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In This Edition

Chris Floyd returns with, "The Grand Delusion."

Uri Avnery exposes, "The Fearmongers."

Matt Taibbi warns of, "Indefinite Detention Of American Citizens: Coming Soon to Battlefield U.S.A."

Amy Goodman explains, "Climate Apartheid."

Jim Hightower explores, "The Deep Shallowness of Prof. Gingrich."

Helen Thomas sings, "Is That All There Is?"

James Donahue recalls, "The Golden Age When Women Ruled."

David Sirota shows, "What Real Education Reform Looks Like."

David Swanson says, "Try Not To Think Of A Newt."

Sheila Samples examines, "A Hopeless Legion Of Loons."

Paul Krugman considers, "Depression And Democracy."

Phil Rockstroh quotes Mark Twain, "By Imbeciles Who Really Mean It."

William Rivers Pitt tells, "Short Tales From Bizarro World: The GOP Primaries Edition."

Florida hate monger David Caton wins the coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

John Nichols wonders, " Can Paul Ryan-and His Agenda-Be Beat? It's Possible."

Terry Jones asks, "War Drums Are Beating For Iran. But Who's Playing Them?"

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst plays, "Whack-A-Pol" but first Uncle Ernie foresees, "Desolation Row."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Randall Enos, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Tom Tomorrow, Micah Wright, Paul Jamiol, Jeff Stahler, Evil GOP Bastards.Com, Dorthea Lange, Getty Images, TriStar Pictures, Time Magazine, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

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Desolation Row
By Ernest Stewart

And the riot squad they're restless
They need somewhere to go
As Lady and I look out tonight
From Desolation Row.
Desolation Row ~~~ Bob Dylan

"President Obama should not forget that the Iranian airspace was clearly violated by the U.S. drone and therefore the U.S. should first apologize for that. We ask Mr. Obama how he and the U.S. would have reacted if U.S. airspace had been violated by a spy drone." ~~~ Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast

"SIXTY FIVE (65) companies that Florida Family Association targeted with emails did NOT advertise again during the only two episodes of All-American Muslim that aired this past week. The following companies did not advertise again during the December 4th and December 5th, 2011 episodes of All-American Muslim: 3M (Command, Scotchbrand tape), Airborne Vitamin, Amway, Anheuser Busch Inbev (Select55), Art Instruction Schools, Bamboozles, Bank of America (Cash Rewards), Bare Escentuals, Brother International (Ptouch), Campbell's Soup, Capital One, Church & Dwight (Oxi Clean, Arm & Hammer), City Furniture, Conagra (Hunt's Diced Tomatoes), Corinthian Colleges (Everst411), Cotton, Inc., Cumberland Packing (Sweet'N Low), Dell computers, Diamond Foods (Kettlebrand Chips), Estee Lauder (Clinique), ET Browe (Palmer's Cocoa butter), Gap, General Motors (Chevy Runs Deep), Good Year, Green Mountain Coffee, Guthy Renker (Proactiv), Hershey kisses, Home Depot, Honda North America, HTC Phones, Ikea, JC Penney, JP Morgan Chase (Chase Sapphire),, Kellogg (Special K), Koa Brands (John Frieda), Leapfrog Enterprise (Leapster Explorer), Mars (Dove Chocolate), McDonald's, Nationwide Insurance, News Corp (We bought a zoo movie), Nintendo (, Novartis (Theraflu), Old Navy, Pernod Ricard (Kahlua), Petsmart, Pier One, Pfizer (Centrum vitamins), Procter & Gamble (Align Probiotic, Crest, Febreze, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, Pur, Tide), Progressive Insurance, Prudential Financial, Radio Shack, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, SC Johnson (Drano, Glade, Scrubbing Bubbles), Sears , Signet (Kay Jewelers), Sonic Drive-ins, Subaru, THQ (uDraw), T-Mobil, Toyota (Camry), Volkswagen, Vtech (Mobi Go, V Reader), Wal-Mart and Whirlpool (Maytag)." ~~~ David Canton Executive Director Florida Family Association

"I'm convinced that you never have to give up liberties to be safe. I think you're less safe when you give up your liberties."
~~~ Ron Paul ~~~

The trouble with publishing a magazine on Friday is that Friday is most often the day our political masters like to sneak various acts of treason under the radar, and a lot of really bad bills get signed into law on Fridays!

The House and Senate are currently ironing out a few details in the current National Defense Authorization Act before sending it off for Barry's signature, which will likely be signed on (you guessed it!) Friday. Those treasonous parts of the bill will no doubt remain intact. The military will be charged with apprehending terrorists and whisking them away to a "Happy Camp" for disposal.

The trouble is that this isn't the real intent behind this new ability given to the government and military, in spite of those damn pieces of paper, viz., The Constitution and The Bill of Rights. What none of the Sin-ators or Con-gress people or talking media heads are mentioning is the real reason for these new illegal powers, has little to do with terrorism and everything to do with the coming economic collapse!

What the rest of the world knows, including our adversaries like Russia and China, is that they really don't have to attack us and risk retaliation, but just wait until our money becomes worthless, like the current crisis of the Euro, or what happened to the German Mark during the 1920's. You may recall that in the latter case people who did have a job got paid twice a day because the cost of anything rose rapidly to the point that if you waited to get your money on Friday, or even after work, your money would be worthless, and people were running around pushing wheel barrows full of money just to buy a loaf of bread, if you were lucky; if not, you could throw your money into the fire place to heat your home!

So, when this comes to America in the next year, month, or week or so, the politicians and their 1% masters are going to need a way to keep all of America from killing the worthless lot of them. Unlike the 1930's depression, when a lot of folks were used to being dirt poor and starving was a common occurrence, today's families aren't, and will certainly revolt! Ergo, our corpo-rat masters have made plans to send us off behind the barbed wire to be worked to death in labor camps. Fortunately, we're so used to eating poisonous foods full of wood fiber and such that most will be able to digest those loafs of sawdust bread like the Germans used to feed the Jews!

The folks in the cities will pretty much take care of themselves once the food is gone from the shelves and various gangs go house to house stealing and murdering what's left in a nightmare world of Mad Max, while the real Mad Max and his 1% pals sit comfortably behind gated, guarded walls as all hell breaks out around them. The military is currently recruiting our children to specialize in internment camp guards once the military rounds you and your family up for shipment to a processing center, and then into that right column or the left column. Those in the military who won't do the 1%'s bidding whether in the Army or the National Guard are right now being carefully weeded out to join us in the camps!

I know, to most Americans, all of this must sound like crazy talk, but just you wait and see!

In Other News

Sometimes you really have to wonder about Obamahood? I mean, how dumb must you be to ask Iran for our spy plane back. As you may have heard Iran took control of one of our super secret RQ-170 spy drones the other day and landed it safely and then showed it off to the world. "The U.S. spy drone is in the Islamic Republic of Iran's possession, and our country will decide what to do in this regard," said Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi.

We, of course, denied they did it, saying it malfunctioned and crashed. Not likely, as falling from 50,000 ft, it's cruising altitude, will generally leave a mark, causing a dent on the aircraft, and as Iran showed the world, there isn't a scratch on it. They jammed it's control with electronic counter measures and took over its flight inside Iran some 140 miles from the Afghan border and landed it at one of their air bases.

Instead of apologizing for intruding over their air space and promising never to spy again, much less murdering their scientist and trying to starve them into submission, we just demanded they return our property, so we could use it again to spy on them. Needless to say, the Iranians laughed in our faces, and began to reverse engineer the plane. Of course, Washington stuck to its story, no matter how obvious it was that we were lying, and added they didn't have the knowledge or know-how to reverse engineer it. Perhaps, perhaps not, but the Iranians friends, the Chinese and the Russians, certainly have that knowledge, and I'm sure would be happy to make a trade with the Iranians for it. Perhaps a fleet of those drones or perhaps a few atomic bombs might be traded, if they haven't given them some already?

The chicken-hawks in Con-gress won't be happy until they can start WWIII, which is a lot closer to happening then even they realize. Perhaps then the American public will have a change of heart when others start doing to us what we've been doing to the world, and bomb us back to the Stone Age, perhaps not? We've never learned, it seems, that what goes around, will come around, and when you live by the sword, you WILL die by the sword!

And Finally

You have no doubt heard about Lowe's Home Improvement pulling their ads from TLC's "All-American Muslim" TV show? The retail giant has found itself facing a growing backlash after they pulled ads from the reality show.

Lowes stopped advertising on TLC's "All-American Muslim" after a fascist hate group known as the Florida Family Association complained, saying the program was "propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda's clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values." Traditional values like hate-mongering, bigotry, and racism. So, I guess they have a point?

The show premiered last month and chronicles the lives of five families from Dearborn, Michigan -- my home town.

A state senator from Southern California said Sunday he was considering calling for a boycott. I'm not considering it; I'm calling for a boycott, like many others are.

Calling the Lowe's decision "un-American" and "naked religious bigotry," Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, said he would also consider legislative action if Lowe's doesn't apologize to Muslims and reinstate its ads. The senator sent a letter outlining his complaints to Lowe's Chief Executive Officer Robert A. Niblock. I sent one, too, see below...

"The show is about what it's like to be a Muslim in America, and it touches on the discrimination they sometimes face. And that kind of discrimination is exactly what's happening here with Lowe's," Lieu said.

The Florida group sent three emails to its members, asking them to petition Lowe's to pull its advertising. Its website was updated to say that "supporters' emails to advertisers make a difference."

The North Carolina-based Lowe's issued a statement apologizing for having "managed to make some people very unhappy," but not for subscribing to hate-mongering and bigotry!

"Individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic, and this program became a lightning rod for many of those views," the statement said. "As a result, we did pull our advertising on this program. We believe it is best to respectfully defer to communities, individuals and groups to discuss and consider such issues of importance."
So, naturally, I wrote their CEO Robert A. Niblock a letter:

Hey, Robert,

Boy, did you f*ck up, huh? So, bending over to please some tiny group of fascist, hate mongering assholes may cost your company everything. Smooth move. Still, it's good to see you come out of the closet and put on your white robes and show yourself and your company for being the 1% traitors to the American way that you are. I hope your bigotry will be worth the billions in lost revenue that your un-American actions will bring. Sure, you certainly have the right to pull your ads from that TV show, just as I have the right not to ever shop at Lowe's again and the additional right to ask my many readers to do the same! While I think your bigotry is incredibly stupid, I must admit I do admire your shiny new Jack Boots and your armband, Robert, is to die for, quite literally. Oh, and thanks for writing part of Friday's editorial!

But being the fair man that I am, by all means, let's hear your side of it and any defense of your actions that you might have!


Ernest Stewart
Managing editor
Issues & Alibis Magazine

As always, if I get a reply I'll share it with you. You might want to give Robert a piece of your mind at: Also you might want to write David Caton who started all this at: Florida Family Association? I'm sure he'd love to hear from you! In addition, you might want to write and boycott the 65 companies that David says pulled their ads because of his hatemongering! See the list in the quotes section.

Keepin' On

I see where the GOP's flavor of the month is starting to fall apart in Iowa. The man with a whole train load of baggage's lead is starting to crack, and the polls are beginning to pick up on Newt's final slide to oblivion.

Newt, who before the last debate was in the lead over "anyone but Willard," polling about 33%, and who was polling 37% after the debate, has now fallen to slightly below 25%, just a few digits above America's favorite Moron, er, Mormon. This is going to really bum out Obamahood handlers, who were hoping against hope that somehow Newt would win the nomination, as I would have a much better chance of beating Barry than the Newtster would, and I'd have no chance at all!

Although rumor has it the Obamahood team has been placing all their eggs into one Mormon basket, and preparing for a face-off against against Willard, there may well be a dark horse on the horizon that could easily take Iowa and perhaps the White House next November. I refer, of course, to that half-crazy doctor from way down yonder in Taxus, Ron Paul.

The key to this is, as compared to the other current candidates, Ron is only half-crazy while the rest are certifiable looney toons! Half of Ron's agenda actually makes sense, and could attract a lot of Demoncratic voters like old Ray-Guns did in 1980. In a choice of Obamahood and any other Rethuglican, it's perhaps better the devil that we know, to the ones that we don't. However, Ron has a huge youth following from both sides of the aisle, and ideas like ending all of our many wars, legalizing pot, and ending the Feds control of the purse strings, and when compared to Barry's stand, looks very attractive.

Ron, who placed a very close second in the Iowa straw poll, could win the Iowa caucuses, walking away and building from there. As America's beloved poet/philosopher Yogi once said, "It ain't over, till it's over!" So stay tuned, America; the strangest things, are no doubt, yet to come!


07-27-1949 ~ 12-11-2011
Thanks for the films!

05-05-1933 ~ 12-12-2011
Thanks for the films!

12-12-1913 ~ 12-14-2011
Thanks for the books!


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


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

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

The Grand Delusion
Resisting the Siren Song of Specialness
By Chris Floyd

The U.S. presidential campaign is now in full swing. (In truth, it never actually ends; the savage grasping and grappling among damaged souls seeking their brief season of domination and death-dealing goes on daily without respite.) In the months to come, we will be subjected to an ever-growing, ever-roaring flood of rhetoric about the unique, unquestionable, divinely ordained goodness of America. (And how the "other side" would destroy or demean this precious moral specialness.)

This rhetoric will come both from the radical, society-shaking extremists laughingly called "conservatives" in our fun-house political system, and from the reactionary defenders of elite wealth and murderous militarism laughingly known as "progressives." (And, of course, from the well-fed, milky mannered, comfortably numb burghers known as "centrists.")

All Americans are marinated in this mindset from birth, and it is reinforced in them, every day, by the most powerful and pervasive media machinery in history, by enormous societal pressure, and by the dead heavy weight of tradition. Even the most hardened cynics might feel the stirrings of atavistic response to these siren songs woven into the fabric of the American psyche.

In such cases, I recommend a reading of the following two articles. They will help remind you of the reality being cloaked by the psyche-stirring, button-pushing bullshit of the grasping wretches seeking power.

First, a remarkable piece in the London Review of Books, detailing the personal testimony of a child -- a child -- sold into years of captivity and torture at the hands of the proud, always-to-be-honored defenders of American values. It's the story of Mohammed el Gorani, a Saudi-born teenager from Chad, whose black skin made him a special target for his captors in the gulag hellholes of Kandahar and Guantanamo.

Blocked from acquiring professional training or higher education by the virulent prejudice in America's stalwart ally, at age 14 el Gorani to Pakistan to learn computer skills and English. Two months into his course, he was grabbed by Pakistani security goons and bundled off to their American masters, eager for warm bodies to fill the new gulag:

They took me to a prison, and they started questioning me about al-Qaida and the Talibans. I had never heard those words. 'What are you talking about?' I said. 'Listen, Americans are going to interrogate you. Just say you're from al-Qaida, you went with al-Qaida in Afghanistan, and they'll send you home with some money.' ... One Pakistani officer was a good guy. He said: 'The Pakistani government just want to sell you to the Americans.' ... The Pakistanis took away our chains and gave us handcuffs 'made in the USA'. I told the other detainees: 'Look, we're going to the US!' I thought the Americans would understand that the Pakistanis had cheated them, and send me back to Saudi.

... When they took off our masks, we were at an airport, with big helicopters. Americans shouted: 'You're under arrest, UNDER CUSTODY OF THE US ARMY! DON'T TALK, DON'T MOVE OR WE'LL SHOOT YOU!' An interpreter was translating into Arabic. Then they started beating us - I couldn't see with what but something hard. People were bleeding and crying. We had almost passed out when they put us in a helicopter.

We landed at another airstrip. It was night. Americans shouted: 'Terrorists, criminals, we're going to kill you!' Two soldiers took me by my arms and started running. My legs were dragging on the ground. They were laughing, telling me: 'Fucking nigger!' I didn't know what that meant, I learned it later. ... There was an Egyptian (I recognised his Arabic) wearing a US uniform. He started by asking me: 'When was the last time you saw Osama bin Laden?' 'Who?' He took me by my shirt collar and they beat me again. ...

One day they started moving prisoners again. 'You guys are going to a place where there is no sun, no moon, no freedom, and you're going to live there for ever,' the guards told us, and laughed. ... In the beginning there were interrogations every night. They tortured me with electricity, mostly on the toes. The nails of my big toes fell off. Sometimes they hung you up like a chicken and hit your back. Sometimes they chained you, with your head on the ground. You couldn't move for 16 or 17 hours. You peed on yourself.'

... Sometimes they showed you the ugly face: torturing, torturing without asking questions. Sometimes I said, 'Yes, whatever you ask, I'll say yes,' because I just wanted torture to stop. But the next day, I said: 'No, I said yes yesterday because of torture.' My first or second interrogator said to me: 'Mohammed, I know you're innocent but I'm doing my job. I have children to feed. I don't want to lose my job.'

'This is no job,' I said, 'this is criminal. Sooner or later you're going to pay for this. Even in afterlife.'

'I'm a machine - I ask you the questions they told me to ask, I bring them your answers. Whatever they are, I don't care.'

Mohammed el Gorani spent almost eight years in Guantanamo. His captors knew very early on that he was an innocent child, not a terrorist. The one piece of "evidence" they showed him was a paper "proving" he had been involved with al Qaeda in London -- in 1993, when he had been a six-year-old boy cleaning car windshields in Saudi Arabia. But what did that matter? His captors were "machines": they were just following orders, just doing their jobs -- just like every factotum of every brutal system in history.

Oh, but those are the bad old days, some might say. (Despite the fact that the Guantanamo gulag is still operating, alongside other similar facilities -- known and unknown -- around the world.) Today, we're told, we are lucky to be ruled by a kinder, wiser, more humane leader. Sure, he's not perfect -- who is? And OK, maybe, in the end, he's the lesser of two evils. But certainly any serious, savvy person knows there is a profound, qualitative difference between Barack Obama and his predecessor -- and those who would supplant him. Right?

For those whose partisan atavism -- or nostalgia -- might be stirred by such arguments, I urge you to read this piercing and powerful essay by Arthur Silber. It is one of the best summations of the moral horror that permeates our political system -- and the wretched grasper now in charge of it -- that I've ever seen. Here are a few excerpts, but don't cheat yourself: go read the entire piece:

The killer said:
"Ask Osama bin Laden and the 22 out of 30 top al-Qaeda leaders who've been taken off the field whether I engage in appeasement," the president fired back at an impromptu news conference at the White House.

"Or whoever's left out there," he added. "Ask them about that."

Watch the video at the link provided above. It's instructive, particularly Obama's expression when he adds, "Or whoever's left out there." He speaks of murder, yet the words are breezy and casual: this is a murderer so used to killing that he talks of his past and future victims interchangeably, and in terms of approximation. Just "whoever's left out there." He wants to be sure you know he'll order all of them killed in time. His face is expressionless, the eyes dead. This is a man without a soul in any healthy, positive sense. He murders -- and he's proud of it.

More than a million innocent Iraqis were murdered as the result of the United States' criminal war of aggression on that country. Obama has heralded America's "success" in Iraq as "an extraordinary achievement."

The continuing murders in Pakistan and Afghanistan are so numerous and so regular that they barely merit notice for more than a few days, at least as far as the United States government and most Americans are concerned. Over the recent Thanksgiving weekend, the United States government murdered at least 25 Pakistanis .... On the same weekend: "Six children were among seven civilians killed in a NATO airstrike in southern Afghanistan, Afghan officials said Thursday." The story has already fallen into the well of forgetfulness. It must be the case that incidents like this occur at least once a day given the number of military operations ordered by the Murderer-in-Chief and carried out by those who follow his orders. ...

These are only a few of the stories we know about, and only from a very brief period of time. Countless other murders take place all over the world, and we can only gather the dim outlines of what is occurring. This is not to mention numerous lesser acts of cruelty and violence, many of which will alter lives in searing ways, for all the desolate years to follow.

Consider [this passage from Nick Turse]:

... Last year, Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post reported that U.S. Special Operations forces were deployed in 75 countries, up from 60 at the end of the Bush presidency. By the end of this year, U.S. Special Operations Command [SOCOM] spokesman Colonel Tim Nye told me, that number will likely reach 120. "We do a lot of traveling -- a lot more than Afghanistan or Iraq," he said recently. This global presence -- in about 60% of the world's nations and far larger than previously acknowledged -- provides striking new evidence of a rising clandestine Pentagon power elite waging a secret war in all corners of the world.

...In 120 countries across the globe, troops from Special Operations Command carry out their secret war of high-profile assassinations, low-level targeted killings, capture/kidnap operations, kick-down-the-door night raids, joint operations with foreign forces, and training missions with indigenous partners as part of a shadowy conflict unknown to most Americans. Once "special" for being small, lean, outsider outfits, today they are special for their power, access, influence, and aura.

No minimally decent human being would choose to have anything whatsoever to do with a government which systematically engages in acts of this kind. This is true of anyone who is part of the national governing apparatus, or wishes to be. It is most especially true of anyone who wishes to become president.

... [A] reverence for life demands that we see the Death State exactly for what it is -- and walk away to the fullest extent we can. That is not the course Barack Obama chose. He wanted to be, he now is the Murderer-in-Chief. He is proud of his achievement.

Silber concludes with a look back to a post he wrote five years ago -- a piece even more true today, and one which shows the horrific continuity between the "bad old days" and our enlightened, peace-laureled progressive era:

If you have ever wondered how a serial murderer -- a murderer who is sane and fully aware of the acts he has committed -- can remain steadfastly convinced of his own moral superiority and show not even the slightest glimmer of remorse, you should not wonder any longer.

The United States government is such a murderer. It conducts its murders in full view of the entire world. It even boasts of them. Our government, and all our leading commentators, still maintain that the end justifies the means -- and that even the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocents is of no moral consequence, provided a sufficient number of people can delude themselves into believing the final result is a "success."

...We can appeal all we want to "American exceptionalism," but any "exceptionalism" that remains ours is that of a mass murderer without a soul, and without a conscience. ... It is useless to appeal to any "American" sense of morality: we have none. It does not matter how immense the pile of corpses grows: we will not surrender or even question our delusion that we are right, and that nothing we do can be profoundly, unforgivably wrong.

(c) 2011 Chris Floyd

The Fearmongers
By Uri Avnery

ON THE anniversary of David Ben-Gurion's death, the usual memorial meeting was held at his graveside in Sdeh Boker, the Negev desert village where he lived in his retirement. There is no cemetery, just his grave and that of his wife Paula.

The newspapers published a picture of Binyamin Netanyahu making a speech under a big photo of the late leader gazing thoughtfully into the distance.

One little detail in the picture caught my eye: Netanyahu was wearing a kippah.

Why? Ben-Gurion was a convinced atheist. He refused to wear a kippah even at funerals. (Though a complete atheist myself, I do sometimes wear a kippah at funerals, out of consideration for the feelings of others.)

The place was not a synagogue, nor even a cemetery. So why for God's sake (sorry) did the man put this black kippah on his head?

For me that is a sign of what I call the re-Judaization of Israel.

ZIONISM WAS, among other things, a revolt against the Orthodox Jewish religion, that was associated with the Diaspora which Zionists contemptuously call Galut ("exile"). All the founding fathers of Zionism - Theodor Herzl, Max Nordau, Chaim Weizmann, Ze'ev Jabotinsky and the rest - were convinced atheists.

So why did Ben-Gurion give the religious parties two autonomous education systems, financed by the state?

Why did he release pupils of religious seminars ("yeshivot") from military service?

People of my age can remember the situation. Ben-Gurion, like all of us, believed that the Jewish religion was about to die out. Some old people, who spoke Yiddish, were still praying in the synagogues, but with time they would disappear. We, the young new Israelis, were secular, modern, free from these old superstitions.

Not in his darkest nightmares (or daymares) could Ben-Gurion have imagined a time when religious pupils, some of whom are not taught in their schools even the most basic modern skills, would amount to nearly half the Israeli Jewish school population. Or that the number of religious shirkers now deprives the army of several divisions.

Step by step, the religious community is taking over the state. The religious settlers, the religious anti-Arab pogromists, their allies and ultra-right collaborators are gaining new footholds by the day. Just now the army has announced that 40% of candidates for junior officers' courses are wearing kippahs. In 1948, when our army came into being, I did not see a single kippah-wearing soldier, not to mention an officer.)

But the danger of re-Judaization goes far beyond the political sphere.

LET ME take a metaphor from nature.

The premier necessity in nature is survival. There are many different strategies for survival, and nature embraces all of them - as long as they are successful.

The gazelle survives by running away. When in danger, it escapes. It is very successful in this. Fact: the gazelles have survived.

The lion survives by fighting. When in danger, it attacks. It relies on its teeth and claws. It is very successful in this. Fact: the lions have survived.

Jews have survived by fleeing. They were immensely successful in this. After thousands of years of the most atrocious persecutions, pogroms and holocausts, they are still there. Their dispersal over the world furthers this technique. At the slightest danger, they can escape from one country to another.

Jews have not built Taj Mahals or majestic cathedrals. Their treasures are holy texts, literature and music - things you can store in your head and take with you when you are on the run.

Like some animals in nature, Jews sense the slightest danger from far away. It's like a red light in their head - it goes on when nobody else yet perceives the menace. (Indeed, I would not be alive today if my father had not perceived the danger of the Nazi regime from the first day and organized our escape, while almost everybody around was scoffing at him.)

Zionism wanted to turn the gazelle into a lion. It said: no more running away. When in danger, we stand and we fight.

No more the cowardly Jew of the anti-Semitic caricature. From now on, the heroic Israeli, upright and proud.

And, as seems to be human nature, we overcompensate for the past. We have become aggressive, militaristic, even brutal. The oppressed have become oppressors. Jews used to say: "If force does not work, try using your brain." Israelis say "if force does not work, try using more force." (I confess that I coined this phrase many years ago as a joke. Alas, a joke no more.)

HOWEVER, LATELY it seems to me that the old Jew has not disappeared. He has only been hiding. Hiding inside the Israeli. He and his little red light are right there.

How did I find out? Just by listening to Binyamin Netanyahu, with or without his kippah.

Netanyahu has invented (or adopted) a peculiar style of ruling: governing by playing on people's fears.

Since coming back to power, he has been treating us to an endless series of fears. Fearmongering is the order of the day - every day.

At the beginning there was Barack Hussein Obama, who threatened to punish us for not giving up our sacred right to build settlements all over the country God himself promised us. Unfortunately, Obama capitulated right away, so another menace was needed.

No problem. Mahmoud Abbas, yesterday's "plucked chicken", turned into a roaring tiger and applied to the United Nations to accept the State of Palestine as a member. As everybody knows, that was a mortal threat to Israel. It was only averted by Obama's (yes, the same Hussein Obama) promise to use his veto on behalf of Israel. But the Palestinians have nevertheless been accepted by UNESCO, so the terrible danger has not been banished.

Than came the Arab Spring. As Netanyahu realized from the first moment, even before our great and glorious friend Mubarak was sent to the glass cage, that presented a mortal threat. Now it has been eerily confirmed: Islam, deadly Islam, is taking over Egypt.

Islam, as Netanyahu tells us at every opportunity, is a murderous anti-Jewish creed. There are no moderate Islamists - they are all out to throw us into the sea. Even in our former ally Turkey.

And they are winning not only in Egypt. These terrible Islamists have already won in Morocco and Tunisia, and are going to win in Libya, Jordan, Yemen, Syria. Our "villa" will be surrounded not just by a jungle, but by a jungle full of deadly Islamist predators. How absolutely terrifying.

Then another frightful danger was exposed just in time: human rights associations are threatening the very existence of Israel. They are part of a world-wide anti-Semitic conspiracy. Fact: they are financed by foreign governments. A new law had to enacted against them in a hurry. Fortunately, such laws were recently enacted in some former Soviet countries. So our Moldavian foreign Minister (or, rather, our foreign minister from Moldavia), Avigdor Lieberman, obtained the text from his great friend, Alexander Lukashenko, that model democrat from Belarus, and the other renowned democrat, Vladimir Putin.

All these mortal dangers were enough to wipe out the sudden surge of social protest, but they were nothing compared to that awful, overwhelming danger: the Iranian Bomb.

The Iranian Nuclear Bomb means a Second Holocaust, no less. Only the strong leadership of Binyamin Netanyahu can save us in the nick of time.

Faced with such petrifying danger, nobody asks the relevant question: why would any Iranian leader attack a country that has plenty of nuclear bombs of its own and the ability to devastate all of Iran in a "second strike"? The German government is providing us with the sixth of the submarines we have just for this purpose.

Yes, the Iranian leaders may be religious fanatics. But we have plenty of those, too, and some are members of our government coalition. At the moment the country is in an uproar because the rabbis demand that religious soldiers may leave any military ceremony where female soldiers are allowed to sing. "A woman's voice is her sexual part," a holy text asserts. And a prominent rabbi has just announced that a religious soldier should rather face a firing squad than listen to a woman singing. (I am not making this up.)

But Iran is dominating our public discourse. All the red lights are blinking like mad. The Jew inside us is mortally afraid. The gazelle says: Run. The lion says: Attack.

THE BIBLE tells us: "Happy is the man that feareth alway!" (Proverbs 28:14). But constant fear is a bad adviser when conducting your affairs, the more so when directing the policies of a state. But it may be good politics when you want to keep your own people in check while chipping away at democracy, equality and human rights.

So let's release the ghetto Jew inside us and send him on his way. Let's overcome our fear of fear itself. And, while we are at it, let's kick the fearmongers out.
(c) 2011 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Indefinite Detention Of American Citizens: Coming Soon to Battlefield U.S.A.
By Matt Taibbi

There's some disturbing rhetoric flying around in the debate over the National Defense Authorization Act, which among other things contains passages that a) officially codify the already-accepted practice of indefinite detention of "terrorist" suspects, and b) transfer the responsibility for such detentions exclusively to the military.

The fact that there's been only some muted public uproar about this provision (which, disturbingly enough, is the creature of Wall Street anti-corruption good guy Carl Levin, along with John McCain) is mildly surprising, given what's been going on with the Occupy movement. Protesters in fact should be keenly interested in the potential applications of this provision, which essentially gives the executive branch unlimited powers to indefinitely detain terror suspects without trial.

The really galling thing is that this act specifically envisions American citizens falling under the authority of the bill. One of its supporters, the dependably-unlikeable Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, bragged that the law "basically says … for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield" and that people can be jailed without trial, be they "American citizen or not." New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte reiterated that "America is part of the battlefield."

Officially speaking, of course, the bill only pertains to:

"... a person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners."
As Glenn Greenwald notes, the key passages here are "substantially supported" and "associated forces." The Obama administration and various courts have already expanded their definition of terrorism to include groups with no connection to 9/11 (i.e. certain belligerents in Yemen and Somalia) and to individuals who are not members of the target terror groups, but merely provided "substantial support."

The definitions, then, are, for the authorities, conveniently fungible. They may use indefinite detention against anyone who "substantially supports" terror against the United States, and it looks an awful lot like they have leeway in defining not only what constitutes "substantial" and "support," but even what "terror" is. Is a terrorist under this law necessarily a member of al-Qaeda or the Taliban? Or is it merely someone who is "engaged in hostilities against the United States"?

Here's where I think we're in very dangerous territory. We have two very different but similarly large protest movements going on right now in the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement. What if one of them is linked to a violent act? What if a bomb goes off in a police station in Oakland, or an IRS office in Texas? What if the FBI then linked those acts to Occupy or the Tea Party?

You can see where this is going. When protesters on the left first started flipping out about George Bush's indefinite detention and rendition policies, most people thought the idea that these practices might someday be used against ordinary Americans was merely an academic concern, something theoretical.

But it's real now. If these laws are passed, we would be forced to rely upon the discretion of a demonstrably corrupt and consistently idiotic government to not use these awful powers to strike back at legitimate domestic unrest.

Right now, the Senate is openly taking aim at the rights of American citizens under the guise of an argument that anyone who supports al-Qaeda has no rights. But if you pay close attention, you'll notice the law's supporters here and there conveniently leaving out those caveats about "anyone who supports al-Qaeda." For instance, here's Lindsey Graham again:

"If you're an American citizen and you betray your country, you're not going to be given a lawyer ... I believe our military should be deeply involved in fighting these guys at home or abroad."
As Greenwald points out, this idea - that an American who commits treason can be detained without due process - is in direct defiance of Article III, Section III of the Constitution, which reads:

"No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court."
This effort to eat away at the rights of the accused was originally gradual, but to me it looks like that process is accelerating. It began in the Bush years with a nebulous description of terrorist sedition that may or may not have included links to Sunni extremist groups in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But words like "associated" and "substantial" and "betray" have crept into the discussion, and now it feels like the definition of a terrorist is anyone who crosses some sort of steadily-advancing invisible line in their opposition to the current government.

This confusion about the definition of terrorism comes at a time when the economy is terrible, the domestic government is more unpopular than ever, and there is quite a lot of radical and even revolutionary political agitation going on right here at home. There are people out there - I've met some of them, in both the Occupy and Tea Party movements - who think that the entire American political system needs to be overthrown, or at least reconfigured, in order for progress to be made.

It sounds paranoid and nuts to think that those people might be arrested and whisked away to indefinite, lawyerless detention by the military, but remember: This isn't about what's logical, it's about what's going on in the brains of people like Lindsey Graham and John McCain.

At what point do those luminaries start equating al-Qaeda supporters with, say, radical anti-capitalists in the Occupy movement? What exactly is the difference between such groups in the minds (excuse me, in what passes for the minds) of the people who run this country?

That difference seems to be getting smaller and smaller all the time, and such niceties as American citizenship and the legal tradition of due process seem to be less and less meaningful to the people who run things in America.

What does seem real to them is this “battlefield earth” vision of the world, in which they are behind one set of lines and an increasingly enormous group of other people is on the other side.

Here's another way to ask the question: On which side of the societal fence do you think the McCains and Grahams would put, say, an unemployed American plumber who refused an eviction order from Bank of America and holed up with his family in his Florida house, refusing to move? Would Graham/McCain consider that person to have the same rights as Lloyd Blankfein, or is that plumber closer, in their eyes, to being like the young Muslim who throws a rock at a U.S. embassy in Yemen?

A few years ago, that would have sounded like a hysterical question. But it just doesn't seem that crazy anymore. We're turning into a kind of sci-fi society in which making it and being a success not only means getting rich, but also means winning the full rights of citizenship. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't see this ending well.
(c) 2011 Matt Taibbi

Climate Apartheid
By Amy Goodman

"You've been negotiating all my life," Anjali Appadurai told the plenary session of the U.N.'s 17th "Conference of Parties," or COP 17, the official title of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa. Appadurai, a student at the ecologically focused College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, addressed the plenary as part of the youth delegation. She continued: "In that time, you've failed to meet pledges, you've missed targets, and you've broken promises. But you've heard this all before."

After she finished her address, she moved to the side of the podium, off microphone, and in a manner familiar to anyone who has attended an Occupy protest, shouted into the vast hall of staid diplomats, "Mic check!" A crowd of young people stood up, and the call-and-response began:

Global Day of Climate Action - March through Durban

Appadurai: "Equity now!"

Crowd: "Equity now!"

Appadurai: "You've run out of excuses!"

Crowd: "You've run out of excuses!"

Appadurai: "We're running out of time!"

Crowd: "We're running out of time!"

Appadurai: "Get it done!"

Crowd: "Get it done!"

That was Friday, at the official closing plenary session of COP 17. The negotiations were extended, virtually nonstop, through Sunday, in hopes of avoiding complete failure. At issue were arguments over words and phrases—for instance, the replacement of "legal agreement" with "an agreed outcome with legal force," which is said to have won over India to the Durban Platform.

The countries in attendance agreed to a schedule that would lead to an agreement by 2015, which would commit all countries to reduce emissions starting no sooner than 2020, eight years into the future.

"Eight years from now is a death sentence on Africa," Nigerian environmentalist Nnimmo Bassey, chairperson of Friends of the Earth International, told me. "For every one-degree Celsius change in temperature, Africa is impacted at a heightened level." He lays out the extent of the immediate threats in his new book about Africa, "To Cook a Continent."

Bassey is one among many concerned with the profound lack of ambition embodied in the Durban Platform, which delays actual, legally binding reductions in emissions until 2020 at the earliest, whereas scientists globally are in overwhelming agreement: The stated goal of limiting average global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) will soon be impossible to achieve. The International Energy Agency, in its annual World Energy Outlook released in November, predicted "cumulative CO2 [carbon dioxide] emissions over the next 25 years amount to three-quarters of the total from the past 110 years, leading to a long-term average temperature rise of 3.5 [degrees] C."

Despite optimistic pronouncements to the contrary, many believe the Kyoto Protocol died in Durban. Pablo Solon, the former Bolivian ambassador to the United Nations and former chief climate negotiator for that poor country, now calls Kyoto a "zombie agreement," staggering forward for another five or seven years, but without force or impact. On the day after the talks concluded, Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent announced that Canada was formally withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol. Expected to follow are Russia and Japan, the very nation where the 1997 meeting was held that gives the Kyoto Protocol its name.

The largest polluter in world history, the United States, never ratified the Kyoto Protocol and remains defiant. Both Bassey and Solon refer to the outcome of Durban as a form of "climate apartheid."

Despite the pledges by President Barack Obama to restore the United States to a position of leadership on the issue of climate change, the trajectory from Copenhagen in 2009, to Cancun in 2010, and, now, to Durban reinforces the statement made by then-President George H.W. Bush prior to the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, the forerunner to the Kyoto Protocol, when he said, "The American way of life is not up for negotiation."

The "American way of life" can be measured in per capita emissions of carbon. In the U.S., on average, about 20 metric tons of CO2 is released into the atmosphere annually, one of the top 10 on the planet. Hence, a popular sticker in Durban read "Stop CO2lonialism."

By comparison, China, the country that is the largest emitter currently, has per capita emissions closer to 5 metric tons, ranking it about 80th. India's population emits a meager 1.5 tons per capita, a fraction of the U.S. level.

So it seems U.S. intransigence, its unwillingness to get off its fossil-fuel addiction, effectively killed Kyoto in Durban, a key city in South Africa's fight against apartheid. That is why Anjali Appadurai's closing words were imbued with a sense of hope brought by this new generation of climate activists:

"[Nelson] Mandela said, 'It always seems impossible, until it's done.' So, distinguished delegates and governments around the world, governments of the developed world, deep cuts now. Get it done."
(c) 2011 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!" a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 750 stations in North America. She is the co-author of "Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes.

The Deep Shallowness of Prof. Gingrich

Just in the nick of time for Christmas, Newt Gingrich has burst onto the national stage in a leading role.

The latest front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination has adopted a theatrical pose for the season - not as the jolly ol' St. Nick bringing joy to children everywhere, but as Scrooge. Only scroogier.

Channeling his inner Ebenezer, the Newt called America's child labor laws "truly stupid," adding with Dickensian glee that he would fire school janitors and have low-income children do that work. Really? The top GOP contender for president of the USA actually advocates turning poor school kids into janitors?

Why, yes, explained the former House speaker, who never tires of telling us that he is not merely very, smart but visionary. "Start with the following two facts," he lectured at an Iowa campaign stop. "Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works. So they literally have no habit of showing up on Monday." Thus, sayeth the visionary, chain 'em to mop and teach the little ragamuffins about life.

Did I mention that this guy is a candidate for president? Of the United States? In 2012, not in 1812?

Newt is a cluster bomb of ignorance. First, three out of four poor adults work, and most poor children are in households with at least one of their parents showing up every Monday for a job. And Gingrich's condescending implication that poverty equals bad morals is not only wrong, but frightening shallow, elitist, clueless... and, well, scroogy. If he wants to see bad morals in action, he shouldn't be looking down on poor people, but pointing up at Wall Streeters and CEOs who're profiting by creating more poor people.

The question for Republicans is: do you really want to nominate Scrooge for president?
(c) 2011 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

Is That All There Is?
By Helen Thomas

When I see the Republican roster of presidential candidates, I keep thinking of Peggy Lee's famous song, "Is That All There Is?" And, I'm not talking about the numbers left, dwindling down. It seems when you reach the top of the GOP polls, you have no where to go except down. Thus, any candidate that high in the polls has been dubbed the "flavor of the month."

Newt Gingrich is now riding high and enjoying it. It's hard to believe, yet not so hard since the Republicans are so divided and can't seem to coalesce behind one candidate.

He is apparently confident. Gingrich has begun a round of major fundraisers - mainly in Manhattan, the haven for political rain makers. He has been featured at several New York events now that he has moved to the top of the GOP presidential nominee list.

Gingrich did not endear himself to the Wall Street Occupiers when he coldly told them to "take a bath" and "get a job." For a man shopping at Tiffany & Co. for his third wife, that remark was a cheap shot, and especially for a presidential candidate.

Gingrich has so much baggage in his personal life. Maybe the moral code is over for the GOP. I remember when divorce was a big deal for Republicans. Former Vice President Nelson Rockefeller's divorce from his first wife, Mary, and second marriage to Happy was considered a political catastrophe.

That harsh judgment evaporated when former President Ronald Reagan, a divorced movie star, remarried Nancy Davis, a movie starlet who knew her way around with the famed Hollywood "Rat Pack." The public accepted a divorced Reagan in his 1980 presidential campaign.

But, back at the ranch, there is a lot going on in the Republican Party, and no lack of ambition for the presidential nomination.

Two candidates have dropped out of the race - Tim Pawlenty, the former two-term governor of Minnesota who saw the light at the end of the tunnel, and Herman Cain. The businessman and former president of the National Restaurant Association had too much to overcome after being swamped with allegations of extramarital affairs.

Credibility used to be a big deal for aspiring politicians, now it's sex or the ways of the flesh.

Still holding ground among the Republican candidates is former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney. He has sadly tried to move even further to the right. Romney's health care plan in Massachusetts was a blueprint for President Barack Obama's national health care plan, but Romney moved away from his own universal medical care law to appease the Tea Partiers.

Surprisingly, the fact that Romney is a Mormon has not been as big of an issue as Kennedy's Catholicism was in 1960.

Romney is a straight arrow. As much as he tries to be a regular guy - or one of the boys - he still has trouble with the likability factor. Still, he seems to have the best chance. Romney is rational and has been a leader in business and sports affairs.

The Republicans have candidates galore, but not any with a winning presidential sales pitch - no new ideas, and no real game plan to dig us out of the recession. Where is the inspiration for a country mired in joblessness, homelessness and poverty?

The Republicans are unchanged and opposed to any tax increases - who do they think will pay for two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 900 military bases around the world, and aid to Pakistan to the tune of millions per day?

Obama, who has no opposition to speak of, has been watching the Republican rivals fight for a shot at his job in the White House. They are giving Obama a lot of ammunition as they duke it out for the presidential nomination.

It's going to be a long year until the political conventions this next summer, when the Republicans finally pick their standard bearer, after many disappointments and lots of money spent. But as I wonder, is that all there is?
(c) 2011 Helen Thomas is a columnist for the Falls Church News-Press. Among other books she is the author of Front Row At The White House: My Life and Times.

The Golden Age When Women Ruled
By James Donahue

The written human history that exists has been proven through archaeology and mere deduction to be so distorted and religiously and politically twisted that we lack a true understanding of our past. This is true about even relatively recent history. And the farther back into the past we search, the more perverted the information becomes.

Fortunately there is a memory, deeply implanted in our DNA, that makes it possible for us to all have a way of separating the lies from fact; truth from fiction. Also our distant ancestors passed down stories . . . now declared to be mythology . . . that give us insight as to the way things once were on this planet.

There is strong evidence, for example, that there was an earlier eon that existed even before the great Mesopotamian Empire when women ruled the earth. It was a long period of peace and tranquility, remembered genetically as Eden in the Christian and Hebrew Old Testament, and the Golden Age among other world cultures.

William Bond, in an article Did Women Once Rule The World, writes about the ancient ruins of Catal Huyuk, a 9,000-year-old city that once existed in Anatolia, Turkey. The ruins were excavated by James Mellaart between 1961 and 1965. What Mellaart discovered proved to conflict with contemporary beliefs about the ancient past and his work was literally swept under the rug in archaeological circles.

The researchers at Catal Huyuk could not find evidence that the people of that city were warriors. The city was not fortified. There were no weapons of war discovered. And examination of bones in the graves turned up no evidence that anybody died in battle. The artwork was so filled with feminine images that Mellaart concluded that the people worshipped the Ancient Great Mother.

Bond wrote that the findings at Catal Huyuk were so unsettling "the site was closed down for 30 years and the academic world ignored the implications."

The late Lithuanian archaeologist Marija Gimbutas, in her book The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe, drawing from personal findings in digs in Achilleion, Thessaly, Greece, and other archaeological finds in Northern Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldavia, the Ukraine, Crete, Cyprus, Thera, Sardinia, Sicliy and Malta, declared that a European society existed between 6,000 and 8,000 years ago that lived in peace and harmony.

Gimbutas wrote that "women ran the temples and in doing so held predominant positions, while men performed such physical chores as hunting, building and navigating. The deities these people worshipped were overwhelmingly female, and their values, emphasizing nonviolence and reverence for nature, came from the female realm. It was marauding Indo-Europeans, the forerunners of Western civilization, who destroyed these societies."

As early as 1861, Swiss writer J. J. Bachofen wrote the controversial Das Mutterrecht which means "Mother-Right." Based on his study of mythology Bachofen hypothesized that a peaceful, female-led agrarian culture once prevailed throughout Europe and the Near East until the rise of militarism resulted in a male takeover.

Author Richard Rudgley, in his book Lost Civilisations of the Stone Age, laments that human civilization has existed on this planet for a much longer time than the Christian Bible teaches. He believes that 95 percent of human existence occurred in "pre-historic times." That is, except for ancient art and ruins of ancient cities, there has been no surviving written record of what happened during that early period of human existence.

But Rudgley supports Gimbutas in noting that all carved and painted images of human beings found in those ancient ruins are "overwhelmingly images of women."

Bond wrote that: "What Gimbutas shows is that most of these images celebrate the whole process of birth from the sex act to breast feeding. It seems in prehistoric times menstruation, the vagina, the sexual act, giving birth and breast feeding was seen as something divine, holy and sacred. This is in contrast to historic times when menstruation became taboo and unclean in many societies. The sex act also became sinful and dirty."

The Christian teachings are that children are born into sin. The implication here is that this is because they are born of women. In today's society in many parts of the "civilized world" the act of breast feeding is something shameful, especially if done in public.

Since that Golden Era came to a violent end, with conquering tribes taking over these peaceful communities, the world shifted to a male dominated culture. And the results of been war, violence, the rule of kings and a general enslavement of the people. This has continued even to the present day.

Bond wrote that "the new rulers behaved like Mafia bosses in imposing a reign of terror on the people to control them, and started a protection racket that was in effect the first taxation, making the rulers extremely wealthy and forcing poverty onto the people.

"Now the population had to not only work to feed and shelter themselves, but they had to work to feed the new rulers and their armies, as well as build them palaces and fortifications and make arms and luxury goods. This is a clear case where men like Adam had to work by the sweat of their brow while the new rulers encouraged men to disrespect women and turn them into slaves."

It should be interesting to note that the male dominated culture seems to exist only in the so-called "civilized" societies. Aboriginal tribes throughout the world still maintain the high regard for the women and even worship feminine gods. The Hopi and Navajo tribes in Arizona, for example, perceive Spider Woman as an important deity.

Also interesting to sociologists is that a shift from the male dominated social order has been slowly occurring. It began with the Women's Suffrage movement and the world wars in the Twentieth Century, that called women into the work places while the men went off to battle. Since the end of World War II, women have remained in competition with men for every kind of skilled job, and they are yet battling for equality in pay.

Women living under extreme Islamic suppression in the Middle Eastern countries are fighting for the right to simply drive cars, appear in public without having their entire bodies covered in cloth and justice in the courts against abuse by men.

The world is in chaos today as crowds of angry protesters take to the streets in rebellion against the men who control the wealth and power. Governments are beginning to topple. There is so much unrest that the leaders are building armies and digging into bunkers to go into hiding. The imbalance is growing. It is obvious to nearly everyone that something significant is about to happen.

There is a theory among the occultists that humanity is moving into a new era. There is a belief that the women ruled the world in peace and harmony during the first known era that lasted about 7,000 years. Then the male era began about 4,000 or 5,000 years before Christ and has continued unchecked until the current day. This means the second era under male dominance has lasted at least 7,000 years. Is it now coming to an end as well?

The question then would be: what is the new era about to bring? Will it be a time of equality and shared leadership? Will the women rise to power once again? Or will it be something totally unexpected?

The English occultist Aleister Crowley, who founded the theology of Thelema based on The Book of the Law, a text he claimed was dictated to him by an angelic or alien entity identified as Aiwass in 1904, wrote of a division of three "aeons" of the human experience.

Crowley called the first the Aeon of Isis. This was a time during pre-history when mankind worshipped a Great Goddess symbolized by the Egyptian deity Isis. The second and current period was called the Aeon of Osiris, when humanity worships a singular male god symbolized by the Egyptian god Osiris.

The third period described by Crowley is the Aeon of Horus, the hawk headed son of Osiris and Isis. Crowley believed that this child god would bring humanity into a time of self-realization and self-actualization. He described this as a time when there will be a growing interest in all things spiritual, when humans will seek their true will and practice unconditional love for one another.

All we can say is that change is clearly in the wind. The people of this war ravaged world would truly welcome a new period of peace and tranquility. We could all use a lot more love and compassion for one another.
(c) 2011 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site.

What Real Education Reform Looks Like
Teachers unions aren't the problem. Poverty and punitive funding formulas for poor schools are
By David Sirota

As 2011 draws to a close, we can confidently declare that one of the biggest debates over education is - mercifully - resolved. We may not have addressed all the huge challenges facing our schools, but we finally have empirical data ruling out apocryphal theories and exposing the fundamental problems.

We've learned, for instance, that our entire education system is not "in crisis," as so many executives in the for-profit education industry insist when pushing to privatize public schools. On the contrary, results from Program for International Student Assessment exams show that American students in low-poverty schools are among the highest achieving students in the world.

We've also learned that no matter how much self-styled education "reformers" claim otherwise, the always-demonized teachers unions are not holding our education system back. As the New York Times recently noted: "If unions are the primary cause of bad schools, why isn't labor's pernicious effect" felt in the very unionized schools that so consistently graduate top students?

Now, at year's end, we've learned from two studies just how powerful economics are in education outcomes - and how disadvantaged kids are being unduly punished by government policy.

The first report, from Stanford University, showed that with a rising "income achievement gap," a family's economic situation is a bigger determinative force in a child's academic performance than any other major demographic factor. For poor kids, that means the intensifying hardships of poverty are now creating massive obstacles to academic progress.

Because of this reality, schools in destitute areas naturally require more resources than those in rich ones so as to help impoverished kids overcome comparatively steep odds. Yet, according to the second report from the U.S. Department of Education, >O?"many high-poverty schools receive less than their fair share of state and local funding." As if purposely embodying the old adage about adding insult to injury, the financing scheme "leav(es) students in high-poverty schools with fewer resources than schools attended by their wealthier peers." In practice, that equals less funding to recruit teachers, upgrade classrooms, reduce class sizes and sustain all the other basics of a good education.

Put all this together and behold the crux of America's education problems in bumper-sticker terms: It's poverty and punitive funding formulas, stupid.

Thus, we arrive at the factor that decides so many things in American society: money.

As the revelations of 2011 prove, students aren't helped by billionaire-executives-turned-education-dilettantes who leverage their riches to force their faith-based theories into schools. Likewise, they aren't aided by millionaire pundits sententiously claiming that we just "need better parents." And kids most certainly don't benefit from politicians pretending that incessant union-busting, teacher-bashing and standardized testing represent successful school "reforms."

Instead, America's youth need the painfully obvious: a national commitment to combating poverty and more funds spent on schools in the poorest areas than on schools in the richest areas - not the other way around.

Within education, achieving those objectives requires efforts to stop financing schools via property tax systems (i.e., systems that by design direct more resources to wealthy areas). It also requires initiatives that better target public education appropriations at schools in low-income neighborhoods - and changing those existing funding formulas that actively exacerbate inequality.

Policy-wise, it's a straightforward proposition. The only thing complex is making it happen. Doing that asks us to change resource-hoarding attitudes that encourage us to care only about our own schools, everyone else's be damned.

In America's greed-is-good culture, achieving such a shift in mass psychology is about the toughest task imaginable - but it's the real education reform that's most needed.
(c) 2011 David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee.

Try Not To Think Of A Newt
By David Swanson

The current President and Congress are destroying our Constitutional rights, our planet's climate, and the vestiges of a social safety net, and you are obsessing over a freak show of self-hating homosexuals and anti-intellectual intellectuals jumping through hoops in a corporate media circus with Ringmaster Donald Trump. Is this a good use of your time?

The "Bush tax cuts" are still called that, while Bush has been gone for years. The corporate trade agreements are rolling through at a pace Bush couldn't have managed. While Social Security was protected by anti-Bush agitation, it now has its neck on a chopping block and the progressive position is that the taxes that pay for it should be cut - rather than expanded to apply equally to large incomes. President Obama has repeatedly blocked serious global efforts to address climate change. And you're concerned about which Republican buffoon doesn't know the difference between Iraq and Iran, or which other one thinks the United States has an embassy in Iran. Are you kidding me?

President Obama, the United States Congress, and the Federal Reserve are united in their generosity toward Wall Street and the war machine - both financial generosity and the equally generous provision of immunity from legal prosecution. In the Bush era we were locked in free-speech cages, and we raised hell about it. Now we're locked in jails, beaten, tear gassed, pepper sprayed, and otherwise brutally assaulted, and . . . wait! Look over there! Is that a presidential candidate who wants to publicly declare his desire to secretly murder Iranians? How outrageous!

For the love of everything decent, the current president is right now murdering Iranians, and it's not very secret. What in the hell is the matter with you people?

Illegality is over, says Harold Koh ("the good John Yoo"). This is the same guy who claims massive slaughter by bombing of foreign nations is neither war nor an act of hostility as long as no significant number of U.S. citizens die immediately in the process.

How can illegality be over, when the crimes have not been prosecuted and have in fact been legalized? The current Department of Justice, at the direction of President Obama, has radically expanded claims of state secrets and made greater use of the Espionage Act to punish whistleblowers than all previous administrations combined. The current president has formalized, legalized, systematized, and normalized warrantless spying, lawless imprisonment (Bagram is booming!), prisoner abuse, assassination (including of members of the 5% of humanity we're supposed to care about), war making in direct violation of the will of Congress (Cf. Libya), and the radically expanded use of drones to do much of this dirty work. And you want me to care that some house-broken elephant who's been trained to parrot platitudes is in favor of child labor? Really?

It is not pleasant to face, but our children are done for if we proceed down either of the paths you are obsessing over the choice between. Behind curtain A is increased plutocratic militarization. Behind curtain B is the same damn thing. It's an evil choice. Choose which of your children should be shot. This one. No, wait. This one. It is not a choice we have time to dignify with our attention. It is not something we should waste 10 months of inaction and misdirected resources on.

We must do what has finally, finally, finally been begun. We must occupy public space. We must move the entire culture. We must reshape this society. We must drag both political parties and everybody in them and the majority of the population which has long since grown sick up to the eye balls of both of them, we must drag everyone kicking and screaming to a better place, to a place where we do not choose between putting 65% or 62% of discretionary federal spending into war preparation without an enemy in sight. What kind of a range of options is that?

This government will halt the foreclosures only after we have halted the forclosures. This government will forgive student debt only after we have blocked its payment. This government will regulate Wall Street only after we have divested from it. And this government will stop dumping our hard-earned pay into wars we don't want and cannot survive only when we have made that path (that running of the gauntlet of K Street's opposition) easier for every type of misrepresentative than continuing on the current trajectory.

Self-government is not a spectator sport. Elections are not reality shows. There is much more at stake than a soap opera. The first step, and it is a more difficult step than sleeping in a tent in the ice cold rain, is to cease giving a damn what some individual who is stripping away your rights and the fruits of your labors really feels in his heart of hearts. Stop it. We do not have the time. Politicians who make speeches opposing everything they do must be pushed to match action to words, not treated as if words speak more loudly than actions. That attitude is what leads us to focus on what a gaggle of misfits with no power and less wisdom have to say about each other, just because they're on the teevee screen.

Get serious. Get independent. Get principled. And stay nonviolent toward everything in the world except your television
(c) 2011 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

A Hopeless Legion Of Loons
By Sheila Samples

"Oh, big conniver, nothing but a jiver, done got hip to your jive, Slippin' and a slidin', peepin' and a hidin', won't be your fool no more." ~~~ Little Richard

Fear and despair are billowing across the US political landscape, due in no small part to nearly three years of President Barack Obama's soaring jive even as he was breaking promises to millions of jobless, homeless, helpless Americans. Many of us watched, aghast, as Obama repeatedly took careful aim and shot himself in both feet; then, rather than deciding to fight on his knees, began scrambling around on them in a futile search for bipartisanship.

Ain't gonna happen. Those hoary old Republicans with whom he has strenuously attempted to bond have been around the political block more than once. Most are sexist; homophobic to the core, and racist from the core...on in. They're absolutely committed to -- obsessed with -- not only Obama's failure, but his complete destruction.

Obama should have learned by now there is no compromising with these filthy connivers -- that every single one of them is hell-bent on his destruction even if the nation goes down with him. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) has brazenly bragged since Obama's election that, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." They spent the first two years of his administration in an obsessive campaign to prove that not only was he (shudder) black -- but he wasn't even an American citizen. They continue to insanely double down on blocking every piece of legislation he suggests, no matter how minute; and delight in blaming him for the resulting chaos.

Indeed, Republicans hold Obama in such contempt (he's black, remember?) that they make no effort to hide their political goal. Four days before Obama's inauguration, radio jiver Rush Limbaugh was spewing hate across the airwaves, blatantly calling for Obama to fail. It was a call to arms. The response was immediate, and continues to pick up steam.

If anyone doubts that Limbaugh is the titular head of the Republican -- or Grand Old Dittohead (GOD) -- Party, they have but to recall his bouncy, drug-addled hour-and-a-half hate screed in 2009 to the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC). Or calling Obama a "jackass" during his debt "compromise" speech ... “He's a jackass." Limbaugh screeched. "He's an economic illiterate. He's an economic ignoramus. And that's being charitable.”

No, you don't have to wonder where their loyalties lie. When elevated to House Speaker, John Boehner (R-Oh) briefed Boss Hog Limbaugh on his debt-ceiling plan before even showing it to his conference, let alone his President.

These creatures claim self-righteously that, ultimately, the horror they are inflicting on the people is for the people. The Stockholmed masses just need to hang on to hope -- to understand that once the corrupt McConnell and his rapacious gang destroy the government prior to the election and blame it on Obama, things will get better. Much better.

Those on the right who fall for that crap are little more than frogs basking in the slowly increasing "warmth" of right-wing water. Sadly, those of us on the left are in as bad -- or worse -- shape, if only because we realize we are in serious political trouble. Many of us have been stumbling around in an Orwellian fog for so long our hope tanks are dangerously close to running on empty.

Like Robert Reich wrote recently...

"President Obama will be supported by progressives and the Democratic base, but without enthusiasm. His notorious caves to Republicans and Wall Street -- failing to put conditions on the Street's bailout (such as demanding the Street help stranded home owners), or to resurrect Glass-Steagall, or include a public option in health care, or assert his constitutional responsibility to raise the debt limit, or protect Medicare and Social Security, or push for cap-and-trade, or close Guantanamo, or, in general, confront the regressive Republican nay-sayers and do-nothings with toughness rather than begin negotiations by giving them much of what they want -- are not the stuff that stirs a passionate following."
However, when Obama comes soaring in once again, slippin' and slidin', grinning from ear to ear, proudly claiming to be a "warrior" for the middle class, many will be unable to keep from hoping for hope -- from ultimately voting for hope. It's not that they've forgotten the recent years of betrayal; of abandonment. It's that, somehow, when considering the alternative -- Obama's campaign jive sounds better and better to them.

French novelist Jean Giraudoux once joked, "The secret to success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you've got it made." Well, if you look at those who are challenging Obama, you can't help but hope he's got it made. And that's no joke.

Even with Sarah Palin, who was leading the pack, locked and loaded and firing away at Obama until she ran out of ammo and slipped and fell into a pool of "blood libel" -- and Herman Cain, with five women accusing him of sexual harassment and a sixth of a 13-year affair -- gone from the race, it's still a shuddering mess. And it ain't "fixable." Like C.S. Lewis once wrote, "No clever arrangement of bad eggs ever made a good omelet."

From Perry poop to Gingrich garbage to Bachmann blather, the stench billowing from the Republican presidential wannabes is overwhelming. The entire gang appears disjointed -- in total disarray -- mired in ideological confusion. It's impossible to come up with a single issue that this tangled mass can agree upon -- other than running that black guy out of town.

If it weren't so ghoulishly frightening, it would be amusing to watch the shallow, dumb-as-dirt little creatures shucking and jiving out there, racing madly from one media outlet to another in a desperate attempt to find a message that will catapult them to the top of the presidential heap. And what a heap it is. Just a gang of thin-skinned, egocentric Charlie Sheenians who are interested in one thing -- D'UH ... Winnnning!

With few exceptions, they have proudly announced they are pro-torture; most are panting for war -- have promised to attack Iran before the sun sets on their inauguration. Think about it. Because, as Robert Parry succinctly points out, the "hard reality" is ...

"Even if the two candidates' policies were identical, temperament would also be important, since the U.S. president controls a nuclear arsenal that can literally end all life on the planet."
It is possible -- even probable -- due to the masturbatory media coverage this bunch is getting, that one of this hopeless legion of loons will kick back from their crack buffet and emerge with the keys to the White House in one hand and a jug of tiger blood in the other.

If we have learned but one thing from these fools, it is that they will not compromise, regardless of the destruction they leave in their wake. Therefore, we need to wake up and realize that the November 2012 election is quite likely a matter of life or death.
(c) 2011 Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is an OEN editor, and a regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites. Contact her at:

Depression And Democracy
By Paul Krugman

It's time to start calling the current situation what it is: a depression. True, it's not a full replay of the Great Depression, but that's cold comfort. Unemployment in both America and Europe remains disastrously high. Leaders and institutions are increasingly discredited. And democratic values are under siege.

On that last point, I am not being alarmist. On the political as on the economic front it's important not to fall into the "not as bad as" trap. High unemployment isn't O.K. just because it hasn't hit 1933 levels; ominous political trends shouldn't be dismissed just because there's no Hitler in sight.

Let's talk, in particular, about what's happening in Europe - not because all is well with America, but because the gravity of European political developments isn't widely understood.

First of all, the crisis of the euro is killing the European dream. The shared currency, which was supposed to bind nations together, has instead created an atmosphere of bitter acrimony.

Specifically, demands for ever-harsher austerity, with no offsetting effort to foster growth, have done double damage. They have failed as economic policy, worsening unemployment without restoring confidence; a Europe-wide recession now looks likely even if the immediate threat of financial crisis is contained. And they have created immense anger, with many Europeans furious at what is perceived, fairly or unfairly (or actually a bit of both), as a heavy-handed exercise of German power.

Nobody familiar with Europe's history can look at this resurgence of hostility without feeling a shiver. Yet there may be worse things happening.

Right-wing populists are on the rise from Austria, where the Freedom Party (whose leader used to have neo-Nazi connections) runs neck-and-neck in the polls with established parties, to Finland, where the anti-immigrant True Finns party had a strong electoral showing last April. And these are rich countries whose economies have held up fairly well. Matters look even more ominous in the poorer nations of Central and Eastern Europe.

Last month the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development documented a sharp drop in public support for democracy in the "new E.U." countries, the nations that joined the European Union after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Not surprisingly, the loss of faith in democracy has been greatest in the countries that suffered the deepest economic slumps.

And in at least one nation, Hungary, democratic institutions are being undermined as we speak.

One of Hungary's major parties, Jobbik, is a nightmare out of the 1930s: it's anti-Roma (Gypsy), it's anti-Semitic, and it even had a paramilitary arm. But the immediate threat comes from Fidesz, the governing center-right party.

Fidesz won an overwhelming Parliamentary majority last year, at least partly for economic reasons; Hungary isn't on the euro, but it suffered severely because of large-scale borrowing in foreign currencies and also, to be frank, thanks to mismanagement and corruption on the part of the then-governing left-liberal parties. Now Fidesz, which rammed through a new Constitution last spring on a party-line vote, seems bent on establishing a permanent hold on power.

The details are complex. Kim Lane Scheppele, who is the director of Princeton's Law and Public Affairs program - and has been following the Hungarian situation closely - tells me that Fidesz is relying on overlapping measures to suppress opposition. A proposed election law creates gerrymandered districts designed to make it almost impossible for other parties to form a government; judicial independence has been compromised, and the courts packed with party loyalists; state-run media have been converted into party organs, and there's a crackdown on independent media; and a proposed constitutional addendum would effectively criminalize the leading leftist party.

Taken together, all this amounts to the re-establishment of authoritarian rule, under a paper-thin veneer of democracy, in the heart of Europe. And it's a sample of what may happen much more widely if this depression continues.

It's not clear what can be done about Hungary's authoritarian slide. The U.S. State Department, to its credit, has been very much on the case, but this is essentially a European matter. The European Union missed the chance to head off the power grab at the start - in part because the new Constitution was rammed through while Hungary held the Union's rotating presidency. It will be much harder to reverse the slide now. Yet Europe's leaders had better try, or risk losing everything they stand for.

And they also need to rethink their failing economic policies. If they don't, there will be more backsliding on democracy - and the breakup of the euro may be the least of their worries.
(c) 2011 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example; to a father, deference; to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you; to yourself, respect; to all men, charity."
~~~ Benjamin Franklin

"By Imbeciles Who Really Mean It"
Lost Verities and Dirty Hippies
By Phil Rockstroh

Regardless of the dissembling of corporate state propagandists, free market capitalism has always been a government subsidized, bubble-inflating, swindlers' game, in which, psychopathic personalities (not “job creators” but con job perpetrators) thrive. By the exploitation of the many, a ruthless few have amassed large amounts of capital by which they dominate mainstream narratives and compromise elected and governmental officials, thereby gaming the system for their benefit.

Historically, the system has proven so demeaning to the majority of the population that the elite, from time to time, have, as a last resort, due to fear of a popular uprising, introduced a bit of socialism into the system, allowing a modicum of swag to funnel downward, and, as a result, the ranks of the middle class have been expanded. For a time, the bourgeoisie are bamboozled by the sales pitch that one day they will be affluent enough to be freed from the taxing obligations of a dismal, debt-beholden existence, when, in fact, they sowed their fate (like those swindled by opening their bank accounts after receiving email from parties claiming to be momentarily cash-strapped Nigerian royalty) by their own greed i.e. by their self-imprisonment within their own narrow, self-serving view of existence.

These stultifying circumstances will level an atmosphere of restiveness and nebulous rage. In general, the middle class can be counted on to detest the poor...blaming those born devoid of societal advantage and political influence for the impoverished circumstances that were in place long before the happenstance of their birth. Moreover, in a bit of noxious casuistry, as despicable as it is delusional, all too many members of the middle class have been induced by grift artists, employed by the ruling elite, to blame their own declining social status and attendant beleaguered existence on the poor.

"Be thine own palace, or the world's thy jail." ~~~ John Donne

This has proven to be an effective, time-tested grift: Because as long as the animus of the middle class remains fixated on the poor, the criminal cartels known as the economic elite can continue to ply their trade. Of course, in reality, by their greed and complicity, what the middle class has gained is this: trustee status in the capitalist workhouse.

Although, there is no need to fret: The run of neoliberal capitalism is about over. Don't mourn: This late stage, rapacious, mutant economic strain has leveled destruction on community and the planet itself as well as the hearts and souls of too many of those imprisoned within its paradigm.

At this point, the situation comes down to this: paradigm shift or perish.

The hour is amenable to reevaluate, reorganize and re-occupy. Doing so will prove helpful in withstanding false narratives.

Apropos: As of late, in my hours spent at Liberty Park, I've been witness to increasing numbers of tourists wandering in and repeating derisive, rightwing distortions regarding the OWS movement and its participants. For example, they are a collection of whiny college students who want taxpayers to be responsible for picking up the tab for their student loans because they are too lazy and spoiled to work off their debt. These tales are variations of the old canards involving welfare queens, mouths gleaming with taxpayer financed gold teeth, arriving at grocery stores lounging behind the steering wheels of late model Cadillacs, and proceeding to purchase steaks and fifths of gin with food stamps.

Ronald Reagan spoke of this mythical figure often, affording her near supernatural powers: She, through indolence, guile and a welfare state-bestowed sense of limitless entitlement, was the near singular cause of the nation's economic woes; her very existence, not only depleted the U.S. Treasury of dollars, but drained the U.S. free enterprise system of vitality and the very will to compete. She was a succubus who arrived in the socialist haunted night to feed on and zap the very virility of capitalism.

Because of the wealth inequities inherent to capitalism, in order to prevent social unrest, the system is reliant on creating false narratives that foster misplaced and displaced class resentment. These tales are very potent, because they serve as palliatives for the enervating states of shame inflicted on the population at large by their enslavement to the free market. Accordingly, because the vast majority of the populace are deemed "losers", due to how the system is rigged, techniques must be created and maintained to displace the rage, borne of a sense of powerlessness, that grips the system's exploited underlings.

OWS is beginning to change the narrative...align it with reality--and that is an alarming development for the 1%; hence, the retooled, amped up propaganda campaign we're seeing signs of at present.

This is the reality the 1% endeavor to obscure: Capitalism is a pyramid scheme; by its very structure, only a few will ever receive its bounty...that is wrung out of the exhausted hides of the vast majority. Fact is, capitalism, the neoliberal variety or otherwise, has never worked as promised; its innate structure ensures exploitation and inequity. Therefore, time and time again, adding aspects of socialism (e.g., New Deal era programs and reforms) have saved capitalism from itself. But, after a time, the plutocrats regroup and begin anew to launch a big money-financed, slow motion coup d'état of government (e.g., the Reagan Revolution).

A vast disparity of wealth within a nation will all but ensure this societal trajectory. But that isn't going to happen, this time. The planet cannot endure the assaults wrought by a system that requires exponential growth to be maintained. The run of capitalism is nearly over. A more sustainable economic system, based on horizontal rule, is being developed, globally (e.g., the Icelandic model).

The vertical structure inherent to capitalism brings about the self-perpetuating reign of an insular elite who choose to go the route of empire and, by doing so, overreach and bring themselves down, but only after much unnecessary suffering, exploitation and death--the calling card and ground level criteria of imperium.

Yet, often within a declining empire, even as the quality of life grows increasingly degraded for the majority of the populace, questioning sacrosanct beliefs, such as, the myth that capitalism promotes societal progress and personal advancement, by means of the possibility of upward class migration, proves to be a difficult endeavor for many. The reason: Even given the degraded nature of life as lived under late capitalism, the act of taking stock of one's situation--beginning to question how one arrived at one's present station in life--will engender anxiety, anger and regret.

Apropos to the shame based Calvinism of the capitalist state: If I was duped in a rigged game, what does that say about me? The narrative of capitalism insists that if I work hard, applying savvy and diligence, at fulfilling my aspirations then I would, at some point, arrive in the rarified realm of life's winners.

But if success proves elusive, then my flawed character must be the problem--not the dishonest economic setup--and miasmic shame descends upon me. Yet I can count on rightwing media to provide the type of provisional solace proffered by demagogues i.e., imparting the reason that folks like me can't get ahead is because scheming socialists have hijacked my parcel of the American Dream and delivered it to the undeserving thereby transforming my shame into displaced outrage.

And that must be the case; otherwise, it would behoove me to make the painful admission that I have been conned...have co-signed the crimes committed against me. Worse, I would be compelled to question all my verities and beliefs--all the convictions I clutch, regarding, not only the notions that I possess about myself and the methods I've adopted in approaching life, but also, the social structure that influenced my character.

Imagine: If you had to re-imagine your life. Imagine, how the act would unnerve your loved ones, threaten friendships, even endanger your livelihood.

What an unnerving task that would prove to ordeal certain to deliver heart-shaking anxiety, devastating regret and nettling dread directly into the besieged sanctuary of what is suppose to be the inviolable precincts of my comfort zone.

“At any street corner the feeling of absurdity can strike any man in the face.” ~~~ Albert Camus
Accordingly, I might turn to Fox News and other well-rewarded, professional dissemblers of the political right, imploring them to dissolve my doubts and dread. To escort and ensconce my troubled form back into my comfort zone by telling me the problem is not the iron boot of the corporate state upon my neck; rather, my oppression stems from the barefoot hippie lefties of OWS "who need a bath and a job"; it is their odious presence in our lives that has subdued my happy capitalist destiny by the pernicious act of laying down an effluvia (more demobilizing than pepper spray) of patchouli musk and has caused capitalism itself to weaken into an enervated swoon.

Yes, this has to be the case: The cause of my oppression. Those America-hating Occupy Wall Street hippies are actually the hidden hand that controls the global order and who possess a craven desire to smelt down the gleaming steel of the humming engines of U.S. capitalism into creepy, Burning Man statuary, who want to hold 24/7 Nuremberg-style rallies in the form of annoying drum circles.

In reality, it is those dirty hippies who are actually "The Man." Withal, hippies crashed the global economy and pinned the blame on the selfless souls who ply their benign trade on Wall Street.

Now, you know why conservatives harbor such animus towards hippies. Don't claim that Fox News et al--those selfless souls--who only desire to protect the glories of the present order, and who only have your best interest in mind, didn't try to warn you.

"I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it." ~~~ Mark Twain

(c) 2011 Phil Rockstroh, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. Visit Phil's website, and at FaceBook.


Short Tales From Bizarro World: The GOP Primaries Edition
By William Rivers Pitt

Bahwitabah da bang da bang diggy diggy diggy said the boogie said up jumped the Mitty...

Sorry, couldn't help myself. You see, I was perusing the New York Daily News and came across this little gem about Mitt Romney choosing the Kid Rock song "Born Free" as his 2012 campaign anthem. "The patriotic pick," reported the Daily News, "comes as Romney tries to shake the image that he's a buttoned up elitist who has little in common with the average American."

Mitt Romney and Kid Rock. Throw them together with Fred Phelps and the ghost of Lee Atwater, and you'd have the most phenomenally deranged golf foursome in the history of the universe.

It is moments like this that make life, for me, very much worth living. This is what we have come to expect from the Republican field as they have staggered across the landscape in search of the opportunity to challenge President Obama for the White House some eleven months from now. It has been, at times, truly magical to behold, as when Rick Perry went off on his extended derp-a-thon and single-handedly blew out all the tires on his campaign bus. There was Herman Cain's recent dramatic flameout, the culmination of which was a press conference of such stupendous, weighty idiocy that it bent the very light. Michele Bachmann is still forging ahead, and could very well throw the entire GOP primary season into a state of bedlam by winning in Iowa right out of the gate, which to me is the very definition of awesome.

Speaking of Rock & Roll Mitt, Derpy Rick, Hopeless Herman and Manic Michele, let us all bow our heads in a moment of thanks to the Republican brain trust, who surveyed the field of dimwits, lunatics, ego-trippers and plain fools vying to carry the banner for their party, and said, "You know what'd be great? Let's have these people participate in 43,212 nationally-televised debates! What could possibly go wrong?"

Thank you. From my heart, thank you.

The past is but prologue, however, and the best is yet to come, because a whole lot of polls - nationally and in the key primary states - are speaking what would have seemed impossible only a few short months ago: Newt Gingrich is making a charge, and is in many important places actually leading Mitt Romney. This tells me two things, one about Romney specifically and the other about the GOP in general.

It says, first of all, that Mitt just can't find a way to feel the love from Republican voters. It could be the Mormon thing, it could be the Massachusetts (read: commie) thing, it could be the fact that Mitt has on occasion held positions that were not to the right of Genghis Khan, it could be the fact that he has flopped back and forth between these positions with such metronomic regularity that the GOP base has gotten seasick watching him, or it could be a combination of all four. The fact of the matter is that GOP supporters have been wheeling from hither to fro and back again like a flock of startled birds in a desperate attempt to avoid nominating Romney.

I may be losing my knack for reading the Republican Overmind, but this has been a very strange phenomenon to observe. After all, Romney is a handsome, well-spoken, well-funded candidate who lays claim to most of the policy issues Republicans hold dear. He is just enough outside the mold to be attractive to independent voters, and his business credentials have to be appetizing to the Wall Street crowd...and yet at every opportunity, Republican voters have turned away from him to embrace whatever shaggy dimwit gets up on their hind legs to offer themselves as the "Alternative to Romney."

Which brings us, of course to the rise of Newt, and my second thought on the matter, which is very simple: if the GOP actually nominates Newt Gingrich in 2012, they will have finally and forever earned the mantle, in the immortal words of Douglas Adams, of being "a bunch of raving nutters."

Newt Gingrich, in his time on the American political stage, has said so many stupid, obnoxious, harsh, contradictory things that it would require a tome roughly the size of the Oxford English Dictionary to encapsulate them all. He is walking, talking, breathing fodder for the attack ads that will certainly descend upon him soon like crows lighting on the body of a dead raccoon in the road. He has more baggage than a Samsonite factory, and as much personal self-control as a toy poodle on a crystal meth binge. To top it all off, he has all the interpersonal charm of a battering ram, and a cruel streak wider than his awe-inspiring forehead.

The Democrats are positively foaming at the mouth over the potential opportunity to saturation-bomb his campaign in the general election, but before that happens, it will be all-out warfare between these GOP candidates during the primaries, and Newt will, as usual, pull no punches. This was, after all, the man who shut down the federal government and annihilated his reputation in one fell swoop because he didn't like his seat on Air Force One. When his GOP rivals move on him, he will move on them with surpassing force and venom, and the fur is going to fly most gloriously.

If that isn't enough to get your mouth watering about the fun to come over the next several weeks, there's one more item lurking over the horizon that, if it actually happens the right way, promises to be Barnum & Bailey, the Women's Flat-Track Roller Derby Association, a Comedy Central roast of Zippy the Pinhead, and the company picnic for the Never Sweat Copper Mine in Butte MT, all rolled into one delicious ball.

Yes, Donald Trump - the first "Anti-Mitt" to rise and flame out this year - is going to host his own GOP debate...maybe. Most of the invited candidates have declined Trump's invitation, but Gingrich and the always-berzerk Rick Santorum have said they will show up. That alone would be worth the price of admission - Newt, Rick and The Donald trying to out-wierd each other on national TV - and the prospect of it has the establishment GOP practically gibbering with fear:

Republican strategists on Monday bemoaned the prospect of a presidential debate hosted by Donald J. Trump even as Newt Gingrich, surging in recent polls, made a pilgrimage to see Mr. Trump, the billionaire real estate mogul and reality TV star.

Veteran Republican operatives are increasingly agonizing over the image of a party whose contenders have been beset by scandals, factual gaffes and a fickle electorate that seems unimpressed by the choices they have been given.

Now, Mr. Trump promises once again to inject his personality in the Republican race as he hosts a debate days before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses. But leading Republican strategists and campaign officials on Monday condemned a Trump-moderated debate as a spectacle that would do more harm to the party than good.

Karl Rove, the former political adviser to President George W. Bush, railed against the idea of a debate hosted by Mr. Trump. In an appearance on Fox News on Monday, Mr. Rove called on Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, to put a stop to the debate.

In an interview, Ari Fleischer, a former press secretary for Mr. Bush, called Mr. Trump's debate "an invitation to a circus" and urged the candidates to refuse to attend. "Donald Trump risks making a carnival out of a serious presidential campaign," Mr. Fleischer said. "I think this is an opportunity for a candidate to stand up. I don't understand the fear of Donald Trump, politically. He doesn't have a constituency or a following."

Whether or not Trump decides to follow through with his debate is almosgt immaterial; there is still a lot of epic craziness about to happen, and we should all sit back and enjoy it...but without forgetting the craziest part of all.

One of these buffoons stands a pretty damned good chance of being sworn in to the office of the president in January 2013.

May you live in interesting times.
(c) 2011 William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: "War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know" and "The Greatest Sedition Is Silence." His newest book, "House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation," is available from PoliPointPress.

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Aufhetzer Caton,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your ceaseless hatred of Muslims, Jews, Gays and Liberals, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "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 Iron Cross 2nd class, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 12-31-2011. We salute you Herr Caton, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Can Paul Ryan-and His Agenda-Be Beat? It's Possible
By John Nichols

House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, is the poster boy for the assault on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. His budget plan, which laid the groundwork for the undermining of those essential programs and their eventual privatization, speaked a national outcry earlier this year. A historically Republican Congressional seat in western New York fell to the Democrats in a special election that turned largely on the question of Ryan's austerity agenda.

But could Ryan himself be beat in 2012?

It's possible. His southeastern Wisconsin district has elected Democrats in the past. It voted for Barack Obama in 2008. And even after a Republican-friendly redistricting, it is still home to traditionally Democratic towns such as Racine, Kenosha and Janesville.

Ryan faces a determined challenger in Democrat Rob Zerban, a local elected official in Kenosha who has been running hard all year. And a new poll suggests that Zerban, who has made the defense of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid the core theme of his campaign, poses a genuine threat to the Republican incumbent.

Pollster Paul Maslin writes, on the basis of his survey of 405 voters in Ryan's district, that the fight over Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid has "weakened incumbent Paul Ryan, who used to enjoy electoral and image majorities well over 60%. Ryan's favorable rating has declined to 54% positive, his job rating is 55% and his reelect is 54%-all this before the beginning of an active campaign against Ryan. When voters hear positive information about Rob Zerban and Paul Ryan, Ryan's support weakens further to 52%. Rob Zerban's description receives a better than 3 to 1 positive reaction."

Maslin adds that: "after respondents hear one additional paragraph description linking Ryan to the Republican leadership in Congress and describing his authorship of the House budget plan, his support falls below 50% and his favorable rating becomes like Obama's and Walker's-dead even at 46% positive and 46% negative. And… Rob Zerban trails Ryan by only six points after this very brief exposition of Ryan's signature idea, 49-43%, with undecideds holding nearly unanimously negative views of Congress in general and more than 80% saying they have either a negative or neutral feeling toward Ryan at the end of the poll."

Zerban, a Kenosha County supervisor, says: "This poll reflects what I knew in my heart-Paul Ryan will lose this race because he has failed this district and this nation in Congress."
(c) 2011 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. He is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers.

Dwight D Eisenhower: in 1961 the retiring president warned fellow
Americans of the danger in allowing too close a relationship
between politicians and the defence industry.

War Drums Are Beating For Iran. But Who's Playing Them?
Just like the taxpayers of medieval Italian cities, we're having our money siphoned off to pay for a a greedy military machine
By Terry Jones

In the 14th century there were two pandemics. One was the Black Death, the other was the commercialisation of warfare. Mercenaries had always existed, but under Edward III they became the mainstay of the English army for the first 20 years of what became the Hundred Years war. Then, when Edward signed the treaty of Brétigny in 1360 and told his soldiers to stop fighting and go home, many of them didn't have any homes to go to. They were used to fighting, and that's how they made their money. So they simply formed themselves into freelance armies, aptly called "free companies", that proceeded around France pillaging, killing and raping.

One of these armies was called the Great Company. It totalled, according to one estimate, 16,000 soldiers, larger than any existing national army. Eventually it descended on the pope, in Avignon, and held him to ransom. The pope made the mistake of paying off the mercenaries with huge amounts of cash, which only encouraged them to carry on marauding. He also suggested that they move on into Italy, where his arch-enemies, the Visconti, ran Milan. This they did, under the banner of the Marquis of Monferrato, again subsidised by the pope.

The nightmare had begun. Huge armies of brigands rampaging through Europe was a disaster second only to the plague. It seemed as if the genie had been let out of the bottle and there was no way of putting him back in. Warfare had suddenly turned into a profitable business; the Italian city states became impoverished as taxpayers' money was used to buy off the free companies. And since those who made money out of the business of war naturally wished to go on making money out of it, warfare had no foreseeable end.

Wind forward 650 years or so. The US, under George W Bush, decided to privatise the invasion of Iraq by employing private "contractors" like the Blackwater company, now renamed Xe Services. In 2003 Blackwater won a $27m no-bid contract for guarding Paul Bremer, then head of the Coalition Provisional Authority. For protecting officials in conflict zones since 2004, the company has received more than $320m. And this year the Obama government contracted to pay Xe Services a quarter of a billion dollars for security work in Afghanistan. This is just one of many companies making its profits out of warfare.

In 2000 the Project for the New American Century published a report, Rebuilding America's Defenses, whose declared aim was to up the spending on defence from 3% to 3.5% or 3.8% of American gross domestic product. In fact it is now running at 4.7% of GDP. In the UK we spend about $57bn a year on defence, or 2.5% of GDP.

Just like the taxpayers of medieval Italian city-states, we are having our money siphoned off into the business of war. Any responsible company needs to make profits for its shareholders. In the 14th century the shareholders in the free companies were the soldiers themselves. If the company wasn't being employed by someone to make war on someone else, the shareholders had to forgo their dividends. So they looked around to create markets for themselves.

Sir John Hawkwood's White Company would offer its services to the pope or to the city of Florence. If either turned his offer down, Hawkwood would simply make an offer to their enemies. As Francis Stonor Saunders writes in her wonderful book, Hawkwood - Diabolical Englishman: "The value of the companies was the purely negative one of maintaining the balance of military power between the cities." Just like the cold war.

Two decades ago I picked up an in-house magazine for the arms industry. Its editorial was headed "Thank God For Saddam." It explained that, since the collapse of communism and end of the cold war, the order books of the arms industry had been empty. But now there was a new enemy, the industry could look forward to a bonanza. The invasion of Iraq was built around a lie: Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction, but the defence industry needed an enemy, and the politicians duly supplied one.

And now the same war drums, encouraged by the storming of the British embassy last week, are beating for an attack on Iran. Seymour Hersh writes in the New Yorker: "All of the low enriched uranium now known to be produced inside Iran is accounted for." The recent IAEA report which provoked such outcry against Iran's nuclear ambitions, he continues, contains nothing that proves that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.

In the 14th century it was the church that lived in symbiosis with the military. Nowadays it is the politicians. The US government spent a staggering $687bn on "defence" in 2010. Think what could be done with that money if it were put into hospitals, schools or to pay off foreclosed mortgages.

The retiring US president, Dwight D Eisenhower, famously took the opportunity of his farewell to the nation address in 1961 to warn his fellow countrymen of the danger in allowing too close a relationship between politicians and the defence industry.

"This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience," he said. "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist." It exists. The genie is out of the bottle again.
(c) 2010 Terry Jones is a writer, film director, actor and Python.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Randall Enos ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

By Will Durst

Let's take a peek behind the scenes of GOP headquarters to listen in on the coaching strategy for the little game Republicans are currently playing called, "Anybody but Romney." Think "Whack-A-Mole" with media mallets.

"Well, here it is, boys, 2011. About time we scour the country and figure out exactly whom we should pick for our 2012 Presidential nominee. It's got to be somebody with a legitimate shot to beat that socialist incumbent. Somebody we can trust to toe the party line. But most importantly, we need someone younger than that last guy. Which won't be hard.

So, who do we got running? Okay, okay, thank you, Mitt Romney. You can put your hand down now. Ran the Olympics? That's great. We'll definitely keep you in mind. Who else we got? Sarah Palin! The Rogue Thing! She just can't help herself. Loves going off reservation. Like she did in 08. And ever since. Unnh, then again, you know what? She's probably busy. Somebody call Roger Ailes at Fox News and tell him to make sure she's real busy.

Hey, how bout Donald Trump? The Donald. He's perfect. Successful businessman. High name recognition. Aerodynamic hair. Well, let's see what he can do. Oh my god, he's really like that. I thought it was all an act. Nobody tells me anything.

Let's see, who else is there? Thank you Mitt. No, no. We haven't forgotten you. Got you right at the top of the list. Yes, we know your first name is Willard. And the Mormon thing. Won't be a problem. Umm, where's that Tea Party favorite, Michele Bachmann? There she is, in Iowa, celebrating the birthplace of John Wayne Gacy. Oh dear. With her husband Marcus. Whoa. Well, no wonder she's so opposed to gay marriage. No. No. No. No. No. No. No.

Okay. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. I got an idea. Rick Perry. Governor of Texas. Worked out pretty good last time, didn't it? He's just like Bush with actual cattle. Let's watch him debate. Oooh. Not going to work out this time. Umm. Umm. What about Chris Christie? Another governor. We like governors, right? Yes, Mitt. Massachusetts. Got it. Besides, Chris Christie is too big to fail. Hey, Chris! What? Oh yeah? Well, we don't want you either.

Wait a minute. This is going to sound crazy. Crazy like a fox. You know what I'm thinking? Herman Cain. Yes. The Pizza Guy. I know, I know. He's a, he's a, he's a... lobbyist, but boy, can he command a room. Look at him with that group of women over there. Holy cow, that's my wife. Security!

Say, I'm a bit parched; Mitt, could you run get us some Red Bulls? Here's a 20. Oh, right, you're loaded. And an MBA from Harvard. Terrific. Is he gone? Thank god. Hey, who's that hiding under that rock? Why, it's Newt! Newt Gingrich. Of course. An oldie but a goodie. Rescued the party from Clinton's shadow in the early 90s. The good news is, everybody knows him: the bad news is, yeah, everybody knows him.

Geez, he loves to hear himself talk, doesn't he? Well, look at it this way, if the Newtster doesn't pan out, we can always fall back on Mister Stalwart Standby Romney. Yeah. That's what we'll do. Its Newt or Mitt. Or Ron Paul. No. No. No. Definitely Romney or Gingrich. Or Santorum. Say, has anybody seen Mike Huckabee lately?"
(c) 2011 Will Durst, is a San Francisco based political comedian, Will Durst, often writes: this is an example. Don't forget his new CD, "Raging Moderate" from Stand-Up Records now available on both iTunes and Amazon. The New York Times says Emmy-nominated comedian and writer Will Durst "is quite possibly the best political satirist working in the country today." Check out his website: to find out about upcoming stand-up performances or to buy his book, "The All-American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing."

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Issues & Alibis Vol 11 # 49 (c) 12/16/2011

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