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In This Edition

Phil Rockstroh considers, "Amnesia As A Way Of Life."

Uri Avnery finds, "Islam Is The Solution."

Mike Folkerth returns with an epiphany, "Downhill!"

Randall Amster contends, "It Goes Without Saying...."

Jim Hightower watches as, "'The Hammer' Gets Nailed."

James Donahue says, "Reduce The Deficit – Start With The Military."

Joel S. Herschhorn concludes, "Mental Ghettos Weaken The US."

Cindy Sheehan warns of, "Surrendering Our Civil Liberties."

Chris Floyd wonders, "Why Aren't You Dead Yet?"

Matthew Rothschild reports, "Bernie Sanders Unearths The Fed’s Sordid Details."

Paul Krugman postulates, "Let’s Not Make A Deal."

Chris Hedges is as, "Happy As A Hangman."

David Michael Green explains, "What WikiLeaks Really Reveals."

N.Y.C. Mayor Michael Bloomberg wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Julian Assange joins us with, "The Truth Will Always Win."

Paul Craig Roberts explores the, "TSA Gestapo Empire."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz discovers, "U.S. Orders Diplomats to Stop Telling Truth Until Further Notice" but first Uncle Ernie examines, "Travels And Travails!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of John Deering, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Bruce Yurgil, Destonio, Dorothea Lange, Carlos Latuff, Ed Stein, Jim Day, Hajo, ETSY.Com, America S.O.S..Com, Motivated Photos.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."

Travels And Travails!
By Ernest Stewart

Round, round, get around
I get around, yeah
Get around, round, round, I get around
I get around
I Get Around ~~~ The Beach Boys

"I am running to put an end to the Bush-McCain philosophy. The idea that we should give more and more to millionaires and billionaires and hope that it trickles down on everybody else. It’s a philosophy that gives tax breaks to wealthy CEOs and to corporations that ship jobs overseas while hundreds of thousands of jobs are disappearing here at home."
~~~ Candidate Barack Obama ~ 2008 ~~~

"Why wasn't Assange garroted in his hotel room years ago? ~~~ Jonah Goldberg

"Welcome, back, welcome back, welcome back!"
Welcome Back Kotter ~~~ John Sebastian

Our traveling hamburger clown, oops, strike the hamburger, was on the road again. That's three major overseas trips since the election and Mr. Obama is batting 0 for 3. Ever since his sell out of the left caught up with him on election day, Barry has been traveling around and around the world trying to get rid of that bad news bug that bit him on the ass! I wonder, did BartCop put the curse on him?

First he was off on a round-the-world flight to sell India billions of dollars of our secondhand inventory weaponry. His next stop was in Korea, where he fumbled the G-20 meeting. Then he jetted on to the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Summit meeting in Yokohama, Japan where again things didn't go quite as planned.

The very next week, Barry was off to Portugal for a NATO meeting where he failed to get the members to buy into his long haul plans in Afghanistan. Seems everyone decided on removing all of their troops as soon as they were already scheduled to and not staying another day. However, he was able to get them to sign off on the end of M.A.D. and to sign onto Ray-Guns "Star Wars" insanity, which means WW III is just that much closer, Yippee?

Then this week Barry flew off again, this time on a surprise visit to Afghanistan for an annual Christmas photo-op with the troops who can't refuse the "Commander and Chief" and for a meeting with President Hamid Karzai who apparently can refuse. Hamid couldn't be bothered to drive across town to see Barry nor would Barry drive from the airport to the palace. It must be a drag when you can't even drive across town, in the middle of the night, in an armored car, as everyone in the country wants to kill you, huh? Cest la guerre!

In Other News

I've always called Mr. Obama by his white first name Barry, a name that he always used until he decided to run for public office where he suddenly turned black and went by Barack. After much consideration, I will no longer refer to the President as Barry, from now on I'm calling him the "Cave Man!"

He certainly has earned the epithet Cave Man. Of all the promises he made during his run for the presidency, he has caved on at least 99% of them, most always without a fight. He keeps telling us that we want him to make nice with the Rethuglicans and we keep telling him we want him to grow a pair and bring these criminals to justice, not bend over and pull his pants down in a compromise. Besides, compromise my ass! A compromise is where each side gets mostly what it wants, it's not always 90% for them and 10% for us.

If the Cave Man had a pair, he would take the Rethuglicans words and use them against them. He had a majority in both houses and could have given us all the things he promised to. He is supposed to be some sort of genius, but can't deliver a thing he promised while Bush without a lock on both chambers and the brains of a duck got everything he wanted, including two illegal, immoral wars!

Of course, the Cave Man, too, has gotten everything he was supposed to for his corpo-rat masters, everything he promised them in back room deals. You'll recall that he removed the single payer choice from the healthcare insurance rip-off long before there was a debate, but lied to us saying it was on the table when it never, ever was. As for this "sanctimonious and purist progressive," go f*ck yourself, you corpo-rat traitor!

The tax relief for the insanely rich was never in jeopardy of being allowed to expire, the fix was in before he took office and the rest has been a rather bad song and dance and nothing more. I'm looking forward to see the Cave Man reelected in 2012 as the Rethuglicans run their weakest candidate, assuring the Cave Man four more years and the George II presidency a 16 year run. After all, why quit a winner who is already giving you everything your heart desires by running a strong candidate, who might have a back bone? Why indeed?

And Finally

I see where WikiLeaks strikes again, this time down in Cancun where two U. S. negotiators, deputy special envoy for climate change Jonathan Pershing and lead U.S. negotiator, special envoy for climate change Todd Stern, are at it again. In much the same way they were last year in Copenhagen where they spent a lot of time in back rooms trying to bribe the various island nations to take our money, sign onto “The Copenhagen Accord” and then learn to tread water!

WikiLeaks let the cat out of the bag with Jonathan's and Todd's attempts to do just that. The WikiLeaks cables help explain what happened. One of the most outspoken critics of developed countries in the lead-up to Copenhagen, President Mohamed Nasheed of the Republic of Maldives, ultimately signed on to the Copenhagen Accord. A secret U.S. State Department memo leaked via WikiLeaks, dated Feb. 10, 2010, summarized the consultations of the newly-appointed Maldives ambassador to the U.S., Abdul Ghafoor Mohamed. The memo reports that the ambassador said, when meeting with Pershing:

“Maldives would like to see that small countries, like Maldives, that are at the forefront of the climate debate, receive tangible assistance from the larger economies. Other nations would then come to realize that there are advantages to be gained by compliance.”

He asked for $50 million, for projects to protect the Maldives from rising sea levels.

Pershing appears in another memo, dated Feb. 17, 2010 about a meeting he had with Connie Hedegaard, the European commissioner for climate action, who played a lead role in Copenhagen, as she does today in Cancun. According to the memo:

“Hedegaard suggested the AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States) countries ‘could be our best allies’ given their need for financing.”

In yet another memo dated Feb. 17, 2010, WikiLeaks reports:

“Hedegaard responded that we will need to work around unhelpful countries such as Venezuela or Bolivia. Froman agreed that we will need to neutralize, co-opt or marginalize these and others such as Nicaragua, Cuba, Ecuador.”

All this to avoid doing what 190 countries from around the world did, i.e., signing on to the Kyoto Protocol, which unlike the Copenhagen Accord, makes reductions in carbon emissions mandatory and not just a promise to do so. The whole world knows what they can make of our promises! Cancun is being orchestrated by the same group as before in Denmark and will no doubt come up with something similar. A paper that no one will buy into, no matter how much money is spent to protect the corpo-rats that are poisoning us all. Because their very best plan will cause a rise in temperature of slightly over 7 degrees which is several degrees more than what it will take to to melt the polar ice caps and drown a billion people!

Again, could someone please explain the difference between Bush and the Cave Man? I'll be damned if I can see a major difference!

Keepin' On

You may have noticed that Mike Folkerth, our former economics guru, is back with a recent epiphany that he came to share with us. Unlike our current economics guru Paul Krugman, Mike has a wonderful sense of humor and irony. A sense that I think is really required to deal with one economic disaster after another economic disaster, after another! Welcome back, Mike, don't be a stranger; we need your wit and wisdom, to keep on keepin' on!

I think I may have dodged a bullet with my plans for a radio show. Apparently the company who was going to host it is having some financial problems. First they wanted an extra $500 for a half hour more of time, a half hour that everyone else, apparently, gets for free. When I asked for an explanation, I got instead several letters offering to sell their domain to me! In the old daze, I probably would have bought it, of course, in the old daze I had money, unlike these new daze! I'll take a serious look around after the first of the year and see if I can't find somewhere to hang my audio hat!


04-10-1938 ~ 12-05-2010
Thanks for the laughs!

07-03-1949 ~ 12-07-2010
R.I.P. sweetie!


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) 2010 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 9 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Face Book. Follow me on Twitter.

Amnesia As A Way Of Life
WikiLeaks Amid The "Careless People"
By Phil Rockstroh

As many wags have noted, the disclosures of WikiLeaks have subjected the US Empire and its operatives to a full-body scan. Turnaround is fair play, because, until now, in the US, the powerless masses are subject to arbitrary pat downs and body scans, while the powerful and connected are massaged by privilege and ensconced in immunity.

In hindsight, one realizes, when the Obama administration promised transparency and accountability in government, National Security State enabler that Barack Obama has proven himself to be, that his administration's definition of transparency would entail the countenancing of said body scans at the nation's airports, revealing the private bits of the hoi polloi, as, all the while, his administration was engaged in stonewalling the hidden agendas and felonies of the corporate and governing elite. Recent events should remove any doubt regarding who stands exposed and who will remain cloaked by official aegis.

Unlike Julian Assange at WikiLeaks, when the Democratic Congress had the opportunity to create an atmosphere of openness and transparency, they demurred. Once granted positions of authority, the Democrats didn't exercise their constitutionally granted powers to initiate investigations, hold hearings, nor issue subpoenas. This failure of will and integrity amounts to complicity by omission. Withal, Democrats gave their tacit support and approval to the last administration's (as well as to the present one's continuation of more of the same) constitution-shredding, morally repugnant policies.

On most occasions, existing within the tacit repression and the benumbing, virtual reality carnival of the corporate/National Security State leaves an individual with a sense of being stranded in anonymity … cast into circumstances wherein one feels the necessity to follow the unspoken dictates of a nebulous form of authority that remains hidden, both by physical distance and organizational insularity. In contrast, when one is introduced to the apparatus of the National Security State, by means of a full body search, this unnerving intrusion upon the body can bring clarity to the mind as to how the elite and apparatchik of the US government regard that mass annoyance known as its citizenry and any quaint notions those wretches clutch pertaining to their constitutional granted rights and liberties.

These present outrages will flair up and spiral through the news cycle. Yet, the practices will remain in place, and, after a time, become normalized. This has proven to be the case with other previously revealed excesses of the so-call War on Terror and the attendant assaults against civil liberties and breaches of international law incurred in the name of this ongoing, seemingly endless, national psychotic episode e.g., the existence of the "detention camp" at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the illegal invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and those operations concomitant litany of war crimes and affronts to human dignity, such as the acts of torture committed at Abu Ghraib prison -- as well as -- the whole blood-sodden laundry list of outrages and excesses of present day US imperium.

If there is any hope for the US to ever function as a democratic republic, the revelations, unearthed by WikiLeaks, should constitute the beginning of a long, painful process of grim discovery.

First, one must ask: Why is it the corporate media is so deeply invested in promulgating distracting and miss-the-point narratives, hyper-adrenaline arguments of narrowed context and little consequence -- and, in general, trafficking in piffle packaged as news and public debate -- rather than showing even a passing interest, much less an avidity, for the pursuit of stories that confront power and might present a challenge to the present order?

As with any criminal enterprise, the essential question to ask is: who benefits from the crime (and the subsequent coverup) and who gets the payoff? Although most of human existence is constituted by ambiguity, this situation is not. The evidence of war crimes and fiscal malfeasance committed by the nation's political and financial elite are so pervasive that it cannot be missed, and that is precisely the reason the corporate media, as well as a large percentage of the general public, works so hard to ignore the situation.

Lord Northcliffe's aphorism provides a clue:

"News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising." ~~~ Lord Northcliffe, British publisher 1865-1922

Accordingly, at present, there arrives a paucity of news, but, hour after hour, comes a drowning deluge of advertising. Enveloped in this commercially dominated hologram, on a cultural basis, it has proven difficult to arrive at a common lexicon to tell the tale of truths buried and freedoms imperiled.

The weightless, insubstantial quality of the consumer age engenders a state of mind wherein consequences cannot be grasped then processed. As a result, a sense of drift prevails. Yet below the surface churns a nebulous dread -- a feeling of being propelled towards a time of unbearable reckoning.

But such enervating thoughts must be banished from the mind; hence, amnesia, as a way of life, becomes the prevailing mindset of psyches minted in the media age hologram i.e., a manner of perceiving the world in which official accountability becomes as evanescent as last season's advertising campaign roll-out.

Voting for "change" becomes as meaningless and inconsequential as the introduction of Coke "Classic" and "Be all you can be." The US might as well have election campaigns in which the Michelin Man runs against the Energizer Bunny.

By means of its inherently self-narrowing context, the lingua franca of the media hologram reduces complex and conflicted human aspirations into consumer choices -- and the vastness of life to retail experience, as, simultaneously, its proliferate narratives envelop, saturate and bind to the architecture of our psyches becoming the quanta of our thoughts and the shared lexicon of our utterances.

Living in this milieu, that is as manic as it is mind-grinding, decisions must be made rapidly, with little time allowed for reflection (decision-making carrying no more depth and lasting meaning than a text message vote by cell phone involving some contrived Reality TV competition) because the proliferation of empty, non-choices just keeps being proffered and the rate of arrival keeps accelerating.

Tragically, in this environment, the recent WikiLeaks revelations will be marginalized in the electronic image-crowded air and quickly dissipate like any other media age phantom. Yet the US consumer state's infantilized inhabitants will never transfigure the raging Furies of truth-deferred into cooing Teletubbies of endless, imagined innocence (albeit, as terrifying as those homunculi of hell-bound cuteness are). The childishness of US Uberculture seems the voice of Orwellian Newspeak as it might have been composed by Dr. Seuss, in a fever delirium, dreaming he is Glen Beck.

Often, it is not the content of what a cartoonish demagogue, such as Beck, is saying; rather, it is the way they say it -- the emotional tonality of the line reading that resonates with their audience. Apropos, the US is a depressing place nowadays. Viewed in the context of emotional catharsis, Glen Beck's crying jags and feigned emotional disclosures resonate with his audience because there is much reason to weep regarding the degraded state of their lives.

In an era where policies of official secrecy and corporatist predation meet little resistance, dread and feelings of dislocation will be present just below the surface. If one listens to the subliminal criteria playing out beneath Beck's bathos, one can hear inadvertent arias intimating the end of empire -- a cheese-bag death-swoon -- operatic in scale.

What is lamentable is -- the emotional and intellectually dishonest, demagogic displacements he attributes to the cause of his audience's discontent and the sleight of hand employed to create the illusion of truths revealed.

"Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life." ~~~ Eric Hoffer

This is the price paid when one affords scant deference to self-awareness, but, in contrast, possesses an unflagging fealty to the pursuit of shallow diversions and self-limiting delusion … All maintained by the crackpot casuistry, elevated to an art form, if not holy writ, in the US, that willful ignorance is a form of freedom of choice, that normalcy is maintained by official cover-ups and personal denial.

The system is rigged, from top to bottom; it is only through an astonishing (almost credulity-defying) degree of self-deception on the part of the general public of the US, in collaboration with the mendacity of its political and economic elite, this dim, brutal, unwieldy and wounded system continues to stagger onward.

Lamentably, the US Empire, as was the case with any imperium throughout history, has grown into a bloated abomination kept provisionally alive by self-deluded apparatchik and ignorant killers. What can one do about the situation, other than try to get out of the way of this wounded giant and stand clear upon its inevitable collapse? Unfortunately, damn little.

The structure of the revolving door dynamic of the governmental/corporate exploiter class has allowed the elite therein to escape any sense of accountability. In addition, their vastly inflated salaries, with attendant perks and privileges, have separated them even further from the general population; hence, providing them with immunity from consequences, as well as, insularity from commonplace experience; thus, allowing them to embrace the most airless of aspirations -- that greed, grotesquely out of proportion privilege, and unchecked power run riot constitutes a viable means to move in the world and establish a social order.

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made […]" ~~~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (Pg. 180-181)

Among the political elite of both major parties come few calls for the kind of disclosure and official accountability that could stem the decline of the nation. Facing the fact that, in the US, there is not a true opposition party causes many people in the general population to become understandably angry, anxious, and depressed, thereby primed for pronouncements of demagogues and the diversions of commercial media palliatives.

"What WikiLeaks is doing is to short-circuit this entire democratic process — claiming for itself the exclusive, unilateral, and unchecked power to decide what should and shouldn’t be made public. This is therefore not only an attack on our national security, but an offense against our democracy and the principle of transparency.” ~~~ Senator Joseph Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee

If one could cut through the thicket of false premises, logical fallacies, false dichotomies, arrays of strawmen, general flutter-headed palaver, and out and out paranoid fantasy marshaled by the caretakers and apologists of the present system, I would ask this question -- why is it you are driven with such vehemence to defend and attempt to preserve the current order? As it is, it seems the nation is being held together with hydrogenated fat, wheat gluten, payday loans, Tyvek®, particleboard, and the provisional binding of homespun bigotry and official duplicity.

And what remains? How does one rise to meet the day confronted by such diminished prospects and prevailing degradations? Is there solace to be found in the following?

"It does not take a majority to prevail ... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men." ~~~ Samuel Adams

Sadly, in the provinces beyond the Washington/New York government/corporate state nexus, it may well be impossible to start an authentic populist brushfire when the political landscape is covered in flame-retardant, corporate-laid Astroturf.

Still: It would be entertaining, in the very least, to rock the foundation of the US House of Empire with the repeated force of numerous WikiLeaks type revelations, until its closet doors are flung open wide, causing the skeletons within to dance.

I did an interview with RT Television regarding this piece, I thought, perhaps, you might like to take a look-see.
(c) 2010 Phil Rockstroh, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. Visit Phil's website, and at FaceBook.

Islam Is The Solution
By Uri Avnery

FIRST, AN apology: I am not going to write about the WikiLeaks.

I like gossip as much as the next (wo)man. The leaks provide a lot of it, interspersed with some real information.

But there is nothing really new there. The information only confirms what any intelligent person could have worked out already. If there is anything new, it’s exactly this confirmation: the world is really managed the way we thought it was. How depressing.

Four hundred years ago, Sir Henry Wotton, a British diplomat, observed that “An ambassador is an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country.” Since then, nothing has changed except that the ambassador has been joined by the ambassadress. So it is quite refreshing to listen to what they say in secret messages home, when they don’t have to lie.

That said, let’s move on to more important things.

THIS WEEK’S ELECTIONS in Egypt, for example.

Years ago, the story goes that a Soviet citizen went to the polling station on election-day and was handed a sealed envelope to put into the ballot box.

“Aren’t I allowed to see who I am voting for?” he asked.

“Of course not!” the stern-faced official retorted indignantly, “In our Soviet Union, the elections are secret!”

This could not happen in Egypt. First of all, because Egyptians are a very humorous people. If told that their elections were secret, they would burst out laughing.

Second, because they so obviously are not.

On one of my visits to Anwar Sadat’s Cairo, I had the chance to witness an election day. It was a jolly occasion, more a medieval carnival than a solemn fulfillment of democratic duty. Everybody was happy.

Visiting a polling station in a village near the Giza pyramids, I was struck by this atmosphere of jolly cynicism. No one even pretended that it was serious. Good-humored soldiers guarding the locale volunteered to help old women in choosing the right ballot and putting it in the envelope.

I am not sure whether this good humor has been retained under the Mubarak regime, but the results are the same. Media editors, all appointed by the government, prevent any criticism of the government. Opposition activists are arrested well before election day (if they are not in prison already). The government party is a sorry joke. No one seriously pretends that the country is anything but a dictatorship. The upper classes like it that way, not only out of fondness for their privileges but also out of a genuine fear that under democracy, their country would elect a fundamentalist religious regime, with burqas and all.

ALL OVER the Arab world, this is a real dilemma. Free elections would bring fundamentalists to power.

During the last century, secular nationalism was in vogue. In many Arab countries, nationalist movements sprang up. Their model was the great Ataturk – a revolutionary renovator as no other. He suppressed Islam, forbade the fez for men and the hijab for women, replaced the Arabic with the Latin script, fostered Turkish nationalism instead of the Ottoman Islamism.

This, by the way, was a model for many of us, who aspired to replace the Jewish religion and Zionist pseudo-nationalism with a healthy Hebrew territorial secular nationalism. The son of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the renovator of the modern Hebrew language, also proposed replacing the Hebrew script with a Latin one.

In Turkey, the Ataturk revolution is now threatened by the upsurge of a rejuvenated Islam. In Israel, the new Hebrew nation is under siege by a fundamentalist, aggressive Judaism. All over the Arab world, the situation is worse.

To put it bluntly: secular nationalism has not delivered. It has brought no real independence, no freedom, no economic and technological breakthrough.

In the economic sphere, no Arab country has succeeded in doing what has been done by Japan, South Korea and even Malaysia, and what is being done now by China and India. The successful Israeli example is near at hand and increases the frustration.

The dream of a secular pan-Arab union, as envisioned by Gamal Abd-al-Nasser and the original Ba’athists, is in tatters. So is the dream of Arab independence. Almost all Arab countries are backward American clients and dance to the American tune. A whole generation of Arab leaders has spectacularly failed.

The most recent example was Yasser Arafat. He created a Palestinian national movement that was proud of its non-sectarianism. Christian Arabs played a significant role in the Palestine Liberation Organization. George Habash was a Christian physician from Ramallah, the Christian Hanan Ashrawi is one of the most articulate Palestinian spokespersons.

Arafat himself was a practicing Muslim. Often, even in private conversations, he would excuse himself, disappear for a few minutes and return unobtrusively, while his assistants would whisper to us that the Ra’is was praying. Yet he never tired of assuring everyone that the future State of Palestine would be free of any religious domination.

As long as he was alive, political Islam remained a minor influence, and not because of any repressive measures.

ALL THIS is history. The Sunni Hamas (“Islamic Resistance Movement”) and the Shiite Hezbollah (“Party of God”) are becoming the models for masses of young people all over the Arab world.

One of the major reasons for this is Palestine.

If Arafat had succeeded in founding the free and sovereign State of Palestine, the texture of Arab politics would have changed, not only in Palestine itself but in all Arab countries.

The rise of Hamas in Palestine is a direct result of this failure. Secular Palestinian nationalism has been given a try, and has failed. The Islamic revolutionaries are appealing to a people deprived of all national and human rights, with no alternative in sight.P

As the WikiLeaks show (here I go, mentioning them after all) not one single Arab regime gives a damn about the Palestinians. That is nothing new – indeed, Arafat created his movement, Fatah (‘Palestinian Liberation Movement”), in order to liberate the Palestinians, first of all, from the cynical Arab regimes, all of which exploited the “Palestinian Cause” for their own ends.

But the depth of cynicism revealed in these conversations between Arab potentates and their American masters borders on outright betrayal. This will increase the already massive frustration not only in Palestine, but in all Arab countries. Any young Egyptian, Jordanian, Saudi or Bahraini (to mention only a few) must be acutely aware that his country is led by a small group for whom the preservation of their personal power and privileges is vastly more important than the holy cause of Palestine.

This is a deeply humiliating insight. It may not produce immediate results, but when hundreds of millions of people feel humiliated, the effects are foreseeable. The older generation may be used to this situation. But for young people, especially proud Arabs, it is intolerable.

I am very sensitive to this kind of feeling, because at the age of 15 I felt the same and joined the “terrorist” Irgun (“National Military Organization”). I just could not stand the sight of my leaders kowtowing before the British rulers of my country. Putting myself in the shoes of a young Arab of similar age now in Jeddah, Alexandria or Aleppo, I can just imagine what he feels. Even Ehud Barak, that veteran Arab-fighter, once said that if he were a young Palestinian, he would join a terrorist organization.

Sooner or later, the situation will explode – first in one country, then in many. The fate of the Shah of Iran should be remembered by those who speak – in secret documents – about the “Iranian Hitler” who is on the verge of obtaining a nuclear bomb.

THE FRUSTRATION about Palestine is the immediate cause of this humiliation, being manifest for all to see, but the feeling itself goes beyond one single cause.

Secular nationalism has signally failed the Arabs. Communism has never taken root in the Islamic world, being by its very nature inimical to the basic tenets of Islam. Capitalism, while attractive to some, has also failed to solve any of the basic problems of the Arab world.

The Islamic revolutionary movement in its many forms promises a viable alternative. It is no fluke that the Egyptian dictatorship forbids the use of the slogan “Islam is the Solution” – the simple and effective slogan that unites the Islamic opposition in all the countries. There is a gaping vacuum in the Arab world, with no one there to fill it – except Islamism.

FOR THE US, this is a huge challenge. Obama seemed to have perceived it, before he was swallowed – head and body – by the American political routine.

Everybody seems to be talking about the Decline of the American Empire. It’s all the rage. What’s happening in the Arab world may accelerate or slow this process. The creation of a sovereign, free and viable State of Palestine – with the electrifying effect this would have throughout the Arab region, indeed the entire Islamic world - would slow it considerably.

Judging from these leaks, this seems very far from the minds of American statesmen and stateswomen, such as they are.

For Israel, the outlook is even grimmer. The prospect of a fundamentalist Arab world, with a completely new and popular set of leaders, surrounding us on all sides, with the power of America (and its Jewish lobby) declining ever more, is a frightening prospect indeed.

If I were responsible for Israel at this moment, I would worry about this much more than about the Iranian bomb.

Fortunately, this is not an inescapable danger. Israeli policy can do a lot to avert it. Unfortunately, we are doing the exact opposite.

To those who chant “Islam is the Solution,” our answer should be: “A just Peace is the Solution."
(c) 2010 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

By Mike Folkerth

I’m crusin’ thru life, floating down the rivers and across the lakes of Western Colorado in my attempt to lure a big brown or rainbow to take one of my hand tied flies. As the water freezes over, I stoke the fire and contemplate the future.

I’m observing the constant march to the bottom for the American Middle Class. My latest deep thinking has revealed the following.

The belief that money is capital, and that with enough money anything can be rectified, is perhaps our single greatest and most widely held misconception. I often use the analogy of three men who are lost in the desert. Two, each have a gallon of water and the other guy has a million dollars in cash; the guy with the money will die of thirst with a million fiat dollars in his pocket. Money is not capital, in my example, water was.

We are arriving at multiple limits at the same time. Like the little boy with his fingers in the dike...more holes than fingers. BUT, the average person is TOTALLY dependent on others thinking for them and therefore they remain blissful non-observers even as the enemy approaches from the other side of the near hill.

The multitudes are utterly shocked when terrible events occur and stutter such statements as “Why didn’t they say something, do something, warn us, protect us? How could this possibly have occurred?” And, that my friend is why we could be days away from a total meltdown of society as we know it and not a single warning shot will be fired. I’m not saying that we are...but only that few people are aware of the growing potential. Most are simply “waiting for things to get better.” This is similar to waiting for five quarts to pour out of a gallon jar.

We must have vast untapped resources and frontiers to settle in order to advance our societal model of exponential growth. Both frontiers and resources have become endangered species on a planet that hosts super-tankers and jet travel. There are no true frontiers at all left in America, and therefore we are forced to extract the life giving nectar from other areas of the planet.

In my book, I called our method of extracting global resources, “Modern Colonialism.” Rather than conquer nations, we buy them...uh-oh, what happens when these ignorant third world nations figure out that money is not capital? That day is coming far more quickly than most realize. Those who actually hold the physical resources will in fact rule the world. Those who hold the fiat capital and bags of gold will die of hunger; but, die millionaires nonetheless.

My notation that we require vast untapped resources and a frontier to settle in order to advance debt capitalism was a huge leap for me as it ties back to the impossibility of compounding interest when introduced into a closed environment. Therefore, as the environment became saturated, the frontier settled, and the resources discovered and harvested, there was nothing more to book the automatically occurring compounding interest against. In order for the ruling class to ride this dead horse for a few more miles, government simply printed the money to make up for the shortfalls via the Fed. Today it is necessary to incur Trillion dollar annual deficits due to the permanent lack of a frontier to settle. Ya can’t build Los Angeles again!

Debt capitalism is grave yard dead. Debt is nothing more than a claim against future economic development. As debt rises, then so must the future development. There was never a reverse built into our system. We must expand exponentially and natural physics dictate that we can’t! The word “future,” is the key. For a hamburger today, I will gladly pay you tomorrow. Humans, unlike the lower animals that live in the here and now, have the unique ability to borrow the future. We borrowed more future than there are physical assets to pay back the loan. The gigs up.

We have also reached the permanent point where human job seekers outnumber jobs in a mechanized world market. Human labor, be it brawn or brains, is a commodity that is subject to the LAW of Supply and Demand. America will never again be fully employed; that class already graduated.

I have used an analogy for years that came from my flying days. When the captain of the airliner realizes over open water in mid-winter that he no longer has fuel to go on, nor fuel to return; why distress the passengers? Pass out the good stuff and the peanuts and let them have a good time until we wreck this son-of-a-bitch!
(c) 2010 Mike Folkerth is not your run-of-the-mill author of economics. Nor does he write in boring lecture style. Not even close. The former real estate broker, developer, private real estate fund manager, auctioneer, Alaskan bush pilot, restaurateur, U.S. Navy veteran, heavy equipment operator, taxi cab driver, fishing guide, horse packer...(I won't go on, it's embarrassing) writes from experience and plain common sense. He is the author of "The Biggest Lie Ever Believed."

It Goes Without Saying...
By Randall Amster

...that we take the greater portion of this world as we find it, not as we might like it to be. In this sense, we primarily play the roles of resigned participant or cynical observer where conscience exists, and where it does not the outcome is often manifested in terms of either willful neglect or conspicuous consumption. A relative though not insignificant few in every era will take up the thankless and unscripted task of confronting the status quo in an attempt to turn harsh realities into humane alternatives. Still, despite such efforts, it goes without saying that the impetus for positive change is seemingly outstripped by the rate of ongoing decay.

...that modern humans are the foremost species on the planet, and that the world's resources are largely viewed as little more than a human life-support system. Our dominant narratives and supporting scriptures confirm the rightful role of humankind as a prolific exploiter. Some will read into this a nascent urge to become enlightened stewards, whereas most will take the lines more literally as a mandate for lawful dominion, enacting an ever-expanding drama that seeks innovative ways to increase exploitation in the service of human progress. While the negative impacts of this ideology have been prophesied and even are beginning to take hold on a human (and not merely geological) time scale, it goes without saying that most are nonetheless committed to the scripted narrative in the implicit belief that it is just, virtuous, and predestined.

...that over time in an essentially finite world such a growth curve cannot be sustained. Laws of conservation and thermodynamics cannot be flouted indefinitely, and at a certain point in time the required human inputs will exceed the available resource outputs. The worst implications of this inevitable curve can be forestalled temporarily through deeper interventions and ingenious innovations, yet these often turn out to be net contributors to the problem since the growth-driven math simply does not add up. Despite our ostensible dominance, human existence is fragile in its utter dependence upon a range of irreplaceable and diminishing components that cannot be fabricated or otherwise conjured. Whereas the survival margin for humankind exists in a relatively narrow band of planetary variables concerning basics such as air, water, and sustenance, it goes without saying that for many there remains an unspoken faith that either technology or deity will bring us salvation in the end.

...that certain sectors profit immensely from this state of affairs, and thus have a strong interest in its perpetuation. For them, the issue is not so much about the fragile dependency of humankind on diminishing external inputs, but more so the matter of exerting control over those essentials. With such hardware dominance come the perquisites of power and the insulating blessings of privilege. In fact, the ravages of decay and diminution promise escalating crises for the balance of humankind that perversely delivers more hungry mouths and starving souls at the feet of those with exclusive control over the available inputs. While some lament this state of affairs and a few even openly contest it, it goes without saying that most will go along with whatever contrived degradations and fomented antipathies are spun from the halls of power, in the unsurprising realization that fear and neediness foster complicity.

...that this interweaving of a deep-seated dominance narrative, an inescapably inexorable rate of depletion, and a perpetual state of capitalized crises threatens to create an uninhabitable world for all concerned, including those who have anointed themselves our masters. While the implications of climatic destabilization and energy entropy will be felt everywhere, the burdens will be unequally distributed, inuring to the increasing immiseration of the already disadvantaged. Attempts will be made to deploy high technology to ameliorate the ravages of the growth/depletion cycle, admitting greater consolidation of power vested in those who regulate the planet's thermostat and allocate its productive capacities. Life-and-death austerity measures will be emplaced in the name of human survival, with the measure-makers self-exempted based on inherited legacy and cultivated necessity. It goes without saying that some will decry this system of expanding authority, yet it is also the case that most will abide its mandates through equal parts mild incentivization and extreme deprivation.

...that this centralization of survival will embody an odious and brutal scenario, yet it represents a mere extrapolation of the world in which we find ourselves today. The course has already been set, and the seeds sown for a near future of ostensible "controlled cataclysm," portending a polarized world in which the bifurcation of consumption and production, of privilege and privation, of rapacity and incapacitation, skews along the demarcating lines of surface pigmentation and national supremacy. The interposition of caste and class will be reinforced through ideological acculturation and naked force alike, much as already exists in our midst during this period of apparent trial run. The template is by now coming into sharp focus, with only the variables inherent in nonlinear systems standing at potential cross purposes to the master plan. While for some the inevitability and rightfulness of control goes without saying, others will embrace the vicissitudes of chaos as preferable to the auspices of authority.

...that the future is not yet written, even as its literal roots are evident in the present. The window of opportunity is before us now, but it is precipitously closing with each succeeding cycle of deepening calamity and expanding control. As against this, a new narrative - one that is also grounded in a much older set of tenets - is struggling to gain a foothold despite disincentivization, condemnation, and persecution of its adherents. It is one that strives to reconnect the human timeline to its eternal antecedents of organic existence and imbued experience. The aberration of industrial exploitation and its concomitant indices of power and authority will be restored to their prior place as a disfavored view due to an inherent illogic that sacrifices long-term continuation at the altar of short-term consumption. Still, the lessons learned during this evolutionary dead-end period will serve to inform the reconstituted arc of sane human engagement with the world, and the restoration of tools and norms vis-à-vis technologies and laws will reflect the wisdom gained in the common struggle of apocalypse averted. It goes without saying that such a vision requires great optimism even in the face of grave doubt.

...that in order to extract opportunity from crisis and capacity from catastrophe, we will be asked to sacrifice much and work tirelessly in myriad ways. Embracing the notion that we will get our living right after some calamitous and/or fortuitous event unfolds in a speculative future is to court the very real danger of our extinction. The urgency of the task is compounded by the active undermining of the concrete alternatives at hand. And yet, despite the obvious impetus toward cognitive compliance, a gathering movement is unfolding around the world that is struggling both materially and ideologically to achieve a critical mass of constructive energies. While it goes without saying that this nascent movement is largely unnoticed in the mainstream consciousness, it nevertheless continues to unfurl.

...that it is incumbent upon us to seize this narrow window of opportunity and action by articulating that which largely goes unsaid. It is apparent that the time has long passed in which we can afford simply to continue on the present path toward a self-imposed oblivion to which we blithely accede. In the end, it thus goes without saying that we cannot merely go along without firmly saying that something is wrong.
(c) 2010 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).

'The Hammer' Gets Nailed

For once, I actually agree with something that with Tom DeLay said. The former Republican leader of Congress recently declared in his most somber tone, "The criminalization of politics undermines our very system." Wow – so true, Tommy.

Of course, what I mean by the "criminalization of politics" is very different than what he means. DeLay was bemoaning the stunning fact that a Texas jury had just convicted him on two felony counts of money laundering. He wailed that he was a victim of a political vendetta by Texas Democrats, calling his prosecution "an abuse of power."

Amazing. Here's a guy who became Congress' most powerful member by blatantly using his position of public trust to broker campaign cash from a myriad of corporations in exchange for passing their legislation. He went on worldwide golfing junkets with lobbyists aboard corporate jets, plotted legislative strategy with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, enjoyed lavish meals on the corporate tab, and collected millions of dollars for the GOP's campaign coffers from lobbyists – all while moving the special-interest agenda of his corporate benefactors through Congress. Yet, he's whining about "an abuse of power"?

Yes, Tom, politics has been criminalized – it's been turned into a criminal enterprise funded by corporations for corporations. Reprobate politicos like you have turned The People's House into a shameful pay-to-play parlor.

DeLay was so good at hitting up corporate lobbyists for money, then pounding their wish list into law, that he was nicknamed "The Hammer." But now, The Hammer's been nailed – not by Democrats, but by a jury of 12 common citizens, whom his own hot-shot lawyers helped select. These honest people diligently sifted through reams of evidence and ultimately saw him for what he is: a felon.
(c) 2010 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.

Reduce The Deficit – Start With The Military
By James Donahue

Before he left office, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a five-star general who served as Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in Europe during World War II, left Americans with a warning that the military industrial complex constructed for this war had a “potential for a disastrous rise of misplaced power.”

Before the war, Eisenhower said the United States “had no armaments industry.” Since the end of World War II the nation found itself involved in a Korean conflict and was “compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

“We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications,” Eisenhower warned.

He said this in a speech before the nation in 1961. It is obvious, however, that the powers that followed Eisenhower into high office were not listening or were already bent on a quest for imperialism that has been unprecedented in the history of the world.

While we have never openly declared ourselves as anything more than a police force for world peace, the United States has established and maintained a massive global military presence that rivals anything ever dreamed of by the old Roman Empire. And we flex our military muscle in every corner of the world.

Chalmers Johnson in a recently published book Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic,” counted 737 U. S. military bases and more than 2.5 million personnel serving them on every continent. These statistics were calculated in 2005 and may not include new bases established in Iraq and Afghanistan.

To maintain all of this global military presence, and to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Defense Department is expected to spend an estimated $1.01 to $1.35 trillion dollars in 2010. The Johnson report draws from government documents published in 2005 to show that the property owned by the military for housing the overseas bases is valued as high as $127 billion, with a total value of $658.1 billion for all of the military property both foreign and domestic.

Johnson wrote that “the thirty-eight large and medium-sized American facilities spread around the globe in 2005 – mostly air and naval bases for our bombers and fleets – almost exactly equals Britain’s thirty-six naval bases and army garrisons at its imperial zenith in 1898. The Roman Empire at its height in 117 AD required thirty-seven major bases to police its realm from Britannia to Egypt.”

Even though World War II ended in 1945, we still maintain a military presence in Japan and Germany. We maintain military bases in North America, Latin America, throughout Western Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia, Greenland and Great Britain.

Jules Defour, in an in-depth report for the website Global Research, states that the U.S. Military has basis in 63 countries and that new bases have been built since 2001 in seven countries.

“These facilities include a total of 845,441 different buildings and equipments. The underlying land service is of the order of 30 million acres,” Defour wrote. He said this makes the Pentagon one of the largest landowners in the world.

He reports that the military bases and installations are “distributed according to a Command structure divided up into five spatial units and four unified Combatant Commands. Each unit is under the command of a general. “The Earth surface is being conceived as a wide battlefield which can be patrolled or steadfastly supervised from the bases.”

Defour identifies the nine commands as: the Northern Command, the Pacific Command, the Southern Command, the Central Command, the European Command, Joint Forces Command, Special Operations Command, the Transportation Command and the Strategic Command.

In addition to all of the above, the United States is actively involved in the Atlantic Alliance, or (NATO) which maintains a network of 30 military bases, mostly located in Western Europe.

In addition to the estimated 94,000 troops currently stationed in Afghanistan and 48,000 still in Iraq, the United States has over 40,000 military personnel serving in South Korea, more than 40,000 in Japan, over 75,000 troops in Germany, and nearly 17,000 naval officers at sea, according to the Defour report. Another 800 are stationed in Africa, 491 at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, 100 in the Philippines, 196 in Singapore, 113 in Thailand, 200 in Australia, about 1,000 at Ganci Air Base in Kyrgyzstan, 3,432 in Qatar, 700 in Guantanamo, 413 in Honduras, 1,496 in Bahrain, and 147 in Canada.

In addition to all of this military presence, the United States had been engaging private defense contractors like Blackwater and Halliburton to act as mercenary fighters and service military personnel in the field.

Defour strongly suggests that the so-called “War on Terrorism” has been created as a replacement for the Cold War as a reason for continued maintenance of such a strong military industrial complex, which includes the operation of major defense plants and bases operating in nearly every state of the union. He describes this as “the greatest fraud in US history” and argues that the war against terrorism is “a fabricated pretext” that constitutes “a global war against all those who oppose US hegemony. A modern form of slavery, instrumented through militarization and the ‘free market’ has unfolded.”

The overall strategy has been to control the world economy and its financial markets and take over world natural resources.

Looking at America’s vast military complex from this perspective, it is easy to understand why elected representatives in Washington, all of them heavily financed by secret outside financial interests, are reluctant to consider cutting the nation’s runaway defense budget.

It is the very dilemma Eisenhower warned about. And it has happened right before our eyes.
(c) 2010 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.

Mental Ghettos Weaken The US
By Joel S. Hirschhorn

So many intelligent Americans believe, say and do stupid things. When a large fraction of the population is like this, a nation rots from the inside and succumbs to external forces.

I have always searched for the simplest yet best ways to explain what I see as a multi-decade decline of every aspect of the United States, especially its political system and government. I keep coming back to the inescapable logic that a large fraction of Americans, regardless of their education, economic status and political alignment, must suffer from delusion. This delusion produces denial about hugely important subjects and issues.

Like a law of physics, this combination makes people seem incredibly stupid to others disagreeing with their positions. Stupid, because they are unable to accept facts and truths that conflict with their views.

This special kind of stupidity is independent of inherent intelligence. In this case brain power is overpowered by psychological deficiency, namely self-delusion.

This delusion is not genetically produced, but is a result of external influences, notably political, government, media and corporate propaganda intentionally designed to produce delusional beliefs and thinking. Who does this? All sorts of commercial and political interests. The result is a series of biases and blocks, such as cognitive dissonance, to objective facts and information that creates denial about very important conditions affecting the planet, the nation and individuals. People afflicted with this deadly combination appear stupid to those outside their mental ghetto that they gladly inhabit, along with similarly afflicted people.

National unity breaks down with countless mental ghettos that span economic, political and geographic boundaries.

Conservatives see liberals as stupid and vice versa. Democrats see Tea Party adherents (who only support Republican candidates) as stupid and vice versa. Those seeing climate change and global warming as serious phenomena posing real threats see deniers as stupid. People who give a high priority to tax cuts that mainly benefit the rich and superrich seem stupid to those who recognize that the wealthiest Americans have hijacked the US economy, as shown by endless statistics that reveal their preferential financial benefits. Those who reject religions think the religious stupid. People who shun social networking sites see those addicted to them as stupid. Growing numbers of obese people seem stupid to those eating healthy and exercising regularly to maintain healthy weights.

A prime example of a mental ghetto is the collection of radical, terrorist Muslims sharing hate and violence and blocking out teachings from authentic Muslims about peace and love.

You surely can think of classes of people who seem stupid, because of a particular belief or viewpoint rather than across-the-board limited intelligence. With conversations that have nothing to do with their position (or maybe several), you would likely think of them as reasonably intelligent and smart, not stupid. In other words, stupidity is often topic or issue specific.

Here are two examples of what I call psychological stupidity with their powerful implications for understanding why the nation is seen on the wrong track by so many Americans who cannot unite behind solutions.

There is no mystery why the top 20 percent of the population in terms of wealth votes for Republicans, but they are not enough to win elections. What makes far less sense is why many more middle class Americans vote for Republicans. They seem stupid in voting against their own economic interests because Republicans pursue policies that preferentially reward the richest Americans. This behavior can only be explained by the success of Republican propaganda (mainly trickle down prosperity), lies and deceptions that instill a set of biases and beliefs that enable Republicans to win elections. A prime example is obtaining broad support for keeping taxes on really rich people low.

On the other side, are millions of people who vote for Democrats because they have been sold rhetoric about reforming the government system, as if Democrats are not also in the pockets of a number of special interests that will not accept truly needed deep reforms. Why have we not seen President Obama pursue punishment of many people and companies in the banking, mortgage and financial sectors that caused the economic meltdown? He had received huge campaign contributions from them and then surrounded himself with cabinet officials and advisors from them. Otherwise intelligent people vote for Democrats because of their psychological stupidity based on false promises of change and reform that they have succumbed to.

Psychological stupidity has become a kind of cultural epidemic that no one is addressing, so it just gets worse. It invites manipulation and the continuing corrosion and corruption of government. The rich and powerful know how to take advantage of this stupidity, obtaining government policies and programs they want, selling products and services that consumers do not really benefit from, and grabbing more of the nation’s wealth.

Those afflicted with psychological stupidity are also likely to exhibit moral superiority, making it even more difficult to have intelligent and productive conversations with them. Such arrogance strengthens their defenses against facts and information that conflicts with their cherished views. The answer: Associate with others having exactly the same views and only get information from like-minded media sources, creating mental ghettos (such as the Tea Party and Fox News) that others can take political or commercial advantage of (Republicans and companies selling gold).

Self-deception is the widespread legal narcotic lubricating the slide of American society into the toilet that other once great nations ended up in. Maybe this old Arab proverb warrants respect: People who lie to others have merely hidden away the truth, but people who lie to themselves have forgotten where they put it.

Which mental ghettos do you belong to?
(c) 2010 Joel S. Hirschhorn observed our corrupt federal government firsthand as a senior official with the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association and is the author of Delusional Democracy - Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. To discuss issues write the author. The author has a Ph.D. in Materials Engineering and was formerly a full professor of metallurgical engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Surrendering Our Civil Liberties
Complacency over airport scanners is further proof Americans are allowing their rights to be taken from them.
By Cindy Sheehan

As a very frequent flyer, I have wanted to write about the abuses of the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) for years now. To tell the truth, since I am such a frequent flyer and often recognised by individual TSA employees, I was a little timid about this because I did not want flying to become an even bigger hassle and more invasive than it already is. But the recent brouhaha over the Chertoff-O-Scanners has given me the courage in numbers to be able to write about my experiences.

The first thing that bugs me is how complacent my fellow travellers are about the civil rights abuses we endure to be able to take the airplane seats we pay hundreds of dollars for. The second we click 'purchase' on the airline's website, we are treated as though we are guilty just for wanting to go from point A to B by plane. This goes against our constitutional right of being presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Every time a TSA operative asks me if he or she can "take a look in my bag," I say: "Sure, if you can show me a warrant." I cannot say how many times a fellow traveller has proclaimed: "It's for your own safety!"

Speaking of "it's for your own safety", who can forget Richard Reid, the "shoe bomber" who allegedly tried to detonate explosives on a flight from Paris to Miami in 2002? That incident is the reason why in the US we have to take our shoes off and put them through the x-ray machine. But did you know that the US is the only country that forces flyers to do this? Reid is a citizen of the UK and was flying from France, but if one flies in either of these countries, or anywhere else for that matter, it is not common practice to remove your shoes. So why are planes not dropping from the skies all over the world? Well, because this has nothing to do with our "safety". Shoe removal and shoe throwing are the same act of disrespect and intimidation unless one is entering a Japanese home or walking on holy ground.

I think the next opportunity for abuse that came from on high to us already weary and grouchy flyers, was when some nebulous plot was discovered in the UK to blow up planes by carrying explosive liquids on board. We were never shown any hardcore proof that our shampoo would blow up an airplane if it was in a four ounce bottle, but that the offending liquid in a 3.5 ounce bottle, safely ensconced in a Ziploc bag, would be okay. I was actually on my way to the airport with a backpack full of naughty liquids when I heard about this one on the radio. I had to throw away about $80 worth of toiletries and make-up and wait in excessively long lines since the glorified minimum wage workers of the TSA were not too sure how to handle this latest threat to our "freedom and safety" - except, of course, to do what they always do and take away more of our freedoms to "protect" us from "threats."

Shortly after the liquids scare, we could not even take liquids on airplanes that we had purchased after passing through security. There were huge bins at every gate to take away our coffee, water, lotions. I was sitting at the gate in one airport (I do not remember which one) drinking a cup of coffee when a TSA supervisor told me that I would have to finish the coffee before I boarded.

I responded: "Why? Can you show me the store where I can purchase bomb-making material past security?" He replied: "You never know ma'am." And, me being me, I said: "Really? What kind of airport do you run where anyone can purchase explosives past security?" At which point, the big-TSA-man gave me a look that said: "Lady, you better shut up if you don't want a body-cavity search." The other passengers were giving me surreptitious thumbs' up, but I do not think many people would go as far as I did in my conversation with the TSA-man, who looked very confused that someone was challenging him.

Over a barrel

Even before the dreaded "underwear bomber" made all of this additional screening possible, I used to kid with the audiences that I spoke to that it was a good thing that the "shoe bomber" was not a "bra bomber," as we ladies who wear those undergarments would then have to disrobe at the security line and put our brassieres through the x-ray machine. But my "joke" has now come into being in an even more horrid way than even I could have predicted. We do not have to take our underwear off to go through airport checkpoints, but, in many airports, we are forced to go through the Chertoff-O-Scanners which show a fully nude image to the TSA operatives and have been proven not to thwart the chemical agents that the "underwear bomber" hid in his Fruit-of-the-Looms.

Today I saw a CNN poll that said 58 per cent of Americans do not like the new procedure. However, in all of the corporate media discussions about the scanners, no one talks about how Michael Chertoff, the former national security advisor, represents a company called Rapiscan that is profiting from every machine that is installed in airports. There is even talk about Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security, putting them in malls, schools, subways, train stations - and I am waiting to be told that we have to put a home version at our front doors.

I always refuse to go through the scanners and am then subjected to the "feel up". We have heard that toddlers, elderly people and those with medical problems have been violated by the TSA voyeurs. Each fresh incident produces a brief flash of outrage, but many people do not even know about the scanner/feel up.

A couple of weeks ago, I was running very late for a flight that was leaving out of SFO, my home airport. I was literally running for my gate and dreading the dance that I do every time with the TSA there:

Me: "I refuse to go through that machine."

TSA: "Why?"

Me: "It is my right to opt-out."

TSA: "It is also our right to ask you why you are opting-out."

Me: "Because it is a violation of my human dignity and civil rights and I don't want you all to see me naked."

TSA: "Female screening!" (As they yell for someone to come and grope me with gusto, and "someone" always happily obliges).

I do not like the groping any more than I like the molestation of the scanners - one feels dirty and violated and super-wary of future travel. However, the police state knows it has us over a barrel, so the least we can do is to protest loudly while it is happening.

Anyway, on this day, I noticed that the TSA was waving some passengers though the lane with the scanner and sending some through the normal metal detector. I was relieved to be waved through the lane without the scanner, but the woman behind me, upon noticing that her boyfriend was sent to the lane with the scanner, asked: "Why didn't I have to go through that?" I told her: "You're lucky, they can see you naked when you go through it." Unbelievably, she responded: "Why didn't they want to see me naked?" She was not kidding, but I just shook my head, gathered my stuff and ran to my gate.

The point to these stories is that we can only have our rights taken away from us with our consent. There is a famous Benjamin Franklin saying that was often quoted when Bush was president that rings ever truer during the Obama regime: "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." We are becoming a nation of lemmings running to the sea with the abandon of those that would rather plunge to our deaths than think for ourselves.

While I was writing this, the FBI "uncovered" another "terrorist" plot where a Somali-American allegedly tried to detonate a bomb at a "Christmas event" in Portland, Oregon. Mark my words, the monstrous state will either ban "Christmas events" or institute mandatory travelling Chertoff-O-Scanners to be able to put us into an even deeper state of fear. Where would a "terrorist plot" have the most devastating affect? I cannot think of a more fitting one than a "Christmas event" in very progressive Portland, Oregon.
© 2010 Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Specialist Casey A. Sheehan, who was killed in Iraq on April 4, 2004. Since then, she has been an activist for peace and human rights. She has published five books, has her own Internet radio show, Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox, and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. You can learn more about Cindy at Peace of the Action.

Why Aren't You Dead Yet?
The Enlightened War Policies of the Peace Laureate
By Chris Floyd

One of the most important stories of the day continues to be almost universally ignored, both by the corporate media and most 'progressive' bloggers, eternally absorbed with the shallow and pointless factional foolery amongst the cliques at the imperial court. But Jason Ditz at has continued to shine a high, harsh light on this sinister development, which is adding a vast storehouse of anguish, hatred and violence that will be the Peace Laureate's chief legacy to future generations.

We refer of course to the Obama Administration's escalation of air strikes in Afghanistan. As Ditz has been noting for some time, the coming of the media-sainted General David Petraeus to take direct command in the contentious satrapy has seen a spike in civilian deaths, as the vaunted "counterinsurgency" expert has "loosened the reins" that had temporarily curtailed the constant dropping of heavy ordnance on civilian residential areas.

Ditz has been doing an expert job of lacing together the few scattered mentions of the Obama-Petraeus Luftkrieg in the American press, along with the considerably more copious coverage in foreign papers. The picture emerging from this pointillist approach is grim: not only are American forces dropping more bombs and killing more civilians, they are increasingly dismissing all reports of collateral carnage as "Taliban trickery." As Ditz notes in his most recent report (see the original for links):

... the Obama Administration is said to be further escalating its air war in Afghanistan, and officials are confirming a “loosening of the reins” of the restrictions on air strikes. Officials warned that the McChrystal rules, aimed at reducing civilian deaths, meant “some officers were exerting excessive caution, fearing career damage if civilians were mistakenly killed.” With Petraeus now in charge, concerns about killing civilians have faded.

Isn't that wonderful? Isn't that a heartwarming indication of the deep humanitarianism that lies at the heart of America's ever-reluctant war machine (whose blood-greased gears are inscribed with the noble motto: "More in Sorrow Than in Anger")? It was the possibility of "career damage" that made American officers act with "excessive caution" with respect to civilian casualties -- not the horrific thought of taking an innocent human life, not an apprehension of the destructive, unbearable sorrow of the survivors, not even the savvy realpolitik notion that killing civilians only multiplies your enemies and makes them fight harder. No, it was terrifying idea that they might miss out on some of the lifelong perks and privileges of higher rank in our militarist state, if they overstepped the very minimal "restraints" put in place by Gen. Stanley McChrystal -- a former commander of death squads and torture centers in Iraq -- before his sacking.

Meanwhile, the lies about the level of civilian killing keep coming. As Ditz notes, even as Obama officials mouth drivel about the civilian death toll dropping, the Pentagon's own official statistics show that the Americans "are actually killing considerably more civilians than in 2009" -- 11 percent more, to be exact.

This is precisely the same kind of crude and blatant perversion of the truth that incenses our good progressives when it is churned out by the genuinely loathsome corporate toady, Glenn Beck. But it raises few hackles when it is employed by Obama and his minions -- who, unlike Beck, are not only regurgitating vicious nonsense but are also killing actual innocent human beings, right here and now, and not in some future "Republic of Gilead" under Mullah Beck and Prophetess Palin, or any other of the rightwing dystopias so feared (and promoted) by progressive fundraisers.

But lying about the death count is only part of the pernicious story. Even those Pentagon stats which belie Obama's Beckian propaganda only count the deaths that the American humanitarians are willing to admit to publicly. The earlier WikiLeaks dump about Afghanistan detailed a number of cases of civilian killings that American forces catalogued -- and kept quiet. And of course, the Afghan survivors of bombing runs and night raids come forth in a steady stream to testify about the death and mutilation of their loved ones and the destruction of their homes.

But, as Ditz reported last week, many American officials are now systematically dismissing any testimony of Afghan civilians deaths that come from ... actual Afghan civilians. Indeed, the Marine commander of the violent Helmand district of Sangin says that "every single instance" of civilian deaths in his district is caused by the Taliban -- despite a flood of complaints from locals about American berserkery since taking over control of the district from the British.

The US denies the allegation of the killings, but admitted that they don’t both the investigate the vast majority of the complaints because they assume them to be “Taliban propaganda.” The commander of the Marines is the district says that the Taliban are to blame for “every single instance” of a civilian casualty in the district.

The US took over the district in September from British forces, who had been holding it for years and expressed concerns that any good will they built up with the locals would quickly be lost when the more aggressive US troops took over and started launching operations. It seems this fear is panning out.

Indeed, tribal elders regularly complain to the Marines about the killings. Officials said no investigations would be taken on the basis of the elders complaints, and said the fact that the elders haven’t been killed by the Taliban was “proof” that they were in league with the Taliban and the complaints were a trick.

So there you have it, the essence of humanitarian war as waged by Nobel Peace Laureates in the 21st century: The fact that you're not dead yet proves you are an enemy.

Is it any wonder that civilian casualties are soaring under the aegis of such an enlightened philosophy?
(c) 2010 Chris Floyd

Bernie Sanders Unearths The Fed’s Sordid Details
By Matthew Rothschild

So now we know, thanks to Sen. Bernie Sanders, some of the sordid details of the Federal Reserve Board’s “come and get it” policy. The Fed opened its vaults—our vaults—to the tune of $3.3 trillion in liquidity and $9 trillion in short-term low-interest loans to some of the world’s biggest banks. These included giant foreign banks, as well as Citigroup and Bank of America and other large domestic financial institutions.

Morgan Stanley got nearly $2 trillion. Citigroup got $1.8 trillion. Goldman Sachs got $600 billion.

Not only that, the Fed threw money at some of the biggest corporations in the land, including Caterpillar, General Electric, McDonald’s and Verizon.

These were loans with no interest, or almost no interest, at a time when American consumers and small businesses couldn’t find loans to save their lives.

Sen. Sanders wrote the law that required the Fed, against its wishes, to disclose who got all this money.

Sanders said the revelations are “astounding,” and he’s right.

He said, “The Fed failed to require loan recipients to invest in rebuilding our economy and protect the needs of ordinary Americans,” and he’s right again.

Even though the U.S. banks that got the easy loans held most of the country’s mortgages and credit cards, the Fed never insisted that they reduce the principal on their mortgages or the interest rates on the credit cards.

“How many Americans could have remained in their homes,” asked Sanders, if the Fed required these bailed-out banks to reduce mortgage payments as a condition of receiving these secret loans?”

Sanders smells a rate. “I suspect a large portion of these near-zero interest loans were used [by the banks] to buy Treasury securities at a higher interest rate,” he said, thus “providing free money to some of the largest financial institutions in this country on the backs of American taxpayers.”

The financial bailout was a giant boondoggle, undemocratic and kleptocratic to its core.

Leave it to Bernie Sanders, the independent socialist in the Senate, to call it like it is. Most of the other Senators are in the pocket of the banks.
(c)2010 Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine.

Let’s Not Make A Deal
By Paul Krugman

Back in 2001, former President George W. Bush pulled a fast one. He wanted to enact an irresponsible tax cut, largely for the benefit of the wealthiest Americans. But there were Senate rules in place designed to prevent that kind of irresponsibility. So Mr. Bush evaded the rules by making the tax cut temporary, with the whole thing scheduled to expire on the last day of 2010.

The plan, of course, was to come back later and make the thing permanent, never mind the impact on the deficit. But that never happened. And so here we are, with 2010 almost over and nothing resolved.

Democrats have tried to push a compromise: let tax cuts for the wealthy expire, but extend tax cuts for the middle class. Republicans, however, are having none of it. They have been filibustering Democratic attempts to separate tax cuts that mainly benefit a tiny group of wealthy Americans from those that mainly help the middle class. It’s all or nothing, they say: all the Bush tax cuts must be extended. What should Democrats do?

The answer is that they should just say no. If G.O.P. intransigence means that taxes rise at the end of this month, so be it.

Think about the logic of the situation. Right now, the Republicans see themselves as successful blackmailers, holding a clear upper hand. President Obama, they believe, wouldn’t dare preside over a broad tax increase while the economy is depressed. And they therefore believe that he will give in to their demands.

But while raising taxes when unemployment is high is a bad thing, there are worse things. And a cold, hard look at the consequences of giving in to the G.O.P. now suggests that saying no, and letting the Bush tax cuts expire on schedule, is the lesser of two evils.

Bear in mind that Republicans want to make those tax cuts permanent. They might agree to a two- or three-year extension — but only because they believe that this would set up the conditions for a permanent extension later. And they may well be right: if tax-cut blackmail works now, why shouldn’t it work again later?

America, however, cannot afford to make those cuts permanent. We’re talking about almost $4 trillion in lost revenue just over the next decade; over the next 75 years, the revenue loss would be more than three times the entire projected Social Security shortfall. So giving in to Republican demands would mean risking a major fiscal crisis — a crisis that could be resolved only by making savage cuts in federal spending.

And we’re not talking about government programs nobody cares about: the only way to cut spending enough to pay for the Bush tax cuts in the long run would be to dismantle large parts of Social Security and Medicare.

So the potential cost of giving in to Republican demands is high. What about the costs of letting the tax cuts expire? To be sure, letting taxes rise in a depressed economy would do damage — but not as much as many people seem to think.

A few months ago, the Congressional Budget Office released a report on the impact of various tax options. A two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts, it estimated, would lower the unemployment rate next year by between 0.1 and 0.3 percentage points compared with what it would be if the tax cuts were allowed to expire; the effect would be about twice as large in 2012. Those are significant numbers, but not huge — certainly not enough to justify the apocalyptic rhetoric one often hears about what will happen if the tax cuts are allowed to end on schedule.

Oh, and what about confidence? I’ve been skeptical about claims that budget deficits hurt the economy even in the short run, because they undermine confidence in the government’s long-run solvency. Advanced countries, I’ve argued, have a lot of fiscal leeway. But anything that makes permanent extension of obviously irresponsible tax cuts more likely also sends a strong signal to investors: it says, “Hey, we aren’t really an advanced country; we’re a banana republic!” And that can’t be good for the economy.

Last but not least: if Democrats give in to the blackmailers now, they’ll just face more demands in the future. As long as Republicans believe that Mr. Obama will do anything to avoid short-term pain, they’ll have every incentive to keep taking hostages. If the president will endanger America’s fiscal future to avoid a tax increase, what will he give to avoid a government shutdown?

So Mr. Obama should draw a line in the sand, right here, right now. If Republicans hold out, and taxes go up, he should tell the nation the truth, and denounce the blackmail attempt for what it is.

Yes, letting taxes go up would be politically risky. But giving in would be risky, too — especially for a president whom voters are starting to write off as a man too timid to take a stand. Now is the time for him to prove them wrong.
(c) 2010 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason."
~~~ Benjamin Franklin ~ Poor Richard's Almanack, 1758 ~~~

Happy As A Hangman
By Chris Hedges

Innocence, as defined by law, makes us complicit with the crimes of the state. To do nothing, to be judged by the state as an innocent, is to be guilty. It is to sanction, through passivity and obedience, the array of crimes carried out by the state.

To be innocent in America means we passively permit offshore penal colonies where we torture human beings, some of whom are children. To be innocent in America is to acquiesce to the relentless corporate destruction of the ecosystem that sustains the human species. To be innocent in America is to permit the continued theft of hundreds of billions of dollars from the state by Wall Street swindlers and speculators. To be innocent in America is to stand by as insurance and pharmaceutical companies, in the name of profit, condemn ill people, including children, to die. To be innocent in America is refusing to resist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that are not only illegal under international law but responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands of people. This is the odd age we live in. Innocence is complicity.

The steady impoverishment and misery inflicted by the corporate state on the working class and increasingly the middle class has a terrible logic. It consolidates corporate centers of power. It weakens us morally and politically. The fraud and violence committed by the corporate state become secondary as we scramble to feed our families, find a job and pay our bills and mortgages. Those who cling to insecure, poorly paid jobs and who struggle with crippling credit card debt, those who are mired in long-term unemployment and who know that huge medical bills would bankrupt them, those who owe more on their houses than they are worth and who fear the future, become frightened and timid. They seek only to survive. They accept the pathetic scraps tossed to them by the corporate elite. The internal and external corporate abuse accelerates as we become every day more pliant.

Our corrupt legal system, perverting the concept that “all men are created equal,” has radically redefined civic society. Citizens, regardless of their status or misfortune, are now treated with the same studied indifference by the state. They have been transformed from citizens to commodities whose worth is determined solely by the market and whose value is measured by their social and economic functions. The rich, therefore, are rewarded by the state with tax cuts because they are rich. It is their function to monopolize wealth and invest. The poor are supposed to be poor. The poor should not be a drain on the resources of the state or the oligarchic elite. Equality, in this new legal paradigm, means we are all treated alike, no matter what our circumstances. This new interpretation of equality, under which the poor are abandoned and the powerful are unchecked, has demolished the system of regulations, legal restraints and services that once protected the u

nderclass from wealthy and corporate predators. The creation of a permanent, insecure and frightened underclass is the most effective weapon to thwart rebellion and resistance as our economy worsens. Huge pools of unemployed and underemployed blunt labor organizing, since any job, no matter how menial, is zealously coveted. As state and federal social welfare programs, especially in education, are gutted, we create a wider and wider gulf between the resources available to the tiny elite and the deprivation and suffering visited on our permanent underclass. Access to education, for example, is now largely defined by class. The middle class, taking on huge debt, desperately flees to private institutions to make sure their children have a chance to enter the managerial ranks of the corporate elite. And this is the idea. Public education, which, when it functions, gives opportunities to all citizens, hinders a system of corporate neofeudalism. Corporations are advancing, with Barack Obama’s assistance, charter schools and educational services that are stripped down and designed to train classes for their appropriate vocations, which, if you’re poor means a future in the service sector. The eradication of teachers’ unions, under way in states such as New Jersey, is a vital component in the dismantling of public education. Corporations know that good systems of public education are a hindrance to a rigid caste system. In corporate America everyone will be kept in his or her place.

The beating down of workers, exacerbated by the prospect that unemployment benefits will not be renewed for millions of Americans and that public sector unions will soon be broken, has transformed those in the working class from full members of society, able to participate in its debates, the economy and governance, into terrified people in fragmented pools preoccupied with the struggle of private existence. Those who are economically broken usually cease to be concerned with civic virtues. They will, history has demonstrated, serve any system, no matter how evil, and do anything for a salary, job security and the protection of their families.

There will be sectors of the society that, as the situation worsens, attempt to rebel. But the state can rely on a huge number of people who, for work and meager benefits, will transform themselves into willing executioners. The reconfiguration of American society into a corporate oligarchy is conditioning tens of millions not only to passively accept state and corporate crimes, but to actively participate in the mechanisms that ensure their own enslavement.

“Each time society, through unemployment, frustrates the small man in his normal functioning and normal self-respect,” Hannah Arendt wrote in her 1945 essay “Organized Guilt and Universal Responsibility,” “it trains him for that last stage in which he will willingly undertake any function, even that of hangman.”

Organs of state repression do not rely so much on fanatics and sadists as ordinary citizens who are desperate, who need a job, who are willing to obey. Arendt relates a story of a Jew who is released from Buchenwald. The freed Jew encountered, among the SS men who gave him certificates of release, a former schoolmate, whom he did not address but stared at. The SS guard spontaneously explained to his former friend: “You must understand, I have five years of unemployment behind me. They can do anything they want with me.”

Arendt also quotes an interview with a camp official at Majdanek. The camp official concedes that he has assisted in the gassing and burying of people alive. But when he is asked, “Do you know the Russians will hang you?” he bursts into tears. “Why should they? What have I done?” he says.

I can imagine, should the rule of law ever one day be applied to the insurance companies responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans denied medical care, that there will be the same confused response from insurance executives. What is frightening in collapsing societies is not only the killers, sadists, murderers and psychopaths who rise up out of the moral swamp to take power, but the huge numbers of ordinary people who become complicit in state crimes. I saw this during the war in El Salvador and the war in Bosnia. It is easy to understand a demented enemy. It is puzzling to understand a rational and normal one. True evil, as Goethe understood, is not always palpable. It is “to render invisible another human consciousness.”

Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his book “The Gulag Archipelago” writes about a close friend who served with him in World War II. Solzhenitsyn’s defiance of the Communist regime after the war saw him sent to the Soviet gulags. His friend, loyal to the state, was sent there as an interrogator. Solzhenitsyn was forced to articulate a painful truth. The mass of those who serve systems of terrible oppression and state crime are not evil. They are weak.

“If only there were vile people ... committing evil deeds, and if it were only necessary to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them,” Solzhenitsyn wrote. “But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

The expansions of public and private organs of state security, from Homeland Security to the mercenary forces we are building in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the burgeoning internal intelligence organizations, exist because these “ordinary” citizens, many of whom are caring fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, have confused conformity to the state with innocence. Family values are used, especially by the Christian right, as the exclusive definition of public morality. Politicians, including President Obama, who betray the working class, wage doomed imperial wars, abandon families to home foreclosures and bank repossessions, and refuse to restore habeas corpus, are morally “good” because they are loyal husbands and fathers. Infidelity, instead of corporate murder, becomes in this absurd moral reasoning the highest and most unforgivable offense.

The bureaucrats who maintain these repressive state organs, who prosecute the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or who maintain corporate structures that perpetuate human suffering, can define themselves as good—as innocent—as long as they are seen as traditional family men and women who are compliant to the laws of the state. And this redefinition of civic engagement permits us to suspend moral judgment and finally common sense. Do your job. Do not ask questions. Do not think. If these bureaucrats were challenged for the crimes they are complicit in committing, including the steady dismantling of the democratic state, they would react with the same disbelief as the camp guard at Majdanek.

Those who serve as functionaries within corporations such as Goldman Sachs or ExxonMobil and carry out crimes ask of their masters that they be exempted from personal responsibility for the acts they commit. They serve corporate structures that kill, but, as Arendt notes, the corporate employee “does not regard himself as a murderer because he has not done it out of inclination but in his professional capacity.” At home the corporate man or woman is meek. He or she has no proclivity to violence, although the corporate systems they serve by day pollute, impoverish, maim and kill.

Those who do not carry out acts of rebellion, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, are guilty of solidifying and perpetuating these crimes. Those who do not act delude themselves into believing they are innocent. They are not.
(c) 2010 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle."

What WikiLeaks Really Reveals
By David Michael Green

The third batch of WikiLeaks revelations reveals a lot.

But just not so much where people think it does.

Let’s start with what it is not. So far, at least, it does not appear to be anything like its obvious potential model, the Pentagon Papers.

Daniel Ellsberg’s revelations were hugely significant, but not, per se, because they were government secrets revealed to the public. Rather, they were important because of the gap in government pronouncements they exposed. Which is a fancy way of saying the ‘lies’. The reason the Pentagon Papers really matter is because, on the most crucial issue of state policy imaginable, the government was saying one thing to the public and even Congress, and something completely different to itself. Otherwise, the documents would have been merely interesting, but hardly consequential.

Which is what the WikiLeaks strike me as, at least so far. The gap that was so wide in the case of the Pentagon Papers is, in this case, rather small. Indeed, remarkably so. I have gotten so used to dishonesty out of Washington that my shock in this case is not that they’ve been lying to us so much as that they mostly have not been. The WikiLeaks trove does not, so far at least, appear to expose massive disconnects between what the government has been telling us and what it actually believes. This is not Vietnam and the endless lies about that war. This is not the Reagan administration demanding that the world embargo Iran even while secretly selling them missiles, or constantly invoking the great cause of democracy while even more constantly undermining it everywhere on the planet.

Parenthetically, by the way, it is completely unclear that anybody in this country cares enough about such outrages anymore, even if they did exist and even if they were exposed. Americans are so self-focused today, and the government has gotten so expert at shielding people from the short-term, obvious consequences of its pernicious policies, that one has to wonder what the reaction would be to a genuine ‘bombshell’ of a revelation, as opposed to these little sparklers.

Or not. Wonder, that is. One of the most astonishing experiences of my lifetime has been to watch the general (non-)reaction to the release of the Downing Street Memos, which conclusively prove most of the key lies the British and American governments were telling about Iraq in 2002 and 2003. It will probably take a small army of socio-psychologists to sort that particular little episode of national psychosis out, but for whatever reason, no one at the time seemed very interested in this smokingist of smoking guns, and they remain that way today. I guess if you don’t have to worry about a draft of higher taxes or missing the ball game on TV, why care what your government is doing, eh?

I have to laugh (read: cry), by the way, at all the intense effort that the New York Times is putting into exposing the WikiLeaks documents about not so much in particular, recalling how they handled the Downing Street Memos. The memos were minutes from meetings between the top British and American officials as they planned their war in Iraq and their war of lies to cover for it. They were leaked in Britain in 2005, in an effort to embarrass Tony Blair as he ran for reelection. The Times covered it in that context, in its back pages, never saying boo about the massive domestic implications in the US. It took the blogosphere to get the paper to pay any attention at all to the story’s massive American angle. I remember reading their public editor’s response to why the paper had not made this story front page news, with screaming headlines. He said the foreign desk editors told him that it just never occurred to them to pass it along to the national desk team. Oh yeah. That seems likely.

In any case, pardon my cynicism, but I’m getting to the point where I don’t know whether anything that doesn’t take money out Americans’ pockets or interrupt their reality show lives would morally move them anymore. What is clear is that what has been released so far by WikiLeaks doesn’t come close.

Which makes all the hub-bub and consternation surrounding the revealed documents a bit odd. You’d think that regressives would actually sort of laud the release of these files in a way, since they substantiate the whole war on terror riff, at least in so far as showing that the US government more or less genuinely believes its own rhetoric. It’s actually a vindication of sorts for them, against those of us who harbor deep suspicions – post-Vietnam, post-Watergate, post-Iraq – about the ability of the American national security state to speak remotely honestly about anything. You don’t generally have here a case of the government saying one thing and then doing something else completely different.

But the scary monsters of the right have not reacted this way at all. Take Peter King, for example. Please. Congressman King – who astonishingly represents a district in New York State, not, appearances to the contrary, 17th century Prussia – is an ever-reliable source of the most jingoistic nastiness a human orifice is capable of generating, and he doesn’t disappoint in this case. Giving new meaning to the concept of rank hyperbole, King avers that WikiLeaks “is worse even than a physical attack on Americans, it’s worse than a military attack,” and it puts “American lives at risk all over the world.” And, in words that ought to chill the remaining long-necked ostriches out there who still think Barack Obama is a liberal, “The Attorney General and I don’t always agree on different issues. But I believe on this one, he and I strongly agree that there should be a criminal prosecution.”

That’s a fairly common example out there on the right, which of course includes the Obama administration and all the histrionics coming out of the Secretary of State and others. Madame Clinton said that, “This disclosure is not just an attack on America's foreign policy interests – it is an attack on the international community,” proving that Democrats can be just as regressive and just as sickeningly disingenuous as the monsters of the GOP. She goes on to dissemble even more, lecturing us that, “There is nothing laudable about endangering innocent people. There is nothing brave about sabotaging the peaceful relations between nations on which our common security depends.” As if worrying about innocent people or peaceful relations is what American foreign policy is all about.

Or there’s the reactionary opinion columnist Charles Krauthammer, who writes that we should “Throw the Espionage Act of 1917 at them... Putting U.S. secrets on the Internet, a medium of universal dissemination new in human history, requires a reconceptualization of sabotage and espionage – and the laws to punish and prevent them. Where is the Justice Department? And where are the intelligence agencies on which we lavish $80 billion a year? [Yeah, funny you should ask about that, Chuck.] Assange has gone missing. Well, he's no cave-dwelling jihadi ascetic. Find him. Start with every five-star hotel in England [a tacky little bit of faux class smearing well befitting someone of Krauthammer’s ideology] and work your way down. Want to prevent this from happening again? Let the world see a man who can't sleep in the same bed on consecutive nights, who fears the long arm of American justice. I'm not advocating that we bring out of retirement the KGB proxy who, on a London street, killed a Bulgarian dissident with a poisoned umbrella tip. But it would be nice if people like Assange were made to worry every time they go out in the rain.”

Note here, on top of all the other ugliness in that passage, the moral cowardice of calling for Julian Assange’s assassination without quite doing so overtly. This is the covert ops equivalent of the Bush administration’s flock of chicken-hawks. And for what reason should Assange be murdered? Krauthammer gives three examples of the “major damage” done to the United States by the WikiLeaks. First, the exposed lies of the Yemeni president and deputy prime minister as to who has actually been bombing their country, a non-example which merely demonstrates Krauthammer’s regressive arrogance and stupidity. Second, the purported lack of trust in the United States from this point forward, as if the government had leaked these documents, and as if most governments and most organizations don’t also have to worry about leaks all the time. And, third, the supposed weakness the US shows by not taking out the WikiLeaks people. He writes, “What's appalling is the helplessness of a superpower that not only cannot protect its own secrets but shows the world that if you violate its secrets – massively, wantonly and maliciously – there are no consequences.”

This latter comment gives the truth to what regressives really hate about WikiLeaks. Since the organization has not yet actually released any evidence of serious major lies, what then gives with the over the top reaction on the right? What the WikiLeaks episode actually reveals is not any major juicy secrets (so far), but rather that the enemy of the right is truth. What they are defending here – and what they are calling for murder to be used in order to defend here – is simply the privilege to lie, and the right to keep their lies and hypocrisies from being exposed.

That’s the true revelation of the last weeks, not anything that WikiLeaks has produced just yet. Indeed, the fact that WikiLeaks has not so far actually dropped such a major bomb and yet has induced a visceral reaction so intense that it includes calls for murder reveals far more about the character of regressives than it does about anything else.

These are people who believe in entitlement. These are arrogant elites who believe the rest of us don’t need to know what they’re doing with and to our lives. These are people see truth as a danger. These are people who not only actively undermine democracy at home and abroad, but who are fundamentally opposed to, and frightened of, democracy’s very essence. They speak the word (endlessly), but the last thing in the world they actually would ever want is rule by the people.

And they know that the people in a democracy just might not put up with their crimes and their lies, and thus secrecy must be jealously guarded, even if that requires the murder of a truth-teller. That, ultimately is the most substantial revelation that the WikiLeaks documents have so far produced.

As Julian Assange has himself noted, “The more secretive or unjust an organisation is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie. ... Since unjust systems, by their nature induce opponents, and in many places barely have the upper hand, mass leaking leaves them exquisitely vulnerable to those who seek to replace them with more open forms of governance.” Well said, brother. Well said.

Assange was asked by Time Magazine what his “moral calculus” was to justify publishing the leaks. Don’t you love that? No one asked George Bush or Dick Cheney that question. No one would dare ask the Liars of the Century about their moral calculus, even today, as they run around the world hawking their books and making millions off of ‘memoirs’ absolutely riddled with new lies covering up the old ones. No one even asks the timid-as-a-snowflake Barack Obama where he gets off tripling the forces in Afghanistan in support of a regime that – thanks to WikiLeaks – we now know that he knows is thoroughly corrupt and utterly undemocratic. But Assange, whose great crime is exposing truth, gets the dubious morality treatment from Time, that great bastion of hard-hitting independent journalism.

So, here’s his moral calculus: “We are an organization that tries to make the world more civil and act against abusive organizations that are pushing it in the opposite direction.”

That’s a dangerous thing. WikiLeaks is apparently about to go after Wall Street banks next, among others. That should be really amusing to watch. You start messin’ with the money, the oligarchs really get mean, man.

We live in a time where only a fool would not be despondent about the state of our country. Almost everything about our condition is ugly.

There are a few reasons, however – if only just a few – to be a bit more hopeful.

One is the power of the Internet.

Another is the new generation of Dan Ellsbergs.

Put them together and you get WikiLeaks.
(c) 2010 David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles, but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of his work can be found at his website,

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Burgermeister Bloomberg,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and your demand for the budget that won't allow a renewal of unemplyment insurance paymets for the desperately poor unless their is a tax cut for the uber wealthy, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican 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 12-31-2010. We salute you Herr Bloomberg, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

The Truth Will Always Win
By Julian Assange

In 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide's The News, wrote: "In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win."

His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch's expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.

Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public.

I grew up in a Queensland country town where people spoke their minds bluntly. They distrusted big government as something that could be corrupted if not watched carefully. The dark days of corruption in the Queensland government before the Fitzgerald inquiry are testimony to what happens when the politicians gag the media from reporting the truth.

These things have stayed with me. WikiLeaks was created around these core values. The idea, conceived in Australia, was to use internet technologies in new ways to report the truth.

WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism. We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true. Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on. That way you can judge for yourself: Is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?

Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption.

People have said I am anti-war: for the record, I am not. Sometimes nations need to go to war, and there are just wars. But there is nothing more wrong than a government lying to its people about those wars, then asking these same citizens to put their lives and their taxes on the line for those lies. If a war is justified, then tell the truth and the people will decide whether to support it.

If you have read any of the Afghan or Iraq war logs, any of the US embassy cables or any of the stories about the things WikiLeaks has reported, consider how important it is for all media to be able to report these things freely.

WikiLeaks is not the only publisher of the US embassy cables. Other media outlets, including Britain ‘s The Guardian, The New York Times, El Pais in Spain and Der Spiegel in Germany have published the same redacted cables.

Yet it is WikiLeaks, as the co-ordinator of these other groups, that has copped the most vicious attacks and accusations from the US government and its acolytes. I have been accused of treason, even though I am an Australian, not a US, citizen. There have been dozens of serious calls in the US for me to be "taken out" by US special forces. Sarah Palin says I should be "hunted down like Osama bin Laden", a Republican bill sits before the US Senate seeking to have me declared a "transnational threat" and disposed of accordingly. An adviser to the Canadian Prime Minister's office has called on national television for me to be assassinated. An American blogger has called for my 20-year-old son, here in Australia, to be kidnapped and harmed for no other reason than to get at me.

And Australians should observe with no pride the disgraceful pandering to these sentiments by Prime Minister Gillard and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have not had a word of criticism for the other media organisations. That is because The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel are old and large, while WikiLeaks is as yet young and small.

We are the underdogs. The Gillard government is trying to shoot the messenger because it doesn't want the truth revealed, including information about its own diplomatic and political dealings.

Has there been any response from the Australian government to the numerous public threats of violence against me and other WikiLeaks personnel? One might have thought an Australian prime minister would be defending her citizens against such things, but there have only been wholly unsubstantiated claims of illegality. The Prime Minister and especially the Attorney-General are meant to carry out their duties with dignity and above the fray. Rest assured, these two mean to save their own skins. They will not.

Every time WikiLeaks publishes the truth about abuses committed by US agencies, Australian politicians chant a provably false chorus with the State Department: "You'll risk lives! National security! You'll endanger troops!" Then they say there is nothing of importance in what WikiLeaks publishes. It can't be both. Which is it?

It is neither. WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history. During that time we have changed whole governments, but not a single person, as far as anyone is aware, has been harmed. But the US , with Australian government connivance, has killed thousands in the past few months alone.

US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates admitted in a letter to the US congress that no sensitive intelligence sources or methods had been compromised by the Afghan war logs disclosure. The Pentagon stated there was no evidence the WikiLeaks reports had led to anyone being harmed in Afghanistan. NATO in Kabul told CNN it couldn't find a single person who needed protecting. The Australian Department of Defence said the same. No Australian troops or sources have been hurt by anything we have published.

But our publications have been far from unimportant. The US diplomatic cables reveal some startling facts:

The US asked its diplomats to steal personal human material and information from UN officials and human rights groups, including DNA, fingerprints, iris scans, credit card numbers, internet passwords and ID photos, in violation of international treaties. Presumably Australian UN diplomats may be targeted, too.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia asked the US Officials in Jordan and Bahrain want Iran ‘s nuclear program stopped by any means available.

Britain's Iraq inquiry was fixed to protect "US interests".

Sweden is a covert member of NATO and US intelligence sharing is kept from parliament.

The US is playing hardball to get other countries to take freed detainees from Guantanamo Bay . Barack Obama agreed to meet the Slovenian President only if Slovenia took a prisoner. Our Pacific neighbour Kiribati was offered millions of dollars to accept detainees.

In its landmark ruling in the Pentagon Papers case, the US Supreme Court said "only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government". The swirling storm around WikiLeaks today reinforces the need to defend the right of all media to reveal the truth.
© 2010 Julian Assange is the editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks.

TSA Gestapo Empire
By Paul Craig Roberts

It doesn’t take a bureaucrat long to create an empire. John Pistole, the FBI agent who took over the Transportation Security Administration on July 1 told USA Today 16 days later that protecting trains and subways from terrorist attacks will be as high a priority for him as air travel.

It is difficult to imagine New Yorkers being porno-screened and sexually groped on crowed subway platforms or showing up an hour or two in advance for clearance for a 15 minute subway ride, but once bureaucrats get the bit in their teeth they take absurdity to its logical conclusion. Buses will be next, although it is even more difficult to imagine open air bus stops turned into security zones with screeners and gropers inspecting passengers before they board.

Will taxi passengers be next? In those Muslim lands whose citizens the US government has been slaughtering for years, favorite weapons for retaliating against the Americans are car and truck bombs. How long before Pistole announces that the TSA Gestapo is setting up roadblocks on city streets, highways and interstates to check cars for bombs?

That 15 minute trip to the grocery store then becomes an all day affair.

Indeed, it has already begun. Last September agents from Homeland Security, TSA, and the US Department of Transportation, assisted by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, conducted a counter-terrorism operation on busy Interstate 20 just west of Atlanta, Georgia. Designated VIPER (Visible Inter-mobile Prevention and Response), the operation required all trucks to stop to be screened for bombs. Federal agents used dogs, screening devices, and a large drive-through bomb detection machine. Imagine what the delays did to delivery schedules and truckers’ bottom lines.

There are also news reports of federal trucks equipped with backscatter X-ray devices that secretly scan cars and pedestrians.

With such expensive counter-terrorism activities, both in terms of the hard-pressed taxpayers’ money and civil liberties, one would think that bombs were going off all over America. But, of course, they aren’t. There has not been a successful terrorist act since 9/11, and thousands of independent experts doubt the government’s explanation of that event.

Subsequent domestic terrorist events have turned out to be FBI sting operations in which FBI agents organize not-so-bright disaffected members of society and lead them into displaying interest in participating in a terrorist act. Once the FBI agent, pretending to be a terrorist, succeeds in prompting all the right words to be said and captured on his hidden recorder, the "terrorists" are arrested and the "plot" exposed.

The very fact that the FBI has to orchestrate fake terrorism proves the absence of real terrorists. If Americans were more thoughtful and less gullible, they might wonder why all the emphasis on transportation when there are so many soft targets. Shopping centers, for example. If there were enough terrorists in America to justify the existence of Homeland Security, bombs would be going off round the clock in shopping malls in every state. The effect would be far more terrifying than blowing up an airliner.

Indeed, if terrorists want to attack air travelers, they never need to board an airplane.

All they need to do is to join the throngs of passengers waiting to go through the TSA scanners and set off their bombs. The TSA has conveniently assembled the targets.

The final proof that there are no terrorists is that not a single neoconservative or government official responsible for the Bush regime’s invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and the Obama regime’s slaughters of Pakistanis, Yemenis, and Somalians has been assassinated. None of these Americans who are responsible for lies, deceptions, and invasions that have destroyed the lives of countless numbers of Muslims have any security protection. If Muslims were capable of pulling off 9/11, they are certainly capable of assassinating Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith, Libby, Condi Rice, Kristol, Bolton, Goldberg, and scores of others during the same hour of the same day.

I am not advocating that terrorists assassinate anyone. I am just making the point that if the US was as overrun with terrorists as empire-building bureaucrats pretend, we would definitely be experiencing dramatic terrorist acts. The argument is not believable that a government that was incapable of preventing 9/11 is so all-knowing that it can prevent assassination of unprotected neocons and shopping malls from being bombed.

If Al Qaeda was anything like the organization that the US government claims, it would not be focused on trivial targets such as passenger airliners. The organization, if it exists, would be focused on its real enemies. Try to imagine the propaganda value of terrorists wiping out the neoconservatives in one fell swoop, followed by an announcement that every member of the federal government down to the lowest GS, every member of the House and Senate, and every governor was next in line to be bumped off.

This would be real terrorism instead of the make-belief stuff associated with shoe bombs that don’t work, underwear bombs that independent experts say could not work, and bottled water and shampoo bombs that experts say cannot possibly be put together in airliner lavatories.

Think about it. Would a terror organization capable of outwitting all 16 US intelligence agencies, all intelligence agencies of US allies including Israel’s Mossad, the National Security Council, NORAD, air traffic control, the Pentagon, and airport security four times in one hour put its unrivaled prestige at risk with improbable shoe bombs, shampoo bombs, and underwear bombs?

After success in destroying the World Trade Center and blowing up part of the Pentagon, it is an extraordinary comedown to go after a mere airliner. Would a person who gains fame by knocking out the world heavyweight boxing champion make himself a laughing stock by taking lunch money from school boys?

TSA is a far greater threat to Americans than are terrorists. Pistole has given the finger to US senators and representatives, state legislators, and the traveling public who have expressed their views that virtual strip searches and sexual molestation are too high a price to pay for "security." Indeed, the TSA with its Gestapo attitude and methods, is succeeding in making Americans more terrified of the TSA than they are of terrorists.

Make up your own mind. What terrifies you the most. Terrorists, who in all likelihood you will never encounter in your lifetime, or the TSA that you will encounter every time you fly and soon, according to Pistole, every time you take a train, a subway, or drive in a car or truck?

Before making up your mind, consider this report from on November 19: "TSA officials say that anyone refusing both the full body scanners and the enhanced pat down procedures will be taken into custody. Once there the detainees will not only be barred from flying, but will be held indefinitely as suspected terrorists . . . One sheriff’s office said they were already preparing to handle a large number of detainees and plan to treat them as terror suspects." Who is cowing Americans into submission, terrorists or the TSA Gestapo?
(c) 2010 Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and is coauthor of "The Tyranny of Good Intentions," co-authored with Lawrence Stratton, a documented account of how Americans lost the protection of law, was published by Random House.

The Cartoon Corner...

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

To End On A Happy Note...

Fuck Christmas!
By Eric Idle

Fuck Christmas!
It's a waste of fucking time

Fuck Santa
He's just out to get your dime,

Fuck Holly and Fuck Ivy
And fuck all that mistletoe

White-bearded big fat bastards
Ringing bells where e'er you go

And bloated men in shopping malls
All going Ho-Ho-Ho
It's fucking Christmas time again!

Fuck Christmas
It's a fucking Disney show

Fuck reindeer
And all that fucking snow

Fuck carols
And fuck Rudolph
And his stupid fucking nose

Fucking sleigh bells tinkling
Everywhere you fucking goes

Fuck stockings and fuck shopping
It just drives us all insane.

Go tell the elves
To fuck themselves
It's Christmas time again!
© 2003/2010 Eric Idle

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

U.S. Orders Diplomats to Stop Telling Truth Until Further Notice
Fallout from WikiLeaks Mess

By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) – In the first major policy fallout from the WikiLeaks disclosures, the State Department has ordered all U.S. diplomats to “cease and desist telling the truth until further notice.”

“We are working overtime to try to make sure that leaks like these don’t happen again,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters. “But until we’ve got the leaks plugged, it’s incumbent on all our diplomats to put on their lying caps.”

Secretary Clinton noted that since many US diplomats are major political donors with long careers in the business world, “this shouldn’t be a reach for them.”

But for those career diplomats who came up through the Foreign Service, the State Department will be holding a series of “truth avoidance seminars,” led by executives of Goldman Sachs.

Additionally, Secretary Clinton said, the State Department would install on all diplomats’ computers new software called CandorShield™, which automatically translates truthful language into a less embarrassing truth-free version.

For example, she explained, the software would translate the phrase “two-faced weasels” into “trusted Pakistani allies” and would delete all references to French President Nicolas Sarkozy as “Monsieur Shorty Pants.”

Elsewhere, Interpol issued this statement about its pursuit of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange: “We will find Julian Assange, and then we will hire him.”
(c) 2010 Andy Borowitz

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Issues & Alibis Vol 10 # 49 (c) 12/10/2010

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