt single payer national health insurance
Launch a nationwide public works and repair program
Cut the huge, bloated, wasteful military budget
Retire nuclear power, expand Renewable Energy to deal with climate change
Crackdown on corporate crime and corporate welfare
Adopt a carbon pollution tax and end tax escapes for corporations and the wealthy
Reverse U.S. policy in the Middle East
Repeal the Taft-Hartley anti-union law
Adopt a Wall Street securities speculation tax
End corporate personhood
Defend, Restore and Strengthen the Civil Justice System
(c) 2012 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book - and first novel - is, Only The Super Wealthy Can Save Us. His most recent work of non-fiction is The Seventeen Traditions.

A Week Of Democracy
By Adam Keller

This year there was a fierce struggle over the character of the memorial rally for Yitzhak Rabin. Those who emerged with the upper hand, especially the youth movement identified with the Labor Party, decided to make a drastic change in the rally's content and agenda.

It was nineteen years ago that Yitzhak Rabin, Prime Minister of Israel, shook the hand of Yasser Arafat, Head of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. A ceremony on the White House lawn aroused great hopes, which since then dashed again and again. Seventeen years ago to the day, on November 4, 1995, three shots sounded in a square at the heart of Tel Aviv and Yitzhak Rabin paid with his life for that handshake.

Every year since then, tens of thousands are gathering in this same square to commemorate that murder. At such rallies, speakers used to talk of a life work which was cut off prematurely, and about the peace which was not concluded and the occupation which did not come to an end. Often, also, they pointed an accusing finger at the opponents of peace and supporters of the occupation, at later Prime Ministers who failed to follow through on what Rabin had started. Quite naturally, there were those who felt they had no place in the Rabin memorial rallies - those who did not want this peace - not during Rabin's life nor after his death, those who do not want the occupation to ever end, and who want the settlements to continue intact for generations to come.

This time, however, things would be different.

"This is not about the traditional division of Left and Right. There will com all who are united in demanding that democratic decisions be respected. The memory of the Rabin murder will provide the impetus for creating a Jewish and democratic state, it will provide the motivation for struggle against all forms of racism, against any incitement to bloodshed (...). We believe and hope that focusing the rally on such fundamental issues, rather than on a wistful longing for the policies of Rabin, will in the long run facilitate the attendance of the rally by broader audiences. Anyone to whom Israeli democracy is precious would find it possible to attend - not just the specific and limited section of public which attended the rallies in the past years."

Among the crowd which gathered at the Rabin Square last Saturday night - about twenty to twenty-five thousand according to police estimates - it was difficult to find representatives of public currents other than those which had been there also in the past, those who come to demonstrate for peace and against the occupation and settlements. But on the podium there were indeed several speakers of a kind not seen before in Rabin Memorials. For example Rabbi Avi Gisser, Rabbi of the settlement of Ofra.

Ofra was established in 1975, much of it on Palestinian private lands. The settlement movement of the time, known as Gush Emunim (Block of the Faithful) considered its creation to be a major breakthrough. Literally a breakthrough: settlers for the first time (but certainly not last) breaking into the heart of the densely populated Palestinian territory and establishing themselves there. Ofra is the informal capital of the ideological settlers, who believe that Judea and Samaria belong to the Jewish People by virtue of Divine Promise and Historic Right. Many of their lay and spiritual leaders live there to this day.

Rabbi Gisser, coming from Ofra to the Rabin Square, knew that he was not on his home ground. Indeed, when he got the podium there was an outburst of boos and catcalls. One may credit Gisser for having taken care to prepare a speech fitting the circumstances and the expectations of those who invited him. "The Arabs are the children of Abraham, too. It is an absolute imperative upon us to love all who were created in God's image. We have absolutely nothing to do with those who preach hatred of human beings. The Torah which we Jews hold dear does not permit bloodshed. Anyone who denies that has no part in Torah of Israel."

It may well be that all that was said in complete honesty. That, indeed, Rabbi Gisser is staunchly opposed to such books as "The King's Torah" which specify the circumstances when the killing of Gentiles would be permissible and even praiseworthy, to the rabbis who publish such books and to the ardent supporters who read them and go out of in the night to set on fire olive trees and mosques as well as churches and monasteries. But what of a political solution? What would be the fate and future of millions of Palestinians living under Israeli military rule for 45 years already? What of the residents of Ramallah, the Palestinian city located about five miles southwest of Ofra which Gisser never visited? Are they part of the Israeli democracy for whose defence the rally was held? Well, Gisser and other speakers of a similar political coloration had agreed to speak at the Rabin Memorial Rally on condition that it would not "go into politics" and would not offer political solutions. "We must make sure that the debate on the future of the land does not tear society apart," he told his audience on the square. Perhaps this debate should be dropped altogether. Perhaps we should move on to other issues in the conduct of Israeli politics in general and the current elections campaign in particular? Shelly Yechimovich, leader of the Labor Party who attended the rally though she did not speak from the podium, would certainly agree.

On the next day, the Knesset held a special session in memory of Rabin. Speaker Reuven Rivlin chose to open the discussion by emphasizing the ideological dispute between him and the late Rabin. "Rabin's political legacy was clear: to seek separation of the peoples by dividing the country and creating two separate entities. I disagreed with Rabin then and I still disagree with him today. I believe that the whole concept is erroneous. It is not applicable in the territory between the Jordan and the sea. It can be said that the idea of separation has failed. Is has not gotten into the hearts of the two peoples." But if division and no two separate entities, what should there be instead? A single democratic state from the Mediterranean to the Jordan? Letting the Palestinians vote in the next Knesset elections, or those after the next? This question was asked by Knesset Members and newspaper columnists in the stormy debate which developed. Rivlin did not see fit to answer.

The Likud Party, Rivlin's party, does not much concern itself with the Palestinians and their rights and whether they would be given a vote in decisions which will determine their fate. Basically, anyway, the members of the Likud Conference themselves were not given much of a choice. The terms of the agreement between Prime Minister Netanyahu and the his new-old partner Avigdor Lieberman were not presented to them, nor were they given the chance for a secret balloting on this agreement. And there was such overt pressure that quite a bit of courage was needed to vote against. A bit like the elections which Vladimir Putin held in Russia a few months ago, to which the partner Lieberman gave his stamp of approval, going especially to Moscow for the purpose...

On the day following, Monday, the spotlight shifted momentarily to Yair Lapid, the rising star of Israeli politics whose new party's name assures us that "There is a Future." As the venue for talking about this future Lapid chose the settlement of Ariel in the northern West Bank. The same settlement which got headlines when hundreds of Israeli actors and theater people announced their refusal to perform in its "Hall of Culture", asserting that there can be no real culture in an armed enclave at the heart of an Occupied Territory. Only recently Ariel was at the focus of a new dispute, about whether the college in this settlement should be upgraded to a full university and get enormous budgets and resources. As he clearly showed Yair Lapid opposes the boycott of Ariel. In general, he "does not know any map in which Ariel does not belong to the State of Israel." The same with the Ma'ale Adumim settlement east of Jerusalem and the Gush Etzion settlements to the south. And not to mention United Jerusalem, the Capital of Israel, where two hundred thousand Palestinians would continue to live under Israeli rule and settlers would go on taking over their homes. But Yair Lapid certainly does support separation from the Palestinians and has pledged himself not to enter any government which does not embark on negotiations with them. What would be the subject of such negotiations? What exactly would be offered to the Palestinians? In fact, no one really pressured Yair Lapid with such tough questions.

In any case Yair Lapid quickly dropped from the headlines, which shifted to another new star Moshe Kahlon. Moshe Kahlon, Minister of Communications with a social conscience, stood for several days with one foot outside the Likud Party. The polls predicted great things for the independent new party that he thought of setting up. The man who struggled mightily against the cellular phone companies and thanks to whom we can all pay less to the bastard tycoons. And this was just the beginning of the great social struggles that he would lead. Labour Party leader Shelly Yechimovich rushed to congratulate Kahlon for his impending departure from the Likud: "I think Kahlon is an excellent representative of the public. His entry into the political arena promotes exactly what I'm struggling for: breaking the dichotomy between the political Right and Left. Two blocks no longer, it's all a mental fixation. We need to have a new perception of what a political party is. "

And what does this excellent public representative, the man who breaks the dichotomy between Left and Right, have to say about the occupation and the Palestinians? Well, among the settlers he is a very welcome and respected guests, who supports all their demands and protests that the amount of construction in the settlements is not enough. And when asked about the Palestinian appeal to the UN, the social champion Moshe Kahlon had a decisive and incisive crushing answer: "If the Palestinians get a recognition of statehood from the United Nations, we should immediately annex all the Territories, the very same day. You declare a state? No problem, we also make a declaration. As the kids say - you started it." Does the annexation of Palestinians include the vote in Knesset elections? No one asked Kahlon this question, though most probably such was not exactly his intention.

Activist Amir Shibli, who regularly prepares cartoons and montages and distributes them on the net cartoons, proclaimed Moshe Kahlon and his party (if any) as a good electoral choice for those who want to text cheaply and at the same time keep four million people without basic civil rights. However, by the latest news, Kahlon now prefers not to run. What a pity.

Last but not least in this week's march of democracy is none other than Natan Sharansky. The man who many years ago was struggling bravely for Human Rights in the Soviet Union and later headed the party which sought to represent the Russian-speaking Israelis, until Avigdor Lieberman undercut it. Who currently heads the Jewish Agency, a respected institution which usually triggers a yawn with the average Israeli. And this week he recalls his good old days when former U.S. President George W. Bush basked in Sharansky's doctrine of spreading democracy around the world and was influenced by it in his decision to invade Iraq and bring there the blessings of democracy. And so did the champion of democracy write:

"The West must make financial and diplomatic support conditional upon obtaining concrete evidence of democratic reforms and respect for Human Rights. In this there is no place for selectivity. It must be a coherent, uncompromising policy extending over many years. It must be implemented with the same determination for everyone - from Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority to Egypt and Libya."(Maa'riv, November 1, 2012)

No place for selectivity? All countries that receive aid from the West, with no exceptions? Does that really mean that Natan Sharansky, Head of the Jewish Agency and a good friend of Binyamin Netanyahu, calls upon the United States to halt all financial and diplomatic aid to Israel, as a means of pressuring Israel to accept basic democratic norms of behavior and cease to occupy and oppress millions of people? No need to exaggerate, of course. No one even imagines asking Sharansky such questions.

Still, perhaps it is the voters in the United States who will decide. Exactly they, many of whom cannot point out in the map the location the Middle East and who are far more concerned with the unemployment situation in the Midwest. Perhaps it is they who, this coming Tuesday, will take the decision which Israeli politicians avoid. Maybe it will be the American voters, by re-electing Obama, who will enable their president - if so he wants - to end the occupation and not let it roll on sedately to its fiftieth anniversary.

Certainly, when you conduct an elections campaign over the heads of the Palestinians and presume to determine their fate without asking them, you can't really complain if the decision is taken also out of your own hands.
(c) 2012 Adam Keller is an Israeli peace activist who was among the founders of Gush Shalom.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Ken Catalino ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Obamas Return To White House As Romneys Return To 1954
Nation Spends $2.5 Billion on Nothing
By Andy Borowitz

NEWS ANALYSIS (The Borowitz Report)-One day after the costliest Presidential election in U.S. history, Americans awoke to the ugly realization that the nation had spent $2.5 billion with absolutely nothing to show for it.

"Four years ago, Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, and that is still the case," says Professor Davis Logsdon of the University of Minnesota. "The only difference is that we as a nation are out $2.5 billion."

Mr. Logsdon claims that America's system of egregious political spending "has made us the laughingstock of the world," arguing, "Even Greece would know better than to blow through money like that."

But "not so fast," says Tracy Klugian, President of the Negative Advertising Association of America, which represents the nation's leading producers of political attack ads.

"When people complain about how expensive these political campaigns are, they're forgetting about the millions of Americans who are employed making negative ads," he says. "Say what you will about lies, vitriol and character assassination, they're job creators."

In fact, Mr. Klugian says, America's costly and interminable campaigns are the nation's most reliable source of employment: "They gave a completely unskilled person like Mitt Romney a steady job for eight years."

Acknowledging that the $2.5 billion spent this year was a "tidy sum," Mr. Klugian says, "If we took all the money we spend on political ads and used it to educate our children and feed the poor, we wouldn't be America."
(c) 2012 Andy Borowitz

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Issues & Alibis Vol 12 # 45 (c) 11/09/2012

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