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In This Edition

Arundhati Roy orates, "We Are All Occupiers."

Uri Avnery explains, "Weimar Revisited."

Matt Taibbi reports, "Woman Gets Jail For Food-Stamp Fraud; Wall Street Fraudsters Get Bailouts."

Randall Amster we are, "Holding Space As OWS Camps Come Under Assault."

Jim Hightower chants, "Rooty-Toot-Toot, Here Comes The Newt!"

Helen Thomas sees, "Gaffes, Not Gains, For GOP."

James Donahue with a bizarre idea about, "Fixing Washington Corruption - Lets Have Fair Elections."

David Sirota considers, "The New Age Of Consumer Activism."

David Swanson reveals, "Painted Torture."

Vincent L. Guarisco exclaims, "Occupy With A Vengeance!"

Paul Krugman confronts, "Boring Cruel Romantics."

William Rivers Pitt reviews, "The People's Surveillance State."

Joel S. Hirschhorn examines, "Occupy Revolution."

Federal District Judge Henry T. Wingate wins the coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

John Nichols watches as, "40,000 Rally, More Than 100,000 Sign Petitions, To Say 'Recall Walker'."

Ted Rall gives an, "Occupy The Hamptons Update."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst explores, "Grope And Change" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Anarchy, It's About Time!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of John Deering, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Derf City, Ruben Bolling, Clay Bennett, Propaganda Remix.Com, Ted Rall, W M X Design, Jeff Danziger, Carlos Avila Gonzalez, Daniel Heyman, Dan Pararo, Paul Sakuma, The New York Times, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

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Anarchy, It's About Time!
By Ernest Stewart

"Any time someone carries a picket sign in front of the White House, that is the First Amendment in action." ~~~ Julian Bond

"Children in the poorest neighborhoods are trapped in child laws that prevent them from earning money.

"Most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work, they would have cash, they'd have pride in the schools, they'd begin the process of rising. Get any job that teaches you to show up on Monday. Get any job that teaches you to stay all day, even if you're having a fight with your girlfriend." ~~~ Newt Gingrich

"As commodity prices continue to rally and the cost of imported materials impacts earnings, we expect to see increasing use of surrogate products within food items. Cellulose is certainly in higher demand and we expect this to continue." ~~~ Michael A. Yoshikami, chief investment strategist at YCM Net Advisors

"I think the burden is on those people who think he didn't have weapons of mass destruction to tell the world where they are." ~~~ White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer

I was thinking just the other day; yes I know, a very dangerous thing for me to do, about how we can put a stop to our various Mayor Hitlers, Fatherland Security and the Fumbling Bumbling Idiots attempt to shut the Occupiers down.

Since what they do is to quash free speech and peaceful assembly, why haven't we started billion dollar lawsuits against the cities, police departments and mayors for violation of federal laws and Constitutional rights? As the 1st amendment in the Bill of Rights so clearly states:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
What this says is that only Congress can make such laws, and they can't. Ergo, no state or city laws can override this law. You may also notice there's no asterisk beside it saying "except it cases of health or sanitation concerns." Since the occupiers are legally following the law by being peaceful, even while the pigs are attempting to murder them to keep them from using their rights, you have an open and shut case, except for the amount of money they must be paid for violation of their rights and what penalties the cops, mayors, and cities shall have to suffer for being traitorous bastards!

An acquaintance of mine declared that what the Occupy movement equates to is Anarchy! Uh huh, and it's about time too! Capitalism, like every other failed system, is on the way out, as are the 1% capitalists that benefit from it. Now they can leave easy, or they can leave hard, but leave they will. Personally I'm hoping for the hard, because if anyone on Earth deserves a righteous payback, it's the 1%; which is why I say: "Nail'em up! Nail some sense into them!" This also applies to any 5th column groups like AIPAC and their followers! We're going to need a couple of big barrels of # 16 nails and about 25,000 crosses, or a couple dozen guillotines! Hey, it worked for the French! Do you see Kings or Queens or Dukes or Duchesses in France? You do not!

In Other News

The Newt crawled out from under his rock to open up his cake hole the other day. Newt's latest bright idea is to do away with all those nasty child labor laws so grade schoolers can become janitors. Yes, that might make sense (he joked), because it'll give them a head start qualifying for the kind of jobs that will be available as the Tea Baggers bust the unions and what's left of the middle class, and take us back to those thrilling daze of yesteryear.

You'd think for someone universally hated by both the left and most of the right, Gingrich would have stayed under his rock and continued to eat the worms and grubs that came along, but not for the Newtster. Newt is, after all, only doing this because he cares about America's youth not being able to get a job. That same compassion and caring that he showed to his starter wife as she lay suffering and dying in her hospital bed of cancer, when Newt walked in and served her with divorce papers as he was hot to trot and marry the bimbo de jour, who surprisingly he divorced a few years later. Yep, Mr. Compassion -- that's Newt alright!

Newt is quick to tell you, like he did at Harvard the other day, that he has a PhD (Pin headed dope) in History. Maybe ya'll are impressed by that, but you may also recall that the Smirkster had an MBA from Harvard, and you know how well that worked out for the economy. Much like our current JD in Constitutional Law that currently adorns der Fuhrer Bunker in DC. Yep, Barry knows the law, so every time he breaks the law, commits treason or a war crime, he knows exactly what he's doing! Hey, perhaps he could ditch Joe and get Newt to run as his VP? Think of the possibilities!

Still, I doubt that Newt will be anything more than the Rethuglican flavor of the month as too many Americans remember all of Newt's criminal aspects and why he got censored and fined $300,000 when he was Speaker of the House on a vote of the House of Representatives. The House voted for the first time in its (then, 1999) 208-year history to discipline a House Speaker, by a 395-28 vote, for ethical wrongdoing. It's just the RNC's way of telling the Tea Baggers that Romney and his magic underwear are our only hope. Yep, America; you better get used to the idea of either Willard or Barry for Fuhrer come 2012!

And Finally

You long time readers may recall all the various articles in the magazine we posted concerning how to do things once it hits the fan. Things like how to make clean water, how to manufacture electricity, how to hunt and fish, how to garden, and where to get non-hybrid, non-GMO, Heirloom seeds -- all done on the cheap. Things that we all used to know before we left the land and left others to do the things we used to know. How to survive when the grid goes down and the supermarkets are bare.

We also told you what staple foods to buy and which foods to avoid, it's the later that we will be looking at today. The following foods should be avoided because one of their ingredients is wood chips! Sounds yummy, huh?

The recent class-action lawsuit brought against Taco Bell raised questions about the quality of food many Americans eat each day.

Chief among those concerns is the use of cellulose (wood pulp), an extender whose use in a roster of food products, from crackers and ice creams to puddings and baked goods, is now being exposed.

Cellulose is virgin wood pulp that has been processed and manufactured to different lengths for functionality, though use of it and its variant forms (cellulose gum, powdered cellulose, microcrystalline cellulose, etc.) is deemed safe for human consumption, according to the FDA, which regulates most food industry products. The government agency sets no limit on the amount of cellulose that can be used in food products meant for human consumption, which is interesting because humans are unable to digest cellulose -- we lack the appropriate enzymes to break it down. This is a food adulterant and another example of the wholly-corrupt nature of the FDA, which was bought and paid for by the corpo-rats over 150 years ago.

Here's a partial list of foods containing wood fibers instead of food:

"Dole Food

Peaches & Crème Parfait
Apples & Crème Parfait

Fiber One Ready-To-Eat Muffins - Used in:
Grilled Chicken Salad, Chicken Club Salad with Crispy Chicken, Meaty Breakfast Burrito, Hearty Breakfast Bowl

Cheese, Pepper Jack, Shredded - Used in:
Chicken Fajita Pita, Southwest Chicken Salad with Grilled Chicken, Meaty Breakfast Burrito

Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce
Ice Cream Shake Mix
Log Cabin Syrup
Mini Funnel Cake
Mozzarella Cheese Sticks (also in Sampler Trio)
Smoothie Base: (Mango, Strawberry, Strawberry Banana)

Tortilla, Flour - Used in:
Chorizo Sausage Burrito, Steak & Egg Burrito, Meaty Breakfast Burrito

White Cheese Sauce - Used in Breakfast Bowl


MorningStar Farms Chik'n Nuggets
MorningStar Farms Chik Patties Original
MorningStar Farms Buffalo Wings Veggie Wings
Eggo Nutri-Grain Blueberry waffles
Eggo Strawberry Waffles
Eggo Blueberry Waffles
Cinnabon Pancakes Original
Cinnabon Pancakes Caramel
Cinnabon Snack Bars Original
Cinnabon Snack Bars Baked Cinnamon Apple

KFC (Yum! Brands)

KFC Cornbread Muffin
Apple Turnover
Honey Mustard BBQ Sauce
Lil' Bucket Strawberry Short Cake Parfait
Lil' Bucket Lemon Crème Parfait
Lil' Bucket Chocolate Crème Parfait
Oreo Cookies and Crème Pie Slice
Reese's Peanut Butter Pie Slice
Popcorn Chicken
Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie Slice

Kraft Foods

Wheat Thins Fiber Selects
Frozen Bagel-Fuls
Macaroni & Cheese Thick 'n Creamy
Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Three Cheese W/mini-shell Pasta


Fish Filet Patty
Premium Caesar Salad
Chipotle BBQ Snack Wrap
Premium Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken
Southern Style Chicken Biscuit
Strawberry Sundae

Natural Swiss Cheese - Used in:

McRib, Quarter Pounder with Cheese, Angus Mushroom & Swiss, Premium Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich, Premium Crispy Chicken Club Sandwich, Angus Mushroom & Swiss Snack Wrap

Shredded Cheddar/Jack Cheese - Used in:

Ranch Snack Wrap (Crispy and Grilled), Honey Mustard Snack Wrap (Crispy and Grilled), Chipotle BBQ Snack Wrap (Crispy and Grilled), Premium Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken, Premium Southwest Salad with/without Crispy/Grilled Chicken, Premium Bacon Ranch Salad with/without Crispy/Grilled Chicken, McSkillet Burrito with Sausage

Barbeque Sauce
Sweet 'N Sour Sauce
Shredded Parmesan Cheese - Used in:

Premium Caesar Salad with/without Crispy/Grilled Chicken

Biscuit - Used to make:

Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit, Sausage Biscuit with Egg, Sausage Biscuit, Southern Style Chicken Biscuit, Big Breakfast with/without Hotcakes

Vanilla Reduced Fat Ice Cream - Used in:

Strawberry Sundae, Hot Caramel Sundae, Hot Fudge Sundae, McFlurry with M&M'S Candies, McFlurry with OREO Cookies, Chocolate Triple Thick Shake, Strawberry Triple Thick Shake, Vanilla Triple Thick Shake

Sugar Free Vanilla Syrup, used in: Premium Roast Coffee, Espresso Nestle

Hot Cocoa Mixes: Mini Marshmallows, Rich Milk Chocolate, Chocolate Mint, Chocolate Caramel


Aunt Jemima Frozen Blueberry Pancakes
Aunt Jemima Original Syrup
Aunt Jemima Lite Syrup

Pizza Hut (Yum! Brands)

Parmesan Romano Cheese
Taco Bean Sauce
Shredded Cheddar (for Taco Pizza)
Breadstick Seasoning - Used to make Cheese Breadsticks)
WingStreet Bone-In (in the batter)
Meatballs (for pasta products, sandwiches)
White Pasta Sauce - Used for:

PastaBakes Marinara, PastaBakes Meatball Marinara, PastaBakes Primavera, PastaBakes Chicken Primavera

Alfredo Sauce - Used for:

PastaBakes Marinara, PastaBakes Meatball Marinara, PastaBakes Primavera, PastaBakes Chicken Primavera

Fat Free Ranch Dressing

Sara Lee

Jimmy Dean Frozen Breakfast Bowl (Sausage & Gravy)
Jimmy Dean D-lights Turkey Sausage Breakfast Bowl
Jimmy Dean D-lights Turkey Sausage Croissant
Jimmy Dean Breakfast Entrée - Used in:

(Scrambled Eggs with Bacon/Sausage and Cheese Diced Apples & Seasoned Hash)


Ice Cream
Sonic Blast
Banana Split
Ice Cream Cone

Taco Bell (Yum! Brands)

Southwest Chicken
Caramel Apple Empanada
Corn Tortilla
Enchilada Rice
Nacho Chips
Red Strips
Strawberry Topping
Zesty Dressing

Weight Watchers International

Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwich
English Toffee Crunch Ice Cream Bar
Giant Cookies & Cream Ice Cream Bar

Wendy's ~ Arby's

Asiago Cheese - Used in:

Spicy Chicken Caesar Salad, Asiago Ranch Chicken Club, Caesar Side Salad

Fat Free French Dressing - Used for:

Apple Pecan Chicken Salad, Baja Salad, Spicy Chicken Caesar Salad, BLT Cobb Salad

Blue Cheese Crumbles - Used in:

Apple Pecan Chicken Salad, BLT Cobb Salad
Cheddar Pepper Jack Cheese Blend, Shredded Chocolate Sauce
Coffee Toffee Twisted Frosty (Chocolate, Vanilla)
Frosty (Chocolate and Vanilla)
Frosty Shake (Frosty-cino, Chocolate Fudge, Strawberry, Vanilla Bean) Milk, 1% Low Fat Chocolate Milk"

If wood chips were the only poison being placed in your food, that would be bad enough; but it's just the tip of the iceberg -- corn poison being another example -- but when combined with GMO food and animals, etc., one might come to the conclusion that these manufacturers and the FDA are trying to kill us all -- and one wouldn't be far off the truth if one did! So dig in, America, and please pass me the syrup of ipecac!

Keepin' On

I thought I'd end this week's column on some happy news for a change! Have you heard what they did recently in Malaysia? They did what Obamahood promised to do until he was elected. They did what America demanded that Barry do. They did what the world wanted done, especially those innocent murdered and wounded millions of Middle Easterners. Can you guess?

What happened was a War Crimes Tribunal in Malaysia has found former US President George W. Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair guilty of war crimes for their roles in the Iraq war! Can you dig it? (I knew that you could!)

The five-panel Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal decided that Bush and Blair committed genocide and crimes against humanity by leading the invasion of Iraq in 2003. I kind of figured that out in 2003, I wonder what took them so long?

In 2003, the US and Britain invaded Iraq in blatant violation of international law and under the pretext of finding weapons of mass destruction, allegedly stockpiled by former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

The Malaysian tribunal judges ruled that the decision to wage war against Iraq by the two former heads of government was "a flagrant abuse of law and an act of aggression that led to large-scale massacres of the Iraqi people."

In their ruling, the tribunal judges also stated that the US, under the leadership of Bush, "fabricated documents to make it appear that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction."

However, the world later learned that the former Iraqi regime did not possess WMDs and that the US and British leaders knew this all along.

Over one million Iraqis were killed during the invasion, according to the California-based investigative organization Project Censored. Another four million had to flee for their lives, and another one million were wounded, all in order to steal all that lovely oil and build permanent bases to control the rest of the oil and other minerals in the area!

The judges also said the court findings should be provided to signatories to the Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court, and added that the names of Bush and Blair should be listed on a war crimes register.

These are the same laws that brought the Germans and Japanese to trial after WWII; these laws are still on US books, and almost every other country in the world. Signatories are require to arrest Bush and Blair and hold them for an international criminal court should they enter their country. Of course, we and England won't arrest these traitors, even though we made beautiful speeches about how it should be done to anyone, including Americans and Englishmen if they break the law too. Yeah, don't do as we do, but do as we say. Please do save me a front row seat for the executions. I want to be up front when the trap doors spring open and they drop a few inches and then slowly strangle to death like we did to the Germans and Japanese; oh, and a large popcorn, please!


01-20-1924 ~ 11-18-2011
Thanks for the songs!

04-01-1926 ~ 11-21-2011
Thanks for the books!


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) 2011 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 10 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Face Book. Follow me on Twitter.

We Are All Occupiers
People the world over salute the Occupy movement for standing up to injustice and fighting for equality at the heart of empire
By Arundhati Roy

This is the text of a speech given by Arundhati Roy at the People's University in Washington Square, NYC on November 16th, 2011.
Tuesday morning, the police cleared Zuccotti Park, but today the people are back. The police should know that this protest is not a battle for territory. We're not fighting for the right to occupy a park here or there. We are fighting for justice. Justice, not just for the people of the United States, but for everybody.

What you have achieved since September 17th, when the Occupy movement began in the United States, is to introduce a new imagination, a new political language into the heart of empire. You have reintroduced the right to dream into a system that tried to turn everybody into zombies mesmerized into equating mindless consumerism with happiness and fulfillment.

As a writer, let me tell you, this is an immense achievement. And I cannot thank you enough.

We were talking about justice. Today, as we speak, the army of the United States is waging a war of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan. US drones are killing civilians in Pakistan and beyond. Tens of thousands of US troops and death squads are moving into Africa. If spending trillions of dollars of your money to administer occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan is not enough, a war against Iran is being talked up.

Ever since the Great Depression, the manufacture of weapons and the export of war have been key ways in which the United States has stimulated its economy. Just recently, under President Obama, the United States made a $60 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia - moderate Muslims, right? It hopes to sell thousands of bunker busters to the UAE. It has sold $5 billion-worth of military aircraft to my country, India, which has more poor people than all the poorest countries of Africa put together. All these wars, from the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to Vietnam, Korea, Latin America, have claimed millions of lives - all of them fought to secure the "American way of life."

Today, we know that the "American way of life" - the model that the rest of the world is meant to aspire towards - has resulted in 400 people owning the wealth of half of the population of the United States. It has meant thousands of people being turned out of their homes and their jobs while the US government bailed out banks and corporations - American International Group (AIG) alone was given $182 billion.

The Indian government worships US economic policy. As a result of 20 years of the free market economy, today, 100 of India's richest people own assets worth one-quarter of the country's GDP while more than 80% of the people live on less than 50 cents a day; 250,000 farmers, driven into a spiral of death, have committed suicide. We call this progress, and now think of ourselves as a superpower. Like you, we are well-qualified: we have nuclear bombs and obscene inequality.

The good news is that people have had enough and are not going to take it any more. The Occupy movement has joined thousands of other resistance movements all over the world in which the poorest of people are standing up and stopping the richest corporations in their tracks. Few of us dreamed that we would see you, the people of the United States on our side, trying to do this in the heart of Empire. I don't know how to communicate the enormity of what this means.

They (the 1%) say that we don't have demands... perhaps they don't know, that our anger alone would be enough to destroy them. But here are some things - a few "pre-revolutionary" thoughts I had - for us to think about together:

We want to put a lid on this system that manufactures inequality. We want to put a cap on the unfettered accumulation of wealth and property by individuals as well as corporations. As "cap-ists" and "lid-ites", we demand:

* An end to cross-ownership in businesses. For example, weapons manufacturers cannot own TV stations; mining corporations cannot run newspapers; business houses cannot fund universities; drug companies cannot control public health funds.

* Two, natural resources and essential infrastructure - water supply, electricity, health, and education - cannot be privatized.

* Three, everybody must have the right to shelter, education and healthcare.

* Four, the children of the rich cannot inherit their parents' wealth.

This struggle has re-awakened our imagination. Somewhere along the way, capitalism reduced the idea of justice to mean just "human rights", and the idea of dreaming of equality became blasphemous. We are not fighting to just tinker with reforming a system that needs to be replaced.

As a cap-ist and a lid-ite, I salute your struggle.

Salaam and Zindabad.
(c) 2011 Arundhati Roy was born in 1959 in Shillong, India. She studied architecture in New Delhi, where she now lives, and has worked as a film designer, actor, and screenplay writer in India. Her latest book, Listening to Grasshoppers: Fields Notes on Democracy, is a collection of recent essays. A tenth anniversary edition of her novel, The God of Small Things (Random House), for which she received the 1997 Booker Prize, was recently released. She is also the author of numerous nonfiction titles, including An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire.

Weimar Revisited
By Uri Avnery

"YOU AND your Weimar!" a friend of mine once exclaimed in exasperation, "just because you experienced the collapse of the Weimar Republic as a child, you see Weimar behind every corner."

The accusation was not unjustified. In 1960, during the Eichmann trial, I wrote a book about the fall of the German Republic. Its last chapter was called: "It can happen here" Since then I have come back to this warning time and again.

But now I am not alone anymore. During the last few weeks, the word Weimar has popped up in the articles of many commentators.

It should be sprayed in huge letters on the walls.

ISRAELI[] DEMOCRACY is under siege. No one can ignore this anymore. It is the main topic in the Knesset, which is leading the attack, and the media, who are among the victims.

This does not happen in the occupied territories. There, democracy never existed. Occupation is the very opposite of democracy: a denial of all human rights, the right to life, liberty, movement, fair trial and free expression, not to mention national rights.

No, I mean Israel proper, the Israel inside the Green Line, The Only Democracy In The Middle East.

The attackers are members of Binyamin Netanyahu's government coalition, which includes semi-fascist and openly fascist elements. Netanyahu himself tries to remain discreetly in the background, but there can be no doubt that every single detail has been orchestrated by him.

In the first two years of this coalition, attacks were sporadic. But now they are determined, systematic and coordinated.

At this moment, the anti-democratic forces are attacking on a wide front, The three main pillars of democracy - the courts, the media and the human rights organizations - are under simultaneous, deadly assault. (Remember Weimar?)

THE SUPREME COURT is the bastion of democracy. Israel has no constitution, the Knesset majority is totally unbridled, only the court can (if reluctantly) check the adoption of anti-democratic laws.

I am not a blind admirer of the court. In the occupied territories, it is an arm of the occupation, devoted to "national security", approving of some of the worst incidents. Only in rare cases has it come out against the worst practices. But in Israel proper, it is a stout defender of civil rights.

The extreme rightists in the Knesset are resolved to put an end to this. Their front man is the Minister of Justice, who was appointed by Avigdor Lieberman. He is pushing a series of scandalous ad hominem bills. One of them is designed to change the composition of the public committee that appoints the judges, with the undisguised intention of bringing about the appointment of a particular right-wing judge to the Supreme Court.

Another bill has the undisguised purpose of changing the existing court rules in order to put a certain "conservative" judge in the chair of Chief Justice. The declared purpose is to abolish the rule of an independent court which dares, though only in rare cases, to block "anti-constitutional" laws enacted by the Knesset majority. They want the court to "represent the will of the people". (Remember Weimar?)

Until now, since the first day of the state, the justices have been, in practice, chosen by cooptation. This has functioned perfectly for 63 years. Israel's Supreme Court is the envy of many countries. Now this system is in mortal danger.

Another bill, which would have compelled candidates for the Supreme Court to undergo grilling by a Knesset Committee chaired by another Lieberman appointee, and obtain their approval, was withheld at the last moment by Netanyahu himself, He had already given his approval, but shrank back after the almost universal condemnation - and is now posing as the defender of democracy from his own underlings.

The chairman of the Judicial Committee of the Knesset, another Lieberman appointee, is rushing these laws through his committee, contrary to established procedures. In a stormy session this week, a female member called him "a coarse thug." He replied: "You are not even a beast."

A minimal purpose of these bills is to terrorize any judges considering vetoing the other anti-democratic bills that are being enacted. Some say that the effects are already being felt.

In several famous cases, the government openly flouts the Supreme Court's orders, especially concerning the evacuation of "settlements outposts" built on lands belonging to Palestinian farmers.

Who will defend the court? The former Chief Justice, Aharon Barak, who was hated by the rightists because of his pioneering "judicial activism", once told me: "The Court has no army divisions. Its power rests solely on the support of the public."

THE ASSAULT on the media started some time ago when the American casino baron, Sheldon Adelson, a close friend of Netanyahu, started a daily tabloid paper with the express purpose of helping Netanyahu. It is being distributed for free and now has the biggest circulation in the country, threatening the existence of all the others (but also bribing them by giving them huge printing orders.) Money is no object. Huge sums are being spent.

That was only the beginning.

In 1965 the Labor party government enacted a new libel law (called literally "the Law of the Evil Tongue") which was then clearly designed to muzzle "Haolam Hazeh", the mass-circulation news magazine I was editing, which had introduced investigative reporting to Israel. I appealed to the public to send me to the Knesset in protest, and 1.5% of the voters were incensed enough to do so.

Now the right-wing gang in the Knesset wants to sharpen this anti-media law even more. The new amendment grants up to $135,000 damages to anyone claiming to be hurt by the media, without their having to prove any damage at all. For newspapers and TV channels, which are already in a precarious financial position, this means that they better give up all investigative reporting and any criticism of influential politicians and tycoons.

The new winds are already being felt. Journalists and TV editors are cowed. This week, a program on Channel 10, considered the most liberal, gave five minutes to a song glorifying the late "Rabbi" Meir Kahane, who was branded by the Supreme Court as a fascist, and whose organization was outlawed for advocating what the court called "Nuremberg laws". An avowed member of this organization, which is alive and kicking under another name, is now a vocal member of the Knesset. (Remember Weimar?)

A major purge of TV journalists is already underway. One by one, directors of all TV channels are being replaced by confirmed rightists. It was openly admitted that the government would force the closure of Channel 10 by calling in outstanding debts if a certain journalist were not fired. Though generally an establishment type, this reporter had irked Netanyahu by exposing his and his wife's luxurious traveling style at government expense.

AT THE same time, human rights and peace NGOs are under heavy attack. The Knesset gang is producing bill after bill to silence them.

One bill already under way forbids human rights associations to receive donations from foreign governments and "state-like organizations", such as the UN and the EU. Right-wing organization receive, of course, huge sums of money from Jewish American billionaires, who fund the settlements (which are also indirectly financed by the US treasury, which gives tax-exempt status to the so-called "charitable organizations" that fund the settlements.)

The law which levies huge indemnities on organizations and individuals who advocate a boycott on the products of the settlements is already in force. The hearing of an application submitted by Gush Shalom to the Supreme Court against this suppression of political protest has been postponed by the court again and again and again.

This parliamentary terrorism is accompanied by the accelerating violence of fascist gangs from the settlements. These SA-like gangs call their actions "Price Tag". Usually, they react to the isolated cases of the army demolishing a few "illegal" buildings in a settlement by attacking a neighboring Palestinian village, setting fire to a mosque or carrying out what can only be described as a pogrom. (Remember Weimar?)

MARTIN NIEMOLLER, a German U-boat captain and later pacifist pastor, who was thrown into a concentration camp by the Nazis , coined the famous lament: "When the Nazis came to take the Communists, I was silent. After all, I was no Communist. When they took the Jews, I was silent. I am no Jew. When they arrested the Social Democrats, I was silent. I was no Social Democrat. When they came to take me, there was no one left to protest."

What we are witnessing now are not isolated attacks on one or another human right - what we are seeing is a general attack on democracy as such. Perhaps only people who have experienced life under a fascist dictatorship can fully realize what that means.

Of course, the similarity between the collapse of the German republic and the processes in today's Israel does not mean that the same events must follow. Nazism was unique in many ways. The end of real democracy may be followed by different systems. There are many models to choose from: Ceausescu, Franco, Putin.

Certainly, there is no similarity between the small German town called Weimar and Tel Aviv. Except perhaps the fact that many houses in Tel Aviv were designed according to the Bauhaus architectural school - which originated in Weimar.

Weimar was once a cultural center, where geniuses like Goethe and Schiller produced their masterpieces. The German republic which was founded in 1919, after World War I, was called by this name after the national assembly which framed its very progressive constitution there.

On these lines, the endangered democratic State of Israel, whose Declaration of Independence was signed in 1948 in Tel Aviv, could rightly be called the Tel Aviv Republic.

We are not yet in 1932. The Storm Troopers are not yet roaming our streets. We still have time to mobilize the public against the looming danger. The demonstration taking place today in Tel Aviv against the de-democratization of Israel may mark a turning point.
(c) 2011 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Woman Gets Jail For Food-Stamp Fraud; Wall Street Fraudsters Get Bailouts
By Matt Taibi

Had a quick piece of news I wanted to call attention to, in light of the recent developments at Zuccotti Park. For all of those who say the protesters have it wrong, and don't really have a cause worth causing public unrest over, consider this story, sent to me by a friend on the Hill.

Last week, a federal judge in Mississippi sentenced a mother of two named Anita McLemore to three years in federal prison for lying on a government application in order to obtain food stamps.

Apparently in this country you become ineligible to eat if you have a record of criminal drug offenses. States have the option of opting out of that federal ban, but Mississippi is not one of those states. Since McLemore had four drug convictions in her past, she was ineligible to receive food stamps, so she lied about her past in order to feed her two children.

The total "cost" of her fraud was $4,367. She has paid the money back. But paying the money back was not enough for federal Judge Henry Wingate.

Wingate had the option of sentencing McLemore according to federal guidelines, which would have left her with a term of two months to eight months, followed by probation. Not good enough! Wingate was so outraged by McLemore's fraud that he decided to serve her up the deluxe vacation, using another federal statute that permitted him to give her up to five years.

He ultimately gave her three years, saying, "The defendant's criminal record is simply abominable .... She has been the beneficiary of government generosity in state court."

Compare this court decision to the fraud settlements on Wall Street. Like McLemore, fraud defendants like Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and Deutsche Bank have "been the beneficiary of government generosity." Goldman got $12.9 billion just through the AIG bailout. Citigroup got $45 billion, plus hundreds of billions in government guarantees.

All of these companies have been repeatedly dragged into court for fraud, and not one individual defendant has ever been forced to give back anything like a significant portion of his ill-gotten gains. The closest we've come is in a fraud case involving Citi, in which a pair of executives, Gary Crittenden and Arthur Tildesley, were fined the token amounts of $100,000 and $80,000, respectively, for lying to shareholders about the extent of Citi's debt.

Neither man was forced to admit to intentional fraud. Both got to keep their jobs.

Anita McLemore, meanwhile, lied to feed her children, gave back every penny of her "fraud" when she got caught, and is now going to do three years in prison. Explain that, Eric Holder!

Here's another thing that boggles my mind: You get busted for drugs in this country, and it turns out you can make yourself ineligible to receive food stamps.

But you can be a serial fraud offender like Citigroup, which has repeatedly been dragged into court for the same offenses and has repeatedly ignored court injunctions to abstain from fraud, and this does not make you ineligible to receive $45 billion in bailouts and other forms of federal assistance.

This is the reason why all of these settlements allowing banks to walk away without "admissions of wrongdoing" are particularly insidious. A normal person, once he gets a felony conviction, immediately begins to lose his rights as a citizen.

But white-collar criminals of the type we've seen in recent years on Wall Street - both the individuals and the corporate "citizens" - do not suffer these ramifications. They commit crimes without real consequence, allowing them to retain access to the full smorgasbord of subsidies and financial welfare programs that, let's face it, are the source of most of their profits.

Why, I wonder, does a bank that has committed fraud multiple times get to retain access to the Federal Reserve discount window? Why should Citigroup and Goldman Sachs get to keep their status as Primary Dealers of U.S. government debt? Are there not enough banks without extensive histories of fraud and malfeasance that can be awarded these de facto subsidies?

Editords Note: If you'd like to share your thoughts with Judge Wingate:
(c) 2011 Matt Taibbi

Holding Space As OWS Camps Come Under Assault
By Randall Amster

As the Occupy Movement gains strength and garners worldwide support, the predominant anti-OWS tactic of authority is becoming clear: decimate as many Occupy camps as possible, in the hope that this delivers a fatal blow to the movement's momentum. It is an outmoded, heavy-handed tack, one that starkly illuminates the gap between the casual brutality of the 1% and the core aspirations of the 99%.

And it will ultimately fail.

At each turn, the sweeping of the encampments - many of which have become little "utopian experiments" in themselves and working models for an alternative society - has only served to galvanize the resolve of Occupiers and drive even greater numbers out into the streets and parks. Mass arrests aim to make activists pay a personal price for their open defiance, but they also yield greater degrees of movement solidarity and radicalize demonstrators across generational and cultural lines.

People who struggle together, win. Not overnight, and not without travail. But in the end they do prevail.

The clichés and well-worn slogans abound, yet each one rings with the time-tested truth of human dignity: "You can't kill an idea." "People have nothing to lose but their chains." "This is what democracy looks like." "We shall not be moved." "All we are saying is give peace a chance…"

We've heard the refrains before. Still, this is different: a global peace movement that is about more than merely warfare, speaking broadly to the pervasive "structural violence" of injustice and inequality that comprises the foundation of our archaic system. As the social and ecological fabric of our lives reaches a critical point of no return at every level of engagement, so too are people acting from the realization that the power to alter course is vested in each and every one of us, and in our communities as well.

No amount of force can deter people seeking survival, meaning, and the natural longings of hope for the future. "Holding one's ground" becomes the operative premise - not in an aggressive way that replicates state power but with a presence of body and mind that demonstrates the unshakable force of "people power." There is no single way to manifest this spirit; for some it is standing firm on the front lines, for others it is rebuilding after a sweep, and for still others it is remaining peaceful and compassionate even and especially in the face of extreme provocation. All are equally powerful tacks.

Holding space, inner and outer, is the fulcrum. In the wake of systemic assault, seemingly coordinated at the highest levels and indicative of the elites' concern about the widening impact of the movement, the spirit of resistance is demonstrated with small acts of bravery and large mobilizations of open defiance. Individually and collectively, the movement bends but refuses to break, absorbing the system's blows and transforming them into stimuli for evolutionary growth, popular support, and bonds of solidarity.

Successful movements throughout history have understood this. It is the essence of nonviolence, to "win over" undecided observers and even antagonists by virtue of courage and compassion. It does not mean that everyone in the movement agrees on tactics or that a pledge of nonviolence ought to be imposed, but rather that the movement as a whole is in fact nonviolent in seeking to overcome the structural violence of a dehumanizing and despoiling system based on avarice and aggression.

The pictures tell a thousand words. At Occupy Oakland, as a massive throng of police descends on the plaza where an encampment has braved numerous assaults, a handful of peaceful spirits sit in silent meditation and meet the arresting officers with knowing smiles and engaged compassion. The images are reminiscent of Tiananmen Square circa 1989, or Tahrir Square circa 2011. Perhaps the scale is smaller, but it is in those little moments of exchange that the entire story of a struggle is being told.

One of the Oakland Meditators is a gentle soul named Francisco "Pancho" Ramos Stierle. He's a community organizer, nonviolence practitioner, free-economy proponent, inspiring speaker, urban permaculturist, tireless activist, unwavering friend, and in many ways the living embodiment of all that a genuine liberation movement filled with "peaceful warriors" aspires to be and become. Pancho is now facing deportation charges in addition to those in connection with his nonviolent demonstration - a doubly ironic result, in that someone whose life's work is actually about building secure communities could be deported under a program that is perversely termed by officials as "Secure Communities."

Even more to the point is that Pancho's story provides a bridge between the Occupy Movement and immigration issues. At root are basic questions of human dignity and mutual respect, of fashioning a world in which people matter more than profits and where everyone has a voice in determining the conditions of our collective lives. The symbolic Occupy camps are also models of this vision in practice, just as Pancho's symbolic dramatization of peace in the face of force is a guidepost for our own actions.

Tents can be dismantled and people can be imprisoned, but ideals and values are indelible. Holding on, holding fast, holding space - all transcend mere physical location and the impetus of control. It is, in the end, the power of peace that sustains a movement over time and that renders its foundations unbreakable.
(c) 2011 Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., teaches peace studies at Prescott College and serves as the executive director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association. His most recent book is the co-edited volume "Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009).

Rooty-Toot-Toot, Here Comes The Newt!

O joy - the generous gods of political commentary love me!

The poli-gods have delivered a magnificent gift for me: Newt. yes, Newt Gingrich is back! Just three months ago, the presidential campaign of this corrupt, super-bloated ego-on-legs had imploded, and commentators like me lost a sure-fire source of goofy material. Lo and behold, though, as Rick Perry stumbled over his own brain and as Herman Cain fumbled with Libya and several women - the Newt has been ascendant, now topping some polls in the GOP contest.

Explaining this exalted status, the former House Speaker was typically modest: "I don't think there's anybody in the race with [my] background," he bloated. "I have a PhD in American history, I've written 24 books, seven documentary films." Yes, and he's also been fined $300,000 by his own House ethics committee for official corruption.

Speaking of which, after an inglorious exit from Congress, Gingrich parlayed his legislative connections into the lucrative life of a Washington influence peddler, carrying water for such corporate favor-seekers as IBM and Microsoft. Now we learn that he also quietly did chores for mortgage giant Freddie Mac - a firm he had blasted publicly. He even condemned Barack Obama in 2008 for taking campaign donations from the corporation's executives.

He recently tried to dismiss his own involvement with Freddie Mac, saying his role there was short and minor. Really? No. It turns out he worked with them for six years and was paid at least $1.6 million. Nonetheless, filled with his own wondrousness, Newt insists that voters will actually appreciate his work as a hired huckster for corporate interests - "It reminds people that I know a great deal about Washington," he said, cluelessly. Thank you, political gods - this is going to be fun!
(c) 2011 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.

Gaffes, Not Gains, For GOP
By Helen Thomas

The Republican candidates who are challenging President Barack Obama for the highest office in the land all leave something to be desired - even for party loyals.

Among those considered front runners for the presidential nomination are former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney and Texas Governor Rick Perry, but neither seems to captivate the dwindling Republican support.

Whether charisma or character is at fault, the needed party following is still lacking.

Most of the GOP candidates seem to fall into the category of Hawks regarding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Two exceptions, who are considered moderate and more of the kind that would give peace a chance, are Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and veteran diplomat Jon Huntsman. Unfortunately, neither one seems to have a prayer of a chance for the presidency.

The problem with the Republican hopefuls is that none has tackled the country's leading problem - unemployment. At least Obama has boiled the issue down to the need for jobs. What do the Republican candidates have to offer in terms of putting 14 million Americans back to work?

It's hard to believe businessman Herman Cain's rise in the polls. Is he a stalking horse for another candidate or is he for real?

Cain is in the embarrassing position of being accused of sexual harassment, by multiple women, when he headed the Restaurant Association.

He is evidently proud of his conservative credentials, but not appealing to most Republicans because he lacks passion and likability. Bottom line - Herman Cain is no real challenge for Obama.

Regarding Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Cain, it is hard to believe either one is still in the race.

The flubs by some of the Republicans are being highlighted in the campaign, and maybe unfairly, but that's the way it is in the high stakes game for the White House.

Perry suffered a senior moment in a recent debate, which may be from now on a "Perry moment," when he said he wanted to eliminate three federal departments and could only name two. He was able to recall Education and Commerce, but couldn't seem to remember the Department of Energy, which oddly would significantly affect his oil-producing state of Texas.

Perry was put on the defensive for helping undocumented immigrant children to pursue their education - and why not?

Perry, who came on strong at first, seems to be all hat and no cattle. He is hanging in there - Perry is not the type to run from a fight.

Romney is the GOP's best qualified candidate and currently leads the polls, but the party is reluctant to anoint him with the nomination. Romney is being questioned because of his flip flops as he tries to move toward the Tea Party.

The question is, are these candidates ready for primetime?

Of course, the GOP candidates could blame the media who are focused on the flubs or lack of substance in the debates, but they are in the spotlight and are being judged mostly by their peers and fans, who want them to measure up.

Nancy Reagan once complained that husband and former President Ronald Reagan's campaign handlers had over prepared him for the campaign debates, thus confusing the President. Reagan usually deflected tough moments with humor. Reagan got away with a quip or two instead of digging into the debate. Politico noted Reagan once hit a lighter moment in a debate, when he said, "I paid for this microphone."

The question of over exposure of the candidates has not come up, although it usually does in long-running campaigns.

It seems lightning will have to strike before the Republicans get their act together. At this point, the election is Obama's to lose. His opponents are not galvanized. Clearly they are not satisfied with the Republican roster of presidential candidates. So far, it's the best they have to offer, and Obama has a heads up.
(c) 2011 Helen Thomas is a columnist for the Falls Church News-Press. Among other books she is the author of Front Row At The White House: My Life and Times.

Fixing Washington Corruption - Lets Have Fair Elections
By James Donahue

I remember when John F. Kennedy was being considered as a serious Democratic Party candidate for the Presidential nomination. It was a controversial time because Kennedy was the first Roman Catholic to be a serious contender for that high office and a lot of folks worried that if he was elected, the Vatican would have its hands on the political pulse of the United States.

In the days preceding the Democratic Convention, I recall listening to a Chicago radio broadcast and hearing a strange call-in by a woman who identified herself only as "Madam X." It seems she was a psychic, well known around Chicago and the radio station, who made amazingly accurate predictions. What Madam X said that day made my hair crawl. She said John Kennedy would be nominated and would become the next President of the United States. But she said he would be the last president we would ever elect. After Kennedy, she warned, we would have "something else."

Of course we all know the tragic events that followed . . . Kennedy's untimely assassination under such mysterious circumstances most Americans still believe it was a conspiracy that remains unresolved to this day. The reign of presidents that followed Kennedy, from Lyndon Johnson to George W. Bush and Barack Obama, have been slowly leading the nation down a slippery slope of unprecedented and senseless warfare, extreme graft and corruption, deficit spending and an obvious allegiance to big money and big business interests that have become international in scope.

The problems brought on by international trade agreements, subsequent union busting activities and unprecedented "gambling" of public money by banks and lending institutions has led to a flood of home foreclosures and the layoffs of millions of American workers. The rash of new homeless and jobless people, and families now living without food, housing, good schools and health insurance has taken to the streets in public protest in a disorganized movement that has swept the breadth of the nation.

The trouble didn't occur overnight. If we look back through time we see that it has been a combination of events, bad decisions and careful manipulation of events that seem to have started at about the time of Kennedy's assassination.

We must ask the obvious question. Was Madam X the mystery Chicago psychic correct? Have we been ruled by "something else" since the death of Kennedy? Have we even had a fair election since 1960? Have all the "leaders" that followed been puppets of a shadow government that has secretly taken over the United States if not the world?

Think of how we have slowly shifted from the old faithful paper ballots to machine voting and more recently to computerized voting machines. We thought we were doing this to speed up our election process and make elections more efficient for everybody concerned. But in the process, the election results have become more and more suspiciously twisted.

The horse race finish of the Bush-Gore election of 2000, with final vote tallies relying on a few final vote counts in the State of Florida, where George W. Bush's brother's election machine was carefully manipulating the election rules was incredibly suspicious. But then to have the U. S. Supreme Court intervene and declare Mr. Bush the winner before a contested recount was completed, made us all convinced that something was amiss.

There was all the confusion about the rules of the Electoral College, of course, which sometimes overrules the popular vote and gives the presidency to "the other guy." This appeared to be what happened in the Bush-Gore campaign.

Various big newspaper publishers were so suspicious of events in Florida following that court decision they financed a completion of the Florida election recount, just to find out who really won that election. The work of recounting those challenged ballots was still going on when the attack of 9-11 happened. In the blink of an eye, everybody forgot that the nation questioned if Bush really won the election. We became a nation at war and people rallied behind the only leader we had. Unfortunately he was George W. Bush.

Talk about mass manipulation. What happened in September, 2001 was a classic example of the kind of public control that can be accomplished. Americans succumbed to fear of further terrorist attack and then our young men marched off to the nearest recruiting office and signed up to go to war. But it would be a war against what specific enemy? What nation were we about to attack? They told us the attack was carried out by a rogue and extremist Islamic terrorist group hiding in the mountains of Afghanistan. So Mr. Bush sent our forces into Afghanistan and declared war against the whole country. What was he thinking? And a year later he sent troops into Iraq and launched an unprovoked war there that had nothing to do with the 9-11 attack. And blindly, we let him do it. Neither war was necessary. Our military involvement in the Middle East cost the nation over a trillion dollars and we accomplished absolutely nothing, except to provoke a people who did not deserve what we did to them.

Bush won a second term in 2004, again under questionable circumstances. Most people in the country did not think he would get another term, but it happened. Then in 2008 we shifted parties and gave the job to Mr. Obama, who promised hope and change. But a Republican contingent in the Senate managed to stonewall nearly everything Mr. Obama tried to do. And during Mr. Bush's last days in office the country's financial markets crumbled, Congress panicked, and the big multi-billion dollar bailout happened. The government has remained deadlocked ever since. Events have continued to grow worse.

Now, with another presidential election looming in 2012, Americans are obviously thinking it is time to clean house. But how are we going to accomplish this if (a.) there are no viable candidates from which to choose, and (b.) our elections appear to be so rigged that it won't matter how we vote.

Let's face it. If the Republicans would stop acting like fools, show some empathy for the pain the people of America are suffering, and put a viable candidate up to run against Mr. Obama, they could probably take back the White House in 2012. But other than Mr. Romney, the line-up of questionable and illiterate clowns being offered by the G. O. P. is so ridiculous, we doubt if many people are taking them seriously. It is obvious that Romney and Obama will be the candidates from which to choose. And right now, neither man is getting anybody very excited.

In order to even be considered for the presidency these days, a candidate has to be very wealthy, or have a powerful backer with the multi-millions of dollars it takes to successfully win a two-year-long nation-wide campaign. Because of television and other advanced media technology, the candidate also has to have charisma that appeals to the general public, and look presidential. That means he must appear attractive and make no blunders while appearing in front of the television cameras.

Abraham Lincoln would never have been considered if he was in the lineup of Republicans this year. In spite of his great mind and wit, Mr. Lincoln would probably have been too ugly to appeal to television viewers.

The Occupy Wall Street and Occupy America crowds now in the street are demanding real change in 2012. But this cannot be accomplished unless some drastic changes are made in the way we conduct our elections.

We suggest the following:

--Create a new third Independent party and raise a complete slate of candidates for political offices from county and state to national levels that represent the people in their districts and reject the big cash donations of big corporations and lobbyists. Then elect them all, thus cleaning out the corruption from the grass roots to Washington.

--Create a fair and equitable system of financing campaigns and make it illegal for any candidate to take money from outside sources for promotion. Shorten the campaign season to a few months and make it mandatory for all media to devote equal time reviewing and interviewing all candidates for every office. Publishers may only support the candidates of their choice on their editorial pages and aired time slots. Promotional and especially mud-slinging style advertising should be prohibited by law.

--Impeach the Supreme Court members who ruled that corporations have the same right as individuals to finance campaigns by candidates of their choice. While at it, change the rules that give Supreme Court members their jobs for life.

--Revise portions of the Constitution so that we have eliminated the Electoral College. Candidates should all be elected by popular vote.

--Return to the use of paper ballots In all elections. Make all ballots clear and easy to understand, and relax the rules concerning the marks placed in the squares for the named candidates. An X that goes over the line should not be excluded.

I would like to think we could save our great nation, take it away from the organized criminals, and return it to the people once again. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could be assured that we are really electing our leaders and that they are really representing the interests of the people in their home districts? Only then can we again call ourselves a Republic, as it was supposed to be from the start.
(c) 2011 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site.

Occupy Oakland protesters stand outside of a Wells Fargo bank in Oakland, Calif.

The New Age Of Consumer Activism
Our understandable rage at corporations is behind customer-driven like Bank Transfer Day
By David Sirota

As we all know, America is angry. Really angry. To put it in pop culture terms, we've moved from the vaguely inspiring agita of Peter Finch in "Network" to the wild-eyed, primal-scream rage of Sam Kinison in "Back to School."

When we pay attention to politics, we get peeved at Congress and the presidential candidates. When we tune into sports, we're annoyed with squabbling players and owners. When we turn on the news, we fume at the smug pundits. And when it comes to the economy, we're in a tizzy at big corporations.

Most of this indignation is nothing new; it is atavistic fury expressed in the modern vernacular. Yet, one strand of our anger - the kind directed at big business - may be truly novel, as our chagrin is no longer just that ancient animosity toward excessive corporate power. Instead, it has also become a personal disdain toward firms we deal with on a daily basis.

This is the key finding of the latest report from the Center for Services Leadership at Arizona State University. Its findings show that after years of rising anger, consumer rage has reached an all-time high.

Back in 2004, ASU's researchers theorized that such apoplexy was an outgrowth of affluence. "Households simply have more products and services today, and thus more points of contact, increasing our chances that we will have a problem," they wrote.

But, of course, 2004 was a comparatively prosperous time. Today, by contrast, recession-battered consumers have access to fewer products and services and yet are angrier at companies, meaning the sentiment likely reflects a response to deeper trends.

One of those is a decline in craftsmanship in the era of free trade and offshore production. With America now awash in foreign wares, we've imported the developing world's lax regulatory standards and, thus, its lower product quality. That means poorly constructed furniture, malfunctioning electronics and all the other shoddiness that drives customers nuts.

Another maddening trend is the corporate sector's shift from long-term customer care to short-term predation. Though firms have always tried to make quick money off clients, the intensity of this recession, coupled with investors' insatiable demand for quarterly profit growth, has prompted unprecedented bill-padding, corner-cutting and inflexibility. Today's typical air travel experience epitomizes the dynamic: You get hit with a baggage charge, shoved into an ever-smaller seat and then stranded in airport purgatory because you missed your connection. With this kind of experience being replicated in everything from debit card fees to interminable customer-service wait times, it's no wonder we're ticked off.

Finally, there's what Mother Jones magazine calls "The Great Speedup," whereby downsized companies are forcing their remaining employees to do more work at a faster pace than ever. While this means our workforce is generating more output, it also means that output often becomes less satisfying to the end user. So, sure, your energy company's electrician may be servicing more homes, but he's also more error-prone and no longer maintains a customer-friendly demeanor - because he's being run ragged.

All of this is no doubt responsible for a spike in self-destructive temper tantrums. However, there is an upside: The angst is resurrecting the notion of consumer activism. And that's a big deal.

Recent headlines tell this story. From moving deposits out of big banks to a mass abandonment of Netflix, customers are suddenly channeling the old Ralph Nader zeitgeist. We're remembering that being a patron comes with power - and we're finally getting mad enough to use it.

If that ends up bringing back a lasting consumer movement in America, then all the heartburn and stress of being a mistreated customer will have been worth it.
(c) 2011 David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee.

Painted Torture
By David Swanson

You walk into a large, bright gallery full of large colorful portraits, portraits of men. They are fairly ordinary looking men. They could be from Western Asia or the "Middle East."

You approach one and look at him for an instant. He looks normal, relaxed, almost expressionless, certainly expressing no very strong emotion.

Before you can look long, your eyes are drawn to the curving lines of words swirling around the canvas like leaves in water. You read words like these, twisting your head almost upside down to follow them:

You read on as more words flow around this one canvas. You read about dogs and cattle prods and death threats and harm to loved ones, sleep deprivation and confinement in a box and living human beings piled up like suitcases in a truck.

Then you look at all the other men and all the other words all around the gallery.

Then you look at their faces again.

And now you see the sadness, the resignation, the exhaustion, and the misery.

The scars on these torture victims are no more visible than the scars on those who tortured them. But they are made visible by this combination of portraits and painted words.

While former Vice President Dick Cheney canceled his threatened visit to Charlottesville this week, his handiwork came instead. An exhibition of Daniel Heyman's paintings of Iraqis can be seen in the Ruffin Hall Gallery at the University of Virginia.

Outside the gallery, people go on with their lives, some of them worried about their mortgage, some about their lack of one, some about the celebrity divorce du jour, and others especially concerned about Dick Cheney's right to speak in public but free of any unpleasant questioning from those who have not yet internalized a culture of obedience and demonization of designated objects of fear.
(c) 2011 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

Occupy With A Vengeance!
Change is a Messy Affair, But it Has to be Done
By Vincent L. Guarisco

"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies." ~~~ Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

Is it just me?...Or is it getting crazy out there? I guess if you want honest press, you have to own one? If it weren't so painful to see our nation gutted in all sectors, it would almost be laughable to hear our lap-dog media say the Occupy movement has not made any clear demands. Or how disorganized we are. But this is how today's media gas-bags operate. Pure and simple, they blatantly twist, distort and outright lie. It's the same old propaganda tactic used time and again by corporate media that, woefully, is owned and operated by the same financial gluttons we are fighting.

Yes indeed, the international banking cartel, the Wall Street pharaohs and the FED (foriegn investwhores) truly is a filthy unholy orgy. Folks, It's not rocket science: These rogues of power must be rounded-up, arrested, extradited and prosecuted in a court of law. And after the gavel falls, "imprisoned." When you look at all the wealth that has been stolen, lives destroyed, the killings -- it staggers the imagination that we have allowed this arrogant mafia to continue doing business for so long. Get real, this ridiculous three-card monte can make even the most pathetic used car salesman blush.

And nothing drives the nail deeper into freedom's proverbial coffin than watching the police pepper spray peaceful UC Davis students. I have a fuzzy feeling; if this continues, it's going to get real ugly soon for cops with swelled heads.

Plus, the latest fiasco is the heist at MF Global, a company that deals in "futures." Check out this riveting video featuring "Gearld Celente." Sadly, He became one of the latest financial casualties to lose a bundle as a result of those he calls, the white shoe boys!

God knows we need it, so here's a bit of good news: Cheers to us! November 17th marked the two-month anniversary of the Occupy movement. The importance of our involvement has never been more relevant than now. We are legion! As our nation continues to recoil in anger and disbelief, we know there are no bailouts or golden parachutes for us. We are on our own. In fact, just the opposite -- we get to feel the burden of skyrocketing food prices, on-demand inflation, record breaking home foreclosures and homelessness ... during these cold winter months.

But regardless, the resistence is strong and spreading its wings in the face of adversity. From New York City to Oakland, California and all points in-between, our numbers are growing. The jackboots may have thrown away our tarps, tents and sleeping bags, but we will not falter. They may continue to pepper spray, beat and arrest peaceful protesters; try to shut us down, but we will not stop. We will not leave. Our time has come! They can't stop the 99% movement. We are the dreamers who dare to believe better days will come and... "Ideas are bullet proof!" Indeed, our thirst for peace, truth and justice shall be quenched.

Even with all the hardship at hand, these are exciting times. It's refreshing to witness my fellow patrons from all walks of life going after the gluttons of greed. It's exhilarating to see we still have some grit left in us! For several decades, I watched my sleepy nation blame everyone else (except themselves) for their mass sensory deprivation. And although many of us have fought the good battle for what seems like an eternity, we gladly now join hands in solidarity to create the change we so desperately desire. And if our numbers continue to grow, I'm confident we can create positive solutions for the many challenges we face.

During this great awakening, I suspect many of you are feeling a bit like Alice going down the 21st Century rabbit hole? Well, while doing so, don't forget to revisit the protest arc of the 60's. I hate to say I told you so, but the dirty f*cking hippies, we're right. Excellent video!

Spread the word, our numbers are our strength. Tell others to join us! Stand proud. Have no fear. Stay the course. Because if we keep pounding them hard like we did at Oakland's port, and if we keep dissolving our bank accounts -- we can level the playing field for our salvation. Failure is not an option for those who cherish freedom. The billionaire fat-cats will not skip a beat at stealing everything from everybody, everywhere. In fact, the stakes couldn't be higher. Our survival literally hangs in the balance.

Sadly, this has gotten so out of hand that other nations now consider America one of the biggest global threats the world has ever seen. This is serious. It's now openly discussed that our country either needs to be stopped or destroyed. Nothing good will come of this if we fail to act. This is our final wake-up-call. A most dishonorable label could be bestowed upon us that no other nation has seen since the days of Adolf Hitler. Just as Germany's Nazi flag was rightfully thrown in the dirt, the same thing can happen to us. Indeed, the rest of the free world will not give a second thought to spit, urinate and defecate on our American cloth. Why? It's simple -- we will be condemned because we did not stop our own pathological war-mongers who shrewdly dance on the blood of innocents for profit. Thus, if other nations have to clean-up our mess for us, it won't be subtle, nor kind. After more than five decades of handing our leaders a blank check to rob, kill and pillage with impunity -- can you blame them? Enough is enough.

If you need more incentive to march in the streets, check this out. I pulled-up this bailout timeline (2008 to 2011) from Pro Publica. The numbers are staggering! When you see this massive government welfare giveaway all laid out in chronological order, it takes your breath away. I guess we little peons now know for sure -- the socialism is for them, and the capitalism is for us. Take note, these figures are only the ones we know about. We strongly suspect that much more was secretly given. Ironically, I'm sure we'll all rest a little easier knowing that the privileged ones (at our expense) will be able to hire those hot little escorts, jump on their yachts, and speed-off to Cancun for that spectacular well-deserved vacation.

A world revolution is currently underway. And as powerful as they may think they are, the masters of the universe cannot escape a repetitious pattern that always seems to make full circle -- all empires eventually crumble into the dustbin of history. The crafty devils thought they would forever keep us constrained in a hapless trance of languishing servitude, but they were sadly mistaken. They underestimated our strength, our resiliency for breaking the chains of bondage. Thus, we have united in solidarity to take back the sanctity of life, freedom and honor.

Cheers to us! The days of blindly believing gas-bag monologues for the continuance of war is over. The spell is broken. Their deceiving platitudes of false patriotism no longer has the desired effect. We will not let our sons and daughters enlist in the military to die in their killing fields for American "interests" in distant lands. Even in this fast moving technological era filled with never-ending calamity, we will not give our oppressors their third war -- Iran.

Change is a messy affair, but it has be done regardless of the opposition we face. Amen. Take pride in knowing the silver-spoon devils will soon reap the full effect of our public discourse. The great American Occupation has only started and Revolution is now eminent.
(c) 2011 Vincent L. Guarisco is a freelance writer from Arizona, a contributing writer for many web sites, and a lifetime founding member of the Alliance of Atomic Veterans. The 21st century, once so full of shining promise, now threatens to force countless millions of us at home and abroad into a dark abyss of languishing poverty and silent servitude; a lowly prodigy of painful struggle and suffering that could stream for generations to come. I'm wishing for a miracle, before it is too late, the masses will figure it out and will stand as one and roar. So, pass the word - its past time to take back what is ours -- the American Dream where the pursuit of happiness, the ability to live in a free and peaceful nation is a reality. We bought it, and we paid for it. It's time to take it back. For replies, contact:

Boring Cruel Romantics
By Paul Krugman

There's a word I keep hearing lately: "technocrat." Sometimes it's used as a term of scorn -the creators of the euro, we're told, were technocrats who failed to take human and cultural factors into account. Sometimes it's a term of praise: the newly installed prime ministers of Greece and Italy are described as technocrats who will rise above politics and do what needs to be done.

I call foul. I know from technocrats; sometimes I even play one myself. And these people -the people who bullied Europe into adopting a common currency, the people who are bullying both Europe and the United States into austerity -aren't technocrats. They are, instead, deeply impractical romantics.

They are, to be sure, a peculiarly boring breed of romantic, speaking in turgid prose rather than poetry. And the things they demand on behalf of their romantic visions are often cruel, involving huge sacrifices from ordinary workers and families. But the fact remains that those visions are driven by dreams about the way things should be rather than by a cool assessment of the way things really are.

And to save the world economy we must topple these dangerous romantics from their pedestals.

Let's start with the creation of the euro. If you think that this was a project driven by careful calculation of costs and benefits, you have been misinformed.

The truth is that Europe's march toward a common currency was, from the beginning, a dubious project on any objective economic analysis. The continent's economies were too disparate to function smoothly with one-size-fits-all monetary policy, too likely to experience "asymmetric shocks" in which some countries slumped while others boomed. And unlike U.S. states, European countries weren't part of a single nation with a unified budget and a labor market tied together by a common language.

So why did those "technocrats" push so hard for the euro, disregarding many warnings from economists? Partly it was the dream of European unification, which the Continent's elite found so alluring that its members waved away practical objections. And partly it was a leap of economic faith, the hope -driven by the will to believe, despite vast evidence to the contrary -that everything would work out as long as nations practiced the Victorian virtues of price stability and fiscal prudence.

Sad to say, things did not work out as promised. But rather than adjusting to reality, those supposed technocrats just doubled down -insisting, for example, that Greece could avoid default through savage austerity, when anyone who actually did the math knew better.

Let me single out in particular the European Central Bank (E.C.B.), which is supposed to be the ultimate technocratic institution, and which has been especially notable for taking refuge in fantasy as things go wrong. Last year, for example, the bank affirmed its belief in the confidence fairy -that is, the claim that budget cuts in a depressed economy will actually promote expansion, by raising business and consumer confidence. Strange to say, that hasn't happened anywhere.

And now, with Europe in crisis -a crisis that can't be contained unless the E.C.B. steps in to stop the vicious circle of financial collapse -its leaders still cling to the notion that price stability cures all ills. Last week Mario Draghi, the E.C.B.'s new president, declared that "anchoring inflation expectations" is "the major contribution we can make in support of sustainable growth, employment creation and financial stability."

This is an utterly fantastic claim to make at a time when expected European inflation is, if anything, too low, and what's roiling the markets is fear of more or less immediate financial collapse. And it's more like a religious proclamation than a technocratic assessment.

Just to be clear, this is not an anti-European rant, since we have our own pseudo-technocrats warping the policy debate. In particular, allegedly nonpartisan groups of "experts" -the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the Concord Coalition, and so on -have been all too successful at hijacking the economic policy debate, shifting its focus from jobs to deficits.

Real technocrats would have asked why this makes sense at a time when the unemployment rate is 9 percent and the interest rate on U.S. debt is only 2 percent. But like the E.C.B., our fiscal scolds have their story about what's important, and they're sticking to it no matter what the data say.

So am I against technocrats? Not at all. I like technocrats -technocrats are friends of mine. And we need technical expertise to deal with our economic woes.

But our discourse is being badly distorted by ideologues and wishful thinkers -boring, cruel romantics -pretending to be technocrats. And it's time to puncture their pretensions.
(c) 2011 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"What do we mean by the Revolution? The war? That was no part of the revolution; it was only an effect and consequence of it. The revolution was in the minds of the people, and this was effected ... before a drop of blood was shed."
~~~ John Adams

The People's Surveillance State
By William Rivers Pitt

"All tyrannies rule through fraud and force, but once the fraud is exposed they must rely exclusively on force." ~~~ George Orwell

In the aftermath of September 11, there was a big push to create a national surveillance system in the name of national security. Cameras were installed at traffic lights, ostensibly to catch people running red lights and stop signs, but those cameras came with a nifty side benefit: they recorded everyone within reach of the lens in their comings and goings. Cameras were installed at street corners, ostensibly to provide security against crime, but again, you were recorded wherever you went. Bank machines all come with security cameras, and those added to the ever-broadening web of national surveillance. Finally, almost every cell phone now comes with software that, so long as the thing is turned on, can track your every step by triangulating your position via GPS and the cell towers your phone signal bounces off of.

Those with a fealty to the quaint ideals of American civil liberties had, to no great surprise, a big problem with putting this system in place. Combine the concern over having millions of innocent people on camera with the fact that the Bush administration decided to spy on pretty much everyone by way of the NSA because no one had the guts to stop them, and what you had - and have to this day - is a pretty damned paranoid situation where everyone is being watched by The Man. Today, it is almost impossible to be anywhere in America without something tracking you. After this technology had been in place for a few years, it even became fodder for cop shows; half the episodes of "Law & Order: SVU" after 2008 involve catching criminals using this web of eyes and ears. As you can imagine, the bad guys almost never got away.

The basic idea behind setting up this incredibly invasive system, if you listen to its advocates, is that security is paramount in the aftermath of 9/11. There were plenty of people, after the Towers came down, who were very happy to surrender their liberties in the name of security, despite Benjamin Franklin's warning about deserving neither and losing both. Nowadays, the existence of such a system is established fact, leading to yet another bout of cognitive dissonance: those in favor of such a system a few years ago, because it meant the state was looking out for their safety, are now in all likelihood the same people railing against the state with guns on their hips at Tea Party rallies...but that's a brain cramp to be dealt with another day.

The advent of the Occupy movement, the length of time that movement has been able to hang fire, and the vast number of cities in which it is taking place, has led to an astonishingly violent reaction from the very state we are supposedly trusting to watch over our every move. There have been a dozen incidents of gruesome official violence against peaceful, non-violent protesters, including the near-murder of an Iraq war veteran by police in Oakland...violence the likes of which has not been seen in America since the dogs and firehoses days of Birmingham, Alabama.

Last Friday, students at UC Davis in California were subjected to an attack by police that beggars likeness. Here's the thing, though: this time, it's all on film.

If you haven't seen it yet, what you're looking at is a dozen or so protesters seated with their heads down, arms linked, in peaceful non-violent resistance. An armored UC Davis police officer calmly pulls out a can of pepper spray the size of a fire extinguisher, shakes it up, and hoses these seated students down from one side to the other and then back again. Several of the students subjected to this attack required hospitalization, and there is an unconfirmed report that one of the protesters had a UC Davis cop shove the nozzle of his pepper spray canister into her mouth and then pulled the trigger.

It is all on film.

It is all on film.

It is all on film.

The chancellor of UC Davis is under intense pressure to resign her post. The officers involved in this unprovoked attack have been suspended, and an official investigation is underway.

None of which would be true if the incident was not all on film. The video of the attack on YouTube, at the time of this writing, has almost 1,400,000 views, and similar attacks by police have been captured on film from one side of the country to the other.

Memo to the police and the surveillance state you represent: you are not working in the dark anymore. You may have your own system of surveillance, but We The People are watching you just as closely, and we have our own system of surveillance. It's called exposing your vicious, anti-American and thoroughly unnecessary strong-arm tactics for all to see. It is really very easy, takes no time, and we will make you famous in all the wrong ways before you take your shoes off at bedtime. The name, telephone number and email address of the cop who attacked those UC Davis protesters is now common knowledge on the internet, and while I will not publish it here, that cop should know down to his cowardly little bones that he is right out there under the bright lights, thanks to the People's Surveillance State.

You may be watching us, but by God and sonny Jesus, we are watching you.
(c) 2011 William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: "War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know" and "The Greatest Sedition Is Silence." His newest book, "House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation," is available from PoliPointPress.


Occupy Revolution
By Joel S. Hirschhorn

History tells us that it is nearly impossible to know in real time whether some kind of national, grassroots public protest ends up being the beginning of a true revolution against a ruling government system. This is true for the earliest beginnings of the revolt against the British that produced the successful American Revolution and the creation of the US. The British at the time surely thought that they could retain power and control. More recently, the revolts in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya certainly could not be accurately perceived in their earliest stages as likely to topple well established dictatorships wielding incredible and cruel power. Even now, the rebellious actions in Syria are not widely seen as surely resulting in successful revolution.

My central point is that the Occupy movement in the US offers the possibility of being seen, eventually, as the seed of a successful Second American Revolution, which I and many others believe is desperately needed to fix our corrupt, dysfunctional and unfair government, political and economic system.

What are the main similarities among successful revolutions?

At the beginning of ultimately successful revolutions the focus is almost entirely on what the rebels oppose and only in the most general terms what they want instead. What rebels are always against is some form of tyranny that takes the form of repressed freedoms and economic pain for most ordinary people. In other words, it is clear at the beginning what causes citizen anger and passion; what is intolerable and far less on the exact changes in the nation's political and government system most desired. Mostly what is being fought for is either a true democracy or a better one, a system where elections are open and free and really matter, where status quo powers can be replaced. The more you think about it, the more sense it makes for nascent rebels taking great risks to have a single minded focus on what is wrong, unjust, corrupt or just plain evil in order to build wide public support for fighting a powerful, oppressive government.

Second, despite various forms of peaceful protests at the beginning, history tells us that violence usually becomes crucial for successful overthrow of a hated political system. More pointedly, violence is usually precipitated by violent actions of the existing regime against early peaceful protestors which then causes rebels to also become increasingly violent, even though they may have few weapons to match what the reigning government has. Relying on civil disobedience alone has rarely been sufficient, with a few notable exceptions. But even though India and South Africa may come to mind it is easy to forget that violence was practiced by the then reigning governments against protestors and their leaders, especially imprisonment. That the protestors seeking fundamental reforms do not become citizen armies but nevertheless ultimately become successful in overthrowing oppressive regimes should be seen more as the exception than the rule. In other words, violence is sometimes one-sided, but still is an essential part of the revolution process, in large part because it motivates not only more widespread public support, but often international support, including economic sanctions, for achieving the central goal of the rebellious protest movement.

Third, what follows successful revolution is usually messy, chaotic and painful, in great measure because entirely new, effective democratic systems must be created to replace what previously was used to implement political and economic injustice. Even in the case of the American Revolution, it took quite some time to actually create a new government system (including an early constitution that was ultimately deemed a failure and replaced). Presently, the renewed violence in Egypt by both the military controlled government and the same rebels that overthrew the Mubarak dictatorship testifies to the considerable difficulty in establishing a true functioning and stable democracy. Ditto for what we see in Libya. And many would say that Russia has not achieved a first class democracy despite the downfall of the Soviet Union. The point is that it is best to think of two-stage revolutions, beginning with attacking the status quo, oppressive government and second creating a better system to replace it. Nevertheless, we can conclude at some point that a revolution has been successful, merely on the basis of a successful first stage, letting time tell whether it becomes fully successful.

Apply this thinking to the current Occupy movement in the US. What can we assess? First, the Occupy movement has been focused on what is wrong with the US, principally economic injustice, and unfair wealth of the top one percent to the detriment of the 99 percent. The focus on the terrible actions of the Wall Street, banking and whole financial sector that has wrecked the economy and the failure of government to punish the guilty and truly fix the economic system makes perfect sense. Economic inequality is the target. The Occupy movement clearly is against the status quo establishment, political parties that are both controlled by financial interests that manipulate the government and economy to benefit the few. The Occupy protestors want to replace what they see as a system that no longer serves the overwhelming majority of Americans.

Second, it has become increasingly clear that mostly one-sided violence has emerged, with local police forces using violence and even anti-constitutional means in attempts to kill the Occupy movement. Civil disobedience has been attacked with violence; free speech has been attacked; media access has often been prevented. What is most interesting is that, unlike other revolutions around the world, it is not the national government using violence against this protest movement, but rather local police such as that widely seen in New York City. Mayors seem to have taken the lead in protecting the status quo against the public distrust, dissatisfaction and disgust with the prevailing political and economic system. Occupy means disrupting, and local governments are fighting back.

Third, even though it certainly is unclear whether the Occupy movement will turn out to be the beginning of a successful two-stage revolution, we cannot rule it out. It is important to understand that about one-third of the US population has been experiencing great personal pain produced by many failures of the system, including those losing their homes and jobs, those experiencing hunger and poor health care, and those unable to find any financial security despite hard work or incurring debt for college educations. However, the top 20 percent of Americans, not merely the top one percent, or some 60 million Americans are not suffering; they benefit from the corrupt, unfair system. What is uncertain is whether the Occupy movement can expand its public participation and support to reach a large majority of Americans.

Here is some basis for optimism about the ultimate success of the Occupy movement.

A new report by the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project asked Americans if they agreed with the statement "our people are not perfect but our culture is superior to others." Only 49 percent agreed, compared to 60 percent in 2002, the first time that Pew asked the question. That shows the malarkey about American exceptionalism, especially from conservatives, is being recognized. Notably, among young people (those ages 18 to 29), the percentage who believed that their culture was superior was lower than young citizens of Germany, Spain and Britain.

Besides all the findings that Congress only has 9 percent public support, it is even more important to recognize that Americans do not feel very positive about their country. A Time Magazine/Abt SRBI poll conducted last month found that 71 percent of Americans believed that our position in the world has declined in the past few years.

Add to this that an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey conducted earlier this month found that beyond current hardships most Americans see their nation at "the start of a longer-term decline where the U.S. is no longer the leading country in the world." There is no rational basis for being optimistic about what the president or Congress will accomplish.

There is, in fact, enormous public support for addressing both political dysfunction of the two-party plutocracy, economic inequality, money in politics and a host of other public grievances.

James B. Stewart wrote a timely article "An Uprising With Plenty of Potential" that offers an optimistic view of the Occupy movement. And David Carr has also offered an xcellent analysis of the future of the movement. Two leaders of the Occupy movement have also presented an important analysis worth your time, including this view "Occupy was born because we the people feel that our country and our economy are moving precipitously in the wrong direction; that America has evolved into a kind of corporate oligarchic state, a 'corporatocracy'; and yes, that what is needed is a regime change." For a great history of the Occupy movement read this. The role of the media in the Occupy movement has also been assessed and because I spent time at the Occupy Wall Street activity I know how inaccurate many media reports have been. The mighty effort at is worth supporting as well as numerous efforts to get the first Article V convention.

Every American should use critical thinking to not only follow the Occupy movement but explicitly decide whether it is the seed capable of producing a Second American Revolution that truly reforms what is now a delusional democracy with delusional prosperity. For sure, voting for or against Democrats or Republicans will not suffice.
(c) 2011 Joel S. Hirschhorn observed our corrupt federal government firsthand as a senior official with the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association and is the author of Delusional Democracy - Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. To discuss issues write the author. The author has a Ph.D. in Materials Engineering and was formerly a full professor of metallurgical engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The Dead Letter Office...

Judge Wingate in happier days

Heil Obama,

Dear der Volksgerichtshof Richter Wingate,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your ruling putting a woman in federal prison for trying to feed her hungry children, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Federal 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 Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 12-31-2011. We salute you Herr Wingate, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

40,000 Rally, More Than 100,000 Sign Petitions, To Say 'Recall Walker'
By John Nichols

As tens of thousands of Wisconsinites rallied in Madison for a mass signing of petitions to recall anti-labor Governor Scott Walker Saturday, it was announced that the drive had collected 105,000 signatures in its first four days.

By the end of the weekend, that number will go substantially higher, say organizers of Saturday's rally, which marshalls estimated drew 40,000. (Early in the day, as the crowd was building, Capitol Police confirmed that roughly 30,000 were present and the numbers grew as units of firefighters, teachers and state, county and municipal employees poured into the Capitol Square from the edges of Madison's downtown.)

When the rally was done, activists with United Wisconsin, the group that is coordinating the recall drive, displayed tall piles of newly signed petitions. "After they've counted all the new petitions that have been gathered in Madison and across the state," said former Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, "they'll be well on their way to 200,000."

The labor, farm and community activists who organized the effort have sixty days to collect 540,000 signatures-25 percent of the electorate in the last gubernatorial election-to force the governor and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch to face the voters in a recall election. Organizers hope to turn in more than 700,000 signatures, in order to thwart challenges that will be posed by a multimillion-dollar effort paid for by the billionaire Koch brothers and other anti-labor zealots from across the country who have financed Walker's campaigns.

The governor and his allies have not missed any openings to try to block the recall. The Koch brothers are already paying for pro-Walker television ads put together by their Americans for Prosperity group, and the governor's campaign is spending heavily on its own ads-$300,000 since last Monday. (There are estimates that spending on Walker's behalf will exceed $50 million.) Republican legislators have moved to give the governor veto power over election rules. And the Republican Party of Wisconsin has organized a campaign to intimidate recall petitioners with a website that urges party minions to "monitor" and challenge nurses, teachers and small-business owners who seek signatures. In some cases, Walker backers have grabbed petitions and ripped them up.

But there was no evidence Saturday or Sunday that any of the governor's attempt's to protect his political career were working.

It was not just that thousands were signing recall petitions on the Capitol Square in Madison.

They were doing it in all seventy-two Wisconsin counties.

The movement to recall Governor Scott Walker and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch is just that: a movement. It extends across the state, to every county, to every city, village and town.

As the November 15 starting date when the movement would begin gathering petitions to recall Walker and Kleefisch approached, training sessions for petition circulators were being held in the most Republican counties of the state. More than thirty offices opened and were staffed by volunteers in communities such as Elkhorn in traditionally conservative Walworth County, where a "midnight madness" party was held last Tuesday so that petitions could be signed the minute it was possible to do so.

In the rural Lafayette County community of Darlington, local recall coordinator Kate Bausch said folks had been gearing up to recall Walker since last February, when Walker proposed to strip state, county and municipal employees and teachers of their collective bargaining rights.

The political process is sick with spin and deception. But the biggest lie of the past year has been the suggestion, peddled primarily by Walker but also by the most disingenuous of his supporters, that anger with the governor has been confined to the liberal precincts of Madison or the Democratic neighborhoods of Milwaukee.

The truth is that with his assault on collective bargaining rights, the civil service system, local democracy, school funding and public services, Walker battered every town, village, city and county in Wisconsin. And with ethical scandals that are now swirling around him-following the September FBI raid on the home of his top political appointee and the revelation that his press secretary and one of his top fund raisers had requested immunity in a "John Doe" probe of political corruption-Walker has earned the scorn even of those Wisconsinites who will never think of themselves as liberals or Democrats.

The movement to displace Walker and Kleefisch, who had served as a willing rubber-stamp for the governor, is big. The grassroots energy across the state, the size of the crowd at Saturday's rally, the number of signatures already collected: all of these confirm the historic scope and reach of the recall drive.

The movement to displace Walker and Kleefisch is broad-based. Trainings have taken place in every corner of the state. There are local committees, groups and activist circles in all of Wisconsin's seventy-two counties. The recall movement takes in Democrats, Greens, Libertarians, independents and, yes, Republicans. That's because Wisconsin's instinct for fairness is stronger than the penchant for partisanship, as state Senator Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, confirmed when he refused to go along with efforts by Walker's legislative stooges to rig the recall process.

The response of Walker and Kleefisch partisans to Schultz's show of independence was bitter and destructive. Schultz's office in the Capitol was egged in an act of vandalism that-had it been directed at a Walker ally-would have brought cries of complaint from conservative talk-radio hosts and the Koch brothers–funded Tea Party project. But the recall movement in not prone toward that sort of whining.

Rooted as it is in the values and ideals of Wisconsin, the recall movement is genuine and determined. It has put pettiness aside and focused on the work at hand: removing a governor who has harmed the state economically, ethically and morally-and a lieutenant governor who has rejected her oath to defend the constitution and the best interests of Wisconsin.

From Kenosha in the southeast to Superior in the northwest, from the inner-city wards of Milwaukee to the crossroads towns of Marathon County, Wisconsinites are rising to the call of democracy and honest governance. They are signing petitions, circulating petitions, filing petitions and defending petitions against bogus challenges from lawyers who are paid for by the out-of-state billionaires who are funding the Walker-Kleefisch campaign. And when the petitioning is done, when the recall election is scheduled, they will mount the greatest grassroots campaign Wisconsin has seen in a century-not just to remove Walker and Kleefisch but to renew the democratic ideals of a great state that has been temporarily misled.
(c) 2011 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. He is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers.

Occupy The Hamptons Update
By Ted Rall

When I was at Stop the Machine/Occupy DC in October, I began asking myself: what am I doing here? (Call it my Admiral Stockdale moment.) The Occupy movement is local. I rushed back to New York to start something closer to home.

Turns out others had already had the same idea. Occupy the Hamptons began the week I got back. It has a nascent website (though it does not yet officially speak for the movement since it is not consensus based). It has a regular meeting: Sundays at 3 by the windmill in Sag Harbor. Indoor space is in the works so we can transition out of the wind, rain (and soon snow).

The last few weeks have been productive. Working groups have been tasked with coming up with Direct Actions in the Hamptons—a resort area that, despite its reputation as a playground for the 1%, has one of the highest poverty rates in the country.

I'm on the Working Group tasked with developing a draft proposal for a Declaration of the Occupation of the Hamptons. It was a process but we're ready to present it to the General Assembly this Sunday.

The discussion over the Declaration brought out some divisions about tactics and ideology among Occupiers that the movement as a whole is going to need to address in the coming weeks and months before 2012.

2012 will likely be the Year of Revolution.

Or, as my friend Cole Smithey likes to say, it'll be on like donkey-kong.

It's 1968 all over again. Now, as then, the absurdity and uselessness of the electoral system will be in sharp relief as the Democrats and Republicans debate every issue except those that matter.

Divisions in the movement reflect those in society:

Between reformists and revolutionaries
Between nationalists and revolutionaries
Between those who worry about alienating the right and liberals, vs. revolutionaries
Between those drawn to the national struggle and those who understand that this time, the revolution has been radically localized

It's going to be a bumpy ride.

This will be the most important year of your life. Make the most of it.

Clear your schedule.

Learn how to escape a tear gas attack.

It's on.
(c) 2011 Ted Rall is the author of the new books "Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?" and "The Anti-American Manifesto."

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ John Deering ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Grope And Change
By Will Durst

And now, another installment in the continuing saga that is The Herman Cain Sexual Harassment Soap Opera. When last we left him, the candidate was praising his main backers: "The Koch Brothers are my brothers from another mother." Guess we should be grateful he hasn't dismissed his accusers with an offhand: "Bros before hoes."

You could say the situation is fluid, or more precisely glutinous. It's hard to tell who or what to believe. Conservative talk shows pound home the theory this is all a put-up job while the liberal media remains incredulous the Cain Train hasn't derailed into a fiery pileup. Right now it all boils down to a classic case of He Said. She Said. She Said. She Said. She Said. She Said. She Said.

The good news for the first-ever, serious black Republican Presidential candidate is a new CBS poll reveals 61% of potential GOP primary participants don't consider the charges serious. Apparently there's a large contingent of voters who either believe girls lie or boys will be boys. In three short years this country has gone from Hope and Change to Grope and Change. Ain't life odd?

In his defense, Cain maintains he's never engaged in any inappropriate behavior. Ever. Really? Ever? Hell, if this Presidency thing doesn't work out, the guy should run for Pope. Or maybe he's better equipped to replace Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Of course, the term "inappropriate" is subjective. Fashionistas might call his cowboy hat highly inappropriate.

Cain's staff went so far as to say the sexual harassment allegations have actually helped the campaign. Helped! Wow. All he needs is a false imprisonment charge, he could sew this thing right up.

Cain has changed his story almost as often as Mitt Romney changes positions. And his memory problems draw right up to Rick Perry's Energy Department. Again, almost. First he couldn't remember anything, then admitted a charge may have been investigated, but there was no settlement, then maybe there was An Agreement, but now he refuses to comment on any of the cases, relentlessly retreating to his stuttering German "nein, nein, nein."

The oddly self- proclaimed anti- Washington corporate lobbyist declines any responsibility for keeping this narrative alive, first blaming the Perry campaign, then the Democratic Machine (?); and that old standby, the media, not yet getting around to the evil dominion that is Pizza Hut, but soon. Makes you wonder who's in charge of his damage control team? Lindsay Lohan? Anthony Weiner? Charley Sheen? Erica Kane?

He might be better off remembering the very advice he gave the Occupy Movement, "don't blame Wall Street, blame yourself." Yourself, Herman. Yourself. Besides, in most Democratic quarters, the prospect of a Barack Obama/ Herman Cain matchup in the general election has elicited so much salivation, drool bibs and phlegm gutters are standard issue.

Another problem is the former CEO of Godfather's Pizza has demonstrated the sensitivity of a drunken bear. In a recent Detroit debate, he called House Minority Leader Pelosi, "Princess Nancy," which for a guy ensnared in sexual harassment assertions is like trying to light a cigar by sticking your face in a Tiki torch on a windy beach.

We're entering Daytime Emmy Award territory here, featuring a plot with more twists than a 300 foot telephone cord stuffed into a cardboard box and a cast of characters changing faster than a chameleon on a plaid tablecloth. Surprised neither Procter & Gamble or the makers of Slinky have jumped on the bandwagon offering to sponsor this candidacy, but stay tuned.
(c) 2011 Will Durst, is a San Francisco based political comedian, Will Durst, often writes: this is an example. Don't forget his new CD, "Raging Moderate" from Stand-Up Records now available on both iTunes and Amazon. The New York Times says Emmy-nominated comedian and writer Will Durst "is quite possibly the best political satirist working in the country today." Check out his website: to find out about upcoming stand-up performances or to buy his book, "The All-American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing."

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Issues & Alibis Vol 11 # 46 (c) 11/25/2011

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