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In This Edition

Noam Chomsky tells, "What the American Media Won't Tell You About Israel."

Uri Avnery sees, "The Strong And The Sweet."

Glen Ford exposes, "The Shameless Vacuity Of Susan Rice's Black Boosters."

Robert Reich takes, "Cliff Notes On The Three Real Perils Ahead."

Jim Hightower begs, "Please, Obama, Don't do it!"

Robert Kuttner finds, "Greedy Geezers, Reconsidered."

James Donahue wonders, "What Happened To America's 'Free Press?'"

John Nichols gives, "The Secret Of Bernie Sanders' Success."

Chris Floyd examines, "Blanking Bradley Manning."

Glenn Greenwald reveals, "Obamacare Architect Leaves White House For Pharmaceutical Industry ."

Paul Krugman reviews, "The GOP's Big Budget Mumble."

David Swanson quotes Groucho in, "Military Law Is To Law As Military Music Is To Music."

Chris Hedges sees, "Katrina, All Over Again."

Peter Peterson wins the coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Radall Amster considers, "Manning Up: The Just Actions Of A 'Fan Of Sunshine'."

Adam Keller goes, "From Hebron To East-Timor -And Back."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst gives the, "Fiscal Cliff Traffic Report" but first Uncle Ernie exclaims, "It Was Twelve Years Ago Next Wednesday That We Lost America!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Jeff Darcy, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Bruce Yurgil, Tom Tomorrow, Other 98, Seymour Chwast, Gracy Krauss, David Schalliol, ISM Palestine, Reuters, Marko Djurica, The Political Christian, BR, Bill Moyers' Journal, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

Your original I & A staff! Uncle Ernie second from left!

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It Was Twelve Years Ago Next Wednesday That We Lost America!
By Ernest Stewart

"What must underlie petitioners' entire federal assault on the Florida election procedures is an unstated lack of confidence in the impartiality and capacity of the state judges who would make the critical decisions if the vote count were to proceed. Otherwise, their position is wholly without merit. The endorsement of that position by the majority of this Court can only lend credence to the most cynical appraisal of the work of judges throughout the land. It is confidence in the men and women who administer the judicial system that is the true backbone of the rule of law. Time will one day heal the wound to that confidence that will be inflicted by today's decision. One thing, however, is certain. Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law." ~~~ Justice Stevens

"This is a confidential document, last offer the president --the White House made last year to Speaker Boehner to try to reach this $4 trillion grand bargain. And it's long and it's tedious and it's got budget jargon in it. But what it shows is a willingness to cut all kinds of things, like TRICARE, which is the sacred health insurance program for the military, for military retirees; to cut Social Security; to cut Medicare. And there are some lines in there about, "We want to get tax rates down, not only for individuals but for businesses." So Obama and the White House were willing to go quite far." ~~~ Bob Woodward

"I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout." ~~~ Jonathan Swift

And then along came Jones
Tall thin Jones
Slow walkin' Jones
Slow talkin' Jones
Along came long lean lanky Jones
Along came long lean lanky Jones
Along Came Jones ~~~ The Coasters

I had awakened from a 30-year nap as a DJ back to reality in the late 90s. I had given it all up to become a writer; and, after a couple of years, began to make some headway against the man and the system. Had it been rock and roll-related, I could have done it overnight with my connections there -- and a deft understanding of the system! C'est la vie, baby!

So, just as I was making some headway -- selling some things -- along came the 2000 election. Somewhere around 1994, I left the Demoncrats, as I was hip to where Slick Willie was taking the party, and became an Independent; and so had tuned out for a spell; but then I heard the name George Walker Bush mentioned as the Rethuglican candidate for Fuhrer, and alarm bells started ringing in my head! I mean, what with the Crime Family Bush coup d'etat ability and all. Ask JFK, Ray Guns, and a couple of dozens of governments all over the world how that worked out for them!

What I knew about junior was he was a colossal waste of space. The only man in the history of Texas that could not find oil, no matter where he drilled. A man thrown out of the air force for cowardice, and cocaine addiction, and heir apparent to said crime family. The same family that had partnered with Hitler as his American banker to finance his war effort -- from building armaments factories to financing Auschwitz -- for which they pocketed 2 million dollars in profits, etc., etc., etc., for the last 170 years.

Danger! Danger, Will Robinson! So, needless to say, he had my rapt attention from that point in 1998 forward. Then came the election which Al Gore won, hands down; he won the popular and electoral vote, had not the hanky panky by George the Elder and his appointed Extreme Court justices, who conspired in an act of treason and sedition by judicial coup d'etat, overthrew the elected government, and replaced it with a ruling Junta! Which was just exactly what happened on that darkest of dark days December 12, 2000. When that decision stood without a bloody revolution, we lost what little bit of the Republic that still remained. When that happened, something inside of me snapped, and all the years fell away; and I was that radical student, just out of the army, and mad as hell about what my country had become. Then, I joined the SDS; now, I started the magazine, and began to do my part once again, for all of us -- a fight that goes on to this day!

The end result was a couple of months of frantic emails, phone calls and such, not to mention getting my act together and "Voila!," Issues & Alibis was born February 1, 2001. There you have it, cause and effect! I plan to spend December 12 raising hell and rebelling against our corpo-rat masters! How about you, America, what are your plans?

In Other News

I see where Con-gressman John Boehner got his panties in a bunch the other day when Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner presented the administration's proposals on taxes and spending. John said this to Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday..."

"I was flabbergasted. I looked at him and said, 'You can't be serious.' I've just never seen anything like it. You know, we've got seven weeks between Election Day and the end of the year. And three of those weeks have been wasted with this nonsense. The president's idea of a negotiation is, roll over and do what I ask!"

There was, of course, not a lot to bitch about in reality, as it was a fairly conservative budget proposal, as far as it went. After all, there has been some serious money spent this season by the likes of Peter Peterson, The Koch Brothers, The Devos Family and many others. Peterson put up half a billion in chump change of his own into this little scheme.

Then there is Barry, who, of course, being Barry, flip/flops back and forth, saying that all the entitlements are on the table, none of the entitlements are on the table, some of the entitlements are on the table! All I guess as part of some "Grand Bargain" that will no doubt save us from the financial crash that is just around the corner, unless, of course, that it doesn't!

Since this was, after all, the bright idea of both Barry and Peter, the outcome is assured! So, look out, poor folks, sick folks, hungry folks, and old folks. You're about to be sacrificed for the good of the Reich. If you're poor, sick, hungry, or old, it's time for you to report to "Carousel!" Tell'em Barry sent ya!

And Finally

I see where old Peter Peterson, well-known billionaire entitlement destroyer is back at it again, except, of course, he's never quit since he sold his share of Blackstone private equity for a cool 2 billion dollars. Peter took half of that vast sum and devoted it to destroying the safety net that 100 million Americans rely on for survival!

Peter put that billion in the Peter G. Peterson Foundation to target "undeniable, unsustainable, and untouchable threats to America's fiscal future," a.k.a. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Food Stamps. Peter's "modest proposal" is to gut these programs and take that money and give much-needed tax breaks to his fellow billionaires!

You may recall that three years ago, Peter's billions helped fund the high-profile panel known as the Simpson-Bowles Commission. This theoretically "bipartisan" maneuver pitched social spending cuts as an essential ingredient in any "responsible" approach to deficit reduction. This has been the wet dream of every fascist since FDR passed Social Security and doubly so since LBJ passed Medicare.

The trouble is, of course, is that these two programs have absolutely nothing to do with the debt that the Rethuglicans made with two needless wars and the Wall Street Bankers rip off of tens of trillions of dollars. Both Social Security and Medicare are paid for by the recipients directly into their accounts. Not being satisfied with stealing trillions in money from American taxpayers, they want to steal the pennies off of a dead man's eyes. So guess what? Peter Peterson wins this weeks Vidkun Quisling Award! Peter proves that at 86 years of age only the good die young!

Keepin' On

Thank mighty Zeus for the likes of "Ernie from Ontario," or we wouldn't be where we are today, in more ways than one. You may recall that Ernie practically saved me all by himself when the wicked witch of the south "Scarlett" threw me out from atop Bald Mountain a way down yonder beyond that Manson/Nixon line. Without Ernie's help, I'd still be walking back, if not rotting beside the road! Ernie is one of those "glorious bastards" from the "Usual Suspects" group that is the driving force behind our little group of "Merry Pranksters" that have been fighting for so long to restore all of our former rights, viz., The Bill of Rights and the old Republic.

Ergo, we're just $300 hundred dollars short of paying off this year's bills before next year's bills start arriving, so, as always, we need your continued support to make good things happen. There's always room for more in the "Usual Suspects," and you'll get the Usual Suspects benefits, too!

So, if you'd like to lend a hand to help us get the truth out -- truth that is so very hard to find elsewhere -- then send us what you can, whenever you can. Make us your hobby; invite your groups to lend us a hand fund-raising. A couple of good topless car washes would put us back in the black for a change. You know how that works right? Behind a building you wash the cars, so they have to pay before they play. Get a couple of teenage girls in bathing suits to stand out front on the street with signs saying topless car wash for charity. The cars come in and are met by a hot young thing, just around the corner in a bathing suit who collects a $20 bill before allowing them to the next stage, then they drive around the building to see a bunch of topless guys washing cars! I've seen Firemen do the very same thing, so it's kosher with the man! If the guys are hot enough, and the word gets out, women will storm the place to get their cars washed, too! Just a thought! We've got to fight fascism, anyway we can!


12-06-1920 ~ 12-05-2012
Thanks for the Jazz!

05-04-1923 ~ 12-06-2012
Thanks for the hard rock!


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


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

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2012 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 11 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Face Book. Follow me on Twitter.

The Israeli air force struck a UN building during the assault on Gaza in 2008-09

What the American Media Won't Tell You About Israel
The savage punishment of Gaza traces back to decades ago.
By Noam Chomsky

An old man in Gaza held a placard that read: "You take my water, burn my olive trees, destroy my house, take my job, steal my land, imprison my father, kill my mother, bombard my country, starve us all, humiliate us all, but I am to blame: I shot a rocket back."

The old man's message provides the proper context for the latest episode in the savage punishment of Gaza. The crimes trace back to 1948, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled from their homes in terror or were expelled to Gaza by conquering Israeli forces, who continued to truck Palestinians over the border for years after the official cease-fire.

The punishment took new forms when Israel conquered Gaza in 1967. From recent Israeli scholarship (primarily Avi Raz's "The Bride and the Dowry: Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinians in the Aftermath of the June 1967 War"), we learn that the government's goal was to drive the refugees into the Sinai Peninsula -and, if feasible, the rest of the population too.

Expulsions from Gaza were carried out under the direct orders of Gen. Yeshayahu Gavish, commander of the Israel Defense Forces Southern Command. Expulsions from the West Bank were far more extreme, and Israel resorted to devious means to prevent the return of those expelled, in direct violation of U.N. Security Council orders.

The reasons were made clear in internal discussions immediately after the war. Golda Meir, later prime minister, informed her Labor Party colleagues that Israel should keep the Gaza Strip while "getting rid of its Arabs." Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and others agreed.

Prime Minister Levi Eshkol explained that those expelled could not be allowed to return because "we cannot increase the Arab population in Israel" -referring to the newly occupied territories, already considered part of Israel.

In accord with this conception, all of Israel's maps were changed, expunging the Green Line (the internationally recognized borders) -though publication of the maps was delayed to permit Abba Eban, an Israeli ambassador to the U.N., to attain what he called a "favorable impasse" at the General Assembly by concealing Israel's intentions.

The goals of expulsion may remain alive today, and might be a factor in contributing to Egypt's reluctance to open the border to free passage of people and goods barred by the U.S.-backed Israeli siege.

The current upsurge of U.S.-Israeli violence dates to January 2006, when Palestinians voted "the wrong way" in the first free election in the Arab world.

Israel and the U.S. reacted at once with harsh punishment of the miscreants, and preparation of a military coup to overthrow the elected government -the routine procedure. The punishment was radically intensified in 2007, when the coup attempt was beaten back and the elected Hamas government established full control over Gaza.

Ignoring immediate offers from Hamas for a truce after the 2006 election, Israel launched attacks that killed 660 Palestinians in 2006, most of whom were civilians (a third were minors). According to U.N. reports, 2,879 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire from April 2006 through July 2012, along with several dozen Israelis killed by fire from Gaza.

A short-lived truce in 2008 was honored by Hamas until Israel broke it in November. Ignoring further truce offers, Israel launched the murderous Cast Lead operation in December.

So matters have continued, while the U.S. and Israel also continue to reject Hamas calls for a long-term truce and a political settlement for a two-state solution in accord with the international consensus that the U.S. has blocked since 1976 when the U.S. vetoed a Security Council resolution to this effect, brought by the major Arab states.
(c) 2012 Noam Chomsky is emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is co-author, with Gilbert Achcar, of Perilous Power: The Middle East & U.S. Foreign Policy: Dialogues on Terror, Democracy, War, and Justice. His most recent book is Gaza In Crisis.

The Strong And The Sweet
By Uri Avnery

IT WAS a day of joy.

Joy for the Palestinian people.

Joy for all those who hope for peace between Israel and the Arab world.

And, in a modest way, for me personally.

The General Assembly of the United Nations, the highest world forum, has voted overwhelmingly for the recognition of the State of Palestine, though in a limited way.

The resolution adopted by the same forum 65 years ago to the day, to partition historical Palestine between a Jewish and an Arab state, has at long last been reaffirmed.

I HOPE I may be excused a few moments of personal celebration.

During the war of 1948, which followed the first resolution, I came to the conclusion that there exists a Palestinian people and that the establishment of a Palestinian state, next to the new State of Israel, is the prerequisite for peace.

As a simple soldier, I fought in dozens of engagements against the Arab inhabitants of Palestine. I saw how dozens of Arab towns and villages were destroyed and left deserted. Long before I saw the first Egyptian soldier, I saw the people of Palestine (who had started the war) fight for what was their homeland.

Before the war, I hoped that the unity of the country, so dear to both peoples, could be preserved. The war convinced me that reality had smashed this dream forever.

I was still in uniform when, in early 1949, I tried to set up an initiative for what is now called the Two-State Solution. I met with two young Arabs in Haifa for this purpose. One was a Muslim Arab, the other a Druze sheik. (Both became members of the Knesset before me.)

At the time, it looked like mission impossible. "Palestine" had been wiped off the map. 78% of the country had become Israel, the other 22% divided between Jordan and Egypt. The very existence of a Palestinian people was vehemently denied by the Israeli establishment, indeed, the denial became an article of faith. Much later, Golda Meir famously declared that "there is no such thing as a Palestinian people." Respected charlatans wrote popular books "proving" that the Arabs in Palestine were pretenders who had only recently arrived. The Israeli leadership was convinced that the "Palestinian problem" had disappeared, once and forever.

In 1949, there were not a hundred persons in the entire world who believed in this solution. Not a single country supported it. The Arab countries still believed that Israel would just disappear. Britain supported its client state, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The US had its own local strongmen. Stalin's Soviet Union supported Israel.

Mine was a lonely fight. For the next 40 years, as the editor of a news magazine, I brought the subject up almost every week. When I was elected to the Knesset, I did the same there.

In 1968 I went to Washington DC, in order to propagate the idea there. I was politely received by the relevant officials in the State Department (Joseph Sisco), the White House (Harold Saunders), the US mission to the UN (Charles Yost), leading Senators and Congressmen, as well as the British father of Resolution 242 (Lord Caradon). The uniform answer from all of them, without exception: a Palestinian state was out of question.

When I published a book devoted to this solution, the PLO in Beirut attacked me in 1970 in a book entitled "Uri Avnery and Neo-Zionism."

Today, there is a world consensus that a solution of the conflict without a Palestinian state is quite out of the question.

So why not celebrate now?

WHY NOW? WHY didn't it happen before or later?

Because of the Pillar of Cloud, the historic masterpiece from Binyamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Avigdor Lieberman.

The Bible tells us about Samson the hero, who rent a lion with his bare hands. When he returned to the scene, a swarm of bees had made the carcase of the lion its home and produced honey. So Samson posed a riddle to the Philistines: "Out of the strong came forth sweetness." This is now a Hebrew proverb.

Well, out of the "strong" Israeli operation against Gaza, sweetness has indeed come forth. It is another confirmation of the rule that when you start a war or a revolution, you never know what will come out of it.

One of the results of the operation was that the prestige and popularity of Hamas shot sky-high, while the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas sank to new depths. That was a result the West could not possibly tolerate. A defeat of the "moderates" and a victory for the Islamic "extremists" were a disaster for President Barack Obama and the entire Western camp. Something had to found -with all urgency -to provide Abbas with a resounding achievement.

Fortunately, Abbas was already on the way to obtain UN approval for the recognition of Palestine as a "state" (though not yet as a full member of the world organization). For Abbas, it was a move of despair. Suddenly, it became a beacon of victory.

THE COMPETITION between the Hamas and Fatah movements is viewed as a disaster for the Palestinian cause. But there is also another way to look at it.

Let's go back to our own history. During the 30s and 40s, our Struggle for Liberation (as we called it) split between two camps, who hated each other with growing intensity.

On the one side was the "official" leadership, led by David Ben-Gurion, represented by the "Jewish Agency" which cooperated with the British administration. Its military arm was the Haganah, a very large, semi-official militia, mostly tolerated by the British.

On the other side was the Irgun ("National Military Organization"), the far more radical armed wing of the nationalist "revisionist" party of Vladimir Jabotinsky. It split and yet another, even more radical, organization was born. The British called it "the Stern Gang", after its leader, Avraham Stern".

The enmity between these organizations was intense. For a time, Haganah members kidnapped Irgun fighters and turned them over to the British police, who tortured them and sent them to camps in Africa. A bloody fratricidal war was avoided only because the Irgun leader, Menachem Begin, forbade all actions of revenge. By contrast, the Stern people bluntly told the Haganah that they would shoot anyone trying to attack their members.

In retrospect, the two sides can be seen as acting as the two arms of the same body. The "terrorism" of the Irgun and Stern complemented the diplomacy of the Zionist leadership. The diplomats exploited the achievements of the fighters. In order to counterbalance the growing popularity of the "terrorists", the British made concessions to Ben-Gurion. A friend of mine called the Irgun "the shooting agency of the Jewish Agency."

In a way, this is now the situation in the Palestinian camp.

FOR YEARS, the Israeli government has threatened Abbas with the most dire consequences if he dared to go to the UN. Abolishing the Oslo agreement and destroying the Palestinian authority was the bare minimum. Lieberman called the move "diplomatic terrorism".

And now? Nothing. Not a bang and barely a whimper. Even Netanyahu understands that the Pillar of Cloud has created a situation where world support for Abbas has become inevitable.

What to do? Nothing! Pretend the whole thing is a joke. Who cares? What is this UNO anyway? What difference does it make?

Netanyahu is more concerned about another thing that happened to him this week. In the Likud primary elections, all the "moderates" in his party were unceremoniously kicked out. No liberal, democratic alibi was left. The Likud-Beitenu faction in the next Knesset will be composed entirely of right-wing extremists, among them several outright fascists, people who want to destroy the independence of the Supreme Court, cover the West Bank densely with settlements and prevent peace and a Palestinian state by all possible means.

While Netanyahu is sure to win the coming elections and continue to serve as Prime Minister, he is too clever not to realize where he is now: a hostage to extremists, liable to be thrown out by his own Knesset faction if he so much as mentions peace, to be displaced at any time by Lieberman or worse.

ON FIRST sight, nothing much has changed. But only on first sight.

What has happened is that the foundation of the State of Palestine has now been officially acknowledged as the aim of the world community. The "Two-State solution" is now the only solution on the table. The "One-State solution", if it ever lived, is as dead as the dodo.

Of course, the apartheid one-state is reality. If nothing changes on the ground, is will become deeper and stronger. Almost every day brings news of it becoming more and more entrenched. (The bus monopoly has just announced that from now on there will be separate buses for West Bank Palestinians in Israel.)

But the quest for peace based on the co-existence between Israel and Palestine has taken a big step forwards. Unity between the Palestinians should be the next. US support for the actual creation of the State of Palestine should come soon after.

The strong must lead to the sweet.
(c) 2012 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

The Shameless Vacuity Of Susan Rice's Black Boosters
By Glen Ford

In their reflexive circling of the wagons around United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, the U.S. Black Misleadership Class reveal a total absence of political or moral values beyond the narrow pursuit of group prestige through proximity to imperial power. Even the dashiki-wearers among them care not a whit for Africa, whose rape and depopulation has been the focus of Rice's incredibly destructive career. Rice's intimate involvement in the murder of six million Congolese, her frenzied campaign to bomb and blockade Sudan, her successful instigation of regime change and race war in Libya, and her bloody-handed role in the ongoing torture of Somalia - all this means nothing to the vacuous and fawning class that claims to represent Black America.

Believing their own prestige to be entwined with Rice's fortunes, her Black boosters embrace an abettor of genocide and endless military interventions as one of their own - and indict themselves.

"By any reasonable interpretation," writes Dr. Avis A. Jones-DeWeever, Executive Director of the National Council of Negro Women, Rice has had "a stellar public service career." Dr. Jones-DeWeever apparently finds it admirable that Rice has for a decade and a half zealously shielded Rwanda and Uganda, the two main culprits in the Congolese genocide, from censure or sanction at the United Nations and in the court of world opinion. "Bold sisters," Jones-DeWeever admonishes, urging Black women to sign a petition in support of Rice, "Let this be the day we all say, Not again Never again... Not on our watch!" Yet, on their "watch" Rice's clients in the Rwandan and Ugandan armed forces and proxy "rebel" outfits have sown the chaos that has led to the rape of an estimated two million Congolese women.

Rice is widely credited with convincing President Obama to launch NATO's eight-month bombing campaign against Libya, in 2011, resulting in a racist pogrom that killed or displaced many tens of thousands of black Libyans and migrant workers - a race war that continues to this very day. For Dr. Jones DeWeever, Rice's role in this monstrous crime becomes, in language profane in its blandness, "someone who was instrumental in designing the resolution to the protracted Libyan clashes during that nation's tumultuous period within the Arab Spring." A Black bourgeois flavor to the banality of evil.

Although the broad outlines of racial atrocities by America's allies and clients in Libya are no longer in dispute, Rice has remained silent on the issue. DeWeever keeps mum, too, although as an "accomplished scholar, writer, and public speaker" - and as a person who feels qualified to assess Rice's "stellar public service career" - one would assume she is at least somewhat familiar with the plight of black Libyans on Rice's "watch." We must conclude that she simply doesn't care; that she deems the systematic murder and depopulation of blacks in Libya as immaterial compared to the need to populate U.S. high places with illustrious Black American faces.

In the same self-centered and fawning vein, incoming Congressional Black Caucus chairperson Rep. Marcia Fudge, of Cleveland, described Rice as "a person who has served this country with distinction," while offering no assessment of the substance of that service. Surely, Jefferson Davis served the Confederate cause with "distinction," too. "We will not allow a brilliant public servant's record to be mugged to cut off her consideration to be secretary of state," chimed in DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, one of the 12 Black female representatives who rallied to the defense of a woman who has been mugging an entire continent since her appointment to Bill Clinton's national security staff in 1993.

"We say hands off Ambassador Susan Rice!" Dr. Ron Daniels' Institute of the Black World, a proudly Afro-centric organization, would do better to demand that Rice and the rest of the Obama administration keep their bloody hands off Africa. Republicans are "hypocrites" who "have no moral or political authority to stand in judgment of Ambassador Susan Rice!" One can make that argument, but the Institute of the Black World and the rest of us certainly have the right and obligation to stand in judgment of a political operative and ideologue who, according to an article by Michael Hirsch in the Ethiopian Review, cavalierly dismissed the Rwanda/Uganda-sponsored M23 rebel group's murderous rampages in the Democratic Republic of Congo. "It's the eastern DRC. If it's not M23, it's going to be some other group." Rice delayed for months publication of a United Nations panel of experts report documenting M23 as a front group for Congo's neighbors, who have all but annexed the mineral-rich eastern part of the country since invading in 1996, leaving 6 million dead in their wake, half of them below the age of five. Rice and her then boss, Bill Clinton, supplied the money, arms and political cover. As Under Secretary of State for African Affairs, Rice left it up to Washington's Rwandan and Ugandan puppets to safeguard against genocide. "They know how to deal with that," Rice is quoted as saying. "The only thing we have to do is look the other way."

Rice's African American boosters also choose to look the other way. They shame us all.
(c) 2012 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

Cliff Notes On The Three Real Perils Ahead
By Robert Reich

The "fiscal cliff" is a a metaphor for a government that no longer responds to the biggest challenges we face because it's paralyzed by intransigent Republicans, obsessed by the federal budget deficit, and overwhelmed by big money from corporations, Wall Street, and billionaires.

If we had a functional government America would address three "cliffs" posing far larger dangers to us than the fiscal one:

The child poverty cliff. Between 2007 and 2011, the percentage of American school-age children living in poor households grew from 17 to 21%. Last year, according to the Agriculture Department, nearly 1 in 4 young children lived in a family that had difficulty affording sufficient food at some point in the year. Yet federal programs to help children and lower-income families - food stamps, aid for poor school districts, Pell grants, child health care, child nutrition, pre- and post-natal care, and Medicaid - are being targeted by the Republican right. Over 60 percent of the cuts in the GOP's most recent budget came out of these programs.

Even if these programs are preserved, they don't go nearly far enough. But the Obama Administration doesn't talk about reducing poverty in America. It talks only about preserving the middle class.

Yet unless we focus on better schools, better health, and improved conditions for these poor kids and their families, in a few years America will have a significant population of under-educated and desperate adults.

The baby-boomer healthcare cliff.

Healthcare costs are already 18% of GDP. Between now and 2030, when 76 million boomers join the ranks of the elderly, those costs will soar. This is the principal reason why the federal budget deficit is projected to grow.

The Affordable Care Act offers a start but it isn't nearly adequate to limit these rising costs. The President and the Democrats have to lead the way in using Medicare and Medicaid's bargaining power over providers to get lower costs and to move from a fee-for-service system to a fee-for-healthy outcomes system of healthcare.

But we can't avoid the fact we have the most expensive and least effective system of health care in the world that's spending 30 percent more on paperwork and administration than on keeping people healthy. The real healthcare cliff can only be avoided if we adopt a single-payer healthcare system.

The environmental cliff.

Global emissions of carbon dioxide jumped 3 percent in 2011 and are expected to jump another 2.6 percent this year according to scientists, putting the human race perilously close to the tipping point when ice caps irretrievably melt, sea-levels rise, and amount of available cropland in the world becomes dangerously small.

Yet Republicans (and their patrons, such as Charles and David Koch) continue to deny climate change. And the Administration is no longer pushing for a cap-and-trade system or a carbon tax.

Yet unless we act to reduce carbon emissions, other major emitters won't do so. The only binding pact so far is the Kyoto Protocol, which the U.S. never joined. And we're taking no leadership at the international climate talks now taking place in Qatar.

Yes, America does face a cliff - not a fiscal cliff but a set of precipices we'll tumble over because the GOP's obsession over government's size and spending has obscured them. And Democrats so far haven't been able or willing to sound the real alarms.
(c) 2012 Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His "Marketplace" commentaries can be found on and iTunes.

Please, Obama, Don't do it!

Now, we must consider the forthcoming celebrations in Washington for President Obama's January inauguration. Really, we must.

Unfortunately, we have to discuss this national, profoundly-symbolic, public event, because Obama advisors are urging him to privatize it! They want him to let favor-seeking corporations put up tens of millions of dollars to pay for assorted inaugural balls, concerts, and parties. As Rob Weissman of the always-vigilant watchdog group, Public Citizen, succinctly put it: "This is a patently horrible idea."

In 2009, Obama rightly rejected corporate donations for his first inaugural, but his advisors are now making a perverse argument that because this is a civic event, "corporate citizens" should be invited to buy into the dance, just as they do when buying naming rights to public museums and ballparks. Come on, Obama -we'd expect Mitt Romney to allow that, but someone needs to shout-out a loud "NO -NOT ONE STEP FURTHER" to the rampaging commercialization of all things public.

The inauguration of an American president is a uniquely, public ceremony, symbolizing our people's commitment to the democratic transference of power. To stain that with crass special-interest money is an insult to the very idea of America. And a corporate-purchased inaugural would be compounded this time, because it will take place on January 21. That very day will mark the third anniversary of the Supreme Court's infamous Citizens United decree that corporations should be allowed to buy our elections.

If Obama does give in to the money, he should have to take the oath of office in a suit and tie emblazoned -like a NASCAR driver -with the logos of his sponsoring corporations. To tell Obama to keep his inaugural corporate-free, call the White House comment line: 202-456-1111.
(c) 2012 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

Greedy Geezers, Reconsidered

By Robert Kuttner

In the current downturn, the vast majority of the elderly are suffering along with the young. The right cure would help both generations.

For three decades, conservative critics have been warning that the elderly are living too well at the expense of the young. Since the early 1980s, financier Peter G. Peterson has been predicting that Social Security's excessive generosity would crash the retirement system and the economy. The late British journalist Henry Fairlie, in 1988, famously wrote a piece in The New Republic with the cover line "Greedy Geezers," faulting the elderly for living too well at the expense of the young.

Thanks to the economic boom of the late 1990s, senior bashing went into temporary eclipse. With full employment and rising wages, payroll tax receipts swelled the Social Security trust funds. In the three years between 1997 and 2000, the system's projected year of reckoning-when it could no longer pay all of its claims-receded by eight years (from 2029 to 2037). At that rate, Social Security would soon be in perpetual surplus. All it took to balance the system's books was decent wage growth, since Social Security is funded by taxes on wages. The government's general budget went into the black in 1999, and economists were projecting that the national debt would soon be paid off.

However, the Bush tax cuts, the costs of two wars, an inefficient privatized Medicare drug plan, and the financial collapse of 2008 drove the budget back into deep deficit and gave new life to the Social Security Cassandras. Unemployment soared, payroll taxes plummeted, and a deep economic slump followed. Now, Social Security is once again projected to lack the funds to pay out all of its claims, as early as 2033.

Apart from the cause and cure of Social Security's projected deficit, there was always one fallacy at the core of the greedy-geezers fable: The vast majority of the elderly are far from wealthy. The median income of elderly Americans in 2010 was just $25,704 for males and $15,072 for females. Almost two-thirds of the elderly depend on Social Security for at least 70 percent of their entire income. The income of the very wealthy elderly is outsize, but that's hardly a reason for cutting Social Security for everyone else. Peterson contends that "a substantial part of these [Social Security] retirement payments go to people like me"-affluent folks who can do without the money. But according to Michael Hiltzik, a business columnist for the Los Angeles Times, the $1.14 billion in Social Security payments that went to recipients earning $1 million or more in 2009 amounted to less than one-fifth of 1 percent of all benefits paid. If we want government to recapture that money, it's far better to use the progressive income tax than to cut Social Security benefits across the board.

A huge part of the austerity crusade has been based on moral claims of generational justice. Supposedly, Social Security and Medicare are contributing to the massive public debt that older boomers and retired people are selfishly passing along to their children and grandchildren. As these obligations come due and payable, interest rates and taxes will rise, and future generations will suffer reduced living standards because of our own profligacy and short-sightedness. This story has become a staple of both conservative and centrist political rhetoric. It was the centerpiece of the Bowles-Simpson Commission that President Barack Obama appointed in 2010 to devise a deficit-reduction plan. In The New York Times, moderate liberal columnist Thomas Friedman parrots it, as does conservative David Brooks. The Washington Post editorial page as well as Post financial writers like Lori Montgomery and even the usually liberal Steven Pearlstein take it as gospel. As former Republican Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire warned, if the debt is not reduced, "our children will have less of a quality of life than we've had. ... They will have a government they can't afford ... and we will be demanding so much of them in the area of taxes that they will not have the money to send their kids to college or buy that home or just live a good quality life."

But the economics of this narrative are just about backward. The well-being of our children and grandchildren in 2023 or 2033 is not a function of how much debt reduction we target or enforce in this decade or how much we slash Social Security and Medicare but of whether we get economic growth back on track. Austerity is exactly the wrong way to restore growth.

If we cut deficits, decrease social spending, and tighten our belts, as the budget hawks recommend, the effect will be to reduce purchasing power in a fragile recovery. The case for deficit reduction rests on the premise that investors fear that deficits will increase inflation. But in a depressed economy, the problem is the opposite-deflation. The government is able to sell 30-year bonds for less than 3 percent interest. If investors were worried about inflation, nobody would take that risk. Despite conservative claims that cutting the deficit will "restore confidence," businessmen are not hesitating to invest because they're waiting for a deficit deal. They are hesitating because they don't see enough willing customers for the products.

If the government cuts the deficit in a still-weak recovery, it will condemn the economy to stagnant growth and flat or declining wages. That will indeed leave the next generation a lot poorer. The existing debt will loom larger relative to the size of the economy, and there will be too few public funds to invest in the education, employment, job training, and research outlays that our children and grandchildren need. It's not as if the budget hawks are proposing a dollar-for-dollar shift of Social Security and Medicare funds into social investment that serves the young.

There's an even more basic fallacy in the generational-justice story. In reality, non-rich young people and non-rich elderly are common victims. The same trends that have been devastating for young adults have been harmful for the elderly as well. Both groups have suffered from what Yale political scientist Jacob Hacker calls "the great risk-shift," though in different ways.

In the past three decades, the young have taken on a trillion dollars of college debt as a result of rising tuition costs and defunded public universities. The homeownership rate is declining among young adults; even in an era of 4 percent mortgages many cannot qualify for home loans because of their existing college-debt load. Entry-level jobs are less likely to pay a decent wage or to have good health and pension benefits than they were as recently as the 1990s. The cost of decent child care is beyond the means of millions of young adults who want to have families. But during the same period, the economy has also turned brutally against the elderly.

The postwar system of traditional "defined benefit" pension plans organized and guaranteed by employers has moved inexorably in the direction of 401(k) plans and other savings schemes that are not pensions at all. In the early 1980s, nearly 60 percent of all American workers had traditional pension plans that guaranteed them a fixed monthly pension check until they died. The more generous plans paid health and pension benefits to spouses as well, and funding them was the responsibility of the employer. By contrast, 401(k) plans shift most of the costs and all of the risks to the retiree. A 401(k) plan is simply a pot of tax-deferred savings. When the money runs out, it's gone.

Work by Alicia Munnell, former vice president for research of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston who heads the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College's business school, has demonstrated that the funds in 401(k) plans are pitifully inadequate. The typical worker on the verge of retirement (age 55 to 64) has just $42,000 in his or her 401(k). If you convert that sum into an annuity, which guarantees a monthly payment as long as you live, it produces about $2,000 a year. The average Social Security benefit is just over $14,000 a year. Try living on $16,000 a year as a retired person.

Meanwhile, the percentage of private-sector workers covered by traditional pension plans declined from 62 percent in 1975 to 7 percent by 2009, according to the Employee Benefits Research Institute. Furthermore, many of these plans are underfunded, because employers tend to overstate the projected rate of return on fund assets in order to reduce the current contributions they have to make. Both public-employee and corporate plans have been cutting benefits. Virtually no newly created corporations since the early 1980s offer defined-benefit pension plans. The remaining traditional plans are the natural targets of corporate raiders like Bain Capital, which take operating companies into bankruptcy, where they can strip their pension plans. Almost every major airline has used this device to cut its pension obligations.

Most public workers still have traditional pension plans, but these are increasingly vulnerable fiscally and politically. Republican governors and mayors have used the budget crisis as a pretext for going after public-employee pension benefits, even though many state and local workers have paid into these plans, often as a trade-off for wages. Many public-sector workers, moreover, are not covered by Social Security. But as private-sector employees have lost benefits, the politics of protecting good pensions has turned against government workers. At a time when private-sector workers have been suffering high unemployment and declining wages, many look askance at the public employee's decent pension and health benefits. Rather than concluding, "I want what she has," the citizen is more likely to decide that the public worker has it too good. Public pension plans have also been underfunded, casualties of tax and budget assaults against state and local government and the general economic downturn.

The elderly have been clobbered by recent trends in three other respects. The lingering effects of the financial collapse have led the Federal Reserve to keep reducing interest rates, in the hope of levitating the economy. The medicine has kept the economy from sinking even further into depression. However, the flip side of Fed Chair Ben Bernanke's low interest rates is low earnings on savings for those on fixed incomes. Rates paid by certificates of deposit and money-market mutual funds are around 1 percent or 2 percent. If you want to invest in a Treasury bond, you might get 2.5 percent. Elderly people who counted on decent yields from their savings are out of luck.

Stocks may or may not pay higher returns, but they are classically investments "for the long run." The market delivers reliable returns over a span of two or three decades; however, most retired people won't live two or three decades. Any competent investment adviser will counsel a person over 65 that his or her investment portfolio should be mostly in bonds or cash savings. In this economy, that also means pitifully low returns.

The other prime asset held by the elderly is home equity. But the same financial collapse that led the Fed to turn to record-low interest rates was devastating to home equity. The crash reduced home equity by about $9 trillion, and most of those losses hit ordinary homeowners who never used subprime loans; they were innocent bystanders. When times were good, a senior citizen approaching age 70 might choose to downsize by selling the family home, moving to smaller quarters, and putting the proceeds into a nest egg that could earn a decent return. Now, the same retiree has much depleted capital assets, and the return on them is pitiful.

Although Medicare is blamed for consuming too many resources, that's mainly the result of the inefficient larger health system in which it resides. America's largely private system looks for profit centers, not for the most cost-effective care and prevention. Medicare, keep in mind, merely pays bills; the rest of the system is largely commercial. While Medicare's costs are rising to the taxpayer, from the perspective of a senior citizen, the program covers a diminishing percentage of doctor and hospital bills. Decent private "medi-gap" insurance that covers what Medicare doesn't costs upward of $2,000 a year. In addition, Medicare premiums keep increasing; Social Security is adjusted for inflation, but in recent years all of those adjustments and more have gone to pay for those rising Medicare costs.

In the high-unemployment economy since the economic collapse of 2008, the percentage of people in the labor force has declined for all age groups with one notable exception. People over age 65, and to an even greater extent over age 72, are increasing their employment, because they can't afford to retire.

Thus the "greedy geezer" 2012 model.

According to its most recent filings with the Internal Revenue Service, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation has spent just under half a billion dollars to persuade the young that they can't trust that Social Security will be there for them; that the debts run up by their elders are depriving them of a future; that money spent on the old diverts money spent on the young; and that the single most important public-policy challenge is to reduce the federal deficit, with cuts in Social Security benefits as the centerpiece.

Democrats have protected Social Security so far, but it was President Obama who appointed the Bowles-Simpson Commission. Obama continues to be heavily influenced by the claim of the commission, Peterson, and the media amen-chorus that the United States needs a grand bargain of deficit reduction that includes Social Security and Medicare cuts. Obama came perilously close to embracing this approach in the 2011 budget negotiations and was saved from himself only by the Republican refusal to entertain a nickel of tax increases on anyone. What Democrats have a hard time saying is that cuts in Social Security are not only unjust but unnecessary. According to the 2012 report of the Social Security Trustees, the system's long-term deficit is about 1 percent of gross domestic product. The slight worsening of Social Security's projected finances is entirely the result of high unemployment and the deterioration of workers' incomes. If wages rose with productivity, as they did in the postwar era and briefly in the late 1990s, Social Security would be solvent forever.

In the next Congress, the economy is at risk of a deeper slump caused by premature deficit reduction and needless cuts in Social Security and Medicare. We may be craving a new bipartisanship, but not this brand. The claims of generational warfare and the need for an austerity cure are built on factual fallacies and dubious economics. Despite the pamphleteering of the Peterson Foundation et al., the best way to make sense of the widening schisms in this economy is not old versus young. It is top 1 percent versus everyone else.
(c) 2012 Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect magazine, as well as a Distinguished Senior Fellow of the think tank Demos. He was a longtime columnist for Business Week, and continues to write columns in the Boston Globe and Huffington Post. He is the author of A Presidency in Peril: The Inside Story of Obama's Promise, Wall Street's Power, and the Struggle to Control our Economic Future, Obama's Challenge, and other books.

What Happened To America's 'Free Press?'
By James Donahue

A recent Gallup poll has shown that American distrust of the corporate press and specifically political news coverage has dropped to an all-time high. The poll shows that 60 percent of the people have little or no trust in the so-called "news" now being dished out by the established news outlets.

The negativity toward the media appears to have hit an all-time high during the 2012 presidential campaign, which dominated the television news outlets for two years before it came to a mud-slinging advertising barrage conclusion on Election Day, November 12.

The problem appears to be the fact that nearly all of the newspapers and television stations are now owned by six media corporations, General Electric, Walt Disney, News Corp., Time Warner, CBS and Viacom. The corporate bosses control what Americans read, see and hear on their televisions, radios and in their local newspapers.

The television channel "news" stations like CNN, MSNBC and Fox feature a daily barrage of talking heads . . . people presented as experts in the political arena, who spew biased opinions about just about everything occurring in Washington and in hot-spots around the world.

Some of the people involved in gathering and reporting the news have become so concerned about the way contemporary news is distorted and controlled that they are beginning to fight back . . . often at the cost of their jobs.

Most noted among them were Cindy Michaels and Tony Consiglio, anchors at ABC affiliate WVII and Fox affiliate WFVX in Bangor, Maine who both resigned on the air. They said in interviews with the Bangor Daily News that management prevented them from running a balanced newsroom.

CNN journalist Amber Lyon walked away from her career after publically exposing her employers as accepting government money to hide certain stories from the public. She said she did want to participate in the promotion of "government lies." Lyon said CNN International was accepting money from oppressive Islamic nations, including Bahrain, to promote flattering stories and hiding the regime oppression that was occurring.

A recent essay by Paul McMasters, former editorial page editor at USA Today and ombudsman for the Freedom Forum, described the government's successful management of the news media. He wrote that "the press and its advocates must confront the hard reality that the press cannot serve as an instrument of freedom when they become a tool of government."

McMasters does not imply that government and corporate bosses are in total control of the news, but he points to the power people in high places have in defining the news about key political issues when journalists allow it.

Because all big media outlets are corporate-owned, the bottom line is always profit. Thus staff writers are encouraged to produce their stories without taking the extra time to dig for additional information. Investigative journalism is an almost forgotten art. Reporters can't do it because they don't have the time.

Consequently the Washington Press Corps reporters often get by with attending briefings and making a few telephone calls. Whatever their sources tell them becomes the news story. Management encourages reporters not to go beyond the canned press releases, briefings and insider interviews.

Reporters that dare to step out of these boundaries and make waves can quickly be branded as trouble-makers. They are the ones that get passed by when decisions about promotions are made.

This is the subtle way in which today's news is controlled.

It had a lot to do with the failure on the part of American journalists to get all of the facts leading up to and during the Bush Administration's invasion of Iraq under false assumptions that Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein was harboring "weapons of mass destruction."

Critics are now questioning why the media failed to inform the public about the reasons Bush went to war against Iraq and the way the war was fought. They are looking at the embedded reporter system, which became a key factor in the way the Pentagon twisted the media to become a propaganda outlet.

Indeed, the Fox News Channel's motto: "Fair and Balanced Reporting," has become an oxymoron in the business. It is something news reporters once strived for. But fair and balanced news is something we rarely get.

As long as the business end of the corporate-owned media maintains its grip on the news that is reported, this will never change.
(c) 2012 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT): "For the life of me, I can't figure out why progressives listen to consultants.
Building movements, making progress on progressive issues -you have to talk to people, educate people, organize people."

The Secret Of Bernie Sanders' Success
By John Nichols

"We will not accept cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid," declared U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders Monday night, at The Nation Institute dinner where the independent senator from Vermont was cheered for his absolute defense of programs that he argues must not be sacrificed to the austerity demands of those who would toss working American off the "fiscal cliff."

That Sanders is a hero to progressives, like those who gathered Monday night in New York for the annual event, is no secret.

But what is the Sanders secret?

How does an independent senator, who refuses to accept the false constructs of the Republican right and its media echo chamber, who calls out compromising Democrats, and who rejects the centrist fantasies of so many pundits, keep winning elections by overwhelming margins? And what can progressives learn from his political success --and aggressive progressivism --as they engage in the fiscal-cliff fight, prepare for the coming Congress and set the stage for the elections of 2014 and 2016?

To begin with, Sanders does not accept conventional wisdom, and he does not play by conventional political rules.

The narratives spun by political and media elites throughout the 2012 election campaign were all about money and television buys, polls and personalities. Both major parties focused on a narrow set of issues, and an even narrower set of appeals directed to a conventional wisdom that imagined Americans wanted only drab variations on the moderate themes sounded by Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in their last debate. But in Vermont, the most refreshingly unconventional politician in America was coasting toward re-election with a campaign that broke all the rules.

Sanders ran no attack ads. In fact, he ran no TV commercials. He finished the campaign still speaking in full sentences, not soundbites; still inviting voters to ask complicated questions on controversial issues-and still answering with big, bold proposals to address climate change, really reform healthcare with a single-payer "Medicare for All" program, steer money away from the Pentagon and toward domestic jobs initiatives, and counter the threat of plutocracy posed by Citizens United by amending the Constitution. Rejecting the empty partisanship of the pre-election frenzy, Sanders was ripping the austerity agenda of Romney and Paul Ryan, while warning that Obama and too many Democrats were inclining toward an austerity-lite "grand bargain" that would make debt reduction a greater priority than saving Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Despite breaking all "the rules, Sanders, who was honored Monday night by The Nation Institute, won --big. The senator took 71 percent of the vote versus just 25 percent for his closest rival, Republican John MacGovern, a businessman and four-term Massachusetts state legislator who promised to replace "the only admitted socialist in the US Senate." Sanders won among women and men, across income and education categories, and in every region --even carrying the corners of the state that backed Romney. "I go crazy with all these Democrats saying you have to go conservative to win, you have to go cautious to win. These damned consultants come in and say, 'This is how you have to run,' and it's always the same: raise money, spend it on television, don't say anything that will offend anyone. And the Democrats do it and then they end up in tight races, worried about whether they'll make it," says Sanders, who caucuses with Democrats but rarely takes advice from anyone in Washington. "For the life of me, I can't figure out why progressives listen to consultants. Building movements, making progress on progressive issues-you have to talk to people, educate people, organize people."

So Sanders took the money he raised for his re-election campaign and put it into an energetic door-knocking project that began long before other candidates were running TV ads. The point wasn't to build name recognition; through forty years of losing and then winning elections, Sanders has been to virtually every town in the state. At the roughly 20,000 doors knocked on by the legions of Sanders volunteers during this campaign, the "ask" was for a lot more than votes. Vermonters were urged to come out and spend a few hours-yes, a few hours-with Sanders at their town halls. "We've organized meetings in towns of 300, and more than 100 people show up. They stay into the evening, talking about saving post offices and getting people dental care and bringing troops home from Afghanistan."

Sanders bristles when pundits who don't know Vermont dismiss his approach to campaigning as a regional deviation that might work in what is often portrayed as a quirky liberal state that couldn't possibly have relevance for the rest of the country. "It wasn't that long ago that Vermont was one of the most Republican states in the country. Until two years ago, the governor was a Republican; the lieutenant governor is a Republican. This is a significantly rural state. This is a state with some very conservative regions." Yet, Sanders won by wide margins even in areas where Democrats run poorly. Why? Because the senator does not waste money on TV commercials designed to scare or fool voters into backing him. Rather, he goes where voters live. Personal Democracy Media co-founder and editorial director Micah Sifry, who has followed Sanders and Vermont politics for years, recalls: "Visiting hunting lodges to talk about protecting natural resources for hunting and fishing and establishing a connection with [hunters] was one of the ways that Sanders managed to earn the trust of the predominantly conservative and working-class Northeast Kingdom section of Vermont, which regularly gives Sanders, a self-declared socialist, its hearty support."

If national Democrats did the same, Sanders suggests, there could be many more progressive Democrats representing rural states. He gets furious at the "swing-state strategies" that target a few competitive states and districts while neglecting the long-term work of building support in "What's the Matter With Kansas?" areas.

As the 2012 race took shape, there was plenty of discussion about the prospect that the Vermonter would become a target of Karl Rove and the right-wing money machine. After all, says the senator, "There's nobody Wall Street likes less." Former Republican Governor Jim Douglas weighed the race seriously before deciding not to run. "Why didn't they think they could come in and shout 'socialist' and 'radical' and take me out?" asks Sanders. "I think they realized they can't roll over someone who has built real connections with people, not with thirty-second ads but by holding town meetings, by using newsletters to talk about economic issues, by taking their side when the big fights come."

That last piece of the equation is what worries Sanders most. He thought Obama and the Democrats ran far too cautious a campaign this fall. "Why, in God's name, in a tight race, did Barack Obama have a hard time saying six words: 'I will never cut Social Security'? Why won't these Democrats say: 'We will never cut Social Security'?" wonders Sanders. "If they can't say that, how are they ever going to go after Wall Street?" The American people have answers to those questions, he says: "They think it has a lot to do with where campaign money comes from." Since the election, Sanders has been cheered by the fact that Obama and the Democrats have been firm in their defenses of Social Security during the initial "fiscal cliff" negotiations. But he still worries that the bargaining could threaten Medicare and Medicare. If Democrats compromise, Sanders says, a lot of voters will believe they were unduly influenced by the money power. In the Citizens United era, the senator thinks Democrats, even (perhaps especially) progressive Democrats, need to get better at winning elections without relying on big money and the cookie-cutter strategies of campaign consultants. It's a lesson they could learn from Bernie Sanders.
(c) 2012 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His new book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, has just been published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Blanking Bradley Manning
NYT and AP Launch Operation Amnesia
By Chris Floyd

On Thursday, Bradley Manning, one of the foremost prisoners of conscience in the world today, testified in open court --the first time his voice has been heard since he was arrested, confined and subjected to psychological torture by the U.S. government.

An event of some newsworthiness, you might think. Manning has admitted leaking documents that detailed American war crimes in the invasion and occupation of Iraq. He has been held incommunicado for more than 900 days by the Obama administration. Reports of his treatment at the hands of his captors have sparked outrage, protests and concern around the world. He was now going to speak openly in a pre-trial hearing on a motion to dismiss his case because of that treatment. Surely such a moment of high courtroom drama would draw heavy media coverage, if only for its sensationalistic aspects.

But if you relied on the nation's pre-eminent journal of news reportage, the New York Times, you could have easily missed notice of the event altogether, much less learned any details of what transpired in the courtroom. The Times sent no reporter to the hearing, but contented itself with a brief bit of wire copy from AP, tucked away on Page 3, to note the occasion.

That story --itself considered of such little importance by AP that it didn't even by-line the piece (perhaps the agency didn't send a reporter either, but simply picked up snippets from other sources) --reduced the entire motion, and the long, intricate, systematic government attack on Manning's psyche, to a matter of petty petulance on Manning's part, a whiner's attempt to weasel out of what's coming to him. This is AP's sole summary of the motion and its context:

Private Manning is trying to avoid trial in the WikiLeaks case. He argues that he was punished enough when he was locked up alone in a small cell for nearly nine months at the brig in Quantico and had to sleep naked for several nights.

It is clear what the unnamed writer wants the reader to take away from his passage. We are supposed to think: "That's it? That's all he's got? That they gave him a private room and made him sleep in the buff for a few nights? Is that supposed to be torture?"

As we noted here the other day, the New York Times is the pacesetter for the American media; it plays a large part in setting the parameters of acceptable discourse and honing the proper attitude that serious, respectable people should take toward current events. The paper's treatment of Manning's court appearance is exemplary in this regard. The case is worth noting, yes, but only briefly, in passing; Manning himself is a rather pathetic figure whose treatment by the government, while perhaps not ideal in all respects, has not been especially harsh or onerous. This is what serious, respectable people are meant to believe about the case; and millions do.

For the actual details of Manning's hearing --which actually began a few days before his appearance --you have to turn to foreign papers, such as the Guardian, whose coverage of Manning's situation has been copious. The Guardian provided two long stories (here and here), totalling 68 paragraphs, on Manning's testimony, both written by one the paper's leading reporters, Ed Pilkington, who was actually present in the courtroom. This was preceded by three long stories (here, here and here), also by Pilkington reporting on the scene, about previous testimony in the hearing, from the brig's commander and from the Marine psychiatrist overseeing Manning's condition.

As noted, the Times provided only the single wire story, 11 paragraphs long, during the entire week of testimony. Contrast this to the paper of record's treatment of those other prisoners of conscience, Pussy Riot, when they were put on trial by the Russian government this summer. In an eight-day period surrounding the trial, the Times ran no less that 14 stories on Pussy Riot's plight. Later this fall, when sentencing hearings were held for the group, the NYT ran 13 stories in a comparable time period.

I believe Pussy Riot's case warranted such coverage. But certainly Manning's case --involving revelations of war crime, mass murder, brutality and his own unconscionable treatment by an American government that lectures other nations, including Russia, about impartial justice and human rights --is of at least equal weight. But of course, it is easier --not to mention more politic, and profitable --to run 27 stories about the Kremlin's harsh and wildly disproportionate punishment for an act of civil disobedience while dribbling out a single reductive, dismissive story about entirely similar actions by the American government.

Again, recall the NYT/AP appraisal of Manning's motion: "He argues that he was punished enough when he was locked up alone in a small cell for nearly nine months" and had to "sleep naked for several nights." Here, from Pilkington, is what really happened. We begin with Manning's treatment in Kuwait, where he was first incarcerated --a period entirely ignored by the NYT, although it took up much of his six-hour testimony.

"I didn't know what was going on, I didn't have formal charges or anything, my interactions were very limited with anybody else, so it was very draining."

[Manning] was put on a schedule whereby he would be woken up at 10 o'clock at night and given lights out at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. "My nights blended into my days and my days into nights," he told the court. ... The guards stopped taking him out of his cell so that he became entirely cut off from human company. "Someone tried to explain to me why, but I was a mess, I was starting to fall apart." Military police began coming into his cell in a tent in the Kuwaiti desert two or three times a day doing what they called a "shakedown": searching the cell and tearing it apart in the process.

Eventually, Manning was strapped into an airplane and transported to the Marine Corps prison at Quantico, Virginia. There he was placed under the brig's most restrictive regime: contact with other people, being kept in his cell for more than 23 hours a day, being checked every five minutes, sleeping on a suicide mattress with no bedding, having his prescription glasses taken away, lights kept on at night, having toilet paper removed.

... [The cell was] 6ft by 8ft. The cell contained a toilet that was in the line of vision of the observation booth, and he was not allowed toilet paper. When he needed it, he told the court, he would stand to attention by the front bars of the cell and shout out to the observation guards: "Lance Corporal Detainee Manning requests toilet paper!"

... For the first few weeks of his confinement in Quantico he was allowed only 20 minutes outside the cell, known as a "sunshine call". Even then whenever he left his cell -and this remained the case throughout his nine months at the marine brig -he was put into full restraint: his hands were handcuffed to a leather belt around his waist and his legs put in irons, which meant that he could not walk without a staff member holding him.

... He was under observation throughout the night, with a fluorescent light located right outside the cell blazing into his eyes. While asleep he would frequently cover his eyes with his suicide blanket, or turn on to his side away from the light, and on those occasions, sometimes three times a night, the guards would bang on his cell bars to wake him up so they could see his face. ... He was forbidden from taking exercise in his cell, and ... allowed out of the cell for at most one hour a day for the entire nine months at Quantico.

The official reason given for this treatment was Manning's mental health; he was supposedly a "suicide risk" who must be kept under special measures. This assessment by the brig commander was refuted by the brig's own psychiatrist, who testified during this week's hearing:

The psychiatrist who treated the WikiLeaks suspect, Bradley Manning, while he was in custody in the brig at Quantico has testified that his medical advice was regularly ignored by marine commanders who continued to impose harsh conditions on the soldier even though he posed no risk of suicide.

Captain William Hoctor told Manning's pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade that he grew frustrated and angry at the persistent refusal by marine officers to take on board his medical recommendations. The forensic psychiatrist said that he had never experienced such an unreceptive response from his military colleagues, not even when he treated terrorist suspects held at Guantanamo.

"I had been a senior medical officer for 24 years at the time, and I had never experienced anything like this. It was clear to me they had made up their mind on a certain course of action, and my recommendations had no impact," Hoctor said. ....

By 27 August 2010, Hoctor testified, he had spent enough time with Manning to recommend a further easing of conditions. From then on he advised in a regular weekly report that Manning should be ... returned to the general brig population.

... The blanket denial of his expert opinion was unprecedented in his quarter century of practice, the psychiatrist said. "Even when I did tours in Guantanamo and cared for detainees there my recommendations on suicidal behaviour were followed."

Hoctor said he openly protested about the thwarting of his expert opinion at a meeting with the commander responsible for the brig, Colonel Robert Oltman, on 13 January 2011. ... Hoctor said that the marine commanders should no longer pretend they were acting out of medical concern for the detainee. "It wasn't good for Manning. I really didn't like them using a psychiatric standard when I thought it clinically inappropriate," Hoctor said.

The court heard that Oltman replied: "You make your recommendations, and we'll do what we want to do."

This is the treatment that Barack Obama upheld in his one public comment on the case, in 2011. Obama said that Manning's treatment was "appropriate and meeting our basic standards." In a private fundraiser that year, Obama went further and declared Manning --who is yet to stand trial --guilty: "He broke the law." As Horton said, the government had made up its mind "on a certain course of action" --trying to break Manning's mind and will in its larger goal of punishing WikiLeaks for its multiple revelations of Washington's crime and folly around the world. And from brig commander to commander-in-chief, it followed this course with admirable discipline.

As Pilkington notes, it was one of Manning's efforts to show how sane he was --and his misplaced trust in a guard --that led to the most infamous aspect of his imprisonment: the forced nudity that his captors found so titillating:

[Manning] related how he turned for help to one particular member of staff at the brig at Quantico marine base in Virginia where he was taken in July 2010. He assumed that Staff Sergeant Pataki was on his side, so opened up to him.

"I wanted to convey the fact that I'd been on the [restrictive regime] for a long time. I'm not doing anything to harm myself. I'm not throwing myself against walls, or jumping up or down, or putting my head in the toilet."

Manning told Pataki that "if I was a danger to myself I would act out more". He used his underwear and flip-flops as an example, insisting that "if I really wanted to hurt myself I could use things now: underwear, flip-flops, they could potentially be used as something to harm oneself".... Manning felt good about his interaction with Pataki. "I felt like he was listening and understanding, and he smiled a little. I thought I'd actually started to get through to him." That night guards arrived at his cell and ordered him to strip naked. He was left without any clothes overnight, and the following morning made to stand outside his cell and stand to attention at the brig count, still nude, as officers inspected him.

The humiliating ritual continued for several days, and right until the day he was transferred from Quantico on 20 April 2011 he had his underwear removed every night. ...

All this is what the Times and AP have reduced to nothing more than being "locked up alone in a small cell" and having to "sleep naked for several nights." Nothing at all about the draconian restrictions; nothing at all about "shakedowns," wake-ups, 24-hour surveillance in bright light (even on the toilet), isolation, chains, deprivation, betrayal, interrogation, and forced nudity --not just when he was sleeping (in bright light, under observation) but also out in corridors, while "officers inspected him."

All of this has been erased by the 'objective' reporting of the NYT and AP. None of this is to be known or considered by serious, respectable people. It didn't happen. It doesn't matter. Manning is a whiner who made America look bad, and in doing so, he helped a website that made America look bad. That's all that really matters. The details of his treatment --not to mention the details of what he and WikiLeaks revealed --are unimportant. You don't have to think about it. Just nod your head, shrug your shoulders, and go about your business.
(c) 2012 Chris Floyd

Former WellPoint VP Elizabeth Fowler sits behind her boss, Sen. Max Baucus,
as he announces in 2009 that the health care bill will have no public option.

Obamacare Architect Leaves White House For Pharmaceutical Industry Job
Few people embody the corporatist revolving door greasing Washington as purely as Elizabeth Fowler
By Glenn Greenwald

When the legislation that became known as "Obamacare" was first drafted, the key legislator was the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Max Baucus, whose committee took the lead in drafting the legislation. As Baucus himself repeatedly boasted, the architect of that legislation was Elizabeth Fowler, his chief health policy counsel; indeed, as Marcy Wheeler discovered, it was Fowler who actually drafted it. As Politico put it at the time: "If you drew an organizational chart of major players in the Senate health care negotiations, Fowler would be the chief operating officer."

What was most amazing about all of that was that, before joining Baucus' office as the point person for the health care bill, Fowler was the Vice President for Public Policy and External Affairs (i.e. informal lobbying) at WellPoint, the nation's largest health insurance provider (before going to WellPoint, as well as after, Fowler had worked as Baucus' top health care aide). And when that health care bill was drafted, the person whom Fowler replaced as chief health counsel in Baucus' office, Michelle Easton, was lobbying for WellPoint as a principal at Tarplin, Downs, and Young.

Whatever one's views on Obamacare were and are: the bill's mandate that everyone purchase the products of the private health insurance industry, unaccompanied by any public alternative, was a huge gift to that industry; as Wheeler wrote at the time: "to the extent that Liz Fowler is the author of this document, we might as well consider WellPoint its author as well." Watch the five-minute Bill Moyers report from 2009, embedded below, on the key role played in all of this by Liz Fowler and the "revolving door" between the health insurance/lobbying industry and government officials at the time this bill was written and passed.

More amazingly still, when the Obama White House needed someone to oversee implementation of Obamacare after the bill passed, it chose . . . Liz Fowler. That the White House would put a former health insurance industry executive in charge of implementation of its new massive health care law was roundly condemned by good government groups as at least a violation of the "spirit" of governing ethics rules and even "gross", but those objections were, of course, brushed aside by the White House. She then became Special Assistant to the President for Healthcare and Economic Policy at the National Economic Council.

Now, as Politico's "Influence" column briefly noted on Tuesday, Fowler is once again passing through the deeply corrupting revolving door as she leaves the Obama administration to return to the loving and lucrative arms of the private health care industry:

"Elizabeth Fowler is leaving the White House for a senior-level position leading 'global health policy' at Johnson & Johnson's government affairs and policy group."

The pharmaceutical giant that just hired Fowler actively supported the passage of Obamacare through its membership in the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) lobby. Indeed, PhRMA was one of the most aggressive supporters - and most lavish beneficiaries - of the health care bill drafted by Fowler. Mother Jones' James Ridgeway proclaimed "Big Pharma" the "big winner" in the health care bill. And now, Fowler will receive ample rewards from that same industry as she peddles her influence in government and exploits her experience with its inner workings to work on that industry's behalf, all of which has been made perfectly legal by the same insular, Versailles-like Washington culture that so lavishly benefits from all of this.

It's difficult to find someone who embodies the sleazy, anti-democratic, corporatist revolving door that greases Washington as shamelessly and purely as Liz Fowler. One of the few competitors I can think of is Adm. Michael McConnell, who parlayed his military and intelligence career into a lucrative gig at Booz Allen, one of the nation's largest private intelligence contractors; then became George W Bush's Director of National Intelligence (where he spearheaded a huge gift to the telecom industry - retroactive immunity shielding it from all accountability for its participation in the illegal Bush NSA eavesdropping program - as well as continued his Booz Allen work of privatizing intelligence and surveillance functions); then returned to the loving arms of Booz Allen, where he now exploits his national security credentials on behalf of industry interests (by, for instance, spearheading the fear-mongering campaign about cyber-warfare in order to advocate for security programs that would amply enrich Booz Allen's clients).

This is precisely the behavior which, quite rationally, makes the citizenry so jaded about Washington. It's what ensures that the interests of the same permanent power factions are served regardless of election outcomes. It's what makes a complete mockery out claims of democracy. And it's what demonstrates that corporatism and oligarchy are the dominant forms of government in the US:

(c) 2012 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy.

The GOP's Big Budget Mumble
By Paul Krugman

In the ongoing battle of the budget, President Obama has done something very cruel. Declaring that this time he won't negotiate with himself, he has refused to lay out a proposal reflecting what he thinks Republicans want. Instead, he has demanded that Republicans themselves say, explicitly, what they want. And guess what: They can't or won't do it.

No, really. While there has been a lot of bluster from the G.O.P. about how we should reduce the deficit with spending cuts, not tax increases, no leading figures on the Republican side have been able or willing to specify what, exactly, they want to cut.

And there's a reason for this reticence. The fact is that Republican posturing on the deficit has always been a con game, a play on the innumeracy of voters and reporters. Now Mr. Obama has demanded that the G.O.P. put up or shut up -and the response is an aggrieved mumble.

Here's where we are right now: As his opening bid in negotiations, Mr. Obama has proposed raising about $1.6 trillion in additional revenue over the next decade, with the majority coming from letting the high-end Bush tax cuts expire and the rest from measures to limit tax deductions. He would also cut spending by about $400 billion, through such measures as giving Medicare the ability to bargain for lower drug prices.

The point is that when you put Republicans on the spot and demand specifics about how they're going to make good on their posturing about spending and deficits, they come up empty. There's no there there.

Republicans have howled in outrage. Senator Orrin Hatch, delivering the G.O.P. reply to the president's weekly address, denounced the offer as a case of "bait and switch," bearing no relationship to what Mr. Obama ran on in the election. In fact, however, the offer is more or less the same as Mr. Obama's original 2013 budget proposal and also closely tracks his campaign literature.

So what are Republicans offering as an alternative? They say they want to rely mainly on spending cuts instead. Which spending cuts? Ah, that's a mystery. In fact, until late last week, as far as I can tell, no leading Republican had been willing to say anything specific at all about how spending should be cut.

The veil lifted a bit when Senator Mitch McConnell, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, finally mentioned a few things -raising the Medicare eligibility age, increasing Medicare premiums for high-income beneficiaries and changing the inflation adjustment for Social Security. But it's not clear whether these represent an official negotiating position -and in any case, the arithmetic just doesn't work.

Start with raising the Medicare age. This is, as I've argued in the past, a terrible policy idea. But even aside from that, it's just not a big money saver, largely because 65-and 66-year-olds have much lower health costs than the average Medicare recipient. When the Congressional Budget Office analyzed the likely fiscal effects of a rise in the eligibility age, it found that it would save only $113 billion over the next decade and have little effect on the longer-run trajectory of Medicare costs.

Increasing premiums for the affluent would yield even less; a 2010 study by the budget office put the 10-year savings at only about $20 billion.

Changing the inflation adjustment for Social Security would save a bit more -by my estimate, about $185 billion over the next decade. But put it all together, and the things Mr. McConnell was talking about would amount to only a bit over $300 billion in budget savings -a fifth of what Mr. Obama proposes in revenue gains.

The point is that when you put Republicans on the spot and demand specifics about how they're going to make good on their posturing about spending and deficits, they come up empty. There's no there there.

And there never was. Republicans claim to be for much smaller government, but as a political matter they have always attacked government spending in the abstract, never coming clean with voters about the reality that big cuts in government spending can happen only if we sharply curtail very popular programs. In fact, less than a month ago the Romney/Ryan campaign was attacking Mr. Obama for, yes, cutting Medicare.

Now Republicans find themselves boxed in. With taxes scheduled to rise on Jan. 1 in the absence of an agreement, they can't play their usual game of just saying no to tax increases and pretending that they have a deficit reduction plan. And the president, by refusing to help them out by proposing G.O.P.-friendly spending cuts, has deprived them of political cover. If Republicans really want to slash popular programs, they will have to propose those cuts themselves.

So while the fiscal cliff -still a bad name for the looming austerity bomb, but I guess we're stuck with it -is a bad thing from an economic point of view, it has had at least one salutary political effect. For it has finally laid bare the con that has always been at the core of the G.O.P.'s political strategy.
(c) 2012 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"If those in charge of our society -politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television -can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves."
~~~ Howard Zinn

Military Law Is To Law As Military Music Is To Music
By David Swanson

Jeh Charles Johnson, General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Defense, on Friday admitted that murder by drone is not a form of law enforcement:

"Some legal scholars and commentators in our country brand the detention by the military of members of al Qaeda as 'indefinite detention without charges.' Some refer to targeted lethal force against known, identified individual members of al Qaeda as 'extrajudicial killing.' "Viewed within the context of law enforcement or criminal justice, where no person is sentenced to death or prison without an indictment, an arraignment, and a trial before an impartial judge or jury, these characterizations might be understandable."

Indeed, pretty darn understandable. So, what's the way around it?

"Viewed within the context of conventional armed conflict -as they should be -capture, detention and lethal force are traditional practices as old as armies. Capture and detention by the military are part and parcel of armed conflict.[13] We employ weapons of war against al Qaeda, but in a manner consistent with the law of war. We employ lethal force, but in a manner consistent with the law of war principles of proportionality, necessity and distinction. We detain those who are part of al Qaeda, but in a manner consistent with Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions and all other applicable law.[14]

[13] Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 542 U.S. 507, 519 (2004) (“detention to prevent a combatant's return to the battlefield is a fundamental incident of waging war").

[14] Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, art. 3, Aug. 12, 1949, 6 U.S.T. 3316, 75 U.N.T.S. 135.

The notion that U.S. treatment of prisoners complies with the Geneva Conventions is ludicrous, but so is the basic premise here that murdering and imprisoning people is justified because it is part of conventional armed conflict. There is nothing conventional about soldiers at desks on other continents flying drones, or soldiers jumping out of helicopters to kill and kidnap in residential neighborhoods. There are no front lines, no trenches, no battlefield, no army, no opposing army, no opposing nation, no territory fought over, no separation between civilians and military action. That armies have always killed and captured people doesn't legalize killing and capturing people in any, much less in all, circumstances. Armies have tortured, looted, and raped as well.

"If I had to summarize my job in one sentence: it is to ensure that everything our military and our Defense Department do is consistent with U.S. and international law."

Hmmm. Is it consistent with this law?

"The High Contracting Parties solemly declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another. The High Contracting Parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means."

How about this law? "The parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice." Or this law?

"The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States . . .

"To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;

"To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

"To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

"To provide and maintain a navy;

"To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

"To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

"To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress . . .

"To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof."

There is nothing legal about war. If there were there would still be nothing legal about non-U.N. war. If there were there would still be nothing legal about non-Congressional war. In fact, Obama's other lawyer Harold Koh has told Congress that it has no power to stop presidential wars, such as the one in Libya, because such actions are neither wars nor hostilities. Why? Because, as with drone murders, the Americans are not present on the ground and not likely to be immediately killed.

But then how can the conventional nature of war legalize the killing and imprisoning? Either it's war and Congress has control over it, or it's not war and the supposed legal and moral loophole for all evil does not apply.

And if it could, what can possibly constitute "proportionality, necessity and distinction," in the act of killing people with drones, the vast majority of whom are innocent civilians, and the rest of whom are targeted victims who include Americans (is this country at conventional war with itself?) teenagers (is this country at conventional war with minors?) and the citizens and residents of nations the United States is not at war with in any conventional sense.

Were another nation to begin murdering people in the United States with drones and night raids, would the U.S. government consider those actions justifiable as conventional war (or justified in any other way), or would the United States launch a war against that nation? And if the latter, what would justify it? What justified the invasion of Afghanistan? What justifies the bombing of Gaza? According to President Obama,

"there's no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders."

Not Yemen? Not Somalia? Not Pakistan? Not Afghanistan? Those nations are legally justified in murdering and imprisoning Americans? This can't be right.

Nor can it be right to take seriously Johnson's suggestion that the U.S. war on terra will end some day, not while the terrorizing of foreign nations continues producing the sort of resistance that Johnson uses to justify the continuation of the killing. That's a loop that neither ends nor comes to rest on any legal or moral support.
(c) 2012 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

Katrina, All Over Again
By Chris Hedges

Avgi Tzenis, 76, is standing in the hall of her small brick row house on Bragg Street in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. She is dressed in a bathrobe and open-toed sandals. The hall is dark and cold. It has been dark and cold since Hurricane Sandy slammed into the East Coast a month ago. Three feet of water and raw sewage flooded and wrecked her home.

"We never had this problem before," she says. "We never had water from the sea come down like this."

Hurricane Sandy, if you are poor, is the Katrina of the North. It has exposed the nation's fragile, dilapidated and shoddy infrastructure, one that crumbles under minimal stress. It has highlighted the inability of utility companies, as well as state and federal agencies, to cope with the looming environmental disasters that because of the climate crisis will soon come in wave after wave. But, most important, it illustrates the depraved mentality of an oligarchic and corporate elite that, as conditions worsen, retreats into self-contained gated communities, guts basic services and abandons the wider population.

Sheepshead Bay, along with Coney Island, the Rockaways, parts of Staten Island and long stretches of the New Jersey coast, is obliterated. Stores, their merchandise destroyed by the water, are boarded up and closed. Rows of derelict cars, with the tires and license plates removed and the windows smashed, line the streets. Food distribution centers, most of them set up by volunteers from Occupy Sandy Recovery, hastily close before dark every day because of the danger of looting and robbery. And storm victims who remain in their damaged homes, often without heat, electricity or running water, clutch knives against the threat of gangs that prowl at night through the wreckage.

This storm-amid freakish weather patterns such storms will become routine-resulted in at least $71.3 billion in property damage in New York and New Jersey. Many of the 305,000 houses in New York destroyed by Sandy will never be rebuilt. New York City says it will have to spend $800 million just to repair its roads. And that is only the start. The next hurricane season will most likely descend on the Eastern Seaboard with even greater destructive fury. A couple of more hurricanes like this one and whole sections of the coast will become uninhabitable.

This is the new America. It is an America where economic and environmental catastrophes converge to trigger systems breakdown and collapse. It is an America divided between corporate predators and their prey. It is an America that, as things unravel, increasingly sacrifices its own.

Rene Merida, 27, is standing on a street corner. His house, on Emmons Avenue, does not have electricity, running water or heat. He and his pregnant wife and two children, ages 7 and 4, huddle in the darkness inside the ruined home or at times flee to live for a few days with relatives. Merida, who recently lost his job as an ironworker, managed to reach his landlord once on the phone. That was three weeks ago. It was the only time the landlord, despite Merida's persistent calls, answered.

"He told me it [the repair] will get done when it gets done," he says. "The temperature inside my house is 15 degrees. I got a thermometer to check."

Lauren Ferebee, originally from Dallas and now living in Greenpoint in Brooklyn, sits behind a table in the chilly basement of the 123-year-old St. Jacobi Evangelical Lutheran Church, founded by German immigrants. On large pieces of cardboard hanging from the ceiling are the words "Occupy Sandy Relief." The basement is filled with donated supplies including pet food, diapers, infant formula, canned goods, cereal and pasta. The church was converted two days after the storm into a food bank and distribution center for the victims of the hurricane. Hundreds of people converge daily on the church to work. Volunteers with cars or vans deliver supplies to distribution points in other parts of New York and in New Jersey.

Ferebee, a playwright, and hundreds of other volunteers instantly resurrected the Occupy movement when the tragedy hit. They built structures of support and community to endure not only the effects of the storm but prepare for the breakdown that appears to lie ahead. As we descend into a world where we can depend less and less on those who hold power, movements like this one will become vital. These movements might not be called Occupy. They might not look like Occupy. But whatever the names and forms of the self-help we create, we will have to find ways to fend for ourselves.

"We have a kitchen about 50 blocks from here where we cook and deliver hot food," Ferebee says. "We take food along with supplies out to distribution hubs. There is a distribution hub about every 30 or 40 blocks. When I first went out I was giving water to people who had not had water for six days."

She sits in front of a pile of paper sheets headed "Occupy Sandy Dispatch." Various sites are listed on the sheets, including Canarsie, Coney Island, Red Hook, the Rockaways, Sheepshead Bay, Staten Island and New Jersey. She is interrupted by Roman Torres, 45, who sings on weekends in a band that plays Mexican folk music. He has pulled his van up in front of the church. He comes two days a week to transport supplies.

"Can you go anywhere?" she asks Torres.

"Yes," he answers.

"Can you do a couple of drop-offs at the Rockaways?" she asks.

"Yes," he says. "If someone comes with me."

As he fixes himself a cup of coffee in the church kitchen, volunteers carry boxes from the basement to his van parked in the rain outside.

"We can't ever get enough electric heaters, cleaning supplies, tools and baby supplies," Ferebee says.

In a small apartment above the church Juan Carlos Ruiz, a former Roman Catholic priest who was born in Mexico, sits at a small wooden table. He is the church's community organizer. It was his decision once the storm hit to open the doors of the church as a relief center. He did not know what to expect.

"It was Tuesday night," he says. "We got three bags of groceries and two jars of water. It was the next morning that volunteers began to appear. By the first weekend we had over 1,300. It was organized chaos. There was all this creative energy and youth. There was an instant infrastructure and solidarity. It is mutual aid that is the most important response to the disasters we are living through. This is how we will retain our humanity. Some members of the church asked me why these [volunteers] did not come to the church service. I told them the work they were doing was church. The commitment I saw was like a conversion experience. It was transformative. It restores your faith in humanity."

The emotional cost of the storm is often as devastating as the physical cost.

Tzenis, who was born in Cyprus and immigrated to the United States with her husband in 1956, lists the mounting bills at her Sheepshead Bay home. Since the storm the septuagenarian has paid a plumber $2,000, and that does not cover all the plumbing work that must be done. A contractor gave her an estimate of $40,000 to $50,000 for repairs, which include ripping out the walls and floors. Tzenis has received a $5,000 check from an insurance company, Allstate, and a $1,000 check from FEMA. But $6,000 won't begin to cover the cost.

"The insurance company told me I didn't have the water insurance," she says. "The contractor said he has to break all the walls and floors to get the mold out. I don't know how I am going to pay for this."

As she speaks, Josh Ehrenberg, 21, an aspiring filmmaker, and Dave Woolner, 31, an electrician with Local 52, both volunteers with Occupy Sandy, haul ruined items out of her garage and put them in green plastic garbage bags.

"My husband had dementia," she says. "I took care of him for six years with these two hands. For a few months the insurance gave me help. Certain medications they pay after six years. They told me once he couldn't swallow no more there was nothing we could do. ... He died at home last year."

She begins to sob softly.

She mutters, "Oye, oye, oye."

"I was going to hang myself in the closet," she says, gesturing to the hall closet behind me. "I can't take life anymore. My husband. Now this. I don't sleep good. I jump up every hour watching the clock. I've been through a lot in my life. Every little thing scares me. I'm on different pills. I've come to the age where I ask why doesn't God take me. I pray a lot. I don't want to give my soul to the devil because they would not put me in a church to bury me. But you get to an age where you are only able to take so much."

She falls silent. She begins to reminisce about the bombing of Cyprus during World War II. She says that as a girl she watched a British military airport go up in flames after it was hit by German and Italian bombs. She talks about the 1950s struggle for Cypriot independence that took place between the British and the underground National Organization of Cypriot Fighters, Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston, known as EOKA. She says she misses strong populist leaders such as the Cypriot Archbishop Makarios III, who openly defied British authorities in the campaign for independence.

"People were hung by the British soldiers," she says. "Women were raped. People had their fingernails pulled out. They were tortured and beaten. My cousin was beaten so badly in jail he was bleeding from his bottom."

The horrors of the past merge with the horrors of the present. "They say [hurricanes like] this will happen again because the snow is melting off all the mountains," she says. "It never flooded here before. No matter how hard it rained not a drop came through the door. But now it has changed. If it happens again I don't want to be around."
(c) 2012 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, ""Death Of The Liberal Class."

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Finanziell Fuhrer Peterson,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your demanding the end of entitlement programs, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Syria and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Demoncratic whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 12-31-2012. We salute you Herr Peterson, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Manning Up: The Just Actions Of A 'Fan Of Sunshine'
By Randall Amster

Whatever one's views about his alleged actions, you would need a pretty hard shell not to be moved by the case of Bradley Manning. Hero to some, traitor to others, this diminutive soldier has endured an unprecedented level of mistreatment, languishing in a largely incommunicado pretrial state for more than two years and facing repeated episodes of humiliation and degradation. Compounding this case is Manning's status as a gay solider, for which he had experienced repercussions well before gaining international notoriety as a purported Wikileaks source for some of the whistleblowing site's most damning allegations about governmental and military machinations around the world.

Being accused of revealing the "emperor's new clothes" is likely to land one in hot water, but Manning's treatment has crossed all bounds of fairness, decency, and legality. Having one's life stripped down (literally) to its most basic functions, being confined in a space barely the size of a standard bathroom, having to formally ask even for toilet paper while standing at attention, and getting access to the outdoors for only 20 minutes per day is the sort of thing that could drive anyone mad. The fact that the military has justified the conditions of Manning's confinement by asserting that he was a suicide risk is a specious argument; being in such a state can cause one to seek any way out, and putting all options on the table is more a sign of sanity than the opposite.

We can speculate how any of us would hold up in similar circumstances, which hopefully we'll never have to find out. But the art and science of breaking down the human spirit is quite well-developed by now, and the harshness of Manning's confinement is likely intended as a warning and deterrent to anyone else even contemplating blowing the whistle on the architects of empire. It is thus all the more important and impressive that Manning has endured this brutal captivity --doing so through methods like dancing in his cell, "working out" with imaginary weights, and making faces at himself in the small mirror on the wall. Indeed, as Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights observed upon attending the recent hearing on Manning's confinement, the testimony Manning gave showed him to be "dignified, articulate, smart and self-aware.... His incredible sincerity and strength was visible to all. We are lucky to have people with the courage of Bradley Manning."

Where Manning found this resolve will likely be a subject for biographers someday, but early signs indicate that the military itself may have ironically contributed to it. From his first days as a soldier, Manning seemed to be ill-suited for the role, at least in the eyes of some of his colleagues. In an interview with The Guardian, an anonymous soldier who served with Manning recalls the situation: "The kid was barely 5ft --he was a runt. And by military standards and compared with everyone who was around there --he was a runt. By military standards, 'he's a runt so pick on him', or 'he's crazy --pick on him', or 'he's a faggot --pick on him.' The guy took it from every side. He couldn't please anyone. And he tried. He really did.... A lot of people let him down. He is not the first one they let down and he is not the last one." If we subscribe to the school of thought that says our scars make us stronger, then Manning's early duress may have steeled him for what would come later.

In another irony, Manning's first post after basic training was at Fort Huachuca in southern Arizona, where human rights activists would gather annually to demonstrate against the base's claim to fame as being the headquarters of U.S. Army military intelligence and the place where the "torture manuals" for the War on Terror were developed. The nonviolent protests there specifically addressed cruel treatment of detainees: "We practice nonviolence at Ft. Huachuca to call for civilian, human-rights centered oversight of all interrogation training and practice, which must include absolute prohibition of cruel treatment and command responsibility for any violation of this prohibition." In fact, the history of nonviolent praxis is replete with examples of people enduring suffering for their principles. Gandhi referred to this as tapasya, meaning "austere devotion" and often implemented as a willingness to suffer for one's beliefs rather than inflict suffering on another.

In the annals of nonviolence, Thoreau's famed essay "Civil Disobedience" stands out as a testament to the principled endurance of unjust confinement: "Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison." In his equally celebrated "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," Martin Luther King, Jr. extols the virtues of myriad activists for justice "willingly going to jail for conscience' sake." Perhaps Manning, implicitly if not outright, was aware of the essence of these teachings when he made the alleged decision to transgress the hegemon by revealing its secrets. If so he would be in good company, as validated by the "198 methods of nonviolent action" developed by Gene Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution and their inclusion of "disclosing identities of secret agents" among the list of tactics --which we can extrapolate to include disclosing damning evidence of the sort that Manning is said to have given to Wikileaks.

Manning may be guilty of revealing state secrets, but that action pales before the state's guilt in perpetrating atrocities and committing them to secrecy in the first place. In a recent accounting of what these revelations demonstrate, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange catalogues their import:

"The material that Bradley Manning is alleged to have leaked has highlighted astonishing examples of U.S. subversion of the democratic process around the world, systematic evasion of accountability for atrocities and killings, and many other abuses.... the cables show that torture and killing are not isolated events, but the violent manifestations of an aggressive policy of coercion used by the United States in the pursuit of its strategic commercial and political goals around the world."

The implications of this are wide-ranging and eminently clear: whatever privileges of democratic governance and material comfort we enjoy here in the U.S. (and in other privileged nations), they are provided at the expense of innumerable underprivileged others' democracy and comfort. Perhaps some are content with this bargain, and they will accordingly construct Manning as a traitor. Many others, however, grasp more deeply that such an inherently unequal system is untenable and unjust. Eventually, it entraps even those nominally "privileged" within its confines, turning us all into captives of a sort as the tentacles of inequality and injustice expand their network. Again, Assange, from a recent interview with Democracy Now! in which he considers the digital-age implications:

"I think this tension between power and knowledge is extremely important. So, we've all heard the saying that knowledge is power. Well, it's true. And the mass surveillance and mass interception that is occurring to all of us now who use the internet is also a mass transfer of power from individuals into extremely sophisticated state and private intelligence organizations and their cronies. Now, if that is to be resisted, we must have a transfer of information that is going the other way."

In getting to hear directly from Manning for the first time, we not only learn more about his story and personal qualities, but also come to understand the deeper connections between this small man and the big questions raised by his alleged actions. Intriguingly, Manning's testimony itself alludes to the basic issues of transparency that determine whether the balance of power will be struck in favor of "the people" or the entrenched "powers that be" in the days ahead. As reported in The Guardian, in his landmark pretrial testimony Manning reflected on the deprivation of natural light during his excessive period of confinement. "I'm a fan of sunshine," he stated. If we care at all about the cause of justice in our world, Bradley Manning's fortitude should render us all devotees of sunshine...
(c) 2012 Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., teaches peace studies at Prescott College and serves as the executive director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association. Amonsg his most recent books are Anarchism Today (Praeger, 2012) and the co-edited volume "Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009). Windy Cooler is a Contributing Author for New Clear Vision. A long-time organizer and former teenage-mother-welfare-queen, she writes about the emotional lives of homemakers and activists. She has two sons and lives in suburban DC. She blogs at, and can be reached at WindyCooler(at)

From Hebron To East-Timor -And Back
By Adam Keller

It looks already long ago, but the incident happened this month. It was totally forgotten because of the stormy events through which we went immediately after.

November 7, Israel Katz, Minister of Transportation in the Government of Israel, left his office in Jerusalem and under the protection of the Israeli Defense Forces went to the city of Hebron which is forty five years under the military rule of the State of Israel. Located in the heart of Hebron is an enclave of settlers, who are considered as rather extremist even by other settlers, but with whom Katz has very cordial relations. Among other things, they promised him their support in the primary elections of the Likud party. At Hebron, Minister Israel Katz inaugurated a new highway, created for the exclusive use of settlers and linking their enclave at the heart of Hebron with the settlement of Kiryat Arba to the east.

Thirty million Shekels from the treasury of the State of Israel had been invested in the construction and upgrading of this highway. It was given a clear priority and precedence over other highways which are under the responsibility of the Minister of Transportation of the State of Israel, highways whose users do not command a solid block of voters in the Likud primaries and whose construction does not constitute a blatant political act. Yes, construction of this highway was not just a part of the humdrum daily routine of the Ministry of Transportation. Katz certainly admitted it - indeed, he was quite proud of the fact.

At the festive ceremony in the presence of all the settler leaders, Katz declared: "We are today giving a clear answer to Abu Mazen -Hebron is our home, that is not subject to talks." A few days earlier the Palestinian Authority President had been interviewed on Israeli TV and expressed views that quite a few people here considered particularly moderate (too moderate to the taste of some Palestinians). Katz, full of humor and good cheer at the decisive counter-blow he was landing on Abbas' peace offensive, recalled that the settlers' Hebron highway had originally been called "The Patriarchs' Highway", but to please the Feminists the honorable minister insisted upon it being changed to "The Patriarchs' and Matriachs' Highway".

The settlers, in their publications, mentioned and noted with great satisfaction this ceremony in Hebron. The regular media did not really pay attention. As it happened, this was exactly the same time that Israeli soldiers penetrated into the Gaza Strip and entered into an exchange of fire with armed Palestinians during which a stray Israeli bullet hit the boy Hamid Abu Daka and killed him, setting in motion the cycle of retribution and counter-retribution and counter-counter-retribution, in which six Israelis and one hundred and fifty Palestinians got killed.

Fortunately for Katz and the other contenders in the Likud primaries, the indirect negotiations conducted between the government of Israel and the Hamas leadership in Cairo led to a ceasefire in time for the Likud primaries to be held. Polling stations were erected in the settlements, to give settlers the full opportunity to take part in the democratic process that would deeply affect the fate of the nearby Palestinians, and in which the Palestinians themselves were offered no part. And the settlers came in great masses to the polls and gave their generous support to all who had benefited them and who vowed to continue doing so in the future. Minister Israel Katz, like others of the settlers' friends and well-wishers, scored high on the list.

On the other hand, Minister Benny Begin was removed from the list of candidates, and will not be in the Knesset after the next elections. Not that he opposes settlements, God forbid. There is none to equal him in staunch support for the Greater Israel. But he did dare to assert that when settlers take over a plot of private Palestinian land in a manifestly illegal manner, and when the Supreme Court in Jerusalem orders them to vacate such a plot, it is incumbent upon them to obey the court's ruling. From now on, clearly, no Likud Knesset Member will dare to say any such thing.

It was not only Minister Katz who at Hebron gave a clear and very rude answer to the peace offers which Abbas had put before the citizens of Israel. The entire Likud party -the ruling party of Israel which has a good chance of being the ruling party also after the January elections - repeated the same answer in its choice of parliamentary representatives. But Abu Mazen had at his disposal a response of his own to this answer, and last night this response was granted a large majority at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Last night -an exceptionally joyful demonstration in front of Independence Hall in Tel Aviv, where the State of Israel was proclaimed sixty four years. One by one the speakers mounted the podium, new and veteran peace seekers. All praised the Family of Nations' recognition granted by a large majority to the State of Palestine in the 1967 borders. Sufian Abu Zaida, who came from Gaza, was received with thunderous applause. Red and green signs declared "Palestinian state -an Israeli interest", "67 is not just a number" and "Bibi, Say Yes!"

A week ago, Prime Minister Netanyahu and his Foreign Minister Lieberman still entertained the hope of forming a block of "The Moral Minority", composed of Western democracies, which would staunchly oppose the Palestinian initiative. For after all, these countries had just given their backing to the glorious Cloud Pillar Operation, and they all repeated the mantra that the State of Israel has the right to self-defense and that no country would tolerate the firing of missiles at its cities. But it happens that those countries also back the Palestinian aspiration to establish an independent state, and consider that no people would tolerate living under occupation for forty-five years and having its lands confiscated for the construction and expansion of settlements. It might even lead to the cautious conclusion that Palestinians, too, have some right of self-defense against this occupation. And thus, Israeli diplomacy suffered an unprecedented defeat, and the European countries either openly supported the establishment of the State of Palestine, or abstained

And really -what now? This morning, after a night of celebrations and fireworks in Ramallah, Palestinians got up to another day of occupation, of humiliation at roadblocks and settlements which continue to grow and expand. The State of Palestine is recognized by the UN, but is not to be seen on the ground. On the ground nothing has changed, as the Prime Minister of Israel declared this morning. (And in this, skeptical Palestinian agree with him - and proclaim that "Israel understands only force.")

Is it, then, a meaningless statement? That is what Indonesia also thought, when the UN recognized a new nation called East Timor. For years after this resolution was taken, Indonesia contemptuously ignored it, and the Indonesian military ruled the territory of East Timor with terrible brutality. Yet today, and already for several years, East Timor is an independent and sovereign state, which was yesterday among the supporters of establishing the State of Palestine. The same when the United Nations resolved to establish a country called Namibia in a territory which remained under South Africa's military rule for quite a few years after the United Nations adopted this resolution, and later when the UN resolved to put an end to the racist Apartheid regime in South Africa itself. Only recently, the UN recognized a country called South Sudan, which after a harsh and cruel war became a solid reality. Experience shows that the UN is far from a sham, and that resolutions taken at the General Assembly in New York have a habit of eventually assuming a solid body on the ground (this is, it should be remembered, precisely how the state of Israel itself came into being...).

Meanwhile, today we witness an example of what settlers and their friends call "an appropriate Zionist response." No less than three thousand housing units to be built all over the settlements, the State of Israel under Netanyahu giving the finger to the entire world -to the delight of the newly elected Likud parliamentary candidates.

If the polls are right and the Likud Party will retain power after January next elections, it seems Binyamin Netanyahu will have no more fig leaves left. Ehud Barak will no longer be Defense Minister, and could no longer be sent out as acting Foreign Minister to places where Avigdor Lieberman is not welcome. In his next term, Netanyahu will have to face the world alone; no more real or supposed Liberals to hide behind. "Israel moved right, but the rest of the world moved to the left," wrote one commentator this morning.

So where are we headed? It seems towards a head-on collision, possibly a very big bang. It is certainly not going to be boring.
(c) 2012 Adam Keller is an Israeli peace activist who was among the founders of Gush Shalom.

The Cartoon Corner...

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

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Fiscal Cliff Traffic Report
By Will Durst

"So, expect showers and gale force winds over the next couple of days and don't forget that high surf advisory is in effect throughout the weekend. We may even see some downed power lines and scattered looting. That's the weather here on Capitol Hill, now let's go to Brandon with your Congressional traffic report."

"Thanks Brandon. Well, it's gotten pretty ugly out there, people. My best advice is, stay in your homes. As expected, following the holiday recess, we're seeing a lot of bluster and bombast building up on the Beltway, and the obstructionist blather has managed to stall headway on nearly every budget deal ramp to a virtual crawl.

Three or four 18-wheelers jam packed with Election Day rancor have overturned and as you might imagine, rubber necking has resulted in hundreds of not-so-tender fender benders in both directions. It's gotten so bad that major media outlet trucks are stuck on the shoulder, filming each other.

It's not just the Beltway that's backed up. Main Street and Wall Street and the Path to Prosperity all report major slowdowns due to a multitude of partisan pile-ups. Some drivers seem to be purposefully ramming fellow travelers right off the road while others speed across median strips to dive into oncoming traffic seemingly with no thought to life or limb. Casualties continue to mount and officials worry about running out of tarps.

Sky Nine over the Bridge to the Future reports that progress remains hopelessly clogged with all visible movement being of the backwards variety and from their vantage all the right lanes look to be blocked as far as the eye can see. Left lanes: not much better. Center lanes: you don't want to know.

Many reasons have been offered up for Carmageddon spreading nationwide. Pure native stubbornness, leading to refusals to merge. Infrastructure deterioration. Widespread smoke screens creating low visibility. A plethora of misread signs due to intentionally misinterpreted polls. Death wishes. Insanity. Mad Cow.

Part of the problem can be attributed to the numerous turnarounds closed by committee chairmen to restrict desertion from party line movement and reports continue to stream in that a crazy person by the name of Grover Norquist, has been single-handedly impeding traffic by standing in the ditch and flagging motorists off the road straight into various freeway abutments. Although it must be said, some cars do now seem to be aiming right for him chasing the anti-cheerleader back to the safety of various rest stop bathroom stalls.

Due to the slick situation, eternal congestion and some inexplicable glitch that has turned all the surface street stop lights to red, further delays are expected to spread across the nation as the country experiences a massive impasse on all roads leading to the cutoff meant to avert the dreaded Fiscal Cliff.

Veteran observers claim this activity is expected due to the mostly poor driving skills possessed by the residents of our nation's capital. But the upshot is, we're back to stalls and jams and near total gridlock far into the foreseeable future. So remember to keep that dial here, where we bring you weather and traffic together on the eights, although to be perfectly honest, not much is expected to change any time soon. Back to you, Brandon."
(c) 2012 Will Durst, is a San Francisco based political comedian, Will Durst, often writes: this is an example. Don't forget his new CD, "Raging Moderate" from Stand-Up Records now available on both iTunes and Amazon. The New York Times says Emmy-nominated comedian and writer Will Durst "is quite possibly the best political satirist working in the country today." Check out his website: to find out about upcoming stand-up performances or to buy his book, "Will Durst's Totally Indispensable Guide to the 2012 Election."

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Issues & Alibis Vol 12 # 49 (c) 12/07/2012

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