Please visit our sponsor!

Bookmark and Share
In This Edition

Robert Kuttner wonders, "What Planet Are Deficit Hawks Living On?"

Uri Avnery finds, "Vox Taxi - Vox Dei."

Ralph Nader sees, "Bush At Large."

Michael Moore warns the Congress, "Don't Be Lame Duck Dems."

Jim Hightower watches, "Obama's Willy Loman Schtick."

Robert Scheer uncovers, "The Man Who Shattered Our Economy."

Amy Goodman hears, "A Cry From Argentina."

Randall Amster discovers, "Pot Luck? Arizona Approves Medical Marijuana Amid Conservative Landslide."

Chris Floyd calls a, "Blind Man's Bluff."

Matthew Rothschild points out that, "Bush Can’t Travel Abroad Without Risking Arrest."

Paul Krugman studies, "The World As He Finds It."

Chris Hedges explains, "The Origin Of America's Intellectual Vacuum."

David Michael Green explores, "The Religion Of Politics."

Columnist Jonah Goldberg wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Glenn Greenwald examines, "Democrats And The Rule Of Law."

Phil Rockstroh with yet another must read, "Public Like A Frog."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Landover Baptist Church answers the question of, "How Come Injuns Don't Celebrate Thanksgiving?" but first Uncle Ernie sings, "And The Wind Began To Howl."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Jeff Darcy, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Derf City, All Hat No Cattle.Com, R.J. Matson, Khalil Bendib, Chris Floyd, Vast Left, Jimmy Margulies, Michael Moore, CNN 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."

And The Wind Began To Howl
By Ernest Stewart

Outside in the cold distance
A wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching
And the wind began to howl
All Along The Watchtower ~~~ Bob Dylan

"Every month that we do not have an economic recovery package, 500 million Americans lose their jobs." ~~~ Nancy Pelosi

"As part of our layered approach, we have expedited the deployment of new Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) units to help detect concealed metallic and non-metallic threats on passengers. These machines are now in use at airports nationwide, and the vast majority of travelers say they prefer this technology to alternative screening measures." ~~~ Janet Napolitano

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

You can hear them revving up for when it hits the fan. Barry, after getting trounced in the election, ran off to play arms dealer for the military/industrial complex, stopping all around the world to sell US arms. It seems that's all we're really good at, or good for, anymore! When you think of America now-a-daze you think not of the breadbasket of the world or the automakers or cutting-edge science, but of death and destruction and the implements of war! We've beaten our plow-shares back into swords. Barry also ran off to keep from hearing the howls of delight from the Teabagger set who are off on their quest to destroy America's infrastructure, keep the tax breaks for the uber-wealthy, take the money saved on letting our roads, bridges, schools, etc., go to Hell and spend it on new and bigger wars.

You heard all the "usual suspects" crawling out from under their rocks, howling in unison like a pack of wolves, claiming America wants them for the next two years to get rid of Barry, and standing in his way every chance they get. When Americans are really screaming at the top of their lungs for jobs, for a roof over their heads, for food on the table, for a decent future for their children and for a Con-gress who will put them first before their corpo-rat masters. How is it we keep electing all of these deaf people to Con-gress?

Meanwhile, Barry keeps making speech after speech on how he wants to make nice and maybe kiss some more Rethuglican butt! If it weren't so tragic, it would be hilarious. If someone wrote this bad three-act play, you wouldn't believe it, or in any of the characters. Surely, no one could be as evil and as dumb as they truly are? I'm not buying any of it for a minute, are you?

The trouble is that none of the above characters will be paying the price for their follies. No one but you and I will have to deal with the final outcome and who knows maybe the "final solution" of their "modest proposals!" Consider that they wouldn't be spending all those billions of dollars on Happy Camps if they're weren't going to use them. Wouldn't that money be better spent on new wars and bigger tax cuts for the ultra-rich? I mean, wouldn't it? Better batten down the hatches, America, it looks to be a long rough ride ahead!

In Other News

I see where the Demoncrats are all getting on board the Palin for President 2012 committee by reelecting Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer into the number one and two leadership positions of the House Demoncrats. This to me seems strange as Nancy and Steny oversaw one of the biggest election disasters in the history of the House! The fact that most Demoncrats are masochists who enjoy a good beating might explain the political faux pas? Along with fact that the Rethuglicans are mostly self-hating closeted gays who are sadists by nature! The yin and the yang of America's ruling elite! Simple, huh?

I'm curious as why they were even reelected as most of the Blue Dogs thankfully bit the dust this time around. Nancy was challenged for minority leader by Heath Shuler my old con-gressman from Asheville, North Carolina. While Heath leaves a lot to be desired, at least he got the Health Care sellout right and voted against it, something that Nancy didn't do, so I for one was pulling for Heath.

Another annoyance to the Pelosi/Hoyer titanic disaster was those uppity members of the House Black Caucus who thought that perhaps a black liberal would make a better minority leader than Steny. Jim Clyburn the current Demoncratic "Whip" (doesn't that sound kinky?) will become "assistant leader," a made-up position to keep the caucus satisfied and in its place. Perhaps Jim should have used his whip on Nancy and Steny when he had the chance? I'm sure both of them would have enjoyed it!

The end result is more of the same for the next two years and we've seen just how well that worked out, huh? Of course, it matches perfectly with Obama who turned out not to have a political clue about anything. Barry learned from the election not that the people want jobs and an end to Bush's programs, but that they want him to work with the Rethuglicans for more of the same. How can Barry be so stupid that he thinks the Rethuglicans want to help him, help America? Nobody is that stupid, not even the Teabaggers! He must be reading this stuff from a script! We are so doomed!

And Finally

There was Janet Napolitano Fatherland Security head lying her fat ass off in USA Today the other day. Yeah, I know, a lying politician, what will they think of next? Since the TSA, which I believe stands for Tits, Scrotums and Asses, began raping would-be airline passengers a couple of weeks ago, not to mention sending doses of radiation so they can see everyone naked, and, of course, storing the photos for use later on, it's finally beginning to hit the fan! So to try and stem the rising revolt, Janet told some obvious lies that didn't go over at all with anyone except for the reporters and management of USA Today who let her get away with them, without a single question about her obvious lies. Her first major lie was this:

AIT machines are safe, efficient, and protect passenger privacy. They have been independently evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, who have all affirmed their safety. And the weapons and other dangerous and prohibited items we've found during AIT screenings have illustrated their security value time and again.

Actually John Hopkins said otherwise, did some back peddling, and finally removed their study from their Internet site. Here's what typically can be found on the radiation...

"Many people will approach this as, 'Oh, it must be safe, the government has thought about this and I'll just submit to it,'" says David Agard, a biochemist and biophysicist at the University of California, San Francisco. "But there really is no threshold of low dose being OK. Any dose of X-rays produces some potential risk."

Agard and several of his UCSF colleagues recently wrote a letter to John Holdren the president's science adviser, asking for a more thorough look at the risks of exposing all those airline passengers to X-rays. The other signers are John Sedat, a molecular biologist and the group's leader; Marc Shuman, a cancer specialist; and Robert Stroud, a biochemist and biophysicist.

"Ionizing radiation such as the X-rays used in these scanners have the potential to induce chromosome damage, and that can lead to cancer," Agard says.

There is, of course, another system that uses radio waves and hence zero radiation, but we're buying both as the Rapescan, oops, Rapiscan has ties to the Crime Family Bush's bag man Michael Chertoff. Mike, as well as his father, are long-time Bush "made men!" Of course, another wonderful aspect of this is you are seen totally naked. which I know will appeal to some of you, which brings us to another one of Janet's lies that they don't, nay can't, store the pictures of you and they're not explicit.

Rigorous privacy safeguards are also in place to protect the traveling public. All images generated by imaging technology are viewed in a walled-off location not visible to the public. The officer assisting the passenger never sees the image, and the officer viewing the image never interacts with the passenger. The imaging technology that we use cannot store, export, print or transmit images.

Truth is, they leave nothing to doubt, and they are manufactured to not only store all images, but they have been storing images since day one! And those same images have been transferred to other systems. Nor should you be fooled by the fogged-up images they show you when the truth is they're crystal clear. Imagine the fun and cheap thrills the perverts who operate the machines have with children and teenagers! Yes, something that anyone else would be arrested for, and rightly so for possessing, they collect and save. I guess it's not kiddie porn when done by Big Sister, huh?

Of course, if you don't like being radiated, or don't like posing for naughty pictures, you can choose for yourself and your children a quick molestation by some government pervert, and if you refuse the molestation, not only will you not be boarding the plane, but will explain same to the local cops, if not the FBI and Homeland Security goons. Not only child porn, but molestation of your children is demanded for traveling by air!

Of course, this molestation is mostly to get you used to posing naked instead so that they can next install the machines at sporting events, concerts, shopping malls and schools, where it will be kiddie porn all the time!

There's an "op-out" planned for Wednesday, where everybody will choose to get molested which will mean that the airports will be backed up around the block as the molestation takes a lot longer than the photo-op as most people get squeamish while being molested by strangers. What has already happened is a growing number of folks choose simply not to fly, especially families with children, which adds to the recession/depression and raises the cost to fly. Janet thinks you'll be patriotic to go along with her plans to turn you into the cattle that you are, if you do! Still, I must admit, that if some hot babe wanted to stick her hands down my pants and pretend to search for a weapon for a while, that would be just alright with me! Not to mention that if someone wants to molest me, shouldn't I at least be taken out for dinner and a movie, first?

Keepin' On

After hanging out with the fabulous Diane Gee for a couple of weeks on her Wild Wild Left radio show I've decided to get one of my own. This is something I've been putting off for years. After 30 years as a DJ and Announcer I've been there and done that in spades! I quit doing radio, road houses, nudie bars and private parties for folks like Bob Seger, Alice Cooper and the FBI to write a couple of books. I had three going and two more in the planning stages when the 12-12-2000 coup d'etat went down and I've just now finished one of them, so going back on the air, or in this case, the Internet wasn't a very high priority.

Be that as it may, it is my intent to get "Back in the Saddle" and do a radical news radio show on or about the first week in January, provided I can raise a few dollars for the cost of the program and a few articles I'll need to broadcast. Besides some kick ass jams and my mad, radical ramblings, we'll have interesting guests, some famous and some perhaps infamous as well as a chat room where you can hang out and listen, chat with one another and we'll take your questions and thoughts via the phone so everyone can be involved as much or as little as you like, and in case you missed the original broadcast, you'll be able to listen to it in the archives!

I should have it all together by next week. In the meantime, a little help y'all, I need to raise $500 to do this thing and can not afford to do it without your help, as my soon to realize pittance of a Social Security check hasn't anything to spare and I'm so broke I can't pay attention! So please, a little help y'all! Tis the season after all, huh?


2006 ~ 11-15-2010
Welcome to America!


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


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

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

What Planet Are Deficit Hawks Living On?
By Robert Kuttner

To read the papers and watch TV news during the past week, you would think that the most dire problem afflicting Americans was the federal deficit in 2020 or 2030.

But for most people, the crisis right now is lost income, lost jobs, lost homes.

And the recommendations of the two co-chairs of the fiscal commission would make the prolonged stagnation worse, by commencing belt-tightening less than a year from now, at the beginning is fiscal year 2012 (October 2011) when most economic forecasts say unemployment will still be around ten percent.

The economy is on the brink of a period of prolonged deflation. With the Obama stimulus of February 2009 already starting to peter out, state budgets in free fall, home foreclosures proceeding at the rate of several hundred thousand a month, and job creation too low to cut the unemployment rate, the outlook is for endless slump -- unless we get more public investment, not less.

The Fed's policy of resorting to the printing press and buying up Treasury bonds to keep interest rates low is having only limited effect. Housing prices, after rebounding very slightly, are falling again.

Yet even the mainstream liberal press buys this nonsense. The New York Times, which had been somewhat skeptical, ran an editorial on November 10 mostly buying the deficit hawk story. The report of the commission chairs, according to the Times:

frankly acknowledges what most politicians are too cowardly to admit -- that deficit reduction will require shared sacrifice.

It lays out sensible principles, prominent among them that deficit reduction should start gradually, beginning in 2012, to avoid disrupting the fragile economic recovery. It also affirms the need to protect the most vulnerable Americans and to invest in education, infrastructure and research and development.

Then it does what any successful deficit reduction plan must do: It puts everything on the table, including tax reform to raise revenue and cuts in spending on health care and defense. It even dares to mention the need to find significant savings in Social Security, Medicare and other mandatory programs.

This is mostly nonsense. The sacrifices in the proposed list of measures are not shared. More than two-thirds of the proposed savings are on the spending side. Repealing the Bush tax cuts, costing $4 trillion over a decade, are not on the list at all. And there is no mention of taxing financial speculation, hedge funds, or anything else that would hit the very well to do. Politicians who resist this economic perversity are not cowards. They are heroes.

While the panel may affirm rhetorically the need for social investment, it is domestic spending that takes the biggest hit. Social Security, which is in surplus for the next 27 years, is on the chopping block and does not belong here at all. America needs more retirement security, not less.

Sunday's Times compounded the sin, in front page piece of the News in Review section by economics writer David Leonhardt, inviting the reader to fix the deficit projected in the year 2030!

Why 2030? "That's the year when boomers start to weigh heavily on the budget, and it's the latest year for which experts have estimated budget costs," according to Leonhardt.

Huh? The oldest boomers turn 65 next year -- not in two decades. And the projected budget deficit in 2030 will be far more influenced by whether the economy recovers any time soon than by what cuts are imagined for 20 years in the future.

What's insidious about articles like this is that they take the premise of the deficit hawks for granted -- that the projected deficit rather than the prolonged slump is the top economic challenge.

Instead of that exercise, how about one where readers explore choices on how to get a recovery going. How to resolve the foreclosure mess? What kind of social investment to put into 21st century infrastructure? How to create jobs and get wages growing again?

If you want to get Social Security well into the black for the indefinite future, the easiest way is to restore wage growth -- since Social Security is financed by taxes on wages (which are capped so that the wealthy pay a pittance.)

What pushed Social Security (very slightly) into the red is the fact that all the income gains have gone to the top. The chairmen's draft report, with its rhetoric of equal sacrifice, gets 92% of proposed Social Security savings from cutting benefits, and just 8 percent from increasing the income ceiling on payroll taxes. Some sharing.

These people do live on another planet -- Planet Wall Street. Erskine Bowles, the Democratic co-chair, has spent most of his life as an investment banker. He began at Morgan Stanley, and now serves on its board, where he collects a fee of $335,000 a year for attending a few annual meetings. That's more than 99 percent of Americans earn for working full time. No wonder the man is so glib about tightening other people's belts. And that's the Democratic chair.

I recently debated David Walker on CNN.

Walker, who headed Pete Peterson's billion dollar foundation that was created to promote austerity, and is now a Peterson grantee, is very coy about professing concern for the poor. His strategy is to combine devastating cuts in social outlays generally with token increases for the poorest. As I told Walker, just because a policy inflicts pain and is politically unpopular, it isn't necessarily good policy.

In the segment before mine, commentators agreed with each other that the deficit was large because politicians didn't have the courage to set aside partisan differences. But the deficit is large because of the recession itself, the Bush tax cuts, and the costs of two wars. The entire Bowles-Simpson exercise would cut less money from the projected ten-year deficit than the cost of the Bush tax cuts.

The whole austerity crusade is the work of Wall Street and of politicians who want a high-minded excuse to bash government, or who mistakenly think that the Democrats got their clocks cleaned because voters fretted about deficits. The American Prospect recently published a definitive article by two eminent political scientists, Chris Howard and Richard Valelly, titled "Deficit-Attention Disorder," demonstrating that voters are not mainly upset about deficits, but about the continuing economic calamity. The voters are way ahead of the kind of elites that populate this commission.

If the deficit-hawks get their way, that economic calamity will only deepen, and produce a deeper political setback for the Obama administration.

President Obama, who bequeathed this commission, has been encouraging its members to "set aside their partisan differences" and agree on a plan -- as if reducing the deficit had anything to do with the real challenge, namely getting a recovery going.

The best hope, in truth, is that divisions will cripple the commission, that other leaders will start turning to the real issues of economic recovery, and that President Obama will stop listening to the austerity mongers. For more detailed rebuttal to the deficit hawks, see the new website,
© 2010 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 and other books.

Vox Taxi - Vox Dei
By Uri Avnery

ON SATURDAY evening, two weeks ago, we returned by taxi from the annual memorial rally for Yitzhak Rabin, and as usual got into a conversation with our driver.

Generally, these conversations flow smoothly, with lots of laughs. Rachel loves them, because they bring us face-to-face with people we donít normally meet. The conversations are necessarily short, the people express their views concisely, without choosing their words. They are of many kinds, and in the background we generally hear the radio news, talk shows or music chosen by the driver. And, of course, the soldier-son and the student-daughter are mentioned.

But this time, things were less smooth. Perhaps we were more provocative than usual, still depressed by the rally, which was devoid of political content, devoid of emotion, devoid of hope. The driver became more and more upset, and so did Rachel. We felt that if we had not been paying customers, it might have ended in a fight.

THE VIEWS of our driver can be summed up as follows:

There will never be peace between us and the Arabs, because the Arabs donít want it.

The Arabs want to slaughter us, always did and always will.

Every Arab learns from early childhood that the Jews must be killed.

The Koran preaches murder.

Fact, wherever there are Muslims, there is terrorism. Wherever there is terrorism, there are Muslims.

We must not give the Arabs one square inch of the country.

What did we get when we gave them Gaza back? We got Qassam rockets!

Thereís nothing to be done about it. Only to hit them on the head and send them back to the countries they came from.

According to the Talmudic injunction: He who comes to kill you, kill him first.

THIS DRIVER expressed in simple and unvarnished language the standard convictions of the great majority of Jews in the country.

It is not something that can be identified with any one part of society. It is common to all sectors. The owner of a stall in the market will express it crudely, a professor will set it down in a learned treatise with numbered footnotes. A senior army officer regards it as self-evident, a politician bases his election campaign on it.

This is the real obstacle facing the Israeli peace camp today. Once upon a time, the discussion was about whether a Palestinian people exists at all. Thatís already behind us. After that we had to discuss ìGreater Israelî and ìLiberated Territory Will Not Be Given Backî. We overcame. Then there was the discussion about whether to return the ìTerritoriesî to King Hussein or to a Palestinian state to be established next to Israel. We overcame. After that, whether to negotiate with the PLO, which was defined as a terrorist organization, and with the arch-terrorist, Yasser Arafat. We overcame. All the leaders of the nation later stood in line to shake his hand. Then there was the quarrel about the price - return to the Green Line? Swap of territories? A compromise in Jerusalem? Evacuate settlements? That is also largely behind us.

All these debates were, more or less, rational. Of course, deep emotions were involved, but so was logic.

But how to speak with people who believe wholeheartedly that the discussion itself is irrelevant? That it is divorced from reality?

In the eyes of our conversation partners, questions about whether it is worthwhile to make peace or not, whether peace is good or bad for the Jews, are meaningless, if not downright stupid. Questions which make no sense, since we are having a debate only with ourselves.

There will never be peace, because the Arabs will never want peace. End of discussion.

WHO IS to blame for this attitude? If there is one person who is guilty more than anyone else, it is Ehud Barak.

If there existed an international court for peace crimes, like the international court for war crimes, we should have to send him there.

When Barak won his landslide victory against Binyamin Netanyahu in 1999, he had no idea about the Palestinian problem. He talked as if he had never had a serious conversation with a Palestinian. But he promised to achieve peace within months, and more than a hundred thousand jubilant people acclaimed him on the evening of election day in the square where Rabin had been murdered.

Barak was certain that he knew exactly what to do: summon Arafat to a meeting and offer him a Palestinian state. Arafat would thank him with tears in his eyes and give up everything else.

But when the Camp David conference convened, he was shocked to see that the Palestinians, evil as they were, had some demands of their own. The conference ended in failure.

Coming home, Barak did not declare: "Sorry, I was ignorant. I shall try to do better." There are not many leaders in the world who admit to stupidity.

A normal politician would have said: "This conference has not borne fruit, but there was some progress. There will be more meetings, and we shall try to bridge the differences."

But Barak produced a mantra that every Israeli has since heard a thousand times: "I have turned every stone on the way to peace / I have offered the Palestinians unprecedented generous offers / The Palestinians have rejected everything / They want to throw us into the sea / WE HAVE NO PARTNER FOR PEACE!"

If Netanyahu had said something like this, nobody would have been impressed. But Barak had appointed himself the leader of the Left, the head of the peace camp.

The result was disastrous: the Left collapsed, the peace camp almost disappeared. Barak himself lost the elections by a landslide, and justly so: if there is no chance for peace, who needs him? Why vote for him? After all, Ariel Sharon, his adversary in the elections, was much better qualified for war.

The result: the ordinary Israeli was finally convinced that there is no chance for peace. Even Barak said that there is no partner. So that's that.

NO SINGLE person, even a genius like Barak, would have been able to bring about such a disaster if the conditions had not been there.

The conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians began 130 years ago. A fifth and sixth generation have been born into it. A war deepens myths and prejudices, hatred and distrust, demonization of the enemy and blind conviction of one's own righteousness. That is the nature of war. On both sides it shapes a closed and fanatical world, which no alternative views can penetrate.

Consequently, if an Arab declares his willingness to make peace, this only confirms that all Arabs are liars. (And conversely: if an Israeli offers a compromise, this only reinforces the Palestinianís belief that there is no limit to the tricks of the Zionist Enemy, which is plotting to drive them out.)

AND WHAT is most important, the belief that "we have no partner for peace" is extremely convenient.

If there is no chance for peace, there is no need to rack our brains about it, much less to do anything about it.

No need to waste words on this silliness. Indeed, the very word "peace" has gone out of fashion. It is no longer mentioned in polite political society. At most, one speaks about ìthe end of the occupationî or "the final status settlement" - presenting both, of course, as quite impossible.

If there is no chance for peace, the whole matter can be forgotten. It's unpleasant to think about the Palestinians and what is happening to them in the "Territories." So let's devote all our attention (which has a limited span anyhow) to the really important matters, such as the squabble between Barak and Ashkenazi, Olmertís business affairs, the fatal road accidents and the critical state of the Lake of Tiberias.

And while we are at it, if there is no chance for peace, why not build settlements? Why not Judaize East Jerusalem? Why not forget about the Palestinians altogether?

If there is no chance for peace, what are all these bleeding hearts in the world lecturing us for? Why is Obama bothering us? Why is the UN boring us? If the Arabs want to massacre us, we clearly have to defend ourselves, and everybody who wants us to make peace with them is nothing but an anti-Semite or self-hating Jew.

THE HEBREW saying "The voice of the masses is like the voice of God" is derived from the Latin "vox populi, vox dei" ("the voice of the people, the voice of God"). It was first used by an Anglo-Saxon clergyman some 1200 years ago in a letter to the Emperor Charlemagne, and in a negative way: one should not listen to those who say this, since "the feelings of the masses always border on madness."

I am not prepared to subscribe to such an anti-democratic statement. But if we want to move towards peace, we undoubtedly have to remove this huge rock blocking the road. We must infuse the public with another belief - the belief that peace is possible, that it is essential for the future of Israel, that it depends mainly on us.

We shall never succeed in inspiring such a belief through routine discussions. Anwar Sadat taught us that it can be done, but only through dramatic actions that rock the foundations of our spiritual world.

For the attention of Mr. Obama.
(c) 2010 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Bush At Large
By Ralph Nader

George W. Bush is on a roll-a money roll with a $7 million advance for his book Decision Points and a rehabilitation roll to paint his war crimes as justifiable mass-slaughter and torture.

His carefully chosen interviewers-NBC's Matt Lauer and Oprah Winfrey-agreed to a safe pre-taping to avoid demonstrations and tough questions. Requests for him to speak are pouring in from business conventions and other rich assemblages willing to pay $200,000 for "the Decider's" banalities. This is "Shrub's" month in the sun. In his first week of book promotion, he was asked about anything he would have done had he known then what he knew now-especially regarding Iraq and its encircled dictator. Well, he deplored receiving "false intelligence" about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction which was one of several false claims he fed the American people before invading Iraq in 2003. But he has no regrets, saying that "the world was undoubtedly safer with Saddam gone."

But was it safer for over a million Iraqis who lost their lives due to the invasion, over 4 million refugees, 4500 American soldiers lost, 1100 amputees, tens of thousands injured, sick and tens of thousands more GIs coming back with trauma to lost jobs, broken families and permanent damage to their health.

Was it worth a trillion dollars to blow apart the country of Iraq and incur many more enemies? Was it worth starting a war paid for by a massive debt handed to our children so that George W. and Dick Cheney could give themselves and their rich buddies a massive tax cut? Ex-presidents possess self-excusing delusions, but this is non compos mentis run amuck.

Then there is his escape from legal sanctions because the law enforcers in the Justice Department act as if Bush and Dick Cheney are above the law. "What is Attorney General Holder waiting for," declared conservative/libertarian former Judge Andrew Napolitano, the legal analyst for Fox News, adding that Holder should criminally prosecute both Bush and Cheney for their many crimes. Just as a Justice Department task force was about to do to Richard Nixon after he resigned his office in 1974, for far lesser crimes, when President Ford pardoned him.

I asked Bruce Fein, an associate deputy attorney general under Ronald Reagan, constitutional rights litigator, author of books and articles and many Congressional testimonies on the imperial presidency, and its unlawful penchant for Empire, for his reaction. Here is his response:

Former President Bush's selective memoir is a little like Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark. With the exception of authorizing waterboarding, a form of torture, Bush neglects his serial vandalizing of the Constitution and the federal criminal code: five years of illegal surveillances of Americans on American soil; a war against Iraq without proper authorization by Congress; illegal detentions of enemy combatants without accusation or trials; hundred of unconstitutional signing statements professing an intent to refuse to faithfully execute the laws; unconstitutional defiance of congressional subpoenas; and, employing unilateral executive agreements to circumvent the treaty authority of the Senate over military commitments.

Despite his constitutional literacy, President Obama has balked at faithful execution of the laws against torture, warrantless spying on Americans, or obstruction of justice perpetrated by Bush and his servile minions. On that score, Obama resembles President Nixon, who was impeached by the House Judiciary Committee and forced to resign for sneering at his constitutional obligation to enforce, not ignore the laws. "If Obama believes exculpatory circumstances justify non-prosecution of Bush-Cheney, then he should pardon them as authorized by the Constitution. A pardon must be accepted by the recipient to be effective, and acknowledges guilt and the inviolability of the rule of law. Ignoring lawlessness at the highest levels like Obama wounds the rule of law, and creates a precedent that lies around like a loaded weapon ready to destroy the Constitution. Obama himself is thus violating his oath of office by nonfeasance.

Lawyer Fein is not referring to a one time episode like Watergate but a recurrent, pattern of massive outlawry here and abroad stretching for years. In 2005-2006, the large and very conservative American Bar Association, led by its then president, corporate attorney, Michael Greco, convened three task forces that produced white papers documenting three patterns of Bush's unconstitutional behavior. Mr. Fein served on the panel that condemned the outpourings of Presidential signing statements. Although addressed and sent to President Bush, the ABA received no response to these unprecedented condemnations.

Our legal system and Constitution touted as the greatest in the world, decay when we allow epidemics of grave violations by the President and other White House violators to be rewarded for their unconstitutionalism and criminality.

On Armistice Day, November 11, 2010, The Washington Post put on page one the excruciating, but brave struggle of quadruple amputee, Marine Cpl. Todd A Nicely trying to make the best of his surviving an explosive device in Afghanistan. On the reverse page two there was a picture of a smiling George W. Bush signing his book. He is getting away with it.

Holding Bush/Cheney accountable by the soldiers he sent to kill and die in illegal wars, with few exceptions such as the Military Families Speak Out and the Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace are not being made in public by enough soldiers after their service. Many know who was responsible but under pressure from their superiors and not wanting, along with their families, to admit publically that they suffered and fought in vain, they remain silent. With their credibility, more of them need to exert real patriotism and speak out against the militant White House draft-dodgers and their neo-con advisors who drove them and our country into these boomeranging, destructive wars.

The Post completed this grim trilogy with a full page color ad by the profitable munitions manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, which taxpayers paid for, thanking the "commitment" and "sacrifice" of those who are serving today in America's military forces.

For the political cowards and their corporate profiteers, wars do not demand their sacrifice, they only invite their manipulative flattery. Same old racket, recalling double Congressional Medal of Honor winner, Marine General Smedley Butler whose book "War Is A Racket" said it all decades ago.

Of course more members of another profession should declare itself for prosecution-the one million-strong licensed attorneys sworn to uphold the law as "officers of the court"!
(c) 2010 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.

Don't Be Lame Duck Dems
An Open Letter to Congress
By Michael Moore

Dear Congressional Democrats:

Welcome back to our nation's capital for your one final session of the 111th Congress. Come January, the Republicans will take over the House while the Democrats will retain control of the Senate.

But Dems -- here's something I don't understand: Why do you look all sullen and depressed? Clearly you're not aware of one very important fact: YOU ARE STILL COMPLETELY, TOTALLY, LEGALLY IN CHARGE! When (and if, mostly if) you wake up to the reality that you can do whatever you want for the next seven weeks, you will realize that you have two clear options:

1. You can continue your "Sit Quietly and Hope No One Hits Me" strategy and thus lay the groundwork for an even bigger ass-kicking two years from now;


2. You can actually use the power you hold for the next seven weeks and have the Senate pass the legislation that the House has already passed!

Wake up, Democrats! You are in an awesome position right now. The House of Representatives, in this current session of Congress, has already passed an astounding 420 bills since January of 2009 -- 420 bills that are just sitting there on the Senate leader's desk. The Senate has refused to take up these House bills because they've been afraid of a Republican filibuster. Well, Dems, here's the truth: You can pass all of these bills and turn them into law RIGHT NOW, TODAY, by simply calling for a majority vote of 50 Senators (plus Vice President/President of the Senate Joe Biden). Yes, you will need to change the filibuster rules. So do it. You have the votes! And yes, the Republicans will scream bloody murder -- so let them! Make them. Let America see them in all their hateful, spiteful ways -- it will act as a beautiful coming attraction trailer for all the world to see. Let all of America watch the Republicans as they try to derail democracy by holding up a bunch of bills that nearly every American I know would want to see as the law of the land. Many of these bills are so safe, so innocuous, I have a hard time understanding what the heck the problem was in the first place. Like the bill that's already passed the House to name a post office after Jimmy Stewart. I know, I know, the idea of a post office named after Jimmy Stewart is really, really, incredibly controversial and divisive and somebody on the other side of the aisle might yell at you. Be brave, Democrats!

There's a whole slew of these bills the House has passed. Some are no-brainers; others are absolutely necessary. You can pass them in the next seven weeks. And because you Dems seem to have a problem with properly naming your bills and communicating effectively with the average American, I have helpfully renamed them for you so they sound like what they actually are -- things people would really want. Here's a partial list of the bills the House has already passed and are now just in need of approval by the U.S. Senate:

• The "Give Mom a Raise Act," officially known as the "Paycheck Fairness Act," which addresses pay gaps between men and women. Now, who out there still believes women should be paid less than men? I REALLY want to see Republicans try to stop this one.

• The "Don't Amputate Our Feet Act," aka the "Eliminating Disparities in Diabetes Prevention Access and Care Act of 2009." Which Republican will stand to speak out in favor of diabetes?

• The "Pay Up, BP Act," aka the "Audit the BP Fund Act," which makes sure BP is paying people hurt by the Gulf oil spill as quickly as possible -- and makes BP pay the cost of keeping track of where the money's going.

• The "Stop Foreigners From Hitting Grandma Act," aka the "Elder Abuse Victims Act." This doesn't really have anything to do with foreigners, but our fellow Americans seem to automatically dislike people from other countries, so this should help just in case the Republicans think an "elders abuse victims act" doesn't sound patriotic enough.

• The "Let's Try Not to Destroy Planet Earth Act" (aka Cap and Trade, a lousy half-way measure to begin with, but about the best you can expect from you Democrats these days).

• The "National Bombing Prevention Act" (it's actually already called that, which is hard to improve on).

And while those of you in the Senate are taking care of all that, the House can come up with a better version of Michelle Obama's "Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act" to improve child nutrition. The Senate has already passed this bill. (The House should fix it so that it isn't paid for by cutting food stamps to poor people. Yes, you, a Democratic Senate, did that.)

Then there are also things that neither the House or Senate has dealt with. These would take more work during the next two months, but that's what highly-caffeinated "energy" drinks are for.

Jenni Suri of Ligonier, Indiana, has set up a petition with a good list, which anyone can sign here to tell the Congressional leadership to get started. Among the "to do" items on the list:

• Extend emergency unemployment benefits

• Repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell

• Pass the DREAM Act (to provide young immigrants with a path to citizenship)

• Pass the Disclose Act to force corporations to say what politicians they're giving money to

• Pass the Employee Free Choice Act, so we can have unions again in the U.S.

• Pass Rep. Donna Edwards' constitutional amendment that -- in the wake of the Citizens United decision -- would give Congress the power to regulate corporate spending on elections

So what do you say, Democrats? What's the worst that could happen -- you'd lose an election? You already did that! C'mon, here's your one last gutsy chance to show us that you're made of something other than wish and wash.

Yours, Michael Moore

P.S. Be sure to let the Democrats in Congress know right now you expect action from them during this next month. You can call your Senators and Representative at (202) 224-3121 or find their direct number and email at
(c) 2010 Michael Moore is an activist, author, and filmmaker. See more of his work at his website

Obama's Willy Loman Schtick

Of all the things you'd want the President of the United States to tackle right after November's congressional elections, how high on your list of priorities would you put the task of selling weapons to India?

It seems that even the fall tilling of Michelle Obama's White House garden would be a more worthy presidential pursuit than peddling military hardware.

November's elections didn't go all that well for Obama, and he has a giant to-do list to go through if he's to convince America's workaday majority that he's really working for them. Yet, the weekend after the election, his first move was to fly 8,000 miles away to try to convince the Indian government to buy $5 billion-worth of military hardware from Boeing and a mess of other weaponry from Lockheed Martin and other U.S. arms dealers.

Screwy priorities aside, however, why the hell is the President of the United State of America playing Willy Loman for corporate arms hawkers? Yeah, I know they claim that the selling of killing machines creates jobs – but is war and death the only product America has to hawk to the world these days? Besides, India requires that a third of the work on the planes, missiles and other armaments it buys be farmed out to its manufacturers, creating jobs there, not here.

One other dicey point: India is stockpiling weaponry as part of its ever-escalating confrontation with its neighbor and bitter rival, Pakistan – a U.S. ally that our arms dealers also supply. How long before American soldiers get caught in this deadly crossfire of U.S. made weapons?

Pretensions aside, Obama's trip to India is not about jobs, but about fattening the bottom line of war profiteers. The arms trade is immoral. It fuels perpetual war – and the president ought not be its traveling salesman.
(c) 2010 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

The Man Who Shattered Our Economy
By Robert Scheer

Rejoice, the housing market is back. Sandy Weill just picked up a humdinger of a wine vineyard estate in Sonoma, Calif., for a record $31 million, so the foreclosure crisis—which the former CEO of Citigroup did so much to create when he successfully lobbied then-President Bill Clinton to sign off on radical deregulation of the banking industry—must be over.

After all, Weill wasn’t desperate for shelter, already being in possession of a 14-acre estate in über-exclusive Greenwich, Conn., and a 120-acre spread in New York state’s Adirondacks. Let's also not forget the penthouse that he bought for $42.4 million in New York City in 2007 as the banking collapse he helped engineer was fast developing. Not too shabby for a guy who ran Citigroup into the ground by trafficking in what proved to be toxic mortgage-based securities.

Thanks to legislation that Weill got President Clinton to sign off on, Citigroup was allowed to become too big to fail, and when fail it did, the taxpayers had to bail the humungous bank out—to the tune of $50 billion in a direct subsidy and $306 billion more for the housing mortgage-backed securities Citigroup was holding. The Treasury still owns a good chunk of Citigroup common stock, now trading at a paltry four dollars and change per share.

However, like all of the other top dogs involved in this scandal, Weill has emerged from a housing crisis that has impoverished tens of millions of Americans with his own personal fortune intact. Indeed, as evidenced by his vineyard purchase, he has quite a bit of money to throw around.

Although the value of most housing in Sonoma County, in the heart of the wine country, is down 30 to 50 percent, Weill was willing to pay close to the asking price for his new property. And why not? As the San Francisco Chronicle website quoted one Coldwell Banker real estate agent as saying, the sale "is not an indicator of an emerging real estate recovery, but rather the ability of the world’s wealthiest individuals to buy what they desire."

Some guys have all the luck, particularly when they supply the dice. There would be no housing crisis were it not for radical financial deregulation legislation that Weill and other Wall Street hotshots got Clinton to approve. First Weill engineered a merger of the Travelers insurance company, which he headed and which included investment banking in its portfolio, with the commercial banking entity of what was then Citicorp. That merger would have been judged illegal because of the Glass-Steagall legislative barrier to merging investment and commercial banking that President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law to prevent another Great Depression, but Weill got the law changed to accommodate his plans.

Boy, was Weill ever persuasive, not only enlisting the bipartisan support of Washington politicians but the enthusiastic backing of the establishment media. As The New York Times editorialized back in April of 1998 in praising the merger: "In one stroke Mr. Reed [John Reed of Citigroup] and Mr. Weill will have temporarily demolished the increasingly unnecessary walls built during the Depression to separate commercial banks from investment banks and insurance companies."

A Times news story that same day also read like a Wall Street lobbyist’s press release: "In a single day, with a bold merger, pending legislation in Congress to sweep away Depression-era restrictions on the financial industry has been given a sudden, and unexpected, new chance of passage. - Indeed, within 24 hours of the deal’s announcement, lobbyists for insurers, banks and Wall Street firms were huddling with Congressional banking committee staff members to fine-tune a measure that would update the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act separating commercial banking from Wall Street and insurance. …" Notice the Times' use of "update" to mask what was a clear reversal of the law.

It helped that former Goldman Sachs honcho Robert Rubin was Clinton's treasury secretary, and after the bill was passed, Weill rewarded Rubin with a $15-million-a-year job at the new Citigroup, which was now legal, thanks to the legislation Rubin had helped pass. When Clinton signed the bill reversing Glass-Steagall and making the Citigroup merger legal, he gushed: "Today what we are doing is modernizing the financial services industry, tearing down those antiquated laws and granting banks significant new authority." Clinton then handed Weill a pen he used in signing the bill, and that pen ended up framed on the wall at the CEO’s office near a plaque that paid tribute to Weill as "The Man Who Shattered Glass-Steagall." And shattered our economy as well. His are the grapes of wrath.
(c) 2010 Robert Scheer is the editor of Truthdig. A journalist with over 30 years experience, Scheer has built his reputation on the strength of his social and political writing. His columns have appeared in newspapers across the country, and his in-depth interviews have made headlines. He is the author, most recently, of "The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America," published by Twelve Books.

A Cry From Argentina
‘Close Guantanamo’
By Amy Goodman

"Gitmo is going to remain open for the foreseeable future," said an unnamed White House official to The Washington Post this week. For guidance on the notorious U.S. Navy base in Cuba, President Barack Obama should look to an old naval facility in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

When Ana Maria Careaga was 16 years old and pregnant, Argentine military thugs snatched her off the street, dragged her to a clandestine detention center and tortured her for four months. It was 1977, and a military dictatorship had just staged a coup in Argentina. Thirty thousand people were "disappeared" between 1976 and 1983 under the brutal junta. The junta enjoyed the enthusiastic support of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who is credited with authorizing a multigovernment terror network called "Operation Condor" that killed upward of 60,000 people across South America.

Decades later, Argentina has emerged from the dictatorship and risen from economic collapse as one of the new, progressive democracies of Latin America. Careaga, now 50 years old, is the director of the Instituto Espacio para la Memoria, the Institute of the Space for Memory, at the old Navy Mechanics School in the middle of Buenos Aires, where 5,000 prisoners were imprisoned, tortured and most later killed. The institute is committed to maintaining the memory of this dark chapter of Argentine history.

Ana feared she would lose her baby. Among the horrors she endured were repeated electric shocks with a cattle prod inside her vagina. While she was imprisoned, her mother, Esther Careaga, met with other mothers of children who had been disappeared. They gathered in the Plaza de Mayo, holding pictures of their missing children and walking in a circle to raise awareness, to protest and to gain international support against the violence and terror of the Argentine state.

After Ana was released and received political asylum in Switzerland, Esther Careaga did not stop marching in the Plaza de Mayo. I asked Ana why. She said: "When I was freed, my mother returned to the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. The others said, ‘Why are you here if you have already recovered your daughter?' My mother said, ‘I will continue until all the disappeared appear, because all the disappeared are my children.'

Esther Careaga and a group of other Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo and two French nuns were disappeared, taken to be tortured and killed, between Dec. 8-10, 1977. They were taken to the old Navy Mechanics School. With grim sophistication, the Argentine government drugged their tortured victims and piled their limp, yet living, bodies in planes. They were flown over coastal waters and dropped thousands of feet to their deaths. Unusual winds and tides washed Esther Careaga's body, and several others, ashore, and they were ultimately identified.

Standing in the place where her mother was last alive in the torture center, Ana showed me a book with a redacted U.S. diplomatic memo obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, showing the U.S. embassy in Argentina knew that her mother had been killed and her body recovered, something Ana and her father did not learn for decades.

Now, the surviving victims themselves, and their reclaimed government, are trying-and in most cases convicting-many of the criminals (Kissinger has yet to be tried, and is said to be very careful when traveling internationally to avoid arrest). Ana is attending two trials simultaneously: On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, she attends the trial of those who tortured and murdered her mother. For the rest of the week, in the same courtroom, she attends the trial of her own torturers. She serves as a living object lesson in the patient, disciplined pursuit of justice.

Which brings us back to Guantanamo. While the U.S. preaches to Cuba about its lack of democracy, maintaining an embargo against the country for decades, you would think it would set up a model of democracy on the piece of Cuba that the U.S. controls. Instead, it has formed a globally reviled concentration camp there, a Kafkaesque land beyond the reach of law. About 180 men are now interned at Guantanamo Bay, with diminishing prospects of a day in any real court, for years subjected to interrogations and to extended isolation that is both legally and actually torture. President Obama promised to close the prison camp. Congress now is unlikely to fund any Guantanamo shutdown and prisoner transfer, leaving the president shackled to Guantanamo, consigning the prisoners there to indefinite detention and despair, and deepening the disgust with which many in the world view the U.S.

Ana Maria Careaga is a torture survivor who goes to work in the very facility where her mother was tortured and spent her final hours. Her advice for President Obama is simple: "Close Guantanamo."
(c) 2010 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 750 stations in North America. She is the co-author of "Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times," recently released in paperback.

Pot Luck? Arizona Approves Medical Marijuana Amid Conservative Landslide
By Randall Amster

The beleaguered state of Arizona has just concluded one of the most lopsided elections in state history, in which Republicans captured every statewide office, seven of ten congressional seats, and three-quarter supermajorities in both legislative bodies. Conservatives took most of the local and municipal seats as well, and voters further passed ballot initiatives prohibiting affirmative action, allowing secret ballots in workplace elections (to hamper union organizing), and challenging coverage-mandate aspects of the recently-passed federal healthcare bill.

Despite this resoundingly ideological state sweep, a number of surprising results were to be found at the same time. Voters soundly rejected an NRA-backed proposition to make hunting a constitutional right - the only state to do so in this election cycle, where a similar measure passed in South Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas. Also rejected was a provision that would have allowed state trust land to be sold in the service of "protecting" military bases, as well as one that would have transferred over $100 million from a land-conservation fund to the state's general fund. And overwhelmingly rejected (by 70 percent of the voters) was a measure that would have ended an early childhood services program and transferred its $300 million in revenues to the general fund.

Most surprisingly, Arizona became the 15th state to adopt a medical marijuana law with the narrow passage of Proposition 203. The measure was trailing in the tally following election day, began picking up ground as provisional and mail-in ballots were counted, and finally surged ahead ten days after the election to ultimately prevail by about 4000 votes out of almost 1.7 million ballots cast. Prop 203 was unique in that it was the only citizen-referred initiative on the 2010 ballot, with all of the others mentioned above being referred directly by the Republican-dominated state legislature. The initiative garnered more than 250,000 petition signatures to get on the ballot, which exceeded the required number by more than 100,000. It passed despite being opposed by law enforcement, the state's top-ranked officials, and both U.S. Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl.

Opponents of Prop 203 advanced arguments about morality and legality reminiscent of the "reefer madness" propaganda of the 1930s, arguing that the measure would essentially be a "gateway" provision toward the full-on legalization of marijuana (and potentially even all drugs) in the future. "Marijuana for medical treatment is the foot in the door for legalization," Kyl said at a news conference in October. Despite, or perhaps in anticipation of, such predictions, the proposition was narrowly drafted to require a doctor's recommendation for patients with serious or debilitating conditions, and requires user registration with the state department of health as well as fingerprinting and licensure for dispensaries (which are to be capped statewide at 124). Further, employers will not be allowed to discriminate against or terminate registered users, but workers will be prohibited from being on the medicine during performance of their jobs.

Arizona's history with medical marijuana actually dates back to 1996, when voters approved it by 65 percent, only to have it eviscerated by the state legislature. This led to a 1998 ballot initiative that prohibited the legislature from overturning voter-approved propositions, and also in that same year voters rejected a legislative-sponsored provision that would have required Congress or the federal government to approve medical marijuana before a doctor could prescribe it; despite this, the medical marijuana initiatives were not implemented due to issues with certain wording that conflicted with federal laws and enforcement policies. In 2002, a more sweeping decriminalization measure failed, which would have required the state to dispense medical marijuana to patients for free and - perhaps most problematically in terms of the propaganda debate - would have required state law enforcement officers to deliver it to users.

Another key aspect of the politics of marijuana concerns the larger border issues that Arizona has become synonymous with in recent years. In addition to human border crossers, the transportation of marijuana from Mexico is responsible for many political and economic tensions in the region. For the drug cartels that have become an increasing source of violence (predominantly on the Mexican side of the border), marijuana trafficking is a primary enterprise. As a DEA agent recently told the New York Times, "marijuana is the king crop. It consistently sustains its marketability and profitability." A 2008 Congressional report further observed that "there is evidence that Mexican cartels are also increasing their relationships with prison and street gangs in the United States in order to facilitate drug trafficking." Some of the allegations raised by demagogues in Arizona and elsewhere in support of border militarization policies and draconian anti-immigrant legislation in fact draw upon allusions to these sorts of impacts.

Supporters of measures such as Arizona's Prop 203 argue primarily for the humane and therapeutic benefits to ailing people that medical marijuana could bring. We can extend the point further to consider the humane benefits to society as a whole that could come with relaxing the criminalization of marijuana and the aggressive enforcement of prohibition laws. Exploding prison populations and expanding cartel violence are both enabled by current policies. Prohibition supports the profit motive that drives drug trafficking and its related practices of human smuggling, and further fuels the displacement and dislocation of people from Mexican villages that contributes to so-called "illegal immigration." The utilization of marijuana for medical purposes may well be, as opponents contend, a step on the road to legalization - and if so, this actually could become part of a process of healing beyond merely personal ailments.

In this sense, liberalization of marijuana laws could address a number of deep historical rifts, ones that are especially prominent in the southwest and that continue to influence our border politics today. Cannabis historian Ernest L. Abel has reflected on this history of ostensible 'Reefer Racism':

"When the 1930s devastated the American economy, the Mexicans bore the brunt of the scapegoat mentality in the southwest. Everything about them was abhorrent to many Americans, and there was a general hew and cry to kick them out of the country. Harassment was commonplace. The Mexicans were censured for almost everything they did or failed to do, including smoking marijuana. Marijuana, in fact, became the pretext for vexing the Mexicans just as opium had been the pretext for vexing the Chinese years before.... As the numbers of Mexican immigrants began to increase, especially in the border towns of the southwest, they were the object of close scrutiny by the townsfolk. Suspicious and often resentful of these newcomers, the townspeople humiliated, harassed, and abused them to make them feel as unwelcome as possible. When the Mexicans lashed back at their tormentors, their actions were often attributed to the influence of marijuana, which to many Americans symbolized the Mexican presence in America.... As the most conspicuous users of marijuana, Mexicans were oftentimes accused of being incited to violence by the drug.... The Mexicans were accused of spreading the marijuana vice throughout the nation.... When they began to resist efforts to jail and deport them, their resistance was attributed to the influence of marijuana and these charges lent further weight to the accusation that marijuana incited violence."

This intertwining history of marijuana prohibition and the demonization of Mexican immigrants in the southwest includes recent incantations deployed for sensationalistic political purposes - prominently reflected, for example, in Governor Jan Brewer's imprudent campaign rhetoric:

"Well, we all know that the majority of the people that are coming to Arizona and trespassing are now become drug mules. They're coming across our borders in huge numbers. The drug cartels have taken control of the immigration.... So they are criminals. They're breaking the law when they are trespassing and they're criminals when they pack the marijuana and the drugs on their backs.... I believe today and in the circumstances that we are facing, that the majority of the illegal trespassers that are coming in the state of Arizona are under the direction and control of organized drug cartels, and they are bringing drugs in."

Intriguingly, Arizona voters have approved a compassionate and progressive marijuana law at precisely the same time that openly-hostile anti-immigrant forces in the state have consolidated their political power in an unprecedented manner. We might surmise that the state's libertarian bent contributed to the passage of Prop 203, yet perhaps there is also a deeper motivation at work here. Incendiary sentiments such as Gov. Brewer's provide a potential subtext for Arizona's incongruous liberalization of marijuana laws: Perhaps in approving the medicinal application of marijuana to debilitating physical conditions, the Arizona electorate is expressing a desire to ameliorate the destructive societal ills in our midst as well. One can only wonder whether medical marijuana can further buffer the chronic pain of the political challenges that lie ahead.
(c) 2010 Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., teaches peace studies at Prescott College and serves as the executive director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association. His most recent book is the co-edited volume "Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009).

Blind Man's Bluff
Hitchens Pays Obeisance to His One True God
By Chris Floyd

One hates to kick a man when he’s down – and Christopher Hitchens, facing an almost certain doom from cancer, is certainly down. But as he has lived his life pulling no punches against those whom he felt (by whatever standards he held at the time) to be spewing murderous bullshit, let us honor this cherished principle of his by applying it to his own words.

Hitchens was given a lavish and almost entirely adulatory spread in The Observer this weekend, holding forth in his usual “young trendy leftist turned aged imperial apologist” manner. There is not much of interest in the interview, and I would have passed over it in silence if not for one extraordinary passage, in which Hitchens demonstrates to perfection the wilful self-blindness of all those who end up worshipping at the altar of the militarist Moloch.

In defending his advocacy for the unprovoked, illegal invasion of Iraq – and reiterating his still-staunch support and glowing approval of this ongoing war crime, Hitchens makes this statement:

I'm glad we're not having an inquest now, as we would be [if there had been no invasion], into why we allowed a Rwanda or a Congo to develop on the Gulf, an imploding Iraq right in front of our eyes, a vortex of violence and meltdown, a whole society beggared and fractured and traumatised, waiting to fall to pieces.

Of course what Hitchens is doing here - as even his sycophantic interviewer realizes - is describing exactly what has happened in Iraq because of the invasion. It is in fact an excellent description of the conquered nation's fate at the hands of the monstrous assault that he has championed. 

And yet he has somehow convinced himself that the rape of Iraq has prevented what he has seen happen right in front of his eyes, year after year after year. Obviously, somewhere in his mind, he dimly knows the truth; that is, his brain has registered the undeniable fact that that Iraq has indeed become a "vortex of violence and meltdown, a whole society beggared and fractured and traumatised." But this present reality - which has come about precisely because and only because of the invasion and occupation which he still defends – has been transposed into what he now believes were his fears of what could happen if Iraq had not been invaded.

One could charitably attribute this befuddled backward projection to the wretched side effects of chemotherapy - were it not for the fact that Hitchens has been demonstrating this same moral blindness for years, indeed since the days when he was openly exulting in the 9/11 attacks, seeing in those mass murders the glorious promise of a worldwide conflagration - yea, verily, a Biblical Armageddon, "a war to the finish between everything I love and everything I hate." The thought of such a tsunami of blood and destruction, which would - and is - consuming the lives of thousands upon thousands of innocent people left him "exhilarated," Hitchens declared.

But it was ever thus with religious extremists. Hitchens may have shifted from from Marx to Moloch in his zealotry, but his blind and -- not to put too fine a point on it - dimwitted adherence to the doctrine of sacred violence (whether it be Trotsky's "permanent revolution" or the American imperium's Terror War) has remained steadfast. And even as he stares into the last abyss, he is dosing himself with pure delusion to avoid the realization of his complicity with evil.
(c) 2010 Chris Floyd

Bush Can’t Travel Abroad Without Risking Arrest
By Matthew Rothschild

George W. Bush better stay at home.

The confessed waterboarder is a marked man. If he travels abroad, other countries can—and should—nab him and try him for the crime of torture.

In his memoir and in last week’s NBC interview, Bush acknowledged ordering waterboarding.

He says the lawyers told him it wasn't torture. But he got bad legal advice.

Attorney General Eric Holder has recognized waterboarding as torture. So has the State Department, as the great civil liberties Bill Quigley points out at the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Given that, Holder has an obligation to press charges against the former president. But neither Holder nor his boss has the guts to do that. And what a shame that is!

Prosecutors in other countries, however, may not be so spineless. "Under international law, anyone involved in torture must be brought to justice, and that does not exclude former President George W. Bush," said Claudio Cordone, senior director of Amnesty International.

“If his admission is substantiated, the USA has the obligation to prosecute him,” Cordone said, adding ominously: “In the absence of a U.S. investigation, other states must step in and carry out such an investigation themselves.”

Under the Geneva Conventions and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, countries that have ratified the accords have a binding obligation to exercise jurisdiction over those accused of grave breaches. (See “Stripping Rumsfeld and Bush of Impunity,”)

So if I were Bush (and what a horrifying thought that is!), I'd cancel those plans to visit Spain or Germany or any other country where some prosecutor, somewhere, respects international law.
(c)2010 Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine.

The World As He Finds It
By Paul Krugman

On Wednesday David Axelrod, President Obama’s top political adviser, appeared to signal that the White House was ready to cave on tax cuts — to give in to Republican demands that tax cuts be extended for the wealthy as well as the middle class. "We have to deal with the world as we find it," he declared.

The White House then tried to walk back what Mr. Axelrod had said. But it was a telling remark, in more ways than one.

The obvious point is the contrast between the administration's current whipped-dog demeanor and Mr. Obama's soaring rhetoric as a candidate. How did we get from "We are the ones we’ve been waiting for" to here?

But the bitter irony goes deeper than that: the main reason Mr. Obama finds himself in this situation is that two years ago he was not, in fact, prepared to deal with the world as he was going to find it. And it seems as if he still isn't.

In retrospect, the roots of current Democratic despond go all the way back to the way Mr. Obama ran for president. Again and again, he defined America's problem as one of process, not substance — we were in trouble not because we had been governed by people with the wrong ideas, but because partisan divisions and politics as usual had prevented men and women of good will from coming together to solve our problems. And he promised to transcend those partisan divisions.

This promise of transcendence may have been good general election politics, although even that is questionable: people forget how close the presidential race was at the beginning of September 2008, how worried Democrats were until Sarah Palin and Lehman Brothers pushed them over the hump. But the real question was whether Mr. Obama could change his tune when he ran into the partisan firestorm everyone who remembered the 1990s knew was coming. He could do uplift - but could he fight?

So far the answer has been no.

Right at the beginning of his administration, what Mr. Obama needed to do, above all, was fight for an economic plan commensurate with the scale of the crisis. Instead, he negotiated with himself before he ever got around to negotiating with Congress, proposing a plan that was clearly, grossly inadequate - then allowed that plan to be scaled back even further without protest. And the failure to act forcefully on the economy, more than anything else, accounts for the midterm "shellacking."

Even given the economy's troubles, however, the administration's efforts to limit the political damage were amazingly weak. There were no catchy slogans, no clear statements of principle; the administration's political messaging was not so much ineffective as invisible. How many voters even noticed the ever-changing campaign themes - does anyone remember the "Summer of Recovery" - that were rolled out as catastrophe loomed?

And things haven't improved since the election. Consider Mr. Obama's recent remarks on two fronts.

At the predictably unproductive G-20 summit meeting in South Korea, the president faced demands from China and Germany that the Federal Reserve stop its policy of "quantitative easing" - which is, given Republican obstructionism, one of the few tools available to promote U.S. economic recovery. What Mr. Obama should have said is that nations' running huge trade surpluses - and in China's case, doing so thanks to currency manipulation on a scale unprecedented in world history - have no business telling the United States that it can't act to help its own economy.

But what he actually said was "From everything I can see, this decision was not one designed to have an impact on the currency, on the dollar." Fighting words!

And then there's the tax-cut issue. Mr. Obama could and should be hammering Republicans for trying to hold the middle class hostage to secure tax cuts for the wealthy. He could be pointing out that making the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy permanent is a huge budget issue — over the next 75 years it would cost as much as the entire Social Security shortfall. Instead, however, he is once again negotiating with himself, long before he actually gets to the table with the G.O.P.

Here's the thing: Mr. Obama still has immense power, if he chooses to use it. At home, he has the veto pen, control of the Senate and the bully pulpit. He still has substantial executive authority to act on things like mortgage relief — there are billions of dollars not yet spent, not to mention the enormous leverage the government has via its ownership of Fannie and Freddie. Abroad, he still leads the world's greatest economic power - and one area where he surely would get bipartisan support would be taking a tougher stand on China and other international bad actors.

But none of this will matter unless the president can find it within himself to use his power, to actually take a stand. And the signs aren't good. -
(c) 2010 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

Veni, Vidi, Visa
I came, I saw, I shopped
Uncle Ernie after the battle of the Mall 2001 CE

Like Chandler Davis, screenwriters Dalton Trumbo, left, and John Howard Lawson,
were sent to prison for refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee.

The Origin Of America's Intellectual Vacuum
By Chris Hedges

The blacklisted mathematics instructor Chandler Davis, after serving six months in the Danbury federal penitentiary for refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), warned the universities that ousted him and thousands of other professors that the purges would decimate the country's intellectual life.

"You must welcome dissent; you must welcome serious, systematic, proselytizing dissent—not only the playful, the fitful, or the eclectic; you must value it enough, not merely to refrain from expelling it yourselves, but to refuse to have it torn from you by outsiders," he wrote in his 1959 essay "...From an Exile." "You must welcome dissent not in a whisper when alone, but publicly so potential dissenters can hear you. What potential dissenters see now is that you accept an academic world from which we are excluded for our thoughts. This is a manifest signpost over all your arches, telling them: Think at your peril. You must not let it stand. You must (defying outside power; gritting your teeth as we grit ours) take us back."

But they did not take Davis back. Davis, whom I met a few days ago in Toronto, could not find a job after his prison sentence and left for Canada. He has spent his career teaching mathematics at the University of Toronto. He was one of the lucky ones. Most of the professors ousted from universities never taught again. Radical and left-wing ideas were effectively stamped out. The purges, most carried out internally and away from public view, announced to everyone inside the universities that dissent was not protected. The confrontation of ideas was killed.

"Political discourse has been impoverished since then," Davis said. "In the 1930s it was understood by anyone who thought about it that sales taxes were regressive. They collected more proportionately from the poor than from the rich. Regressive taxation was bad for the economy. If only the rich had money, that decreased economic activity. The poor had to spend what they had and the rich could sit on it. Justice demands that we take more from the rich so as to reduce inequality. This philosophy was not refuted in the 1950s and it was not the target of the purge of the 1950s. But this idea, along with most ideas concerning economic justice and people's control over the economy, was cleansed from the debate. Certain ideas have since become unthinkable, which is in the interest of corporations such as Goldman Sachs. The power to exclude certain ideas serves the power of corporations. It is unfortunate that there is no political party in the United States to run against Goldman Sachs. I am in favor of elections, but there is no way I can vote against Goldman Sachs."

The silencing of radicals such as Davis, who had been a member of the Communist Party, although he had left it by the time he was investigated by HUAC, has left academics and intellectuals without the language, vocabulary of class war and analysis to critique the ideology of globalism, the savagery of unfettered capitalism and the ascendancy of the corporate state. And while the turmoil of the 1960s saw discontent sweep through student bodies with some occasional support from faculty, the focus was largely limited to issues of identity politics—feminism, anti-racism—and the anti-war movements. The broader calls for socialism, the detailed Marxist critique of capitalism, the open rejection of the sanctity of markets, remained muted or unheard. Davis argues that not only did socialism and communism become outlaw terms, but once these were tagged as heresies, the right wing tried to make liberal, secular and pluralist outlaw terms as well. The result is an impoverishment of ideas and analysis at a moment when we desperately need radical voices to make sense of the corporate destruction of the global economy and the ecosystem. The "centrist" liberals manage to retain a voice in mainstream society because they pay homage to the marvels of corporate capitalism even as it disembowels the nation and the planet.

"Repression does not target original thought," Davis noted. "It targets already established heretical movements, which are not experimental but codified. If it succeeds very well in punishing heresies, it may in the next stage punish originality. And in the population, fear of uttering such a taboo word as communism may in the next stage become general paralysis of social thought."

It is this paralysis he watches from Toronto. It is a paralysis he predicted. Opinions and questions regarded as possible in the 1930s are, he mourns, now forgotten and no longer part of intellectual and political debate. And perhaps even more egregiously the fight and struggle of radical communists, socialists and anarchists in the 1930s against lynching, discrimination, segregation and sexism were largely purged from the history books. It was as if the civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had no antecedents in the battles of the Wobblies as well as the socialist and communist movements.

"Even the protests that were organized entirely by Trotskyists were written out of history," Davis noted acidly.

Those who remained in charge of American intellectual thought went on to establish the wider "heresy of leftism" in the name of academic objectivity. And they have succeeded. Universities stand as cowardly, mute and silent accomplices of the corporate state, taking corporate money and doing corporate bidding. And those with a conscience inside the walls of the university understand that tenure and promotion require them to remain silent.

"Not only were a number of us driven out of the American academic scene, our questions were driven out," said Davis, who at 84 continues to work as emeritus professor of mathematics at the University of Toronto. "Ideas which were on the agenda a hundred years ago and sixty years ago have dropped out of memory because they are too far from the new center of discourse."

Davis has published science fiction stories, is the editor of The Mathematical Intelligencer and is an innovator in the theory of operators and matrices. He is a director of Science for Peace. He also writes poetry. His nimble mind ranges swiftly in our conversation over numerous disciplines and he speaks with the enthusiasm and passion of a new undergraduate. His commitment to radical politics remains fierce and undiminished. And he believes that the loss of his voice and the voices of thousands like him, many of whom were never members of the Communist Party but had the courage to challenge the orthodoxy of the Cold War and corporate capitalism, deadened intellectual and political discourse in the United States.

During World War II Davis joined the Navy and worked on the minesweeping research program. But by the end of the war, with the saturation bombings of Dresden and Tokyo, as well as the dropping of the nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he came to regret his service in the military. He has spent most of his life working in a variety of anti-war and anti-nuclear movements.

"In retrospect I am sorry I didn't declare myself as a conscientious objector," he said. "Not at the beginning of the war, because if you are ever going to use military force for anything, that was a situation in which I would be happy to do it. I was wholehearted about that. But once I knew about the destruction of Dresden and the other massacres of civilian populations by the Allies, I think the ethical thing to do would have been to declare myself a CO."

He was a "Red diaper baby." His father was a professor, union agitator and member of the old Communist Party who was hauled in front of HUAC shortly before his son. Davis grew up reading New Masses and moved from one city to the next because of his father's frequent firings.

"I was raised in the movement,' he said. "It wasn't a cinch I would be in the Communist Party, but in fact I was, starting in 1943 and then resigning soon after on instructions from the party because I was in the military service. This was part of the coexistence of the Communist Party with Roosevelt and the military. It would not disrupt things during the war. When I got out of the Navy I rejoined the Communist Party, but that lapsed in June of 1953. I never got back in touch with them. At the time I was subpoenaed I was technically an ex-Communist, but I did not feel I had left the movement and in some sense I never did."

Davis got his doctorate from Harvard in mathematics and seemed in the 1950s destined for a life as a professor. But the witch hunts directed against “Reds” swiftly ended his career on the University of Michigan faculty. He mounted a challenge to the Committee on Un-American Activities that went to the Supreme Court. The court, ruling in 1960, three years after Joseph McCarthy was dead, denied Davis’ assertion that the committee had violated the First Amendment protection of freedom of speech. He was sent to prison. Davis, while incarcerated, authored a research paper that had an acknowledgement reading: “Research supported in part by the Federal Prison System. Opinions expressed in this paper are the author’s and are not necessarily those of the Bureau of Prisons.” Davis, who has lived in Canada longer than he lived in the United States, said that his experience of marginalization was "good for the soul and better for the intellect."

"Though you see the remnants of the former academic left still, though some of us were never fired, though I return to the United States from my exile frequently, we are gone," he said. "We did not survive as we were. Some of us saved our skins without betraying others or ourselves. But almost all of the targets either did crumble or were fired and blacklisted. David Bohm and Moses Finley and Jules Dassin and many less celebrated people were forced into exile. Most of the rest had to leave the academic world. A few suffered suicide or other premature death. There weren't the sort of wholesale casualties you saw in Argentina or El Salvador, but the Red-hunt did succeed in axing a lot of those it went after, and cowing most of the rest. We were out, and we were kept out."

"I was a scientist four years past my Ph.D. and the regents' decision was to extinguish, it seemed, my professional career," he said. "What could they do now to restore to me 35 years of that life? If it could be done, I would refuse. The life I had is my life. It’s not that I’m all that pleased with what I've made of my life, yet I sincerely rejoice that I lived it, that I don't have to be Professor X who rode out the 1950s and 1960s in his academic tenure and his virtuously anti-Communist centrism."
(c) 2010 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle."

The Religion Of Politics
By David Michael Green

This is not an article about the politics of religion.

Mostly, anyhow.

This is an article about the religion of politics. And the harm it does to our country. And – since we’re a big fat superpower – the harm it does to the world.

By 'religion of politics', I don't really mean religion at all. Religion is, without question, the greatest disaster to plague humanity, and that’s just on one of its good days. But that's not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about, instead, the manner in which too many of us do our politics. I'm talking about how too many of us (which is to say any number above zero) approach politics like we approach religion.

Fundamentally, it seems to me there are two basic ways in which we can seek to comprehend our world: the empirical or the assumptive. The scientific or the faith-based. The (roughly speaking) cognitive or the emotional.

I know its fashionable in our time to try to reconcile the two, to say that science has its domain and religion has its. But that's rubbish. The truth is that they are competing modalities for engaging life and the environment in which it dwells. On any given matter, one can make a judgement based on evidence and logic, or you can take a position based on what you prefer to believe. Those two approaches apply to every question ranging from the existence of god to whether the US should invade Iraq (and those who answered the latter affirmatively should count themselves lucky that the former answer is negative).

Of course, there are rarely if ever fully 'correct' answers to any of these questions in any abstract sense. But there is an investigatory process that will get you as close to the 'correct answer' – or a best functioning approximation – as is humanly possible, and then there is an alternative approach, called 'let's all pretend.' The first path may not get you where you want to be, but the second one is almost sure not to. The first approach may not solve your problems, but the second is almost guaranteed to exacerbate them.

This is not exactly a new observation, of course. The Founders of the American state were profoundly men of the first category, as leading figures in the Enlightenment, a movement which practically defined itself over the principle of rejecting superstition and assumption in favor of rational analysis. For all the faults that would later be attributed (some rightly, most wrongly) to rationality, science and Enlightenment thinking, this cognitive sea change marks one of the greatest moments of the entire human story. I see it as the adolescence of humankind.

The Enlightenment approach is also, among other things, at the very foundation of the idea of democracy. First because it gives humans license to control their own destiny. And second because there is, after all, no point to the concept of self-rule by the people if the body politic is ill-equipped to make thoughtful decisions.

America faces so many huge problems in our time. But I see none as consequential as the fact that our body politic is indeed ill-equipped to make thoughtful decisions. We are fast losing the capacity for anything even approximating dispassionate empirical observation and rational analysis. Ultimately, this will mark the greatest of the many triumphs of the dark forces of regressivism - to regress us as a society to a pre-Enlightenment modality in our relationship with our world. To push us back three hundred or more years, to a time when 'knowledge' was given, fixed and dogmatically defended. Or worse - when even questioning such ideas would itself be considered heretical if not absurd.

This is the greatest victory that the right can win - to discredit, disdain and destroy heterodoxy, to elevate unquestioned and unquestionable authority to the supreme power of popularly-enforced social convention' and to ultimately destroy the societal value and even the capacity for critical thinking. If you want to plunder, unfettered by resistance or even the legitimacy of challenge, you must not only remove the questions from the table, you must take away the table as well. You want to turn the art of independent, rational analysis into the political equivalent of something esoteric, like ancient Tibetan calligraphy. Practiced by lepers.

This is the America we live in today, or at least the one we're fast headed toward.

On election night earlier this month, I sat in doing analysis of the returns on a Long Island radio station. With me was a very personable, well-informed (by conventional standards) guy who holds a significant position in local government, and who told me that he had been asked to run for Congress this year, but declined because he has a small child at home. At one point in the broadcast, I mentioned that it was absurd to call Barack Obama a liberal, let alone a socialist. At the next break, he good-naturedly teased me for saying that, as if I hadn't really believed it, but was just trying to do a little liberal propaganda work. I looked at him and said, "I'm dead serious. I can name ten examples of right-wing policy from this White House. Can you name three examples of liberalism?" His face fell a bit. I said, "Okay, how about one?" Then he sort of uncomfortably laughed and said, "You know you’re never going to get me to believe that!"

As a matter of fact, he had no idea how much I knew I was never going to convince him to believe that. I knew I wasn't because I’ve come to see over the last decade how the regressive mind (I’m being generous in my nomenclature here) works (again). It is not only increasingly incapable of rational thought, it is increasingly defined by that incapacity. It is characterized by the pre-Enlightenment tribal mentality in which our team is always good and right, and 'facts' are either accepted dogmatically, rejected out of hand, or just plain fabricated out of whole cloth to service that desperately held weltanschauung.

It is a frightening world, precisely because it is so frightened a world. The people who inhabit it are so uncomfortable with the real world that they have created a bogus one to which they tenaciously cling. The vociferousness with which they demand Fake World's hegemony over others is anything but an indicator of their confidence in the power of its principles. Quite to the contrary, that obstreperousness represents instead an inadvertent indication of the falsity of their beliefs, of the brittle precariousness of a world view that possesses all the solidity of cotton candy, and of the urgent requirement for total vigilance in order to keep the dogs of cognitive dissonance well at bay. To paraphrase Jefferson (who knew a thing or two about cognitive dissonance): It is error alone which needs the support of ideology. Truth can stand by itself.

Truth is a big problem for the right. A really big problem. And, regrettably, it is increasingly becoming a really big problem for America.

This is a country that just elected a government which – for the third major iteration in a single generation – is once again promising radical tax cuts for the wealthy and a balanced budget at the same time. How willfully stupid do you have to be to believe that that little exercise will turn out differently this time than it did when Reagan instead tripled the national debt, or Lil' Bush doubled it?

And how intentionally ignorant do you have to be to continue to take right-wing economic policy at face value anymore, anyhow? Thirty years ago, Reagan's OMB director, David Stockman, told us to our faces that the whole trickle down line was pure bullshit, used for the purpose of justifying tax cuts for the wealthy to moronic voters. And yet we pretended like we never actually saw what was behind the curtain Toto pulled aside. And still we pretend, even as we've now lived through – and lived with the consequences of - the greatest transfer of wealth in all of human history, a massive looting of the middle class, working class and poor alike, all to benefit the already fantastically wealthy. So just what kind of fervently-held political religion must you desperately be clinging to in order to still take the economic policy pronouncements of a John Boehner or a Dick Armey seriously in the year 2010?

Or how about foreign policy? Paul Wolfowitz - a reptilian combination of academic aloofness and lethal arrogance not seen on the American stage since Henry Kissinger cashed it all in for the money - played the role of George Bush's David Stockman. The son of a bitch came right out and told us to our faces that the whole WMD riff was nothing less than a Madison Avenue marketing campaign of epic proportions. Then the Downing Street Memos confirmed that truth with leaked evidence from the highest levels of the British and American governments. And yet we nod and yawn today as a proven war criminal now tours the country hawking ridiculously deceitful lies in the form of a presidential memoir, to cover ridiculously destructive prior lies in the form of a government, and one which, for that matter, only came into being on the basis of ridiculously ominous earlier lies in the form of the conservative cabal on the US Supreme Court. But, hey, it's only millions of lives at stake. Why bother noticing?

These are only the most glaring and prominent examples. The list is endless. We continue to flatter ourselves with the idiotic mantra that we are the greatest thing to happen to the planet since Rome, even while just about every statistic measuring the health and well-being of societies show us rapidly becoming a banana republic. But you can't say that in America today. It's heresy. We have a religion to protect.

It's bad enough for a society to make the wrong decisions, particularly since the effects can be devastating. But what makes our present situation especially hopeless is that we continue to insist on making decisions the wrong way. That approach to policy making, and indeed to reckoning the very world we inhabit, will almost always guarantee disaster. Go ahead and believe if you want that Jesus will save you from losing your suburban, white-collar, big-screen HDTV existence, but that don't make it so, pal. The guy couldn't even save himself, and then he hasn't bothered to show his face on the planet for more than 2,000 years now. Not even for the Thirty Years' War, when Catholics and Protestants annihilated each other, to the tune of about eight or ten million dead Christian souls.

Religious zealots love to note that there are no atheists in foxholes. They're probably right, but it always struck me as hilarious the degree to which that truth undermines rather than affirms such attempts to bolster their insecurities about the fantasies to which they adhere. Of course there are no atheists in foxholes. That's because mortally frightened humans will cling to any superstition, any cosmic parental savior figure, any super-hero, any deus ex machina, or any hasty bargain they can strike promising to forego this or that vice in order to save their skinny asses from molten hot chunks of lead whizzing toward their soft fleshy bodies at petrifyingly scary velocities.

You bet they're praying for some god or another to save them, just as the wounded ones all cry out for "Mama" before they die. Of course there are no atheists in foxholes. That only confirms that people will do or believe anything if you frighten them badly enough. What's more clarifying is the fact that there are no true believers on surgeon's tables. Oh, sure, they're praying still. But if they really believed in their prayers, and their deity, they wouldn't be going in for surgery at all. Surely god is skilled and powerful enough to just heal our owies without having to work through doctors, right? And wouldn't it be so much better that way, anyhow? Think of the months of painful post-op recovery you could skip. Or all the bad television watched from your hospital bed you could avoid. Or the interminable hassles of trying to get your insurance company to actually pay what it owes. Does god really only work through Anthem Blue Cross?

Unfortunately, though, when it comes to politics, there are a lot of true believers. That is because of the luxury of time intervening between cause and effect, I suppose. When the doc says you've got cancer and you need to have surgery or you're gonna die, you check into the hospital like yesterday. But when scientists say that global warming is going to wreck the planet over the next half century, you can pretend it ain't so, especially because you know it surely means that some Washington bureaucrat is gonna come take away your freakin' Hummer. I imagine we'd act quite differently if the damage that global warming is slated to inflict upon us was going to be delivered instead by an asteroid. Oh, we'd pray like mad in our little planetary foxhole, to be sure. But first we'd get every scientist we could – you know, like climatologists – and put them to work finding a solution to save our butts.

But global warming ain't fast-moving, like an asteroid. So, instead, we allow pigs like Rush Limbaugh – locked in an endless attempt to purge all the bad memories of the bullying they endured as children – to engorge themselves at the expense of a charred planet, just as we engorge ourselves by following their lead rather than an academy full of expert climatologists. When I encounter the selfish and willfully stupid idiots who subscribe to this transparently filthy set of lies used to cover up transparently evil levels of greed, I just want to shake them by the shoulders and ask whether they’d also let Limbaugh perform their open heart surgeries as well? You know, given his vast scientific expertise on things like climatology and medicine and so on...

Our problem today runs much deeper - frighteningly deeper - than our problems. Endless wars, economic depression, environmental collapse - these are actually the good news, relatively speaking. The (very) bad news is not that we have these catastrophic crises to deal with, or even that they are all coming home to roost simultaneously, but, rather, that we have regressed back to a medieval modality for grappling with the world we inhabit. We are rapidly returning to a culture of faith, instead of one of reason. Or, put differently, we are giving up on the painful but potentially productive struggles of early adulthood to return instead to the comforts of being children.

This week, Jonah Goldberg, right-wing liar (pardon the redundancy) published a piece in which he trashed the (not really Christian, not really white, not really American) president for not embracing the idea of American exceptionalism with sufficient fervor. He quoted Obama. But, of course, he left out all kinds of other parts of what Obama said – in the exact same answer to the exact same question – that directly and completely contradicted his assertion that Obama doesn't really believe in the greatness of the country he is (supposed to be) leading. Things like "I'm enormously proud of my country and its role and history in the world." Or, "The United States remains the largest economy in the world. We have unmatched military capability. And I think that we have a core set of values that are enshrined in our Constitution, in our body of law, in our democratic practices, in our belief in free speech and equality, that, though imperfect, are exceptional."

This stuff goes on all the time. Basically, with regressives, if their lips are moving, they are lying. The great wonder, of course is why do people like Goldberg and Limbaugh and Beck and Bush and Palin have a voice, let alone such prominence, in what is supposed to be a grown-up, sophisticated democracy? Why do we accord them legitimacy, while disdaining and jailing pedophiles or drug dealers who do far less damage? How can a country which once achieved so much now revel so joyously in the stench of its own soiled diapers?

Beats me, man. Ah, but let's give credit where it is due. Goldberg is right. There is such a thing as American exceptionalism, after all.

Think about how exceptional you have to be to take the pioneering political, economic, human rights and technological great power of the twentieth century and return it all the way back to the Dark Ages.

And think about how truly exceptional you have to be to do so in the name of the American Founders, whose entire raison d'etre was to transcend the superstitions of those times, and replace them with the empiricism and reason of the Enlightenment.

That's a beautiful sight, if only in the sheer boldness of its scope and its gall.

Yep. America the beautiful.

America the exceptional.

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

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Zeitungsverkäufer Goldberg,

Congratulations, you have just been awarded the "Vidkun Quisling Award!" Your name will now live throughout history with such past award winners as Marcus Junius Brutus, Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, George Stephanopoulos, Ralph Nader, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Prescott Bush, Fredo Bush, Kate Bush, Vidkun Quisling and last year's winner Volksjudge Sonia (get whitey) Sotomayor.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and your constant attacks on our common enemy the liberals, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Newspaper Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Iron Cross first class with diamond clusters, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 12-31-2010. We salute you Herr Goldberg, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Democrats And The Rule Of Law
By Glenn Greenwald

On November 13 of last year, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-defendants would be put on trial in a New York federal courthouse and tried for perpetrating the 9/11 attack. This produced a shrill and predictable backlash from the Right as well as from many leading national Democrats, who argued that civilian trials were unnecessary because Mohammed could simply be held indefinitely under "the law of war" or at least put before a military tribunal at Guantanamo. But virtually all liberal commentators vehemently defended the administration's decision as compelled by the Constitution, the rule of law and our values.

As but a few examples, The Washington Monthly's Steve Benen wrote that "it's always reassuring when the Obama administration, knowing that intense far-right blowback is inevitable, does the right thing anyway," and weeks later, Benen added that giving civilian trials for accused terrorists is merely "following the rule of law." Barbara Morrill of Daily Kos hailed the decision to try Mohammed in a civilian court this way: "the Attorney General announced that the United States follows the rule of law." Responding to opponents of Holder's announcement, Josh Marshall asked: "am I so alone in having confidence in this country and what it stands for?" The day Holder's decision was announced, Marshall proclaimed that a civilian trial "vindicates our system of justice and values" and that a refusal to grant trials comes from "voices of cowardice and fear." He also wrote:

What we seem to be forgetting here is that trials are not simply for judging guilt and meting out punishment. We hold trials in public not only because we want a check on the government's behavior but because a key part of the exercise is a public accounting and condemnation of wrongs. Especially in great trials for the worst crimes they are public displays pitting one set of values against another.

I could spend all day citing similar defenses from the liberal commentariat defending the Obama administration on the ground that by giving Mohammed a civilian trial, they were merely obeying the dictates of our Constitution, the rule of law, and our values. And Obama himself voiced similar defenses to justify Holder's decision, leading The Washington Post's Greg Sargent to note "what an epic cave it would be if Obama" reversed Holder's decision (and that's to say nothing of the hordes of Democrats in the political and media class during the Bush years who dramatically condemned imprisonment-without-charges as the embodiment of tyranny, creating a "legal black hole," "shredding the Constitution," etc. etc.).

But that was back when civilian trials for the 9/11 defendants was the official position of the Obama administration. Shortly thereafter, it was reported that Obama had taken away decision-making authority from the Attorney General on this issue and would re-consider Holder's decision, and now we have this, from yesterday's Washington Post:

Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, will probably remain in military detention without trial for the foreseeable future, according to Obama administration officials.

The administration has concluded that it cannot put Mohammed on trial in federal court because of the opposition of lawmakers in Congress and in New York. There is also little internal support for resurrecting a military prosecution at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The latter option would alienate liberal supporters. . . .

The White House has made it clear that President Obama will ultimately make the decision, and a federal prosecution of Mohammed and four alleged co-conspirators has not been ruled out, senior officials said. Still, they acknowledge that a trial is unlikely to happen before the next presidential election and, even then, would require a different political environment.

If it were true -- as most Obama defenders argued -- that giving civilian trials to accused Terrorists is not merely a good option, but required by the Constitution, the rule of law, and our values, then isn't it logically and necessarily true that Obama's refusal to grant such trials constitutes a violation of our Constitution, our rule of law and our values? And if so, doesn't this require rather severe condemnation from the same people who defended civilian trials as necessary under our system of government? After all, if the President is violating our Constitution, the rule of law, and our values, isn't that cause for some rather serious protest and denunciation, no matter his motives?

It's true that this Post article relies on anonymous administration officials and notes that a final decision has not yet been made, but at some point, keeping Mohammed in a cage without a trial for a long enough time constitutes lawless, indefinite imprisonment whether the President formally announces it or not. We're clearly at that point. And, of course, it's long been reported that the President has decided to hold at least 50 other detainees at Guantanamo indefinitely without a trial or even a military commission. Imprisoning people without trials or even military tribunals is clearly the policy of this President.

It's also true that there is substantial political opposition to giving civilian trials to the 9/11 Defendants -- even Andrew Cuomo, safely elected as New York's Governor, has now joined other leading Democrats by announcing his opposition to trials in New York -- but the Federal Government doesn't need the permission of local authorities to use its own courthouses, and more important, the mandates of the Constitution and the rule of law aren't supposed to be waived for political expediency. That premise was the centerpiece of the Obama campaign -- remember? As Sargent wrote:

One of Obama’s most powerfully stated principles has been his rejection of the Cheney world view -- his insistence that the choice between upholding American legal traditions and the rule of law and maintaining our national security is a false one. If Obama does decide to try Mohammed in a military tribunal, won't the implicit message to the public be that there just may be something to what the Cheneyites have been arguing all along?

But now, it appears Obama isn't even merely putting Mohammed "in a military tribunal," but far worse, simply imprisoning him indefinitely with no process at all, based on the same "war" theories that Bush and Cheney used to defend the same policy, to such great controversy and outrage. Indeed, the claimed power to put people in cages basically for life without charging them with any crimes, even though they were captured far from any real "battlefield," was the crux of the Bush/Cheney civil liberties assault.

But what I'm interested in for the moment are those who defended Holder's decision last year on the ground that civilian trials were compelled by the Constitution, the rule of law and our values. I still vividly recall what happened when Obama reversed himself on the issue of complying with court orders to release torture photos. When he originally announced that he would release those photos, virtually every Democrat and liberal defended him from the Liz-Cheney/Bill-Kristol-led right-wing attacks by insisting that such transparency was crucial for our democratic values. But when Obama reversed himself two weeks later and announced that he would conceal these photos, many Democrats reversed right along with him and suddenly began arguing what Cheney and Kristol had been saying two weeks earlier: that concealment of the photos was justified by the imperative of National Security and Protecting Our Troops (I asked many times but never got an answer: was there a single Democrat who defended Obama's ultimate concealment of those photos who, based on their pro-concealment reasoning, had joined with Kristol and Cheney in criticizing Obama's original decision to release them?).

Obviously, those who screamed bloody murder over Bush/Cheney Terrorism policies but now justify or at least acquiesce to the same policies when implemented by Obama have serious issues with partisan loyalties trumping honest advocacy. But it's when the Obama administration reverses itself -- such as with the torture photos -- that one's intellectual honesty is most conclusively tested: one's beliefs and principles can't shift with Obama's reversals if they're to be meaningful or credible. The same issue applies here: shouldn't anyone who defended Holder's original decision on the ground that it was compelled by the Constitution, the rule of law and our values now vocally denounce Obama for his profound violations of those same doctrines? If the Obama administration merited praise last November for upholding the Constitution, the rule of law and our values with civilian trials, then it must be true that they're now violating the Constitution, the rule of law and our values by denying them. Isn't that a rather serious offense?


VastLeft expresses the "evolution" on the issue of civilian trials as follows (which applies exactly to the reversal on disclosure of torture photos and so many others):

I'm not suggesting that anyone named here is guilty of this yet, but am just hoping that -- now that it's clear that civilian trials are being denied -- nobody will be guilty of it.

UPDATE II: John Cole argues that this is the fault of Congressional Democrats, not Obama, because this is "yet another example of Obama trying to do the right thing, but not one Democrat had his back." No. First, there's no indication that Obama -- as opposed to Holder -- ever cared about or even was in favor of civilian trials; shortly after Holder made his announcement, numerous reports indicated that Rahm Emanuel was furious and the Obama White House quickly took away the power to decide from Holder. Second, Cole is definitely right that there was (as usual) ample amounts of Democratic cowardice to go around, but it's just not true that "not one Democrat had his back." As but one of many examples, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) "'applauded' Holder for 'the decision to bring those individuals responsible for the attack on the World Trade Center to New York'." Pat Leahy and Russ Feingold did the same. And 45% of New Yorkers favored having the trial there, compared to only 41% opposed.

Third: even conservatives acknowledged that the decision of where to try the 9/11 defendants is the DOJ's and Obama's to make -- not Congress'; from The Hill: "Despite the torrent of GOP outrage to the White House's decision to prosecute the professed masterminds of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in civilian court, at least one lawmaker admits that not much can be done to stop it from happening. Even conservative lawmaker Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), not one known for shirking from an uphill fight, told The Hill on Friday that little can be done legislatively."

Fourth: and most importantly, Obama took a Constitutionally-mandated oath of office that he will "will to the best of [his] ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." I wasn't aware that Constitutional guarantees and the rule of law could be dismissed with the wave of a presidential hand because members of the President's party in Congress want it to be. If that is true, then that reasoning justifies most of what Bush and Cheney did as well. The whole point of having a Constitution is that the Government is barred from doing certain things (e.g., depriving someone of liberty without due process of law) even when majorities demand it. This is Obama's doing; he ran on a platform of restoring the rule of law and the Constitution even when political expediency demands otherwise; and nothing forced him to abandon Holder's decision.
(c) 2010 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy.

Public Like A Frog
"Where all are guilty, no one is"
By Phil Rockstroh

Once again, partisan Democrats are reeling in shock and humiliation, boggled by a familiar scenario -- the sheer velocity of their reversal of fortune and the Republican right's perennial ascendency. Democrats implore, why is it voters occupying less than privileged positions in the economic order evince such ardor embracing the principles of a political creed dedicated to their exploitation for the benefit of a ruthless few?

There is truth in the one-liner that Democrats bandy: Anyone from the working or middle class who votes Republican is suffering from Battered Wife Syndrome. Although one is tempted to retort, anyone who votes for either one of the corporate/National Security State parties is closer to a half-senile spinster who still believes her prince will come.

For decades, middle and laboring class conservatives have been hoarding their resentments against phantom enemies, foreign and domestic, as the time-yellowed, eroded social contract, once, offering a better life for themselves and for their children, has crumbled to dust in their hands. By the financial machinations of elitist kleptocrats and the Pentagon's multi-billion dollar money pit, they have been endowed with little else but this stash of toxic baubles they store against reality.

The truth is that the State is a conspiracy designed not only to exploit, but above all to corrupt its citizens. -- Leo Tolstoy

Amid the casual brutalities and nettling banalities of the US's perpetual militarism and its entrenched culture of corporate oligarchy, two pernicious modes of being, seemingly unrelated, arise, converge and cross-pollinate: the collective compulsion to displace fear and rage intertwined with an aura of personal dislocation and collective anomie.

This has been the legacy wrought by the nation's collective will to beat its civic plowshares into the Pentagon's war machine (as well as those much needed accouterments of the commonweal such as the fleets of the tax-exempt, Gulf-Stream jets appropriated by corporate oligarchs).

As the people of a fading empire, our self-absorbed victim-swoon is only exceeded by our paranoia: We cower from phantoms and rage at realms of invisibles: Within this empire of Paxil, Palin and paranoia, collective fear of all the wrong things has made the US and her people analogous to a car alarm that issues a shrill, electronic warning to an empty parking lot. In reality, no intruder has attempted to invade its envelope of steel, aluminum, and glass. A sudden gust of wind was the culprit. Yet it disturbs all within earshot, announcing the presence of imaginary marauders.

Attempting to cope with the degradations of a violence-prone, exploitive system and its attendant degraded social milieu, an individual can become susceptible to demagogic narratives that serve to displace overwhelming feelings of rage, shame, and mortification. Thus, around the clock, right-wing media haters -- human, hair-trigger car alarms -- admonish empty air.

Overextended empires, and the distracted and harried individuals within, will stand, bristling in a paranoid posture, with feet planted in stubborn defiance of changing circumstances, snarling at invisible threats and imagined affronts, as life moves on with indifferent grace.

A nebulous sense of anger, co-existing with free-floating ennui, has become normalized, leveling a sense of desolation and inflicting a hyper-attenuation of the will to freedom upon the psyches of U.S. conservatives of modest economic means. What remains: brittle pride, paranoia, belligerence, and empty braggadocio -- each serving to occlude from their conscious awareness the reality of the nation's plummeting quality of life.

By any metric, other than military spending and armament production, the US is nowhere close to occupying the top dog position it once held among nations ... maybe global junkyard dog. In the US, it is astonishing to hear middle and laboring class conservatives defend their degradation by the present corporate order i.e., how they refer to the leash, held by their corporate masters around their necks, as their wings of freedom.

Thus corporatism, by its diffuse nature, avoids direct critique, as, all the while, it atomizes community. The money generated doesn't remain in neighborhoods; instead, profits flow back to corporate headquarters. These practices of the corporate state (that go nearly unquestioned) have rendered US culture bland and inflicted alienation in their wake.

The culture has been reduced to a center-devoid archipelago disconnected to community commerce and communal engagement. This is revealed, in microcosm, in the nature of the bland, uniform food proffered at corporate chain restaurants which is produced for quick profits in order to provisionally assuage the disproportionally large appetites of the denizens of the consumer state.

Hopes and dreams have been crowded out and marginalized by oversized, empty cravings ... My heart is bereft -- but I can fill my belly with giant burgers and endless varieties of donuts ... Buddhists term this state of being: existing as a hungry ghost.

As corporate chains conquer every block, waistlines expand and civic engagement shrinks ... Shuffling, bereft, through the consumer state's soul-denuded architecture of anonymity, we, in turn, have internalized the illusory image-scape of the mass media hologram. The human being as consumer is not only clad in corporate chain clothes but wears its labels within.

Due to the banality, blandness and flat out ugliness of the strip mall/big box store/fast food outlet, prefab nothingvilles of the US landscape, life under corporatism is as seductive as the glare of florescent tube lighting in a convenience store. Our suburban architecture looks as though Socialist Realist architects of the old Soviet Union grew bored of the worker's paradise of Hell, rose to earth, and went into the prefab structure design business.

The difference between the Soviet Union during its last few decades and the US Empire in its death swoon is the people of the Soviet Union knew it was all a fraud. In contrast, our corporate masters are too wily to display their corrupt carcasses on the reviewing stand on May Day as the fraudulent parade trundles past.

At present, the only reason voting is still permitted is to provide a wall of camouflage for corporate oligarchs. Their power remains hidden … provided the public believes, by voting, they are afforded any significant degree of mastery regarding the condition of their lives and the trajectory of their fates.

Extreme totalitarian policies such as Stalin's engineered famines aren't required under the hidden (loose knit) authoritarianism of the present system: Our corporate commissars have more cunning, albeit less dramatic, methods of keeping people in their place: keep the workforce off balance with downsizing, arbitrary staff reductions, and outsourcing; inflict a famine of the mind by means of a class-stratified system of education, in combination with a constant and enveloping bombardment of inane mass media content; and provide food, plentiful amounts of it, but manufacture food products as high caloric, high fat, high sugar, growth hormone-injected, antibiotic-sodden, empty calorie delivery systems e.g., corporate chain death burgers and donuts of doom.

Although, in a traditional sense, the swag the privileged class mountebanks have made off with isn't actually money; in reality, they are in possession of a cache of weightless pixels funneling through a matrix of computer systems. There is simply the illusion of money in the vaults of the nation's colossal banking entities. The only thing the financial elite didn’t steal for themselves was any sense of self-awareness, because if there was ever an honest audit of their ill-gotten assets the illusion would be exposed and the house of electronic cards would fly asunder.

And that time is approaching. Soon enough, the next black swan will glide into the picture. And this presents peril: Prolonged hopelessness breeds rage. When that rage is unloosed, the fabric of civilization unravels and is soon cobbled together as a death shroud.

Accordingly, right-wing hatred is a many-headed hydra that feeds on fear and desperation. It cannot be fought by attacking its spindling heads, each of its hissing mouths dripping black poison. Instead, one must thrust at the noxious heart of the raging beast. But one cannot know where the heart of an external monster beats without gazing upon one's own ugliness. One's ugliness, with apologies to Emily Dickinson, must be public like a frog.

Apropos: How can it be, on a level of collective awareness, the populace of the US can persist in avoiding blundering in to this steaming pile of the obvious: How can we have a modicum of empathy for the people of Iraq when we refuse to even glimpse our own degraded condition and our complicity therein? What does it speak of a people who can be indifferent, inured, or ignorant regarding the following?

‎The Battalion commander walked into the weight room where 3rd platoon was at, yelled out 'Listen up, new battalion SOP (standard operating procedure) from now on: Anytime your convoy gets hit by an IED, I want 360 degree rotational fire. You kill every motherfucker in the street' -- former US soldier, who served in Iraq, Ethan McCord.

The Military Industrial Complex/National Security State serves no one but the God of Death, munitions manufacturers and those politicians they bribe. War is a money train for the rich and connected and a death wagon for everyone else.

Regardless, the people of the United States owe the Iraqi people an amends. If we demure, we will remain caged by our ignorance. That will be our punishment: our fates, analogous to a mistreated dog that licks the hand of his cruel master and exists, restless and vicious, behind a fence, snarling at the passing world.

There are many worlds, many heavens and many hells -- and they are all in this one. Without a public accounting of, as well as, restitution made for our crimes, we, in the US, will remain in our own tiny, fenced-in hell, straining against the tether of our tiny view of the world ... barking and snapping at empty air in futile rage.

Because our sense of entitlement here in the US engenders so much death and suffering overseas, at times, I feel like shouting in frustration: "I don't give the hind quarters of a small rodent about the beliefs, feelings, consumer preferences nor fates of the somnambulant herds of big box store waddling, overgrown adult infants of this empire of the arrogant and the empty. Millions have been murdered worldwide so that these entitlement-maddened monsters can keep their SUVs topped-off with gas, and their fat brats' greedy gobs stuffed with Hot Pockets & Juicy Juice."

Yet as Hannah Arendt observed: "Where all are guilty, no one is; confessions of collective guilt are the best possible safeguard against the discovery of culprits, and the very magnitude of the crime the best excuse for doing nothing."

Years ago, I had a friend, a struggling artist, who purchased an old, dilapidated, Victorian era house. Upon moving in, he discovered the place was infested with cockroaches. Worse, the house sat close to railroad tracks and when trains trundled by, shaking the structure, its floors, walls, and ceilings would seethe with agitated cockroaches.

Since no amount of bug spray could lessen the infestation, he began zapping individual insects with glow-in-the-dark spray paint. After many months of this endeavor, when friends dropped by after dark, and, subsequently, a train rumbled down the tracks adjacent to the house, he would switch off the lights and all present were dazzled by his creation -- a moving, organic mobile of scuttling, multi-colored, living art.

At present, this is where we find ourselves as a people: powerless before the ugliness of the age. Therefore, we have little choice other than to light up the ugliness and turn the objects of our revulsion (personal and collective) into something resembling the truth of art.

Darkness must and will descend upon us. The absence of light must grow so unbearable that we’re willing to ask how is it we arrived in this place and begin to illuminate the darkness by revealing the scuttling, creepy crawlers of empire.
(c) 2010 Phil Rockstroh, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. Visit Phil's website, and at FaceBook.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Jeff Darcy ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Gimme Shelter
The Rolling Stones

Oh, a storm is threat'ning
My very life today
If I don't get some shelter
Oh yeah, I'm gonna fade away

War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away
War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away

Ooh, see the fire is sweepin'
Our very street today
Burns like a red coal carpet
Mad bull lost its way

War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away
War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away

Rape, murder!
It's just a shot away
It's just a shot away

Rape, murder!
It's just a shot away
It's just a shot away

Rape, murder!
It's just a shot away
It's just a shot away

The floods is threat'ning
My very life today
Gimme, gimme shelter
Or I'm gonna fade away

War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away
It's just a shot away
It's just a shot away
It's just a shot away

I tell you love, sister,
it's just a kiss away
It's just a kiss away
It's just a kiss away
It's just a kiss away
It's just a kiss away
Kiss away, kiss away
© 1969/2010 Jagger/Richards

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

How Come Injuns Don't Celebrate Thanksgiving?


I learned in my seclular skool Amercian Histroy class that the Injuns helped Pilgrins make popcorn so they could live in winter time when they were cold. My teatcher told us that the Pilgrims invitated the native amercan injuns to have the first Thanksgiving dinner and they did. Now in sunday shool class we are lerning about local histry and Mrs. Pepperdine said that the injuns don't celebrate thanksgiving no more and that they are dangreous and make lots of trouble. Why aren't the injuns happy? Why don't they want to celebrate Thanksgivinig with us?

Timothy Minkins
Age 8

Dear Timothy, First of all, Native American Injuns (to be politically correct) are not welcome to join us in our celebration of holy thanks to God for giving us our new country because they are responsible for slaughtering countless Christians who wanted nothing more than to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them. Your secular school teacher had only one thing right - the Injuns gave us pop-corn. Since then, they have made no other contribution to society. They have been nothing but a tax burden and troublesome boil on the rump of decent, God-fearing Americans.

The Bible tells us that the sins of the fathers are handed down through the generations. This is very evident in the shameless hatred and jealousy that Native American Injuns have for us white folks. When Christians first came to this country, they found forests full of violent pagan savages. These savages worshipped false gods and Creation Science research suggests that they even practiced human sacrifice. They wanted nothing to do with Jesus or the civilized world and insisted on running around with their naked red hineys exposed.

To this day, Injuns are still jealous of God's True Americans™. They are constantly scheming to take back their "so-called" land. They make a living out of corrupting decent Americans with gambling, booze and the occult lure of their tribal drums. Since we here at Landover Baptist can trace our bloodlines directly back to the Pilgrims who civilized this country, we are the foremost authority on all things Injun. Don't believe a word you learn in your history class. Your Sunday school teacher will teach you everything you need to know about these godless heathens.

Timmy, as we approach the Christian holiday of Thanksgiving, you must always be on the lookout for naked red-skinned feather-heads. They hide under your bed and in your closet and want nothing more than to steal you away from your mother and father. I believe they make slaves and squaws out of little Christian children and force them into cheap casino labor camps where you will live out the rest of your life behind a Texas Holdum table dealing cards and destroying the lives of True Americans™.

Please report any sighting of an Injun to the Landover Baptist Police Department. They are not welcome on our church campus. We can legally unload a round of buckshot into their red behinds and prosecute them for trespassing.

In Christ Jesus,

Pastor Deacon Fred
© 2010 The Landover Baptist Church

The Gross National Debt

Iraq Deaths Estimator

The Animal Rescue Site

View my page on

Issues & Alibis Vol 10 # 46 (c) 11/19/2010

Issues & Alibis is published in America every Friday. We are not affiliated with, nor do we accept funds from any political party. We are a non-profit group that is dedicated to the restoration of the American Republic. All views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily the views of Issues & Alibis.Org.

In regards to copying anything from this site remember that everything here is copyrighted. Issues & Alibis has been given permission to publish everything on this site. When this isn't possible we rely on the "Fair Use" copyright law provisions. If you copy anything from this site to reprint make sure that you do too. We ask that you get our permission to reprint anything from this site and that you provide a link back to us. Here is the "Fair Use" provision.

"Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors."