Please visit our sponsor!

Bookmark and Share
In This Edition

Matt Taibbi introduces, "Jim DeMint: The Fireman Ed Of Politics."

Uri Avnery sees, "Cold Revenge."

Glen Ford finds, "Black Misleadership Class Pretends It's Ready To Fight the Power."

Robert Reich examines, "As Washington Fiddles Over The Fiscal Cliff, The Real Battle Over Inequality Is Happening In The Heartland."

Jim Hightower observes, "Boehner's Pitiful Budget Pitches."

Frank Scott says, "Watch Out For the Cliff: Which One?"

James Donahue asks, "What Power Do The Zionists Have Over The World?"

John Nichols reminds us that, "John Boehner Has No Mandate."

Bill McKibben warns, "Hillary Clinton's Environmental Failures Could Become Obama's."

Joel S. Hirschhorn wonders, "Gun Patriotism Or Hypocrisy?"

Paul Krugman considers, "Robots And Robber Barons."

David Swanson studies, "The Normalization Of Treason."

Glenn Greenwald reveals, "The Revealingly Substance-Free Fight Over Susan Rice."

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder wins the coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Radall Amster sings, "Cliffs Notes."

Adam Keller explores, "The Jurist's And Ambassador's Dilemma."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "North Korea Launches Fragrance" but first Uncle Ernie is having, "A Double Deja Vu."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Bill Day, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Rob Tringali, Clay Jones, Kevin Lamarque, Bebeto Matthews, Getty Images, Alex Wong, Bedford K, The New Yorker, Zionazis.Com, Jim West, Black Agenda Report, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

Bookmark and Share
A Double Deja Vu
By Ernest Stewart

"Gov. Snyder showed his true colors today. He's a puppet of extreme donors, and he is willing to ignore and lie to his constituents. His action will undoubtedly please the Koch Brothers and corporate CEOs, but it will diminish the voice of every working man and woman in Michigan." ~~~ Richard Trumka President AFL-CIO

"This last summer, labor leaders decided to start a ballot initiative to put something on Michigan's ballot in regard to collective bargaining-and again I believe in collective bargaining but they went to a huge overreach, to do something to Michigan's constitution. I asked them not to go ahead because I said if you do this you're going to start a divisive conversation on labor rights that include collective bargaining but also right-to-work. They went ahead." ~~~ Governor Rick Synder

Apollo Physician and Asclepius and Hygieia and Panacea and all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will fulfill according to my ability and judgment this oath and this covenant:

To hold him who has taught me this art as equal to my parents and to live my life in partnership with him, and if he is in need of money to give him a share of mine, and to regard his offspring as equal to my brothers in male lineage and to teach them this art - if they desire to learn it - without fee and covenant; to give a share of precepts and oral instruction and all the other learning to my sons and to the sons of him who has instructed me and to pupils who have signed the covenant and have taken an oath according to the medical law, but to no one else.

I will apply dietetic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice.

I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art.

I will not use the knife, not even on sufferers from stone, but will withdraw in favor of such men as are engaged in this work.

Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief and in particular of sexual relations with both female and male persons, be they free or slaves.

What I may see or hear in the course of the treatment or even outside of the treatment in regard to the life of men, which on no account one must spread abroad, I will keep to myself holding such things shameful to be spoken about.

If I fulfill this path and do not violate it, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and art, being honored with fame among all men for all time to come; if I transgress it and swear falsely. may the opposite of all this be my lot.

~~~ The Original Hippocratic Oath ~~~

Don't it always seem to go,
That you don't know what you've got
Til its gone
Big Yellow Taxi ~~~ Joni Mitchel

There are some really busy little fascist Beavers in the Michigan House and Senate in this lame duck session. Against everything that is holy in Michigan, these Rethuglican traitors have decided to turn Michigan into a right to work for peanuts state. As it is in so many other states, the Rethuglicans are beginning to carry through with their overlords' wishes to destroy, once and for all, the middle class. "Return with us now to those thrilling daze of yesteryear" of "whopping slaves and sellin' cotton."

As Hitler said on the day he destroyed the unions in Germany...

"We must close union offices, confiscate their money and put their leaders in prison. We must reduce workers' salaries and take away their right to strike." ~~~ Hitler, May 2, 1933

And he did just that, on May 2, 1933. Now December 12, a day that already lives in infamy where you may recall that judicial coup d'etat that occurred on that day in the year 2000, will now also be remembered when Governor Hitler, oops, my bad, Emperor Hitler a.k.a. Ricky Synder a 1% Corpo-rat Tea Bagging asshole, who currently has the State of Michigan by the throat. He plans on outright murdering Michigan, and turning it into a third world country for his fellow capitalist friends to use and abuse. Here's a guy who has already thrown 20,000 Michigan children into the streets. He waited to the dead of winter to do that so (Herr Snyder gets his kicks watching poor people suffer, especially if they're black) he could take that money and give it too his corpo-rat pals as a gift -- so you can see for yourself where all of this is heading.

It's heading for a bunch of busted heads from the Michigan gestapo to any man, woman or child who dares to protest, and a complete ignoring of this action from the fascist's favorite puppet Barry Obama, who said nary a word of encouragement to the unions, when the fascists destroyed Wisconsin. The post-election Obama had some positive words as he spoke out about Snyder's power grab, "What we shouldn't be doing is trying to take away your rights to bargain for better wages and working conditions." He gave that lip service in front of a large union gathering in Michigan. However, before you make much ado about nothing, do remember that talk is cheap! Did I mention that the law contain verbatim language from an ALEC model bill and was heavily pushed by the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity and Amway billionaire Dick DeVos?

I have no doubt that all hell will break lose for a couple of months, and then all will be quiet until next election day -- if we ever have another election day -- where these same trade unionists will reelect Ricky's crew to do some more mischief. Ricky says he's a one-termer, but Ricky said he wouldn't sign this act of war; but then, said he would. So I look for the emperor to run for a second term, where he will no doubt make himself god-emperor of Michigan -- unless he wants to replace Barry in the White House come 2016 and become America's first god-emperor president since Washington.

In the November election, the people of Michigan could have passed a law that would have stopped this from happening; but the people of Michigan, including unionists, decided not to pass it. How's that not passing Prop 2 working out for you now? Hmmm? You remember Prop 2, right? A.K.A., Protect Our Jobs. A constitutional amendment to create a new right to collective bargaining. Sure wish you had it now, huh?

Sometimes, I wish that the Mayans were right about the 21st. Sometimes......don't you, too?

In Other News

As bad as right-to-work is, it's just one of the bills brought to vote by this lame duck session, some even worse than right-to-work! Oh, and did I mention, that most of these awful pieces of legislation are being pushed by those that just got booted out of office; and it's these lame duck bastards last chance to get revenge on the populace, and make some points with their corpo-rat puppet masters!

In their continuing "War On Women," there are three more bad laws being sent to Ricky's desk, waiting his signature to make abortion harder and in some cases impossible to get, ending in the death of the mother. Which is, by my way of thinking, premeditated murder -- murder in the first degree! Just like the lady in Ireland last month. They kept her very comfortable and watched ever-so-closely -- while she suffered a horrible, needless death!

They also want to end, or make it next to imposible, to get abortion insurance, which is a normal thing in 85% of the current policie's. Something that's very seldom used, but becomes paramount if the mother's life is at stake, and the cost of an emergency late term abortion can be a staggering financial blow! Consider that many bankruptcies are medical-related!

Not only that, but one of those medieval "southern bills" that allows the doctor to deny you help, if it's against his religious beliefs, is in the package. Fuck a bunch of Hippocratic oaths, including, apparently, if you're not of their religion, you could be left to die, imagine that! As was the lady in Ireland because the hospital was Catholic, and refused to save her life even though she wasn't, or perhaps because she wasn't? That ladies, is what's on tap for Michigan women when these horrors pass. Anything from birth control to blood transfusions can be denied. I guess all new Michigan doctors will swear to a "Hypocrite Oath?"

These are some more bright ideas from our overlords: the Koch brothers, Devos, and old dead-eye Dick Cheney! The point being, it's time to thin the herd. What the point of being a trillionaire if you have to put up with 7 billion other lessers? They only need 1/2 billion to provide for them their every need. When we're all gone, global warming will cure itself, and they can be the gods they've always dreamt of being. Not every one can be a god like Willard in the afterlife, so it's better to be a god in reality, than one in mythology! As I say to you from time to time, "We are soooo screwed, America!"

And Finally

There could be no doubt who this week's Vidkun Quisling Award winner would be, and that, in itself, is amazing! I mean, with all the tens of thousands of weekly acts of treason by Americans of the political class, you really have to stand out to win the award! And one man rose head and shoulders above the rest this weekend. That one man is the 1% business goon and Michigan's fearless leader Governor/Emperor Ricky Snyder. Ricky may be a total ass, but even I must admit this lowlife has balls. To happily sign a law making Michigan another "Right to Work" state in the face of Michigan's middle class which Ricky has been out to destroy since day one takes equal parts of stupidity and balls. Michigan, is the birthplace of The United Auto Workers union. In fairness, I should also mention, that at one time, I worked as a Millwright for an automotive parts maker/supplier and was a UAW Union Steward!

Ergo, you know what I did, don't ya? Everyone who said, "I bet you wrote him a letter," may stay after class and clean the erasers! I did, and it was short, sweet, and to the point!

Dear Governor Hitler,

Oops, my bad, sorry. Dear Emperor Hitler, fuck you asshole.

Your union pal,
Ernest Stewart
PS. You've won this week's Vidkun Quisling Award. Our weekly award for the biggest traitor in America; bet your mama's proud, and thanks for helping me write this week's editorial!

If you'd like to give Emperor Synder a piece of your mind, go to: Or give him a call at:

(517) 373-3400

Keepin' On

Looks like it's all about to go down the drain, our bills are overdue and zero cash flow in the kitty. I suppose I could take this month's SS check and pay them, but that would leave me $4 to live on until next month; so that's not going to happen. I can squeeze a dollar with the best of them; but you can only squeeze a dollar a week so far!

It's just a matter of time before our creditors say enough-is-enough, and pull the plug on this. If they were your average fascist American, then we'd have been a goner by now on several occasions; but they're one of us; still, unlike yours truly, they don't work for nothing; ergo, they want to be paid when the bills are due.

If you think what we do is important, then it's time you stepped up and supported the cause, isn't it? We're supported by less than 1% of our reader ship, instead of the 2 or 3% that most magazines are. Most of that is because most of our readers are as broke as we are; and before I take food off the table of someone, I'll shut this down. Ergo, please give us what you can, whenever you can; and we'll keep fighting the good fight for everyone!


03-04-1923 ~ 12-09-2012
Thanks for the Space!

04-07-1920 ~ 12-11-2012
Thanks for the music!


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


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

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

Jim DeMint: The Fireman Ed Of Politics
By Matt Taibbi

The fiscal cliff story is a hard one to care about - it feels like a continuation of the presidential election season, in which red and blue pundits screamed at each other and traded insults while the country moved inexorably toward a moment of profound non-catharsis. That story was a bummer and this one is, too. If karma has a stake in this narrative, both Democrats and Republicans should brace for the worst-case scenario, for when it comes to politics within the Beltway, it's beginning to feel like nobody deserves to lose more than Everybody.

But while it's hard to stay focused on the fiscal cliff, the resignation of leading Tea Party pol Jim DeMint is (to me anyway) a more compelling development. Obviously, one story led to the other. The Tea Party is about purity, and DeMint doesn't want to sully himself with the congress's probably-inevitable decision to raise taxes to avoid this budget collapse. So his highly-symbolic resignation is his wing of the party's Picking-Up-The-Ball-And-Going-Home moment. The message of the DeMint move is simple: We tried to work within the system, but the system turned out to be dirty, so we are leaving the system.

It will be a very popular decision in many places. In many parts of the country, Obama's re-election was seen as final proof that mainstream two-party politics is a dead-end for true American conservatives. In those places, Obama's unexpectedly swift and brutal electoral victory, won with a newly confident coalition of expanding-demographic voter blocs (Hispanics, blacks, professional women), felt less like an ideological victory than a blunt statement of inevitability, a conqueror's dictum: Unless you assimilate, unless you change, the future is ours, because we have the numbers.

And since the election, all anyone in the punditocracy has wanted to talk is what Republicans need to do strategically to answer that dictum and recapture the White House. Solutions have ranged from leveraging upcoming ethnic party stars like Marco Rubio to win Hispanic voters, to softening on choice to win women back, to simply adopting a more welcoming tone (this is the premise of the hilarious "Republican Glasnost" column today by David Brooks, who seems to think the party can win back a leading role just by sounding nicer).

But no matter what Brooks or Ari Fleischer or Alex Castellanos or any other mainstream conservative pundit says, the driving question occupying the minds of dejected conservatives now out in actual America is not wondering what they can do to better welcome blacks and Hispanics and college kids with bad facial hair into their party. The real question they've been asking themselves since the election is probably closer to, "Why bother?"

A lot of these people gamely banded together to support a Republican nominee who left most of them cold during primary season, Mitt Romney. But there was a palpable air of We're giving this one last chance! in the effort to oust Obama through conventional mainstream politics. And when it was over, pundits everywhere insisted they faced a political Sophie's Choice: stay losers forever, or surrender on core issues.

In the minds of those Tea Party conservatives DeMint represents, they debased themselves in supporting an ultimate-RINO type like Romney, and all they got for their trouble was four more years of Black Satan lounging around on the couches of the White House.

Not to stretch too far to bring a football analogy in, but DeMint is sort of the Fireman Ed of the conservative movement. The upcoming fiscal cliff cave is the political equivalent of that amazing ass-to-face fumble by Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez on Thanksgiving night.

The instant famed Jets fan Fireman Ed saw that play, he decided he didn't want to be the guy in the stands the networks panned to for the next five years every time Sanchez threw a pick six or fumbled the ball off his face - so Ed picked up his little face-paint kit, went home, and penned a completely serious formal resignation. DeMint just did exactly the same thing, only now he's going to make seven figures at the Heritage Foundation just to not go to the games.

DeMint's departure was not exactly mourned on the Hill. ("He's the biggest douchebag in Washington," is how one congressional aide explained it to me, "and this is the douchebag capital of the world.") The writing was on the wall for DeMint and his Tea Party cronies when Boehner whacked four Tea Party-aligned Republicans from committee assignments earlier this week.

Privately, what you hear on the Hill is more and more complaining that Tea Party extremism of the DeMint type has not only cost Republicans the Senate (where DeMint's support of losers like Christine "I dabbled in witchcraft" O'Donnell and Canada-bashing Nevada candidate Sharon Angle may have cost the party winnable elections) but perhaps the White House as well. You hear talk that Republicans are listening to polls showing majorities are tired of DeMint-style filibustering tactics and will blame Republicans, not Democrats, if this fiscal cliff thing goes completely sideways.

So this is a mutual split. The Tea Partiers were sick to the point of puking of RINO types like Boehner who are gearing up to put the Republican Party's name on a massive tax increase and may eventually bend on choice, immigration and gay rights. The Republican establishment, meanwhile, is sick of waking up every morning wondering which of the party's extremist dingbats has decided that the best way to win national elections is to give interviews calling carbon dioxide a safe, naturally-occurring gas or demanding that unmarried, sexually-active women be barred from teaching children. The disgust these two groups feel for each other is genuine and in some cases may actually exceed the disgust they feel toward opponents on the blue side of the aisle.MO< Any pundit who tries to claim he knows where all of this is going is lying. This schism could be a disaster for Republicans (because it will further alienate the rank-and-file, middle-and-working-class voters from the party establishment, which will now be bashed from the outside by DeMint and the Tea Party), or it could actually be a good thing for the Republicans' future prospects (there's a way to look at this as a long-overdue purge of the party's moron faction).

Or it could all be irrelevant. Remember, the Democrats were facing a similarly bitter split not too long ago, when their party's mainstream unforgivably backed Bush's idiotic Iraq invasion and then saddled us with a war-waffling presidential candidate in John Kerry. And just like the Republicans after Romney, the Democrats after the Kerry loss felt hopeless, depressed and self-hating - you heard a lot of "Screw it, I'm moving to Iceland" talk. Four years later, the party sold the identical Kerry policy package in an exciting new Obama wrapper, and suddenly people were partying in the streets. You just never know how these things will turn out. But in the meantime, this split in the Republican Party is a crazy and highly entertaining mess. DeMint sniping at Boehner through Rush Limbaugh is probably only the beginning. This is going to get ugly, like Atlanta Housewives-catfight ugly, before all is said and done. Can't you see it? Boehner comes guiltily slithering out of a back room meeting with Reid and Pelosi with an $800 tax hike deal, and DeMint will be there just waiting for him with a camera crew, screaming, "I know what you did! F%^$K you, bitch!" over and over again while the boom mic swings over Boehner's head. It's going to happen. How can this not be a good thing?
(c) 2012 Matt Taibbi

Cold Revenge
By Uri Avnery

"REVENGE IS a dish that is best eaten cold," is a saying attributed to Stalin. I don't know if he really said that. All the possible witnesses were executed long ago.

Anyhow, a taste for delayed revenge is not an Israeli trait. Israelis are more impulsive. More immediate. They don't plan. They improvise.

In this respect, too, Avigdor Lieberman is not Israeli. He is Russian.

WHEN "EVET", as he is called in Russian, selected his Knesset faction four years ago, he acted, as always, according to his mood of the moment. No nonsense about democracy, primaries and such. There is a leader, and the leader decides.

There was this very beautiful young woman from St. Petersburg, Anastassia Michaeli. Not very bright, perhaps, but good to look at during boring Knesset sessions.

Then there was this nice man with the very Russian name, Stas Misezhnikov, which no Israeli can pronounce. He is popular among the Russian immigrants. Davay, let's take him.

And this Israeli diplomat, Danny Ayalon, may be useful if I become Foreign Secretary.

But moods pass, and people elected stay elected for four years.

The beauty turned out to be a bully, in addition to being stupid. In a public Knesset committee meeting, she stood up and poured a glass of water over an Arab member. On another occasion, she physically attacked a female Arab member on the Knesset rostrum.

The nice Russian man was rather too nice. He regularly got drunk and organized parties for his mistress abroad, expenses paid by his ministry. Even his bodyguards complained.

And the diplomat trumped the lot, when he invited journalists to witness his humiliation of the Turkish ambassador, putting him on a very low seat during a meeting. This led on to the famous Turkish Flotilla incident and did - is still doing - incalculable damage to Israel's strategic interests. Also, Ayalon was a compulsive leaker.

Lieberman did not react to all this. He defended his people and criticized their critics, who were anyhow leftist trash.

But now has come the time to appoint Lieberman's faction to the next Knesset, again without democratic nonsense. To their utter consternation, the three were dismissed with five minutes' notice. All without any display of emotion. Cold. Cold.

Don't mess with the likes of Lieberman. Any more than with Vladimir Putin and Co.

IF I were Binyamin Netanyahu, I would not worry about Abbas, Ahmadinejad, Obama, Morsi and the combined opposition in the Knesset. All I would worry about would be Lieberman, somewhere behind my back. I would worry very, very much. Every minute, every second.

Two weeks ago, two fateful things happened that may hasten the political demise of "King Bibi". One was not of his making, the other was.

In the Likud primaries, dominated by ugly deal-making and manipulations, a new Knesset faction was selected that was almost exclusively composed of extreme rightists, including outright fascists, many of them settlers and their appointees. Against Netanyahu's wishes, all the moderate rightists were unceremoniously booted out. Netanyahu is, of course, an extreme rightist himself. But he likes to pose as a moderate, responsible, mature statesman. The moderates served as his alibi. The new Likud has nothing to do with the original "revisionist" party that was its forerunner. The founder of the party some 85 years ago, Vladimir (Ze'ev) Jabotinsky, an Odessa-born and Italian-educated journalist and poet, was an extreme nationalist and very liberal democrat. He invented a special Hebrew word ("Hadar") for the ideal Jew he envisioned: just, honest, decent, a hard fighter for his ideals but also magnanimous and generous towards his adversaries.

If Jabotinsky could view his latest heirs, he would be revolted. (He once advised Menachem Begin, one of his pupils, to jump into the river Vistula if he did not believe in the conscience of mankind.)

JUST BEFORE the Likud primaries, Netanyahu did something incredible: he made an agreement with Lieberman to combine their two election lists.

Why? His election victory already seemed assured. But Netanyahu is a compulsive tactician without a strategy. He is also a coward. He wants to play safe. With Lieberman, his majority is as sound as Fort Knox.

But what is going to happen within the fortress?

Lieberman, now No. 2, will pick for himself the most important and powerful ministry: defense. He will wait patiently, like a hunter for his prey. The joint faction will be much closer in spirit to Lieberman than to Netanyahu. Lieberman, the cold calculator, will wait until Netanyahu is compelled by international pressure to make some concessions to the Palestinians. Then he will pounce.

This week we saw the prelude. After the UN overwhelmingly recognized Palestine as a state, Netanyahu "retaliated" by announcing his plan to build 3000 new homes in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, the inevitable future capital of Palestine.

He emphasized his determination to fill up the area called E1, the still empty space between West Jerusalem and the giant settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim (which alone has a municipal area larger than Tel Aviv). This would in effect cut off the northern West Bank from the southern part, apart from a narrow bottleneck near Jericho.

World reaction was stronger than ever before. Undoubtedly encouraged behind the scenes by President Obama, the European countries summoned Lieberman's ambassadors to protest the move. (Obama himself is far too cowardly to do so himself.) Angela Merkel, usually a mat under Netanyahu's feet, warned him that Israel risked being totally isolated.

If Merkel thinks that this would intimidate Netanyahu or the Israelis at large, she is vastly mistaken. Israelis actually welcome isolation. Not because it is "splendid", as the British used to think, but because it confirms again that the entire world is anti-Semitic, and not to be trusted. So, to hell with them.

WHAT ABOUT the other parties? I almost asked: what parties?

In Israeli politics, with their dozens of parties, what really count are the two blocs: the rightist-religious and the...well, the other one.

There is no "leftist" bloc in Israel. Leftism is now, like Oscar Wilde's homosexuality, "the love that dares not speak its name". Instead, everybody claims now to be "in the center".

A seemingly small matter aroused much attention this week. Shelly Yachimovich's Labor party has terminated its long-standing "spare votes" agreement with Meretz, and made a new one with Ya'ir Lapid's "There is a Future".

In the Israeli electoral system, which is strictly proportional, great care is taken that no vote is wasted. Therefore, two election lists can make a deal in advance to combine the leftover votes that remain to them after the allocation of the seats, so that one of them can obtain another. In certain situations, this additional seat can be decisive in the final division between the two major blocs. Labor and Meretz had a natural alliance. Both were socialist. You could vote for Labor and still be satisfied that your vote may end up helping another Meretz member to get elected. Displacing this arrangement with one with another party is meaningful - especially if the other is a hollow list, devoid of serious ideas, eager to join Netanyahu's government. By representing nothing but the personal charm of Lapid, this party may garner some eight seats. The same goes for Tzipi Livni's brand-new "the Movement", cobbled together at the last moment.

Meretz is a loyal old party, saying all the right things, unblemished by corruption. Unfortunately it has the lackluster charisma of an old kettle. No exciting new faces, in an age where faces count more than ideas.

The communists are considered an "Arab" party, though they do have a Jewish candidate. Like the other two "Arab" parties, they have little clout, especially since about half the Arab citizens don't vote at all, out of indifference or disgust.

That leaves Labor. Yachimovich has succeeded in raising her party from the half-dead and imbued it with new life. Fresh new faces enliven the election list, though some of the candidates don't speak with each other. In the last few hours, Amir Peretz, the former Minister of Defense, left Shelly for Tzipi.

But is this the new opposition? Not if it concerns little matters like peace (a word not to be mentioned), the huge military budget (ditto), the occupation, the settlers ( Shelly likes them), the Orthodox ( Shelly likes them, too). Under pressure, Shelly concedes that she is "for the two-state solution", but in today's Israel that means next to nothing. More importantly, she categorically refuses to undertake not to join a Netanyahu-Lieberman coalition.

It may well turn out that the victor of the elections, six weeks from now, will be Avigdor Lieberman, the man of the cold revenge. And that will be the beginning of a new chapter altogether.
(c) 2012 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Black Misleadership Class Pretends It's Ready To Fight the Power
By Glen Ford

After twice bestowing on Barack Obama their unqualified, no-demands-attached electoral support, the self-constituted Black Misleadership Class now claim to be formulating a tentative "agenda" that will guide their political conduct in the months and years ahead. Grandiloquently embracing their "role as the conscience of the nation," spokespersons for the 60 or so participants at a December 3 closed-door conference, in Washington, listed five broad goals:

* Achieve Economic Parity for African-Americans

* Promote Equity in Educational Opportunity

* Protect and Defend Voting Rights

* Promote a Healthier Nation by Eliminating Healthcare Disparities

* Achieve Comprehensive Reform of the Criminal Justice System

Theoretically, specific demands to achieve these objectives will be developed, later - or maybe not. As Yvette Carnell, of YourBlackWorld, observes, "The items mentioned are so general that any move Obama makes on any of these issues could be considered a win." Indeed, the Misleaders have purposely set out a little plastic Christmas tree that the Administration can decorate with handy baubles that seem to fit the broad themes.

Promote equity in educational opportunity? Obama's folks will flash his record and rhetoric on Pell Grants, aid to HBCUs, and other measures: "Done that!" Voting rights? They'll point to the Justice Department's lawsuits in the past election cycle. Healthcare disparities? Obamacare - enough said. Criminal justice system reform? The president's folks will take undo credit for reducing the crack/powder cocaine penalties from 100:1 to 18:1. Economic parity for African Americans? That's a hard one for a president whose stated, core belief is that a rising tide lifts all boats. However, virtually any existing or proposed public program contains jobs or benefits that can be framed as economically beneficial to Blacks.

George Bush or any other president could also fill up such broadly labeled stockings with themed trinkets or falsely packaged goods: No Child Left Behind and school vouchers, for education; small business tax cuts, for wealth creation; Medicare drug benefits, for healthcare trickle-down; more money for HBCUs, for educational opportunity, or future wealth - take your pick; Bush's signature on reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, in 2006.

If not enough programs fit the wish list, then Black appointments always carry great weight with the upwardly mobile Black classes, requiring no substantive benefits for the people whatsoever.

The December 3 conferees are attempting to simulate a capacity and willingness to protect Black America in its greatest economic crisis in modern times - without confronting the politician and party leader that presided over the catastrophe, who has sought a grand austerity bargain with Republicans for the past four years, which he is now on the verge of consummating.

Every "entitlement" program has been placed "on the table" for chopping - just as he promised to do on the eve of taking the oath of office, in 2009. The so-called "fiscal cliff," a joint GOP-White House production, is an artificially created "crisis" to grease the skids of austerity. The same Misleaders that now feign eagerness to make demands of the First Black President tell their followers that he will fight to protect African Americans from suffering unduly from cliff-related machinations.

They pretend that Obama sincerely wants to help Black folks, who were by far the hardest hit by the failing economy, both before and after the meltdown of 2008. But, not only has this president rejected, as a matter of principle, targeted assistance to Black communities, his administration refused to spend most of $7.6 billion in housing aid set aside by Congress for hardest hit communities - disproportionately African American. Obama twice froze the wages of the disproportionately Black federal workforce. He does not miss an opportunity to impose disproportionate suffering on Black and poor people.

He has expanded the federal prisons budget, even as other agencies were trimmed, and caused the closing of tens of thousands of public schools in favor of charters.

These are the mega-challenges facing Black America, requiring comprehensive demands for transformational solutions. What Marc Morial of the Urban League, Ben Jealous of the NAACP, Al Sharpton and others from President Obama's election entourage have outlined are issue-based suggestion boxes for the president's perusal.

An immediate and urgent demand would be "Hands off Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid," but the December 3 crowd thinks that would crimp Obama's style - and they're right. That's why it's not on their list: because then they'd have to confront the First Black President, which they are incapable of doing.

The historical Black political consensus on peace, social and economic justice, which grew out of generations of Black struggle, provides us with a ready and relevant framework for crafting demands. Such demands begin with cessation of U.S. aggressive wars and preparations for war. (These days, presidents don't need Congress to start or stop wars, or to curtail future adventures.) The peace dividend, alone, would go far to fund:

A national jobs and public infrastructure-building program

A national project to provide free and quality public higher education for all

A single-payer national healthcare program

Mandated, dramatic yearly reduction in incarceration rates, starting with federal prisons

A Marshal Plan to rebuild the cities for the benefit of those that already live in them, not gentrification

A national, public banking system, to begin dethroning Wall Street banksters

Those are just off the top of my head.
(c) 2012 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

As Washington Fiddles Over The Fiscal Cliff, The Real Battle Over Inequality Is Happening In The Heartland
By Robert Reich

Washington has a way of focusing the nation's attention on tactical games over partisan maneuvers that are symptoms of a few really big problems. But we almost never get to debate or even discuss the big problems because the tactical games overwhelm everything else.

The debate over the fiscal cliff, for example, is really about tactical maneuvers preceding a negotiation about how best to reduce the federal budget deficit. This, in turn, is a fragment of a bigger debate over whether we should be embracing austerity economics and reducing the budget deficit in the next few years or, alternatively, using public spending and investing to grow the economy and increase the number of jobs.

Even this larger debate is just one part of what should be the central debate of our time - why median wages continue to drop and poverty to increase at the same time income and wealth are becoming ever more concentrated at the top, and what should be done to counter the trend.

With a shrinking share of total income and wealth, the middle class and poor simply don't have the purchasing power to get the economy back on solid footing. (The wealthy don't spend enough of their income or assets to make up for this shortfall, and they invest their savings wherever around the world they can get the highest return.)

As a result, consumer spending - fully 70 percent of economic activity - isn't up to the task of keeping the economy going. This puts greater pressure on government to be purchaser of last resort.

The dilemma isn't just economic. It's also political. As money concentrates at the top, so does power. That concentrated power generates even more entrenched wealth at the top, and less for the middle class and the poor.

A case in point is what's now happening in Michigan. In the state where the American labor movement was born - and where, because of labor unions, the American middle class once had the bargaining power to gain a significant portion of the nation's total income - Republicans and big money are striking back.

Legislators in the Michigan state House, followed almost immediately by Republicans who dominate the state Senate, voted Thursday afternoon to eliminate basic union organizing and workplace protections for both public and private-sector workers. Michigan Republican Governor Rick Snyder says he'll sign the measure.

This anti-labor blitzkreig was launched and coordinated by "Americans for Prosperity" - a group developed and funded by the right-wing industrialists and billionaire campaign donors Charles and David Koch, to "pave the way for right to work in states across our nation."

The Koch brothers are the same ones, not incidentally, who several years ago backed a group called "Citizen's United," on its way to the Supreme Court for an opinion by the Court's Republican majority that opened the floodgates to big money corrupting our federal and state governments. (The brothers Koch have also entertained Justices Scalia and Thomas at strategy meetings they've organized of Republican donors.)

Connect the dots: As unions have withered, the middle class's share of total income and wealth has dropped. The decline of the median wage in America over the last three decades correlates exactly with the declining percentage of American workers who are unionized.

And as the super-rich have grown even wealthier, they've been able to extend their power through the Supreme Court and the Republican Party - advancing a war on the middle class.

These moneyed interests may lose a skirmish or two, particularly at the federal level when the public's attention is focused there (Michigan voters went overwhelmingly for President Obama and Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow on November 6). But the moneyed interests are patient and relentless and, as is evident in Michigan, able to strike suddenly with extraordinary organization and precision.

They've taken on our tax system, successfully raising taxes on the middle class and the poor (Social Security payroll taxes, sales taxes, and user fees) while reducing their own top marginal tax rates. They've attacked public spending - cutting government workers and programs the poor and middle class depend on (teachers and school budgets, social workers and family support services, job training and unemployment insurance, to name only a few).They've set their sights on regulations designed to protect consumers, workers, small investors, and the environment.

And they've taken on the unions that once negotiated good wages on behalf of the middle class and of those who aspired to join it.

The result has been a degree of inequality this nation hasn't witnessed since the days of the robber barons of the late nineteenth century - an inequality that's harming our economy as much as it's undermining our democracy.

As Washington fiddles over the fiscal cliff, a larger battle over inequality is being waged all over America.
(c) 2012 Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His "Marketplace" commentaries can be found on and iTunes.

Boehner's Pitiful Budget Pitches

John Boehner is in a hot huff, fuming so furiously that he'd be red-faced were it not for that eerie, orange-toned tan that he constantly has.

The Republican House Speaker is angry that President Obama won't play BoehnerBall with him in their ongoing altercation over ways to reduce the federal deficit. The GOP leader's pitch to Obama is that the deficit hole should be filled by cutting government spending and eliminating some tax deductions - not, most emphatically NOT, by increasing taxes on corporations and the rich, even by so little as a dime.

But this is an Eephus pitch, a sucker ball. The trick is that Boehner & Company want Democrats and the general public to agree to massive cuts - without telling us which programs and deductions they would sacrifice.

So far, Obama is refusing to go for this game of BoehnerBall, instead standing firm and calmly saying to him: If you want to spare the rich any burden and only cut back on regular folks, don't expect me to do your dirty work for you - make your pitch and take political responsibility for the pain you would cause.

Oh, the huffing and puffing that ensued. "We've put a serious offer on the table," wailed Boehner to the right-wing friendlies interviewing him on Fox TV. Only... he hadn't. Not one specific cut had been named. So Obama still refused to be suckered into playing Boehner's game.

With polls showing rising public scorn for his pitiful performance, Boehner has finally been forced to try another pitch. But even with a do-over, he balked! His latest proposal cuts $1.2 trillion from federal programs and eliminates $800 billion in tax exemptions - but still doesn't tell us which ones. As Casey Stengel asked the players of a terrible ball club he once managed: "Can't anyone here play this game?"
(c) 2012 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

Watch Out For the Cliff: Which One?
By Frank Scott

As America develops newer deadly weapons to threaten more nations with its inspired movement for humanitarian democracy through rape and murder, our economy is supposedly headed for what an ad campaign has branded "the financial cliff." We need to either raise private taxes on a tiny minority of the 1% super rich or cut public spending on the overwhelming 99% majority. Only in a nation run by people who regularly visit a proctologist to have their heads examined could this be seen as a crippling dilemma involving tough choices and necessarily shared suffering. But that's how it's being played by our consciousness commissars and their servants in mind management.

This while the annual shopping frenzy commemorating the birth of a prince of peace - to the god of war - threatens to sink more of the 99% into greater debt for the benefit of the 1% creators of the alleged cliff over which we are all invited to plunge, on their behalf.

And then we have the soon to be fulfilled Mayan prophecy, accepted by some so terrified of material reality that immaterial fantasy is their only defense. Beseeched souls expect the oceans to rise and the land to sink, not because of capital's attack on nature in its pursuit of profit, but because of ancient people's ability to forecast the distant future while they were being evolved out of existence for inability to comprehend their nearby present.

We do have a deadly serious problem, recently avoided by most global representatives at a conference on the dilemmas posed by climate change, and some of the worst case scenarios would seem to fit into Mayan, Christian, Islamic, Judaic, science fiction, schizophrenic or realist patterns of observation and prophecy. The question is how to deal with these real problems that need a confrontation with global political economics, while our brains are filled with personal, fictional and mythological cases that defy reason and only serve the cause of further increasing profits for the few, as always, at even greater losses for the many, as usual.

The incredible claims that Syria is about to use chemical weapons on its own people are (un)balanced by those citing newer and more deadly Iranian plans to nuke the world, especially Israel, despite no evidence other than supposed (un)intelligence from an anonymous nation - ??? - supplied regularly to its American puppets and then widely reported by those puppets, without blushing, as fact. Having shattered Libya out of nationhood and into an alleged central government that, like Afghanistan's, has little power outside the capital city limits, the rush to destroy Syria by any means necessary is joined with the long desired crushing of the Iranian regime in pursuit of destroying anything standing in the way of continued domination of the world by a fading if still malevolent empire. As the power of eastern Islam rises and western Judeo-Christian dominance falls, the Abrahamic religious trio mostly controlled by capital must confront its role in propping up political economic power under the guise of one or another scriptural excuse for inequality, racism and endless war.

While Islam is still in opposition to the interest collecting model of the JC west, it also entertains enough symbolic unity with the older members of the triad to only offer short term relief, if that, from the universal model of democracy in name and hypocrisy in action that has brought the world to its current predicament.

Nowhere can the contradiction of the material and the immaterial find greater gaps than in the USA, where incredible wealth has enabled a standard of living for most that has until recently been beyond the grasp of much of the world. The rising of the present rest at the sinking of the past best has offered a means of bringing the positives and negatives of profit and loss capital markets to more people the world over. As it is shown quite clearly here - to any who will bother to look at the material reality and not simply the economic religious fables that give it psychotic substance - the sector gathering the profits gets smaller in number every day even as its personal wealth expands, while those absorbing the loss expand in number while their personal losses grow . This is happening in China, Russia and anywhere else the model of private profit/social loss enterprise is in command and control.

And nature has begun to call out in a louder voice than even some political demands for democracy and freedom. Deadly storms, floods and eruptions which are clearly the response - except to corporate science and its political shills - to treating the natural environment as a simple profit making commodity are causing breakdowns both physical and mental. Millions succumb to hysterical economics, ignorant superstition and fanatic legends to explain what is kept from their consciousness by the political high priests, rabbis and mullahs speaking from global capital's banking cathedrals.

Almost daily stories of an economy allegedly recovering and booming once again are contradicted within the same bulletins with conflicting signs of pending doom for that same economy. Whatever figures we are given about employment on the upswing, consumer confidence growing and democracy expanding through warfare, always assume the reality is worse, and usually much worse. Just as corporate capital keeps three sets of books - one for itself, one for investors and one for tax purposes - the corporate government keeps books which are juggled by public accountants as much as private capital's accountants juggle its profit figures.

When corporate government says the patient is resting comfortably or getting better every day, that could mean the patient is dying, or already dead. We are nearing the edge of a cliff, but it is hardly this childish nonsense over a national debt which has been incurred almost exclusively for war, the destruction of nature and the murder of millions all for the benefit (?) of a shrinking minority. Humanity does face serious problems over our collective future, but one of those problems is a government owned and operated by private capital, at the expense and loss of just about everyone.

Disregard fairy tales about a financial deficit but regard that real imperial cliff with growing concern and informed democratic action, before fanatic profiteers push us all over the edge.
(c) 2012 Frank Scott writes political commentary and satire which appears in print in The Independent Monitor and online at the blog Legalienate.

What Power Do The Zionists Have Over The World?
By James Donahue

The Jerusalem Post recently quoted a senior Rabbi, Ovadia Yosefs, as saying that all gentiles are put on Earth to be slaves of the Jews. Also the Talmud, a sacred book among Rabbinic Judaists, considered second only to the Torah, states that "Golem (artificial humans) were born to serve us. They have no place in the world, only to serve the people of Israel."

While we find it difficult to believe that all Jews of the world believe the above statements, we suspect that it may be the foundation of the Zionist heart. And this may explain why the very existence of Israel as a nation in the heart of Palestine has been a thorn in the side of nearly all of the nations of the world since it came into existence in the late 1940s.

At first the Jews co-existed among the Palestinians on territory long known as Palestine. But they soon declared war against the Palestinians and all of the Islamic countries surrounding them, declaring Israel to be the "Promised Land" given to them by God as stated in the Torah. They also consider themselves "God's Chosen People" who stand uniquely superior to all other people of the Earth.

The Christians base their faith on the Bible, which is primarily a book written by Hebrews to tell the story of the origins of the Jewish faith. The Bible includes a New Testament, also written by Jews that tell a story of Jesus Christ and the formation of a Christian sect of followers that rose from among the Jews. This story is a strong part of the Christian faith and consequently a dominant influence on the leadership of the United States, the British Isles, many European nations and Christian sects around the world. All accept the story that the Jews are God's Chosen People, and the warning that any nation that rises up against Israel will face the wrath of God.

This helps explain why American Presidents have struggled in their attempts to accomplish peace in the Middle East since May 14, 1948 when the Jewish People's Council declared the establishment of the State of Israel in the heart of Palestine. Israel has since seized control of the water resources in the area and used it for agriculture and to provide for a growing number of people settling there from all over the world.

The Palestinians have been fighting back for a share of their homeland, but until recently they haven't enjoyed much success. It was only last month that the United Nations General Assembly voted to recognize a state of Palestine on the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, all highly contested lands where the Palestinians have been cramped for territory because of growing Zionist control. This control has been largely aided by the United States, which continues to supply military technology, including atomic weapons, to Israel.

Since the UN resolution, however, Israel has announced plans to build thousands of settler homes in contested areas on the West Bank and will withhold more than $100 million in taxes the Jewish state collects on behalf of the Palestinians. These were malicious acts of reprisal by Israel against the Palestinians for daring to seek their own statehood. The mini-war between Hamas, the political faction in Gaza and Israel that involved a deluge of rocket bombs fired by Hamas against Israel and a sophisticated return of weapons by Israel against military and government installations in Gaza was reported in the American press as a battle of defense by Israel against the Palestinian attacks. President Barack Obama declared that Israel had a right to defend itself. But when all the facts were known, it appears that Israel launched the first strikes that stirred Hamas to fight back.

In yet another dangerous situation, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been warning of a pending assault on Iran because of that country's alleged efforts to develop a nuclear bomb. He has been attempting to get the United States involved in such an attack. Russia and China, which rest on Iran's Eastern borders, might easily get involved in what could evolve into a third world war if such an attack occurs. Russia has been assisting Iran in developing nuclear capability and the construction of what Iran claims is a nuclear power plant. The Obama Administration has obediently sworn allegiance to Israel in the event of an attack.

What is going on? How could the tiny Nation of Israel cause so much trouble in the world? This appears to be because the United States also operates mostly under Zionist control. Esoteric writer Stewart Wilde recently wrote on his blog: "It could be said that the Jews have enslaved America because they own the American dollar, via the Federal Reserve and they control the bent senators who can order the American army to war." Actually the war power rests on the Congress, but Congress has never sent American soldiers off to battle since 1941 after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. All of the wars fought since were done by presidential order.

But Wilde's other comment . . . that the Zionists control the American dollar and the U.S. government, appears quite true.

Veteran journalist Helen Thomas, who served for years as a member of the Washington Press Corps, said in an April interview with Playboy Magazine that she believes the Jews have total control over the White House, the U.S. Congress and the banking system.

In a second story that appeared in the Jerusalem Post, Thomas was asked if she believed there was a secret Jewish conspiracy. She said: "Not a secret. It's very open. Everybody is in the pocket of the Israeli Lobbies, which are funded by wealthy supporters, including those from Hollywood. Same thing with the financial markets. There's total control."

Thomas, who is of Lebanese heritage, was forced to give up her post after a remarkable 60-year career because she said in an interview she thought the Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine."

When asked by Playboy if she was anti-Semitic, she denied it. She said there is a clear distinction between the Jewish people and the Zionists. "I'm anti-Zionist," she said.

Zionism is defined as a Jewish movement working to promote the Jewish people as a sovereign state. But many perceive the Zionists as an organization of Jewish leaders that go out of their way to not only protect this Jewish state, but gain control of major political and financial power.

They might perceive the Zionists almost as an organized crime syndicate, working collectively to take over the United States and perhaps much of the world.

When we look at the number of Jews that hold positions of power over Wall Street and Congress, it is easy to see what Thomas is talking about. They literally run the Federal Reserve, the nation's banking system, hold positions of elected power in the federal government, and hold key positions in the corporations that control the American media. So when a Jewish Rabbi dares to declare that the gentiles were placed on Earth to serve as slaves to the Jews, we need to take such a statement seriously. They not only seem to believe it, but the Zionists have been secretly working to gain this kind of control for a very long time.
(c) 2012 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site

John Boehner Has No Mandate
By John Nichols

House Speaker John Boehner has grown increasingly belligerent in his "fiscal cliff" fight with the Obama administration. Struggling to hold together a caucus that never really respected his "leadership," Boehner is trying to rally his troops by ripping President Obama's supposed disregard for Republican control of the House of Representatives.

Arguing that the Obama White House must meet his demands for deep cuts in programs that benefit the elderly and the disabled, Boehner griped on Fox News this week that "they must have forgotten Republicans continue to hold a majority in the House."

It is unlikely that the president and his aides have forgotten that Boehner and his crew continue to control one chamber of the Congress. But they also recognize that President Obama won a clear mandate-a 332-206 advantage in the Electoral College, a 4.7 million popular vote margin for a 51-47 percent victory-on November 6.

In July, Boehner said the November 6 election would be a "referendum on the president's economic policies." On November 6, Obama won that referendum.

The president was not the only winner.

Beyond Obama's personal mandate, Democrats can point to a clear signal from the voting for the US Senate. The Democratic caucus added two new members-despite the fact that the pattern of contests was overwhelmingly favorable to the Republicans-for a clear 55-45 advantage in the chamber.

Notably, the Democratic mandate extends to the House.

How's that? Doesn't John Boehner have a mandate of his own?

Not if we're counting actual votes.

In the 2012 voting for US House seats that formally finished Saturday with a runoff in Louisiana, 59,262,059 Americans voted Democratic, while only 58,105,500 voted Republican.

It is true, of course, that Boehner and his caucus control the majority of seats. While their numbers are diminished from where they were in 2010, the Republicans still maintain a 234-201 advantage in the chamber. But that advantage in not based on the popular will; it is based on the manipulated maps created by the redrawing of congressional districts following the 2010 Census, and on the fact that Democratic votes are concentrated in urban and college-town districts, as well as those with substantial minority populations.

While the maps didn't favor the Democrats on November 6, the voters did. Indeed the national popular-vote margin for the Democrats in the race for the House was substantial: a 1,156,550 advantage.

It has been seventy years since the party that controlled the Congress did not win the most votes.

Usually, the party that wins the House wins it with a solid popular-vote majority-even if the president is of the other party. Consider what happened when Democrats won control of the House during George W. Bush's second term. They prevailed in the 2006 elections by 6.4 million votes.

Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats did not just win control of the House in 2006, they won an overwhelming popular-vote mandate to challenge a sitting president of the other party.

John Boehner and House Republicans won no such mandate on November 6. In fact, they lost the popular vote, and with it the claim that President Obama-who so overwhelmingly won the popular vote-should bend to Boehner's belligerence.
(c) 2012 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His new book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, has just been published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Rumor is that Clinton's State Department is about to recommend approval of the Keystone Pipeline.

Hillary Clinton's Environmental Failures Could Become Obama's
Hillary isn't winning many friends among environmentalists with her support of the Keystone Pipeline--and it will be the purest test of whether Obama's second term will be greener than his first.
By Bill McKibben

It seems just a tad early to be thinking about the 2016 election-unless, apparently, you're Hillary Clinton. According to Maureen Dowd in The New York Times, she sent handwritten notes to losing congressional candidates and invited big Irish-American donors on a trip to Dublin this week. "She has enormous strength in the Irish-American community because of the Clintons' massive role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland," explained the publisher of an Irish-American newspaper.

Which, to tell you the truth, wouldn't worry me very much if I was one of Clinton's possible contenders. True, she's sewing up the all-important Danny Boy vote-but it's possible she's about to dump hot water on another sector of the electorate.

That would be the ones who worry about climate change. Young people, they're called. Also people who have their houses flooded or their farms baked. They're more of them all the time, somehow-in fact, pollsters find 68 percent of Americans "very worried" about global warming, up from 46 percent in 2009. That's what happens when the warmest year in American history ends with the widest storm (Sandy) ever measured.

But the rumor is that Clinton's State Department is nonetheless about to recommend approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which the top climate scientists in the nation have unanimously called a terrible idea. As far as I know, though, Clinton's subordinates haven't reached out to ask them why. For more than a year now, it's been one of Washington's worst-kept secrets that Clinton wants the pipeline approved. And why not? Its builder, TransCanada, hired her old deputy campaign manager as its chief lobbyist and gave lobbying contracts to several of her big bundlers. Leaked emails show embassy officials rooting on the project; it's classic D.C. insiderism. (And, weirdly, her rumored successor is just as involved-Susan Rice has millions in stock in TransCanada and other Canadian energy companies.)

And in one sense it doesn't make much difference. Everyone in the capital's also known that the Keystone decision, in the end, will come down to President Obama, who will weigh State's findings and then rule whether the pipeline is in the national interest. When that happens, we'll find out if he's a more modern politician than Hillary, or if he's still fighting yesterday's wars too.

The first term of his presidency was, in essence, devoted to dealing with the remaining problems of the 20th century. He crossed one off the list-America finally joined the rest of the industrialized world in offering most all its citizens some kind of health care. And he tackled another, with his endless pursuit of that will-o'-the-wisp "energy independence."

"Under my administration," he boasted last March, "America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years. That's important to know. Over the last three years, I've directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states. We're opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore. We've quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high. We've added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the earth and then some."

And he's right-he's shown no interest in leaving any carbon anywhere in the ground. Hey, he watched the Arctic melt at a record pace and then he let Shell head up to the open water and drill.

So Keystone will test whether the second term will be more of the same. In his case, of course, he never has to worry about voters, or donors, again. But one guesses that 50 years from now the only item on his legacy list anyone will still care about is what he did on global warming. Will he nibble around the edges, or will he actually take on the oil companies? Keystone will tell the tale.

As for Clinton, she doubtless figures four years is a long time, and-even though it's the one environmental issue in decades that's brought big crowds of environmentalists into the streets-that voters will forget her stance on the pipeline. Maybe she's right. But she didn't get anything else accomplished on climate either-the Copenhagen conference was the biggest bust on her watch. And given that the planet just keeps getting warmer and weirder, it's possible greens have a memory almost as long as Irishmen.
(c) 2012 Bill McKibben is Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College, co-founder of His most recent book is Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.

Gun Patriotism Or Hypocrisy?
By Joel S. Hirschhorn

Puzzling me for a long time is the inconsistency between two claims by gun and Second Amendment supporters. One is that what they worship is critically needed to defend themselves against a government that they would view as oppressive and unacceptable. The other is their belief that the US government has already become awful, stealing their liberties.

Why then, I keep asking myself, have we not seen a violent uprising among the untold millions of Americans owning guns to take back their government? Why do we not see what goes on in European nations, namely violent public uprisings against governments?

There is more private gun ownership in the US than any other nation. We have a far right part of the population with considerable public presence and power. FOX News, the Tea Party movement, and countless groups and think tanks angrily attacking the mainstream media, liberals, and leftist politicians as well as just about everything done by President Obama.

So, why hasn't the massive number of gun lovers who worship the Second Amendment actually done what they claim is exactly needed, what the Second Amendment was created to give them the right to do, and what their massive gun power supposedly gives them the means to accomplish? Especially when they lose major elections, when their Republican and conservative politicians fail to deliver to them?

Are the paranoid doom and gloom gun lovers waiting for things to get a whole lot worse before they actually implement the grand plan to use their guns to overthrow what they see as an evil, unconstitutional and oppressive government? Or, do they just invoke the Second Amendment as a convenient rationale for fighting all attempts to better control guns?

From their perspective, how much worse does the government have to become before they finally get the courage to use their guns and restore American democracy and liberties? Do they think elections will save their nation?

After all, on a number of recent occasions, such as the election and reelection of President Obama, gun and ammunition sales have skyrocketed, despite an already historic level of gun and ammunition ownership. Yet still these millions of gun-happy constitutionalists do not act. What is going on?

Is it rational to explain all this by seeing the gun crowd as being incredibly patient?

Is all their talk and high-minded claims to be the last hope to save the country just a bunch of empty rhetoric, camouflage for fighting better gun control?

Here is what I think explains this remarkable contradiction. In truth, the gun crowd that see themselves as the ultimate patriots, like the original revolutionaries that fought the British and created the USA, is itself conflicted by self-interests. That is, most gun owners are receiving so many economic benefits from the existing government and economy that they are unwilling to risk all of them by a massive disruption of the whole US system. Just like we saw incredible numbers of protesting Tea Party people looking old enough to be collecting Social Security and Medicare benefits, the overwhelming majority of gun nuts are also feeding off of the national system they keep attacking. They keep buying more expensive guns and ammunition, gold and hordes of long-lasting survival foods to satisfy their paranoid thoughts. They keep giving money to right wing causes. They listen all the time to right wing radio and TV pundits. They have enough wealth to afford lots of things, especially expensive guns. Yet they do not ACT. They do not REVOLT. Even when their favored politicians lose.

Most of us do not equate the gun crowd with the plutocracy run by the richest Americans and corporate interests that aligns itself with Republicans and conservatives. The plutocrats, however, have no desire for a revolution that tears down the whole US political and economic system that they so benefit from. What the plutocracy has accomplished, against all logic, is to manipulate the gun crowd into supporting political causes that maintain the status quo that allows the upper rich to get richer. We have far more economic oppression than political oppression.

In other words, keep spending your discretionary money on guns and ammunition and all the other things so heavily marketed to the most paranoid people as evidenced by all the advertisements on right wing stations for gold and survival foods. Keep thinking that you need guns to combat criminals, except there is no evidence that crime has actually been curbed by the massive gun ownership rather than other factors.

But by all means keep listening and spending rather than actually REVOLT and bring down the system. Enjoy your guns. Just don't take any risks and use them as defensive political tools. Don't do what so many angry Europeans have always done; actually go the streets to bring down governments. Or what we see Egyptians doing. Of course, all those angry citizens do not have guns. Still, they put their lives on the line.

The bottom line is that the whole gun Second Amendment movement seems like just another aspect of conspicuous consumerism that keeps the US economy humming. When I see millions of these right wing gun enthusiasts give up their Social Security and Medicare benefits I will start to take them more seriously.

CNN has recently reported important information, including: US gun owning population is on the decline with those gun owners stockpiling more firearms; 20 percent of the gun owners with the most firearms possessed about 65 percent of the nation's guns; the US with 5 percent of the world's population owns 50 percent of the world's guns; the number of households owning guns has declined from almost 50 percent in 1973 to just over 32 percent in 2010.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation reported the economic impact of firearm sales - a figure that includes jobs. taxes and sales - hit $31 billion in 2011, up from $19 billion in 2008, an increase of 63 percent despite the economic recession. Fighting gun control has paid off for the gun industry.

There are good reasons to support better gun control laws, but fearing political revolution and violent overthrow of the government because of massive gun ownership may not be relevant. Democrats will likely keep fearing any emphasis on gun control even though the majority of their supporters favor gun control over gun ownership. As pointed out this year before the election: "Figures provided by Michael Dimock, Pew's associate research director, show that the biggest shifts toward opposition to gun control have come among the same blue-collar whites who have displayed the greatest alienation to Obama across the board." Also, note that Pew found 72 percent of Republicans said it is more important to protect the rights of gun owners, compared to just 27 percent of Democrats.

As to the roughly, at most, 100 million American gun owners, keep fighting more gun control laws. Keep buying even more guns, keep the multibillion dollar gun industry thriving. Keep screaming about your Second Amendment rights. Keep voting for Republicans. Keep listening to Limbaugh and Hannity and all the other idols that are among the richest Americans. Keep deluding yourselves that you are the only hope for the nation. Don't face your hypocrisy. Delusion is the opiate of the right.

Or, just give up, bite the bullet and shoot yourselves. Make us gun control enthusiasts happy.

I agree with Sanjay Sanghoee "The belief that we need to stockpile guns of every kind to protect us from our own government is a sign of deep paranoia and madness. And to the people who think that way, let me ask you this: do you really believe that if the U.S. government decided for some reason to direct all its military might against you, you would stand a chance against them?" Of course not, this is why all the adoration of the Second Amendment is a smokescreen for fighting better gun control. Gun lobbies protect their business, not freedom and liberty.

The key conclusion is this: Though we need a constitutional path to major political reforms other than elections, even a Second American Revolution, the best path is not through the Second Amendment but rather through what the Founders gave us in Article V, namely a convention of state delegates with the power to propose constitutional amendments. The nation would benefit from transferring the passion for Second Amendment gun rights into support for using the Article V convention strategy.
(c) 2012 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.

Robots And Robber Barons
By Paul Krugman

The American economy is still, by most measures, deeply depressed. But corporate profits are at a record high. How is that possible? It's simple: profits have surged as a share of national income, while wages and other labor compensation are down. The pie isn't growing the way it should - but capital is doing fine by grabbing an ever-larger slice, at labor's expense.

Wait - are we really back to talking about capital versus labor? Isn't that an old-fashioned, almost Marxist sort of discussion, out of date in our modern information economy? Well, that's what many people thought; for the past generation discussions of inequality have focused overwhelmingly not on capital versus labor but on distributional issues between workers, either on the gap between more- and less-educated workers or on the soaring incomes of a handful of superstars in finance and other fields. But that may be yesterday's story.

More specifically, while it's true that the finance guys are still making out like bandits - in part because, as we now know, some of them actually are bandits - the wage gap between workers with a college education and those without, which grew a lot in the 1980s and early 1990s, hasn't changed much since then. Indeed, recent college graduates had stagnant incomes even before the financial crisis struck. Increasingly, profits have been rising at the expense of workers in general, including workers with the skills that were supposed to lead to success in today's economy.

Why is this happening? As best as I can tell, there are two plausible explanations, both of which could be true to some extent. One is that technology has taken a turn that places labor at a disadvantage; the other is that we're looking at the effects of a sharp increase in monopoly power. Think of these two stories as emphasizing robots on one side, robber barons on the other.

About the robots: there's no question that in some high-profile industries, technology is displacing workers of all, or almost all, kinds. For example, one of the reasons some high-technology manufacturing has lately been moving back to the United States is that these days the most valuable piece of a computer, the motherboard, is basically made by robots, so cheap Asian labor is no longer a reason to produce them abroad.

In a recent book, "Race Against the Machine," M.I.T.'s Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee argue that similar stories are playing out in many fields, including services like translation and legal research. What's striking about their examples is that many of the jobs being displaced are high-skill and high-wage; the downside of technology isn't limited to menial workers.

Still, can innovation and progress really hurt large numbers of workers, maybe even workers in general? I often encounter assertions that this can't happen. But the truth is that it can, and serious economists have been aware of this possibility for almost two centuries. The early-19th-century economist David Ricardo is best known for the theory of comparative advantage, which makes the case for free trade; but the same 1817 book in which he presented that theory also included a chapter on how the new, capital-intensive technologies of the Industrial Revolution could actually make workers worse off, at least for a while - which modern scholarship suggests may indeed have happened for several decades.

What about robber barons? We don't talk much about monopoly power these days; antitrust enforcement largely collapsed during the Reagan years and has never really recovered. Yet Barry Lynn and Phillip Longman of the New America Foundation argue, persuasively in my view, that increasing business concentration could be an important factor in stagnating demand for labor, as corporations use their growing monopoly power to raise prices without passing the gains on to their employees.

I don't know how much of the devaluation of labor either technology or monopoly explains, in part because there has been so little discussion of what's going on. I think it's fair to say that the shift of income from labor to capital has not yet made it into our national discourse.

Yet that shift is happening - and it has major implications. For example, there is a big, lavishly financed push to reduce corporate tax rates; is this really what we want to be doing at a time when profits are surging at workers' expense? Or what about the push to reduce or eliminate inheritance taxes; if we're moving back to a world in which financial capital, not skill or education, determines income, do we really want to make it even easier to inherit wealth?

As I said, this is a discussion that has barely begun - but it's time to get started, before the robots and the robber barons turn our society into something unrecognizable.
(c) 2012 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"Only a large-scale popular movement toward decentralization and self-help can arrest the present tendency toward statism... A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude. To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, newspaper editors and schoolteachers."
~~~ Aldous Huxley

The Normalization Of Treason
By David Swanson

How did right-wing politics in the United States survive the 1960s and 1970s and thrive beyond? Not only did the wealthy invest in the corruption of politics, but the politicians invested in the normalization of treason.

When presidential candidate Richard Nixon sabotaged the peace process in Vietnam, President Lyndon Johnson privately called it treason and publicly kept his mouth shut.

By the time Bush the Elder, also involved in that earlier treason, worked with Robert Gates and William Casey to sabotage President Carter's efforts to free hostages in Iran, the normalization was well underway.

The corruption of Watergate involved not only no-holds-barred political thievery, but also Nixon's fear that Daniel Ellsberg or the Brookings Institution or someone else had possession of a file detailing Nixon's successful 1968 efforts to prevent the war on Vietnam from ending.

The Iran-Contra scandal that grew out of the U.S.-Israeli-Iranian plot to replace Carter with Reagan, and the Iraq-gate scandal that followed, witnessed a last fling of half-hearted pushback in Congress and the corporate media. Today such non-sexual scandals no longer end in -gate. In fact, they are no longer scandals.

Piling George W. Bush's blatantly stolen elections onto the history of recent U.S. politics calls into question the ability of Republicans to get elected to national office without cheating. But the normalization of treason has been very much a bi-partisan affair.

Robert Parry, who runs the invaluable website, has a new book out called "America's Stolen Narrative." My recommendation is to immediately read this book from Chapter 2 through to the end. The introduction and chapter 1 depict President Barack Obama as having nothing but the best intentions, glorify the American Revolution, argue in favor of a strong federal government, and defend the practice of requiring people to purchase private health insurance (a Republican idea in its origins, of course, although Parry has adopted it as Democratic and good). Also, Chapter 3 takes a detour into arguing unpersuasively for lesser-evilism. If you're into that sort of thing, knock yourselves out. But in my view such discussions muddle and belittle the significance of the rest of this tremendously important book.

The "stolen narratives" referred to in the title are the accurate accounts that Parry presents of the treasonous acts I've mentioned above. Parry is an investigative journalist who has unearthed powerful evidence of the crimes of Nixon, Reagan, and others. Parry not only details the evidence but recounts the processes of coverup and distortion that the U.S. media has made its second nature. The result of this history is, I'm afraid, far worse than Parry's opening pages let on. Not only do Americans imagine that their politicians mean well when they do not, particularly in the area of foreign policy, but the United States has fundamentally accepted unlimited presidential powers. Nixon's crimes during his famous coverup, and the far worse underlying crimes as well, have now been legalized and accepted. Presidents do not answer to Congress or the public or the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. To a great extent, the people of our country have accepted temporary despots, and to a great extent our people falsely believe themselves powerless to act. They imagine the left did something wrong through acting. This is part of how history must be explained when leaving out the fact that the right has been cheating.

Parry's account of Nixon's undoing of peace in Vietnam, allowing for another four years of slaughter in Southeast Asia, is the best I've seen and alone worth the purchase of "America's Stolen Narrative." Parry imagines what it might have meant, not only for peace in the world, but also for social justice and the "war on poverty" in the United States had Hubert Humphrey defeated Nixon. To the extent that Nixon's successful electoral sabotage in 1968 opened the door to dirtier politics ever since, the damage can be multiplied.

Needless to say, that door was always somewhat opened. The Business Plot of 1933 was hardly less treasonous than anything Nixon did. Nixon's go-between with the Vietnamese in 1968 was the widow of Claire Lee Chennault who had worked to provide China with U.S. planes, pilots, and training, to plan the firebombing of Japan and provoke Japan into the attack on Pearl Harbor. Our false narratives still require the acceptance or glorification of all things related to World War II, but in fact one can see a bit of the husband in the widow Chennault. And then there's the assassination of President Kennedy, which evidence suggests George H.W. Bush played a role in as in most of Parry's post-1960's narrative.

But Parry's case that we turned a corner toward a nastier political world with the Nixon presidency is a strong one.

The account of the Carter-Reagan October Surprise is also the best I've seen, in terms of the evidence presented and the background provided, including on the central role of the Israeli government. The same gang that hung President Carter out to dry for failing to free the hostages had earlier pressured him to bring the Shah of Iran to the United States, thereby provoking the fears of Iranians and the seizure of the U.S. Embassy. The weapons shipments to Iran later grew into the Iran-Contra scandal, but common understanding of that scandal fails to trace it to its roots in the treasonous bargain that kept the hostages prisoners until the day of Reagan's inauguration.

Parry devotes whole chapters to the history of corrupt manipulation by a couple of the dirtiest individuals in Washington: Colin Powell and Robert Gates. These two manage their heights of corruption and influence, in part, through their cross-partisanship. Democrats in Parry's worldview seem to be largely battered wives failing to push back, failing to speak out, refusing to investigate or prosecute or impeach. True enough, as far as it goes. But I think there is a great measure of complicity and outright expansion of bipartisan abuses that must be credited to the Democrats as well. An accurate understanding of exactly how evil some of our Republicans have been need not turn us into cheerleaders for the party of the current president, his record classifications, his groundbreaking secrecy claims, his record whistleblower prosecutions, his record levels of warrantless spying, his imprisonments without trial, his wars without Congress, his war-making CIA, or his "kill list" murder program. Instead, an accurate understanding of how evil some of our politicians have been should move us to become, like Robert Parry, dogged pursuers of the facts that those in power seek to bury or beautify.
(c) 2012 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

US United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice speaking at the United Nations on 30 August 2012

The Revealingly Substance-Free Fight Over Susan Rice
Her record of war advocacy and close ties to tyrants is notably missing from the debate over whether she should be Secretary of State
By Glen Greenwald

Over the last months, Democrats and Republicans have been engaged in an intense fight over the suitability of UN Ambassador Susan Rice to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. Democratic Party institutions and pundits have steadfastly devoted themselves to defending her from GOP criticisms.

Virtually all of this debate has concerned Rice's statements on a series of Sunday news shows in September, during which she claimed that the Benghazi attack was primarily motivated by spontaneous anger over an anti-Islam film rather than an coordinated attack by a terrorist group. Everyone now acknowledges that (consistent with the standard pattern of this administration's behavior) Rice's statements were inaccurate, but in a majestic display of intellectual dexterity, progressive pundits claim with a straight face that public officials should be excused when they make false statements based on what the CIA tells them to say, while conservatives claim with a straight face that relying on flawed and manipulated intelligence reports is no excuse.

All of that is standard, principle-free partisan jockeying. It goes without saying that if this were Condoleezza rather than Susan Rice, the two sides would have exactly opposite positions on whether these inaccurate statements should be held against her. None of that is worth examining.

But what is remarkable is how so many Democrats are devoting so much energy to defending a possible Susan Rice nomination as Secretary of State without even pretending to care about her record and her beliefs. It's not even part of the discussion. And now that some writers have begun examining that record, it's not hard to see the reason for this omission.

Last week, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern extensively documented Rice's long record of cheering for US wars, including being an outspoken and aggressive advocate of the attack on Iraq, support that persisted for many years. In a New York Times Op-Ed yesterday, Eritrean-American journalist Salem Solomon condemned Rice's fondness for tyrants in Africa, while Black Agenda Report's Glen Ford argued - with ample documentation - that her supporters "care not a whit for Africa, whose rape and depopulation has been the focus of Rice's incredibly destructive career." A New York Times news article from Monday separately suggests that Rice's close ties to the ruling regime in Rwanda - that government "was her client when she worked at Intellibridge, a strategic analysis firm in Washington" - has led Washington to tacitly endorse its support for brutal rebels in the Congo.

Meanwhile, so-called "pro-Israel" groups have vocally supported her possible nomination due to her steadfast defense of Israel at the UN, hailing her as "an ardent defender of major Israeli positions in an unfriendly forum." It was recently discovered that Rice "holds significant investments in more than a dozen Canadian oil companies and banks that would stand to benefit from expansion of the North American tar sands industry and construction of the proposed $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline," and that "about a third of Rice's personal net worth is tied up in oil producers, pipeline operators, and related energy industries north of the 49th parallel -- including companies with poor environmental and safety records on both U.S. and Canadian soil."

This is who progressives are devoting their energy to defending and the record they are attempting to further empower as Secretary of State. She's essentially the classic pro-war, imperial technocrat who has advanced within the Foreign Policy Community by embracing and justifying its destructive orthodoxies (unsurprisingly, one of her most ardent defenders, even now, is her former colleague at the Brookings Institution, the war-loving (though never war-fighting) Michael O'Hanlon).

It would be one thing if Rice-advocating progressives defended this record and this set of beliefs, or attempted to argue why she should be promoted despite them. But, almost without exception, they don't do either of those things. The minute it became clear that Obama wanted to nominate her and Republicans opposed her, they reflexively stood up to support her without any apparent regard for what she has done and what she believes. Put another way, they are devoting their energies to arguing for the political elevation of someone without the slightest regard for her beliefs. Isn't that bizarre?

While this behavior is partially explainable by partisan allegiance, I think the bigger factor is the way in which politicians are now adored as celebrities and our politics reduced to little more than reality-TV shows. Susan Rice is a relatively young, dynamic, impressive personality: an articulate and well-presented technocrat (indeed, after I watched her appear on a Sunday new show three years ago, back in 2009, I tweeted: "Susan Rice is an amazingly effective spokesperson - even when advocating bad polices - they should use her a lot more"). She has the sort of Foreign Policy Community careerist record which, in an ideal world, would be disqualifying given that Community's heinous performance, but which in our world is considered impressive and serious.

In other words, she's a rising political star. And a Democrat. And Obama likes her and wants to nominate her. And that is enough to galvanize Democrats and progressives into cheering for her and defending her and working to support her even though she is a standard Brookings war-advocate who has a record and a set of beliefs completely anathema to the ones they claim to hold.

I personally have little interest in devoting energy to working against Rice's nomination. In terms of her bad views and record, there's nothing special about her; as indicated, she's a fairly classic member in good standing of the bipartisan Foreign Policy Community. As I learned when I was part of the effort widely credited with preventing John Brennan from being CIA Director on the ground that he supported Bush-era rendition and torture policies - only to watch as he was named to an even more powerful position as Obama's chief counterterrorism adviser - Washington appointments are a symbol of bad policies, not a cause.

If it's not Susan Rice as Secretary of State, then it will be someone with an equally long record of defending US militarism and supporting the world's worst tyrants. Indeed, the person she would replace - overwhelming 2016 Democratic presidential favorite Hillary Clinton - was not only as steadfast in her public support for the attack on Iraq as Rice was, but also has at least as long and impressive a record in befriending the world's worst tyrants (Clinton, 2009: "I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family"). So it's unlikely in the extreme that preventing Rice's elevation would result in anything better: the same policies of imperialism and militarism will be administered by some other faithful technocrat.

But I certainly wouldn't devote my efforts to helping someone with this record and set of beliefs to acquire more power. Why would someone do that who doesn't share those beliefs and finds many of them misguided and repellent? It makes perfect sense for someone to defend Rice's possible nomination if they admire her record and beliefs, but those supporting her make almost no reference to any of that because, quite obviously, none of that has anything to do with the reasons they are cheering for her.


Several weeks ago, Cato's Benjamin Friedman comprehensively examined Rice's record and concluded: "The problem with making Susan Rice secretary of state isn't Benghazi. It's war." Specifically, she "has supported just about every proposed U.S. military intervention over the two decades"; he then argues:

"Susan Rice, as her backers note, is well-qualified to be secretary of state. But she isn't applying for an internship. Cabinet nominee's policy positions matter more than their resumes. The right knock on Rice is that as someone who supported a batch of needless wars, she is likely to support the next one."

But he also notes that "Rice's opinions on all these matters are little different from most Democratic foreign-policy elites, including most of the other people advising Obama about wars." That, to me, is the reason why actively opposing her nomination is mostly pointless, but it certainly should preclude support for it as well.


Last week at the Atlantic, Columbia Journalism Professor Howard French detailed Rice's record in Africa which, he said, "helped the US continue a Cold War-style approach to the continent - and aided a new generation of dictators in the process." In a 2009 New York Review of Books essay, he examined the US role in violence on the continent and Rice's closeness to tyrants.
(c) 2012 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy.

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Gouverneur Snyder,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your union busting, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Syria and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "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 with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 12-31-2012. We salute you Herr Snyder, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Cliffs Notes
On the Edge and Over a Barrel
By Randall Amster

Hopefully you're enjoying the onset of the holiday season, especially the latest prefabricated crisis coming out of Washington for your yuletide amusement. It seems that we can never underestimate the capacity of the government to focus on the wrong issues, to view issues in unwarranted isolation, or to misdirect people's energies toward false issues rather than those that really matter.

Such is the painfully obvious case with the so-called "fiscal cliff," a market-tested example of political prestidigitation if ever there was one. While the world seemingly hangs in the balance as disasters mount, climate episodes cascade, war and violence proliferate, species go extinct, and resources dry up, career politicians fiddle about (yet again) over a crisis of their own making.

Even worse, in all likelihood the fiscal cliff is merely a pretext for further eroding the already-tenuous social safety net in America; it's a veritable Trojan horse for a good old-fashioned dose of austerity-oriented shock therapy intended to remind us all to keep our place lest we get busted down a notch further on the socioeconomic ladder. It's a potentially ruinous precipice, we're told, so you'd better pay close attention if you want your trickle of water to continue coming down the cliff face...

Or at least pay close enough attention so that you won't ask too many hard questions about the genuine cliffs you should be worried about. You know, minor stuff like the erosion of free will and the continued existence of the species. Here's but a small sample of the non-trivial cliffs dead ahead:

The Climate Cliff

We've already been seeing the leading edge of anthropogenic climate change, with record-setting weather extremes, droughts and floods, superstorms, and "natural disasters" noted around the globe and escalating in their intensity. In the short term, such episodes will continue to produce acute food and water shortages, economic hardships, and increased refugeeism; in the slightly longer term, the likely consequences include low-lying areas rendered uninhabitable, national economies devastated, conflicts and wars triggered, and multitudes of people left on the knife's edge of survival. If we continue to mass-consume fossil fuels and relentlessly pump carbon into the atmosphere, it becomes probable that within the span of our children's lifetimes the world will see wholesale species extinctions and the eventual uninhabitability of the biosphere. We've moved from the realm of speculative fiction to mainstream prediction in mere decades, yet despite the closing window and the need for immediate action, the global elite haggle over abstract negotiations, urge unilateral standards with no accountability, and expand their plans for carbon-based resource exploitation -including even in polar regions unearthed by the rapid glacial melting we've already triggered.

The War Cliff

Meanwhile, global tensions are exacerbated as flashpoints and hotspots of conflict persist. Militarism is thoroughly established as the leading edge of international relations, and national economies are dominated by military expenditures. The U.S. is now unabashedly an imperial power, identifying resource control among its national interests meriting armed engagement whenever unilaterally deemed necessary. Saber-rattling, overt threats, and new fronts created under the guise of "humanitarian intervention" threaten to draw more nations into the spiraling global conflict. War is now a multi-generational enterprise, as youth become fodder for disingenuous recruiters only to discover the harsh reality after their wounds have been borne and their care is meager. The sheer magnitude of armaments and weapons around the planet-a scenario fomented by unscrupulous dealers and corporate profiteers-nearly ensures a violent future, especially as the stresses of climate change and resource degradation continue to manifest. Half a century ago, John F. Kennedy warned that "mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind," yet since then we've greatly expanded the scope of the war machine and institutionalized its destructive dominance.

We're addicted to political theater, economic blackmail, media machinations, resource wars, and our own comfortable captivity-and the "fiscal cliff" is but a clever trope to keep us ailing and addled.

The Technocratic Cliff

Nonetheless, wars are sold to us as being waged to preserve our freedoms and bring democracy to the world. All the while, an expanding web of technocratic control ensnares the globe, as anyone who uses digital devices, computers, email, credit cards, or passports is subject to being tracked and rendered as a data point in a not-so-subtle version of the previously discredited attempt to develop an infrastructure of "total information awareness." Personal privacy is mooted by the camera's gaze, the satellite's mapping capability, the airport's checkpoint, the informant's report, the digital footprint. Orwellian umbrage rapidly becomes "quaint and obsolete" as social control is achieved through a combination of pervasive surveillance and the apparent futility of resistance. War makers increasingly rely on remote technologies to do their killing, even seriously proposing next-generation devices such as robot warriors and technologically enhanced human soldiers. Technocratic "solutions" to climate change and resource depletion are likewise proposed, sounding more like farfetched and potentially apocalyptic science fiction plotlines than reasonable prospects for relief.

The Dependency Cliff

As a result of this technological web, humankind is rendered less resilient and almost utterly dependent upon an increasingly isolated global elite who control the means of production and the channels of consumption. In order to secure food, water, shelter, and energy, we are constrained to toil for the neo-feudal lords, accept their intrinsically worthless scrip in exchange for our alienated labor, purchase life's necessities at their company stores, and accept the fact of their profligacy while continually inuring ourselves to the harshness of their imposed austerity. Even if the elites were to disappear into the heavens and leave the rest of us to squabble over the remains of a spoiled planet, we'd still be trapped in a state where the capacity to care for ourselves is a tenuous proposition at best. Our creature comforts have been used against us as weapons of mass dependency, rendering us wards of the corporate state. Mass media dumbs us down, education warps our minds, and the glad hands of army recruiters and prison guards eagerly await our arrival. Free will is archaic, and in short order generations are born and raised without even the desire to alter the conditions of their lives.

The Hopelessness Cliff

The glimpses we get in the present of these dystopian scenarios haunt us to the point of willingly seeking medicalization and other forms of escapism. The rampant changes in the social fabric are blithely accepted and blatant warning signs are met with casual indifference as the channel is changed or a shiny new app is downloaded. Still, with vestiges of our humanity yet intact, moments of longing persist and a nagging sense that all is not well infuses the spirit of even the most detached. Thus, those who transgress the rulers, fight back against the empire, or attempt to evade the web are brutally persecuted to serve as examples of the price of disobedience. People grow hopeless as the climate spirals out of control, war decimates entire populations, technology eclipses human morality, and the price of survival is pledging fealty to the moneychangers and technocrats. Perhaps the most pernicious cliff of all, a grand malaise pervades humankind as people around the world lose even the faintest glimmer of hope for the future, and as their children come into a world where the very concept of hopefulness is eradicated in favor of an overarching ethos of helplessness.

My apologies for the atypical display of fatalism, but it's difficult sometimes not to scream from the rooftops, "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!" The challenge, as always, is what is to be done about any or all of this. Among many others, I've expended myriad words on this subject, and I won't reiterate them here except to note that the essential task of seeking opportunity in crisis is incumbent upon us without delay. For instance, on the positive side of this whole "fiscal cliff" claptrap to which we're being subjected, we might also perceive it as a subconscious sign that we're close to reaching that proverbial "rock bottom" from which we can finally get well. We're addicted to political theater, economic blackmail, media machinations, resource wars, and our own comfortable captivity-and the "fiscal cliff" is but a clever trope to keep us ailing and addled. So, in the spirit of turning manipulated fears into moments of empowerment, I'll offer as a closing antidote the words of Jimmy Cliff, who intoned upon the charade years ago in "The Harder They Come":

Well they tell me of a pie up in the sky
Waiting for me when I die
But between the day you're born and when you die
They never seem to hear even your cry...

Well, the oppressors are tryin' to keep me down
Tryin' to drive me underground
And they think that they have got the battle won
I say forgive them Lord, they know not what they've done...

But I'll keep on fighting for the things I want
Though I know that when you're dead you can't
But I'd rather be a free man in my grave
Than living as a puppet or a slave...

Take heed, fellow cliff-dwellers. They may have us over a barrel today, but the final verse remains unwritten for tomorrow. Perhaps seeing the vista from the ledge is the wakeup call we sorely need.
(c) 2012 Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., teaches peace studies at Prescott College and serves as the executive director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association. Amonsg his most recent books are Anarchism Today (Praeger, 2012) and the co-edited volume "Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009). Windy Cooler is a Contributing Author for New Clear Vision. A long-time organizer and former teenage-mother-welfare-queen, she writes about the emotional lives of homemakers and activists. She has two sons and lives in suburban DC. She blogs at, and can be reached at WindyCooler(at)

The Jurist's And Ambassador's Dilemma
By Adam Keller

Such an event does not occur every day at the halls of the Supreme Court in Jerusalem. A year and a half ago, the right-wing majority in the Knesset passed the "Boycott Law" which claims to be a law against boycotting Israel, but in fact defines boycotting of the settlements as a "boycott of Israel." The net result is to prohibit Israeli citizens from calling for a boycott of products made in settlements, but does not prohibit any other boycott call. It is perfectly OK to call for a consumer boycott, or organize a boycott due to religious dietary laws or working conditions or vegetarianism and care for animals. Israeli law does not even have any ban on outright racist boycotts, specifically targeting members of an ethnic group. Boycotts of all kinds and types are allowed. The sole exception is when Israeli citizens call for a boycott of products originating in the settlements - settlements in Occupied Territory, created in violation of International Law with the declared aim of preventing the Palestinians from establishing a state. Making such a call exposes one to heavy damage claims by settlers and their supporters.

Several appeals have been filed against this law. By Gush Shalom of which I am the spokesperson, by Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi, by the Civil Rights Association and Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights and Coalition of Women for Peace and the the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism, and many other organizations and individuals. The Supreme Court judges were not quick to pick up this hot potato. It took them a year and a half to set a preliminary hearing, which was held this week.

The petitioners' attorneys spoke out, one by one, telling the judges that this is a manifestly unconstitutional and anti-democratic law, seriously violating Israeli citizens' freedom of expression and of political organization. Then it was the turn of the Knesset's legal adviser, attorney Eyal Yinon, to face the judges, make a reply and defend the law enacted by his client, the Knesset of Israel. Only, there was one small hitch: Eyal Yinon himself opposes this piece of legislation, and like the petitioners he regards it as unconstitutional and anti-democratic.

"Before the bill was voted in, I spoke at length several times with the Knesset Members who initiated it. So did the other legal advisers, the Attorney General's representative the legal adviser of the Foreign Ministry and the one for the Ministry of Trade and Industry. We all made them aware of how problematic the bill was, we did our best to make it fit into a proper constitutional frameworks. However, our opinions are not binding on the Members of the Knesset, they passed it into law by majority vote. The court here has the authority to overrule them, legal advisors do not [emphasis mine]."

And the bottom line: "In the meantime, I serve as the legal counsel of the Knesset. I am duty bound to represent the Knesset and defend to the best of my ability the binding resolutions taken by the Knesset majority." The Legal Adviser's dilemma did not so much impress the three judges on the panel. "Actually, you were sent here without ammunition," remarked Justice Salim Joubran. Not that Joubran himself and his colleagues seem in a hurry to render their decision on this loaded issue? Maybe next week, maybe only in a year or two. There is no obligatory time frame.

In Israel, 2012, more and more decent persons find themselves facing a dilemma. One is left to wonder what was exactly said inside closed rooms at the foreign ministries in London and Paris, Madrid and Moscow and Canberra and Stockholm and Copenhagen and Cairo and where not, when Israeli ambassadors were invited one by one to receive one sharp rebuke after another.

The Israeli ambassadors heard through the media, without any prior notice, of the decision to build near the settlement of Ma'ale Adumim, in the area known as E-1, a large new settlements which will serve as a barrier to prevent the Palestinians' territorial contiguity between the northern and southern West Bank, and thus block their way to having a viable state. There were in the media some echos of the annoyance felt by Israeli diplomats. They learned that this significant decision was not taken by the full Israeli cabinet, nor by the Inner Cabinet nor even by The Nine who are the Inner-Inner Cabinet. In fact, it was taken by Netanyahu in an informal meeting with the Minister of Education and the Minister for the Environment, who have no authority whatsoever to make such decisions but do happen to be Netanyahu's main supporters inside the Likud Party.

The Foreign Ministry sent a clear and unequivocal message to all ambassadors of Israel all over the world and instructed them to convey that precise message to their host governments: "We will continue to build wherever we want. The decision to expand construction beyond the Green Line will not be changed. Israel has built and will continue to build in Jerusalem, and in all places which are included in our map of strategic interests. Israel will insist upon its vital interests, even in the face of international pressure. The responsibility for the stalemate in the peace process rests with the Palestinians, and with them only." This text, too, the Ambassadors could read on the Israeli news websites before getting it by the formal diplomatic channels.

Did all Israeli ambassadors indeed convey this precise message to their English and French and the Danes and Swedes and other interlocutors all over the world? Or were some of them tempted to translate it into a language a bit more subtle and diplomatic? Or even add the tiniest hint of a personal disapproval?

Won't all this hurt Binyamin Netanyahu's electoral prospects next January? Probably not. At least, not as long as the strong reactions from world capitals are purely verbal. This the PM could well contain. He can even boast to his supporters and voters of how he ignores and defies all the pressures and continues (talking of) building. It might even raise his standing in the polls. For the time being, he has no serious reason to worry. International pressure won't cross the boundary of the merely verbal and escalate into measures which may have an impact on the Israeli economy and thereby on the personal economic situation of Netanyahu's voters. At least, not before these elections...

Meanwhile, there was held in Tel Aviv the Human Rights Parade which has already become an annual tradition at the beginning of each December. Thousands of Israelis who feel no dilemma about dissenting and outspokenly opposing the policies dictated by Netanyahu and Lieberman and their fellows. Thousands marched through the streets of Tel Aviv and chanted slogans and beat the drums and waved flags of all colors and signs in Hebrew and Arabic and English and Russian and some French and Amharic and Tigrinya, the languages of Ethiopia and Eritrea which share their own very distinctive script. Young and old, feminists, and slum neighborhood activists, and gays and lesbians, and Negev Bedouins in traditional clothing whose homes are destroyed every two weeks and are immediately built yet again, and black refugees living in the slums of south Tel Aviv under the shadow of the huge detention camps being built in the Negev to house them, and Tel Avivian lower middle class couples with their children and babies and dogs and signs retained from the great social protests of last year.

Three Anarchists, who are going out every week to take part in demonstrations at West Bank villages and breathe tear gas together with Palestinian villagers, performed a remarkable kind of street theater. Their fellow activists bound their hands behind their backs with tight and painful plastic handcuffs, and blindfolded them with rolls of military flannel originally designed for cleaning guns, a realistic and completely accurate simulation of Palestinian detainees. The detainees who are every night taken out of their beds by the soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces and handcuffed and blindfolded and taken in for questioning under moderate physical pressure at the facilities of the General Security Service of Israel. Sometimes five per night and sometimes fifteen. Two weeks ago, precisely on the night after the ceasefire came into force in Gaza, there were fifty-five detainees on one night in a special operation under the supervision of the Commanding General Center in person.

In these detentions the media is not present, and if someone takes photos of the bound and blindfolded detainees it is a military photographer and the photos enter the military files and get a high security classification. The three handcuffed and blindfolded activists were spread for an hour in plain sight, on the tarmac of Ibn Gabirol Street at the very heart of Tel Aviv. Thousands of demonstrators marching past them looked with shock at this presentation, and the press photographers converged and took dozens of photos of the three lying handcuffed on the road. Also the police forensic team arrived and took photos, for the classified files at police headquarters...

Nathan Blanc of Haifa had not taken part in this demonstration. Nathan Blanc is already for several weeks in the military prison. Since the day set by the Israel Defense Forces for his call-up came by, when he arrived at the recruitment base and announced to the recruiting officers his refusal to join an army whose main business is occupation and oppression. He was immediately sent off to the military prison, and after a week and a half taken from the prison back to the recruitment base and again given the order to join the army and again refused and again sent to prison. From the experience of earlier refusers, he can expect to run that gauntlet many more times, over and over again ordered and refusing and imprisoned, many short terms of detention which could altogether accumulate to quite a long time behind bars. But this is a typical example of a stubborn and recalcitrant person, who faces no dilemma in saying no.
(c) 2012 Adam Keller is an Israeli peace activist who was among the founders of Gush Shalom.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Bill Day ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

North Korea Launches Fragrance
By Andy Borowitz

PYONGYANG (The Borowitz Report)-North Korean leader Kim Jong-un surprised Korea-watchers today by abruptly cancelling his nation's controversial rocket test and launching a fragrance instead. The dictator's signature fragrance, called "Number Un," could be on store shelves in time for Christmas, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

The decision to launch a fragrance rather than a rocket "shows a kind of realism that has been rare in the Kim family," said North Korea expert Dr. Hiroshi Kyosuke, of the University of Tokyo.

"I think Kim Jong-un most likely said to himself, 'Given how badly my last rocket did, maybe I'll just launch a fragrance,'" he said.

The official North Korean announcement offered this description of the new fragrance: "Number Un deliriously combines the sweet smells of North Korea's native unicorns with the irresistible aroma of our Dear Leader himself. This holiday season, every kiss begins with Kim Jong-un."
(c) 2012 Andy Borowitz

The Gross National Debt

Iraq Deaths Estimator

The Animal Rescue Site

View my page on

Issues & Alibis Vol 12 # 50 (c) 12/14/2012

Issues & Alibis is published in America every Friday. We are not affiliated with, nor do we accept funds from any political party. We are a non-profit group that is dedicated to the restoration of the American Republic. All views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily the views of Issues & Alibis.Org.

In regards to copying anything from this site remember that everything here is copyrighted. Issues & Alibis has been given permission to publish everything on this site. When this isn't possible we rely on the "Fair Use" copyright law provisions. If you copy anything from this site to reprint make sure that you do too. We ask that you get our permission to reprint anything from this site and that you provide a link back to us. Here is the "Fair Use" provision.

"Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors."