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In This Edition

Robert M. Bowman exclaims, "Occupy This!"

Uri Avnery hears, "The King's Speech."

Matt Taibbi examines, "Jon Corzine's Relationship With CFTC Chair Gary Gensler Probed."

Randall Amster wants us to, "Occupy Ourselves."

Jim Hightower says, "Some People Have All The Luck."

Helen Thomas wonders, "Why Iraq?"

James Donahue reports, "Bush Blatantly Challenges World Criminal Court."

David Sirota finds, "Kids, Stop Dreaming Of Wall Street."

David Swanson with a suggestion, "What To Replace The Imprison-Americans Bill With."

Bill McKibben tells, "The Most Important News Story Of The Day/Millennium."

Paul Krugman explains, "Send In The Clueless."

Phil Rockstroh wanders, "Amid The Architecture Of Declining Capitalism."

Michael Moore explores, "The Winter Of Our Occupation."

Michigan Sin-ator Debbie Stabenow wins the coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

John Nichols watches as, "The Postal Service Plots Its Own Demise."

Noam Chomsky sees America, "Marching Off The Cliff."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion with a new, "Report: Global Warming May Be Irreversible By 2006" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "As Pro Is The Opposite Of Con, Then Congress Is The Opposite Of Progress!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Bob Engelhardt, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Micah Wright, Jeff Danziger, Khalil Bendib, W M X Design, Rob Rogers, Karl Mondon, Seth Perlman, Mikael Miettinen, Bob Jagendorf, Getty Images, Associated Press, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

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As Con Is The Opposite Of Pro, Then Congress Is The Opposite Of Progress!
By Ernest Stewart

Antiquis temporibus, nati tibi similes in rupibus ventosissimis exponebantur ad necem.

"In 1031, the statement of authority to detain, does apply to American citizens and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland." ~~~ Senator Lindsey Graham R/SC

"Today, the LAPD stands as a shining example of constitutional policing."
~~~ Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa ~~~

"She was ranting about Wall Street, and now she's working on Wall Street. Banks are not so bad. I hope we have opened her eyes."
~~~ CEO Thomas Belesis ~~~

It must be getting close to Election Day as Obamahood is staring to sound like Candidate Obama -- the Man of the People, again. A lot of pundits say this is because he's finally beginning to see the light and truth about his bankster buddies -- thanks to OWS -- and stand and fight the Rethuglicans, like he promised to back on the campaign trail of 2007/2008.

More like Barry finally got around to reading the polls, and saw that all but most blacks and a few right-wing Demoncrats have long since left his sinking ship. Apparently, the American people aren't as dumb as he thought they were! No, it's not his coming to see the light about what's right and what's wrong, but facing reality that without a new song and dance, we'll have President Gingrich or Romney or Perry come January 2013.

Whether or not Barry earned his JD, or it was a gift from Harvard much like Smirky's MBA was, he's bright enough to see the third American revolution beginning to take shape. And since his 1% chums are beginning to get scared and are jerking his puppet strings to take control of the mob and quiet them with a new song and dance -- some bread and circuses -- until the new military rules take effect and we can all be rounded up and put into a new Happy Camp for disposal. Ergo, he's got to calm things down before they get out of hand and we drop the peaceful demonstrations and begin building guillotines to take care of the 1% once and for all!

So Barry's beginning to sound like us, and call the Rethuglicans out for their many acts of treason against the Constitution, while leaving out the Rethuglicans partners in crime, the Demoncrats, who passed the 1867 bill, a.k.a. act of treason by 93 - 7 which is a direct violation of the 4th and 5th Amendments; a bill he will no doubt sign even though it doesn't give him all the power he wants to choose who lives and who dies on a grand scale. Have no doubt that he will cave at the last minute just as he has done so many times before, assuring us it doesn't apply to American citizens, even though it does, and suggest we all roll over and go back to sleep, because he's on our side, again. I'm sure there won't be any roundups of Occupiers or professional leftists like myself until after the election. Perhaps they'll begin just before Christmas, say on 12-21-2012? Stay tuned America, same Bat Time, same Bat Channel!

In Other News

Ausnahmesituation is the word the Germans used for allowing them to murder millions of communists, trade unionists, gypsies, and Jews; it translates to "extraordinary measures." I'm surprised that Levin or McCain hasn't used those words to describe their latest act of treason!

As I mentioned last week in "Welcome To America: The Battlefield" the National Defense Authorization Act, which is in itself as David Swanson points out a crime all by itself for many reasons on many levels, but as I've mentioned before sections 1031 and 1032 are especially grievous! Messers Levin and McCain swear that this would and could never be used against an American citizen, but all the members of the Rethuglicans that voted for it assure us that it can be used and will be used against all terrorists. Sure, that doesn't sound bad, until you remember a terrorist is anyone that various members of the Junta say they are. Again, with no evidence, at least no evidence that we'll ever see, or even any judge may see for that matter. No, there are apparently many things in the new laws that not a single, solitary judge can be trusted to see -- not even judges on the Extreme Court can safely view. No, only certain politicians are trustworthy enough. That sentiment should make your blood run cold and send shivers down your spine! However, that's really the way things have been since at least the "Civil War." Lincoln's first inductees into the "Happy Camps" weren't southern rebels, but Yankees who dared to question Abe about his Declaration of War against half the country! When draft riots broke out in NYC, Abe's battleships sent broadsides into the city, killing hundreds and wounding thousands and burning a large part of old New York to the ground! You may recall that the Germans based their "Happy Camps" on US civil war camps! The problems with these acts of treason is not only those stated but the US Military will be handling the arrests, torture and confinements without any judicial oversight whatsoever! The same groups of our children that burst into homes in the middle of the night in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan and murder everyone in sight, including women and children, will be assigned to do the same thing here to you and yours and with Barry's signature; there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. No appeal ever, no charges, no proof of any crime being committed, no trial by a jury of your peers, not even a Bush military tribunal. This is the America in which we are living; this is the America that our corpo-rat masters have created through their puppets in Con-gress. This is your America, your children's America, and their children's America and their children's America. And it will be that way because you won't do anything about it, will you, Mr. & Mrs. America?!

And Finally

I wrote Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa a note the other day after he sent his Jack-Booted corpo-rat Thugs into City Hall Park to break up those dangerous citizens who were foolishly demanding their Constitutional rights to peacefully assemble and protest not having any Constitutional rights anymore. Silly rabbits!

Dear Mayor Iscariot,

Well, so much for the tattered 1st amendment in Los Angeles, huh? So much for the people's right to peacefully assemble to petition the government for a redress of grievances. So city ordinance trumps the Constitution of the United States? Very interesting. One would have thought that the former head of the Southern California ACLU would have come out on the side of the people and not the crime lords. Not only do your actions speak volumes about you, but about the ACLU, as well! So when did you join the dark side, Tony?

Was it Citibank or another group of banksters that paid you the 30 pieces of silver to pull your puppet strings and watch you dance? While taking bribes is one thing, helping to destroy the 1st amendment is quite another thing. We can forgive you the front row seats, but not this treason!

Just have one question for you, Judas, answer Mark's question if you can?

"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"

An honorable man would have fallen on his sword by now, why haven't you? How can you look yourself in the mirror, and not cut your throat? Perhaps it might be better if you run as a Rethuglican next time?

Fortunately, you and your fascist friends from Oakland to New York haven't stopped the 99% with your corpo-rat Gestapo, just energized us. Can I get an "Heil, Obamahood," Tony? And while I call your policy treason, I must admit I do admire your shiny new Jack Books and that corpo-rat armband is to die for, quite literally!

Sincerely yours,

Ernest Stewart
Managing editor
Issues & Alibis Magazine
P.S. Thanks for helping to write next week's editorial!

Editors Note: If you have any thoughts that you'd care to share with the mayor, here is his address: If Mayor Iscariot writes me back, I'll share it with you!

Keepin' On

The hypocrite Postert

Have you heard the strange tale of out of work Ph.D. Tracy Postert who spent 15 days at Zuccotti Park calling for revolution, against the corruption of Wall Street and Foggy Bottom. Decrying at the top of her lungs the moral bankruptcy of the capitalist system?

For several weeks, Tracy held up signs saying, "Reagan sucks" and "I'll vote after the revolution." Then one day, she decided to hold up a sign advertising her degree and specialty while she was protesting the evil ways of the financial district. Wayne Kaufman, chief market analyst for John Thomas Financial Brokerage, saw her on the street, was intrigued by her background in biomedical science, and took her resume. Then he asked her if she'd like to come in for an interview.

Kaufman offered her a job as a "junior analyst evaluating medical companies" as potential investments, and she accepted. Postert has now just completed her third week as paid employee of the system she was railing against on the street. Did they offer her a 6 or 7 figure salary for becoming what Tweety Bird called a hypo-twit? No, Pastert sold her soul and joined the dark-side for slightly more than minimum wage! For their 30 pieces of silver, Wall Street got a million dollar shill that they will trot out and show off and she gets to become a patsy, a stooge, and a traitor that only proves that Ph.D. often stands for Pin Headed Dope! It's a centuries old trick that has broken many a revolution; I wonder how many occupiers will fall for it this time around?


03-07-1926 ~ 12-01-2011
Thanks for the laughs!

09-12-1931 ~ 12-01-2011
Thanks for the films!

07-26-1940 ~ 12-06-2011
Thanks for the R&B!

04-10-1915 ~ 12-07-2011
Thanks for the films!


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


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

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

Occupy This!
By Robert M. Bowman

Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is a recent grass-roots movement which has caught the attention of millions of people across the country (and indeed around the world). It has garnered the support of people of all ages, all walks of life, and all parts of the political spectrum. It is one of the most promising phenomena of recent times. It represents a true populist uprising of the 99% who have been locked out of the political process, ignored, marginalized, and impoverished against the 1% who have used their immense wealth to manipulate the political system so as to further expand their already obscene wealth. Indeed, another name for the OWS movement is "The 99%."

If we (the 99%) are to continue to be successful, there are several things we must do: (1) We must remain nonviolent. (2) We must avoid being co-opted. (3) We must be clear who we are and who it is we are against. We must be inclusive, rejecting divisiveness.


Many of us believe that nonviolence is the morally superior path. Others may not. But we must ALL understand that in a grass-roots movement like this, nonviolence is absolutely essential because it WORKS and because it is the only way that can. (All those guns did not help the Branch-Davidians.) The forces we are up against have not only great wealth, but also access to enormous firepower ... but only so long as the police and armed forces will obey their orders. Once our nonviolent resistance and our reaching out in love reminds the young folks in the police and armed forces that they too are part of the 99%, they will not take action against us. Once our nonviolence wins the hearts and minds of the mayors and generals, they will use their power to PROTECT US! Most importantly, once our nonviolence wins the support of the people of this country, we cannot lose!

If we are infiltrated by rock-throwers or car-burners, we must physically restrain them and turn them over to the authorities. (Usually, they are police officers ordered to infiltrate us.) Most importantly, we must never carry weapons. The 1% are scared silly by nonviolent resistance. That's why they will try to infiltrate us with violent "anarchists." We must not let that happen!


We must vigilantly avoid being co-opted by agents of the very forces we are protesting against. We must not go the way of the Tea Party. I was keynote speaker at four Tea Party conferences, beginning in 2000. The first three were in Boston. By the time I spoke in Tampa, most of the Tea Party had already been infiltrated by Glenn Beck, the Republican National Committee, the Koch Brothers, and Sarah Palin. Instead of a grass-roots movement protesting the evils of a government controlled by big money, it became the protector of big money. Instead of protesting the phony "war on terror" and calling for an end to corporate wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq, it turned to promoting tax cuts for the wealthy and an end to any government program benefitting the poor and middle class. In other words, it became a tool of the 1%. The Koch brothers were able to buy up the Tea Party because it had never stated who they were and what they were against. We can't make that mistake.


We who engage in protests must be clear who we are and who it is we are against.

First, who is it we are against? Are we against everyone in the 1% wealthiest people in the country? Of course not. There are some very fine rich people who have not used their wealth to manipulate government to the detriment of the rest of us. There are also some greedy folks not in the 1% who have done nasty things in an attempt to get there. We must also remember that among those we are against are Wall Street banks, financial companies, and insurance giants who have devastated the economy, taken government bailouts, and used the money to buy up other banks and give their executives obscene bonuses. Whatever the Supreme Court says, these institutions are not "persons" and are technically not part of the 1%. Yet we are against them, just as we are against the Enrons and Exxons who write energy policy and the giants of big pharma who write laws like Medicare Part D to enrich themselves at our expense. We also oppose the corporate media giants who control what we see, hear, and read, and who ignore or marginalize any candidate (like Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich) whom they do not control. In sum, we are against the persons and companies whose greed causes them to use their power and wealth to buy up politicians and elections, and to write laws enriching themselves and impoverishing the rest of us.

And who are we? We are the 99%. That means we are Democrats, Republicans, Independents. Libertarians, and Greens. We are conservatives and liberals. Supporters of Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich should feel equally welcome. We are also police and military officers and their troops. Most of us oppose the corporate wars of aggression. We understand that they are major ways of transferring trillions of dollars from us to the 1%. But there are others who haven't come to that conclusion yet. They believe the wars are necessary. They too are part of the 99%. As important as the wars are, they should not be a litmus test. Neither should health care, nor abortion, nor gay rights, nor school prayer, nor gun control, nor tax reform, nor monetary policy. People on both sides of such issues make up the 99%. Once we succeed in taking back our government, we can argue these issues and resolve them. But right now, all of us in the 99% must stick together and be united in pursuing only ONE objective - to separate big money and political power. We must have a president beholden only to the people, not to Wall Street money. We must have members of Congress who are responsible and responsive to us, not to giant corporations and their K Street lobbyists. Unless there's a big change in the Supreme Court, the only way we'll get money out of politics is through a series of measures. The first is a Constitutional amendment declaring that corporations and other fictitious entities are not "persons" under the Constitution, and shall have none of the rights and privileges thereof. Once that is done, we can pass legislation prohibiting corporate money (or any private money) from being used for electoral purposes. At the same time, we must re-regulate the media, going back to pre-Reagan rules prohibiting ownership of multiple media outlets. The present big-money control of the electoral process would not be possible without the corporate monopoly media, in which almost all newspapers and radio and TV stations are owned by one of five multinational corporations (the same corporations who profit from war, poverty, and pollution, and the government policies which impose them).

In sum, we are the 99%, all Americans who want a government that meets our needs, not the greeds of the 1%. Because we are diverse, our core demands must be few. We all agree that it is necessary to no longer allow the 1% to manipulate government policy to enrich themselves at our expense. We recognize that to sever the connection between big money and political power it will be necessary (probably through a Constitutional amendment) to reverse the horrible "Citizens United" decision which gives unlimited political power to corporations and billionaires. It will also be necessary to restrict the power of the 1% to brainwash and deceive us through their corporate monopoly media. Once we have successfully disempowered the 1%, everything else becomes possible. The wishes of the people about wars, health care, taxes, jobs - you name it - can be carried out. Till then, we must set such issues aside in the name of the unity of the 99%. The Occupy Movement is the greatest opportunity we have had in decades. We dare not waste it. With nonviolence and inclusiveness on our side, we the 99% will succeed.

YOU are the 99%. Support Occupy Wall Street. Can't get to New York City? Then occupy your town. Occupy a Federal Reserve office. Occupy a big bank. Occupy something. You are the one. This is the time! This is the place! OCCUPY THIS!
(c) 2011 Dr. Robert M. Bowman, Lt. Col., USAF, ret. is the National Commander, "The Patriots."

The King's Speech
By Uri Avnery

IN THE middle of the '80s, a German diplomat conveyed to me a surprising message. A member of the Jordanian Royal family would like to speak with me in Amman. At the time, Jordan was still officially at war with us.

Somehow I obtained official permission from the Israeli government. The Germans generously provided me with a passport that was not strictly accurate, and so, with much turning of blind eyes, I arrived in Amman and was lodged in the best hotel.

The news of my presence spread quickly, and after some days it became an embarrassment to the Jordanian government. So I was politely asked to leave, and very quickly, please.

But before that, a high-ranking official invited me to dinner in a very elegant restaurant. He was a well educated, very cultured person, who spoke beautiful English. To my utter amazement, he told me that he was a Bedouin, a member of an important tribe. All my ideas about Bedouins were shattered in that moment.

This dinner stuck in my memory because, in (literally) ten minutes, I learned more about Jordan than in decades of reading. My host took a paper napkin and drew a rough map of Jordan. "Look at our neighbors," he explained. "Here is Syria, a radical secular Ba'athist dictatorship. Then there is Iraq, with another Ba'athist regime that hates Syria. Next there is Saudi Arabia, a very conservative, orthodox country. Next is Egypt, with a pro-Western military dictator. Then there is Zionist Israel. In the occupied Palestinian territories, radical, revolutionary elements are in the ascent. And almost touching us, there is fragmented, unpredictable Lebanon."

"From all these countries," he continued, "refugees, agents and ideological influences stream into Jordan. We have to absorb all of them. We have to perform a very delicate balancing act. If we come too close to Israel, the next day we must appease Syria. If one day we embrace Saudi Arabia, we must kiss Iraq the next. We must not ally ourselves with any one."

Another impression I took with me - the Palestinians in Jordan (excluding the refugees, whom I did not meet) are perfectly content with the status quo, dominating the economy, getting rich and praying for the stability of the regime.

I WISH that all influential Israelis had received such an eye-opening lesson, because in Israel, the most grotesque ideas about Jordan were - and still are - in vogue.

The general picture is that of a ridiculous little country, ruled by fierce and primitive Bedouin tribes, while the majority consists of Palestinians who are continually plotting to overthrow the monarchy and assume power.

(Which reminds me of another conversation - this time in Cairo with the - then - acting Foreign Minister, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, a Copt and one of the most intelligent persons I've ever met. "Israeli experts in Arab affairs are among the best in the world," he told me, "they have read everything, they know everything, and they understand nothing. That's because they have never lived in an Arab country.")

Until the Oslo agreement, the entire Israeli elite subscribed to the "Jordanian Option". The idea was that only King Hussein was able and ready to make peace with us and that he would give us East Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank as a present. Hiding behind this misconception was the traditional Zionist resolve to ignore the existence of the Palestinian people and to prevent the creation of a Palestinian state at all costs.

Another version of this idea rests on the slogan "Jordan is Palestine". It was explained to me by Ariel Sharon, nine months before Lebanon War I. "We shall throw the Palestinians out of Lebanon into Syria. The Syrians will push them South into Jordan. There they shall overthrow the king and turn Jordan into Palestine. The Palestinian problem will disappear, and the remaining conflict will become a normal disagreement between two sovereign states, Israel and Palestine."

"But what about the West Bank?" I queried.

"We shall achieve a compromise with Jordan," he answered, "perhaps joint rule, perhaps some kind of functional division."

This idea pops up time and again. This week one of the hyperactive and mentally handicapped right wing parliamentary thugs submitted another of those bills. It is called "Jordan - the Nation-State of the Palestinian People."

Apart from the curiosity of one country enacting a law to define the character of another country, it was politically embarrassing. Yet instead of just throwing it out, it was transferred to a sub-committee where the deliberations, such as they are, are secret.

HIS MAJESTY, king Abdullah II, is worried. He has good reasons to be.

There is the democratic Arab Spring, which may spill over into his autocratic kingdom. There is the uprising in neighboring Syria, which may push refugees southwards. There is the growing influence of Shiite Iran, which does not look good for his stoutly Sunni monarchy.

But all this is nothing compared to the growing threat from radical, rightist Israel.

The most immediate danger, from his point of view, is the growing Israeli oppression and colonization of the West Bank. One of these days, it may push masses of Palestinian refugees to cross the Jordan into his kingdom, upsetting the strained demographic balance between locals and Palestinians in his country.

It was this fear that caused his father, King Hussein, during the first intifada, to cut all connections with the West Bank, which had been annexed by his grandfather after the 1948 war. (The very term "West Bank" is Jordanian, to distinguish it from the East Bank, the original Transjordanian territory of the kingdom.)

If "Jordan is Palestine", then there is no reason for Israel not to annex the West Bank, expropriate Palestinian lands, enlarge the existing settlements and create new ones, and in general "convince" Palestinians to find a better life east of the river.

With this in mind, the king voiced his anxiety in a much-publicized interview this week. In it, he raised the possibility of a federation between Jordan and the (still occupied) State of Palestine in the West Bank, obviously to forestall Israeli designs. Perhaps he also wants to convince the Palestinians that such a move would help them to terminate the occupation, facilitate their application for UN membership and prevent a US veto. (I don't believe this offer will find many Palestinian takers.)

THE INITIATORS of the Israeli bill make it clear that their main purpose is Hasbarah ("explaining"), the Hebrew euphemism for propaganda. Their idea, they believe, will put an end to the isolation and delegitimization of Israel. The world will accept that the State of Palestine already exists, beyond the Jordan, so that there is no need for a second one in the West Bank.

If His Majesty suspects that there is a much more sinister dimension to the propaganda ploy, he is quite right. Obviously he is thinking about much more profound long-term possibilities.

This goes back to the basic dilemma of the Israeli right, a dilemma that seems well-nigh insoluble.

The Israeli Right has never really given up the idea of a Greater Israel (which in Hebrew is called "the whole of Eretz-Israel"). This means the total rejection of the Two-State solution in all its forms and the creation of a Jewish state from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.

However, in such a state there would be living, as of today, some 6 million Israeli Jews and about 5.5 million Arab Palestinians (2.5 in the West Bank, 1.5 in the Gaza Strip, 1.5 in Israel proper.) Some demographers believe that the number is even larger.

According to all demographic forecasts, the Palestinians will quite soon constitute the majority in this geographic entity. What then?

Some idealists believe (or delude themselves) that, faced with stern international disapproval, Israel will have to grant citizenship to all the inhabitants, turning the entity into a bi-national or multi-national or non-national state. Without taking a survey one can say with certainty that 99.999% of Jewish Israelis would oppose this idea with all their strength. It is the total negation of everything Zionism stands for.

The other possibility would be that this entity would become an apartheid state, not only partly, not only in practice, but entirely and officially. The great majority of Jewish Israelis would not like that at all. This, too, is a negation of basic Zionist values.

There is no solution to this dilemma. Or is there?

THE KING seems to think that there is. It is, actually, implicit in the dream of a Greater Israel.

That solution is a repeat of 1948: a naqba of vastly larger dimensions, which Israelis euphemistically call "transfer".

This means that at some time, when international conditions are opportune - some huge international disaster that rivets attention to some other part of the world, a big war, or such - the government will drive out the non-Jewish population. Where to? Geography dictates the answer: to Jordan. Or, rather, to the future State of Palestine in what was once Jordan.

I would suggest that almost every Israeli who supports the Greater Israel idea has this - at least unconsciously - in mind. Perhaps not as a plan for action in the near future, but certainly as the only solution in the long term.

MORE THAN 80 years ago , Vladimir (Ze'ev) Jabotinsky, the founder of Revisionist Zionism and the spiritual forefather of Binjamin Netanyahu, wrote some verses that were sung by the Irgun (to which I belonged when I was very young.)

It is a nice song with a nice melody. The refrain goes like this: "The Jordan has two banks / The one belongs to us, the other one, too."

Jabotinsky, an ardent admirer of the Italian 19th century risorgimento, was an ultra-nationalist and a sincere liberal. One verse of the poem says: "The son of Arabia, the son of Nazareth and my own son / Will find there happiness and plenty / Because my flag, a flag of purity and honesty / Will cleanse both sides of the Jordan."

The official emblem of the Irgun consisted of a map that included Transjordan, with a rifle superimposed. This emblem was inherited by Menachem Begin's Herut ("Freedom") Party, the mother of the Likud.

This party has long since given up the ideal of the three sons, purity and honesty. The slogan "Jordan is Palestine" means that it has also given up the claim to the East bank of the Jordan.

Or has it?
(c) 2011 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Jon Corzine and Gary Gensler

Jon Corzine's Relationship With CFTC Chair Gary Gensler Probed
By Matt Taibbi

On the road this week, so apologies for the brief post. Getting a lot of calls about Jon Corzine and his relationship with Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) chairman Gary Gensler.

Both Corzine and Gensler worked at Goldman back in the day, and the word is that Corzine personally lobbied Gensler to delay the implementation of new rules that would have helped prevent Corzine from raiding his own clients' funds.

This whole issue smacks of the improper communications between other former Wall Street co-workers like Hank Paulson and Lloyd Blankfein. More and more, it appears that, as a matter of routine, federal regulators like Paulson (in 2008) and, later, Gensler reach out to old friends on Wall Street to negotiate/discuss the timing and the form of various policy changes, bailouts, and other regulatory matters. Inside information seemingly is traded with remarkable casualness.

This is one of those issues where there's no point in calling for more regulations. No matter what laws we have, we can't have regulatory heads breezily chatting about their enforcement plans with former co-workers who have huge financial interests resting upon their decisions. The Paulson case, in which information about the rescue of Fannie and Freddie was casually disclosed to a group of hedge fund chiefs before the public knew about it, was a far worse thing than what Gensler is accused of. Gensler, despite his Goldman pedigree, has generally gotten good reviews from Wall Street reform types, and has demonstrated a willingness to help tighten up abuses in the derivatives and commodities markets (including walking back deregulatory actions in the derivatives world that he himself had a role in creating back in the Clinton days). But this business with Corzine will likely be a black eye for him, and rightly so.

But the overall problem, of regulators keeping up their chummy, chatty relationships with Wall Street guys as they make market-altering regulatory decisions, appears to be epidemic. Again, this is an issue where new regulations won't help – we just need different people in charge, people with at least some grasp of the whole propriety thing, who understand that financial friendships have to take a pause when you go to work behind the police tape.

Anyway, more on that coming soon. In the meantime, check out this clip, which made me proud to be Irish:

(c) 2011 Matt Taibbi

Occupy Ourselves
With Peace in Our Hearts and Power in Our Hands
By Randall Amster

In just a few short months we have reached a point of near saturation in which the modifier "Occupy" has been applied to almost every sphere of our beleaguered political economy. Not every such application has been equally useful, but for the most part the intended meaning of the word has come through in the sense of prying open the inner sanctum of the dominant order, contesting its authoritarian workings, and agitating for new processes based on the burgeoning tenets of egalitarianism and sustainability. The incisive cultural gaze spawned by #occupy has been cast toward every sacred shibboleth of modern society, and the ripples are palpable.

Yet in the process there has been more external consternation than internal reflection. The machinations of the 1 percent are what have largely brought us to the brink of social and ecological demise, so the primary thinking goes. The ruling class has consolidated their power, skewed the benefits toward themselves, passed the burdens onto the rest of us, and continually demonstrated the illegitimacy and inherent tyranny of their reign every time force has been used on peaceful demonstrators. They have done this and are still doing it, and we must confront their wanton ways with diligence and imagination.

There are key truths and critical insights to be found in this narrative, and its teachings have served to galvanize interest and mobilize people around the world. Still, there is a piece of the puzzle missing, one that is harder to own up to and that blurs the lines of culpability in a manner that is inconvenient for the impetus to organize against entrenched power. When we begin to peel back the layers, however, it becomes apparent that they did not take power so much as we gave it to them -- and it has largely been our complicity with the forces of our own oppression that has led us here.

This in no way absolves those who would pervert that power for personal gain, nor does it excuse the outright blackmail-type pressures that have been brought to bear upon many of us to accede. But we cannot and must not pass the buck altogether, since to do so both flies in the face of reality and further delivers our power back over to those who would manipulate and abuse it. In fact, the realization that we are equally to blame possesses the corollary virtue of suggesting that we can also put things right and fix the mess we have made of our social structures and the habitat itself.

So here we are: we have occupied the symbolic spaces, the tangible ones, and the subtle ones. Now it is time to Occupy Ourselves, to decolonize our minds and restore our capacity to act from a place of autonomy and collective willpower. We can refuse to comply with oppressive forces, forswear allegiance to their mandates, forgo reliance on their wares, unplug our lifelines to their conveyances, reject their medicalizations and distractions, discontinue our support for their adventurist campaigns, fail to contribute to their bailouts and schemes, ignore their technocratic designs on mind control, cease making demands on their apparatchiks, and avert our gaze from their spectacles. Yes, we can.

Instead of protesting against abominable wars, let us also stop paying for them. Rather than complaining about corporations, usurious banks, and the indentured servitude of the student loan system, we can desist from paying into their coffers. Beyond pointing the finger at bought-off politicos, there is the option of refraining from participation in their sham elections. If we do not like business as usual, let us skip the charade of fighting city hall and occupy it as shelter instead. This is the essential core of the embedded symbolism in the protest encampments, and it follows in a long line of nonviolent civil disobedience from Jesus Christ and Henry David Thoreau to Dorothy Day and Mohandas Gandhi. It is an active principle, and the locus of its engagement is everywhere.

The key is not to bear this weight of noncompliance alone, but to do so in concert and in numbers sufficient to undermine the system's capacity to continue in its present form. We recognize that the boundaries of the law do not map directly to the dictates of morality, and that much of the legal architecture in our midst is specifically designed to protect wealth and preserve inequality. Still, we also see that laws and norms in some instances can reflect the societal wisdom of the ages, and thus we do not transgress them out of self-indulgence but rather as our solemn duty as agents of promoting a just, equitable, and sustainable world.

Indeed, as Gandhi urged, noncooperation is merely a first step. The ensuing (and more challenging) phase of sustained resistance is the cultivation of constructive alternatives with which we can wholeheartedly cooperate and lend support. For too long we have had our survival pitted against our values, being coerced to participate in oppression and degradation as a condition of mere existence. We have been carefully cultivated to embrace the consensus reality plied by plutocrats, at best maintaining a schizophrenic false consciousness and at worst being consumed by the beast's ravages. Lacking genuine meaning in our lives, we opt for artificial replacements on sale literally everywhere. We have looked into the void, recoiled in horror, and drowned our sorrows in commercial palliatives.

Now is the time to commit ourselves to finding other methods of coping, ones that challenge authority and reclaim autonomy. This does not mean that we become absolutists or Luddites, but instead that we get to choose which accoutrements of modernity are compatible with the good society and which are little more than artifacts of control despite their market-tested packaging. We can trade technologies for tools, fast food for slower sustenance, corporatocracy for consensus. The next paradigm is already here, having been incubated for decades within the shell of old, carefully obscured by the vicissitudes of popular culture and crass commercialism; notice how when people begin to approach its realization, they are often met with sheer force to push them back into blithe torpor.

But the veil is now lifting -- and consciousness once raised has a way of finding daylight. Occupy camps can be destroyed from coast to coast, but the essential illumination of protest and its eternal promise remains. This is the time to come back twice as strong, working harder and smarter, demonstrating our resiliency as a crucial factor of social and ecological survival. We will hang together, so that we do not have to hang alone. In the end, we come to realize that there is only us as we confront the true oppressor that lies within ourselves and our own complicity. In this, we find that all oppressions are interlinked, internalized, interposed, and interdependent. The struggle to surmount them lies just as much within us as it does with the robber barons in their lairs.

We can do this, and we must. I do not believe that the power has ever actually left us, but more so that we have had our attention pulled toward false idols and their machinations as the source of influence and authority. Today, we see the seeds of the better society growing up through the cracks in the hegemonic facade everywhere, sprouting forth with renewed vigor after an imposed dormancy. We will not be the consumers of this world, but its co-creators; we will not be witnesses to its destruction, but participants in its resurrection. Now, with peace in our hearts and power in our hands, the time to reclaim both ourselves and our world is upon us. This is our generational task, our shared responsibility, and our best hope for salvation. Let us meet it willingly, together.
(c) 2011 Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., teaches peace studies at Prescott College and serves as the executive director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association. His most recent book is the co-edited volume "Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009).

Some People Have All The Luck

Ah, tis the season for heart tugging stories - such as underdogs winning one for a change, or some have-nots finally getting a lucky break.

So get out your hankies friends, for I'm going to tell you a true-life weeper about little Timothy, Brandon, and Gregory. These three lads recently pooled their pennies to buy a $1 Powerball lottery ticket at a gas station near their homes in Connecticut. And - bingo! - despite almost impossible odds of one-in-195,000,000 that their numbers would pop out, Timothy, Brandon, and Gregory won the biggest lottery jackpot in state history. "The lottery is all about dreaming," says the director of the Connecticut gaming agency, adding that "everyday people win the lottery every day."

So, prepare to sob once you learn the touching backgrounds of these everyday boys. Timothy Davidson, Brandon Lacoff, and Gregory Skidmore are top executives of Belpointe Asset Management, a mulitimillion-dollar hedge fund headquartered in toney Greenwich, Connecticut. Far from underdogs, these are over-the-top dogs, three have-everythings who now have much, much more. It's a happy holidays story for the 1 percent - and isn't that touching? Like a kick in the head.

The threesome is getting a lump-sum Powerball payment of nearly $152 million. Of course, they'll have to pay taxes on their good luck, which will subtract $48 million from their haul. That's a tax rate of about 31 percent, which is ironic, since hedge fund guys are used to paying a privileged, special tax rate of only 15 percent on the big incomes they draw from their everyday speculative gambles in the magical world of hedging.

To their credit, the three fortunate ones say they intend to give a "significant amount" of their bonanza to charity. Really? Half of it? A third? A tenth? A dollar? They decline to specify.
(c) 2011 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

Why Iraq?
By Helen Thomas

The U.S. is pulling its troops out of Iraq by the end of the year. Well, not quite. There will still be a large group of soldiers left behind to train Iraqis and to repair the war-damaged sites.

Now, will someone from the White House hierarchy, past or present, please tell the American people why we invaded Iraq in March 2003?

The truth and nothing but the truth - that will be the day. Why are we still speculating on the reasons we went to war in the first place, other than to hunt down and kill Saddam Hussein, the brutal Iraqi dictator, who was at one time a friend of the U.S.?

Former President George W. Bush and his neo-conservative cohorts justified to the American people that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (read that as nuclear), and Iraq had to be targeted.

Since the start of the war against Iraq, thousands of Americans and Iraqis have been killed and wounded, and the killing continues to this day.

The pain and suffering to those fighting in the war, and their loved ones at home, is unfathomable. Yet the neo-cons, who evaded the Vietnam War by getting higher degrees at the universities or by getting married, were advising and pushing Bush to go to war with Iraq.

Bush once said he wanted to be a "War President" because only "War Presidents" are remembered in history. He will be remembered, all right.

I will never forget when the head of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, Hans Blix, urged Bush to let U.N. inspectors go into Iraq to see if Hussein had harbored lethal weapons. Bush refused to allow the inspections in Iraq.

Instead he promptly invaded Iraq, despite the fact that none of the terrorists that attacked on 9/11 were Iraqis. Bush later mentioned in his memoir the only regret he had was not finding any weapons of mass destruction.

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive. Clearly Bush did not want his reason for invading Iraq to prove to be a hoax. His decision has left the country continuing to speculate, "Why Iraq?"

Why did Bush sacrifice human lives and hard-earned tax dollars to fund a war which we don't know why we entered in the first place?

The White House sold Americans a bill of goods that the war in Iraq would last two to three weeks at the most, and the troops would be showered with candy and flowers. At first this appeared to be the truth until the reality of war set in - the hanging of Hussein became an item on the American agenda.

Too many people have died for the lies that were told. There were no weapons of mass destruction, and Bush would have known this if he had simply allowed Blix to check in the first place.

Where is their conscience?

Other reasons speculated for the invasion of Iraq included Bush's desire to upstage his dad, former President George H. W. Bush, who won the Kuwait war but did not finish the job of knocking off Israel's nemesis, Saddam Hussein.

Now the war is winding down, the question remains: Who is responsible for this debacle? Who will pay the price of this costly decision? Apparently there is no accountability among the U.S. Presidents for past wrong decisions.

Furthermore, have we learned anything from this colossal fiasco?

When will Americans wake up? What did we gain from these wars - in Iraq and Afghanistan, except a bankrupt economy and the tragic loss of so many human lives? Why shouldn't President Barack Obama welcome soldiers home for Christmas from Iraq - and Afghanistan?
(c) 2011 Helen Thomas is a columnist for the Falls Church News-Press. Among other books she is the author of Front Row At The White House: My Life and Times.

Bush Blatantly Challenges World Criminal Court
By James Donahue

Because former President George W. Bush and his cronies murdered hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in unjust wars he ordered in Afghanistan and Iraq, and because they openly tortured captives in their so-called war on terror, Mr. Bush has been considered a war criminal by many world nations. Yet he blatantly dared to travel last week into Africa where Amnesty International was calling for his arrest.

Mr. Bush toured Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia to promote a campaign against cervical and breast cancer. It was one of the first times Bush dared to step out of the protective boundaries of the United States since he left office in 2009.

Amnesty International is not missing the opportunity to remind the world of the crimes committed by Mr. Bush by calling on the nations hosting his visit to formally arrest and charge him while he is vulnerable.

Amnesty's senior legal adviser Matt Pollard said he believes all three African nations had an obligation to arrest Mr. Bush under international law. He said the law "requires that there be no safe haven for those responsible for torture. Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia must seize this opportunity to fulfill their obligations and end the impunity George W. Bush has so far enjoyed," Pollard said.

Brad Blakeman, a former Bush advisor, called Amnesty's action harassment and a threat against the former president. "They've been trying to get any country where President Bush and Vice President Cheney visit to harass them wherever they go," Blakeman said. "It could be taken as a call for violence against the president." Amnesty, the world's largest human rights organization, made a similar appeal to Canada in October when Bush attended an economic summit in British Columbia.

The organization claims that Bush authorized the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" and "waterboarding" on detainees held in secret by the Central Intelligence Agency from 2002 to 2009. These techniques have been declared torture which is strictly prohibited both by U. S. and international law.

During the eight years that Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney occupied the high offices of the United States government, they established an administration that set an unprecedented record of destroying many of the moral covenants used to set an example to the rest of the world. They declared unprovoked war, practiced torture, used bombs laced with radioactive material that killed and maimed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, contracted with corrupt private corporate agencies and poured billions of American tax dollars into their pockets for alleged "services" that ranged from feeding soldiers to rebuilding bombed infrastructure. They declared a "War on Terrorism" that was used to create laws like the Patriot Act that violate the Bill of Rights.

After all of this, Mr. Blakeman defends Mr. Bush when he dares to step out of the bounds of the United States where he appears to be protected against prosecution.

Indeed, the Obama Administration has chosen to ignore those past criminal acts and even agreed to renew and revise the Patriot Act which gives the government the freedom to spy on American citizens without a court order.

Both Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder are ignoring the War Crimes Act of 1996, which passed both houses by a unanimous vote. The act makes it a federal crime to commit a "grave breach" of the Geneva Convention. This includes the deliberate killing, torture or inhuman treatment of detainees during a time of war.

Several nations of the world, most recently Switzerland and Spain, have formally filed criminal charges against Bush, Cheney and members of the Bush staff for acts committed in both Afghanistan and Iraq. The United Nations, however, has not picked up on the movement.

Consequently the accusations by foreign nations carry no weight in national or American courts.

Mr. Bush canceled a planned trip to Switzerland in February because of threats by human rights lawyers there that if he showed up he would be charged with crimes of torture.

In Malaysia only last month a War Crimes Tribunal declared Mr. Bush and former UK President Tony Blair guilty of war crimes at the end of a four-day hearing. The five panel tribunal unanimously agreed that Bush and Blair committed genocide and crimes against peace and humanity when they invaded Iraq in 2003. They found that the invasion, based on forged documents, was a flagrant act of aggression and mass murder of the Iraqi people.

It is clear that Mr. Bush is not a welcome guest in many nations of the world because of what was done during his years of power. Yet he is daring to travel to other world nations, knowing that there may be a price on his head.

So why hasn't the International Criminal Court gotten involved? This court, established in July 1998 and opened July 1, 2002, has been ratified by 60 nations. A total of 120 states were involved in its creation. For obvious reasons the Bush Administration chose not to participate so the United States is not among them. Consequently the court has no jurisdiction over United States leaders who commit international criminal acts.

Because U. S. authorities are refusing to budge and the international court appears to lack jurisdiction in the matter, there is a haunting question of the possible international ramifications linked with a decision by any world nation to actually arrest Mr. Bush and charge him.
(c) 2011 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site.

Kids, Stop Dreaming Of Wall Street
Fewer young people are going to work in finance. That's really good news
By David Sirota

Amid fears of high youth unemployment creating a "lost generation," there is suddenly a bright spot: Apparently, fewer young people are going to work in the industry that destroyed our economy.

That's the word from the New York Times, which reports that since 2008, "the number of investment bank and brokerage firm employees between the ages 20 and 34 fell by 25 percent," as banks have laid off young people and slowed college recruiting.

For young Wall Streeters, this is a bummer. But for society as a whole, it's cause for celebration because it may finally allow America to counter the destructive Gordon Gekko-ization of youth culture.

Recall that in recent years, up to a third of kids at elite universities have entered finance-related jobs. Such a mass shift in career preferences is, to put it mildly, alarming. A country whose best and brightest begin avoiding occupations that add value to society (doctors, engineers, etc.) in favor of vapid get-rich-quick gigs is a country that has stopped investing in itself and started mortgaging its future.

In light of that, Wall Street's youth layoffs raise a bigger question: Why have so many more kids been pursuing careers in finance?

Part of it is greed, as a 2010 Higher Education Research Institute report found a record-high three-quarters of freshmen said being "very well-off financially" was their top objective. Not surprisingly, many graduate with speculation and usury in their plans.

Such a mind-set, though, hasn't emerged in a vacuum - it tracks two larger greed-driven trends.

The first is a change in the American Dream from a middle-class aspiration to an "MTV Cribs"-style fantasy. In that shift, we began portraying Wall Street fat cats as idols - the Great Men to be worshiped in our media and consulted by presidents. Taking cues from the larger culture, kids have naturally tried to follow in the idols' footsteps.

Simultaneously, the American economy changed from producing tangible assets to now more often generating paper profits for bankers. The numbers, as recounted from economist Simon Johnson, tell that tale: "From 1973 to 1985, the financial sector never earned more than 16 percent of domestic corporate profits … last decade, it reached 41 percent."

This metamorphosis was no force of nature - it was the result of bank-owned politicians deregulating and subsidizing the finance industry, turning it into a monster swallowing an outsize share of national wealth. That, in turn, prompted an employment shift, which included young people.

"When banks get 25 percent to 30 percent on credit cards, and 500 or more percent on payday loans, capital flees from honest pursuits, like auto manufacturing," author Thomas Geoghegan wrote in Harper's magazine. "We set up the incentives to keep our best and brightest out of Detroit ... (They) went off to work at AIG."

Those incentives highlight the final part of the youth story: need.

Today, the average undergraduate matriculates with $25,000 in student debt. That burden compels kids to base career moves on where they can get the richest the quickest so as to pay off their loans. In an economy that has privileged finance, that often means heading to Wall Street.

Now, though, that career path may be closed - and even if it's only temporarily closed, the reprieve is significant.

A few semesters' worth of kids driven into occupations that build and sustain rather than cannibalize and leech could begin moving a nation back to economic fundamentals. It could mean kids finally appreciating that greed isn't so good and that policy debates - whether they're about regulation or student loans - aren't meaningless.

Ultimately, young people might see that those debates actually matter - and that they better get involved in them or their future will remain in jeopardy.
(c) 2011 David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee.

What To Replace The Imprison-Americans Bill With
By David Swanson

The funny thing about the bill that the Senate just passed that lets presidents and the military lock you up without a charge or a trial - well, not funny ha ha but funny unusual - is that the basic bill to which that little monstrosity was attached is even worse. It's a bill to dump over $650 billion into wars and aggressive weaponry, continue the slaughter in Afghanistan, ramp up the creation and use of drones, and expand U.S. military bases around the globe.

When these bills move through the Congress, they are so enormous and yet so routine that almost all attention is drawn to one or more peculiarly putrid or pretentiously benevolent little attachments. Either the bill simply must be passed because it contains hurricane relief or veterans aid or unemployment insurance or because it finally allows GLBT Americans to join in our crusades of mass murder. Or, alternatively, the bill desperately needs amending because it sanctions torture or lawless imprisonment or expands an especially hated war or an especially transparent investment in unwanted weaponry manufactured by some campaign donor. But the underlying insanity of the bill itself never makes it into the corporate conversation.

In the case of this latest National Defense Authorization Act, there has been a toothless rhetorical amendment passed asking the president to end his warmaking in Afghanistan in something less than three years if it's not too much trouble. But that positive measure has been absolutely overwhelmed in what little discussion of the bill exists by a section of the bill giving presidents and the military the power to lock you away without any of the process guaranteed you by the U.S. Constitution. Now, President Obama may veto the bill because he would prefer that section to be even worse than it is. He has expressed concern that it limits, rather than expands, his options. He should veto it because it rips out the heart of our Bill of Rights and grinds it into the dirt.

But a bill like this should not be passed simply because the latest erosion of our civil liberties is removed and the even worse un-codified understanding and practice is left to continue. A bill like this one should be rejected in its entirety. This bill kills human beings in large numbers, endangers us all through encouragement of foreign hostility, contributes to the development and proliferation of genocidal weaponry, creates massive environmental destruction, advances a foreign policy built around an unsurvivable energy policy, funds both sides of an unending Afghan occupation, funds prisons where we already hold many hundreds of men behind bars without charge or trial, and gives presidents de facto power to ignore our rights for the duration of a global war that has no end. And this bill destroys our economy through unfathomable wasteful spending in the midst of a manufactured deficit crisis and an actual humanitarian crisis at home and abroad.

Military spending is worse for job creation and retention than any other kind of spending or even tax cuts. Jobs is not the silver lining in militarism. There is a choice that confronts us between militarism or jobs, militarism or human services, militarism or a safety net for the ill and the elderly and the impoverished. We're dumping over a trillion dollars a year into "security" spending in "defense" and other bills combined, well over half of discretionary spending. The deficit "crisis" is not the creation of sick people getting old and multiplying without having had the decency to bribe their way into major government contracts or bailouts from the Federal Reserve. Single-payer health coverage, not cuts to Medicare, is the solution there. The deficit is not purely the result of the Obama tax cuts (sorry, Bush is gone now) or of the bad economy. There is a way to improve the actual economy by spending existing public dollars in different ways.

In 1963, Senator George McGovern and House members F. Bradford Morse and William Fitts Ryan introduced a bill that gained significant support and hearings and would have begun a process of economic conversion from a war economy to a peace economy, retraining and re-employing anyone thrown out of work in the process. Meanwhile, the military was secretly beginning a war in Vietnam, and certain elements were plotting to blow President Kennedy's brains out of the back of his head. We took a turn for the worse, and economic conversion has never seriously begun. Yet, for decades members of Congress had the decency to at least propose it.

Here's a bill introduced 20 years ago, in 1991. Do some of the names on the bill look familiar? Waters, Pelosi, Schumer, Slaughter, McDermott, Markey, Panetta (yes, Panetta), Lewis, Pallone, Towns, Berman, Payne, Waxman, Boxer, Wyden, etc. Here's a solution backed by these people 20 years ago, more desperately needed now, and not under consideration. That's not their fault. They are cogs in a money-marinated machine. It's our fault.

In the absence of an overall conversion-to-sanity-and-sustainability bill, there is a related bill that has been introduced in the current Congress: "The Nuclear Weapons Abolition and Economic and Energy Conversion Act of 2011" introduced by Eleanor Holmes Norton. This bill is a concise thing of beauty which says:

"(a) In General- The United States Government shall--

(1) by the date that is three years after the date of the enactment of this Act, provide leadership to negotiate a multilateral treaty or other international agreement that provides for--

(A) the dismantlement and elimination of all nuclear weapons in every country by not later than 2020; and

(B) strict and effective international control of such dismantlement and elimination;

(2) redirect resources that are being used for nuclear weapons programs to use--

(A) in converting all nuclear weapons industry employees, processes, plants, and programs smoothly to constructive, ecologically beneficial peacetime activities, including strict control of all fissile material and radioactive waste, during the period in which nuclear weapons must be dismantled and eliminated pursuant to the treaty or other international agreement described in paragraph (1); and

(B) in addressing human and infrastructure needs, including development and deployment of sustainable carbon-free and nuclear-free energy sources, health care, housing, education, agriculture, and environmental restoration, including long-term radioactive waste monitoring;

(3) undertake vigorous, good-faith efforts to eliminate war, armed conflict, and all military operations; and

(4) actively promote policies to induce all other countries to join in the commitments described in this subsection to create a more peaceful and secure world.

(b) Effective Date- Subsection (a)(2) shall take effect on the date on which the President certifies to Congress that all countries possessing nuclear weapons have--

(1) eliminated such weapons; or

(2) begun such elimination under established legal requirements comparable to those described in subsection (a)."

If you're going to begin conversion with one sector, why not start with the worst? The answer does not ultimately lie in backing a particular bill so much as in educating, mobilizing, changing the public discourse, and applying nonviolent pressure. But there are bills that exist or could easily be made to exist that merit our unqualified support.

Either we will move the money from where it destroys to where is sustains life, or our civilization will meet the fate Kennedy met in Dallas.
(c) 2011 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

The Most Important News Story Of The Day/Millennium
By Bill McKibben

The most important piece of news yesterday, this week, this month, and this year was a new set of statistics released yesterday by the Global Carbon Project. It showed that carbon emissions from our planet had increased 5.9 percent between 2009 and 2010. In fact, it was arguably among the most important pieces of data in the last, oh, three centuries, since according to the New York Times it represented "almost certainly the largest absolute jump in any year since the Industrial Revolution."

What it means, in climate terms, is that we've all but lost the battle to reduce the damage from global warming. The planet has already warmed about a degree Celsius; it's clearly going to go well past two degrees. It means, in political terms, that the fossil fuel industry has delayed effective action for the 12 years since the Kyoto treaty was signed. It means, in diplomatic terms, that the endless talks underway in Durban should be more important than ever--they should be the focus of a planetary population desperate to figure out how it's going to survive the century.

But instead, almost no one is paying attention to the proceedings, at least on this continent. One of our political parties has decided that global warming is a hoax--it's two leading candidates are busily apologizing for anything they said in the past that might possibly have been construed as backing, you know, science. President Obama hasn't yet spoken on the Durban talks, and informed international observers like Joss Garman are beginning to despair that he ever will.

Who are the 99%? In this country, they're those of us who aren't making any of these deadly decisions. In this world, they're the vast majority of people who didn't contribute to those soaring emissions. In this biosphere they're every other species now living on a disorienting earth.

You think OWS is radical? You think was radical for helping organize mass civil disobedience in DC in August against the Keystone Pipeline? We're not radical. Radicals work for oil companies. The CEO of Exxon gets up every morning and goes to work changing the chemical composition of the atmosphere. No one has ever done anything as radical as that, not in all of human history. And he and his ilk spend heavily on campaigns to make sure no one stops them--the US Chamber of Commerce gave more money than the DNC and the RNC last cycle, and 94% of it went to climate deniers.

Corporate power has occupied the atmosphere. 2011 showed we could fight back. 2012 would be a good year to step up the pressure. Because this time next year the Global Carbon Project will release another number. And I'm betting it will be grim.
(c) 2011 Bill McKibben is Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College, co-founder of His most recent book is Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.

Send In The Clueless
By Paul Krugman

There are two crucial things you need to understand about the current state of American politics. First, given the still dire economic situation, 2012 should be a year of Republican triumph. Second, the G.O.P. may nonetheless snatch defeat from the jaws of victory - because Herman Cain was not an accident.

Think about what it takes to be a viable Republican candidate today. You have to denounce Big Government and high taxes without alienating the older voters who were the key to G.O.P. victories last year - and who, even as they declare their hatred of government, will balk at any hint of cuts to Social Security and Medicare (death panels!).

And you also have to denounce President Obama, who enacted a Republican-designed health reform and killed Osama bin Laden, as a radical socialist who is undermining American security.

So what kind of politician can meet these basic G.O.P. requirements? There are only two ways to make the cut: to be totally cynical or to be totally clueless.

Mitt Romney embodies the first option. He's not a stupid man; he knows perfectly well, to take a not incidental example, that the Obama health reform is identical in all important respects to the reform he himself introduced in Massachusetts - but that doesn't stop him from denouncing the Obama plan as a vast government takeover that is nothing like what he did. He presumably knows how to read a budget, which means that he must know that defense spending has continued to rise under the current administration, but this doesn't stop him from pledging to reverse Mr. Obama's "massive defense cuts."

Mr. Romney's strategy, in short, is to pretend that he shares the ignorance and misconceptions of the Republican base. He isn't a stupid man - but he seems to play one on TV.

Unfortunately from his point of view, however, his acting skills leave something to be desired, and his insincerity shines through. So the base still hungers for someone who really, truly believes what every candidate for the party's nomination must pretend to believe. Yet as I said, the only way to actually believe the modern G.O.P. catechism is to be completely clueless.

And that's why the Republican primary has taken the form it has, in which a candidate nobody likes and nobody trusts has faced a series of clueless challengers, each of whom has briefly soared before imploding under the pressure of his or her own cluelessness. Think in particular of Rick Perry, a conservative true believer who seemingly had everything it took to clinch the nomination - until he opened his mouth.

So will Newt Gingrich suffer the same fate? Not necessarily.

Many observers seem surprised that Mr. Gingrich's, well, colorful personal history isn't causing him more problems, but they shouldn't be. If hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue, conservatives often seem inclined to accept that tribute, voting for candidates who publicly espouse conservative moral principles whatever their personal behavior. Did I mention that David Vitter is still in the Senate?

And Mr. Gingrich has some advantages none of the previous challengers had. He is by no means the deep thinker he imagines himself to be, but he's a glib speaker, even when he has no idea what he's talking about. And my sense is that he's also very good at doublethink - that even when he knows what he's saying isn't true, he manages to believe it while he's saying it. So he may not implode like his predecessors.

The larger point, however, is that whoever finally gets the Republican nomination will be a deeply flawed candidate. And these flaws won't be an accident, the result of bad luck regarding who chose to make a run this time around; the fact that the party is committed to demonstrably false beliefs means that only fakers or the befuddled can get through the selection process.

Of course, given the terrible economic picture and the tendency of voters to blame whoever holds the White House for bad times, even a deeply flawed G.O.P. nominee might very well win the presidency. But then what?

The Washington Post quotes an unnamed Republican adviser who compared what happened to Mr. Cain, when he suddenly found himself leading in the polls, to the proverbial tale of the dog who had better not catch that car he's chasing. "Something great and awful happened, the dog caught the car. And of course, dogs don't know how to drive cars. So he had no idea what to do with it."

The same metaphor, it seems to me, might apply to the G.O.P. pursuit of the White House next year. If the dog actually catches the car - the actual job of running the U.S. government - it will have no idea what to do, because the realities of government in the 21st century bear no resemblance to the mythology all ambitious Republican politicians must pretend to believe. And what will happen then?
(c) 2011 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."
~~~ Greek Proverb

Amid The Architecture Of Declining Capitalism
Memes, Death Genes And Real Estate Schemes
By Phil Rockstroh

The recent pepper spraying "incident" at the University of California at Davis represents more than an opportunity to create a cleverly photoshopped, viral meme. The act is part and parcel of a larger collective mindset--a proclivity towards authoritarian overreaction now deeply internalized in daily life in the U.S.

To cite only a few examples, by means such as, "zero tolerance" policies in public school systems, to "no knock" warrants, to snooping on and control over employees private lives by corporate employers, to the war on the Bill of Rights that is the so-called war on drugs, to the brutal suppression of constitutionally granted rights to free assembly and free expression by militarized police forces, to the unconstitutional killing of both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals abroad by predator drone attacks--daily existence within the nation has become more repressive, less inclined to the acceptance of the moments of creativity and uncertainty inherent to freedom. In fits and starts, by law and deed, the U.S. has moved closer in the direction of a panopticon-prone, brutality-leveling, waking authoritarian nightmare than a democratic republic devoted to erring in the direction of the ideals of justice and liberty.

Granted, such ideals will never exist in pure form. Still, by the same token, the sane neither shill for utopia nor become adapted to tyranny.

The act of pepper spraying peaceful protesters by the enforcers of official power should not be viewed as an incidental occurrence. Conversely, the act is emblematic of a mode of mind gripping the nation and one that must be challenged in the streets.

Memes are ever-replicating, exponentially reproducing, collectively evolving bits of human thoughtware--while our bodies are the hardware. If their resonances remain strictly in the realm of pixels and soundbites, a meme will translate into little more than pop culture ephemera. Memes must be carried by flesh into the non-virtual world; their human carriers might even be peppered sprayed themselves and carted off to jail, if it comes to that.

Otherwise, as is the case at present, memes dissipate...dissolving amid the ever-proliferating mirages of the commercial hologram. Thus the tragedy of the consumer state: The manner the present age of media-borne illusion usurps our instinctual drives and individual longings--the appetites and imaginings--that compel our life force to its zenith--but instead will induce us to spend our lives in the pursuit of careerist vanity and consumer dreck, and, in so doing, serves to deliver our passions to a wasteland of electronic dust.

When the inhuman demands of a seemingly implacable system control the lives of a people, an aura of nebulous fear, nettling resentment and habitual passivity, alternating with impulsive aggression, will seize the spirit of a culture. This is what Walker Percy wrote of a similar internalized landscape:

"Death in the form of death genes shall not prevail over me, for death genes are one thing but it is something else to name the death genes and know them and stand against them and dare them. I am different from my death genes and therefore not subject to them. My father had the same death genes but he feared them and did not name them and thought he could roar out old Route 66 and stay ahead of them or grab me and be pals or play Brahms and keep them, the death genes, happy, so he fell prey to them." ~~~ excerpted from Percy's novel, The Second Coming
In a declining culture, the vitality available within daily experience withers and falls away, and is soon supplanted by the dismal scions of the death genes. As reflected by the architecture (e.g., bland, prefab retail strips; shoddily built subdivision housing; sterile office parks) of late capitalism, beauty and common communion holds no dominion. As a consequence, fecund dreams dry to dust and rise from the arid land as blinding squalls of displaced fear and anger.

Antithetically, as an antidote, on Thanksgiving Day, my wife and I trundled by subway train down to Zuccotti Park for a taste of liberty. Of course, this particular national holiday is the marking and celebration of an age of genocide in regard to native folk.

My father is half Comanche; he was born on a reservation in the U.S. midwest. In general, on Thanksgiving Day, at least one-fourth of my blood (and the rest of the three-fourths of my humanity, and all of my soul) finds the task of remaining a polite dinner guest a bit difficult when people insist on being toxically (at times, belligerently) ignorant on the subject.

Significantly, by their ongoing acts of aggression perpetrated against the OWS denizens in Liberty Park in lower Manhattan (which, in itself, is an indigenous name, Manna-hata, meaning, "island of many hills") the mayor of New York City and the NYPD have revealed that they regard the area as Injun' Country. From the start of the OWS occupation, the protectors of the present order surrounded the "dirty, dangerous savages" within Liberty Park by blue uniform-clad troops and by force attempted to drive them off the land--land that is as much ours to appropriate as it is their own or anyone else's.

And don't talk to me about private property...The land in question was stolen from the get-go in a shady real estate swindle. Moreover, the OWS movement is a challenge to those types of societal notions that have bestowed legitimacy on larceny.

Regarding the almost exclusive exploitation of land for commercial exploitation e.g., the practice of claiming as private property, inflating the price of, and ceaselessly turning over for profit parcels of real estate has proven an enterprise that has degraded both landscape and soulscape, and has proven to be a less than propitious practice in regard to the health of the community at large and the planet itself. Withal, this mode of mind has engendered a culture in which the brutal and ruthless thrive...has enabled the rise of psychopathic personality types to positions of unapproachable power whose creed is, all the things of the earth are 'mine' to exploit and it is my right to bring to submission, lest I'm entitled to destroy, those things I cannot possess and control."

Conversely, my hours spent in Liberty Park have done my partial native blood good. Why? Because we are a veritable Injun' uprising. And that is why they fear us and have tried to silence our drums and our mic-check, tribal gatherings and they have torn down our Tepee-like tents. Caucasian swindlers scammed the native people of this island in the first place; hence, the scam artists of Wall Street are only the latest incarnation of that European cultural trait--and that is the true tradition of Thanksgiving. But, they are discovering that another, lost tradition is coalescing across the land--the tradition of resistance.

The actions of and reactions to the OWS movement serve to reveal the hypocritical core of the present duopolistic political system. For example, if the recent brutal, police "crackdowns" (in truth, outright abuses of constitutionally granted rights) on the OWS movement had been coordinated and perpetrated under the Bush administration, Democratic Party partisans would have been calling for hearings of impeachment to be convened against George W. Bush. The lack of outrage among liberal insiders regarding recent events is an object lesson into the invidious nature of duopolistic rule. What Democratic Party partisans warn against--the big business beholden, freedom phobic, Republican agenda--is advanced in a more efficient manner when a Democrat is installed by the 1% in the U.S. presidency. Apropos, Democratic Party apologists are as guilty of carrying the agenda of the national security/corporate state as are oligarch-duped teabagger sorts.

More and more, nationally, as well as globally, people are catching on to the machinations of the 1%, to the scams of crime syndicates such as Wall Street and the IMF, to the means by which we have been coerced, by debt enslavement to neoliberalism's global company store, into spending the fleeting days of this finite life working for the inequitable power, wealth and privilege of these ruthless few.

At present, growing numbers have taken heed of the situation and are fighting back. Within the span of a few short months, the narrative of the corporate media has, to a limited extent, been altered. Yet, at this point, the development is merely background noise: The neoliberal order is collapsing; capitalism itself is nearly at the end of its five hundred year run.

OWS is part of a global movement of resistance that is laying the groundwork for a new paradigm. Although, change will not come without struggle and suffering, without defeats, betrayals and moments of despair. But, given the unsustainable nature of the present order, a shift in both perception and practice is inevitable. Yet when there are this many variables (known and unknown) in play, gazing darkly or through rose-tinted eyewear will prove neither adequate nor helpful.

Finally, engaging in acts of resistance are often not about winning or losing a particular battle; rather, it is the propitious manner the act transforms one's character by drawing one out of isolation and into the heart of life.

By such acts, we are strengthened. Our resistance to the present order has deepened our character and strengthened our resolve, and has bestowed upon us the courage to care deeply about the lives and fates of others as well as the imperiled state of our planet's environment. We can--and we will--meet one another in reclaimed public space, and, finally, and, at long last, take up residence in a life-vivifying landscape where the death genes grip is loosened and where the wit of the world remains.
(c) 2011 Phil Rockstroh, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. Visit Phil's website, and at FaceBook.


The Winter Of Our Occupation
By Michael Moore

And now it is winter. Wall Street rejoices, hoping that the change of seasons will mean a change in our spirit, our commitment to stop them.

They couldn't be more wrong. Have they not heard of Washington and the troops at Valley Forge? The Great Flint Sit-Down Strike in the winter of 1936-37? The Michigan Wolverines crushing Ohio State in the 1950 Blizzard Bowl? When it comes to winter, it is the time historically when the people persevere and the forces of evil make their retreat!

We are not even 12 weeks old, yet Occupy Wall Street has grown so fast, so big, none of us can keep up with the hundreds of towns who have joined the movement, or the thousands of actions -- some of them just simple ones in neighborhoods, schools and organizations -- that have happened. The national conversation has been irreversibly changed. Now everyone is talking about how the 1% are getting away with all the money while the 99% struggle to make ends meet. People are no longer paralyzed by despair or apathy. Most know that now is the time to reclaim our country from the bankers, the lobbyists -- and their gofers: the members of the United States Congress and the 50 state legislatures.

And they're crazy if they think that a little climate chaos (otherwise known as winter in the 21st century) that they've helped to bring about is going to stop us.

I would like to propose to my Occupying sisters and brothers that there are many ways to keep Occupy Wall Street going through the winter months. There is perhaps no better time to move the movement indoors for a few months -- and watch it grow even bigger! (For those who have the stamina to maintain the outdoor occupations, by all means, keep it up -- and the rest of us will do our best to help you and keep you warm!)

The winter gives us an amazing opportunity to expand our actions against the captains of capitalism who have occupied our homes with their fraudulent mortgage system which has tossed millions of families out onto the curb; a cruel health care system that has told 50 million Americans "if you can't afford a doctor, go F yourself"; a student loan system that sends 22-year-olds into an immediate "debtors' prison" of working lousy jobs for which they didn't go to school but now have to take because they're in hock for tens of thousands of dollars for the next two decades; and a jobs market that keeps 25 million Americans un- or under-employed -- and much of the rest of the workers forced to accept wage cuts, health care reductions and zero job security.

But we in the Occupy Movement reject this version of the "American Dream." Instead, I suggest we shift our focus for this winter to the following actions:


A proposal to the General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street from Michael Moore

1. Occupy Our Homes. Sorry, banks, a roof over one's head is a human right, and you will no longer occupy our homes through foreclosure and eviction because well, you see, they are our homes, not yours. You may hold the mortgage; you don't hold the right to throw us or our neighbors out into the cold. With almost one in three home mortgages currently in foreclosure, nearing foreclosure or "underwater," the Occupy Movement must form local "Occupy Strike Forces" to create human shields when the banks come to throw people out of their homes. If the foreclosure has already happened, then we must help families move back into their foreclosed homes -- literally (see this clip from my last film to watch how a home re-occupation is accomplished). Beginning today, Take Back the Land, plus many other citizens' organizations nationwide, are kicking off Occupy Our Homes. Numerous actions throughout the day today have already resulted in many families physically taking back their homes. This will continue every day until the banks are forced to stop their fraudulent practices, until homeowners are allowed to change their mortgage so that it reflects the true value of their homes, and until those who can no longer afford a mortgage are allowed to stay in their homes and pay rent. I beseech the news media to cover these actions -- they are happening everywhere. Evictions, though rarely covered (you need a Kardashian in your home as you're being evicted to qualify for news coverage) are not a new story (see this scene I filmed in 1988). Also, please remember the words of Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur of Toledo (in 'Capitalism: A Love Story'): Do not leave your homes if the bank forecloses on you! Let them take you to court and then YOU ask the judge to make them produce a copy of your mortgage. They can't. It was chopped up a hundred different ways, bundled with a hundred other mortgages, and sold off to the Chinese. If they can't produce the mortgage, they can't evict you.

2. Occupy Your College. In nearly every other democracy on the planet, students go to college for free or almost free. Why do those countries do that? Because they know that for their society to advance, they must have an educated population. Without that, productivity, innovation and an informed electorate is stunted and everyone suffers as a result. Here's how we do it in the U.S.A.: make education one of our lowest priorities, graduate students who know little about the world or their own government or the economy, and then force them into crushing debt before they even have their first job. That way has really worked well for us, hasn't it? It's made us the world leader in … in … well, ok, we're like 27th or 34th in everything now (except war). This has to end. Students should spend this winter doing what they are already doing on dozens of campuses -- holding sit-ins, occupying the student loan office, nonviolently disrupting the university regents meetings, and pitching their tents on the administration's lawn. Young people -- we, the '60s generation, promised to create a better world for you. We got halfway there -- now you have to complete the job. Do not stop until these wars are ended, the Pentagon budget is cut in half, and the rich are forced to pay their taxes. And demand that that money go to your education. We'll be there with you on all of this! And when we get this fixed and you graduate, instead of being $40,000 in debt, go see the friggin' world, or tinker around in your garage a la the two Steves, or start a band. Enjoy life, discover, explore, experiment, find your way. Anything but the assistant manager at Taco Bell.

3. Occupy Your Job. Let's spend the winter organizing workplaces into unions. OR, if you already have a union, demand that your leaders get off their ass and get aggressive like our grandparents did. For chrissakes, surely you know we would not have a middle class if it weren't for the strikes of the 1930s-1950s?! In three weeks we will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the workers in my hometown of Flint, Michigan taking over and occupying the General Motors factories for 44 days in the dead of winter. Their actions ignited a labor movement that lifted tens of millions out of poverty and into the middle class. It's time to do it again. (According to the Census Bureau and the New York Times, 100 million Americans either live in or near poverty. Disgraceful. Greed has destroyed the core fabric of our communities. Enough!) Here are two good unions to get your fellow workers to sign up and join: UE and SEIU. The CWA are also good. Here's how to get a quick primer in organizing your place of employment (don't forget to be careful while you do this!). If your company is threatening to close down and move the jobs elsewhere, then it's time to occupy the workplace (again, you can get a lesson in how to successfully occupy your factory from my movie).

4. Occupy Your Bank. This is an easy one. Just leave them. Move your checking and your credit card to a nonprofit credit union. It's safe and the decisions made there aren't based on greed. And if a bank tries to evict your neighbor, Occupy the local branch with 20 other people and call the press. Post it on the internet.

5. Occupy the Insurance Man. It's time to not only stand up for the 50 million without health insurance but to also issue a single, simple demand: The elimination of for-profit, privately-controlled health insurance companies. It is nothing short of barbaric to allow businesses to make a profit off people when they get sick. We don't allow anyone to make a profit when we need the fire department or the police. Until recently we would never allow a company to make a profit by operating in a public school. The same should be true for when you need to see a doctor or stay in the hospital. So I say it's long overdue for us to go and Occupy Humana, United Health, Cigna and even the supposed "nonprofit" Blue Crosses. An action on their lawns, in their lobbies, or at the for-profit hospitals -- this is what is needed.

So -- there are my ideas for the five places we can Occupy this winter. Help the foreclosed-upon to Occupy their homes. Occupy your college campus, especially the student loan office and the regents meetings. Occupy your job by getting everyone to sign a union card -- or by refusing to let the CEO ship your job overseas. Occupy your Chase or Citi or Bank of America branch by closing your account and moving it to a credit union. And Occupy the insurance company offices, the pharmaceutical companies' headquarters and the for-profit hospitals until the White House and Congress pass the true single-payer universal health care bill they failed to pass in 2010.

My friends, the rich are running scared right now. You need no further proof of this than to read this story from last week. The Republicans' top strategist met privately with them and told them that they had better change their tune or they were going to be crushed by the Occupy Wall Street movement. They didn't have to change their greedy actions, he assured them -- just the way they talk and PR the situation. He told them never to use the word "capitalism" -- it has now been made a dirty word by the Occupy movement, he said. Only say "economic freedom" from now on, he cautioned. And don't criticize the movement -- because the majority of Americans either agree with it or are feeling the same way. Just tell the Occupiers and the distressed Americans: "I get it." Seriously.

Yes, in just 12 short weeks we have killed their most sacred word -- Capitalism -- and we have them on the run, on the defensive. They should be. Millions are coming after them and our only goal is to remove them from power and replace them with a fair system that is controlled by the 99%. The 1% have been able to get both political parties to do their bidding. Why should only 1% of the population get to have two parties -- and the rest of us have none? That, too, is going to change. In my next letter, I will suggest what we can do to Occupy the Electoral Process. But first we must start with those who pull the strings of the puppets in the Congress. That's why it's called Occupy Wall Street. Always better to deal with man in charge, don't you think?

Let's Occupy the Winter! An #OWS Winter will certainly lead to a very hopeful American Spring.
(c) 2010 Michael Moore is an activist, author, and filmmaker. See more of his work at his website

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Uberfuhrer Stabenow,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your new law destroying the 5th amendment to the US Constitution, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "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 of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 12-31-2011. We salute you Frau Stabenow, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Express mail forms and priority mailboxes sit on display at the
Capitol Station, Monday, December 5, 2011, in Springfield, Illinois.

The Postal Service Plots Its Own Demise
By John Nichols

There are many appropriate targets for Occupy Wall Street protests. But the OWS protesters hit a bull's-eye when they invaded a National Press Club briefing where Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe-who likes to make like a corporate executive and refer to himself as "Chief Operating Officer of the US Postal Service" - was giving a speech about the need to close local post offices, layoff workers and, though this was unspoken, take the steps that will lead to the privatization of the one of the country's greatest public assets.

"Stop closing post offices," chanted the activists who occupied the press club. "Don't privatize the post office. It's a public service. It's not a profit center for FedEx and UPS to rip off the people."

Postmasters general do not usually become the targets of passionate opposition. But the protesters were chanting: "Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donahoe has got to go."

And rightly so.

On Monday, Donahue laid out a plan that, if implemented, would destroy the postal service as most Americans know it.

And the destruction would come not out of necessity but to perpetuate an austerity lie.

The supposed financial crisis facing the US Postal Service is actually a fiscal fantasy, The USPS, which continues to provide vital services to 150 million households and business each day, which sustains rural communities and urban neighborhoods across he country as a Main Street mainstay, which employs hundreds of thousands of Americans and which has a history of being in the forefront of technological and societal progress, is not in trouble because of competition from the Internet or changing letter-writing patterns. It is in crisis because Congress forced the the postal service to pay roughly $5.5 billion a year into a trust fund for future retiree pensions. The USPS inspector general says the postal service has overfunded pension obligations by $75 billion-something no other federal agency is required to do. In addition, the postal service has been slapped with other charges and obligations that make it appear to be headed for bankruptcy. Simply treating the USPS fairly when it comes to the prepayment of pensions would ease most of the burden facing the postal service.

But Congress is dithering, the for-profit mail services that want to carve up the USPS are salivating, and the postmaster general is surrendering-proposing to end next-day delivery of letters, postcards and other First Class mail.

That postmaster general surrender was signaled Monday by a brutal proposal for deep cost cutting that could:

1. So diminish and slow down first-class mail delivery that the changes will create an opening for private carriers; indeed, Americans are almost being pushed into the arms of UPS and FedEx.

2. Ultimately cause as many as 100,000 job losses is the biggest single blow to employment by any employer in the country, Postal service job cuts hit people of color, women and veterans hardest, as the USPS has a long history of hiring staffs that "look like America." The proposed closing of more than 250 of 561 postal sorting centers is the equivalent of a wave of factory closings like nothing the country saw even in the depths of the recent recession. 

3. Have a devastating impact on thousands of rural communities, where post offices are slated for closure. This is really a case of Washington abandoning rural areas and hard-hit urban neighborhoods at precisely the time they need the support of an engaged federal government. 

4. So delay delivery that it would create a nine-day lag time for periodical. This would be devastating for the print press and for the public discourse. Weekly newspapers and magazines might not even arrive until after their next editions were published.

5. Wreck havoc with absentee voting and military voting processes that are already a mess in many states. Hardest hit will be states that have gone to vote-by-mail systems, such as Oregon. At a time when Voter ID laws are making it harder to cast ballots at the polls, this makes absentee voting.

By every reasonable measure, the postal service is proposing suicide in the form of not-so-slow cuts. "The Postal Service plan will hasten the demise of the USPS," American Postal Workers Union president Cliff Guffey said with regard to the agency's announcement that it would seek an advisory opinion from the Postal Regulatory Commission on plans to eliminate next-day delivery of first-class mail and periodicals. "The USPS should be modernizing and striving to remain relevant in the digital age, not reducing service to the American people."

Under what the postmaster general's "cost-cutting plan," the postal service would shutter almost half the nation's mail-processing centers and shed tens of thousands of jobs-at a time when even the most optimistic observers say the country faces a steep climb to address widespread unemployment. The changes would make it impossible for the postal service to reconstitute itself in better times. As such, they an open invitation to private carriers to take over lucrative routes and services-while leaving the great mass of Americans with diminished and substandard services.

The cuts proposed by the postmaster general go way beyond cost-cutting. This is the sounding of the death knell for a postal service that traces its roots to the nation's first days and that remains an essential service for isolated rural communities and neglected urban neighborhoods.

"The so-called Postmaster General is going to announce details that will lead to the end of the United States Postal Service and universal postal delivery in this country," said Congressman Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, who highlighted the damage the postal service will do to the broader economy.

"This would be an incredible blow to our economy. With real unemployment at 16 percent we cannot afford another 100,000 people laid off," explained DeFazio. "I've already heard from small business owners that rely on USPS and are concerned that the plan would kill their businesses. Some rural Oregonians would have to drive 15 to 20 miles to access their mail. Subscribers of small rural weekly newspapers would have to wait 7-9 days for their papers to be delivered. This is a short-sighted proposal that fails to address the serious long-term issues facing USPS." 

(c) 2011 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. He is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers.

Marching Off The Cliff
By Noam Chomsky

A task of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, now under way in Durban, South Africa, is to extend earlier policy decisions that were limited in scope and only partially implemented.

These decisions trace back to the U.N. Convention of 1992 and the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, which the U.S. refused to join. The Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period ends in 2012. A fairly general pre-conference mood was captured by a New York Times headline: "Urgent Issues but Low Expectations."

As the delegates meet in Durban, a report on newly updated digests of polls by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Program on International Policy Attitudes reveals that "publics around the world and in the United States say their government should give global warming a higher priority and strongly support multilateral action to address it."

Most U.S. citizens agree, though PIPA clarifies that the percentage "has been declining over the last few years, so that American concern is significantly lower than the global average - 70 percent as compared to 84 percent."

"Americans do not perceive that there is a scientific consensus on the need for urgent action on climate change â(euro) [ A large majority think that they will be personally affected by climate change eventually, but only a minority thinks that they are being affected now, contrary to views in most other countries. Americans tend to underestimate the level of concern among other Americans."

These attitudes aren't accidental. In 2009 the energy industries, backed by business lobbies, launched major campaigns that cast doubt on the near-unanimous consensus of scientists on the severity of the threat of human-induced global warming.

The consensus is only "near-unanimous" because it doesn't include the many experts who feel that climate-change warnings don't go far enough, and the marginal group that deny the threat's validity altogether.

The standard "he says/she says" coverage of the issue keeps to what is called "balance": the overwhelming majority of scientists on one side, the denialists on the other. The scientists who issue the more dire warnings are largely ignored.

One effect is that scarcely one-third of the U.S. population believes that there is a scientific consensus on the threat of global warming - far less than the global average, and radically inconsistent with the facts.

It's no secret that the U.S. government is lagging on climate issues. "Publics around the world in recent years have largely disapproved of how the United States is handling the problem of climate change," according to PIPA. "In general, the United States has been most widely seen as the country having the most negative effect on the world's environment, followed by China. Germany has received the best ratings."

To gain perspective on what's happening in the world, it's sometimes useful to adopt the stance of intelligent extraterrestrial observers viewing the strange doings on Earth. They would be watching in wonder as the richest and most powerful country in world history now leads the lemmings cheerfully off the cliff.

Last month, the International Energy Agency, which was formed on the initiative of U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1974, issued its latest report on rapidly increasing carbon emissions from fossil fuel use.

The IEA estimated that if the world continues on its present course, the "carbon budget" will be exhausted by 2017. The budget is the quantity of emissions that can keep global warming at the 2 degrees Celsius level considered the limit of safety.

IEA chief economist Fatih Birol said, "The door is closing â(euro) [ if we don't change direction now on how we use energy, we will end up beyond what scientists tell us is the minimum (for safety). The door will be closed forever."

Also last month, the U.S. Department of Energy reported the emissions figures for 2010. Emissions "jumped by the biggest amount on record," The Associated Press reported, meaning that "levels of greenhouse gases are higher than the worst-case scenario" anticipated by the International Panel on Climate Change in 2007.

John Reilly, co-director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's program on climate change, told the AP that scientists have generally found the IPCC predictions to be too conservative - unlike the fringe of denialists who gain public attention. Reilly reported that the IPCC's worst-case scenario was about in the middle of the MIT scientists' estimates of likely outcomes.

As these ominous reports were released, the Financial Times devoted a full page to the optimistic expectations that the U.S. might become energy-independent for a century with new technology for extracting North American fossil fuels.

Though projections are uncertain, the Financial Times reports, the U.S. might "leapfrog Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world's largest producer of liquid hydrocarbons, counting both crude oil and lighter natural gas liquids."

In this happy event, the U.S. could expect to retain its global hegemony. Beyond some remarks about local ecological impact, the Financial Times said nothing about what kind of a world would emerge from these exciting prospects. Energy is to burn; the global environment be damned.

Just about every government is taking at least halting steps to do something about the likely impending catastrophe. The U.S. is leading the way - backward. The Republican-dominated U.S. House of Representatives is now dismantling environmental measures introduced by Richard Nixon, in many respects the last liberal president.

This reactionary behavior is one of many indications of the crisis of U.S. democracy in the past generation. The gap between public opinion and public policy has grown to a chasm on central issues of current policy debate such as the deficit and jobs. However, thanks to the propaganda offensive, the gap is less than what it should be on the most serious issue on the international agenda today - arguably in history.

The hypothetical extraterrestrial observers can be pardoned if they conclude that we seem to be infected by some kind of lethal insanity.
(c) 2011 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 Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Bob Engelhardt ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

If global warming isn't under control by 2006, scientists say it
will achieve unstoppable momentum, destroying the only planet we have.

Report: Global Warming May Be Irreversible By 2006

GENEVA-A new report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned Monday that global warming is likely to become completely irreversible if no successful effort is made to slow down the trend before 2006.

Unless greenhouse-gas emissions are drastically reduced by then, the report concludes, it will be too late to avoid inflicting a grave environmental catastrophe upon future generations.

"We have absolutely no time to waste," said Dr. William Tumminelli, lead author of the report, which stresses it is utterly crucial the world cut its carbon footprint in half by the year 2000. "If we wait until 1998 or even 1995 to really start doing something about climate change, our planet's rising temperature will already have set in motion a series of devastating and irreparable long-term consequences. We need to have strict international rules in place well ahead of 2006 or, to be blunt, many of the earth's inhabitants will be doomed."

"The situation could not possibly be more urgent," Tumminelli added.

The IPCC report-the most comprehensive study of its kind ever undertaken-estimates the failure to address global warming immediately could result in sea levels rising 6 inches by the end of the 20th century, 2000-2009 being the hottest decade ever recorded, and roughly half the Arctic ice cap melting by 2011.

Even before 2006, when the report indicates the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will reach "entirely unmanageable levels," scientists confirm the likelihood of an alarming increase in the frequency and sever­ity of hurricanes, floods, heat waves, and droughts, which could lead to death tolls in the hundreds of thousands.

"Climate change is the deadliest crisis currently facing humanity, so needless to say, we can expect it to be the dominant issue of the 2000 presidential election," Brookings Institution political analyst Gloria Leting said. "It stands to reason that, as the world's foremost producer of greenhouse gases, the United States will want to take the lead in preventing this disaster while we still have time."

"We can also count on hearing U.S. Senate candidates make firm campaign promises to ratify the Kyoto Protocol as soon as they take office," continued Leting, referring to the U.N. accord that aims to enforce emission standards starting in 2005. "Our elected officials realize Americans don't want to suffer the embarrassment of not being among the first nations to approve such an vitally important agreement."

The report also outlines a set of year-by-year goals aimed at curbing emissions prior to 2006, such as weatherizing all homes by 1979, replacing household light bulbs with compact fluorescent models by 1985, phasing out fossil fuels by 1992, and taking steps to ensure the world population never reaches the "exceedingly dangerous" 7 billion mark.

If the 2006 deadline isn't met, climatologists warn the world will eventually experience planet-wide cataclysms, including massive shortages of potable water, insufficient crop productivity, the extinction of numerous species, and unprecedented outbreaks of famine and pandemic disease.

"The picture by the end of the 21st century becomes quite bleak, frankly," Dr. Tumminelli said. "I, for one, would not want to live in the world this report describes: entire Asian cities underwater from monsoon flooding, mass human diasporas, wars fought over the scraps of habitable land still remaining-hell on earth, basically. Our only hope is for the nations of the world to put aside their individual interests and take decisive action by 2006."

Although the report represents the collaborative efforts of several thousand scientists, some observers expressed doubt about the objectivity of the study.

"I think the report is a bit reactionary, and perhaps even politically motivated." said Arthur Bainbridge, a climate policy specialist based in Washington. "Plenty of alternative models have estimated 2008 or even 2010 as the absolute point of no return."
(c) 2011The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 11 # 48 (c) 12/09/2011

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