Issues & Alibis

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In This Edition

Noam Chomsky explores, "War, Peace, And Obama's Nobel."

Uri Avnery defines, "Scoundrel With Permission."

Victoria Stewart goes, "Beyond Barack Obama."

Jim Hightower follows, "McChrystal In Fantasyland About Afghanistan."

Christopher Cooper studies, "Fixtures And Forces And Friends."

Ray McGovern is, "Shining Light On Roots Of Terrorism."

Paul Krugman sees a, "World Out Of Balance."

Chris Floyd uncovers the, "Beloved Enemy."

Case Wagenvoord waits for, "The Other Shoe."

Mike Folkerth explains, "Illusions, Propaganda, And Reality."

Chris Hedges finds, "The New State Solution."

David Michael Green with a must read, "Twenty Years From Now, You Will Lie To Your Children."

Archbishop Edwin O'Brien wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Glenn Greenwald reports, "Ex-Islamic Radicals On What Motivates -- And Impedes - Extremism."

Norman Solomon returns with, "Biggest State Party To Obama: Get Out Of Afghanistan."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department 'Monty Python's' Terry Jones warns, "Beware The 16ft-High Crabs" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Just Roll To Your Rifle."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of William Garner, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Derf City, Ted Rall, Jim Day, Mr. Fish, WR, John Chuckman, Carlos Latuff, AP 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."

Just Roll To Your Rifle
By Ernest Stewart

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.
The Young British Soldier ~~~ Rudyard Kipling

"Bow, stubborn knees!"
Hamlet ~~~ William Shakespeare

"If the American people knew what we have done, they would string us up from the lamp posts." ~~~ George H.W. Bush.

I see where Army suicides are up this year, up over 2008, which was up over 2007 etc. While only 140 actively serving GIs have done themselves in this year, 140 was the total for all of last year. I say "only" because this is out of 500,000 troops, but that number is pretty much par for civilian suicides. Of course, what the Pentagoons try to cover up is the fact that over 6,500 vets kill themselves ever year! It takes a while to come to grips with all that baby killing for Wall Street and such.

Speaking of babies, the Hawaiian Guard is now going to Kindergarten classes and recruiting 5 year olds. I'm going to repeat that for those of you on drugs.

"They're going to kindergartens on career day and pitching kids who don't know their ABCs yet or aren't fully housebroken. Telling them they only kill bad people!"

I'll let that sink in a minute... I guess all those babes in arms, women, children, and men at those dangerous wedding receptions and elementary schools killed by our junior birdmen on a weekly basis deserved a horrible flaming death! They're recruiting kids from the HS class of 2022! THE CLASS OF 2022! Is it just me or is there something terribly wrong with that?

Meanwhile, we wait until Obama has finished his bowing and scraping around the world to find out how many more of our children will be sent to one of our ongoing quagmires? For those of you thinking of a career as a baby killer, whether you're 5 or 15, remember what Rudyard said about Afghanistan, it may give you pause or it may not. And if not Kipling, then how about Tonto, who once said to the Lone Ranger... "War heap bad, Kemosabe!"

In Other News

Then there was Barry picking up where Smirky left off, i.e., embarrassing us around the world with his antics. A major faux pas happened in Tokyo where Barry bowed down to Hirohito's boy, when, if anything, it should have been the other way around!

I seemed to remember we fought two long and bloodied wars so we wouldn't have to bow down to whatever Bozo and Bozoette that comes around? Didn't we? Like for that old witch who holds court in London where Barry bowed and curtseyed for Liz. As the single most powerful man in the world to even acknowledge these pretenders is just a bit too much, is it not?

Sure Aki is said to be God by the Japanese but I don't think bowing to foreign gods is going to play too well back home. Do you suppose? While Micki is said to be Aki's consort, which where I come from translates into a four or five letter word, bowing to her is not a good idea either! Instead they both should have knelt and kissed his ring. United States kindess is, after all, why Aki is still alive, so shouldn't he show respect? He'd bow and kiss Don Corleone's ring and Vito is just a Capo, not the Capo di tutti capi that Obama is!

Still, to be fair, at least so far, Barry hasn't had any male hookers come over to the White House and spend the night, night after night like the Smirkster did. Nor has Barry, to my knowledge, held hands and French kissed Arab Potentates like Georgie did! So, I guess, it's onward an upward, a little bit at a time!

And Finally

It's that time of the year when people my age remember what they were doing when the Walt Disney version of America ceased to be and reality set in. When two four-man CIA hits teams, under the direction of George H.W. Bush, committed acts of treason and sedition in Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas.

In my case, I was in between classes at O.L. Smith Junior High School in Dearborn, Michigan. I was walking down the hall when my Metal Shop teacher, the muy macho Mr. Marx, came walking down the hall crying like a baby saying, "They've murdered the president!" If you're my age I'm sure you have similar memories.

A couple daze later I watched with Grandmother Sizemore as a mafia hit man named Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald, a former CIA stooge who had patsy written all over him. Oswald, who had been charged with murdering a policeman not killing JFK, got shot to death on live television much to the horror of Granny S and the fascination of yours truly. Even though it was eight days before my fifteenth birthday, I could clearly smell a rat or cabal of rats!

Any doubts of the cover-up vanished after the "Warren Report" came out; there was no doubt that the commission had covered up the sanction. There were drinks all around and a new President, LBJ, who promised to follow ze orders and the fix was in. This was done with the help of a former CIA director Allen Welsh Dulles and a fascist Con-gressman from Michigan, Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr who knew how to follow orders. The Warren Report cover-up was born! Jerry knew how to follow orders so well that he became the first President of the United States who wasn't elected by the people but put in place to pardon old Tricky Dick by the Trickster himself. Let's not forget the rewards for the Crime Family Bush, i.e., 20 years of the presidency (What, you thought old Dementia head was in charge for eight years did you? Really?).

Had there been any doubts about this they were certainly removed by Abraham Zapruder's film of the motorcade, wherein you can clearly see JFK's head snap backwards and his brains blow out in a vee shape all over the trunk of the Lincoln. This was done by a CIA assassin dressed as a policeman up on the "Grassy Knoll."

The Lincoln which had just prior to the four shots lost it's Secret Service protection, (imagine that) suddenly regained said protection as Jackie crawled out on the trunk trying to pick up the larger pieces of JFK's brains as the limo sped past the three "hobos" (all CIA hit team members) standing down by the viaduct just in case. While up in front of the "The Texas School Book Depository Building" you can see Papa Smirk and another spook smiling.

Happy Sanctions Day, Ya'll!

Oh And One More Thing

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


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

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

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

Ernest & Victoria Stewart


06-01-1930 ~ 11-16-2009
Thanks for the memories!


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


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


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

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

War, Peace, And Obama's Nobel
By Noam Chomsky

The hopes and prospects for peace aren't well aligned -- not even close. The task is to bring them nearer. Presumably that was the intent of the Nobel Peace Prize committee in choosing President Barack Obama.

The prize "seemed a kind of prayer and encouragement by the Nobel committee for future endeavor and more consensual American leadership," Steven Erlanger and Sheryl Gay Stolberg wrote in The New York Times.

The nature of the Bush-Obama transition bears directly on the likelihood that the prayers and encouragement might lead to progress.

The Nobel committee's concerns were valid. They singled out Obama's rhetoric on reducing nuclear weapons.

Right now Iran's nuclear ambitions dominate the headlines. The warnings are that Iran may be concealing something from the International Atomic Energy Agency and violating U.N. Security Council Resolution 1887, passed last month and hailed as a victory for Obama's efforts to contain Iran.

Meanwhile, a debate continues on whether Obama's recent decision to reconfigure missile-defense systems in Europe is a capitulation to the Russians or a pragmatic step to defend the West from Iranian nuclear attack.

Silence is often more eloquent than loud clamor, so let us attend to what is unspoken.

Amid the furor over Iranian duplicity, the IAEA passed a resolution calling on Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and open its nuclear facilities to inspection.

The United States and Europe tried to block the IAEA resolution, but it passed anyway. The media virtually ignored the event.

The United States assured Israel that it would support Israel's rejection of the resolution -- reaffirming a secret understanding that has allowed Israel to maintain a nuclear arsenal closed to international inspections, according to officials familiar with the arrangements. Again, the media were silent.

Indian officials greeted U.N. Resolution 1887 by announcing that India "can now build nuclear weapons with the same destructive power as those in the arsenals of the world's major nuclear powers," the Financial Times reported.

Both India and Pakistan are expanding their nuclear weapons programs. They have twice come dangerously close to nuclear war, and the problems that almost ignited this catastrophe are very much alive.

Obama greeted Resolution 1887 differently. The day before he was awarded the Nobel Prize for his inspiring commitment to peace, the Pentagon announced it was accelerating delivery of the most lethal non-nuclear weapons in the arsenal: 13-ton bombs for B-2 and B-52 stealth bombers, designed to destroy deeply hidden bunkers shielded by 10,000 pounds of reinforced concrete.

It's no secret the bunker busters could be deployed against Iran.

Planning for these "massive ordnance penetrators" began in the Bush years but languished until Obama called for developing them rapidly when he came into office.

Passed unanimously, Resolution 1887 calls for the end of threats of force and for all countries to join the NPT, as Iran did long ago. NPT non-signers are India, Israel and Pakistan, all of which developed nuclear weapons with U.S. help, in violation of the NPT.

Iran hasn't invaded another country for hundreds of years -- unlike the United States, Israel and India (which occupies Kashmir, brutally).

The threat from Iran is minuscule. If Iran had nuclear weapons and delivery systems and prepared to use them, the country would be vaporized.

To believe Iran would use nuclear weapons to attack Israel, or anyone, "amounts to assuming that Iran's leaders are insane" and that they look forward to being reduced to "radioactive dust," strategic analyst Leonard Weiss observes, adding that Israel's missile-carrying submarines are "virtually impervious to preemptive military attack," not to speak of the immense U.S. arsenal.

In naval maneuvers in July, Israel sent its Dolphin class subs, capable of carrying nuclear missiles, through the Suez Canal and into the Red Sea, sometimes accompanied by warships, to a position from which they could attack Iran -- as they have a "sovereign right" to do, according to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

Not for the first time, what is veiled in silence would receive front-page headlines in societies that valued their freedom and were concerned with the fate of the world.

The Iranian regime is harsh and repressive, and no humane person wants Iran -- or anyone else -- to have nuclear weapons. But a little honesty would not hurt in addressing these problems.

The Nobel Peace Prize, of course, is not concerned solely with reducing the threat of terminal nuclear war, but rather with war generally, and the preparation for war. In this regard, the selection of Obama raised eyebrows, not least in Iran, surrounded by U.S. occupying armies.

On Iran's borders in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, Obama has escalated Bush's war and is likely to proceed on that course, perhaps sharply.

Obama has made clear that the United States intends to retain a long-term major presence in the region. That much is signaled by the huge city-within-a city called "the Baghdad Embassy," unlike any embassy in the world.

Obama has announced the construction of mega-embassies in Islamabad and Kabul, and huge consulates in Peshawar and elsewhere.

Nonpartisan budget and security monitors report in Government Executive that the "administration's request for $538 billion for the Defense Department in fiscal 2010 and its stated intention to maintain a high level of funding in the coming years put the president on track to spend more on defense, in real dollars, than any other president has in one term of office since World War II. And that's not counting the additional $130 billion the administration is requesting to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan next year, with even more war spending slated for future years."

The Nobel Peace Prize committee might well have made truly worthy choices, prominent among them the remarkable Afghan activist Malalai Joya.

This brave woman survived the Russians, and then the radical Islamists whose brutality was so extreme that the population welcomed the Taliban. Joya has withstood the Taliban and now the return of the warlords under the Karzai government.

Throughout, Joya worked effectively for human rights, particularly for women; she was elected to parliament and then expelled when she continued to denounce warlord atrocities. She now lives underground under heavy protection, but she continues the struggle, in word and deed. By such actions, repeated everywhere as best we can, the prospects for peace edge closer to hopes.
(c) 2009 Noam Chomsky is emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is co-author, with Gilbert Achcar, of Perilous Power: The Middle East & U.S. Foreign Policy: Dialogues on Terror, Democracy, War, and Justice. His most recent book is Hegemony or Survival Americas Quest for Global Dominance. His writings on linguistics and politics have just been collected in The Essential Noam Chomsky, edited by Anthony Arnove, from the New Press.

Scoundrel With Permission
By Uri Avnery

WHEN THE TV news starts with a murder, people are relieved.

This means that no war has broken out, no suicide bomb has exploded, no Qassam rocket has been launched at Sderot. Ahmadinejad has not test-fired a new missile that can reach Tel Aviv. Just another murder.

Not that Israel is the world's murder capital. We shall have to work much harder to reach the heights of New York or Moscow, not to mention Johannesburg. Statistics even show our murder rate is declining.

But lately Israel has been shocked by a series of exceptionally brutal murders. A husband took revenge on his wife by killing his little daughter and burying her in a forest. A man who lived with the wife of his son killed her daughter, his own granddaughter, put her little body in a suitcase and threw it into Tel Aviv's Yarkon river. A son who quarreled with his wife killed her and her mother, cut up both bodies and dispersed the parts in garbage bins. A young man who had a quarrel with his mother killed her, and then went off to kill his brother, too. A man in his 70s killed his wife in her sleep with a hammer.

In recent weeks, there were two cases that trumped even these atrocities.

Damian Karlik, an immigrant from Russia who worked as head waiter in a Russian restaurant, was dismissed for theft and decided to take revenge on the owners, Russian immigrants like him. He went to their apartment and stabbed to death six people, one after another - the owner and his wife, their son and his wife and their two small grandchildren.

An immigrant from the US called Jack Teitel, an inhabitant of one of the most extreme West Bank settlements, has now confessed to the killing some years ago of two random Palestinians. He returned briefly to America, and, after coming back, put bombs into police cars. Why? Because the police were protecting gays and lesbians. He is also suspected of killing two traffic policemen for the same reason. He also claimed responsibility for the mass killing of gays in a Tel Aviv club (though that may be empty bragging). He planted a bomb in the home of some Messianic Jews (Jews who regard Jesus as the Messiah) and grievously injured a 15-year-old. He tried to kill the leftist professor Ze'ev Sternhell with another bomb which wounded him.

WHAT IS so special about these two cases is that they involved new immigrants who were allowed into Israel in spite of already being under investigation for crimes in their homelands.

The Law of Return accords every Jew the right to immigrate ("make Aliyah") to Israel, where he or she automatically receives Israeli citizenship on arrival. But even according to this law, the Minister of the Interior can reject people suspected of serious crimes.

This makes the case of Karlik especially interesting. He was suspected in Russia of armed robbery, but the organization in charge of issuing Israeli immigration permits in Russia asserts that they did not know about it.

This organization, Nativ ("path"), was active in the Soviet Union as one of the Israeli secret services, like the Mossad and Shin Bet. Its particular job was to infiltrate Jewish communities and induce Jews to come to Israel.

Apart from this, Nativ was also engaged, of course, in espionage. It is no secret that for decades immigrants arriving from the Soviet Union were interrogated exhaustively by the Shin Bet about military, economic and other installations in their former homeland. The precious information thus gathered ensured Israel a high standing in the Western intelligence community.

After the collapse of the Communist regime, Nativ was to be disbanded, but like every threatened organization it fought for its life. It was decided to leave it intact and put it in charge of immigration to Israel from all the former Soviet republics. They now have to make sure that immigrants are kosher Jews according to religious law.

The religious credentials of the immigrants interest Nativ much more than any criminal record they may have. It seems Nativ has no contacts with the Russian police, who probably suspect it of other activities.

Thus it happens that a person like Karlik, a man under investigation for robbery with violence, was found suitable for immigration. His ethnic pedigree was impeccable. After his arrival in Israel, the Russian authorities officially applied for his extradition for robbery, but the request was denied. The escaped robber was issued a license for a gun and allowed to work as a guard.

Teitel's case is similar. True, in the US there is no Nativ, but the logic of those in charge of emigration to Israel is the same: to bring immigrants without asking unnecessary questions. According to religious law, a Jew remains a Jew even if he sins.

THESE AFFAIRS shine a spotlight on one of the guiding principles of the Zionist establishment: to bring Jews to Israel, whatever the price. Statistics must show that this year - or any other year - a record number of Jews have "made Aliyah". In many communities, the bottom of the barrel is scraped in order to bring more Jews. Emissaries find "lost tribes" of Jews in Peru and Ethiopia, India and China.

In this situation, there is an understandable temptation to overlook the criminal past of would-be immigrants. So what if somebody, a kosher Jew, has robbed a bank or mistreated children? In Israel he will perhaps mend his ways. Or if somebody was put on trial abroad for illegal arms deals, money laundering and/or selling blood-stained diamonds - he is welcome, and if he brings his millions with him, the leaders of the state will be happy to be photographed in his company.

That is true, of course, only for an immigrant who is a Jew according to the Halakha (religious law). If he is a Goy, the story is quite different. That is the province of the leader of the Shas party, Eli Yishai.

IN THE present Israeli government there are several candidates for the title of Racist in Chief. An objective jury would be hard put to choose between them.

The favorite is the Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, a certified racist whose entire career in Israel is built on hatred towards Arabs and foreigners. It was he who appointed as Minister of Justice the kippa-wearing lawyer Ya'akov Ne'eman, who is now busily engaged in securing the all-important position of Legal Advisor to the Government (practically the Attorney General) for a judge educated in a Yeshiva (Orthodox school), who lives in one of the more extreme settlements and who has become notorious for several rightist judgments. Binyamin Netanyahu himself, of course, is also an excellent candidate.

But the King of Racists is the Minister of the Interior. He is more dangerous than his colleagues because he has absolute power over the civil status of every person in Israel, immigration and emigration, the Register of Residents and the expulsion of foreigners. In this position he is now doing to foreigners what others have done to Jews in many countries. He is untiring in his efforts to guard the real Israel - not the "Jewish and democratic state" as it is officially defined, but rather the "Jewish and demographic state". For this purpose he has recently created a special para-police force for the detection and deportation of illegal foreigners.

It is difficult to decide whether Yishai is an extreme fanatic or a complete cynic, or some strange combination. As matter of fact, when Shas was still a moderate party, in those distant days when its guru, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, ruled that it is permissible to give back the occupied territories, and its former leader, Aryeh Deri, was the darling of the left, Yishai, too, declared "Yes to Oslo, Yes to the evacuation of Jews from Hebron, Yes to Arafat!" But since then much dirty water has flowed down our polluted rivers, Shas has turned into a radical right-wing party and Yishai is now the most extreme rightist in the government.

His unshakable devotion to the purity of the race arouses admiration. Hardly a day passes without some shocking news about his activites. He fights like a tiger for the expulsion of 1500 children of foreign workers who were born in Israel, who speak Hebrew and attend Israeli schools, who have no other homeland. Yishai is ready to lay down his life for their deportation.

The Interior Ministry prevents the entry of American and European citizens who bear Arab names. Officials of the UN and the EU in charge of projects for the Palestinians are normally unable to enter from Jordan (or anywhere else outside Israel), and if they somehow do obtain permission - they are then forbidden to cross the Green Line into Israel. Foreign women married to Israelis are expelled without mercy. There is no end to the examples.

In the eyes of Yishai, every son of a Thai is an enemy of the Jewish state, every daughter of a Colombian worker is a threat to the purity of the Jewish people. He has declared that the foreign workers are an "infection", and warned that Tel Aviv is "becoming Africa". He has disclosed that the foreigners carry frightening diseases, such as AIDS, tuberculosis and such. (And in this respect they resemble gays and lesbians, who, according to Yishai, are "sick people".

Such a person would not remain a minister in the cabinet of the US or most European countries. In the homeland of the Nuremberg laws he would not even come close to a government position.

Recently, during the operation "Cast Lead", Yishai demanded that we "bomb thousands of houses, to destroy Gaza" - which does not hinder him from denouncing Judge Richard Goldstone as an abominable anti-Semite. He himself, by the way, never risked his skin as a combat soldier - this national hero served as an NCO for religious services in a transport unit.

800 years ago, Rabbi Moshe Ben-Nahman, called Nahmanides, coined the phrase "Scoundrel with the permission of the Torah" - meaning a person who does despicable things which are not expressly forbidden in the Bible. I am not sure if even this appellation would fit Yishai, since the Bible forbids more than once the mistreatment of strangers - "Ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless and the widow" (Jer. 7:6), "He...loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment" (Deut. 10:18) and many other commandments to this effect.

BUT More important than Yishai himself is the phenomenon that he represents: the invocation of the demographic demon, which terrifies the country.

62 years after its foundation, the State of Israel is still living in fear of the "demographic danger". It is afraid of its Arab citizens, and therefore discriminates against them in every sphere. It is afraid of the 400 thousand Russians who have come to this country with their Jewish relatives in accordance with the Law of Return, but whose mothers were not Jewish. Here is a built-in contradiction: while the Nativ operators are interested in maximizing the number of immigrants, Yishai and his people deny these very same immigrants the right to marry Jews or to be buried in Jewish graveyards. They serve in the army, but if they fall in action they cannot be buried next to their comrades.

Practically all Hebrew Israelis want a state with a Hebrew majority, where the Hebrew language, culture and tradition are cultivated. But many of us do not want a man-hunting, woman-hunting and child-hunting state, closed to asylum-seekers, where foreign workers who outstay their welcome must live in permanent fear, like our ancestors in the ghettoes.

In order to exorcise the demographic demon, my friends and I have applied to the courts and requested that the registration "Nation: Jewish" in the Ministry's Register of Residents be replaced with "Nation: Israeli". Our application was rejected by Judge Noam Solberg - the very same person the Minister of Justice is moving mountains to get appointed as Attorney General.
(c) 2009 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Beyond Barack Obama
By Victoria Stewart

In the tiny town in South Carolina where I found myself living during the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama did represent hope, change, and possibility. Although I "threw away" my vote by supporting Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente (Oh Green Party, where are you now?), I never questioned how singularly important Obama's candidacy and eventual election were. It doesn't matter that he is far removed from the reality of poverty and racism people of color live with every day in this country. And it doesn't matter that he would no more have stopped for cool drink and a talk with the people in the "Quarters" where I lived than would have George W. Bush. What matters is that through the magnetism of his personality and the power of his political machine he changed the nature of race and racism in this country. I would not have seen so clearly, perhaps, had I not been living in a deeply segregated, unconsciously racist town with an entrenched white supremacist power structure but I was and the importance of his election cannot be overstated. His election was an amazing and even humbling event to witness.

In different times, that alone could have been enough to secure his place in the pantheon of illustrious presidents.

But these are difficult times, hard, bitter, crisis-riddled times and it isn't enough to be charming, personable, and erudite. In these times it isn't enough to offer lofty sounding rationalizations for all the pretty promises that have been broken.

Barack Obama has not been an effective leader. He has not brought the change he promised. He has colluded with the corporate leaders and political elitists he campaigned against. He surrounded himself with economic and political advisors who directly engineered the economic crisis, which got him elected. (Oh..wait..that makes sense now.) He abandoned the best interests of the common citizen and chose instead to champion big business, special interests and the Bush era war machine. He allowed insurance and pharmaceutical companies and the Catholic Church to write health care reform. He bowed to the coal and petroleum industry on climate change. He threw gays and lesbians, peace activists, union workers, and the poor under the bus with head-spinning alacrity. He appointed Tom Vilsack, a proponent of genetically engineered crops, biotechnology, and factory farms to be Secretary of Agriculture and recently nominated Islam A. Siddiqui, a pesticide industry lobbyist, to the position of Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. He has sacrificed women's health as he worked to "reform" health care and the proposed cuts into Medicaid, Medicare, education, and other social programs will be deeply felt in the poorest communities, which are largely non-white.

And he has done this, I suspect, confident the people who elected him will continue to support the Democratic party and his presidency because they have nowhere else to go. But he and his handlers are wrong.

Unless there is a big turnaround in the economy before the 2010 election-and I don't see that happening--the Democrats are facing a rout. The sheer magnitude of the corruption and ineptitude that has marked this current congress will guarantee mass defection to the other party and that other party is where liberals, progressives, and radicals-assuming they still have the political will--need to direct their energy. We need a new party.

Every day more people regret their decision to put the Democratic Party into power and yet, what I hear and read over and over, is that there was no other option. The time is right for leaders who are willing to make the hard choices and keep themselves separate from the corporate interests to step forward. Women and men who are willing to speak the truth plainly and to refrain from the supercilious and condescending rhetoric which has so marked the left, could win public office. 2010 is the year when unknowns can carry elections and is the best chance for a true representative government that the American people have had in generations. Without another party offering, Republicans, for all their current disarray, will carry the next election.

It is time to move past the self-congratulatory fervor of Barack Obama's election. He has lost the fragile coalition that carried him to the White House and has betrayed the trust of the people who elected him. If the United States is to halt its downward spiral, its people must be offered something other than the existing political parties. We must accept that Barack Obama and the Democratic Party will not save us. Not now. Not ever.
(c) 2009 Victoria Stewart is the editor of Issues & Alibis magazine.

McChrystal In Fantasyland About Afghanistan

If wishful thinking makes good military policy, then we'll be in great shape in Afghanistan.

General Stanley McChrystal - the top U.S. commander there - has been running a political and PR campaign for weeks to force President Obama into a major escalation of the war there. In September, the general called for sending up to 85,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan in order to secure the country and rapidly train the Afghan army and police force to take over the fighting.

Let's just deal here with that last component of McChrystal's "plan." He says we must recruit, train, and deploy 44,000 additional Afghan soldiers in the next year, and also add another 68,000 trained Afghan officers to the police force. This dramatic increase is vital to his strategy, McChrystal says.

Good luck with that. A series of status reviews of the Afghan Army and police, written by U.S. military officers involved in training them, reveal that the general is operating in fantasyland. The reports mock McChrystal's assurances of a quick fix, pointing to mass illiteracy, endemic corruption, profound culture differences, very little will to fight, and "a lack of competent and professional leadership at all levels."

One report notes that while 92,000 Afghans are in the police force, only 24,000 have completed formal training. Even trained, only 10 percent of police units can function independently of U.S. support and direction. Also, one out of every four policemen quit each year, thus requiring massive recruiting and training just to maintain the current force level.

The best military assessments say it will take 10 years - not one - to raise Afghan security forces to a level of basic competence. Why should our troops spend a decade and lose lives to do that? And why is Gen. McChrystal not being honest?
(c) 2009 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

Fixtures And Forces And Friends
By Christopher Cooper

"If Any Question Why We Died,
Tell Them Because Our Fathers Lied"
Epitaphs of the War ~~~ Rudyard Kipling

We can win in Afghanistan! Let no one convince you otherwise. We have the men; we have the money; we have the bullets and the bombs and the body bags. Our top military men and policy analysts talk of "The Long War', which centrists and middlebrow thinkers and pack-joiners and general-purpose followers of several stripes like to call "The Global War On Terror" and liberals of one kind and another denounce as "a quagmire." I see no reason to consider this a difficult or dangerous or protracted problem. We do it right and we can schedule the victory parade for the first nice Saturday in May.

And how do I define victory, my liberal co-worker sneers? Simply and directly I reply: we own the place. Nobody left whole and conscious has the ability to hinder, harass, trouble or discomfit any white executive or entrepreneur who chooses to show himself in the open air, unfurl a Stars 'n' Bars bigger than they fly above the car dealerships in his suburb, piss on the pavement at high noon on their holiest heathen holiday, and proclaim the United States of America a great gift from God Almighty to the brown and backward beings who clutter up this globe.

Now, as we have conducted the campaign for most of the Junior Bush cartoon presidency, and for so far all of the Change We Can Believe In Obama administration, it does indeed look like we're in it to maximize expense and waste and alienation and to minimize any possible, theoretical resolution. Our president consults and he dithers. Rumors leak out, are reported, considered, forgotten: he will commit the full measure of manpower his current favorite general requests; he will send fewer; he will offer more. Mr. Obama assures us of only this: it is a difficult decision, a solemn burden, he hates war as much as the rest of us, and the one decision he has ruled out is getting out. So, in the fullness of time we may expect the injection of some more meat (i.e., young men and women) into the Bush-Obama-Congressional War On Something-Or-Other. Inspiring, ain't it?

Where is General Curtis LeMay when we need him? Oh, yes, dead. And a good thing, too. Crazy bastard. But consider these simple, honest, understandable quotations about a war some of us remember from a few years back: "My solution to the problem would be to tell the North Vietnamese Communists frankly that they've got to drawn in their horns and stop their aggression or we're going to bomb them into the stone age." Not clear enough? Try this: "If you kill enough of them, they stop fighting." Precisely.

And so it is that if we wish to produce an Afghanistan in which no one has any interest in driving us off their land, we need to render every fighter, every current and potential opponent and his wives, his children, his parents and cousins, his heirs and assigns forever, dead, comatose or in the employ of the CIA at a nice desk job Stateside. Because you leave any of 'em breathing, with their innards inside and their crania uncracked, and they'll dislike and resent and eventually come to hate us (hard to imagine, I know, my friends, but it is so), and we'll be managing a surly population of desperate and bereaved survivors until the goats come home.

The drone program won't do it. It's very effective at blowing up wedding parties and playgrounds, and I'm sure it's fun for the kids jiggling the joysticks and pushing the bombs-away buttons, but the natives mind it enough to redouble their homemade bomb production whenever one of our Hellfire missiles incinerates their innocents (which is often). And it can't kill enough fast enough to do the job.

More troops will mean more firefights and more dead heroes. We call them heroes after we waste them, after we've extinguished them, picked up or scraped up what we can retrieve, stabilized the pulp and shards against immediate putrefaction, and boxed them bound for Dover where, upon viewing their procession across the tarmac one night, President Obama pronounced that particular habeas corpus "a sobering reminder." Indeed. And will it be thirty thousand more, Mr. President, or forty, or fifty-five?

There's no denying this has been good for the military-industrial complex (see Eisenhower, Dwight, 1961). It has not been good for Afghanistan, the United States, or world peace (see Nobel Committee, 2009). It has destabilized Pakistan, a nation always looking for an excuse to get crazy and nookyoolur. It didn't do the Bush presidency any good over the long haul, however greatly the adventure was greeted by a derelict Congress and an agitated public when inaugurated. So should we get out? The President says no.

No, we've gone too far for too long to say what we all can see-it's pointless. Why, were we to leave now, we would dishonor the lives of those brave boys and girls who gave their all, made the ultimate sacrifice, shed their blood for freedom (sorry, Freedom!), for The American Way, for drug dealer Hamid Karzai and his CIA-employed brother.

So, if staying just gets us more corpses, more sobering reminders, more loss of blood and bullion, but we can't leave because we need to keep killing and dying or the dying we've done will be pointless, what's a great nation to do? Bomb them, don't you see? Burn them! Crater the whole stinkin' sand and sediment pile and extract any minerals we can see and lay such pipelines as the gas men and the bankers desire and come home with honor.

This program would of course raise some moral and ethical issues, but as we have not troubled ourselves as a nation for many years in considering the implications of our actions, and because our fresh young community organizer has adopted most of the unethical and immoral policies of his spoiled rich kid predecessor and enlarged, accelerated and intensified several of them, we may agree to choose to not convene any commissions or explore our consciences for a taste of the bitter fruits of that tree of knowledge.

Of course, after you finish your third or fourth tour "in theater", you may be a bit disturbed at what you have seen and what you have done, and you might want to check things out with the base psychiatrist, but be prepared to wait your turn, soldier, because you don't think you're the only G.I. who trembles and sweats and pukes when he thinks about this business do you? Christ, even the damned shrinks are losing it now! At least that seems the likely cause of the recent Fort Hood massacre to most of us, but ever-vigilant, deeply paranoid, and crazy to a degree the good voters of Connecticut should have considered more carefully, Senator (putative Democrat) Joe Lieberman is pretty sure the guy's a terrorist (they're everywhere, you know), and he's launching an investigation to prove it as soon as he's done fulminating against the very idea of a fair and decent health care system.

Was the doctor who went amock a terrorist as Joe the Joke says? Another crazed Muslim bent on destroying the good, the decent, the Godly? Evidence suggests he was looking down the barrel of his own impending deployment to the battlefields that have regularly provided his battered patients with their horrifying tales of gore and grim ruin and as the blood deepened on his office floor and soaked into his socks he just freaked out, snapped, went postal, and took up his gun (plenty o' them lying around the base after all) and squeezed off a few to make the devils stop whispering their terrible truths inside his head. Oh, yes, and it seems he was maybe kind of a crappy doctor, but there's a lot of that going around too, and as common or more so among Christians as Mohammedans.

But President Obama flew to Texas and spoke of God and afterlife and service and sacrifice and said we are all more safe and free somehow because these brave dead stood ready to discharge their lives untimely in a mountain pass or on a drafty plain or standing in a line under the Texas sun with a handful of forms, waiting for Eternity to require their souls. Everybody says our president is wonderfully smart. Can he see, does he sense, will he discover the connections, the links, the trail, the clear and obvious route by which his decision to send young men and women into a pointless and counterproductive war will return to us more broken minds, more ruined souls, more reasons for suicide and homicide and mass murder? "No loving god" condones such senseless slaughter he said at that funeral. Does he ask his god before he picks the number of thousands he will condemn in a few days or weeks, after he has internalized and absorbed the fantasies of General McChrystal?

Better just to eliminate the entire nation (not really much of a nation, at that) of Afghanistan, I say. And too bad for the innocent, but War is Hell, somebody told me back in college or I heard in a movie once. And a photo-opportunity in Texas is far more elevating of our American spirits than pictures of yet another splattered peasant family or legless child or some Muslim mother's son who regretably had to die over there so that we wouldn't have to fight him over here.

So let's go for the goal in one great and satisfying fireworks display that will make old Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over in Iran (another of several irksome nations in the neighborhood) pee himself and swear off nukes for good when he sees the orange fire lighting up the horizon for three or four nights running.

I hate to see our wonderful smart new president, so unlike our terrible worn-out stupid old president, most agree, worrying about how many more men and how many more years to commit to a program he used to know and say was a bad idea (back before he changed, I guess). Blow everything to Hell, proclaim the problem solved, the territory free of Taliban tendencies, and let's get back to the business of easing the burdens of Wall Street.

Or, dare any of the legions who protested loudly, publicly and often when Bush was C.I.C. many dead and untold billions of dollars ago, say we will not win anything worth having no matter the numbers, no matter the plans? Because, the twelve hundred words preceding taken for what they are worth, I tell you I am convinced that an idiot is an idiot and a warmonger a warmonger whether he is white or black, Republican or Democrat, embarrassing or inspiring in his demeanor and utterance.

My own dear, sweet, wonderful boy will become five next month. Which party will give us the president who will want him to die for Exxon or General Dynamics or the fevered fantasies of the likes of Joseph Lieberman, Richard Cheney, Stanley McChrystal, Curtis LeMay or the increasingly corrupted, complicit and bloody-handed hope of a public too-readily suckered, Barack Obama?

It is long past time to cut out the crap, quit lying to ourselves, stop believing we are better or safer or stronger by burning our money, squandering what shreds remain of our reputation and killing anybody's kids, ours or theirs. Don't salute the damned boxes, Mr. President, crack the lids and look at what you've done.
(c) 2009 Chris Cooper works hard and gets by. But he does not have health insurance. He cannot afford it. Therefore he does not often seek doctoring. Mandating his purchase of the deficient, dishonest products of the industry will not induce him to do so; it will likely just further piss him off and cause him to generate more unwholesome, unhelpful essays such as this. Persons wishing to contact him for whatever reason (no insurance agents, please) may write to Before he leaves this author wishes to tell you that he is one resident of the state of Maine who is not impressed with the work of Senator Olympia Snowe, political bed-partner of Senator Max Baucus. Just so you know.

Shining Light On Roots Of Terrorism
By Ray McGovern

Media commentary on the upcoming 9/11 trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has raised concern that state secrets may be divulged, including details about how the Bush administration used torture to extract evidence about al-Qaeda.

"I think that we're going to shine a light on something that a lot of people don't want to look at" is how American Civil Liberties Union attorney Denney LeBoeuf put it, according to The New York Times on Saturday.

No problem, says Attorney General Eric Holder, who claims to have "great confidence" that other evidence - apart from what may have been gleaned from the 183 times Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, for example - will suffice to convict him.

Maybe so, But what the Fawning Corporate Media (or FCM) have so far neglected is the likelihood that the testimony will be so public that they will have to break their studied silence about why Sheikh Mohammed and his associates say they orchestrated the attacks of 9/11.

For reasons that are painfully obvious, the FCM have done their best to ignore or bury the role that Israel's repression of the Palestinians has played in motivating the 9/11 attacks and other anti-Western terrorism.

It is not like there is no evidence on this key issue. Rather, it appears that the Israel-Palestine connection is pretty much kept off limits for discussion.

Yet, as Sheikh Mohammed and the other alleged 9/11 conspirators go to trial, the FCM's tacit but tight embargo will be under great strain. Eyes will have to be averted from the sensitive Israeli-Palestinian motive even more than from torture, which most Americans know about (and, God help us, are willing to explain away).

The Bromides

To refresh our memories, let's recall the bromides we were fed by the likes of President George W. Bush about why the terrorists attacked on 9/11.

Rather than mentioning long-held grievances expressed by many Arabs - such as Western intrusion into their region, Washington's propping up of autocrats who enrich themselves in deals with multinational oil companies, and Israel's military occupation of Palestinian territory - Bush told the American people that "the terrorists hate our freedoms."

Former Vice President Dick Cheney reprised that feel-good theme in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute on May 21. Cheney said the terrorists hate "all the things that make us a force for good in the world - for liberty, for human rights, for the rational, peaceful resolution of differences."

Some observers might have found those qualities strange for Cheney to cite given his role in violating constitutional rights, torturing captives and spreading falsehoods to justify an aggressive war against Iraq.

But Cheney also slipped up in the speech, presumably because he had lost his best speechwriters upon leaving office. He inadvertently acknowledged the Israeli albatross hanging around the neck of U.S. policy in the Middle East.

"They [terrorists] have never lacked for grievances against the United States. Our belief in freedom of speech and religion ... our belief in equal rights for women ... our support for Israel... - these are the true sources of resentment," Cheney said.

Yet "our support for Israel" is hardly ever included in these formulations, but Cheney at least got that part right.

Rarely in the FCM - and not even often on the Web - does one find Sheikh Mohammed's explanation for what motivated him to "mastermind" 9/11. Apparently, few pundits have made it as far as page 147 of the 9/11 Commission Report.

The drafters were at work on the report when they learned that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had been captured. They knew that he earned a degree in mechanical engineering from North Carolina A&T in Greensboro in 1986, before going to Afghanistan to fight the Russian occupier.

And it seems their first assumption was that he suffered some major indignity at the hands of Americans in Greensboro. Thus the strange wording of one major finding on page 147 of the 9/11 Commission Report:

"By his own account, KSM's animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experience there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel."

Moreover, the footnote section reveals that KSM was not the only "mastermind" terrorist motivated by "U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel," although in the footnote the Commission dances around a specific reference to Israel, leaving it to the reader to infer that point from the context. Note the missing words in the footnote on page 488:

"On KSM's rationale for attacking the United States, see Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Sept. 5, 2003 (in this regard, KSM's statements echo those of Yousef, who delivered an extensive polemic against U.S. foreign policy at his January 1998 sentencing)," the footnote said.

Was Yousef, who happens to be Mohammed's nephew, perhaps upset about U.S. foreign policy favoring NATO expansion, or maybe toward Guam? Obviously, the unstated inference in the footnote was about Israel.

The First Attack

The family connection between Yousef and Mohammed was not incidental, either. "Yousef's instant notoriety as the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing inspired KSM to become involved in planning attacks against the United States," the 9/11 Commission Report noted on page 147.

The 1993 World Trade Center bombing occurred on Feb. 26, 1993, when a car bomb was detonated below Tower One. The 1,500-pound urea nitrate-hydrogen gas-enhanced device was intended to knock the North Tower (Tower One) into the South Tower, bringing both towers down and killing thousands of people.

It failed to accomplish that, but the bombing did kill six people and injured 1,042.

Motive? Ramzi Yousef spelled out his motive in a letter to The New York Times after the bombing:

"We declare our responsibility for the explosion on the mentioned building. This action was done in response for the American political, economical, and military support to Israel, the state of terrorism, and to the rest of the dictator countries in the region."

Yousef was captured in Pakistan in 1995, imprisoned in New York City, and held there until his trial. On Nov. 12, 1997, he was convicted of "seditious conspiracy" and was sentenced the following January to life without parole. He is held at the high-security Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.

Regarding the touchy Israel connection, the 9/11 Commission stepped up to the plate in the "Recommendations" section of its final report, which was issued on July 22, 2004, but then bunted:

"America's policy choices have consequences. Right or wrong, it is simply a fact that American policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and American actions in Iraq are dominant staples of popular commentary across the Arab and Muslim world. ... Neither Israel nor the new Iraq will be safer if worldwide Islamist terrorism grows stronger." (pp 376-377)

A more convincing swing at this issue was taken in an unclassified study published by the Pentagon-appointed U.S. Defense Science Board on Sept. 23, 2004, just two months later. The board stated:

"Muslims do not 'hate our freedom,' but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf States.

"Thus, when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy."

The report directly contradicted what Bush had been saying about "why they hate us," letting the elephant out of the bag and into the room, so to speak.

But, you say, you didn't hear much about that report either, despite 24-hour cable "news" networks and the "change-everything" importance of 9/11 in justifying U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq?

Creative Editing

If you've read down this far, you will not be surprised that the FCM ignored the Defense Science Board findings for two months. On Nov. 24, 2004, The New York Times, erstwhile "newspaper of record," finally published a story on the report - but only after some highly instructive surgery.

Thom Shanker of the Times quoted the paragraph beginning with "Muslims do not 'hate our freedom'" (see above), but he or his editors deliberately cut out the following sentence about what Muslims do object to, i.e., "what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights" and support for tyrannical regimes.

The Times did include the sentence that immediately followed the omitted one. In other words, it was not simply a matter of shortening the paragraph. Rather, the offending middle sentence fell victim to the "delete" key.

Similarly creative editing showed through the Times' reporting in late October 2004 on a videotaped speech by Osama bin Laden. Almost six paragraphs of the story made it onto page one, but the Times saw to it that the key point bin Laden made at the beginning of his speech was relegated to paragraphs 23 to 25 at the very bottom of page nine.

Buried there was bin Laden's assertion that the idea for 9/11 first germinated after "we witnessed the oppression and tyranny of the American-Israeli coalition against our people in Palestine and Lebanon."

There is other evidence regarding the Israeli-Palestinian motive behind 9/11.

Though Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was not allowed to talk to the attorneys in the 2006 trial of 9/11 co-conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, the judge did allow into the official record a statement by Mohammed on the "Purpose of the 9/11 Attacks," which was drawn from "numerous written summaries of Sheikh Mohammed's oral statements in response to extensive questioning."

The following statement from Sheikh Mohammed appears on page 11 of Defense Trial Exhibit 941 from "United States v. Zacarias Moussaoui, Criminal No. 01-455-A":

"Sheikh Mohammed said that the purpose of the attack on the Twin Towers was to 'wake the American people up.' Sheikh Mohammed said that if the target would have been strictly military or government, the American people would not focus on the atrocities that America is committing by supporting Israel against the Palestinian people and America's self-serving foreign policy that corrupts Arab governments and leads to further exploitation of the Arab/Muslim peoples."

Some recent articles about Mohammed's upcoming trial also have mentioned the Israel-Palestine motive behind 9/11, though usually in passing and deep inside the stories. For instance, Sunday's New York Times carries a front-page article giving a "portrait of 9/11 'Jackal,'" Mohammed.

But one has to read deep into the jump on page 26 to learn that the original plan for the 9/11 attacks envisioned Mohammed flying on one of 10 planes that were to be hijacked and that "he would be on the one plane not to crash, and after the plane landed would emerge and deliver a speech condemning American policy on Israel."

Revisionist View

Yet, the Fawning Corporate Media won't stop performing its creative editing - or creative composition - to obscure this motive. Never mind what the 9/11 Commission Report said about Mohammed not being driven by resentments from his college days in North Carolina, the Washington Post offered a revisionist view on that point on Aug. 30:

"KSM's limited and negative experience in the United States - which included a brief jail stay because of unpaid bills - almost certainly helped propel him on his path to becoming a terrorist," according to an intelligence summary, the Post reported. "He stated that his contact with Americans, while minimal, confirmed his view that the United States was a debauched and racist country."

A telling revision perhaps extracted from one of Mohammed's 183 waterboarding sessions - and certainly politically more convenient in that it obscured Mohammed's other explanation implicating "U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel."

But let's look for a moment at the "debauched and racist" part. Could Mohammed be speaking some truth here - and not just about his college days of the 1980s?

Would the Washington Post's editors be so supportive of the "war on terror" if captives from a more favored ethnic or religious group were stripped naked before members of the opposite sex, put in diapers, immobilized with shackles in stress positions for long periods, denied sleep and made to soil themselves?

In my view, racism comes very much into play here. If Mohammed and other detainees looked more like us, would it be so easy to demonize and waterboard them? [See, for example,'s "Bush's Interrogators Stressed Nudity."]

Unguarded Moments

At rare moments, however, hard truths about the 9/11 motivations slip out - although not in high-profile presidential speeches nor in Washington Post op-eds. For instance, at a public hearing in June 2004, 9/11 Commissioner Lee Hamilton asked a panel of government experts, "What motivated them [the hijackers] to do it?"

The CIA analyst in the group is seen in some panic, directing his eyes toward the other panelists in the all-too-obvious hope that someone else will answer the politically loaded question. FBI Supervisory Special Agent James Fitzgerald rose to the occasion, saying:

"I believe they feel a sense of outrage against the United States. They identify with the Palestinian problem; they identify with people who oppose oppressive regimes, and I believe they tend to focus their anger on the United States."

For Hamilton and his colleagues that proved to be a politically incorrect answer. Ergo, you will not find that testimony in the 9/11 Commission Report. And notably absent from the report's recommendations is any suggestion as to how one might address the question of Israeli treatment of Palestinians and U.S. support for it.

In their book Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission, Chairmen Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton are unusually candid in admitting that this issue was so sensitive and contentious that they chose the course of least resistance.

Despite the findings of the Commission staff - and FBI Agent Fitzgerald - that the hijackers were not motivated by religious ideology, many of the Commissioners much preferred attributing the attacks to Islam than to U.S. policy toward Israel.

Kean and Hamilton explain that those commissioners were dead set against identifying Israel as a major factor motivating the terrorists, because someone might get the idea that Washington should reassess its policy.

But it's a legitimate and urgent question: Would a more determined commitment by the U.S. government to secure an independent state for the Palestinians and to alleviate their suffering undercut the appeal of al-Qaeda and other extremist groups to young people in the Muslim world?

Or put differently, why should ardent supporters of Israel in the U.S. Congress behave in such a way as to make the Muslim world view the United States as disinterested in the plight of the Palestinians and thus increase the danger of future attacks against the United States, as well as against Israel?

The Goldstone Report

The rest of the world and most Americans opposed the Israeli strikes on Gaza last December and January that resulted in the killing of 1,400 Palestinians, with 13 Israelis also killed. And there was wide criticism of the silence not only of the Bush/Cheney administration, but also of President-elect Barack Obama.

The UN-authorized investigation by the widely respected South African jurist, Richard Goldstone, himself a Jew, pointed to war crimes by both Israel and Hamas, although the inquiry's harshest criticism landed on Israel for the staggering civilian death toll.

This finding led Israel's Likud government to activate its powerful U.S. lobby, which pressed the House of Representatives to denounce the Goldstone report, which the House did on a 344-36 vote.

In a wondrous display of pot-and-kettle, House members branded the Goldstone report "irredeemably biased." Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer called the report "unbalanced and unfair and inaccurate."

These so-called "friends of Israel" either don't know or don't care that this sort of resolution only makes matters worse regarding American attempts to defuse the explosive anger building across the Middle East. It is a gift to al-Qaeda.

This U.S. pandering to the Likud Lobby - and the implicit suggestion that the lives of 1,400 Palestinians don't much matter - also is bad for the people of Israel. Indeed, it may prove suicidal, by delaying the geopolitical imperative for Israel to make peace with its Arab neighbors and thus avert some future catastrophe.

Closer to home, by further identifying itself with - and justifying - Israeli repression of the Palestinians, the United States helps breed more Khalid Sheikh Mohammeds and Ramzi Yousefs, more young terrorists determined to make Washington and the American people pay a price.

It requires no logical leap to conclude that Likud-friendly lawmakers - the Steny Hoyers, the Howard Bermans, the Ileana Ros-Lehtinens of this world - could scarcely think up a better way to raise the threat level from terrorists who feed on festering sores like the calamity in Gaza.
(c) 2009 Ray McGovern served as a CIA analyst for 27 years -- from the administration of John F. Kennedy to that of George H. W. Bush. During the early 1980s, he was one of the writers/editors of the President's Daily Brief and briefed it one-on-one to the president's most senior advisers. He also chaired National Intelligence Estimates. In January 2003, he and four former colleagues founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

World Out Of Balance
By Paul Krugman

International travel by world leaders is mainly about making symbolic gestures. Nobody expects President Obama to come back from China with major new agreements, on economic policy or anything else.

But let's hope that when the cameras aren't rolling Mr. Obama and his hosts engage in some frank talk about currency policy. For the problem of international trade imbalances is about to get substantially worse. And there's a potentially ugly confrontation looming unless China mends its ways.

Some background: Most of the world's major currencies "float" against one another. That is, their relative values move up or down depending on market forces. That doesn't necessarily mean that governments pursue pure hands-off policies: countries sometimes limit capital outflows when there's a run on their currency (as Iceland did last year) or take steps to discourage hot-money inflows when they fear that speculators love their economies not wisely but too well (which is what Brazil is doing right now). But these days most nations try to keep the value of their currency in line with long-term economic fundamentals.

China is the great exception. Despite huge trade surpluses and the desire of many investors to buy into this fast-growing economy - forces that should have strengthened the renminbi, China's currency - Chinese authorities have kept that currency persistently weak. They've done this mainly by trading renminbi for dollars, which they have accumulated in vast quantities.

And in recent months China has carried out what amounts to a beggar-thy-neighbor devaluation, keeping the yuan-dollar exchange rate fixed even as the dollar has fallen sharply against other major currencies. This has given Chinese exporters a growing competitive advantage over their rivals, especially producers in other developing countries.

What makes China's currency policy especially problematic is the depressed state of the world economy. Cheap money and fiscal stimulus seem to have averted a second Great Depression. But policy makers haven't been able to generate enough spending, public or private, to make progress against mass unemployment. And China's weak-currency policy exacerbates the problem, in effect siphoning much-needed demand away from the rest of the world into the pockets of artificially competitive Chinese exporters.

But why do I say that this problem is about to get much worse? Because for the past year the true scale of the China problem has been masked by temporary factors. Looking forward, we can expect to see both China's trade surplus and America's trade deficit surge.

That, at any rate, is the argument made in a new paper by Richard Baldwin and Daria Taglioni of the Graduate Institute, Geneva. As they note, trade imbalances, both China's surplus and America's deficit, have recently been much smaller than they were a few years ago. But, they argue, "these global imbalance improvements are mostly illusory - the transitory side effect of the greatest trade collapse the world has ever seen."

Indeed, the 2008-9 plunge in world trade was one for the record books. What it mainly reflected was the fact that modern trade is dominated by sales of durable manufactured goods - and in the face of severe financial crisis and its attendant uncertainty, both consumers and corporations postponed purchases of anything that wasn't needed immediately. How did this reduce the U.S. trade deficit? Imports of goods like automobiles collapsed; so did some U.S. exports; but because we came into the crisis importing much more than we exported, the net effect was a smaller trade gap.

But with the financial crisis abating, this process is going into reverse. Last week's U.S. trade report showed a sharp increase in the trade deficit between August and September. And there will be many more reports along those lines.

So picture this: month after month of headlines juxtaposing soaring U.S. trade deficits and Chinese trade surpluses with the suffering of unemployed American workers. If I were the Chinese government, I'd be really worried about that prospect.

Unfortunately, the Chinese don't seem to get it: rather than face up to the need to change their currency policy, they've taken to lecturing the United States, telling us to raise interest rates and curb fiscal deficits - that is, to make our unemployment problem even worse.

And I'm not sure the Obama administration gets it, either. The administration's statements on Chinese currency policy seem pro forma, lacking any sense of urgency.

That needs to change. I don't begrudge Mr. Obama the banquets and the photo ops; they're part of his job. But behind the scenes he better be warning the Chinese that they're playing a dangerous game.
(c) 2009 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

Beloved Enemy
Paying for the Privilege of Perpetual War
By Chris Floyd

Our American militarists love war so much that they even bankroll the enemy, just to keep the blood money flowing. This odd but absolutely crucial characteristic of the Never-Ending Terror War was borne out again in a remarkable story in the Guardian (with an expanded version in The Nation).

As Aram Roston reports -- and U.S. military officials openly admit -- American taxpayers are giving Afghan insurgents at least 10-20 percent of the war machine's multibillion-dollar transportation contracts. Hundreds of millions of dollars are flowing into Taliban coffers every year from bribes offered to stop insurgents from attacking supply convoys -- convoys which are increasingly controlled by local warlords and druglords, including convicted drug dealers in the Corleone-like Karzai family.

Of course, in Iraq, the Pentagon finally started paying insurgents as well. But in that instance, they were at least paying the enemy to stop fighting. Here, they only ask that the Taliban allow some trucks to roll through the countryside -- which seems to be entirely in the hands of the insurgents, despite eight years of war and months of Obama's "surge". The Americans pay handsomely for the privilege -- sometimes up to $1,500 per truck, depending on the cargo -- even though they know the insurgents will use the money to keep fighting.

It's a nice racket all around, everybody makes out -- the American militarists and war profiteers, their criminal Afghan allies, and the insurgents (who use the American money to top up the cash flow they get from American allies in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, etc.). So where's the harm?

OK, OK, there are all those civilians being slaughtered -- women and children ripped to pieces, to shreds of flesh and fragments of bone - by the bombs of the defenders of Western civilization. And yeah, there are all the American and British soldiers being killed, wounded, and brutalized, year after year, in a senseless, criminal conflict. And then there's the looting of the American treasury by the warmongers, and the relentless and inevitable destruction of American liberties by the all-corrosive acid of perpetual war.

But as Stalin liked to say: when wood is chopped, chips fly. And what are these few paltry chips - life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - when there's so much juicy loot out there?
(c) 2009 Chris Floyd

The Other Shoe
By Case Wagonvoord

The timing is precious. We are within days of learning the extent of Obama's Afghan escalation; the banks are sitting on trillions in bailout money; more bailout money may be needed to continue the illusion of their solvency. Where, we ask, will the money for all this come from?

And, finally, the other shoe has dropped.

The Associated Press headline says it all: "Obama eyes domestic spending freeze."

Well, not quite all. An across the board five percent reduction in domestic spending is waiting in the wings.

Note: there is no mention of cutting military spending. If anything, the domestic cuts and freezes are needed to help fund Obama's Afghan escalation. However, no mention of this was made in the AP story. That is because our military budget resides in the Ark of the Covenant,, and a curse is laid on all who dare tamper with it.

The fear is that foreigners will stop financing our red ink, and this could prove detrimental to our statistical recovery. The 2009 budget year ended on Sept. 30 with a $1.42 trillion deficit. (Converting dollars to seconds of time, each trillion equals 37,000 years.)

There is some mumbling about raising taxes, but it's just that. White House budget director Orszag said, "I'm not going to get into the mix between spending and revenues." The golden rule for any politician who wants to stay in office is, "Cut; don't tax."

With every passing day, it is becoming more and more obvious that Obama is simply a Bush lite. The only change we've seen coming out of the White House is an increase in articulation.

Bush tried and failed to "reform" Social Security. Could it be...?

People are being turned out of their homes in droves. Unemployment is rising. Retail sales are down. The Fed's bailouts are inflating another asset bubble. States are being forced to slash their budgets. And in the face of all this Obama has the balls to escalate an unnecessary war while the nation bleeds.

Shakespeare's Puck said it all: "What fools these mortals be!" Especially if they hold elected office.
(c) 2009 Case Wagenvoord. Some years ago, Case Wagenvoord turned off the tube and picked up a book. He's been trouble ever since. His articles have been posted at The Smirking Chimp, Countercurrents and Issues & Alibis. When he's not writing or brooding, he is carving hardwood bowls that have been displayed in galleries and shows across the country. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two cats. His book, Open Letters to George W. Bush is available at

Illusions, Propaganda, And Reality
By Mike Folkerth

Good Morning out there in reality land, your King of Simple News is on the air.

I woke up to a snow covered world this morning and considered at first glance that everything appeared white, clean, and perfect. But then I realized that the snow merely covered up all the imperfections and will eventually melt away; after which we will be mired in mud. The illusion of a perfect unspoiled world that the snow creates is temporary; very much like the current stimulus program.

So long as our government, foreign governments, and the Federal Reserve pour borrowed money into the system, it covers up the imperfections. Once it becomes impossible to artificially stimulate the economy, the artificial effects will melt away and we will once again be mired in the deep mud of untenable debt.

I mentioned something yesterday that I consider as being important to keep in the front of our minds. "The best year that we have ever had since 1969 (last actual balanced budget) wasn't enough." Each year the U.S. required a mounting debt to continue to function. The White House says that TRILLION dollar annual shortfalls will continue for years...after which we will grow out of that smothering debt. If you believe that, I have a little oceanfront that I could sell cheap near the Utah border.

I know that you get tired of hearing me say this, but the mathematically predictable exponential function is playing out in a classic grand finale.

We must constantly remind ourselves that there is no upper limit to the amount of money that government at levels can spend on pet and make work programs, with the excuse that they "simply cannot be cut." For instance, the department of Energy was formed in 1977 to create an energy plan. Thirty-two years and billions upon billions of dollars later, we have no energy plan. So why do we have a Department of Energy? This program simply cannot be cut; one of the Senators brothers-in-law most likely runs the outfit.

There is also no amount of money that individuals can't spend. The movie star Nicolas Cage just had properties worth many millions foreclosed on in New Orleans, California and Nevada and owes $6,000,000 in back taxes. In stark contrast there are people who make minimum wage and are current on their bills. So how is that possible? How can one person make millions and be steeped in impossible debt and another make very little and be solvent?

Here's where I tell another story that some of you have heard before: Many years ago, I and a friend attended a seminar in Seattle that was booked as "The Wealth Academy." During the lecture, one of the speakers said, "Everyone should put some money back each and every month as an investment and for a safety net."

One of the attendee's interrupted him and said that with the rising cost of living, he and his wife simply didn't have any money left at the end of the month to put back.

The speaker quietly asked the man if he and his wife made more than minimum wage. To which he indignantly answered, "Of course we do."

The speaker then asked if this man knew anyone who made minimum wage, to which he responded, "I suppose that I do." To which the speaker asked, "Are those minimum wage earners dead or alive?"

The man seemed perplexed at the question, but then said, "They're alive."

The speaker then concluded, "So you could have money left at the end of the month, you just don't want to. Therefore, I can't help you."

It was very quiet in that crowded room as each of us rethought our own situation. The attendee, while embarrassed, stayed for the entire two day presentation and perhaps garnered more than anyone from that simple truth that he had unexpectedly learned about himself.

When I say live simple and live well, what I'm really saying is to live within your means (Nick Cage didn't take my advice). Most of my life, I have chosen to live well below my means as compared to the norm. Better stated, I have resisted "borrowing my way to maximum supportable debt."

Living below ones means is a powerful and envious position. The options enjoyed by living in this manner are nearly unlimited. It gives a person a strong sense of independence and therefore peace of mind.

However, we are not taught to live below our means, we are propagandized and educated in the discipline that growth is good...including growth of debt. "It's only money. What's money for if not to spend? You only live once. You deserve to drive a new car and have a new home; don't wait until you're too old to enjoy it. Live while you're young" Sound familiar? It's called propaganda and it makes the rich richer, the poor poorer, and the Middle Class disappear altogether.
(c) 2009 Mike Folkerth is not your run-of-the-mill author of economics. Nor does he write in boring lecture style. Not even close. The former real estate broker, developer, private real estate fund manager, auctioneer, Alaskan bush pilot, restaurateur, U.S. Navy veteran, heavy equipment operator, taxi cab driver, fishing guide, horse packer...(I won't go on, it's embarrassing) writes from experience and plain common sense. He is the author of "The Biggest Lie Ever Believed."

The Quotable Quote...

"A heretic is a man who sees with his own eyes."
~~~ Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

The New State Solution
By Chris Hedges

The collapse of the Palestinian Authority, the result of Israel's 42-year refusal to implement a two-state solution, leaves the Palestinians no option but to unilaterally declare an independent state. Israel acted unilaterally when it announced independence in 1948. It is the Palestinians' turn. It worked in Kosovo. It worked in Georgia. And it will work in Palestine. There are 192 member states in the United Nations and as many as 150 would recognize the state of Palestine, creating a diplomatic nightmare for Israel and its lonely ally the United States. Israel will face worldwide censure if it attempts to crush the independent state by force and very likely be subjected to the kind of divestment campaigns and boycotts that brought down the apartheid government of South Africa.

The two-state solution, long held up as the way out of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, flickered and died with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. No Israeli leader since, including Ehud Barack, has shown any interest in its implementation. Israeli governments have instead cynically used the promise of negotiations as a cover to steadily expand settlements, evict Palestinians from their homes, carry out egregious acts of violence and repression against Palestinians and steal huge swathes of the West Bank, including most of the aquifers.

The death of the two-state solution is not news to those of us who have spent years in the Middle East. What is news is the public acknowledgement by the Palestinian leadership. Mahmoud Abbas, the compliant and discredited president of the Palestinian Authority, who has announced he will not run for another term, has uncharacteristically blasted Israel for deceiving the Palestinians. The chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, who says that the effort to negotiate a solution to the conflict with Israel is dead, has called on Palestinians to declare statehood.

The disarray within the Palestinian Authority has led to the cancellation of the Palestinian elections in January, although the elections were already in jeopardy. The militant group Hamas, which took over Gaza in 2007 after thwarting a coup attempt led by Abbas' Fatah party, said it would not allow the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza to vote.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is counting on the Obama administration to thwart a declaration of Palestinian independence, will have difficulty finding a Palestinian stooge as complaint as Abbas. Abbas' time in office has been marked by repeated and humiliating concessions to Israel, including deferring, at Israel's request, the vote at the United Nations on the Goldstone report, which documented human rights abuses during Israel's offensive in Gaza last December and January. Israel has shown its appreciation by ignoring Abbas' protests for a halt on settlements and dismissing his calls for negotiations. It is hard to imagine any Palestinian leader, at least one with a shred of credibility, agreeing to take Abbas' place. The only alternative left to most Palestinians, unless an independent state is declared, will be endless war and an embrace of Islamic extremism.

A declaration of independence, based on the 1967 demarcation lines between Israel and Palestinian territory, should cover East Jerusalem among other areas and the several hundred thousand Jewish settlers living in settlements in the West Bank. These Israeli settlers would instantly become citizens in the new country, replicating the experience of many Palestinians who suddenly found themselves counted as Israelis in 1948.

"When he declares independence, Abbas should call upon the Jews living in the state of Palestine to preserve the peace and to do their part in building up the new country as full and equal citizens, enjoying fair representation in all of its institutions," Yossi Sarid, who supports the independence movement, wrote in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. "David Ben-Gurion would not have been upset by such a pretty act of plagiarism from his Declaration of Independence."

The Israelis have orchestrated acute misery and poverty in the Palestinian territories over the past two decades in an effort to subdue and ethnically cleanse the captive population. They have reduced Palestinians, many of whom now live on less than $2 a day, to a subsistence level. They have created squalid, lawless and impoverished ghettos in the West Bank and Gaza. Israeli soldiers, who ring these ghettos, have the ability to instantly shut off food, medicine and goods to perpetuate the misery. Israel, when the Palestinians grow restive, drops 1,000-pound iron fragmentation bombs and artillery shells-as they did a year ago in Gaza-on the concrete hovels that pack neighborhoods. The Israeli objective is to turn the Palestinian territories into a hell on earth. This policy has, however, swollen the ranks of radical Islamists in the occupied territories and throughout the Middle East.

The refusal by the Obama administration and nearly every member of the U.S. Congress to defend the rule of law and basic human rights for the Palestinians exposes our hypocrisy. It also perpetuates the absurd pretence that it is Israel, not the Palestinians, whose security and dignity are being threatened. The F-16 jet fighters, the Apache attack helicopters, the 250-pound "smart" GBU-39 bombs used on Palestinian civilians are part of the annual $2.4 billion in military aid the United States gives to Israel. Palestinians are slaughtered with American-made weapons provided to Israel with taxpayer dollars. Israel, an international pariah, would be unable to carry out these atrocities without our financial and moral support. Mix this toxic brew with the illegal wars we wage in Iraq and Afghanistan and the United States becomes a satanic force in the eyes of many Muslims.

Abbas, in a speech delivered a few days ago on the fifth anniversary of Yasser Arafat's death, announced that the Palestinians would not return to negotiations with Israel without a full halt to settlement building, "including the natural growth"-a term Israel uses to justify construction on the basis of natural population growth in settlements.

"They are putting obstacles in its way," he said of promised negotiation. "They are trying to remove this concept. What do they want?"

The anniversary of Arafat's death is a bitter reminder to many Palestinians that Israel can never be trusted. It is widely believed among Palestinians, as well as Israeli peace activists such as Uri Avnery, that Arafat was poisoned by the Israelis, something Israeli officials deny. Arafat became gravely ill in 2004 as Israeli forces besieged his Ramallah headquarters. He was eventually flown to France for treatment and died at Percy military hospital outside of Paris on Nov. 11, 2004. The French, abiding by an agreement with the Israelis, did not release Arafat's medical records.

"Each expert we consulted explained that even a simple poison produced by an average scientist would be difficult to identify by the most experienced scientists," said Arafat's nephew Nasser al-Kidwa. "I can't tell for sure that he was murdered by the Israelis. I can't refute that hypothesis because doctors couldn't refute it."

The suspicions around the death of Arafat replicate the feelings of most Palestinians around the death of the two-state solution. Each, in the eyes of Palestinians, was deliberately murdered. The Israelis have ensured that from now on the Palestinians will fall or rise on their own.
(c) 2009 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. His latest book is American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle."

Twenty Years From Now, You Will Lie To Your Children
By David Michael Green

Take a look at a video of George W. Bush speaking to the nation five or six years ago.

Like a pop single from 1962 (or 2002, for that matter), it didn't age very well.

It's astonishing that this transparently frightened man was the leader of the free world for eight years, and was given so much license to commit so much destruction.

But, then, nothing seems to define our era quite so much as license.

We give ourselves license to incur fantastic levels of national debt, and hand the bill to the next generation.

We give ourselves license to invade other countries on the most patently bogus of pretexts, bringing disaster upon them and us.

Or at least some of us, that is, because we also give ourselves license to allow a tiny fraction of the population to carry the entire national security burden for all the rest of us.

We give ourselves license to spend half again as much as any other country in the world on healthcare, only to be ranked 37th 'best' by the World Health Organization, just so we don't have to do the simple work of writing corporate predators out of the parasitic cash cow booty feeding troughs in which they're entrenched.

Meanwhile, a bullet is heading toward the heart of the body politic in the form of global warming, and we give ourselves license to pretend that the threat isn't even clearly defined, lest we should have to relinquish our precious Hummers.

The list goes on and on. I regret to say that history will not judge us, here and now, a serious people. Nor should it. I certainly don't either.

Indeed, even when we get serious, we don't. Barack Obama was supposed to be the antidote to the excesses and negligences of the Bush years. In fact, nearly a year of his term has now gone by and he has almost nothing to show for it. Which means that neither do we. When Saturday Night Live parodies you by having your character claim "jack" and "squat" as your administration's two greatest achievements - well, that's never a good sign.

Nor does Obama appear to have a lot of intent at accomplishing much, either. At least anything that requires the ruffling of a feather or two - which of course includes just about anything that matters. For any given question put before this president, it seems that his position can safely be estimated to fall square in the middle of the road, right there alongside Jim Hightower's proverbial yellow stripes and dead armadillos. In reality, though, that's actually an unfortunately generous estimate. Obama's politics, if you actually look at them - rather than at most people's false impression of them - turn out to be remarkably similar to George Bush's on everything from the fiscal stimulus to big corporate healthcare initiatives to escalating war policies to eroded civil liberties to unequal treatment for gays.

And yet this milquestoastiest of presidents generates the most outrageous volumes of the most egregious vitriol in our public discourse, as if he were wrecking the country through disastrous wars based on lies, unprecedented constitutional shredding, or massive fiscal hemorrhaging. Oh, wait - that was the last guy. Never mind. Somehow those travesties didn't precipitate much noise from the cave-dwelling set - unless you count deafness-inducing cheers of approval, or enough slurpy mass salivation to befuddle and alarm Dr. Pavlov.

One of the most astonishing things about the right in America is the degree and frequency with which they turn out to be precisely the opposite of what they claim to be. It's quite Orwellian, actually, in a charming sort of war-equals-peace kinda way. They adore dressing up like they're the big military tough guys, but they all had to go to Woodstock or something during Vietnam. They like to lecture us incessantly about the virtues of their particular brand of sexual morality, and then it always turns out that they're the ones who love to dress up in leather and Vaseline and gang-bang packs of small furry rodents. They can't wait to pontificate on the virtues of itsy-bitsy, low taxing, low spending government, but then whenever they get their hands on the damn thing they drive up the national debt like Yahweh himself told them it was their personal holy crusader's mission to party hearty at the public's expense ("I command you to choose a hockey mom from amongst your number, and cause her to buildeth a bridge to nowhere!").

I could keep going forever, and it would actually be pretty entertaining, if only the real world effects weren't so bloody destructive. One of my favorites, though, I have to say, is the riff on responsibility. You know, as in, they're the ones who have it. Remember when the Bush crew came to power, literally saying "The grown-ups are back in charge"? I can think of a lot of things I would call George W. Bush, but "grown-up" is more or less last on my list, right there after "brave", "articulate", "compassionate" and "thoughtful". In any case, these guys always fancy themselves the mature, reliable, responsible stewards of American government. That's more than a little scary, isn't it - to think that these are the nation's best and the brightest? To imagine that Bush and Cheney and Rove represent the crowning achievement of six or ten millennia of civilizational development, topping off millions of years of genetic refinement?

Wuuuuhhhh. That lurching twitch you just felt was a serious shudder going down your spine, your body's involuntary reaction to perceptions of sheer horror. But, meanwhile, did I mention that the real story of responsibility is slightly different than the regressive version?

Start with global warming. I'm not a climatologist and I don't even play one on Fox TV. Which is why I rely on the people with the PhDs in the field and their masses of data, elaborate models and giant supercomputers to tell me what is happening on that question. Like most people, I wouldn't even have the foggiest sense of whether the Earth is spherical, flat, or shaped like a bicycle-built-for-two, were it not for the geographers and explorers who figured it out. There's almost no way to get there on your own from daily experience. Hence, I take their word for it, just like I take the word of astronomers that our little planet is not, after all, at the center of the universe (which is good news indeed for the universe).

Our happy regressive friends do the same thing, of course. Except when they don't. They reject evolution in favor of a 6,000 year-old Earth. Though I notice that they're quite content to queue up for radiation therapy when they're sick with cancer, even while rejecting the veracity of radio-carbon dating of ancient fossils. Hmmm. Go figure. They mostly have reconciled themselves nowadays to a heliocentric solar system, though they did imprison Galileo for telling a but too much truth on that one. Given the recent tenor of the religious right in America, I'm waiting for even this bit to get tossed out with evolution, any day now. You heard it here first, ladies and gentlemen. Mark my words. The Earth will return to the center of the universe, just like the good book says.

Meanwhile, the same people who would happily burst through the doors of the National Archives, yank the Constitution out of its case and run it through a $19.99 shredder they just picked up on sale at Office Depot - all in the name of fighting terrorism - are simultaneously working frantically to make sure we don't do anything at all about the very real threat of global warming. Udickuitous Cheney once said that we have to pull out all stops in case there was even a one-percent chance of a terrorist attack that might kill thousands. But a survey of the experts on climate change suggests that there is a more than ninety-nine percent probability that whole countries will be drowned and entire groups of species eradicated in the coming decades. And that's just the easy part. Still, the regressive prescription for this looming nightmare is to continue to do nothing at all, lest we anger the supreme goddess Commerce.

I've always been a little weird this way, but where I come from, that ain't exactly the most responsible choice. Neither was invading Iraq. More than 4000 dead Americans later, and George Bush is still looking under his desk for the missing WMD (heh-heh, wasn't that a hilarious little comedy routine he did on that?). As if that would have been a valid excuse to invade a country that was neither attacking us nor threatening us, anyhow. As if dozens of countries don't have WMD. As if the Republican government of the United States didn't cover for Saddam at home and at the UN at the time he was actually using chemical weapons on his own people.

So perhaps a million Iraqis are dead now, American finances are in the toilet, the country's global reputation is too skanky to qualify for horizontal employment in a makeshift basement brothel in Tijuana, and our national security - supposedly the purpose of the whole exercise - has been radically diminished by the decimation of an army that even Colin Powell described as "broken". This is what you get from the "responsible" ideology, ladies and gentlemen.

But wait! There's more! How about a crushing national debt. Hey, why not borrow money recklessly to pay for these fun wars based on lies? And how about those super-rich folks out there? Don't they deserve additional tax cuts? I'm sure our children won't mind paying for the loans to finance those giveaways, plus interest, in the future. Why would those crazy kids want to actually bring home the fruits of their labor in a paycheck anyhow? They won't mind working long hours to finance the 'responsibility' of unparalleled deficit spending by regressives, will they?

Well, actually, that question is likely to be a moot issue now anyhow. That's because the upshot from the 'responsible' economic policy provided by our nice regressive friends increasingly means that the youngins won't have any jobs at all. That certainly solves the problem of spending a lifetime paying taxes to finance their parents' spending sprees, doesn't it? Pretty clever, is it not? No regulation, no economy; no economy, no jobs; no jobs, no income; no income, no taxes; no taxes, no worries! Damn! I wonder if the good folks on the right had this all figured out from the beginning!

Ho-ho, eh? Not so funny, though, if you're on the butt end of the joke. Which we all are, not least the younger generation. There is an era of bad feeling in America, long in the making, but hardly at its nadir. The United States has been on a southward glide path for three decades now, an act of political physics as natural and inevitable as gravity itself, but also deeply exacerbated by the predatory political movement pioneered by Reagan and Thatcher, and continued by Bushes, Blairs, Clintons and Obamas alike.

It was bad enough that we lived for as long as we did at a greedy and unsustainable level, stealing from other peoples, from our environment, from brown and female workers, and even from our own children. But now it's getting much, much worse.

In twenty years those children are all too likely to be living poor, on a hostile planet, working long hours to pay down the sins of their fathers.

And they might well be enraged, too, as they should be.

A decade or two from now, if they confront their right-wing elders - gazing in anger and astonishment at the bottomless capacity of their parents' selfishness - you can safely bet that their questions will be met with dissembling deception.

Twenty years from now, regressives will lie to their children.

We know this because those regressives are already lying today, covering their execrable crimes the only way possible.

With deceit.
(c) 2009 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 Erzbischof O'Brien,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution, your threat to cut off services to the poor and homeless in Washington DC for the actions of others gives us a good reason not to demand equal rights for all, Afghanistan, Pakistan and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Catholic Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Iron Cross first class with diamonds clusters, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 11-28-2009. We salute you Herr O'Brien, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Ex-Islamic Radicals On What Motivates -- And Impedes - Extremism
Why are such glaring truths about the effects of our policies continuously ignored?
By Glenn Greenwald

The British journalist Johann Hari has written an absolutely vital article for The Independent, examining a growing movement of former hardened Islamic militants who are now devoted to teaching a more moderate and less fundamentalist Islam. Hari focuses on understanding what motivates some Muslims to turn to radicalism and terrorism in the first place, and how that process can be reversed. Though these ex-militants have very diverse backgrounds, they all stress two critical facts: (1) the more the foreign policy of the West is seen as aggressive, violent and oppressive to the Muslim world, the easier it is to convert Muslims to violent radicalism, and (2) the most potent weapon for undermining Islamic extremism is the efforts of Westerners to work against their own governments' belligerent policies:

To my surprise, the ex-jihadis said their rage about Western foreign policy -- which was real, and burning -- emerged only after their identity crises, and as a result of it. They identified with the story of oppressed Muslims abroad because it seemed to mirror the oppressive disorientation they felt in their own minds. . . .

But once they had made that leap to identify with the Umma - the global Muslim community -- they got angrier the more abusive our foreign policy came. Every one of them said the Bush administration's response to 9/11 -- from Guantanamo to Iraq -- made jihadism seem more like an accurate description of the world. Hadiya Masieh, a tiny female former HT organiser, tells me: "You'd see Bush on the television building torture camps and bombing Muslims and you think -- anything is justified to stop this. What are we meant to do, just stand still and let him cut our throats?"

But the converse was -- they stressed -- also true. When they saw ordinary Westerners trying to uphold human rights, their jihadism began to stutter. Almost all of them said that they doubted their Islamism when they saw a million non-Muslims march in London to oppose the Iraq War: "How could we demonise people who obviously opposed aggression against Muslims?" asks Hadiya.

One of the leaders of Britain's movement of ex-Islamists, Maajid Nawaz, recounts how his hardened militarism began when, as a youth, he read "leaflets saying Muslims were being massacred all over the world, from India to Bosnia to Southend." In 2000, he moved to Egypt and began recruiting students into radicalism. Listen to what he says about what helped and hindered his efforts:

He started to recruit other students, as he had done so many times before. But it was harder. "Everyone hated the [unelected] government [of Hosni Mubarak], and the US for backing it," he says. But there was an inhibiting sympathy for the victims of 9/11 -- until the Bush administration began to respond with Guantanamo Bay and bombs. "That made it much easier. After that, I could persuade people a lot faster."

Nawaz was ultimately imprisoned in Egypt and was surrounded by Egyptian prisoners who were being brutally tortured by a government propped up by the U.S. (he was spared only because he was a British citizen). Consider what began to change Nawaz's views on the rightness of his Islamic extremism:

Maajid's Islamist convictions were about to be challenged from two unexpected directions -- the men who murdered Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, and Amnesty International.

HT [the Islamic group which he had headed] abandoned Maajid as a "fallen soldier" and barely spoke of him or his case. But when his family were finally allowed to see him, they told him he had a new defender. Although they abhorred his political views, Amnesty International said he had a right to free speech and to peacefully express his views, and publicised his case.

"I was just amazed," Maajid says. "We'd always seen Amnesty as the soft power tools of colonialism. So, when Amnesty, despite knowing that we hated them, adopted us, I felt -- maybe these democratic values aren't always hypocritical. Maybe some people take them seriously ... it was the beginning of my serious doubts."

In other words, the very policies the U.S. has been pursuing in the name of combating Terrorism -- invading, occupying, and bombing Muslim countries; locking them up without trials; torturing them; violating the values we've been preaching to the world -- have been the most potent instruments for fueling Islamic radicalism and terrorism. By contrast, those who have been continuously accused of being "soft on Terrorism" and even being allied with the Terrorists -- those who opposes our various wars, who demanded and provided basic human rights protections and equal liberties to Muslims, who objected to their own governments' oppressive and belligerent policies -- have done more to diffuse and impede Muslim radicalism than virtually anyone else in the world.

These truths are so self-evident that they shouldn't require journalists like Hari to document. If we invade, bomb and attack Muslim countries -- and uniquely deny to them the rights we claim are universal (such as the right to be free of torture and imprisonment without trials) -- then far more Muslims are going to wallow in rage and hatred for the West and be willing and eager to return the treatment. Conversely, seeing Westerners speak out against their countries' attacks on, and oppressive policies towards, Muslims renders far harder to sustain the divisiveness and demonization on which all radicalism feeds. This is all basic cause and effect, as even the Pentagon's own Task Force concluded all the way back in 2004 in explaining how and why our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are severely exacerbating the threat of Terrorism.

Despite how obvious and well-documented these truths are, so many American elites continue to ignore them. Writing in Newsweek this week, Slate's Editor-in-Chief Jacob Weisberg looks at the Fort Hood shootings and various disrupted terrorist plots and concludes that Obama has perhaps been too conciliatory towards Muslims; that "Obama's [so-called] olive-branch strategy" has not made us safer, at least in the short-term; and that "Obama's heritage feeds a broader suspicion that he is too casual about the threat from America's Islamist enemies." In what fantasy world is Jacob Weisberg living?

Obama is presiding over active wars in three separate Muslim countries -- Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. All year long, there has been an abundance of video footage of Muslim villages -- including scores of women and children -- being wiped out by American air raids. Obama has already escalated the war in Afghanistan. His administration is actively demanding the right to abduct people and imprison them at Bagram with no charges and is actively protecting those who spent the last decade torturing Muslims and disppearing them to secret camps. Our steadfast alliance with Israel -- which The New York Times' Mark Mazzetti documented this weekend was a prime motivating factor in the militarism and hatred of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed -- has been symbolically altered by Obama but otherwise remains fully in place. It's true that Obama has sand-papered some of the roughest rhetorical and policy edges of the Bush/Cheney approach -- explicitly barring torture and CIA black sites, trying to close Guantanamo, sounding a far different tone in how he speaks about and to the Muslim world -- but, at least so far, many of the fundamentals remain largely in place, and it's thus unsurprising that Obama's intense international popularity has not yet translated to much of the Muslim world.

Despite all that, people like Jacob Weisberg fret that Obama "has not taken the radical Islamist threat to American security -- at home or in Afghanistan -- seriously enough," and demand that Obama announce to the world that "America does not face a threat from the perversion of faith in general. We face a threat from the perversion of one faith in particular." Even in the face of mountains of evidence that this sort of heightened aggression and oppression exacerbates the threat of Islamic terrorism, people like Weisberg continue to demand more of it. And even in the face of the most compelling evidence imaginable that accommodation to the Muslim world and treating Muslims equally and respectfully is the greatest threat to the Islamic extremist, people like Weisberg perpetually worry that we're doing too much of that. At some point, a rational person has to wonder whether people like Jacob Weisberg -- who endlessly advocate policies that fuel Islamic extremism and intensify tension between the West and the Muslim world -- aren't desirous of exactly that outcome. After decades of pursuing this blatantly counter-productive approach, what else could explain such moral and intellectual blindness?

UPDATE: The MSNBC segment I did this morning included George Pataki arguing against 9/11 trials, and Rep. Jerry Nadler who, along with me, argued in their favor. There were several points highlighted by this discussion which I'll write about shortly, once MSNBC makes the video available, but the fear Pataki was spewing about holding real trials in New York, combined with his insistence that we exempt accused Muslim terrorists from our standard institutions of justice, is exactly the fuel that drives Islamic radicals, as documented by Hari. It was almost as though Pataki was intent on providing a textbook example of everything I wrote here this morning.
(c) 2009 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy.

Biggest State Party To Obama: Get Out Of Afghanistan
By Norman Solomon

This week begins with a significant new straw in the political wind for President Obama to consider. The California Democratic Party has just sent him a formal and clear message: Stop making war in Afghanistan.

Overwhelmingly approved on Sunday by the California Democratic Party's 300-member statewide executive board, the resolution is titled "End the US Occupation and Air War in Afghanistan."

The resolution supports "a timetable for withdrawal of our military personnel" and calls for "an end to the use of mercenary contractors as well as an end to air strikes that cause heavy civilian casualties." Advocating multiparty talks inside Afghanistan, the resolution also urges Obama "to oversee a redirection of our funding and resources to include an increase in humanitarian and developmental aid."

While Obama weighs Afghanistan policy options, the California Democratic Party's adoption of the resolution is the most tangible indicator yet that escalation of the US war effort can only fuel opposition within the president's own party - opposition that has already begun to erode his political base.

Participating in a long-haul struggle for progressive principles inside the party, I co-authored the resolution with savvy longtime activists Karen Bernal of Sacramento and Marcy Winograd of Los Angeles.

Bernal, the chair of the state party's Progressive Caucus, said on Sunday night, "Today's vote formalized and amplified what had been, up to now, an unspoken but profoundly understood reality - that there is no military solution in Afghanistan. What's more, the vote signified an acceptance of what is sure to be a continued and growing culture of resistance to current administration policies on the matter within the party. This is absolutely huge. Now, there can be no disputing the fact that the overwhelming majority of California Democrats are not only saying no to escalation, but no to our continued military presence in Afghanistan, period. The California Democratic Party has spoken, and we want the rest of the country to know."

Winograd, who is running hard as a grassroots candidate in a primary race against pro-war incumbent Rep. Jane Harman, had this to say, "We need progressives in every state Democratic Party to pass a similar resolution calling for an end to the US occupation and air war in Afghanistan. Bring the veterans to the table, bring our young into the room, and demand an end to this occupation that only destabilizes the region. There is no military solution, only a diplomatic one that requires we cease our role as occupiers if we want our voices to be heard. Yes, this is about Afghanistan - but it's also about our role in the world at large. Do we want to be global occupiers seizing scarce resources or global partners in shared prosperity? I would argue a partnership is not only the humane choice, but also the choice that grants us the greatest security."

Speaking to The Resolutions Committee of the state party on Saturday, former Marine Cpl. Rick Reyes movingly described his experiences as a warrior in Afghanistan that led him to question and then oppose what he now considers to be an illegitimate US occupation of that country.

Another voice of disillusionment reached party delegates when Bernal distributed a copy of the recent resignation letter from senior US diplomat Matthew Hoh, sent after five months of work on the ground in Afghanistan. "I find specious the reasons we ask for bloodshed and sacrifice from our young men and women in Afghanistan," he wrote. "If honest, our stated strategy of securing Afghanistan to prevent al-Qaeda resurgence or regrouping would require us to additionally invade and occupy western Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, etc. Our presence in Afghanistan has only increased destabilization and insurgency in Pakistan where we rightly fear a toppled or weakened Pakistani government may lose control of its nuclear weapons."

Hoh's letter added, "I do not believe any military force has ever been tasked with such a complex, opaque and Sisyphean mission as the US military has received in Afghanistan." And he wrote, "Thousands of our men and women have returned home with physical and mental wounds, some that will never heal or will only worsen with time. The dead return only in bodily form to be received by families who must be reassured their dead have sacrificed for a purpose worthy of futures lost, love vanished, and promised dreams unkept. I have lost confidence such assurances can anymore be made."

From their own vantage points, many of the California Democratic Party leaders who voted to approve the out-of-Afghanistan resolution on November 15 have gone through a similar process. They've come to see the touted reasons for the US war effort as specious, the mission as Sisyphean and the consequences as profoundly unacceptable.

Sometime in the next few days, President Obama is likely to learn that the California Democratic Party has approved an official resolution titled "End the US Occupation and Air War in Afghanistan." But will he really get the message?
(c) 2009 Norman Solomon's latest book is "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State." The foreword is by Daniel Ellsberg. For more information, go to: The documentary film "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death," based on Norman Solomon's book of the same name, went into home-video release and is now available on DVD from Netflix, Amazon and similar outlets. For more information, go to:

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ William Garner ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Karn Evil 9, 3rd Impression
By Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Man alone; born of stone;
Will stamp the dust of time
His hands strike the flame of his soul;
Ties a rope to a tree and hangs the universe
Until the winds of laughter blows cold.

Fear that rattles in men's ears
And rears it's hideous head
Dread .... death .... in the wind ....

Man of steel pray and kneel
With fever's blazing torch
Thrust in the face of the night;
Draws a blade if compassion
Kissed by countless kings
Whose jewelled trumpet words blind his sight.

Walls that no man thought would fall
The altars of the just
Crushed .... dust .... in the wind ....

No man yields who flies in my ship
Let the bridge computer speak
Load your program. I am yourself.

No computer stands in my way
Only blood can cancel my pain
Guardians of a nuclear dawn
Let the maps of war be drawn.

Rejoice! glory is ours!
Our young men have not died in vain,
Their graves need no flowers
The tapes have recorded their names.

I am all there is
Negative! primitive! limited! I let you live!
But I gave you life
What else could you do?
To do what was right
I'm perfect! Are you? Are you? Are you...

(c) 1973/2009 Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Beware The 16ft-High Crabs
Arms traders across the world are defying the economic gloom. Can I cash in on the scaremongering too, please?
By Terry Jones

Dear arms industry,

Congratulations! At this time of economic crisis, when everyone is tightening their belts and reducing expenditure because of the monetary meltdown, you're the one industry that's still expanding.

According to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, worldwide military expenditure has increased by 45% over the past decade.

In 2008 the Russians gave you a cool $59bn, the British $65bn, the French $66bn, China $85bn and the good ole United States a whacking $607bn.

I mean who would have thought that making, selling and servicing machines that kill people would be the best paid job on the planet?

How on earth do you do it?

I'd really like to know, because I've just invented this machine for creating a force-field around a house, capable of withstanding attacks by 16ft-high crabs, using only strawberry yoghurt and camomile soap. It doesn't work, of course, but then nor does military expenditure.

There is no correlation between a country's military spending and how safe its citizens feel. Five years after 9/11 and the resulting rise in military expenditure from $300bn to $500bn, CBS News reported that four out of every five Americans said the war in Iraq had increased the threat of a terrorist attack.

While the US has increased its military spending by hundreds of billions of dollars, other countries, such as Germany and Japan, have actually kept their expenditure flat or even reduced it. Does anyone feel less safe in Japan or Germany as a result?

So my question is: how do you get people to buy something that nobody wants and that clearly doesn't do what it says on the tin?

What's the marketing strategy?

Is it creating a climate of fear? I suppose if you're going to sell machines that kill other people, you have to earmark somebody that it's OK to kill. And if you can make out, at the same time, that the people that it's OK to kill are actually trying to kill you, then bingo! You've got a deal.

So perhaps I should be going round my neighbourhood putting up pictures of 16ft high crabs attacking people's houses, with slogans like: "They're real! They're here! They're anxious to move into your house!".

Or should I simply be offering jobs in Giant Crab Protection Industries Inc to influential senators?

I can't help noticing that in the good old days of the cold war, you guys in the arms industry successfully used communism to persuade people that spending on the military was a necessity. Well personally I think 16ft high crabs are a jolly lot more scary than Nikolai Bulganin or Mikhail Gorbachev.

And now that you've somehow managed to persuade the public that Islam is an even bigger threat to democracy and western values than communism ever was, I'm more convinced than ever that I've got a good chance with the giant crabs.

What people don't realise is that giant crabs really envy our American way of life. They yearn for rampant unemployment, drive-by shootings and a healthcare system that is a blot on the civilised world.

Of course I realise that what I really need to get my business going is "some catalyzing event like a new Pearl Harbor" (as the Project For The New American Century put it so succinctly a year before 9/11).

So I'm just hoping and praying that some 16ft-high crabs will come out of the sea and rampage across America before the end of the year. You never know your luck.
(c) 2009 Terry Jones is a writer, film director, actor and Python.

The Gross National Debt

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Issues & Alibis Vol 9 # 43(c) 11/20/2009

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