Issues & Alibis

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In This Edition

Jeff Cohen warns, "Prepare For The Obama-GOP Alliance."

Uri Avnery says, "...And A Little Child Shall Lead Them."

Victoria Stewart wonders about, "The Call I Didn't Make."

Sam Fulwood asks, "Why Are Some Black Folks So Upset Over Gays Getting Married?"

Jim Hightower watches, "Weed Wars."

Dennis Kucinich is interviewed by Amy Goodman, "We're Acting Like a Latter Day Version of the Roman Empire."

Greg Palast considers, "WTO Still Parties Like It's 1999."

Paul Krugman examines, "The Jobs Imperative."

Chris Floyd finds, "Tomorrow Never Knows -- But We Do."

Case Wagenvoord investigates, "Perception Management."

Mike Folkerth wants to know, "Does High Pay Equal Genius?"

Chris Hedges concludes we're, "Addicted To Nonsense."

David Michael Green explains, "How Dare You Clean Up Our Mess."

Con-gresswoman Virginia Foxx (F/NC) wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Glenn Greenwald studies, "The Crazy, Irrational Beliefs Of Muslims."

Dave Lindorff with a must read, "Barack Obama: Manchurian Candidate Version 2.0."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department 'The Onion' reports "Obama Tells Nation He's Going Out For Cigarettes" but first "Uncle Ernie sez, The War Is Here To Stay."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Dave Granlund, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Derf City, Mr. Fish, Internet Weekly.Org, Tom Tomorrow, Dave Horsey, Mike Thompson, Harpo Inc., Vouge, BBC 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."

The War Is Here To Stay
By Ernest Stewart

Hurray I awake from yesterday
Alive but the war is here to stay
1983 ~~~ Jimi Hendrix

"Again...just again, an example of the eloquence of Senator Obama, health (indicates air quotes) of the mother. You know that's been stretched by the pro-abortion movement to mean almost anything." ~~~ Sinator John McCain

"If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament." ~~~ Florynce Kennedy

One thing that George W. Bush taught me stood me in good stead Tuesday night. Never watch a presidential speech on tv as I cannot afford to throw a brick through our tv's screen when some war criminal drives me over the edge with outrageous lies. Fortunately for the family, I read the speech online which somehow deadens the pain. I've never tried to destroy the computer afterwards, anyway. Don't get me wrong, I'm still incensed and madder than hell. Just not as mad as I would have been had I seen his straight faced lies! If there is an afterlife George Orwell must have been shaking his head in disbelief as Obama assured us that War is Peace and that Slavery is Freedom!

I, of course, dashed off a letter to der fuhrer bunker in under 2500 spaces, i.e.:

I don't know where to begin? It's not like I didn't know what you would say. I did. I'm just surprised to hear you tell all those lies in order to continue your imperial march for world domination. So another 30,000 of our kids are off to murder the Afghanis. To be blown to tiny bits so your corpo-rat masters can steal the rest, the few pence, still in the treasury. This will be spent to bring on a depression that will make the 30's seem like a picnic by comparison. So you've adopted all of Smirky's acts of treason and made them your own. Yippee!

I guess you forgot why you got this chance? Remember we elected you to end the wars and bring the kids home and to round up the Crime Family Bush and bring them and their corpo-rat pals to justice. You did neither and now we're off to conquer the world. Pity you studied law and not history. There is a good reason they call Afghanistan the graveyard of empires. Ask the British and the Russians how this works. You're a war criminal just like the rest! So much for change we can believe in! You could have been our best president ever; you could have been a hero but all you are is Bush junior. How very sad for you and for America!

You'll note that I tempered somewhat my anger, not wishing to visit a series of C.I.A. black site prisons but I think you'll agree he'll get the message that I'm not either impressed or jumping on his W.W. III bandwagon! I also checked the "Contact Me. A response is requested." box so I can hardly wait for his response and the song and dance it will no doubt contain.

So far they haven't put up the text of the speech at the White House.Org so here it is from The Huffington Post.

I was going to quote all the various and sundry lies from it but life is short and today (December 2nd) is my birthday and many others undoubtedly will quote them all, so I won't!

In Other News

I see that there has been an attempt to plug up the gaping hole in women's health insurance in the current health care bill. While men can get Viagra under the bill women can't get pelvic examinations amongst other necessary things. Even those who currently have insurance for those exams would lose it under the current bill! Granted, like the glass ceiling and other ways that Congress legislates against women, this bill is no different except now there maybe some light at the end of the tunnel, or not?

Not only is Con-gress selling us all down the line to the insurance goons but, as usual, women get doubly sold! The amendment by Rep. Bart Stupid, er, Stupak no I think it's Stupid (D-Mich.), adopted before House passage on Nov. 21, would prohibit women who receive government subsidies for healthcare from purchasing insurance that covers abortions, and it would prohibit coverage of the procedure in government-run health plans. So the ladies are forced to buy this crap but buy not what they want but what some fascist male politician says is right for them!

Look out. Here comes a bipartisan amendment to increase insurance benefits for women through yearly screenings and it got the first Senate vote on Tuesday in health care overhaul legislation.

The amendment, which has co-sponsored by Senators Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, would require policies to include a variety of yearly screenings and was inspired in part by controversial recommendations last month that women undergo fewer mammograms and Pap smears to test for cancer. Senator Mikulski said:

"My amendment guarantees screening for breast cancer, yes, mammograms...We don't mandate that you have a mammogram at age 40. What we say is discuss this with your doctor, but if your doctor says you need one, my amendment says you are going to get one!"

It may indeed be added as Barry really needs Snowe's vote to pass this turkey! We'll see how the vote turns out... As it turns out it passed with 61 votes!

And Finally

And finally I wrote Bob Etheridge, the so-called liberal con-gressman from North Carolina's second district, a letter. Although he's not my Con-gressman, as Billy Jack once said, "Some people just piss me off" so I Google mapped an address in his district and sent Bob the following...

Hey Bob,

I see that you joined the dark side and supported Bart Stupid's bright idea of making poor women use coat hangers. Not only will women be forced to buy the insurance from some corpo-rat goon but they can't even buy what they need because some ignorant, fascist male will decide what's best for her. Funny how it funds Viagra for men but not abortions, even in cases of rape, incest and/or death for the mother! Funny, huh?

I'm guessing you voted for this act of terror because your god or devil told you to? Or perhaps your corpo-rat puppet masters at Blue Cross/Blue Shield jerked your strings? Or maybe you went just a little power mad? I'm sure it's one of three. All my readers would really like to know, Bob! Which one is it?

My question is, where should we deliver the 5,000 coat hangers that we're sending in to give the ladies an alternative to Stupid's bill? Your house or your con-gressional office? Whichever one would cause more media coverage.

Oh, and thanks for helping to pass the "Health Insurance Company Protection Act of 2009" draining what few pence is left in the treasury and harkening a depression that will make the 1930's one seem like a Swiss picnic by comparison-unless our wars do it first.

Your radical pal,
Ernest Stewart

Yes, I know, that was a bit redundant but c'est la guerre! As always I let you know if I get a reply!

Oh And One More Thing

Have you people in you life who inspire extreme emotion? You know, the ones you love to hate or hate to love? Give them the perfect gift this holiday season. "W The Movie" is now available for discerning and disconcerting minds. If you couldn't get to it's very limited run in the theatres or film festivals, here's your chance. "W The Movie" is now available on DVD through If you are so inclined, please use the link/portal for the film, which maybe found towards the bottom of this page. That way Amazon will send me a few pennies for each purchase and brighten my holidays a bit, too.


And if you don't want the movie (it's not for everyone), remember us in your holiday giving. It's been a hard year for leftist publications, just as it has been difficult for charities, poor people, and champions of truth and justice. And we understand how tight money is. As my great-grandfather-in-law said, "If steamboats were a nickel, I couldn't buy the echo of a whistle." But we keep on. We don't advocate consumerism nor do we offer facile solutions to serious problems. We do, however, bring together every week writers and activists who are not afraid to speak the truth about our country and our world. The articles we print are not for the faint of heart.

As access to accurate information becomes more difficult and free speech and the exchange of ideas becomes more restricted and controlled, small publications and alternative presses disappear. We don't want Issues and Alibis join that list.

Everyone seems to be on the "Give $5.00" bandwagon. We know $5.00 can be a lot. So we're asking for pennies, a dollar, coupons, stamps. We're trying to hang on and we know you are, too. Whatever you can spare will be greatly appreciated by us. Every penny makes a difference.

Ernest & Victoria Stewart


03-18-1945 ~ 12-02-2009
Thanx for the jams Bro!


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


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


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

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

Prepare For The Obama-GOP Alliance
By Jeff Cohen

There's another frightening parallel: Obama seems to be following in the footsteps of Bill Clinton, who accomplished perhaps his single biggest legislative "triumph" - NAFTA - thanks to an alliance with Republicans that overcame strong Democratic and grassroots opposition.

It was 16 years ago this month when Clinton assembled his coalition with the GOP to bulldoze public skepticism about the trade treaty and overpower a stop-NAFTA movement led by unions, environmentalists and consumer rights groups.

How did Clinton win his majority in Congress for NAFTA? With the votes of almost 80 percent of GOP senators and nearly 70 percent of House Republicans. Democrats in the House voted against NAFTA by more than 3 to 2, with fierce opponents including the Democratic majority leader and majority whip.

To get a majority today in Congress on Afghanistan, the Obama White House is apparently bent on a strategy replicating the tragic farce that Clinton pulled off: Ignore the informed doubts of your own party while making common cause with extremist Republicans who never accepted your presidency in the first place.

"Birther" and "Deather" conspiracists are not new to the Grand Old Party. Clinton engendered a similar loathing on the Right despite his centrist, corporate-friendly policies - and pushing through NAFTA didn't help the Democratic President.

Though conservative Republican leaders like Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey delivered to Clinton (and corporate elites) the NAFTA victory, it didn't slow down rightwing operatives who circulated wacky videos and wrote nutty magazine articles accusing Clinton-run death squads of murdering political enemies and waylaying a reporter in a Little Rock hotel.

For those who elected Obama, it's important to remember the downward spiral that was accelerated by Clinton's GOP alliance to pass NAFTA. It should set off alarm bells for his supporters today on Afghanistan.

NAFTA was quickly followed by the debacle of Clinton healthcare "reform" largely drafted by giant insurance companies, which was followed by a stunning election defeat for congressional Democrats in November 1994, as progressive and labor activists were lethargic while rightwing activists in overdrive put Gingrich into the Speaker's chair.

A year later, advised by his chief political strategist Dick Morris (yes, the Obama-basher now at Fox), Clinton declared: "The era of big government is over."

In the coming years, however, Clinton proved that the era of big business was far from over - working with Republican leaders to grant corporate welfare to media conglomerates (1996 Telecom Act) and investment banks (1999 abolition of the Glass-Steagall Act).

Today, it's crucial to ask where Obama is heading. From the stimulus to healthcare, he's shown a Clinton-like willingness to roll over progressives in Congress on his way to corrupt legislation and frantic efforts to compromise for the votes of corporate Democrats or "moderate" Republicans. Meanwhile, the incredible shrinking "public option" has become a sick joke.

As he glides from retreats on civil liberties to health reform that appeases corporate interests to his Bush-like pledge this week to "finish the job" in Afghanistan, an Obama reliance on congressional Republicans to fund his troop escalation could be the final straw in disorienting and demobilizing the progressive activists who elected him a year ago.

Throughout the centuries, no foreign power has been able to "finish the job" in Afghanistan, but President Obama thinks he's a tough enough Commander-in-Chief to do it.

Too bad he hasn't demonstrated such toughness in the face of obstructionist Republicans and corporate lobbyists. For them, it's been more like "compromiser-in-chief."

When you start in the center (on, say, healthcare or Afghanistan) and readily move rightward several steps to appease rightwing politicians or lobbyists or generals, by definition you are governing as a conservative.

It's been a gradual descent from the elation and hope for real change many Americans felt on Election Night, November 2008.

For some of us who'd scrutinized the Clinton White House in the early 1990s, the buzz was killed days after Obama's election when he chose his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, a top Clinton strategist and architect of the alliance that pushed NAFTA through Congress.

If Obama stands tough on more troops to Afghanistan (as Clinton fought ferociously for NAFTA), only an unprecedented mobilization of progressives - including many who worked tirelessly to elect Obama - will be able to stop him.

Trust me: The Republicans who yell and scream about Obama budget deficits when they're obstructing public healthcare will become deficit doves in spending the estimated $1 million per year per new soldier (not to mention private contractors) headed off to Asia.

The only good news I can see: Maybe it will take a White House/GOP alliance over Afghanistan to wake up the base of liberal groups (like MoveOn) to take a closer and more critical look at President Obama's policies.
(c) 2009 Jeff Cohen is author of "Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media" and the founder of the media watch group FAIR, .

"...And A Little Child Shall Lead Them
By Uri Avnery

THOMAS FRIEDMAN, the New York Times columnist, has an idea. That happens to him quite often. One might almost say - too often.

It goes like this: The US will turn its back on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The entire world will follow. Everybody is fed up with this conflict. Let the Israelis and the Palestinians sort out their problems by themselves.

Sounds sensible. Why must the world be bothered with these two unruly children? Let them kick each other as much as they like. The adults should not interfere.

But in reality this is an outrageous suggestion. Because these two children are not of equal strength. When an adult sees a 14-year old mercilessly mistreating a 6-year old, can he just look on?

Israel is materially a hundredfold, indeed a thousandfold, stronger than the Palestinians. The fourth strongest army in the world (by its own estimate) dominates the life of a helpless people. The Israeli economy, with some of the most advanced technologies in the world, dominates a people whose resources are next to nil. A 42-year old occupation dominates every single corner of occupied Palestine.

This did not come about by a miracle. The huge gap between the strength of the two peoples has also been created by the support of the US for Israel. Israel would not be where it is today without this political, economic and military underpinning. Billions of dollars in annual aid, access to the most advanced weaponry in the world, the political immunity assured by the US veto in the Security Council and all the other forms of assistance have helped successive Israeli governments to maintain and intensify the occupation.

Friedman does not propose ending this support, which itself is a massive intervention in this conflict, and is given to the stronger side. When he suggests that the US withdraw from the conflict, he is actually saying: let the Israeli government do what it is doing - continue the occupation, set up new settlements, withdraw the land from under the feet of the Palestinian people, go on with the murderous blockade that denies the 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip - men, women and children -almost all the necessities of life.

This is a monstrous suggestion.

True, the prophet Isaiah (11:6) describes a situation where the wolf shall dwell with the lamb. (Israeli humor comments: No problem, provided a new lamb is brought in every day.) Now the prophet Thomas proposes to let the wolf and the lamb sort out their relationship between themselves.

BINYAMIN NETANYAHU could not wish for more in his wildest dreams. In the meantime he is satisfied with something less: President Obama's acceptance of his latest trick.

And thus Netanyahu confronted the nation with a tortured face and told us about his inhumanly difficult decision: to suspend the building activities in the settlements.

The entire world applauded. How wonderful of Netanyahu to sacrifice his most sacred principles on the altar of peace. He has taken a stupendous step. Now it's up to the Palestinians in their turn to respond with a grand gesture.

But something is wrong in this picture and needs explaining.

To return to the great Sherlock Holmes, who spoke about the curious incident of the dog in the night-time: "But the dog did nothing in the night-time!" he was told. "That was the curious incident," the detective answered.

It could have been assumed that after such a dramatic announcement by the Likud leader, the settlers would let out a deafening roar. Riots in the streets of all the towns. Blocking of all roads in the occupied territories. A rebellion of the settlers in the cabinet and the Knesset.

But the dog did not bark. Not even a growl, just a token yelp. Culture Minister Limor Livnat opened her big mouth and declared that the Obama administration was "terrible". That's more or less all. The settler-minister Avigdor Lieberman even voted for the decision in the cabinet, and so did the ultra-extreme Likud minister Benny Begin, son of the late Prime Minister.

Begin even explained his curious behavior on TV: he had no reason to vote against. After all, it was only a gesture to appease Obama. It has no real content. Building "public structures" will go on (about 300 new ones were approved just this week). Building will be continued in housing projects whose foundations have already been laid (at least 3000 apartments in the West Bank). And, most importantly: there will be absolutely no limitation to Jewish building activity in East Jerusalem, where building continues frantically in half a dozen locations in the heart of the Arab part of the city. And, besides, the suspension will last only for 10 months. Then, Begin promised, construction will be resumed in full swing.

That would not have appeased the settlers, if they did not know what every Israeli knows: that it is all phony. Building will continue everywhere, with the officials cooperating on the quiet and the army closing its eyes. It will be claimed that building permits had already been issued, that the foundations had already been laid. (In many places extra foundations have indeed been laid, just in case.) That's the way it was in the past, under the governments of Labor and Kadima, and that's the way it will continue now. This week it became known that in the whole of the West Bank, just 14 (fourteen!) government inspectors are supervising all building activity.

In the same TV program, Yossi Beilin was sitting next to Begin. It might have been expected that he at least would expose the fraud, but no. Beilin lauded Netanyahu for his brave act and saw in it a promising new beginning. This way he rendered important assistance in winning over world public opinion and setting the mind of Israeli innocents at rest. It would be difficult to imagine a sadder example of the collapse of the "Zionist Left". The Geneva Initiative has turned into the Jerusalem Deception.

The largest opposition party, too, joined the chorus. Tzipi Livni, who bears the impressive official title of "Leader of the Opposition", mumbled something unintelligible and went back to sleep.

AND OBAMA? He capitulated again. After giving up his original demand for a total freeze of building in the settlements, he had no choice but to give in again. He reacted to Netanyahu's shabby performance as if it were high drama.

Obama is in need of an achievement. It is being said that he has not achieved a single objective in the international arena. So here is an achievement. Netanyahu is freezing - sorry, restraining - sorry, suspending - settlement activity.

My father taught me in my youth that one must never give in to a blackmailer. After giving in once, one is condemned to giving in again and again, while the demands of the blackmailer grow and grow. After giving in to the pro-Israel lobby once, Obama will have to give in again and again.

One could almost pity him and his assistants. Such an impressive, such a tough, such an experienced group - and they are returning from Jerusalem like Napoleon's army from Moscow.

We saw poor George Mitchell. The man who brokered peace between the murderous factions in Ireland came to Jerusalem. Came again and again and again. Came as the representative of the world's one remaining superpower to tell Israelis and Palestinians what they have to do. He was tough. He dictated terms.

Israeli officials laughed at him behind his back. They are used to the likes of him. They have eaten them for breakfast. Remember William Rogers, Nixon's Secretary of State and his peace plan? And the great Henry Kissinger? And even James Baker, who tried to impose economic sanctions on us? And Bill Clinton's "Guidelines"? And the "vision" of George Bush? The political graveyard is full of American politicians who tried to impose limits on Israel, without being able or willing to use the necessary force. Welcome, George. Nice to see you, Hillary.

What is so pathetic is that Netanyahu is not even deceiving Obama. The American president knows full well that this is all play acting. He is very intelligent. He is not very courageous. For the mess of pottage of a pretended achievement he has sold his political birthright. Even George Bush managed to extract from Ariel Sharon an undertaking to dismantle all settlements set up after March 2001 (needless to say, not a single one was dismantled).

This is a great victory for Netanyahu, his second over Obama. Not yet the decisive victory, but a victory that bodes ill for the chances of peace in the near future.

NETANYAHU DID NOT even try to deceive the Palestinians either. He knew that this is impossible.

Every Palestinian understands Netanyahu's announcement only too well. He has only to look out of his window to see what is happening. After all, Israel would not invest billions in new building if it had any intention of dismantling the settlements for peace within a year or two.

There is hardly a place in the West Bank where one cannot see a settlement on a hilltop, near or far. In some places, one can see two or three. If one approaches closer, one can see the building activity in full swing, the overt and the covert, the "legal" and the "illegal".

And, most importantly: there is no Palestinian leader who could possibly agree to the continued building in East Jerusalem. The construction of Jewish housing projects goes on while Palestinian homes are being destroyed, "archeological" digs continue as well as all the other activities designed to "judaize" Jerusalem. To put it more bluntly: making Jerusalem "Arab-free".

When Obama capitulates to Netanyahu, there is nothing Mahmoud Abbas can do. When the Americans demand that the Palestinians answer Netanyahu's "important" step with an important step of their own, it is nothing but a sad joke. The Americans help Netanyahu to put the ball into the Palestinian court, and with a pious rolling of their eyes ask why, after such a momentous Israeli gesture, the Palestinian do not agree to resuming the "peace process".

But Abbas cannot start negotiations without a total freeze of the settlements, especially in Jerusalem. The only dialog between Israelis and Palestinians that is taking place now is with Hamas. The prisoner exchange deal is nearing the point of decision. The main remaining bone of contention is the freeing of the Fatah leader, Marwan Barghouti, who was sentenced to five life terms.

If the deal is clinched and Barghouti freed, it will be another humiliation for Abbas: it will be said that Hamas, not he, has achieved the liberation of the Fatah leader. The freed Barghouti will act to mend the split between Fatah and Hamas and will be a credible candidate for the presidency of the Palestinian Authority. Then, a new chapter of the conflict will begin.

IT IS worth reading the full text of Isaiah's prophecy: "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them."

The role of the little child, so it seems, falls to Obama. If he accepts, God forbid, Friedman's advice and leaves the picture, the vision will turn into a nightmare. The Israeli government will increase the oppression, the Palestinians will turn to unbridled terrorism, the entire world will be dragged into bloody chaos.

Some advice.
(c) 2009 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

The Call I Didn't Make
By Victoria Stewart

I admit it. I'm a phone girl. As a teenager I talked for hours to my girl friends. As a stay-at-home mom I talked for hours to my girl friends-although we were women by then and no one dared call us girls. As I have moved away from friends and family, I kept in touch by hours of phone calls. I've decided on divorces, marriages, love affairs, jobs, spring fashions, and a host of other monumental events via phone. Phones are better than email, more immediate than snail mail, and provide a satisfying ability to use intonation, formality, and haughtiness when dealing with the minions of the evil empires in our world. I have become especially fond of calling politicians. I call my US Senators and Congressman. I call my state representatives. I call the White House. The White House has been kind enough to provide an easy to remember number for comments (202-456-1111) but every time I call, the person who answers the phone-and they are invariably female-sounds about 15 and as dewy-eyed and innocent as Walt Disney's Bambi. I have even felt a shot or two of guilt when I make a negative comment about Mr. Obama's policies because without fail, whatever young woman I'm talking to sounds nonplussed, confused, and a little hurt that I would criticize the president. (Btw-are these people paid or are they volunteers? I keep meaning to find out.) So when I got an email from "First Lady Michelle Obama" last week, my first impulse was to call up Washington, not the comment line this time but the switchboard number (again, easy to remember at 202-456-1414), but I resisted that urge.

Now I know I didn't get a real email from Michelle Obama. And I'm not sure how I got on her mailing list-maybe those phone calls congratulating her on her fashion sense?-but the message, which started out all perky and Norman Rockwell homey, was about Thanksgiving and hunger in America, particularly hungry children. As I have said over and over-the first question I ask of any cause or politician is: "Who cares for the children?" so this email caught my attention. But I knew that in a few days Michelle's husband (normally I make disparaging remarks about people who call the famous by their first names but this email was signed "Michelle" so I'm thinking maybe we're getting to be friends) would be announcing his plans for Afghanistan and I wanted to see what he had to say before I used up my cell minutes.

And, as these things so often go, while waiting for that speech synchronicity intervened and I came across Michael Moore's letter to President Obama. Michael Moore, wow, is, you know, famous and gets to stand up at movie awards programs in a tux. He might have even been invited to the inauguration. He indicates in that letter that he supported and voted for Barack Obama and he certainly has a presence and name recognition and can usually get some press. And I like him. I've seen his movies. I like his goofy caps. Going with the synchronicity thing, I went to his website to look around. And I found "Michael Moore's Action Plan: 15 Things Every American Can Do Right Now." And Michael Moore suggested making daily calls to the White House, your Senators, and your Congressperson. He knew me!

But then Mr. Moore went on suggest, "And if you really want to drop an anvil on them, send them a snail mail." And that made me really glad I hadn't make that call.

On Tuesday night Barack Obama tossed all the hungry children in this country off to the side and presented his plan for addressing the needs of hungry children in one of the poorest countries in world. We're going to kill them. Of course, we'll kill some adults and some American soldiers along the way but it will be the children who pay the highest price.

(And speaking of American soldiers, I'm going to be very un-PC here and just say to hell with those soldiers. We don't have a draft. We are 8 years into two completely unjustified wars and anyone going into the military since 2002 has to know they are going to kill people-innocent people. This can be no surprise. There is nothing, not one thing, honorable about joining the military in this first decade of the 21st century.)

I didn't make that call to the White House but I would love to call my friend Michelle. I'd like us to sit down with freshly charged phones, some nice wine, maybe Michelle could snag a pack of Barack's smoke's, and we could dish like girls. I'm thinking that underneath the polish and shine, underneath all that High Priestess glamour, Michelle might be thoroughly pissed. I would be. I mean, here she has given up her job, her life, and her privacy for his career, believing, I think, that they had mutual goals and ideas. Believing that he was going to make some changes, help poor people, promote peace, and stay out of the good ol' boy network where she will never, ever, ever, in a million years be allowed. And then he makes a big fool out of her.

I think my friend Michelle is a proud, stubborn, hardworking woman. I think she had to really believe in the man she married to put herself in this huge, glaring spotlight. She will not ever be able to just be herself again. For the rest of her life, even in her dotage, she will be that first of First Ladies. She's already been reduced to a clothes horse, compared (unfavorably) to Jackie Kennedy and forever linked with J. Crew which, I've got to tell you, is not a look that will hold up long. She has to put up with people sniping about her shorts and her figure and her arms, that sort of meat market, auction block mentality which has to be even more offensive to her than it is to me, and she has to know it isn't going to stop. She has to watch while Hillary Clinton attends important meetings, is treated with deference and respect and headlines in all the big media outlets. Even Vogue, that most august Michelle-loving magazine, features this story on its December cover: "Hillary Clinton On Year One and How Barack Got Her to Say Yes." OMFG! I would be livid! When Michelle was featured in Vogue, they had her sort of sprawled on a sofa in a sleeveless dress, looking almost kittenish. Hillary Clinton gets an important, grown-up photo at her desk with official looking publications and a "NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP" tile in front of her. Un-f@cking-believable.

And all of that? All of that might have been okay if he had not made her look like "the little woman," a token partner, powerless and ultimately disregarded. Because while Michelle is sending out emails asking people to help her fight hunger in America, while she is announcing that "Barack and I are committed to doing all we can to end hunger by making food programs more accessible to eligible families." Barack is out hobnobbing with the masters of war. He is working on a speech that even the most naive among us sees as a betrayal of everything good and decent. How can I, or anyone, take her seriously when she obviously has no influence, no relevance, and no gravitas?

I just hate it when a man-especially one I've been sleeping with--does that.

Some of you, I know, might take exception to my sympathy for my friend Michelle. You might point out that she is smart and savvy and she might have known what her husband was planning all along-not just with his sparkly war but also with all the rest of his deceptions. And you may be right. She might have known. But, given how close she is to Oprah, she is probably familiar with Dr. Phil's advice, "If he'll do it with you, he'll do it to you." and so I don't think she knew. I think she believed him, too. But either way, she's been screwed.

Oh yeah, my new friend Michelle needs a good, long phone call. I know she has my number and my girl friends will tell her, I'm always available to discuss the perfidy of men and to mix up potions to cure broken hearts.

But if she doesn't call...I'm going to take Michael Moore's advice. I'm going to send her a nice, long letter in a bright, scarlet envelope because Michelle, my new friend Michelle who wants to feed hungry children, grow a garden, and encourage kids to get an education, her heart must be broken.
(c) 2009 Victoria Stewart is the editor of Issues & Alibis magazine.

Why Are Some Black Folks So Upset Over Gays Getting Married?
By Sam Fulwood

As a church-attending Christian and a straight, married black man who lives in Washington, D.C., I have absolutely no qualms about extending full marriage rights to gay couples. I will cheer when it happens in my city.

I struggle to comprehend why folks who share my slice of the demographic pie seem to take is personally when two men or two women want to marry and live as a couple. I mean, it's not like they're taking something away from any a straight couple.

Here, in Washington, the city council is expected to pass legislation that will legalize marriage for same-sex couples. The bill seems assured of passage because 10 of the 13 city council members have signed on as supporters, and Mayor Adrian Fenty has promised to sign it into law if it passes. And, from all I've been able to learn, congressional opposition will be tepid as the 30-day review period ticks down.

Under the proposed legislation, the district would end the existing domestic partnership law and expand all rights and responsibilities associated with marriage to cover same-sex couples. Another provision of the bill wipes away gender-specific language from the city code, assuring that married gay and lesbian couples are guaranteed to be treated the same under city law as married heterosexuals.

Yet, the road to marriage equality for gays and lesbians remains twisted by opposition from--of all places--black church leaders. Notably, Bishop Harry Jackson of the suburban Maryland Hope Christian Church has been the most outspoken and visible black minister leading the fight against spreading civil rights to all corners of the nation's capital.

Jackson argues that allowing gays and lesbians to marry will - somehow, inexplicable to me - cause damage to straight people's marital bliss. He argues that the divorce rate in the District is already high and allowing gay couples to marry will add to the soaring numbers of divorces. That, of course, makes absolutely no sense.

But the opportunity to build a godly empire by preaching against homosexuality has proven irresistible and potentially profitable. Jackson's High Impact Leadership Coalition, the antigay rights group, moves in far-right circles of the Republican Party. It's a facade for a misguided holy crusade and supported by white evangelicals who have little else in common with black, working-class people in Washington.

Bishop Jackson isn't alone among backward-thinking religious leaders, either. The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington threatened to end social services in Washington if the proposed same-sex marriage legislation becomes law.

For sure, some very religious people fall on their swords of faith to justify treating gays and lesbians in a discriminatory manner. Marriage, they say, can only be godly if its benefits and obligations are reserved only for a man and a woman.

The wise thing about the D.C. bill is that it doesn't force a church or minister to perform a marriage if it conflicts with their theology. But it allows for those open-minded people of faith to do so. The legislation is civil, not aimed at changing anything that happens inside the practice of faith. Nor would the law grant gay or lesbian couples any special rights--only protect the exercise of the same rights enjoyed by other citizens. In fact, it may prove to be a fiscal blessing to the city.

What's so wrong about all that?

On the racial tip, it seems that the folks who ought to be first in line on this matter of civil right protections should be black ministers. It's not like black gays and lesbians aren't fixtures in black churches across the city. And they're not deeply closeted, either. Everyone knows what these black religious leaders seem so intent on keeping secret: Homosexuality exists among black people.

Less than half a century ago, the black clergy was on the side of unpopular rights and societal progress. If not for the courage and outspokenness of black preachers from southern pulpits, speaking of love and fairness for all of God's children, racist white theologians might have continued unchallenged to use biblical scriptures to justify unfair treatment of black Americans.

A civil right for one is a civil rights for all. As Georgia Congressman John Lewis has said on many occasions, "I have fought too hard and too long against discrimination based on race and color not to stand up against discrimination based on sexual orientation."

In a disappointingly similar situation, black churches across Washington and the nation were slow to respond to the AIDS epidemic almost a generation ago, fearing any pulpit talk would lead to airing the congregation's dirty laundry. Meanwhile, as pastors preached and choirs sang, church folks got sick and died. Only after enlightened black religious leaders opened their eyes and stopped condemning were they able to create ministries that helped--not hurt--the people in need.

So pray tell me, how is this any different?

Some - indeed, many progressive black ministers - agree that biblical pronouncements of grace should trump mean-spirited, hell-fire denunciations of gays and lesbians.

As the Rev. Dennis Wiley of Covenant Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. and the co-chairman of the DC Clergy United for Marriage Equality, preaches: "My support of full marriage equality for the District of Columbia is rooted not only in my passion for social justice, but also for morality and moral truth. I believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the gospel of love, not hate."

That's the pew where I sit and belong. My faith is strong and my love of humanity is sacrosanct. That's why I completely fail to comprehend how the exchange of vows between a loving couple--be it a man and a woman or two men or two women--changes anything of importance in my life.

No, all it does is move the city I live in one step closer to being fairer to all of its citizens.
(c) 2009 Sam Fulwood ia a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress

Weed Wars

Another election, another victory!

Not for a particular party or candidate, but for taking another step toward ending the longest, most costly, and futile war in U.S. history: the war on marijuana.

In November, six out of 10 voters in Maine said "yes" to a proposal to set up state-licensed dispensaries for doctor-prescribed medical marijuana. Maine now joins California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Rhode Island as places where patients can legally and safely purchase state-grown pot for medical purposes.

This is the latest sign that the century-old demonization of marijuana has pretty much run its destructive course in our country. For most people, "Reefer Madness" no longer refers to the ridiculous 1936 fright movie, but to the insane cost of criminalizing a weed that does far less damage than alcohol. Hundreds of thousands of police agents are being diverted from serious crime to the pursuit of harmless tokers, costing taxpayers more than $10 billion a year.

Every 36 seconds, someone in America is arrested on marijuana charges. More than 870,000 of those arrests are made yearly - more than for all violent crimes combined. Eighty-nine percent of marijuana arrests are for simple possession, not for producing or selling it.

Meanwhile, the weed is winning the war! Marijuana use has risen steadily, and pot is now America's number one cash crop, topping the value of corn and wheat combined. As its consumption has become more mainstream, public attitudes have shifted. In recent polls, 55 percent of Americans say possession of personal amounts should not be criminal, and 52 percent support treating the product the same as we do booze - legalize it, regulate it, and tax it.

For more information, contact the Marijuana Policy Project:, or 202-462-5747.
(c) 2009 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

We're Acting Like a Latter Day Version of the Roman Empire
By Dennis Kucinich as told to Amy Goodman

Amy Goodman: I'm joined now from Washington, D.C. by Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich. He opposes the troop buildup in Afghanistan. Welcome to Democracy Now! Congressmember Kucinich represents the Cleveland area. Your response to President Obama's West Point address?

REP. DENNIS KUCINCH: First I would like to respond to the voices of the Afghan people. It's very clear they do not want to be saved by us. They want to be saved from us. And President Obama's escalation of the war, sending an additional 30,000 troops, will bring-as you pointed out--the total strength to about 100,000.

That's $100 billion a year and that doesn't even include the private contractors we'll be paying for, which adds up to about $160 billion dollars a year. It really begs the question about whether the nation-building that we seek to do in Afghanistan would be better directed to rebuilding America, to creating jobs here, to rebuilding bridges here instead of blowing them up in Afghanistan.

I think our priorities are misplaced. And I think that all those who really support this President, who really like him-and I like him-need to challenge him on this. Because we can't just let this go by the boards because we may have some sympathetic feelings for the difficult task that he has undertaken as President of the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: Congressman Kucinich, can you talk about the level of opposition in Congress right now and explain what Congressman Obey has been talking about, the war tax?

REP. DENNIS KUCINCH: First of all, it will remain to be seen what the level of opposition is in the Congress. And I want to point out why: On October 8, 2009, the Congress of the United States passed a bill that authorizes the expenditure of $130 billion dollars for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The House actually preceded the President in making a statement about support for the war. Unfortunately, that bill was supported by all but 15 members of my own party. So we'll have to see whether or not Congress will take a stand against spending more money for this war, whether it's in an appropriation bill or a supplemental bill.

Now with respect to Congressman Obey and the proposal for a war tax, we're already paying a war tax. A substantial amount of the tax dollars that Americans pay today go for paying for wars. And we don't need to pay more. The point is well taken and that is that we're already paying more for war. We're already spending more for a military buildup than any nation. As a matter of fact, than all the nations of the world put together. We are in 130 countries.

You would think that we don't have enough to do here at home. You would think that we don't have 47 million Americans who go to bed hungry, 47 million Americans who don't have any health care, 15 million Americans who are out of work, another 10 million Americans whose homes are threatened with foreclosure, people going bankrupt, business failures. All these things are happening in our country and we're acting like a latter-day version of the Roman Empire, reaching for empire while inside we rot.

We have to challenge this because our future as a nation is at stake. If we continue to militarize, we lose our civil liberties, we lose our capacity to meet our needs here at home.

AMY GOODMAN: Here's what the President said about the cost of war, Congressman Kucinich: Quote, "All told, by the time I took office, the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan approached $1 trillion dollars. Going forward, I'm committed to addressing these costs openly and honestly. Our new approach in Afghanistan is likely to cost us roughly $30 billion dollars for the military this year and I will work closely with Congress to address these costs as we work to bring down our deficit."

Your response?

REP. DENNIS KUCINCH: We are borrowing money right now to be able to prosecute wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The United States is going deeper and deeper into debt. We borrowed money or printed money as the Fed may have it, to help finance $13 trillion dollars in bailouts for Wall street.

You know, we have money for Wall Street and money for war, but we don't have money for work. We have money for Wall Street and money for war, but we don't have money for health care. We have to start asking ourselves, why is it that war is a priority, but the basic needs of the people of this country are not? And how are we getting the money to pay for the war?

We're borrowing it. We're going deeper into debt. We're mortgaging our future. We're creating conditions where we will become less democratic because we can't meet the most essential needs of our people. This needs to be challenged. And it needs to be challenged in a forthright way. It can be challenged without making President Obama the issue. The issue is the war, the issue is America's reach for empire. The issue is our inability to meet the needs of people here at home.

AMY GOODMAN: Congressman Kucinich, last night President Obama said, "I make this decision because I am convinced our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan." He said, "This is the epicenter of violent extremism practiced by Al Qaeda. It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11 and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak."

President Obama went on to say, "This is no idle danger, no hypothetical threat. In the last few months alone, we've apprehended extremists within our borders who were sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror."

Do you know who he is talking about?

REP. DENNIS KUCINCH: No, but I think that we should point out, America is appropriately involved in trying to push back against terrorism. Anti-terrorism takes many different poses and one of them certainly is intelligence gathering, cooperation with other nations, police work. Those are all legitimate things to do.

However, what's happening is that Al Qaeda and its global Jihadist agenda is being conflated with the Taliban, which is essentially a homegrown resistance that has been strengthened by the U.S. occupation. We need to be very careful that we don't use counter-terrorism to justify counter-insurgency. They are two different things. As the Taliban is not the same thing as Al Qaeda. Sooner or later, we are going to have to deal with the Taliban, but the Taliban isn't sponsoring global terrorism. And the suggestion of that is just not true.

And furthermore, I think it is somewhat disturbing that the President used some language that was very similar to the language President Bush used that took us into Iraq. We've got to be careful about getting on this slippery slope to justifying our position in other countries based on fears of terrorism.

We can meet the challenge of terrorism, but not of we spend all of the resources of our country in an adventure or continued adventure 10,000 miles away.

AMY GOODMAN: The War Appropriations Bill almost didn't get passed. There was a lot of opposition in Congress. But what is your sense of what will happen now?

I think that in the corporate media and the mainstream media, there is little dissent. We just had FAIR on [the show], Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, who looked at the last 10 months of Op-Ed pages of the New York Times and The Washington Post; with 59% questioning the war, it was something like 12-13% on those pages.

Do you find actually on the media-I bumped into you yesterday when you were heading into Fox in Washington, D.C.-that you are making more common cause with those on the right who are actually saying that the struggle is here at home and that we shouldn't be in Afghanistan spending this money?

REP. DENNIS KUCINCH: The answer to that is yes. and I think we need to look for common cause with people with whom we may have a different way of looking at the world. I cite as an example Congressman Rohrabacher from California. Another example, Congressman Duncan. Congressman Chaffetz from [Utah]. They're all challenging the war.

The Cato Institute has issued what I think is a very reasoned approach towards getting out of Afghanistan. We need to look for allies across the boards here, and we have to get away from the old thinking that pigeonholes any of us into left/right, liberal/conservative.

We're all Americans. We ought to be talking about what is best for America, without regard to what particular place we stand on a political spectrum. Sooner or later, we all meet in a place of concern about whether we can afford these continued military adventures and whether or not it's time for us to start focusing on taking care of things here at home. This deficit is a real issue, Amy. We keep building it for war and Wall Street, while the interior of the United States is falling apart. I think that it's good [that] we can broaden the coalition.

I also want to say, that every war has a kind of a headlong forward momentum. It is very difficult to stop a war once it starts. The forces of war don't burn themselves out that quickly. War desires to be served and to be fed more bodies and more money, and we have to realize that it's Congress that can put an end to the war, not the President. He's not going to do that.

The president made his statement that he's accelerating the war. You cannot be in and out at the same time. But Congress has the constitutional responsibility under Article I, Section 8, to either start or end a war with its funding power. We have to put the pressure on Congress here to say, "Vote against any more funding."

Congress failed the test in October. They voted to authorize $130 billion dollars more. But there'll be more requests for appropriations. There will be requests for supplemental spending. And we need to rally the American people to say, "Let's look at our priorities." Let's get our priorities straight. Let's create jobs. You can't have guns and butter at the same time in this country. We cannot afford both anymore.

We have to start focusing on what's the real security in America. It should be economic security, it should be the security of a job. Because joblessness is a weapon of mass destruction in case anyone has forgotten about it. So is poverty. And we have more Americans moving into poverty as a result of the misplaced priorities of our country.

AMY GOODMAN: Congressman Kucinich, we want to thank you for being with us. Congressman Kucinich ran for President against then Senator Obama. Congressman Kucinich represents the Cleveland area of Ohio.
(c) 2009 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 750 stations in North America. She is the co-author of "Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times," recently released in paperback.

(c) 2009 Dennis Kucinich is a congressman from Ohio and a 2008 presidential primary candidate. Blocked by the corporate media, and, most egregiously, by his own party, which regarded him as an embarrassing radical (radical he is, dangerous, no), his message failed to reach and mobilize the masses. Meanwhile the media-and the inevitable centrist dunces-were busy inflating and falling for the messianic promise of one Barack Obama.

Pascal Lamy greedy bastard

WTO Still Parties Like It's 1999
On 10th Anniversary of the Battle in Seattle bankers' scheme to re-open finance casino worldwide
By Greg Palast

GENEVA - Apparently, one meltdown isn't enough for the World Trade Organization. They meet today in Geneva on the tenth anniversary of the "Battle in Seattle," the first mass protest against globalization.

In a special investigation for Air America's Ring of Fire, [listen to the report here or watch the 9-minute film here], I recently gained access to several documents from inside the file cabinets of the WTO, the World Bank and other centers of globalization.

According to one marked "Ensure This Text Is Not Made Publicly Available," the big banks, via official trade negotiators, are secretly demanding that emerging nations, starting with Brazil, open their markets to trading in derivatives, credit default swaps and other exotic-and toxic-financial products.

It's not enough that they have brought the US and Europe to their financial knees. Now banks, under the guise of the WTO's free trade treaty, want to expand the casino to the new big emerging powers with their trillion-greenback reserves. A derivatives crash in those markets could easily trigger a financial China Syndrome-a second meltdown from New York to Beijing to Brasilia.

Here in Geneva, at the grand compound on the shore of Lake Geneva, I confronted the Director-General of the World Trade Organization, Pascal Lamy, about the secret demands of the world's biggest financiers. I asked how, after the disaster in the US economy in 2008, the prime movers of the globe's economy would go along with the world's largest banks to start up still more gambling operations in Brazil and India?

Lamy insisted that, "Trade is not the problem. The problem is whether what you trade is regulated or not."

The WTO chief did however admit that, were a nation to attempt to shutter any particular bank's trading desk, that nation would have to pay a hefty penalty under WTO rules. "There's a price to pay to claw back," said Lamy, himself a banker. (Lamy was Director-General of French giant Credit Lyonnais.)

The exposure of the secret demand on Brazil to allow banks to go double or nothing on a second crisis runs counter to the public position of US and European governments. Paul Volker, President Obama's advisor on preventing another crisis, has called for re-regulating banks, and in particular, barring commercial banks from trading in derivatives and other risky financial instruments.

This contradiction between public position and private lobby for the banks infuriates Martin Khor, Geneva-based trade advisor to Brazil and 50 other emerging nations. Khor, known as the intellectual leader of the Seattle anti-WTO protests of 1999, told Air America, "If I were Mr. Obama or (British Prime Minister) Brown, I would tell my financial services organization, please lay off the developing countries; let's get our own act together."

But apparently, the banks and global-crats at the WTO want to party like it's 1999.
(c) 2009 Forensic economist Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy." His investigations for BBC TV and Democracy Now! can be seen by subscribing to Palast's reports at.

The Jobs Imperative
By Paul Krugman

You might think, then, that doing something about the employment situation would be a top policy priority. But now that total financial collapse has been averted, all the urgency seems to have vanished from policy discussion, replaced by a strange passivity. There's a pervasive sense in Washington that nothing more can or should be done, that we should just wait for the economic recovery to trickle down to workers.

This is wrong and unacceptable.

Yes, the recession is probably over in a technical sense, but that doesn't mean that full employment is just around the corner. Historically, financial crises have typically been followed not just by severe recessions but by anemic recoveries; it's usually years before unemployment declines to anything like normal levels. And all indications are that the aftermath of the latest financial crisis is following the usual script. The Federal Reserve, for example, expects unemployment, currently 10.2 percent, to stay above 8 percent - a number that would have been considered disastrous not long ago - until sometime in 2012.

And the damage from sustained high unemployment will last much longer. The long-term unemployed can lose their skills, and even when the economy recovers they tend to have difficulty finding a job, because they're regarded as poor risks by potential employers. Meanwhile, students who graduate into a poor labor market start their careers at a huge disadvantage - and pay a price in lower earnings for their whole working lives. Failure to act on unemployment isn't just cruel, it's short-sighted.

So it's time for an emergency jobs program.

How is a jobs program different from a second stimulus? It's a matter of priorities. The 2009 Obama stimulus bill was focused on restoring economic growth. It was, in effect, based on the belief that if you build G.D.P., the jobs will come. That strategy might have worked if the stimulus had been big enough - but it wasn't. And as a matter of political reality, it's hard to see how the administration could pass a second stimulus big enough to make up for the original shortfall.

So our best hope now is for a somewhat cheaper program that generates more jobs for the buck. Such a program should shy away from measures, like general tax cuts, that at best lead only indirectly to job creation, with many possible disconnects along the way. Instead, it should consist of measures that more or less directly save or add jobs.

One such measure would be another round of aid to beleaguered state and local governments, which have seen their tax receipts plunge and which, unlike the federal government, can't borrow to cover a temporary shortfall. More aid would help avoid both a drastic worsening of public services (especially education) and the elimination of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Meanwhile, the federal government could provide jobs by ... providing jobs. It's time for at least a small-scale version of the New Deal's Works Progress Administration, one that would offer relatively low-paying (but much better than nothing) public-service employment. There would be accusations that the government was creating make-work jobs, but the W.P.A. left many solid achievements in its wake. And the key point is that direct public employment can create a lot of jobs at relatively low cost. In a proposal to be released today, the Economic Policy Institute, a progressive think tank, argues that spending $40 billion a year for three years on public-service employment would create a million jobs, which sounds about right.

Finally, we can offer businesses direct incentives for employment. It's probably too late for a job-conserving program, like the highly successful subsidy Germany offered to employers who maintained their work forces. But employers could be encouraged to add workers as the economy expands. The Economic Policy Institute proposes a tax credit for employers who increase their payrolls, which is certainly worth trying.

All of this would cost money, probably several hundred billion dollars, and raise the budget deficit in the short run. But this has to be weighed against the high cost of inaction in the face of a social and economic emergency.

Later this week, President Obama will hold a "jobs summit." Most of the people I talk to are cynical about the event, and expect the administration to offer no more than symbolic gestures. But it doesn't have to be that way. Yes, we can create more jobs - and yes, we should.
(c) 2009 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

Tomorrow Never Knows -- But We Do
The Obama Surge Foreseen
By Chris Floyd

Run, don't walk, to Arthur Silber's latest, and get tomorrow's news today. That's right, Silber has pierced the veil of time and brings back news of Barack Obama's big announcement, scheduled for Tuesday night, when -- to the vast surprise of absolutely no one on earth (except, of course, our serious media analysts, who have been puzzling and puzzling till their puzzlers are sore about the "debate" on escalating the war in Afghanistan) -- Obama will announce that he is, er, escalating the war in Afghanistan.

What's more, Silber has done us all the yeoman service of pre-wading through "the reactions to Obama's speech dribbling from the slack mouths operated by unfocused minds," who will take up the "debate" on the efficacy of Obama's oh-so-deeply contemplated "new" strategy for securing the empire's Central Asian frontier. But as usual, Silber goes far beyond PR trappings of the day's news (or even tomorrow's news) to outline the real reasons and rationales behind Obama's "new" policy, which is, of course, only the same old geopolitical dominance game tricked out in 21st century drag.

No excerpts this time; I am too weary, too travel-bleary, to do justice to the piece with representative cuts -- just go read the whole thing and, as Silber says, save yourself the trouble of slogging through the "stinking load of unmitigated shit" that will be dumped on our heads by the chattering classes -- and their masters, the killing classes of the imperial court -- following the announcement.

And while you're there, if you have any spare change at all, drop some in Silber's hat. As we never tire of saying here, his is a unique, and uniquely valuable, voice in these ever-more troubled days. And it is a voice that must fight its way through horrendous health problems and crushing poverty to be heard. While fools and poltroons, left and right, gorge themselves on corporate largess, pandering to prejudices, and insider savvy, Silber must depend solely on his readers to survive. So give if you got it.
(c) 2009 Chris Floyd

Perception Management
By Case Wagonvoord

There was a time when vampires personified evil. They were creatures of the night who stalked their victims under the cover of darkness and had a marked preference for the blood of innocent virgins. A cross or a string of garlic bulbs protected you and the only way to put an end to them was with a stake through the heart.

Vampires belonging to the Bela Lugosi school of acting were suave, debonair and well mannered, unless a virgin bared her neck. They always ended up with a stake through their hearts.

Apparently, the Vampire trade association must have inked a contract with the PR firm of Hills and Knowlton, because all of a sudden they have been welcomed into polite society. Now they live next door, date our daughters and have traded the white tie and tails for jeans and T-shirts.

Vampires have always been a metaphor for something. In the Victorian age, they were a metaphor for repressed sexuality. In the twenty-first century, they have become a metaphor for either investment bankers or imperialism (a metaphore so patently obvious it groans), which makes one wonder about their new respectability.

Could this be Hollywood's attempt to make greed, slaughter and exploitation respectable? Dick Cheney certainly legitimized the Dark Side, so it should come as no surprise that his children of the dark should step out of the shadows and move into the nearest burb.

The vampire as matinee idol hints at a normalization of evil. That which once appalled now entertains. Because we feel helpless in the face of evil, we embrace it and invite it over for dinner. Instead of screaming when the vampire begins sucking our blood, we orgasm.

Hopefully, this will turn out to be a brief affair, and the day will come when the mob realizes it had been had, grabs stakes and torches and goes after the creature that so successfully seduced and abused it.
(c) 2009 Case Wagenvoord. Some years ago, Case Wagenvoord turned off the tube and picked up a book. He's been trouble ever since. His articles have been posted at The Smirking Chimp, Countercurrents and Issues & Alibis. When he's not writing or brooding, he is carving hardwood bowls that have been displayed in galleries and shows across the country. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two cats. His book, Open Letters to George W. Bush is available at

Does High Pay Equal Genius?
By Mike Folkerth

Good Morning, all of you bright inquiring minds out there; your King of Simple News is on the air.

What makes great men and women great? In this year of 2009, the answer to that question would most certainly be money and formal education that was derived from our most prestigious and most costly universities.

Why do large corporations pay their executives millions of dollars in bonuses alone? We're told that this practice is necessary to retain such splendid talent. In order to get the best of the best, we must pay these titans of leadership immense sums of money in order to summon forth their genius.

Those who attend the highest cost universities, require the highest paid salaries and the loftiest positions in our society by virtue of their perceived intelligence. George Walker Bush and Barrack Hussein Obama both graduated from Harvard. William Jefferson Clinton graduated from Yale law school. Unbelievably, all three accept as true that exponential growth is possible in a finite world. This vivid example proves that Will Rogers knew of what he spoke when he said, "There is nothing as stupid as an educated man if you get him off the thing he was educated in."

But back to my subject of pay = genius. If we accept that theory then we could dismiss great deeds coming from relatively poor people who lacked an Ivy League education. Fortunately for those who benefit from the belief that pay = genius, Americans are poor math and history students.

It's said that Thomas Alva Edison, one of the most prolific inventors of all time, was, "more responsible than anyone else for creating the modern world." That Mr. Edison, "was the most influential figure of the millennium...."

Therefore, it would go to reason that Edison was a graduate of an esteemed university and was plied with hard cold cash to unleash his learned genius for corporate profits. Right? Not so much as you could tell it, Edison attended only three months of formal education (part of 1st grade) and struggled financially for many years.

In short, the most important man of the millennium invented because he could. He required money, not to live a grandiose lifestyle, but to support his desire to improve the standards by which we all live. He was home schooled and later determined that self study and self discovery were superior to canned university lectures.

Edison was probably just a freak of nature, so what about the nearly incomparable Nikola Tesla, the father of AC power, the induction electric motor, radio (bet you thought it was Marconi), and a combined list of other achievements that would fill volumes? He must have made the big bucks huh? Nope, he was also a college dropout and did his thing because he could. He passed away penniless.

Okay, a couple of freaks doesn't set a trend, surely Dr. Jonas Sulk who developed the first effective polio vaccine did it for the corporate bucks? Well, not really. "When news of the vaccine's success was made public on April 12, 1955, Salk was hailed as a "miracle worker," and the day "almost became a national holiday." His sole focus had been to develop a safe and effective vaccine as rapidly as possible, with no interest in personal profit. When he was asked in a televised interview who owned the patent to the vaccine, Salk replied: "There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?"

The idea that genius is commensurate with pay is utterly ridiculous. The belief that a graduate from a prestigious university is somehow better prepared than those who obtain their educations in less known and less costly schools, or from self study and life experience, is equally ludicrous. These beliefs are nothing more than a grand theft scheme perpetrated on an uneducated public.

Great people come in all sizes, shapes, and professions. They become great people because of their inner desire and natural ability. Crooks also come in all sizes, shapes and professions (Congress is a good example). They become great crooks because of their inner desire and natural ability.
(c) 2009 Mike Folkerth is not your run-of-the-mill author of economics. Nor does he write in boring lecture style. Not even close. The former real estate broker, developer, private real estate fund manager, auctioneer, Alaskan bush pilot, restaurateur, U.S. Navy veteran, heavy equipment operator, taxi cab driver, fishing guide, horse packer...(I won't go on, it's embarrassing) writes from experience and plain common sense. He is the author of "The Biggest Lie Ever Believed."

The Quotable Quote...

"You can spend your time agonizing or organizing."
~~~ Dorothy Day

Addicted To Nonsense
By Chris Hedges

Will Tiger Woods finally talk to the police? Who will replace Oprah? (Not that Oprah can ever be replaced, of course.) And will Michaele and Tareq Salahi, the couple who crashed President Barack Obama's first state dinner, command the hundreds of thousands of dollars they want for an exclusive television interview? Can Levi Johnston, father of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's grandson, get his wish to be a contestant on "Dancing With the Stars"?

The chatter that passes for news, the gossip that is peddled by the windbags on the airwaves, the noise that drowns out rational discourse, and the timidity and cowardice of what is left of the newspaper industry reflect our flight into collective insanity. We stand on the cusp of one of the most seismic and disturbing dislocations in human history, one that is radically reconfiguring our economy as it is the environment, and our obsessions revolve around the trivial and the absurd.

What really matters in our lives-the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the steady deterioration of the dollar, the mounting foreclosures, the climbing unemployment, the melting of the polar ice caps and the awful reality that once the billions in stimulus money run out next year we will be bereft and broke-doesn't fit into the cheerful happy talk that we mainline into our brains. We are enraptured by the revels of a dying civilization. Once reality shatters the airy edifice, we will scream and yell like petulant children to be rescued, saved and restored to comfort and complacency. There will be no shortage of demagogues, including buffoons like Sarah Palin, who will oblige. We will either wake up to face our stark new limitations, to retreat from imperial projects and discover a new simplicity, as well as a new humility, or we will stumble blindly toward catastrophe and neofeudalism.

Celebrity worship has banished the real from public discourse. And the adulation of celebrity is pervasive. The frenzy around political messiahs, or the devotion of millions of viewers to Oprah, is all part of the yearning to see ourselves in those we worship. We seek to be like them. We seek to make them like us. If Jesus and "The Purpose Driven Life" won't make us a celebrity, then Tony Robbins or positive psychologists or reality television will. We are waiting for our cue to walk onstage and be admired and envied, to become known and celebrated. Nothing else in life counts.

We yearn to stand before the camera, to be noticed and admired. We build pages on social networking sites devoted to presenting our image to the world. We seek to control how others think of us. We define our worth solely by our visibility. We live in a world where not to be seen, in some sense, is to not exist. We pay lifestyle advisers to help us look and feel like celebrities, to build around us the set for the movie of our own life. Martha Stewart constructed her financial empire, when she wasn't engaged in insider trading, telling women how to create a set design for the perfect home. The realities within the home, the actual family relationships, are never addressed. Appearances make everything whole. Plastic surgeons, fitness gurus, diet doctors, therapists, life coaches, interior designers and fashion consultants all, in essence, promise to make us happy, to make us celebrities. And happiness comes, we are assured, with how we look, with the acquisition of wealth and power, or at least the appearance of it. Glossy magazines like Town & Country cater to the absurd pretensions of the very rich to be celebrities. They are photographed in expensive designer clothing inside the lavishly decorated set pieces that are their homes. The route to happiness is bound up in how skillfully we present ourselves to the world. We not only have to conform to the dictates of this manufactured vision, but we also have to project an unrelenting optimism and happiness. Hedonism and wealth are openly worshiped on Wall Street as well as on shows such as "The Hills," "Gossip Girl," "Sex and the City," "My Super Sweet 16" and "The Real Housewives of (whatever bourgeois burg happens to be in vogue)."

The American oligarchy-1 percent of whom control more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined-are the characters we most envy and watch on television. They live and play in multimillion-dollar mansions. They marry models or professional athletes. They are chauffeured in stretch limos. They rush from fashion shows to movie premieres to fabulous resorts. They have surgically enhanced, perfect bodies and are draped in designer clothes that cost more than some people make in a year. This glittering life is held before us like a beacon. This life, we are told, is the most desirable, the most gratifying. And this is the life we want. Greed is good, we believe, because one day through our acquisitions we will become the elite. So let the rest of the bastards suffer.

The working class, comprising tens of millions of struggling Americans, are locked out of television's gated community. They are mocked, even as they are tantalized, by the lives of excess they watch on the screen in their living rooms. Almost none of us will ever attain these lives of wealth and power. Yet we are told that if we want it badly enough, if we believe sufficiently in ourselves, we too can have everything. We are left, when we cannot adopt these impossible lifestyles as our own, with feelings of inferiority and worthlessness. We have failed where others have succeeded.

We consume these countless lies daily. We believe the false promises that if we spend more money, if we buy this brand or that product, if we vote for this candidate, we will be respected, envied, powerful, loved and protected. The flamboyant lives of celebrities and the outrageous characters on television, movies, professional wrestling and sensational talk shows are peddled to us, promising to fill up the emptiness in our own lives. Celebrity culture encourages everyone to think of themselves as potential celebrities, as possessing unique if unacknowledged gifts. Faith in ourselves, in a world of make-believe, is more important than reality. Reality, in fact, is dismissed and shunned as an impediment to success, a form of negativity. The New Age mysticism and pop psychology of television personalities and evangelical pastors, along with the array of self-help best-sellers penned by motivational speakers, psychiatrists and business tycoons, peddle this fantasy. Reality is condemned in these popular belief systems as the work of Satan, as defeatist, as negativity or as inhibiting our inner essence and power. Those who question, those who doubt, those who are critical, those who are able to confront reality, along with those who grasp the hollowness and danger of celebrity culture, are condemned for their pessimism or intellectualism.

The illusionists who shape our culture, and who profit from our incredulity, hold up the gilded cult of Us. Popular expressions of religious belief, personal empowerment, corporatism, political participation and self-definition argue that all of us are special, entitled and unique. All of us, by tapping into our inner reserves of personal will and undiscovered talent, by visualizing what we want, can achieve, and deserve to achieve, happiness, fame and success. This relentless message cuts across ideological lines. This mantra has seeped into every aspect of our lives. We are all entitled to everything. And because of this self-absorption, and deep self-delusion, we have become a country of child-like adults who speak and think in the inane gibberish of popular culture.

Celebrities who come from humble backgrounds are held up as proof that anyone can be adored by the world. These celebrities, like saints, are examples that the impossible is always possible. Our fantasies of belonging, of fame, of success and of fulfillment are projected onto celebrities. These fantasies are stoked by the legions of those who amplify the culture of illusion, who persuade us that the shadows are real. The juxtaposition of the impossible illusions inspired by celebrity culture and our "insignificant" individual achievements, however, is leading to an explosive frustration, anger, insecurity and invalidation. It is fostering a self-perpetuating cycle that drives the frustrated, alienated individual with even greater desperation and hunger away from reality, back toward the empty promises of those who seduce us, who tell us what we want to hear. The worse things get, the more we beg for fantasy. We ingest these lies until our faith and our money run out. And when we fall into despair we medicate ourselves, as if the happiness we have failed to find in the hollow game is our deficiency. And, of course, we are told it is.

I spent two years traveling the country to write a book on the Christian right called "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America." I visited former manufacturing towns where for many the end of the world is no longer an abstraction. Many have lost hope. Fear and instability have plunged the working class into profound personal and economic despair, and, not surprisingly, into the arms of demagogues and charlatans of the radical Christian right who offer a belief in magic, miracles and the fiction of a utopian Christian nation. Unless we rapidly re-enfranchise these dispossessed workers, insert them back into the economy, unless we give them hope, these demagogues will rise up to take power. Time is running out. The poor can dine out only so long on illusions. Once they grasp that they have been betrayed, once they match the bleak reality of their future with the fantasies they are fed, once their homes are foreclosed and they realize that the jobs they lost are never coming back, they will react with a fury and vengeance that will snuff out the remains of our anemic democracy and usher in a new dark age.
(c) 2009 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. His latest book is American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle."

How Dare You Clean Up Our Mess
By David Michael Green

One of the few things that irritates me more than Barack Obama is Barack Obama's critics.

Or, at least, some of them. I'm one of his biggest un-fans, and in that sense I join legions of progressives heartsick in watching this right-wing president either doing nothing at all, or doing nothing at all that we ever would want.

But, of course, Obama's biggest opposition comes from the lunatics on the right, who basically hate him for what is essentially the crime of not being Republican. Given that his policies are so similar to George W. Bush's, I really think that's it - even more than any race-based vitriol.

That's fine, in principle. Since Obama sends me ballistic with enormous frequency, I can hardly begrudge them the same privilege.

Unless, of course, I were to be hypocritical.

Which is perhaps the single most nauseating attribute of our good friends on the regressive right. You know the rules. One set of sexual standards for us, another for them behind closed doors. Big thumping militarist patriotism when our kids go off to war, rather less when it's their turn. Itsy-bitsy small government ideology for the lil' folk, Washington as a great big candy-covered sugar teat for them. Etc., etc.

Nowhere does this astonishingly brazen hypocrisy manifest itself more plainly nowadays than in the criticisms of Obama from the right. And nowhere can you find more ridiculous and more historically myopic claims than from these folk (another favorite trait of theirs). It is as if we're supposed to believe - which pretty much all of the right's regresso-bots actually seem to - that history began on January 20th of this year. Hey, no wonder they're so angry! It was all just dandy until Obama came in and wrecked everything in sight!

The biggest claim of this sort concerns deficit spending, of course. I must say, I'm glad people are worried about this. The amount of debt that we're currently handing off to our children is astronomical, and what's worse, it's rising rapidly. All that said, there are just a few inconsistencies in this line of attack that are more than just a bit irritating.

To begin with, where the hell have these people been? While the deficits currently being wracked up are huge, they are only dangerous and they are only onerous because of the mountain of existing debt onto which they're being added. They are the proverbial straws breaking the camel's back.

American government has been running in the red for eons, but it took the regressive movement coming to power in order to turn those debts into killer quantities. The beloved Saint Reagan pioneered the path here, by tripling the national debt in his eight years in office, and doing so through the combination of giant tax cuts for the wealthy (and thus equally giant revenue cuts for the government), along with massive military spending increases. Woo-hoo! It's a party, everybody!

It didn't take magic to figure out what the result would be. In fact, it took magic to imagine it could be anything different. Which is why George Bush (not the Satan one, but the father of the Satan one) called it "voodoo economics". At least that's what he called it when he was running against Reagan for the 1980 presidential nomination of the Precambrian Party. When he lost that battle and desperately wanted instead to become Reagan's running mate, he somehow stopped making that particular critique. Magically, Reagan's unchanged plan rapidly became perfectly sound economics for vice presidential nominee Bush. You might call that one of the greatest sellouts of the public interest in all of American history. Indeed, since he did it in pursuit of his own personal interests, you might even call it an act of treason. But then, of course, you would have to be a sentient human being to do so, which lets out just about all of the nice people over on the right. So Reagan gets a pass.

Then the Little Bush comes along and does Reagan one better. He inherited the greatest budget surplus in American history and instantly turned it into the greatest deficit in history. Nice work! And he did it the old fashioned way, handing enormous tax relief to the already wealthy - and equally robust 'revenue relief' to the federal treasury - while spending huge chunks of cash on the military. Bush also figured out a great way to funnel tons of money to his pals in the pharmaceutical industry, through a prescription drug bill which just incidentally also happened to provide a small benefit for American seniors. The cost for that puppy was entirely and completely unfunded in the legislation (can you say, "not deficit neutral"?). The Bush people lied to their own party in Congress about it when they promised that the total bill would not exceed $400 billion in cost over ten years time. Then they told the administration's Medicare actuary, who knew the truth, that they would fire him if he testified before Congress. Now, a couple years later, the bill is priced at one trillion bucks over ten years. And, again, every one of those trillion dollars is completely unfunded. Which is to say, borrowed.

Contrast this to what the Democrats are doing on healthcare today. It is, to my mind, very much an incomplete bill, at best, and possibly a prescription for ruin if insurance companies go on a pricing binge after it's passed, which they've actually already begun doing before it's passed. But, whatever its other serious flaws, it make a fairly earnest attempt at fully paying for itself, and - a few gimmicky budget tricks aside - largely succeeds. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the bill now being considered by the Senate would actually reduce the annual federal deficit slightly.

And yet regresso-atavists are apoplectic at the giant damage that Obama's healthcare bill will do to the deficit! Even though it won't. And they were silent about the major damage that Bush's bill did to the deficit! Even though it did. Nor did we hear boo from them as Bush doubled the size of the national debt in eight years. Somehow, borrowing is only a problem when a Democrat does it. In fact, it would appear that borrowing is even a problem when a Democrat doesn't do it. Go figure. Maybe it's the Democrat part that turns out to be problematic. I'm just thinkin' out loud here...

Of course, that's just good old fashioned regressive hypocrisy at work, though the outrage on the right is insulting for another reason as well. People can say whatever they want about Barack Obama. (And, clearly, that's exactly what they do - without the slightest regard to fact.) But you have to be desperately self-deceiving to believe that he came to office wanting to start off his presidency by spending $800 billion on some hodgepodge stimulus bill, and wanting to become the new owner of American automobile, insurance and banking companies. I don't think Obama has any more desire to gobble up the American private sector than did Herbert Hoover. Why would he? It's not like he's making money off the deal. And if he did want to own corporations, why would he be grabbing only companies that are such total train-wrecks?

How deluded do you have to be to think that the president of the United States has some sort of bizarre jones for owning imploding corporations? And how absurdly unbalanced do you have to be to believe it's all just a coincidence that it's happening right now? And that the only companies that the government is buying are those which have been dropped from 150 story buildings and were inches from the ground at the time that Obama stepped in?

This is historical myopia to the point of psychosis. The lunatics on the right have completely divorced Obama's actions from the context in which they took place. It's like pretending there's no difference between murder and self-defense. Perhaps they've not heard, but despite the fact that they both involve killing another person, one is done without justification and the other is completely justified and even highly admired.

Like so much that goes on in Starboardville, it makes no sense whatsoever. Unless, of course, you realize that the real logic is actually about avoiding sense. Hence the tenacious embrace of dogma, the facts be damned. In this particular case, what the facts show is that regressive economic policies drove the economy off the cliff, and are still now causing enormous pain for huge numbers of people worldwide. How unbelievably cheeky is it, therefore, for the Neanderthal Set to come along and trash the very people who have rescued the economy from the mega-crisis they themselves bequeathed to all of us? You'd think that after all the damage they're responsible for creating these nice folks would have the decency to go crawl off into the closet and hide for a century or two. Ah, but that would be to misunderstand profoundly the movement we're dealing with here.

The facts show that regressive policies drove the economy over the cliff, alright. And what the facts also show is that the only thing that prevented it from smashing headlong into the ground 300 feet below was the federal government's intervention. Meanwhile, what was the right's prescription to deal with the outrageous mess they themselves had made?

That's a third way in which their critiques of the current government's policies are so obscene. What is their alternative? Near as I can tell, it's do nothing. Or, give some additional huge tax breaks to the wealthy - which also means do nothing, but while adding even more to the national debt.

Isn't it bad enough that these lovely folks and their lovely policies have wrecked the country? Isn't even worse that they get so agitated at the people trying to repair the damage that they foam at the mouth in rage? Yes and yes. But it's a still greater crime yet that the folks shredding the folks fixing have absolutely no solutions of their own to offer as alternatives to the nightmare they've created.

It actually gets worse from there, however. It isn't a nightmare they've created, but rather nightmares. The economy is only Problem One. Then there are the wars, the environment, education, infrastructure, debt, human rights and lots more.

We are talking here about a country deep in multiple crises. Maybe Abraham Lincoln or Franklin Roosevelt had more on their plates when they assumed the presidency. Maybe. But if they did, only they did. Obama came into office with the country just about going off the rails in just about every way possible. And the people who gave him - and us - these disasters have done nothing but criticize him in the fiercest manner from the get-go.

Worse is that their reckless critiques are gaining traction everyday, and the Obama presidency is sinking rapidly. This is chiefly because Obama seems incapable of mounting an effective communications strategy, incapable of advocating for his policy preferences, and incapable even of defending his administration against the most scurrilous and deceitful of attacks.

That adds salt to the already grievous wound, but worst of all is that he really is one of them. A close examination of his policies quickly reveals that they run the gamut from regressive economics to regressive foreign policy to regressive human rights and beyond.

Maybe that's why the president has such a hard time defending himself from the insane and obscene critiques of the hypocritical, historically myopic, and alternative-lacking regressive right. He's merely the kinder, gentler version of them.

Lucky us. Once we had a choice between Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

Now it's Tweedle-Destruction and Tweedle-Disaster.
(c) 2009 David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles, but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of his work can be found at his website,

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Unterfuhrer Foxx,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, your statements saying that the new health bill will kill the seniors and is worse than terrorists, took the focus off us for a few weeks, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Republican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Iron Cross first class with diamonds clusters, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 12-31-2009. We salute you Frau Foxx, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

The Crazy, Irrational Beliefs Of Muslims
By Glenn Greenwald

Tom Friedman, The New York Times, today:

Major Hasan may have been mentally unbalanced -- I assume anyone who shoots up innocent people is.

Tom Friedman, The Charlie Rose Show, May 30, 2003:

ROSE: Now that the war is over, and there's some difficulty with the peace, was it worth doing?

FRIEDMAN: I think it was unquestionably worth doing, Charlie. I think that, looking back, I now certainly feel I understand more what the war was about . . . . What we needed to do was go over to that part of the world, I'm afraid, and burst that bubble. We needed to go over there basically, and take out a very big stick, right in the heart of that world, and burst that bubble. . . .

And what they needed to see was American boys and girls going from house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, and basically saying: which part of this sentence do you understand? You don't think we care about our open society? . . . . Well, Suck. On. This. That, Charlie, was what this war was about.

We could have hit Saudi Arabia. It was part of that bubble. Could have hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could. That's the real truth.

Tom Friedman, NPR's Talk of the Nation, September 23, 2003 (via NEXIS):

That's what I believe ultimately this war was about. And guess what? People there got the message, OK, in the neighborhood. This is a rough neighborhood, and sometimes it takes a 2-by-4 across the side of the head to get that message.

* * * * *

Tom Friedman can declare with a straight face that "anyone who shoots up innocent people is ... mentally imbalanced" without seeing how clearly that applies to himself and those who think like he does. It's that self-absorbed disconnect -- seeing Hasan's murder of American soldiers as an act of consummate evil and sickness while refusing to see our own acts in a similar light -- that shapes most of our warped political discourse. And note the morality on display here: Hasan attacks soldiers on a military base of a country that has spent the last decade screaming to the world that "we're at war!!," and that's a deranged and evil act, while Friedman cheers for an unprovoked war that killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians and displaced millions more -- all justified by sick power fantasies, lame Mafia dialogue, and cravings more appropriate for a porno film than a civilized foreign policy -- and he's the arbiter of Western reason and sanity.

But even worse is the glaring dishonesty driving everything Friedman writes here. Our perpetual war cheerleader today laments that there is a "Narrative" plaguing the Muslim world that is a "cocktail of half-truths, propaganda and outright lies about America." These crazy, stupid, irrational Muslims seem to believe "that America has declared war on Islam, as part of a grand 'American-Crusader-Zionist conspiracy' to keep Muslims down," when the reality is that "U.S. foreign policy has been largely dedicated to rescuing Muslims or trying to help free them from tyranny." They see devastating attacks launched by the U.S. and Israel collectively on six Muslim countries in the last decade (including Gaza) -- all of which Friedman (along with his fellow Muslim-condemning NYT colleague) supported, naturally -- and those Muslims simply refuse to understand why they deserved it and why it was all for their own Good. According to Friedman, these benighted Muslims simply refuse to see the truth: that our two post-9/11 wars were "primarily to destroy two tyrannical regimes -- the Taliban and the Baathists -- and to work with Afghans and Iraqis to build a different kind of politics."

Six months into the war, Friedman proudly proclaimed that "the real truth" was that we invaded Iraq to take out our "big stick" and tell them to "Suck On This," to take a 2-by-4 across their heads, and that we attacked them "because we could." In his 2003 explanation with Charlie Rose, did he even mention what he now claims was the war's "primary" purpose: "to destroy two tyrannical regimes ... and to work with Afghans and Iraqis to build a different kind of politics"? No. In a very rare moment of candor for this rank war-loving propagandist, he announced very clearly the real purpose of the war, only for him to now turn around and accuse Muslims of being blind and hateful because they heard his message loud and clear, and because they don't express enough gratitude for all the gracious Freedom Bombs we've dropped -- and continue to drop -- on their homes, their villages, their families, their children and their society. Apparently, they heard deranged, chest-beating bellowing like this from America's Top Foreign Policy Expert and took it seriously:

No, the axis-of-evil idea isn't thought through -- but that's what I like about it. It says to these countries and their terrorist pals: ''We know what you're cooking in your bathtubs. We don't know exactly what we're going to do about it, but if you think we are going to just sit back and take another dose from you, you're wrong. Meet Don Rumsfeld -- he's even crazier than you are.''

There is a lot about the Bush team's foreign policy I don't like, but their willingness to restore our deterrence, and to be as crazy as some of our enemies, is one thing they have right. It is the only way we're going to get our turkey back.

It's certainly true that -- as all government leaders do -- Muslim tyrants and radical Islamists exploit foreign threats to distract attention from their own shortcomings and entrench themselves in power. Being able to depict the U.S. as a war-mongering and aggressive threat to the Muslim world is a benefit to oppressive Arab leaders as well as radical Muslim groups. But nobody fuels that message more than the Tom Friedmans of the world, whose hate-mongering words and bloodthirsty policies endow that message with more than a sufficient amount of truth.

UPDATE: Foreign Policy just released a survey from what it calls its "Top 100 Global Thinkers," a list that includes Friedman, Robert Kagan, Henry Kissinger, and David Petraeus, among others, and here were the results for this question: "What is the Most Dangerous Country in the World":

Ten percent of Foreign Policy's so-called "Smart Crowd" say the U.S. is "the most dangerous country in the world" (tied with Iran and Somalia), while 4% say it's Israel (tied with North Korea). It seems that the mentality Friedman condemns as the province of primitive, paranoid Muslims extends a bit farther than that.

UPDATE II: George Orwell, in describing "political speech and writing in our time," perfectly captured what Tom Friedman does and who he is -- along with most of our most prominent establishment political writers (see the last comment here).
(c) 2009 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy.

Barack Obama: Manchurian Candidate Version 2.0
By Dave Lindorff

I once wrote an article about former President George W. Bush saying that he was a perfect Manchurian candidate. That is, if his missing year when he was supposed to have been flying fighter jets with the Texas Air National Guard was actually spent in the former Soviet Union being reprogrammed as a covert KGB agent whose job it was to go back to America, win election to the White House, and proceed to destroy the US, he couldn't have done a better job than he actually did.

Now I wonder whether President Obama might not be a perfect Manchurian Candidate of the Republican Party, or perhaps of some nefarious foreign entity-perhaps the China or the always-enigmatic Al Qaeda. How else to explain policies that have wreaked such destruction on the Democratic Party in Washington and on the nation at large.

Consider for a moment the history of this new president in whom so many invested so much hope and enthusiasm:

Almost immediately upon taking office President Obama announced that he was appointing Timothy Geithner, part of the Bush/Cheney financial team, to head up his Treasury Department. This is the same Timothy Geithner who, as head of the New York Federal Reserve, engineered the initial give-away of $85 billion to AIG, and the subsequent pass-through of tens of billions of dollars to a handful of the nation's largest banks and investment banks-surely the largest theft of public assets by private billionaires in the history of mankind. Obama went on to name a whole gang of Wall Street crooks to run his economic policy, assuring that the recession would be not an opportunity to restore long neglected and undermined New Deal programs, but rather to crush workers and the middle class while shifting staggering sums to the wealthy.

This was followed by a deliberate policy of dropping the ball on health reform, which a vast majority of Americans was clamoring for, and allowing it to be turned into a giant wet kiss for the insurance industry, whose stocks have leapt up with each advance of the massive and massively corrupt health "reform" legislation in Congress. (The ball drop took the form of Obama simply leaving the whole task of "reforming" health care up to the Congress, staying on the sidelines while Congress blew the job.)

Then there is the military. Here Obama kicked things off by insuring that there would be no real change from the Bush/Cheney imperialist scheme by reappointing to the post of secretary of defense the same guy, Robert Gates, who was secretary of defense under President Bush. He put the general formerly in charge of the Iraq War, David Petraeus, in charge of overall Middle East military operations, and took another Bush-era general, Stanley McCrystal, who had run special ops in Iraq, in charge of the Afghanistan War. And since then he has proceeded to ramp up the Afghanistan War from a small-scale operation to a full-fledged war, with no prospect of ending it, and every sign pointing to an ever wider and bigger war in that region, possibly sucking in Pakistan and Iran.

And as for the biggest crisis facing mankind, climate change, this new president, who because of the collapse of the US auto industry had a unique opportunity to compel one of the industries most responsible for the looming global ecological catastrophe to start to fix it by beginning a massive conversion to development and production of electric vehicles and mass transit, instead dropped the ball and just provided a taxpayer bailout with the goal of getting the domestic auto industry back into the business of cranking out gas guzzlers. The president has provided no leadership on climate change at all, effectively sabotaging the global effort to reach a new treaty to limit and cut back on greenhouse gas emissions this December.

Think about this. If the Republicans had created and inserted into the Democratic Party a secret candidate designed to trick Democrats into electing him, so that he could then enact Republican policies of robbing from the poor to enrich the rich, expanding the military budget to a level not seen since World War II, putting the nation deeper into a global war against Islam, sabotaging efforts to combat climate change, and further deregulating the financial sector, could they have come up with anything better than Barack Obama?

If Al Qaeda had wanted to insinuate someone into the White House to further undermine American empire, already on shaky legs during the Bush/Cheney years, by getting the US to further overextend its military, further bankrupt its already creaky economy, and further demoralize its citizens by boosting unemployment and undermining its Constitution, could Bin Laden & Co. have come up with a better Manchurian Candidate than Barack Obama?

If China had wanted a candidate to destroy the American currency, bankrupt the US and its remaining industrial base and leave it helpless and begging to be bought out by Chinese interests (there is now serious talk of China buying General Motors), could the country's Communist rulers have done better than Barack Obama?

Now don't get me wrong. I don't think for a second that Obama is a secret Republican or a secret Al Qaeda or Chinese operative, though I know that there are right-wing Tea Baggers out there who sincerely believe the latter two scenarios (often at the same time!). I think Obama is simply another slick politician with a giant ego and a shriveled sense of principle and ethics-a man that is, not unlike most of our political class, though with better diction and smile, whose interests include himself, his family, and those who bankroll him, but certainly not you, me and the country as a whole.

But it might help if we started to think of him in these terms, because objectively what we have right now in the White House is a president who is steering the nation towards disaster as surely as if it were his goal in life.

Because he is a Democrat, and because he talked a good line during the campaign last year, progressives are disoriented and don't know how to respond to his massive betrayal of all things progressive. At this rate, by next fall, we could have a raging full-scale war going on in Afghanistan, Pakistan in a state of chaos, Iran under attack by Israel or perhaps by Israel and the US, health reform a forgotten issue, real unemployment at over 20 percent, the dollar at half the value of the British pound, and negotiations for a global climate treaty in collapse. And progressives still will not be mounting any effective protest or political action.

I'm not sure what the answer is to this crisis. Many people on the left are arguing that it is essential to abandon the Democrats and move to a third party. I think that's a great idea. The Democratic Party has proved to be absolutely corrupt and beyond salvation--useful only as a sump pump whose purpose is to suck the life out of the progressive movement, such as it is. But I also can't help noticing that the vast majority of the middle class seems still content enough to struggle on with the jobs they still have -- the 80-85 percent of them who still have jobs -- ignoring the plight of those who do not and of the poor. It was an observation made by the late John Kenneth Galbraith that the problem with modern post-industrial democracies is that the vast majority of people do well enough that they no longer care about the suffering of the minority of the population.

As long as the ruling elites are able to keep the majority at least employed and in their homes, they can tighten the screws on the rest with impunity, and that is the situation we are in today. It is hard to see a new progressive party succeeding under such circumstances.

What is undeniable is that we are witnessing the systemic and probably terminal decline of the US as an economic power, and as a military power, and that is certainly a good thing, if not for Americans, then surely for the larger world. What is remarkable is watching President Obama, who was elected by Americans who were hoping he would turn things around, again and again act to hasten that decline.
(c)2009 Dave Lindorff is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. He is author of Marketplace Medicine: The Rise of the For-Profit Hospital Chains (BantamBooks, 1992), and his latest book "The Case for Impeachment" (St. Martin's Press, 2006). His work is available at

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Dave Granlund ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

A Christmas Carol

By Tom Lehrer

One very familiar type of song is the Christmas Carol, although it is perhaps a bit out of season at this time. However, I'm informed by my "disk jockey" friends - of whom I have none, in order to get a song popular by Christmas time, you have to start plugging it well in advance, so here goes. It has always seemed to me after all, that Christmas, with it's spirit of giving, offers us all a wonderful opportunity each year to reflect on what we all most sincerely and deeply believe in. I refer of course, to money, and yet none of the Christmas Carols that you hear on the radio or in the street, even attempt to capture the true spirit of Christmas as we celebrate it in the United States, that is to say the commercial spirit. So, I should like to offer the following Christmas Carol for next year, as being perhaps a bit more appropriate.

Christmas time is here, by golly,
Disapproval would be folly,
Deck the halls with hunks of holly,
Fill the cup and don't say "when."

Kill the turkeys, ducks and chickens,
Mix the punch, drag out the Dickens,
Even though the prospect sickens,
Brother, here we go again.

On Christmas day you can't get sore,
Your fellow man you must adore,
There's time to rob him all the more
The other three hundred and sixty-four.

Relations, sparing no expense'll
Send some useless old utensil,
Or a matching pen and pencil.
"Just the thing I need, how nice!"

It doesn't matter how sincere it is
Nor how heartfelt the spirit,
Sentiment will not endear it,
What's important is the price.

Hark the Herald Tribune sings,
Advertising wondrous things.
God rest ye merry, merchants,
May you make the yuletide pay.
Angels we have heard on high
Tell us to go out and buy!

So... let the raucous sleigh bells jingle,
Hail our dear old friend Kris Kringle,
Driving his reindeer across the sky.
Don't stand underneath when they fly by.

Actually I did rather well myself this past Christmas. The nicest present I received was a gift certificate, good at any hospital, for a lobotomy! Rather thoughtful.
(c) 1959/2009

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

The president would not allow the family dog, Bo, to come
along for the "quick trip" to the store down the street.

Obama Tells Nation He's Going Out For Cigarettes
'I'll Be Right Back' Claims Commander In Chief

WASHINGTON-During a nationally televised address Tuesday, a visibly tired and worn President Obama informed the country that he was going out for a pack of cigarettes and would be back in 10 minutes or so.

At press time, it was already getting dark and he had not yet returned.

"My fellow Americans, a year ago I was elected to the office of president of the United States," Obama said. "With that responsibility comes a lot of expectations. A lot of pressure. I inherited a trillion-dollar deficit, two wars, a financial system in crisis, and a failing health care industry. I've been trying to piece it all back together, you know? Trying to be the man everyone elected me to be. The man of this White House. But sometimes-sometimes it's like I'm suffocating."

"Anyway, I'm going to go get some smokes, but I' right back," added Obama, his voice trembling slightly. "Don't wait up."

Following the unexpected announcement, a solemn Obama reportedly grabbed his keys, hugged his two daughters for what witnesses called an extended period of time, kissed his wife on the forehead, and quietly whispered, "I love you."

Secret Service agents later confirmed that a half-tearing, half-smiling Obama was greeted by Vice President Joe Biden in the White House Rose Garden. Kneeling on the lawn, Obama reportedly told "Big Joe" that he would be in charge of the country for a while, and that the vice president should keep an eye on Iraq and Iran while he was out.

"He'll be back any minute now and everything will be okay again," said press secretary Robert Gibbs, checking his watch. "Maybe the 7-Eleven he went to was out of his brand so he had to go somewhere else. Or maybe he got lost. Or...or maybe he just decided to stop and get some ice cream for everyone and that's why he's not back yet."

"Yeah, that's it," Gibbs added. "That's it."

Sources within the administration confirmed that Obama has made no contact with members of his staff since leaving on the errand. Among those observed by reporters peering out an East Wing window awaiting his return were Defense Secretary Robert Gates and first daughter Sasha Obama, who said they initially thought they heard the president coming in through the visitor's gate, but that it turned out just to be the White House dog, Bo.

Though many claimed it isn't like the president to just up and leave, sources acknowledged that Obama has seemed distant in recent weeks, worrying aloud about how he's going to keep the nation afloat during a crippling recession, or be a good role model to its more than 300 million citizens.

In addition, White House aides reportedly heard Obama mumbling "It never stops, does it?" and "This-this can't be my life" whenever unemployment climbed a percentage point, North Korea conducted another missile test, or it became apparent there would never be bipartisan support for health care reform.

"About a month ago, Barack asked what I would do if I got something I thought I really wanted, but then it turned out not to be what I expected at all," chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said. "He asked if I've ever just wanted to start fresh again, if I've ever just stopped for a second and asked myself, 'Do I really want to be the person who has to rebuild America's image abroad, only for people back home to say I'm not concentrating enough on domestic issues?'"

Added Emanuel, "Then the president looked me straight in the eyes and he said, 'Rahm, have you ever thought about just sailing off someplace forever and never, ever coming back?'"

Emanuel wasn't the only one to notice a change in Obama.

"One night after work-I think it was a meeting with the Joint Chiefs-he came home late and just sat on the edge of our bed shaking his head for 20 minutes," Michelle Obama said. "I was pretending to be asleep, so I don't think he knew I was watching, but at one point, poor Barack, he just started whimpering."

While the first lady remained confident of her husband's return, citing Obama's tendency to take long walks, Vice President Biden said he saw something in Obama's eyes that told him otherwise.

"He's gone," Biden said. "He's gone, and he ain't never coming back."
(c) 2009 The Onion

The Gross National Debt

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Issues & Alibis Vol 9 # 45(c) 12/04/2009

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