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In This Edition

Ray McGovern was a, "Witness At The White House Fence."

Uri Avnery sails away on the, "Ship Of Fools 2."

Greg Palast reports, "Palast Arrested."

Randall Amster and Michael Nagler Ponder, "War And Planet Earth."

Jim Hightower finds, "Obama Brings Corporate Powers Inside."

James Donahue says, "Reduce The Deficit – Break Down The Department Of Homeland Security."

Amy Goodman explains, "President Obama’s Christmas Gift To AT&T (And Comcast And Verizon)."

John Nichols announces, "Rejecting Bigotry And Bitter-Ender McCain, Senate Scraps Ban On Gays In The Military."

Chris Floyd exclaims, "Bethink Yourselves!"

Matthew Rothschild has a deja vu, "Obama’s Afghanistan Talk Is Vietnam Time Warp."

Paul Krugman explores the consequences of, "When Zombies Win."

Chris Hedges remembers, "Bitter Memories Of War On The Way To Jail."

David Michael Green examines, "Health Care And The Wages Of Sin."

US Con-gressman elect Allan West wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Glenn Greenwald looks through, "The Government's One-Way Mirror."

Michael Moore shouts, "Viva WikiLeaks!"

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Landover Baptist Church returns with holiday cheer, "The Devil Is In Your Chimney!" but first Uncle Ernie warns of, "Obamahood And His 358 Thieves."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Bob Gorrell, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Married To The Sea, Randy Bish, Clay Bennett, Chris Pirazzi, Susan Walsh, Khalil Bendib, Virgin, Robert Arial, Republican Elephant.Com, Franz Matsch, The Landover Baptist Church, 20th Century Fox 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."

Obamahood And His 358 Thieves
By Ernest Stewart

Obamahood, Obamahood
Riding through the trees,
Obamahood, Obamahood
With his band of thieves

He steals from the poor
And gives to the rich
Obamahood ~~~ Traditional

"While it is fortunate that Mr. Lieberman does not have the power to tell YouTube that it must remove videos, it is profoundly disturbing that an influential Senator would even consider telling a media company to shut down constitutionally-protected speech." ~~~ NY Times editorial

"Today's action could — and should — have gone further, but the regulations do represent some progress to put consumers — not Big Phone or Big Cable — in control of their online experiences," ~~~ FCC member Michael Copps.

Well my mind is going through them changes
I feel just like committing a crime
Every time you see me going somewhere
I feel like I'm going out of my mind, yeah!
Changes ~~~ Buddy Miles

I wonder how many Americans realized that they just got robbed blind again? They just stole $1,000,000,000.00 and they didn't even have the common courtesy of using a gun! That trillion dollar rip-off just signed into law by Obamahood may well be the straw that broke the camel's back, and who knows, might lead to the third American Revolution! We can but hope!

Who got robbed? Everyone who isn't rich. Sure, they threw a few bones to the former middle class unemployed, but only to a few of them. For those whose unemployment has already run out there's not so much as a crumb and they're the vast majority of the unemployed! In fact, they couldn't be bothered to give the elderly who are having to decide whether they want to get their medicine this month and go hungry, or whether they can get by on half their meds so they can afford to buy some Friskie's cat food to eat. Nope, in their rush to appease the billionaires, they couldn't even kick a measly $250 to help the old folks struggle along. I bet their mothers are proud... NOT!

Who's going to pay for all this? Well the very same poor, elderly and sick citizens; because as I'm sure you know by now, the bosses don't pay any taxes, and certainly won't be paying for this! There isn't enough middle class left to pay for it, so it's going to come out of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and Food Stamps! They could just end any one of our many ongoing WAR CRIMES, but that will NEVER happen because there is too much money to be made murdering innocent men, women and children! Of course, they'll need more money than what's available so your kids and grandkids will be paying off China, Europe, Saudi Arabia and everyone else we've borrowed money off of to pay for the $50 trillion dollars in debt that this country really does owe, and not the 12 or 13 trillion that they'll own up to! Funny how they never worry about the deficit when they're giving money away to the folks who don't need any more, yet they haven't a dime for those that do, because we can't afford it!

If you have any doubt about that, then listen to what Obamahood referred to the other day when he talked about this latest rip-off for the rich:

"In some ways this was easier than some of the tougher choices we're going to have to make next year."

Look out, Granny! They're coming for your cat food and that half a bottle of Bayer! So far, the folks that sold you out a few years ago to Smirky, the AARP, haven't said a word about this, funny thing that, huh? Nor has there been a peep in the MSM about who was going to pay for this, again, a funny thing, huh? I guess it's been left up to me? So you've been warned America, now get up off that front porch swing and raise some righteous Hell! If YOU don't, who will?

In Other News

Wikileaks is truly the gift that keeps on giving. I see where Obamahood and the Israelis struck a secret deal to allow Israel to keep building their giant apartment blocks on other peoples lands while sending the original residents off to Happy Camps™ like the Gaza Ghetto.

While Obamahood was in Cairo telling the Egyptians that we would put a stop to Israel building in Jerusalem, the deal was already made and all he was doing was trying to delay and confuse the Arabs about America's intentions. It's little bits of truth like this that paints the Obamahood administration for what it really is, just an extension of the Crime Family Bush's grip on Earth's throat.

I've been busy because of Wikileaks reporting, been busy canceling my accounts with the corpo-rations that cancelled Wikileaks accounts. I no longer have any Pay Pal accounts, Amazon accounts or a Master Card account, and when they ask why I told them in no uncertain terms that I would no longer be a part of covering up American political crimes that they were trying to cover up, and suggested that they hit up old "Tail-gunner" Joe Lieberman, well-known enemy of free speech, to make up for their corpo-rat losses and the billions of dollars in bad advertisements that their fascist moves have brought down on their heads.

If everyone who believes in free speech and democracy would do the same, these corpo-rat goons would soon be out of business, or would no doubt change their tune. Take your business elsewhere, vote with your pocket book, seize the power of the exchequer and wield it against democracy's foes. I have, and you should, too! Hit these fascist goons where it hurts the most, in their bottoms lines, change that ink from black to red! Carpe Diem, America!

And Finally

I see where FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski pulled an Obamahood compromise to sell us down the river again, while getting a few points for the consumers:

"The rules require broadband providers to let subscribers access all legal online content, applications and services over their wired networks — including online calling services, Internet video and other Web applications that compete with their core businesses. But the rules give broadband providers flexibility to manage data on their systems to deal with problems such as network congestion and unwanted traffic including spam as long as they publicly disclose their network management practices."

Since there was no need what-so-ever to compromise as Julie had a veto-proof, filibuster-proof majority, and didn't have to compromise with people, who if they had the majority would have rammed through total corporate control with never a thought of compromise!

So he compromised and the two Rethuglican members voted against the bill, but got their rip-offs for their corpo-rat masters and the public gets screwed again for no reason that I can find. Unless Julie took the traditional thirty pieces of silver for his treason?

Here's a big surprise, the final rules came as a disappointment to public interest groups. Even Genachowski's two Democratic colleagues on the five-member FCC were disappointed, though they still voted to adopt the rules after concluding some safe-guards are better than none.

They warn that the new regulations may not be strong enough to prevent broadband companies from picking winners and losers on the Internet, particularly on wireless systems, which will have more limited protections. They also worry that the rules don't do enough to ensure that broadband providers cannot favor their own traffic or the traffic of business partners that can pay for priority — resulting in a two-tiered Internet.

As Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando ) said in "On The Waterfront, "I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it." We could have protected the Internet, we could have saved it all, instead of giving it away to the corpo-rats, which is what we did, let's face it!

Keepin' On

Well thank Zeus it's almost over. If I hear have a "Holly Jolly Christmas" one more time I think I'll kill somebody! Bah Humbug, Indeed!

The mythology itself is bad enough, and the fact they stole someone else's holiday and made it their own is outrageous, but when corpo-rat America got hold of it and took it to what it's become today, well, that's pretty much the last straw! I got nothing against exchanging presents, but let's wait until after the 25th and take advantage of those year-end sales! A lot more bang for the buck!

Don't get me wrong, if you believe in any of the many religious holidays that converge on the Winter Solstice by all means knock yourself out but do me one, small favor, keep it to yourself! By all means, to you and yours, have a Happy Holidaze!

For those who insist on me saying have a Merry Christmas, I say have a happy holidaze, and I hope it pisses you off! For those of you who wish me a nice Kwanzaa, sorry I don't celebrate racist holidaze'! For those of you who say Happy Hanukkah, I say blow out the candles before you burn the joint down, and don't make me tell you where you can shove that dradle! For those of you who would like me to join in your New Year's or Ashura celebrations, thanks but no thanks; I'm too busy rereading "The Satanic Verses." And to those who celebrate the Winter Solstice by dancing naked around the circle, I say it's too f*ckin cold outside, invite me to your Summer Solstice celebrations, and we'll par-tay!

Or, you could celebrate this time of year as I do by rereading my favorite holiday story. Gather the little ones around the old computer screen or for those of you with wifi around the old TV screen and read to them aloud the adventures of Santa's littlest elf Winky Tinky in, Winky Tinky's Christmas Adventure! It's been a holidaze tradition at my house since before the turn of the century! Happy Holidaze, Ya'll!


01-15-1941 ~ 12-17-2010
Thanks for the jams!

11-23-1945 ~ 12-20-2010
Thanks for the laughs!


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


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

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

Witness At The White House Fence
By Ray McGovern

“Show me your company, and I’ll tell you who you are,” my grandmother would often say with a light Irish lilt but unmistakable seriousness, an admonition about taking care in choosing what company you keep.

On Thursday, I could sense her smiling down through the snow as I stood pinned to the White House fence with Daniel Ellsberg, Chris Hedges, Margaret Flowers, Medea Benjamin, Coleen Rowley, Mike Ferner, Jodie Evans, and over 125 others risking arrest in an attempt to highlight the horrors of war.

The witness was sponsored by Veterans for Peace, a group comprised of many former soldiers who have “been there, done that” regarding war, distinguishing them from President Barack Obama who, like his predecessor, hasn’t a clue what war is really about. (Sorry, Mr. President, donning a bomber jacket and making empty promises to the troops in the middle of an Afghan night does not qualify.)

The simple but significant gift of presence was being offered outside the White House. As I hung on the fence, I recalled what I knew of the results of war.

Into view came some of my closest childhood friends — like Bob, whose father was killed in WWII when Bob was in kindergarten. My uncle Larry, an Army chaplain, killed in a plane crash.

Other friends like Mike and Dan, whose big brothers were killed in Korea. So many of my classmates from Infantry Officers Orientation at Ft. Benning killed in the Big Muddy called Vietnam.

My college classmate with whom I studied Russian, Ed Krukowski, 1Lt, USAF, one of the very first casualties of Vietnam, killed, leaving behind a wife and three small children. Other friends, too numerous to mention, killed in that misbegotten war.

More recently, Casey Sheehan and 4,429 other U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, and the 491 U.S. troops killed so far this year in Afghanistan (bringing that total to 1,438). And their mothers. And the mothers of all those others who have died in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan. Mothers don’t get to decide; only to mourn.

A pure snow showered down as if to say blessed are the peacemakers. Tears kept my eyes hydrated against the cold.

The hat my youngest daughter knit for me three years ago when I had no hair gave me an additional sense of being showered with love and affirmation. There was a palpable sense of rightness in our witness to the witless ways of the White House behind the fence.

I thought to myself, this White House is a far cry from the “Camelot” administration of John F. Kennedy, who brought me, and so many others to Washington almost a half-century ago. And yet, I could not resist borrowing a song from the play, Camelot: “I wonder what the king is doing tonight. What merriment is the king pursuing tonight…”

Perhaps strutting before a mirror in his leather bomber jacket, practicing rhetorical flourishes for the troops, like, “You are making our country safer.” The opposite, of course, is true, and if President Obama does not know that, he is not as smart as people think he is.

More accurately, the troops are making Obama’s political position safer, protecting him from accusations of “softness” on Afghanistan, just as a surge of troops into Iraq postponed the inevitable, sparing George W. Bush from the personal ignominy of presiding over a more obvious American defeat in Iraq.

Both presidents were willing to sacrifice those troops on the altar of political expediency, knowing full well that it is not American freedom that “the insurgents” hate, but rather U.S. government policies, which leave so many oppressed, or dead.

Despite our (Veterans for Peace) repeated requests over many months, Obama has refused to meet with us. On Wednesday, though, he carved out five hours to sit down with many of the fat cat executives who are profiteering from war.

It seems the President was worried that he had hurt the fat cats’ feelings – and opened himself to criticism as being “anti-business” – with some earlier remarks about their obscenely inflated pay.

Before our witness on Thursday, we read in the Washington Post that Obama told the 20 chief executives, “I want to dispel any notion we want to inhibit your success,” and solicited ideas from them “on a host of issues.” By way of contrast, the President has shown zero interest in soliciting ideas from the likes of us.

‘The Big Fool Said to Push On’

In another serendipitous coincidence, as we were witnessing against the March of Folly in Afghanistan, the President was completing his “review” of the war and sealing the doom of countless more soldiers and civilians (and, in my view, his own political doom) by re-enacting the Shakespearean tragedy of Lyndon the First.

Afraid to get crossways with the military brass, who have made it embarrassingly clear that they see no backbone under that bomber jacket, Obama has just sped past another exit ramp out of Afghanistan by letting the policy review promised for this month become a charade.

Hewing to the script of Lyndon the First, Barack Obama has chosen to shun the considered views of U.S. intelligence agencies, which, to their credit, show in no uncertain terms the stupidity of keeping U.S. troops neck-deep in this latest Big Muddy in Afghanistan — to borrow from Pete Seeger’s song from the Vietnam era.

There is one reality upon which there is virtually complete consensus as highlighted by the U.S. intelligence agencies: The U.S. and NATO will not be able to “prevail” in Afghanistan if Pakistan does not stop supporting the Taliban. Are we clear on that? That’s what the recent National Intelligence Estimate on Afghanistan says.

A companion NIE on Pakistan says there is not a snowball’s chance in hell that the Pakistani Army and security services will somehow “change their strategic vision” regarding keeping the Taliban in play for the time when the United States and its NATO allies finally leave Afghanistan and when Pakistan will want to reassert its influence there.

Should it be too hard to put the two NIEs together and reach the appropriate conclusions for policy?

It is difficult to believe that – after going from knee-deep to waist-deep in the Big Muddy by his early 2009 decision to insert 21,000 troops into Afghanistan, and then from waist-deep to neck-deep by deciding a year ago to send in 30,000 more — Obama would say to “push on.”

The answer lies in the kind of “foolish consistency” Emerson termed the “hobgoblin of little minds.” Out of crass political considerations, Obama continues to evidence a spineless persistence behind this fool’s errand. He seems driven by fear of offending other important Washington constituencies, such as the neoconservative opinion-makers, and having to face the wrath of the be-medaled and be-ribboned Gen. David Petraeus. This is pitiable enough — but a lot of people are getting killed or maimed for life.

‘When will we ever learn?’ To answer this other Vietnam-era song, well, we have learned — many of us the hard way. We need to tell the big fool not to be so afraid of neocon columnists and the festooned left breast of the sainted Petraeus — you know, the ten rows of medals and merit badges that made him so lopsided he crashed down on the witness table and was given a time-out by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Outside the White House on Thursday, we found ourselves singing “We Shall Overcome” with confidence. And what we learned later of other witnessing conducted that same day provided still more affirmation, grit, and determination.

For example, 75 witnesses braved freezing temperatures at the Times Square recruiting station in New York to express solidarity with our demonstration in Washington.

There in Times Square stood not only veterans, but also grandmothers from the Granny Peace Brigade, the Raging Grannies, and Grandmothers Against the War. Two of the grandmothers were in their 90s, but stood for more than an hour in the cold. The Catholic Worker, War Resister League and other anti-war groups were also represented.

What? You didn’t hear about any of this, including the arrest of 135 veterans and other anti-war activists in front of the White House? Need I remind you of the Fawning Corporate Media and how its practitioners have always downplayed or ignored protests, large or small, against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Dave Lindorff summed the situation up.

A Rich Tradition

Civil Disobedience was Henry David Thoreau’s response to his 1846 imprisonment for refusing to pay a poll tax that violated his conscience. Thoreau was protesting an earlier war of aggression, the U.S. attack on Mexico.

In Civil Disobedience, Thoreau asked:

“Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward.

“It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right.”

Imprisonment was Thoreau’s first direct experience with state power and, in typical fashion, he analyzed it:

“The State never intentionally confronts a man’s sense, intellectual or moral, but only his body, his senses. It is not armed with superior wit or honesty, but with superior physical strength. I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest.”

Prior to his arrest, Thoreau had lived a quiet, solitary life at Walden, an isolated pond in the woods about a mile and a half from Concord. He returned to Walden to mull over two questions: (1) Why do some men obey laws without asking if the laws are just or unjust; and, (2) why do others obey laws they think are wrong?

More recent American prophets have thrown their own light on the crises of our time while confronting the questions posed by Thoreau.

Amid the carnage of Vietnam, Fr. Daniel Berrigan, SJ, posed a challenge to those who hoped for peace without sacrifice, those who would say, “Let us have peace but let us loose nothing. Let our lives stand intact; let us know neither prison nor ill repute nor disruption of ties.”

Berrigan saw no such easy option. “There is no peace,” he said, “because the making of peace is at least as costly as the making of war — at least as liable to bring disgrace and prison.”

So, if the making of peace today means prison, that’s where we need to be. It is time to accept our responsibility to do ALL we can to stop the violence of wars waged in our name. Now it’s our turn to ponder those questions.
(c) 2010 Ray McGovern served as a CIA analyst for 27 years -- from the administration of John F. Kennedy to that of George H. W. Bush. During the early 1980s, he was one of the writers/editors of the President's Daily Brief and briefed it one-on-one to the president's most senior advisers. He also chaired National Intelligence Estimates. In January 2003, he and four former colleagues founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

Ship Of Fools 2
By Uri Avnery

THE EXPRESSION “Ship of Fools” was used by a Swiss theologian 515 years ago as the title of a book harshly criticizing the Catholic church of his day. Its licentiousness, he foresaw, would lead to disaster. And indeed, shortly afterwards a monk named Martin Luther split the church and set in motion the great Reformation.

I used this phrase in the 70s to define the era between the two wars – the Six-Day War of 1967 and the Yom Kippur War of 1973, six years spent by Israel in a state of foolish euphoria. “We never had it so good.”

The present era deserves the title “Ship of Fools 2.”

THE DEFINING slogan of “Ship of Fools 1” was coined by Moshe Dayan, who served as first officer on its bridge, at the right hand of the captain, Golda Meir.

Dayan, then the idol of Israel and an international sex-symbol, declared: “If I have to choose between Sharm al-Sheikh without peace or peace without Sharm al-Sheikh, I choose Sharm al-Sheikh.”

In retrospect, that sounds like sheer madness. Who, today, remembers Ophira, as we called Sharm at the time? Only the Israelis who go there to idle on hammocks in the sun, pampered by the staff of Egyptian hotels. And, of course, the families of the soldiers who died on Yom Kippur.

“Ship of Fools 1” set sail for its fateful voyage on the morrow of the Six- day War, when the new Hebrew Empire extended from the summit of Mount Hermon to the shining sea of Ras Muhammad, south of Sharm. The astounding six-day victory of the Israeli army over three Arab armies, after weeks of nerve-wracking anxiety, looked like a miracle. A deluge of victory songs, victory albums and victory speeches flooded the country. The intoxication swept all sectors of the public, from the top leaders to the last (Jewish) citizen. It addled the brains, perverted logic and precluded any reasonable discussion.

The intoxication did not spare academic luminaries or army generals. Ariel Sharon declared that his troops could reach Tripoli, the Libyan capital, within a week. This seemed almost self-evident.

For those who were not here, or were too young to remember: In the country there was an atmosphere of supreme self-confidence, which led to complete carelessness. “Everything will be OK.” The economy was flourishing. The first settlements were taking root. There was no pressure on Israel to return the territories it had just conquered (“Liberated Territory Will Not Be Returned”). The Arab League met in Khartoum and did Israel an immense favor by declaring the Three No’s – No peace with Israel, No recognition of Israel, No negotiations with Israel. Plucky little Israel attracted the sympathy of the world. It was good to be an Israeli then and to flash your Israeli passport at any border crossing.

This week, Aluf Ben of Haaretz drew our attention to a recording just released by the President Nixon Library. The president used to have all his conversations secretly taped, and much of this material has now been released. This includes a recording of his meeting with Golda Meir in the first half of 1973 – a few months before the Yom Kippur War.

Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger revealed to Golda that the Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat, was ready to make peace with Israel in return for Sinai. Golda treated the proposal with disdain and told Nixon that the Egyptians had no chance against Israel – and therefore would not dare to attack.

(I found that particularly striking, because at the same time I told the Knesset that the Egyptians would start a war even if they had no chance of winning. I had reached this conclusion after meeting a number of important Egyptians, who thoroughly convinced me that Egypt just could not tolerate the status quo in which the Israeli occupation of a part of their land was frozen. They told me that Egypt was ready to pay a heavy price just to unfreeze the situation and to get things moving.)

Golda did not understand that. She was a tough but primitive woman, insensitive to the feelings of others, and did not dream of returning territory for peace. About the Palestinians she did not waste much thought (“There is no such thing as a Palestinian people!”) Moshe Dayan laid the foundations for an eternal occupation. In the middle of 1973 the two looked around them and could detect no cloud – not event the tiniest one – on the horizon.

Aluf Ben sees similarities between the Golda-Nixon meeting and the Netanyahu-Obama talks. I agree.

TODAY WE are in a very similar situation. Here we are sailing again on a Ship of Fools, jolly and light-hearted.

We never had it so good. Out economic situation is splendid. So is our security situation. So is our political situation.

The world-wide economic crisis has not touched us. In several areas, our exports are booming. Just now we were told that our commerce with India is about to expand hugely, and with China, too, we are doing nicely. The polls show that most Israelis are satisfied with their personal economic situation and expect an even rosier future. That’s far from what US and European citizens are feeling. A person whose economic situation is good does not crave change and does not make a revolution.

As far as security is concerned, our situation has never been better, The suicide attacks have ceased altogether. The Palestinian security services are cooperating to prevent attacks on us. The Northern border is almost quiet. The occasional incidents on the Gaza border are not worrisome. We are working hard to arouse the world against the dangers of an Iranian nuclear bomb, but Israelis are not really worried. They know that even if the Iranians got a bomb, they would not dare use it, because Israel can wipe all Iranian cities and their beautiful historical monuments from the face of the earth.

On the political level, the sky is the limit for our achievements. In several rounds we have thrown Barack Obama on the boards. The frantic scurrying around of Hillary Clinton and George Mitchel is simply pathetic. The settlement construction, which has not really stopped for a moment, is gathering even more momentum, with the help of thousands of Palestinian workers who have no other means of subsistence.

The Israeli government rules Washington DC more firmly than ever. The new Congress is even more loyal to Israel than the old one, if that is possible. Just now, the outgoing House unanimously passed a resolution objecting to the declaration of Palestinian statehood. After his resounding defeat in the mid-term elections, Obama must start to think about the presidential election in two years time. It’s difficult to imagine that in these two years he would dare to provoke the mighty Israel lobby, which can now rely not only on the Jewish organizations and the millions of evangelical Christians, but also on the people of the Tea Party (many of whom are anti-Semites like Nixon, as revealed in the tapes: he despised the Jews and admired the Israelis.)

Obama can say what he wants: in a real test he will have to veto any Security Council resolution which is distasteful to the Israeli government. He will have no choice. And he will also supply Israel with all the airplanes it desires – and more.

THOSE WHO had illusions about Netanyahu – Israelis and others – seem to have sobered up by now. He does not want peace, nor a “peace process”, nor any movement at all towards peace.

For Netanyahu, peace is a four-letter word (as it indeed is in Hebrew). And not only because he has an extreme right-wing coalition, full of racists and ultra-nationalists, who are happy to play host to fascists from all over the world. And not only from fear of the settlers, whose political clout is growing by the day. But also because Netanyahu himself does not want to enter the history books as the man who gave up parts of the Jewish homeland and turned them over to the Arabs.

With all the differences, there are a lot of similarities between Netanyahu and Golda Meir. True, there is no second Moshe Dayan – Ehud Barak looks like a piece of wood compared to his one-eyed predecessor with his overflowing charisma. Avigdor Lieberman would be only too happy to fill the vacuum - if he could.

Everything is alright, nothing to worry about. This time, the euphoria is not producing a harvest of victory albums and songs of glory, but a deluge of racist laws that apartheid South Africa would have been jealous of, and declarations of rabbis who boast of conserving our “racial purity” (and we need not mention the place where that notion came from).

This euphoria leads to acts whose sole aim – so it seems – is to provoke and humiliate. An outstanding example: this week it became known that Israel is about to enlarge the “Seven Arches” hotel on the top of the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem – a hotel that belongs to the Jordanian royal family and was expropriated by the Custodian of Enemy Property. That is like the act of a child smashing a precious vase on the ground and shouting: “Ha-ha-ha, what can you do to me?”

“SHIP OF FOOLS 1” went down on Yom Kippur. 2600 young Israelis, the flower of a generation, drowned with it. The “incapable” Egyptians crossed the Suez Canal, and the glorious Bar-Lev Line, the pride of the Israeli army, collapsed. One can pinpoint the exact minute when the euphoria died: on live TV we saw dozens of red-eyed Israeli soldiers crouching on the ground, frightened and humiliated, with moustachioed Syrian soldiers glowering over them. End of the Israeli superman mystique.

“Ship of Fools 2” will also founder. We cannot foresee how. Will it be a war that will lay waste to our towns and villages? Will it be an Islamic revolution in the Arab countries? Will world politics change dramatically?

There is one important difference between Ship 1 and Ship 2: then the whole world loved us, now many around the world detest us. The manifesto of the 26 leading European elder statesmen, who demand that their successors change the European policy towards Israel, is a very bad omen. When the inevitable crisis arrives, world public opinion will no longer be on our side. It will be on the side of the Palestinians.

Somebody wrote this week that America’s support of Israel is a case of “assisted suicide”. In Israel, assisting suicide is a crime. Suicide itself, however, is allowed by our laws.

Those whom the Gods want to destroy, they first make mad. Let’s hope we recover our senses before it is too late.
(c) 2010 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

BP's Azeri police arresting Palast for filming
BP oil rig - Baku, Azerbaijan, December 2010

Palast Arrested
Busted by BP in Azerbaijan
By Greg Palast

"Here in Azerbaijan we believe in human rights. PLEASE GIVE US YOUR FILM."

Oh, no, no, not good.

The enforcers here come in three colors: the military police still wearing their old Russian puke-green uniforms, the MSN (the dictator's secret police) in windbreakers without ID, and BP's own corporate police force in black tunics, sashes and full hats who look like toy soldiers from the Nutcracker ballet. They weren't dancing.

I showed all three flavors of police our press credentials in both English and Azeri, neither of which could be read by the officers. (The dictator had suddenly changed the Azeri alphabet, making most of the nation illiterate overnight.)

The dictator made everyone call him, "Baba," Grandpa.

I told the dumbest-looking one, "Look here: This paper says your so-called President is a weasel's rectum," which our 'fixer' translated as, "This letter from Foreign Ministry is authorization to make a documentary for the British Television."

We'd been surreptitiously filming BP's cancer-making machine, the giant pipeline terminal near Baku, the capital, that sends the Azeri's Caspian Sea oil eastward to light Europe's Christmas trees.

Now, it looked like I'd be spending Christmas in Baba's dungeon licking rats for breakfast. My clown-show antics bought the crew the precious minutes needed to switch the film in the camera to blanks. Our cameraman told a BP cop, with mime: "Hadn't begun filming yet, Old Bean."

We would now. I clicked on my hidden micro-cam.

BP's Azeri police badge depicting oil drilling rig

A black SUV arrived on the remote desert track and unloaded its impressive cargo, a colonel sprinkled with medals from the recent war Azerbaijan lost to Armenia. The colonel said, "British Petroleum drives this country," and as a "British" journalist, he thought I'd be as proud of that fact as he is.

"I know," I said. "Believe me, I know."

There is an awful lot of evidence that BP and Britain's MI6 had their hands in Baba's 1993 coup d'état which overthrew the nation's elected president. Within months of taking power, Baba signed "The Contract of the Century" giving BP monopoly control of Azerbaijan's Caspian reserves.

Baba headed the KGB when this Islamic land was an occupied "republic" of the Soviet Union, the good old days of relative peace, freedom and prosperity.

I was here in the desert to investigate a tip-off I'd had that BP had a near-disaster at its Caspian offshore rig that was extraordinarily similar to the Deepwater Horizon blow-out. But BP covered it up.

What I didn't know was that WikiLeaks was about to release a State Department memo which referred to a small piece of this BP game. Rather than go to Azerbaijan to check the facts, the Wiki newspapers called BP in London for comment.

That put BP on high alert and my sources in high danger.

Palast pictured in front of BP offshore oil
rig in Baku, Azerbaijan, December 2010

So the Baba-BP police were more than curious about our film which we promised was about nothing more than, "the business boom in Central Asia." Of course, we didn't add that the only business booming here is corruption and BP's oil drilling. (I don't use the plural here because it is a single industry.)

How the crew and I (and the poor shepherd on a little horse swept up with us) were released is a complex story involving an impromptu banquet with the Secret Police and the poignant recanting of a statement about BP made to us by an environmental activist.

I understood his need to back down. The night before, we dined with a young video blogger who'd just gotten out of prison after the current president (now Baba's son, Baby Baba), saw the blogger hold a press conference in a donkey suit. The President had no doubt that he was the ass. He was. He is.

Welcome to the Islamic Republic of BP, otherwise known as Azerbaijan. And good-bye.

I'm out of there. Out with the evidence we need about BP and how it lead to the Gulf of Mexico blow-out and an extension of the occupation of Iraq.

It's a hell of a story, and my holiday gift to myself is that I'm here and ready to tell it.

My best wishes to you and your family.
(c) 2010 Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy." His investigations for BBC TV and Democracy Now! can be seen by subscribing to Palast's reports at. Greg Palast investigated the Exxon Valdez disaster for the Chucagh Native villages of Alaska's Prince William Sound.

War And Planet Earth
Toward a Sustainable Peace
By Randall Amster and Michael Nagler

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about language, ideas, even the phrase each other doesn’t make any sense. ~~~ Rumi

Toward the end of Homer’s Iliad, a formative work for the military ethic of the West that was to extend its influence for nearly three thousand years to the present day, the gods hold council to respond to a shocking event taking place on the plains of Troy: the hero Achilles has tied the body of Hector, his most recent victim, to the back of his chariot and is dragging him around the walls of the city. In the course of this debate the god Apollo delivers a famous line:

“For he [Achilles] is torturing the mute Earth in his fury.” (Il. 24:54)

It is important to awaken this sensibility now, among us—and bring it up to the present century. Homer wrote long before artillery barrages and poison gas devastated the landscapes of Europe; before plutonium, depleted uranium, Agent Orange, white phosphorous and other horrors revealed (to those with eyes open to this truth) that war knows no limits in its attack on life and the earth that sustains our life. Moreover, as Apollo’s line indicates, it knows no limits as to where its violence will fall. “Total war,” not unknown in the ancient world, is commonplace in our own, and the percentage of civilian casualties in war has soared since the Second World War, reaching 90 percent already in Vietnam (unmanned drones are no solution, as many tragic “mistakes” have shown).

The word we have translated from the Iliad as “torturing” above also means “humiliating, defiling, shaming.” In this sense, war constitutes an attack on, and a defiling of, the environment in many ways. (The head of Air Force Military Science, formerly Air ROTC, on the UC-Berkeley campus once confessed to Professor Nagler that a single sortie of a B-52 bomber uses more fuel than would be used in the entire lifetime of a Volkswagen; in toto, we observe that the U.S. military as an entity is the single largest consumer of fossil fuels on the planet.) War and environmental degradation have a common cause that lies deeper than any of these statistics, one that Homer was trying to express in his poetic imagination. That cause must be addressed, or nothing we can manage to fix on the symptomatic level will last beyond the order of the day.

Intuitively, the longing for peace and the yearning for a sustainable environment are inextricably linked. Peace is not piecemeal, and it must be sought at all levels if it is to have meaning and tangibility as a demonstrable force for good. In this sense, the quest for personal peace is bound up with the aim of achieving a peaceful society, and this can only be attained when society as a whole is striving to exist in a reciprocal and harmonious manner with the balance of life and the extra-human world. Far from comprising some idealistic vision, this is in fact part of the baseline of humankind’s long and complex history on planet Earth, and it is only in recent times (paleontologically speaking) that we have undone the rough balance that held for eons. At the same time, while we applaud all efforts at elucidating the connections between peace and the environment, we note that some methods of accomplishing these aims work better than others. The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to environmentalists in recent years—notably to Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007 and Wangari Maathai and the Green Belt Movement in 2004—is particularly problematic.

This is not for one moment to understate the inherent value of this work, but rather to recognize that the Peace Prize has become diluted in many respects (for example, by awarding it to Barack Obama on the eve of his escalation of the war in Afghanistan), and that the invocation of “the environment” in this context simultaneously distracts us from focusing on the crucial issues attendant to perpetual warfare while providing a palliative that suggests enough is being done on matters such as climate change and sustainability by virtue of these leading voices being thus recognized. Deeply concerned individuals are doing very cogent work on environmental issues, yet somehow the same energies are not as clearly brought to bear on the war system, which we note does as much as or more than any other single human activity to destroy the environment.

Five years earlier than the Maathai award, the Nobel committee had given the prize to Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She also had little enough to do with war as a formal institution but, as none other than Robert McNamara said, “she promotes peace in the most fundamental manner, by her confirmation of . . . human dignity.” In attempting to desecrate the body of Hector (and it is hard not to have in our minds here the image of a Vietcong soldier being dragged behind an American tank) Achilles is desecrating the earth from which we have sprung and upon which alone we can continue to live and progress toward our increasingly common destiny.

In this sense, our shared commitment to peace becomes simultaneously a commitment to environmentalism the minute it gets down to the root cause of both war and environmental desecration, which lies in the mind and heart of the individual person and the cultural matrix of the prevailing worldview. As Vandana Shiva has said, “if we get rid of the pollution in the human mind they will get rid of the pollution of the environment.” That “pollution” is the idea that we are separate, material beings locked in competition for scarce and ever scarcer resources. This quest for resources in fact constitutes a feedback loop in which the pursuit of material goods at all costs merely renders those materials more elusive, thus requiring even more relentless pursuit.

Perhaps we can illustrate with another example, Lieutenant Jim Channon’s proposal to form a “First Earth Battalion,” a kind of New Age army unit that would protect the environment and use pacific (and rather sentimental) approaches to enemies before resorting to physical force. In the end this scheme only promoted militarism, as some of the ‘tools’ Battalion members came up with were adopted by open-minded planners of psychological combat. In other words, by accepting the core assumptions of militarism—that others must be forced to our will in a competitive world—the attempt to create a sanitized military culture that would protect the environment backfired. The failure was not to recognize that violence cannot protect anything of value —including the minds of its perpetrators, as we now learn from the many studies on the lasting damage perpetrators of violence do to themselves in the course of doing physical or psychological damage to others, even if it is in a cause styled ‘defending freedom’ or other high-sounding euphemisms.

As activists, authors, and educators for peace, we are opposed to all types of violence, and not only to the one most spectacular form, namely armed conflicts between or within state actors that we refer to simply as “war.” Because of this deep commitment to nonviolence, we are simultaneously opposed to the desecration of the living environment, leaving aside the strategic question of which aspect to tackle first in favor of an approach that asks us to work concomitantly for peace at all levels of engagement. One way this deeper commitment shows up is in our recommendation to introduce the use of better language in discussing all of these issues. Just as “peace,” for people outside our field, can mean merely the absence of overt war (witness the U.S. Navy’s definition of ‘peace’ some years ago as “perpetual pre-hostility”), we maintain that the idea of a “sustainable environment” does not evoke the sense of a living, growing planet as the physical basis of human progress toward loving community (as does, for example, Homer’s poem). In pursuit of this aim, we would encourage a perspective that asks instead, what is being sustained and for whose purposes? War as a human activity is inherently unsustainable either socially or ecologically, and thus a vibrant peace and a healthy planet must be developed together.

In other words, our unconditional commitment to life and the inherent dignity of all forms of life applies evenly to the rejection of all forms of violence, including violence against the earth. Even while acknowledging that at this moment there is no more immediate threat to all of life than the progressive distortion of the planetary climate by human (industrial) activity, we call on others as well as ourselves to recognize that the threat posed by the war system is not to be lost sight of as a leading cause of the problem. Indeed it may well be the first issue on which to focus even though, or because, the threat to the planet’s climate is more imminent. We believe that this is true not only because maintaining the war system (largely in place to protect industrialization) is perhaps the chief contributor to climate change but because it is more obvious that deconstructing the war system will require the outgrowing of violence at all levels of engagement.

Gandhi once wrote that “we are constantly being astonished these days at the amazing discoveries in the field of violence. But I maintain that far more undreamt of and seemingly impossible discoveries will be made in the field of non-violence.” It is precisely to make these discoveries and apply them to apparently diverse fields like human rights, militarism, poverty, and the environment that we take as our work. The eternal human desire for peace can only succeed if it strives to attain this transcendent telos both “on earth” and “with earth” as inherently interconnected aims. Today we are faced with paradigmatic crises including perpetual warfare and runaway climate change, yet in this crucial moment may we likewise rise to meet the unique challenge of understanding these as related phenomena whose mutual resolution promises an opportunity to truly usher in an era of peace and prosperity.

At the end of the day, we may even find ourselves wisely embracing an inversion of Achilles’s antipathy, and “nurturing the living Earth in our compassion.”
(c) 2010 Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., teaches peace studies at Prescott College and serves as the executive director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association. His most recent book is the co-edited volume "Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009).

Michael Nagler is Professor emeritus of Classics and Comparative Literature at UC, Berkeley, where he co-founded the Peace and Conflict Studies Program

Obama Brings Corporate Powers Inside

Of all the groups in America that need the President of the U.S. on their side, you'd think the last to win a pledge of support would be the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

After all, this outfit, which is largely funded and run by a handful of America's biggest corporations, has become the most powerful lobbying force in Washington – and one of the richest front groups funneling secret corporate cash into our elections. Indeed, it poured tens of millions of those dollars into campaign ads this fall to demonize the President and turn the U.S. house over to anti-Obama Republicans.

Yet, the day after the election, the chamber found itself being wooed by the White House. The President even dispatched his treasury secretary to the chamber's opulent headquarters to eat crow and promise that henceforth, Obama and Team would be more corporate friendly.

Good grief! Friendlier than Obama's Wall Street reform that coddled the big banksters, or his health care reform that further entrenches profiteering insurance giants inside the system? Or the tax bill cave-in that needlessly awards billions of dollars in special breaks for corporations and rich CEOs?

Yes. So friendly that Obama is now holding an ongoing series of closed-door policy meetings with assorted CEOs. So friendly that he's already delayed regulations to strengthen anti-pollution rules. So friendly that his deficit-reduction panel proposes cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 26 percent. So friendly that he's planning to put a high-powered CEO right inside the White House with him, as demanded by the whining corporate powers who say they're not getting enough love from the President.

Why do they get a special presidential slot? Why not one for labor, small farmers, consumers, the unemployed? Remind me again – is this guy a Democrat?
(c) 2010 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

Reduce The Deficit – Break Down The Department Of Homeland Security
By James Donahue

After the attacks of 9-11, President George W. Bush declared a War on Terror, launched two wars in the Middle East, and created the complex and costly bureaucracy called the Department of Homeland Security. That department, which involves a cabinet position, absorbed a long list of new and existing government agencies. It now functions with 216,000 employees and sucks up an annual budget of $52 billion. Since the agencies that guard our nation’s borders were already functioning quite well before 9-11, it is impossible to say whether pulling them all together under the umbrella of a single department served any purpose. What Bush did was create more bureaucracy, more government red tape and certainly more headaches for the people hired to actually keep our nation safe. And there can be little doubt that reshuffling so many departments has put an additional financial burden on the nation.

The agencies within the department are: the Customs Service, Coast Guard, Secret Service, Citizenship and Immigration Services, Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Federal Protective Service, Transportation Security Administration, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Office for Domestic Preparedness, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Strategic National Stockpile, National Disaster Medical Systems, Nuclear Incident Response Team, Domestic Emergency Support Teams, National Domestic Preparedness Office, the CBRN Countermeasures Programs, Environmental Measurements Laboratory, National BW Defense Analysis Center, Plum Island Animal Disease Center, Federal Computer Incident Response Center, National Communications System, National Protection and Programs Directorate and the Energy Security and Assurance Program.

Could you say the above one-sentence paragraph in one breath? Do you have any idea what many of those departments do? Have you ever tried to call one of those offices for information or personal assistance? The conglomerate sounds so incredibly complex it is difficult to imagine how so many departments can all coordinate their functions, or how Department Secretary Janet Napolitano can keep them all straight. But wait, there is more. Other agencies tucked within Homeland Security include the office of Domestic Nuclear Detection, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, the National Protection and Programs Directorate, the Directorate for Science and Technology, Directorate for Management, the Office of Policy, Office of Health Affairs, Office of Intelligence and Analysis, Office of Operations Coordination, the National Cyber Security Center and the Office of the Secretary. The Office of the Secretary oversees the Privacy Office, Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Office of Inspector General, Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, Office of Legislative Affairs, Office of the General Counsel, Office of Public Affairs, Office of Counternarcotics Enforcement, Office of the Executive Secretariat and the Military Advisor’s Office.

As if the above agencies and advisory agencies don’t have enough trouble keeping the operations within the Office of Homeland Security straight, we must consider the various advisory groups apparently designed to give advice to all of the above. They include the Homeland Security Advisory Council, the National Infrastructure Advisory Council, the Homeland Security Science and Technology Advisory Committee, the Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council, the Interagency Coordinating Council on Emergency Preparedness and Individuals with Disabilities and the Task Force on New Americans. With such a hodge-podge of agencies, councils, advisors and directors all flopping around like a bunch of live minnows dumped into the bottom of a dry bucket it was small wonder that the response to Hurricane Katrina, the first major disaster to happen after 9-11, was poorly orchestrated and too late to save lives or even offer much help to a lot of very desperate Americans. It took the National Guard and local police and emergency services to rescue people from those flooded houses and bring emergency relief.

Instead of helping at the Katrina disaster site, FEMA officials were accused of interfering. Government officials turned away three Wal-Mart trailer trucks loaded with water, diverted trucks laden with ice, blocked the Coast Guard from delivering 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel and weeks late, brought portable mobile housing to the area laced with building materials containing so much formaldehyde they made people living in them sick.

We might also question the agencies response to the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, fire and oil spill that ravaged the Gulf Coast earlier this year. Nobody in government seemed to know what to do other than leave the job of fixing the mess up to British Petroleum, the very people that caused it.

Fortunately the professionals at the border patrol, Immigration and Customs, the Coast Guard and Secret Service already knew their jobs and continued performing them as best they could, in spite of agency interference.

We might also be grateful that the FBI and other special agencies that guard our country were not drawn into the control of the Department of Homeland Security. They have been operating on their own and apparently doing an outstanding job of tracking and stopping potential terrorist threats from within our borders.

As we might imagine when we put together a super bureaucracy the size of the Department of Homeland Security, it is not hard to find evidence of excessive spending, waste and ineffectiveness. One congressional study in 2008 exposed estimated wasted expenditures totaling about $15 billion in failed contracts that year alone. Another audit uncovered an estimated $2 billion in waste and fraud from widespread misuse of government credit cards by department employees. Among the wasted expenses were $70,000 in plastic dog booties and boats purchased at twice the retail price with many of them not found in inventory.

An Associated Press report in September, 2007, exposed a $42 million expense for an anti-terrorism data mining computer tool that was scrapped after pilot testing showed that it misidentified and erroneously associated innocent citizens with those connected with criminal or terrorist activity

Just the tip of the iceberg perhaps?

It should not be a surprise that a 2006 survey revealed very low morale among staff workers in nearly all departments.

We suggest dismantling this monster of an agency, sorting out the wheat from the chaff, shutting down all of those councils, boards and agencies born from bureaucratic flim-flam that fail to do anything of value for either man nor beast. We might just save enough here to keep a few schools and universities operating in the black and put all of our laid-off teachers back to work.
(c) 2010 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site.

President Obama’s Christmas Gift To AT&T (And Comcast And Verizon)
by Amy Goodman

One of President Barack Obama’s signature campaign promises was to protect the freedom of the Internet. He said, in November 2007, “I will take a back seat to no one in my commitment to network neutrality, because once providers start to privilege some applications or websites over others, then the smaller voices get squeezed out and we all lose.”

Jump ahead to December 2010, where Obama is clearly in the back seat, being driven by Internet giants like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast. With him is his appointed chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Julius Genachowski, his Harvard Law School classmate and basketball pal who just pushed through a rule on network neutrality that Internet activists consider disastrous.

Free Press Managing Director Craig Aaron told me, “This proposal appears to be riddled with loopholes that would open the door to all kinds of future abuses, allowing companies like AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, the big Internet service providers, to decide which websites are going to work, which aren’t, and which are going to be able to get special treatment.”

For comedian-turned-senator Al Franken, D-Minn., the new rules on Net neutrality are no joke. He offered this example, writing: “Verizon could prevent you from accessing Google Maps on your phone, forcing you to use their own mapping program, Verizon Navigator, even if it costs money to use and isn’t nearly as good. Or a mobile provider with a political agenda could prevent you from downloading an app that connects you with the Obama campaign (or, for that matter, a tea party group in your area).”

AT&T is one of the conglomerates that activists say practically wrote the FCC rules that Genachowski pushed through. We’ve seen this flip-flop before. Weeks before his 2007 net neutrality pledge, then-Sen. Obama took on AT&T, which was exposed for engaging in warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens at the request of the Bush administration. AT&T wanted retroactive immunity from prosecution. Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton told Talking Points Memo: “To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.”

But by July 2008, a month before the Democratic National Convention, with Obama the presumptive presidential nominee, he not only didn’t filibuster, but voted for a bill that granted telecoms retroactive immunity from prosecution. AT&T had gotten its way, and showed its appreciation quickly. The official tote bag issued to every DNC delegate was emblazoned with a large AT&T logo. AT&T threw an opening-night bash for delegates that was closed to the press, celebrating the Democratic Party for its get-out-of-jail-free card.

AT&T, Verizon, cable giant Comcast and other corporations have expressed support for the new FCC rule. Genachowski’s Democratic Party allies on the commission, Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn (the daughter of House Majority Whip James Clyburn), according to Aaron, “tried to improve these rules, but the chairman refused to budge, apparently because he had already reached an agreement with AT&T and the cable lobbyists about how far these rules were going to go.” Clyburn noted that the rules could allow mobile Internet providers to discriminate, and that poor communities, particularly African-American and Latino, rely on mobile Internet services more than wired connections.

Aaron laments the power of the telecom and cable industry lobbyists in Washington, D.C.: “In recent years, they’ve deployed 500 lobbyists, basically one for every member of Congress, and that’s just what they report. AT&T is the biggest campaign giver in the history of campaign giving, as long as we have been tracking it. So they have really entrenched themselves. And Comcast, Verizon, the other big companies, are not far behind.”

Aaron added: “When AT&T wants to get together all of their lobbyists, there’s no room big enough. They had to rent out a movie theater. People from the public interest who are fighting for the free and open Internet here in D.C. can still share a cab.” Campaign money is now more than ever the lifeblood of U.S. politicians, and you can be sure that Obama and his advisers are looking to the 2012 election, which will likely be the costliest in U.S. history. Vigorous and innovative use of the Internet and mobile technologies is credited with helping Obama secure his victory in 2008. As the open Internet becomes increasingly stifled in the U.S., and the corporations that control the Internet become more powerful, we may not see such democratic participation for much longer.
(c) 2010 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 in Extraordinary Times," recently released in paperback.

Rejecting Bigotry And Bitter-Ender McCain, Senate Scraps Ban On Gays In The Military
By John Nichols

Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992 with the strong support of the LGBT community and allies who believed that his election would usher in an era when gays and lesbians could serve openly in the military.

Instead, supporters of equality and of strategies to assure that the military attracts the best and the brightest got the noxious "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" compromise, which supposedly allowed closeted gays and lesbians to serve in the military but in fact became a new platform for discrimination. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" lasted through Clinton's presidency and George Bush's. But, now, after two decades of organizing, campaigning and lobbying, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has been rejected [1]—and with it the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the U.S. military.

In an indication of how far the movement for LGBT rights has come, a bipartisan Senate vote of 63 to 31 to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and lift the ban.

“Today, the Senate has taken an historic step toward ending a policy that undermines our national security while violating the very ideals that our brave men and women in uniform risk their lives to defend,” President Obama declared after the Saturday afternoon vote. “By ending 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,' no longer will our nation be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans forced to leave the military, despite years of exemplary performance, because they happen to be gay. And no longer will many thousands more be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country they love.”

Senate Democrats and a handful of Republicans early on Saturday broke the filibuster that had blocked final action on the repeal move.

The day saw an embarrassing final push by Senator John McCain, R-Arizona, to demagogue the issue, but even Republicans had stopped listening to the sputtering defeated presidential candidate.

When the final vote came, Senate Democrats and independents Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders were joined not just by Republicans who have tended to be sympathetic to LGBT rights—Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska—but also by Richard Burr of North Carolina, John Ensign of Nevada, Mark Kirk of Illinois and George Voinovich of Ohio.

The Log Cabin Republicans, the GOP's leading LGBT group, was justifiably proud—and highlighted the work of Maine's Collins to bring the repeal measure to the floor as a stand-alone bill after failed efforts to attach it to defense-spending measures. "With this vote, we have crossed one of the final hurdles standing in the way of ending the failed 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy," declared R. Clarke Cooper, the group's executive director. "Log Cabin Republicans are proud of our Senate allies who have voted to make our military stronger. Senator Collins, in particular, has long been the point of the spear in fighting for repeal among Republicans. She showed tremendous leadership in crossing the aisle to make this vote happen, continuing the fight when many thought hope was lost. Senators Brown, Kirk, Murkowski, Snowe and Voinovich also deserve our thanks for taking a principled stand for the integrity of all American servicemembers."

Rea Carey, the executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, summed things up with a celebratory observation that:

"Today's vote is the critical strike against 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and toward creating a path that could end in lesbian, gay and bisexual people being able to serve openly, honestly, and to great benefit of our country. We celebrate this important victory and thank all the senators who supported fairness today. We are on the brink of making history. An end to 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' cannot happen soon enough. This arcane and costly policy has destroyed thousands of careers, wasted much-needed dollars, and failed to enhance our nation's security. We are now poised to end this travesty once and for all, as the Senate today joined with the three-quarters of Americans who already believe 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' must go. People from every background, every faith, every community across the country know that qualified, patriotic Americans willing to risk their lives by serving in the military should be able to do so, free of discrimination. When full repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is implemented, our nation will honor the principles of fairness and justice that it holds so dearly."
(c) 2010 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.

American Hero

"Bethink Yourselves!"
An Ancient Voice Raised Against Modern Evil
By Chris Floyd

More than a century ago, an aging man, staring his own death in the face, spoke the truth of our times:

Again war. Again sufferings, necessary to nobody, utterly uncalled for. Again fraud, again the universal stupefaction and brutalization of men.

Men who are separated from each other by thousands of miles ... are seeking out one another, in order to kill, torture, and mutilate each other in the cruelest way possible. What can this be? Is it a dream or a reality? Something is taking place which should not, cannot be; one longs to believe that it is a dream and to wake from it.

But no, it is not a dream, it is a dreadful reality!

...How can so-called enlightened men preach war, support it, participate in it, and worst of all, without suffering the dangers of war themselves, incite others to it, sending their unfortunate defrauded brothers to fight? These so-called enlightened men cannot possibly ignore ... all that has and is being written about the cruelty, futility and senselessness of war. They are regarded as enlightened men precisely because they know all this. The majority of them have themselves written and spoken about it. ... No enlightened man can help knowing that the universal competition in the armament of states must inevitably lead them to endless wars or to a general bankruptcy, or else to both the one and the other. ...

Everyone knows and cannot help but knowing that, above all, war, calling forth the lowest animal passions, deprave and brutalize men. ... All so-called enlightened men know this. Then suddenly war begins and all this is instantly forgotten, and the same men who but yesterday were proving the cruelty, futility, the senselessness of wars, now think, speak and write only about killing as many men as possible, about ruining and destroying the greatest possible amounts of human labor, and about exciting as much as possible the passion of hatred in those peaceful, harmless, industrious men who by their labour feed, clothe, maintain these same pseudo-enlightened men who compel them to commit those dreadful deeds contrary to their conscience, welfare or faith.

Something is taking place incomprehensible and impossible in its cruelty, falsehood and stupidity .... Stupefied by prayers, sermons, exhortations, by processions, pictures and newspapers, the cannon-fodder -- hundreds of thousands of men, uniformly dressed, carrying divers deadly weapons, leaving their parents, wives, children, with hearts of agony but with artificial bravado -- go where they, risking their own lives, will commit the most dreadful act of killing men whom they do not know and who have done them no harm. And they are followed by doctors and nurses who somehow imagine that at home they cannot serve simple peaceful suffering people but can only serve those who are engaged in slaughtering each other. Those who remain at home are gladdened by news of the murder of men, and when they learn that many [enemies] have been killed, they thank someone whom they call God.

All this is not only regarded as the manifestation of elevated feeling, but those who refrain from such manifestations, if they endeavour to disabuse men, are deemed traitors and betrayers, and are in danger of being abused and beaten by a brutalized crowd, which in defense of its insanity and cruelty can possess no other weapon than brute force.

Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, 1904 (trans. by Evgeny Lampert, in Essays From Tula, Sheppard Press 1948)

Tonight Bradley Manning is being tortured and destroyed in a prison cell because he has been accused of trying to tell the truth about war that all so-called enlightened people know: it is brutalizing, senseless, futile and cruel. He is also being tortured in the hope that he can be used as an instrument to stop Julian Assange from telling the truth about war and the corruptions of power that all so-called enlightened people claim to know.

Meanwhile, the man who last year received the world's most noted accolade the enlightened pursuit of peace is now expanding a senseless, brutal and futile war in one foreign land into another, where he has already killed hundreds of innocent people with cowardly bombs fired at defenseless villages from robot drones controlled by armchair warriors thousands of miles away. Another 54 people died from these assassinations just last night; it is claimed they were "militants," but no names were given, no evidence at all to back up these assertions -- and no real reason at all given as to why these assassinations and escalations must continue, on and on, for years, decades, perhaps generations, we are told. Again, Tolstoy:

Spontaneous feeling tells me that what they are doing should not be, but as the murderer who has begun to assassinate his victim cannot stop, so also ... people now imagine that the fact of the deadly work having been commenced is an unanswerable argument in favour of war. War has been started and therefore it should go on. Thus it seems to simple, benighted, unlearned men acting under the influence of the petty passions and stupefactions to which they have been subjected. In exactly the same way the most educated men of our time argue to prove that man does not possess free will, and that therefore even were he to understand that the work he has commenced is evil he can no longer cease to do it.

So dazed, brutalized men continue their dreadful work.

Do not help them. Do not support them. Do not spend your energy and passion and intellect on earnest analyses of the twists and turns of their political fates. They are doing evil. Do not be part of it. Support instead those who try to speak the truth. Stand with them. It is their fate -- not the fate of the petty, brutal power-seekers -- which will determine the meaning of our times and the future of our species.

*Click here for ways to help support Bradley Manning.*
(c) 2010 Chris Floyd

Obama’s Afghanistan Talk Is Vietnam Time Warp
By Matthew Rothschild

When President Obama spoke on Thursday about Afghanistan, it was like being in a Vietnam time warp.

“This continues to be a very difficult endeavor. But I can report that thanks to the extraordinary service of our troops and civilians on the ground, we are on track to achieve our goals.”

Flashback to November 1967, when President Johnson had ordered a Pentagon review. “The President took control of the campaign to dramatize progress to the American people but in ways that grossly exaggerated future military prospects,” writes Larry Berman in his book, Lyndon Johnson’s War: The Road to Stalemate in Vietnam.

Johnson, November 17, 1967: “We are making progress. We are pleased with the results we are getting.”

Obama, December 16, 2010: “We are making considerable gains toward our military objectives.” Even when Obama was discussing the “core goal” of those military objectives, he was muddled. He defined that goal not as defeating “every last threat to the security of Afghanistan” but as “disrupting, dismantling and defeating Al Qaeda.”

But Al Qaeda barely exists in Afghanistan, and he doesn’t need 100,000 U.S. troops there to go after a handful of terrorists.

Later in his press statement, Obama shifted gears about the military objective in Afghanistan, saying it was “to break the Taliban’s momentum and train Afghan forces so they can take the lead.”

Johnson’s entire “Vietnamization” strategy was to have the South Vietnamese take the lead.

And that didn’t work.

Obama’s statements about Afghanistan this week, like Johnson’s in 1967, were designed as a PR ploy.

But no amount of PR can long cover up a quagmire.
(c)2010 Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine.

When Zombies Win
By Paul Krugman

When historians look back at 2008-10, what will puzzle them most, I believe, is the strange triumph of failed ideas. Free-market fundamentalists have been wrong about everything — yet they now dominate the political scene more thoroughly than ever.

How did that happen? How, after runaway banks brought the economy to its knees, did we end up with Ron Paul, who says “I don’t think we need regulators,” about to take over a key House panel overseeing the Fed? How, after the experiences of the Clinton and Bush administrations — the first raised taxes and presided over spectacular job growth; the second cut taxes and presided over anemic growth even before the crisis — did we end up with bipartisan agreement on even more tax cuts?

The answer from the right is that the economic failures of the Obama administration show that big-government policies don’t work. But the response should be, what big-government policies?

For the fact is that the Obama stimulus — which itself was almost 40 percent tax cuts — was far too cautious to turn the economy around. And that’s not 20-20 hindsight: many economists, myself included, warned from the beginning that the plan was grossly inadequate. Put it this way: A policy under which government employment actually fell, under which government spending on goods and services grew more slowly than during the Bush years, hardly constitutes a test of Keynesian economics.

Now, maybe it wasn’t possible for President Obama to get more in the face of Congressional skepticism about government. But even if that’s true, it only demonstrates the continuing hold of a failed doctrine over our politics.

It’s also worth pointing out that everything the right said about why Obamanomics would fail was wrong. For two years we’ve been warned that government borrowing would send interest rates sky-high; in fact, rates have fluctuated with optimism or pessimism about recovery, but stayed consistently low by historical standards. For two years we’ve been warned that inflation, even hyperinflation, was just around the corner; instead, disinflation has continued, with core inflation — which excludes volatile food and energy prices — now at a half-century low.

The free-market fundamentalists have been as wrong about events abroad as they have about events in America — and suffered equally few consequences. “Ireland,” declared George Osborne in 2006, “stands as a shining example of the art of the possible in long-term economic policymaking.” Whoops. But Mr. Osborne is now Britain’s top economic official.

And in his new position, he’s setting out to emulate the austerity policies Ireland implemented after its bubble burst. After all, conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic spent much of the past year hailing Irish austerity as a resounding success. “The Irish approach worked in 1987-89 — and it’s working now,” declared Alan Reynolds of the Cato Institute last June. Whoops, again.

But such failures don’t seem to matter. To borrow the title of a recent book by the Australian economist John Quiggin on doctrines that the crisis should have killed but didn’t, we’re still — perhaps more than ever — ruled by “zombie economics.” Why?

Part of the answer, surely, is that people who should have been trying to slay zombie ideas have tried to compromise with them instead. And this is especially, though not only, true of the president.

People tend to forget that Ronald Reagan often gave ground on policy substance — most notably, he ended up enacting multiple tax increases. But he never wavered on ideas, never backed down from the position that his ideology was right and his opponents were wrong.

President Obama, by contrast, has consistently tried to reach across the aisle by lending cover to right-wing myths. He has praised Reagan for restoring American dynamism (when was the last time you heard a Republican praising F.D.R.?), adopted G.O.P. rhetoric about the need for the government to tighten its belt even in the face of recession, offered symbolic freezes on spending and federal wages.

None of this stopped the right from denouncing him as a socialist. But it helped empower bad ideas, in ways that can do quite immediate harm. Right now Mr. Obama is hailing the tax-cut deal as a boost to the economy — but Republicans are already talking about spending cuts that would offset any positive effects from the deal. And how effectively can he oppose these demands, when he himself has embraced the rhetoric of belt-tightening?

Yes, politics is the art of the possible. We all understand the need to deal with one’s political enemies. But it’s one thing to make deals to advance your goals; it’s another to open the door to zombie ideas. When you do that, the zombies end up eating your brain — and quite possibly your economy too.
(c) 2010 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as His father, in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter."

~~~ Thomas Jefferson in a letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823 ~~~

One hundred and thirty-one demonstrators, Chris Hedges among them,
were arrested in front of the White House last Thursday.

Bitter Memories Of War On The Way To Jail
By Chris Hedges

The speeches were over. There was a mournful harmonica rendition of taps. The 500 protesters in Lafayette Park in front of the White House fell silent. One hundred and thirty-one men and women, many of them military veterans wearing old fatigues, formed a single, silent line. Under a heavy snowfall and to the slow beat of a drum, they walked to the White House fence. They stood there until they were arrested.

The solemnity of that funerary march, the hush, was the hardest and most moving part of Thursday’s protest against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It unwound the bitter memories and images of war I keep wrapped in the thick cotton wool of forgetfulness. I was transported in that short walk to places I do not like to go. Strange and vivid flashes swept over me—the young soldier in El Salvador who had been shot through the back of the head and was, as I crouched next to him, slowly curling up in a fetal position to die; the mutilated corpses of Kosovar Albanians in the back of a flatbed truck; the screams of a woman, her entrails spilling out of her gaping wounds, on the cobblestones of a Sarajevo street. My experience was not unique. Veterans around me were back in the rice paddies and lush undergrowth of Vietnam, the dusty roads of southern Iraq or the mountain passes of Afghanistan. Their tears showed that. There was no need to talk. We spoke the same wordless language. The butchery of war defies, for those who know it, articulation.

What can I tell you about war?

War perverts and destroys you. It pushes you closer and closer to your own annihilation—spiritual, emotional and, finally, physical. It destroys the continuity of life, tearing apart all systems, economic, social, environmental and political, that sustain us as human beings. War is necrophilia. The essence of war is death. War is a state of almost pure sin with its goals of hatred and destruction. It is organized sadism. War fosters alienation and leads inevitably to nihilism. It is a turning away from the sanctity of life.

And yet the mythic narratives about war perpetuate the allure of power and violence. They perpetuate the seductiveness of the godlike force that comes with the license to kill with impunity. All images and narratives about war disseminated by the state, the press, religious institutions, schools and the entertainment industry are gross and distorted lies. The clash between the fabricated myth about war and the truth about war leaves those of us who return from war alienated, angry and often unable to communicate. We can’t find the words to describe war’s reality. It is as if the wider culture sucked the words out from us and left us to sputter incoherencies. How can you speak meaningfully about organized murder? Anything you say is gibberish.

The sophisticated forms of industrial killing, coupled with the amoral decisions of politicians and military leaders who direct and fund war, hide war’s reality from public view. But those who have been in combat see death up close. Only their story tells the moral truth about war. The power of the Washington march was that we all knew this story. We had no need to use stale and hackneyed clichés about war. We grieved together.

War, once it begins, fuels new and bizarre perversities, innovative forms of death to ward off the boredom of routine death. This is why we would drive into towns in Bosnia and find bodies crucified on the sides of barns or decapitated, burned and mutilated. That is why those slain in combat are treated as trophies by their killers, turned into grotesque pieces of performance art. I met soldiers who carried in their wallets the identity cards of men they killed. They showed them to me with the imploring look of a lost child.

We swiftly deform ourselves, our essence, in war. We give up individual conscience—maybe even consciousness—for the contagion of the crowd and the intoxication of violence. You survive war because you repress emotions. You do what you have to do. And this means killing. To make a moral choice, to defy war’s enticement, is often self-destructive. But once the survivors return home, once the danger, adrenaline highs and the pressure of the crowd are removed, the repressed emotions surface with a vengeance. Fear, rage, grief and guilt leap up like snake heads to consume lives and turn nights into long, sleepless bouts with terror. You drink to forget.

We reached the fence. The real prisoners, the ones who blindly serve systems of power and force, are the mandarins inside the White House, the Congress and the Pentagon. The masters of war are slaves to the idols of empire, power and greed, to the idols of careers, to the dead language of interests, national security, politics and propaganda. They kill and do not know what killing is. In the rise to power, they became smaller. Power consumes them. Once power is obtained they become its pawn. Like Shakespeare’s Richard III, politicians such as Barack Obama fall prey to the forces they thought they had harnessed. The capacity to love, to cherish and protect life, may not always triumph, but it saves us. It keeps us human. It offers the only chance to escape from the contagion of war. Perhaps it is the only antidote. There are times when remaining human is the only victory possible.

The necrophilia of war is hidden under platitudes about honor, duty or comradeship. It waits especially in moments when we seem to have little to live for and no hope, or in moments when the intoxication of war is at its pitch to be unleashed. When we spend long enough in war, it comes to us as a kind of release, a fatal and seductive embrace that can consummate the long flirtation with our own destruction. In the Arab-Israeli 1973 war, almost a third of all Israeli casualties were due to psychiatric causes—and the war lasted only a few days. A World War II study determined that, after 60 days of continuous combat, 98 percent of all surviving soldiers will have become psychiatric casualties. A common trait among the 2 percent who were able to endure sustained combat was a predisposition toward “aggressive psychopathic personalities.” In short, if you spend enough time in combat you go insane or you were insane to begin with. War starts out as the annihilation of the other. War ends, if we do not free ourselves from its grasp, in self-annihilation.

Those around me at the protest, at once haunted and maimed by war, had freed themselves of war’s contagion. They bore its scars. They were plagued by its demons. These crippling forces will always haunt them. But they had returned home. They had returned to life. They had asked for atonement. In Lafayette Park they found grace. They had recovered within themselves the capacity for reverence. They no longer sought to become gods, to wield the power of the divine, the power to take life. And it is out of this new acknowledgement of weakness, remorse for their complicity in evil and an acceptance of human imperfection that they had found wisdom. Listen to them, if you can hear them. They are our prophets.

The tears and grief, the halting asides, the catch in the throat, the sudden breaking off of a sentence, is the only language that describes war. This faltering language of pain and atonement, even shame, was carried like great, heavy boulders by these veterans as they tromped slowly through the snow from Lafayette Park to the White House fence. It was carried by them as they were handcuffed, dragged through the snow, photographed for arrest, and frog-marched into police vans. It was carried into the frigid holding cells of a Washington jail. If it was understood by the masters of war who build the big guns, who build the death planes, who build all the bombs and who hide behind walls and desks, this language would expose their masks and chasten their hollow, empty souls. This language, bereft of words, places its faith in physical acts of nonviolent resistance, in powerlessness and compassion, in truth. It believes that one day it will bring down the house of war.

As Tennyson wrote in “In Memoriam”:

Behold, we know not anything;
I can but trust that good shall fall
At last—far off—at last, to all,
And every winter change to spring.

So runs my dream: but what am I?
An infant crying in the night:
An infant crying for the light:
And with no language but a cry.

(c) 2010 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle."

Health Care And The Wages Of Sin
By David Michael Green

In the spirit of the season, let us tell the tale of the Political Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.

The Political Ghost of Christmas Present showed up in Washington this week to pass an 800 billion dollar tax cut package, a very large chunk of which goes to a very small minority of very rich Americans. That’s a real bummer, given that the distribution of wealth in this country is now so skewed that we make banana republics of the 19th century look good by comparison. I don’t know where that leaves us. Maybe a banana slug republic?

Oh well, at least that’s the total extent of the damage. I mean, it’s not like we’re in tough financial shape or anything, where such a move would represent the very height of fiscal irresponsibility. It’s not like we have to borrow the money to pay for these tax gifts to the wealthy – making them, in reality, tax burden transfers to the less wealthy, and to our children and grandchildren – or anything like that. It’s not like the histrionics of the Democrats in Congress, mounting a faux, five-minute insurrection against the deal and against their own president, don’t emphatically demonstrate once and for all that voters in America have a choice, every time they enter the ballot box, between the Party of Shameless Corporate Hack Assholes That Tries To Pretend It Isn’t, on the one hand, and the Party of Shameless Corporate Hack Assholes That Tries A Little Harder To Pretend It Isn’t, on the other.

And it’s not like there will be any real-world consequences to this latest chapter in the sordid fiscal history of the last thirty years, or anything. A month from now we’ll see the president in his State of the Union address once again linking arms with the (out) Republicans, telling us that we must cut Medicare and Social Security and infrastructure and government payrolls, so that we can afford these yet more gigantic tax cuts for the wealthy, disastrous and murderous wars across the Middle East, and a military budget the size of the rest of the planet, combined. Now we see the “starve the beast” long-haul strategy of the oligarchs about to reach its full fruition. The debt was always intentional. It was the only way to pry out of the cold, stiff fingers of Americans the programs they favor so much they are referred to as the third rail of American politics.

All of which brings us to the Political Ghost of Christmas Future, who showed up a bit early this season. Wanna know what a once proud and prosperous country is going to look like after the plutocratic marauders from both parties and both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue get done with it? The New York Times gave us a little preview this week in an article entitled “Los Angeles Schools, Facing Budget Cuts, Decide to Seek Corporate Sponsors”. Here’s the first sentence: “The football field at a public school here, in the second largest school district in the country, soon may be brought to students by Nike.”

Well, you gotta love that, doncha? And if that’s the case, you can imagine what follows. Teachers telling students, “Alright, open your Microsoft Math Text to page 47, everybody, and let’s do story problem number seven, brought to you by Home Depot.” Recess will become “McDonalds’ You Deserve A Break Time”. And those needing a bathroom break will be issued special “Charmin Courtesy Wipes”. Once everything in our alleged culture has been completely commodified, regressives will be in heaven. They almost deserve it, too, given how hard they’ve worked to wreck the country these last three decades.

Great stuff, to be sure, but I was more impressed this week with the appearance by the Political Ghost of Christmas Past. That particular nightmare came in the corporeal (not to mention corporate) form of one Henry E. Hudson, justice of the Federal District Court in Richmond, Virginia. Like any good regressive, Justice Hudson abandoned all but the pretense of judicial restraint in order to strike down Barack Obama’s centerpiece health care legislation as unconstitutional.

As a side note, this ruling by the George W. Bush appointee, along with two opposing rulings in two other courts by Democratic appointees, reaffirm the absurdity our lawmaking system has become by giving courts the power of judicial review – that is, the power to strike down legislation on the basis of its supposed constitutional infirmities. If courts did that merely to protect minorities from biased majorities, that would be one thing. Nowadays, however, they – and especially the current Supreme Court – use this power chiefly to protect hyper-minorities (that is, the ultra-rich) from any remote semblance of subjugation to the wider public interest. These courts act as mini-legislatures, and unelected and un-unelectable ones at that, making them profoundly anti-democratic institutions, and making the democracy they act within not a democracy at all to the extent this goes on. Other democracies don’t empower courts in this fashion, and we shouldn’t either.

But, like I said, that’s a side note. What I really want to say – and this may surprise you – is that I could hardly agree more with my right-wing friend, Justice Hudson.

Not on constitutional grounds, mind you. That particular document has plenty of wiggle room built into it, so that it can be read nearly any way one wants. Not for nothing do they call the operative phrase here “the elastic clause”. And, anyhow, I’m weary of the fetishism of constitutional worship we constantly indulge in around these parts. Look, if I want my life to be ruled over by the ideas and interests of sexist, elitist, slave-owning aristocrats from the eighteenth century, I’ll be sure to say so. In the meantime, is it really too much to say that we should make policy in the twenty-first century based on the needs and values of people actually living in the twentieth-first century?

But leave all that aside (which is exactly what Justice Hudson did, of course – he just won’t admit it). The reason I agree with this decision is because I agree that the Obama health care plan is fundamentally and profoundly flawed in its design, and egregiously so, to the extent that it should not be the law of the land. What I object to – and what Justice Hudson also objected to, though no doubt driven by very different motivations – is the core mechanism at the heart of Obama’s Obomination, the idea that the government can force individuals to buy a product from some private sector vendor.

For me – as opposed to the judge, I’m sure – it gets even worse, because I think this particular product is entirely worthless and unnecessary, and that the corporations selling it are therefore parasitical in the extreme. And that, of course, is on a good day. In reality, these bastards in health insurance companies are amoral sociopathic monsters who maximize their profits by minimizing the care they deliver to sick and desperate human beings, as has been fully documented now by several former executives from the industry. These are the lowest of the low, barely less disgusting (I’m pretty sure) than hit men, pedophiles, Klansmen and right-wing radio hosts (apologies for the redundancies).

As it happens, I am one of the lucky ones in this country who has a job that includes a decent health plan benefit, so this aspect of Obama’s debauchery doesn’t apply to me personally, though of course that may not always be the case. But why should I or any one else be forced to engage in this sort of commerce against our will? Why, especially in a supposed free market system, should anyone be compelled to purchase a product or service of any kind that they don’t want, and worse, to enrich a corporation they abhor?

The answer, of course, is either because Barack Obama is a corporate water-carrier who could give Dick Cheney a run for his (actually, our) money, or he is a spineless chickenshit Democrat (again, apologies for the redundancies) who makes Harry Reid look like Conan The Barbarian by comparison. Or he is both.

Either way, we got this abortion of a health care plan because it served the interests of the health insurance industry. Obama did a deal with them before he did anything else in his endlessly protracted and astonishingly embarrassing legislative process. While he was telling progressives he was seeking a public option in the bill, he had already promised the insurance predators that that would never happen. He was simply and knowingly stringing along the hapless liberals who just happen to have been responsible for getting him his presidency. This isn’t just idle speculation, or even informed conjecture, by the way. It was recently revealed to the public by former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, one of Barack’s best pals, and a key actor in the process.

And it must be true, else the industry would have stopped at nothing to destroy the plan. But what was not for the insurance thieves to like? All serious public sector competition for their parasitical industry is wiped away, and they are guaranteed 30 or 40 million new customers, forced to buy their tainted and deficient wares. These are (alleged) people who will crush anyone or anything that gets in the way of their massive profits, just as they did in the case of the Clinton plan in 1993. It is inconceivable that they would have failed to seek the obliteration of the Obama plan unless it was a sweet deal for them, as it manifestly is. Who wouldn’t want a guaranteed monopoly against the prospect of real competition from a non-profit government plan? In fact this is better than a monopoly. This isn’t just the absence of competition, this is a Bataan Death March forced customer base, to the tune of tens of millions of people.

Barry the Play President would tell you that he had to do this deal, because there just weren’t enough votes for a public option. Of course, he told you that he was trying to get one when he wasn’t, and he told you that he would close Gitmo in a year and he didn’t, and he campaigned on change you could believe in and delivered neither. So he’s not exactly a paragon of credibility anymore. The best case scenario is that he just doesn’t get the real power of the presidency, which is to persuade, and thus to make votes appear where they didn’t previously exist. Indeed, he shows evidence of this profound political ignorance and/or timidity every day. That may be the explanation, but on the other hand there’s the worst case scenario, which is that there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between him and the likes of Mitch McConnell, except that Obama has a D after his name and the Two-Toed Bespectacled Tree Sloth from Kentucky has an R after his. Hard to tell most days which it is with Obama, but the smart money has to be on the smart money. Chances are good that he’s just another bought off politician gone to Washington to do the bidding of the overclass. Except for the fact that some of us of Boomer vintage or older have still not fully adjusted to the new reality of both parties representing the same predatory class, this is, sadly, just another “Dog Bites Man” story. In any case, it doesn’t really matter what’s going on here. Either explanation, it’s heads they win, tails we lose.

This case is obviously now headed to the Supreme Court, and I’d be pretty surprised, really, if the Court doesn’t toss out Obama’s plan as unconstitutional. That would be bold, but not unprecedented, as regularly occurred in the early days of the New Deal. Moreover, regressives today are the very personification of boldness, and that certainly speaks for the Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse on the top bench. Look at Citizens United or Bush vs. Gore if you have any doubt of that. And look at the front-page headline of the New York Times this week: “Justices Offer Receptive Ear to Business Interests.” Now there’s a shocker, buddy, eh? That one rises fully to the “Dog Bites Man, Takes Long Nap” level of shocking, y’know?

So, the likely denouement for Stupid Barack is that his much-touted great achievement winds up in the garbage can, and we wind up with the crappy health care system we have, so bad that the richest country on the planet is ranked 37th globally by the World Health Organization. Meanwhile, the right has gone from death’s door two years ago to control of the House, effective control of the Senate, and an easy shot at the White House in 2012, in large part because of the way President Pattycake played the politics of his big reform.

These are the wages of sin.

There is, alternatively, a simple way to do health care in America. It is the same system nearly every other country in the industrialized world has been using for the better part of a century, with astonishing levels of success if you compare the public health of those years to prior centuries. It’s the same system we in this country already use for seniors, who tend to adore their Medicare, thank you very much. It’s the same system we use for national defense, that most of our communities use for fire and police, and that we employ for other forms of basic security. It’s simple: everyone pays in, everyone is covered, nobody profits off our insecurities.

The fact that we don’t do health care that way is partly a historical artifact having to do with wage and price controls during World War II, which lead to employers offering health care as a fringe benefit. But there are two other parts. One is the enormous profits made by insurance companies today, who benefit off of people’s worry about sickness, and all too often off of not providing the services subscribers paid for and desperately need. And the other is a political class whose behavior ranges from gutless to bought-off, leaning heavily toward the latter.

I certainly agree that it would have been a fairly substantial political and societal leap for Obama to have proposed a shift to a European-style government-financed health care system, albeit less so if he would have had the wisdom to market it simply as “Medicare For All.” If you want to argue that a jump of that magnitude would have been impossible to sell in 2009, the proper use of the bully pulpit notwithstanding, you might be able to convince me of that. But what he certainly could have done instead is essentially the public option. And he could have made it attractive to businesses to buy a government plan rather than what the private sector offers. And then people could see which is better, and vote with their pocketbooks. In rather a short amount of time, I would surmise, the health insurance industry would go out of business, except for offering boutique supplemental policies to the wealthy. People would follow their wallets, and they would see that big bad government health care is just as (not) evil as big bad Medicare is for seniors.

But Obama didn’t go down this path. Instead, he served the interests of the insurance industry, and now the whole thing is going to blow up in his face. And it should.

First, because it is wrong on principle. I don’t at all want the government telling me whose private sector product I have to buy. Progressives should be especially wary of this precedent. With oligarch-owned regressives making policy in every institution of American government now, think what the right could do with this concept if it is enshrined in American law. Think of the products and services you don’t want that you might be forced to buy in order to further profit the already wealthy. Think especially about the insurances you could be compelled to purchase, against concerns that don’t threaten you. Thanks very much for the government-mandated compulsory purchase concept, but definitely no thanks.

And, second, this thing should blow up in Obama’s face because he is a disastrous president whose career and reputation deserve to be wrecked.

Of course, that just leaves one small problem.

There are 300 million of us who live in the richest country on Earth but continue to have a health care system ranked just below Dominica and Costa Rica.
(c) 2010 David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles, but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of his work can be found at his website,

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Unterfuhrer West,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and your call for censorship of the American Press for any one who apposes us and uncovers our crimes, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 12-31-2010. We salute you Herr West, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

The Government's One-Way Mirror
By Glenn Greenwald

One of the hallmarks of an authoritarian government is its fixation on hiding everything it does behind a wall of secrecy while simultaneously monitoring, invading and collecting files on everything its citizenry does. Based on the Francis Bacon aphorism that "knowledge is power," this is the extreme imbalance that renders the ruling class omnipotent and citizens powerless.

In The Washington Post today, Dana Priest and William Arkin continue their "Top Secret America" series by describing how America's vast and growing Surveillance State now encompasses state and local law enforcement agencies, collecting and storing always-growing amounts of information about even the most innocuous activities undertaken by citizens suspected of no wrongdoing. As was true of the first several installments of their "Top Secret America," there aren't any particularly new revelations for those paying attention to such matters, but the picture it paints -- and the fact that it is presented in an establishment organ such as The Washington Post -- is nonetheless valuable.

Today, the Post reporters document how surveillance and enforcement methods pioneered in America's foreign wars and occupations are being rapidly imported into domestic surveillance (wireless fingerprint scanners, military-grade infrared cameras, biometric face scanners, drones on the border). In sum:

The special operations units deployed overseas to kill the al-Qaeda leadership drove technological advances that are now expanding in use across the United States. On the front lines, those advances allowed the rapid fusing of biometric identification, captured computer records and cellphone numbers so troops could launch the next surprise raid. Here at home, it's the DHS that is enamored with collecting photos, video images and other personal information about U.S. residents in the hopes of teasing out terrorists.

Meanwhile, the Obama Department of Homeland Security has rapidly expanded the scope and invasiveness of domestic surveillance programs -- justified, needless to say, in the name of Terrorism:

[DHS Secretary Janet] Napolitano has taken her "See Something, Say Something" campaign far beyond the traffic signs that ask drivers coming into the nation's capital for "Terror Tips" and to "Report Suspicious Activity."

She recently enlisted the help of Wal-Mart, Amtrak, major sports leagues, hotel chains and metro riders. In her speeches, she compares the undertaking to the Cold War fight against communists.

"This represents a shift for our country," she told New York City police officers and firefighters on the eve of the 9/11 anniversary this fall. "In a sense, this harkens back to when we drew on the tradition of civil defense and preparedness that predated today's concerns."

The results are predictable. Huge amounts of post/9-11 anti-Terrorism money flooded state and local agencies that confront virtually no Terrorism threats, and they thus use these funds to purchase technologies -- bought from the private-sector industry that controls and operates government surveillance programs -- for vastly increased monitoring and file-keeping on ordinary citizens suspected of no wrongdoing. The always-increasing cooperation between federal, state and local agencies -- and among and within federal agencies -- has spawned massive data bases of information containing the activities of millions of American citizens. "There are 96 million sets of fingerprints" in the FBI's data base, the Post reports. Moreover, the FBI uses its "suspicious activities record" program (SAR) to collect and store endless amounts of information about innocent Americans:

At the same time that the FBI is expanding its West Virginia database, it is building a vast repository controlled by people who work in a top-secret vault on the fourth floor of the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building in Washington. This one stores the profiles of tens of thousands of Americans and legal residents who are not accused of any crime. What they have done is appear to be acting suspiciously to a town sheriff, a traffic cop or even a neighbor.

To get a sense for what kind of information ends up being stored -- based on the most innocuous conduct -- read this page from their article describing Suspicious Activity Report No3821. Even the FBI admits the huge waste all of this is -- "'Ninety-nine percent doesn't pan out or lead to anything' said Richard Lambert Jr., the special agent in charge of the FBI's Knoxville office" -- but, as history conclusively proves, data collected on citizens will be put to some use even if it reveals no criminality.

To understand the breadth of the Surveillance State, recall this sentence from the original Priest/Arkin article: "Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications." As Arkin and Priest document today, there are few safeguards on how all this data is used and abused. Local police departments routinely meet with neoconservative groups insisting that all domestic Muslim communities are a potential threat and must be subjected to intensive surveillance and infiltration. Groups engaged in plainly legal and protected political dissent have been subjected to these government surveillance programs. What we have, in sum, is a vast, uncontrolled and increasingly invasive surveillance state that knows and collects more and more information about the activities of more and more citizens.

But what makes all of this particularly ominous is that -- as the WikiLeaks conflict demonstrates -- this all takes place next to an always-expanding wall of secrecy behind which the Government's own conduct is hidden from public view. Just consider the Government's reaction to the disclosures by WikiLeaks of information which even it -- in moments of candor -- acknowledges have caused no real damage: disclosed information that, critically, was protected by relatively low-level secrecy designations and (in contrast to the Pentagon Papers) none of which was designated "Top Secret."

It's crystal clear that the Justice Department is engaged in an all-out crusade to figure out how to shut down WikiLeaks and imprison Julian Assange. It is subjecting Bradley Manning to unbelievably inhumane conditions in order to manipulate him into providing needed testimony to prosecute Assange. Recall that in 2008 -- long before anyone even knew what WikiLeaks was -- the Pentagon secretly plotted on how to destroy the organization. On Meet the Press yesterday, Joe Biden was asked whether he agreed more with Mitch McConnell's statement that Assange is a "high-tech terrorist" than with those comparing WikiLeaks to Daniel Ellsberg, and the Vice President replied: "I would argue that it's closer to being a high tech terrorist. . . ." "A high-tech terrorist." And consider this ernicious little essay from Eric Fiterman -- a former FBI special agent and founder of Methodvue, "a consultancy that provides cybersecurity and computer forensics services to the federal government and private businesses" -- that clearly reflects the Government's view of WikiLeaks:

In the WikiLeaks case, a fringe group led primarily by foreign nationals operating abroad is illegally obtaining, reviewing and disseminating American intelligence information with the stated intent of hurting the United States (WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange himself made this declaration). That not only meets the definition of aggressive, hostile and war-like activity, but squarely targets America's diplomatic positions and intelligence interests while inflicting collateral damage against our financial institutions and service providers who cut-off their relationship with WikiLeaks. This, folks, is war.

That's the mindset of the U.S. Government: everything it does of any significance can and should be shielded from public view; anyone who shines light on what it does is an Enemy who must be destroyed; but nothing you do should be beyond its monitoring and storing eyes. And what's most remarkable about this -- though, given the full-scale bipartisan consensus over it, not surprising -- is how eagerly submissive much of the citizenry is to this imbalance. Many Americans plead with their Government in unison: we demand that you know everything about us but that you keep us ignorant about what you do and punish those who reveal it to us. Often, this kind of oppressive Surveillance State has to be forcibly imposed on a resistant citizenry, but much of the frightened American citizenry -- led by most transparency-hating media figures -- has been trained with an endless stream of fear-mongering to demand that they be subjected to more and more of it.

Obviously, every state is necessarily authorized to exercise powers that private citizens are barred from exercising themselves (governments can legally put people in cages, but if a private citizen does that, it constitutes felonies: kidnapping and false imprisonment). But the imbalance has become so extreme -- the Government now watches much of the citizenry behind a fully opaque one-way mirror -- that the dangers should be obvious. And this is all supposed to be the other way around: it's government officials who are supposed to operate out in the open, while ordinary citizens are entitled to privacy. Yet we've reversed that dynamic almost completely. And even with 9/11 now 9 years behind us, the trends continue only in one direction. WikiLeaks is one of the very few entities successfully subverting this scheme, which is why -- from the view of the Government and its enablers -- it must be stopped at all costs.

UPDATE: Two related points:

(1) Joe Biden not only voted for the Iraq War, but was Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee in 2002 as the Senate authorized that attack, one which resulted in the deaths of well over 100,000 innocent human beings and which was launched under the strategic banner of "Shock and Awe," designed explicitly to terrorize Iraqis out of resisting through the use of a massive display of urban devastation. Julian Assange has never authorized any violence, never killed anyone, never advocated killing anyone, and never threatened anyone's death. Yet the former can accuse the latter of being close to a "high-tech terrorist" without many people batting an eye -- illustrating, yet again, what a meaningless and manipulated term "Terrorism" is; to the extent it means anything, its definition is this: "those who impede or defy American will with any degree of efficacy."

(2) Of all the surveillance state abuses, one of the most egregious has to be the Government's warrantless, oversight-less seizure of the laptops and other electronic equipment of American citizens at the border, whereby they not only store the contents of those devices but sometimes keep the seized items indefinitely. That practice is becoming increasingly common, aimed at people who have done nothing more than dissent from government policy; I intend to have more on that soon. If American citizens don't object to the permanent seizure and copying of their laptops and cellphones without any warrants or judicial oversight, what would they ever object to?
(c) 2010 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy.

Viva WikiLeaks!
SiCKO Was Not Banned in Cuba
By Michael Moore

Yesterday WikiLeaks did an amazing thing and released a classified State Department cable that dealt, in part, with me and my film, 'Sicko.'

It is a stunning look at the Orwellian nature of how bureaucrats for the State spin their lies and try to recreate reality (I assume to placate their bosses and tell them what they want to hear).

The date is January 31, 2008. It is just days after 'Sicko' has been nominated for an Oscar as Best Documentary. This must have sent someone reeling in Bush's State Department (his Treasury Department had already notified me they were investigating what laws I might have broken in taking three 9/11 first responders to Cuba to get them the health care they had been denied in the United States).

Former health insurance executive Wendell Potter recently revealed that the insurance industry -- which had decided to spend millions to go after me and, if necessary, "push Michael Moore off a cliff" -- had begun working with anti-Castro Cubans in Miami in order to have them speak out and smear my film.

So, on January 31, 2008, a State Department official stationed in Havana took a made up story and sent it back to his HQ in Washington. Here's what they came up with:

XXXXXXXXXXXX stated that Cuban authorities have banned Michael Moore's documentary, "Sicko," as being subversive. Although the film's intent is to discredit the U.S. healthcare system by highlighting the excellence of the Cuban system, he said the regime knows the film is a myth and does not want to risk a popular backlash by showing to Cubans facilities that are clearly not available to the vast majority of them.

Sounds convincing, eh?! There's only one problem -- the entire nation of Cuba was shown the film on national television on April 25, 2008! The Cubans embraced the film so much so it became one of those rare American movies that received a theatrical distribution in Cuba. I personally ensured that a 35mm print got to the Film Institute in Havana. Screenings of Sicko were set up in towns all across the country.

But the secret cable said Cubans were banned from seeing my movie. Hmmm.

We also know from another secret U.S. document that "the disenchantment of the masses [in Cuba] has spread through all the provinces," and that "all of Oriente Province is seething with hate" for the Castro regime. There's a huge active underground rebellion, and "workers there readily give all the support they can," with everyone involved in "subtle sabotage" against the government. Morale is terrible throughout all the branches of the armed forces, and in the event of war the army "will not fight." Wow -- this cable is hot!

Of course, this secret U.S. cable is from March 31, 1961, three weeks before Cuba kicked our asses at the Bay of Pigs.

The U.S. government has been passing around these "secret" documents to itself for the past fifty years, explaining in painstaking detail how horrible things are in Cuba and how Cubans are quietly aching for us to come back and take over. I don't know why we write these cables, I guess it just makes us feel better about ourselves. (Anyone curious can find an entire museum of U.S. wish fulfillment cables on the website of the National Security Archive.)

So what do you do with about a false "secret" cable, especially one that involves you and your movie? Well, you wait for a responsible newspaper to investigate and shout what it discovers from the rooftops.

But yesterday WikiLeaks gave the 'Sicko' Cuba cable to the media -- and what did they do with it? They ran the it as if it were true! Here's the headline in the Guardian:

WikiLeaks: Cuba banned Sicko for depicting 'mythical' healthcare system.

Authorities feared footage of gleaming hospital in Michael Moore's Oscar-nominated film would provoke a popular backlash.

And not one scintilla of digging to see if Cuba had actually banned the movie! In fact, just the opposite. The right wing press started to have a field day reporting a lie (Andy Levy of Fox -- twice -- Reason Magazine and Hot Air, plus a slew of blogs). Sadly, even BoingBoing and my friends at the Nation wrote about it without skepticism. So here you have WikiLeaks, who have put themselves on the line to find and release these cables to the press -- and traditional journalists are once again just too lazy to lift a finger, point and click their mouse to log into Nexis or search via Google, and look to see if Cuba really did "ban the film." Had just ONE reporter done that, here's they would have found:

June 16, 2007 Saturday 1:41 AM GMT [that's 7 months before the false cable]

HEADLINE: Cuban health minister says Moore's 'Sicko' shows 'human values' of communist system.

BYLINE: By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ, Associated Press Writer.


Cuba's health minister Jose Ramon Balaguer said Friday that American filmmaker Michael Moore's documentary 'Sicko' highlights the human values of the island's communist-run government... "There can be no doubt this documentary by a personality like Mr. Michael Moore helps promote the profoundly human principles of Cuban society."

Or, how 'bout this little April 25, 2008 notice from CubaSi.Cu (translation by Google):

Sicko premiere in Cuba


The documentary Sicko, the U.S. filmmaker Michael Moore, which deals about the deplorable state of American health care system will be released today at 5:50 pm, for the space Cubavision Roundtable and the Education Channel.

Then there's this from (translation by Google). Or this Cuban editorial (translation by Google). There's even a long clip of the Cuba section of 'Sicko' on the homepage of Media Roundtable on the website!

OK, so we know the media is lazy and sucks most of the time. But the bigger issue here is how our government seemed to be colluding with the health insurance industry to destroy a film that might have a hand in bringing about what the Cubans already have in their poverty-ridden third world country: free, universal health care. And because they have it and we don't, Cuba has a better infant mortality rate than we do, their life expectancy is just 7 months shorter than ours, and, according to the WHO, they rank just two places behind the richest country on earth in terms of the quality of their health care.

That's the story, mainstream media and right-wing haters.

Now that you've been presented with the facts, what are you going to do about it? Are you gonna attack me for having my movie played on Cuban state television? Or are you gonna attack me for not having my movie played on Cuban state television?

You have to choose one, it can't be both.

And since the facts show that the movie played on state TV and in theaters, I think you're better off attacking me for having my films played in Cuba.

¡Viva WikiLeaks!
(c) 2010 Michael Moore is an activist, author, and filmmaker. See more of his work at his website

The Cartoon Corner...

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

To End On A Happy Note...

The Twelve Days of Fascism

On the first day of fascism
Eric Holder gave to me
A Department of Homeland Security

On the second day of fascism
Eric Holder gave to me
Two detained Muslims
And a Department of Homeland Security

On the third day of fascism
Eric Holder gave to me
Three wiretappings
Two detained Muslims
And a Department of Homeland Security

On the fourth day of fascism
Eric Holder gave to me
Four airport friskings
Three wiretappings
Two detained Muslims
And a Department of Homeland Security

On the fifth day of fascism
Eric Holder gave to me
Five Carnivores
Four airport friskings
Three wiretappings
Two detained Muslims
And a Department of Homeland Security

On the sixth day of fascism
Eric Holder gave to me
Six snoops a-sniffing
Five Carnivores
Four airport friskings
Three wiretappings
Two detained Muslims
And a Department of Homeland Security

On the seventh day of fascism
Eric Holder gave to me
Seven TIPsters tipping
Six snoops a-sniffing
Five Carnivores
Four airport friskings
Three wiretappings
Two detained Muslims
And a Department of Homeland Security

On the eighth day of fascism
Eric Holder gave to me
Eight surveillance cameras
Seven TIPsters tipping
Six snoops a-sniffing
Five Carnivores
Four airport friskings
Three wiretappings
Two detained Muslims
And a Department of Homeland Security

On the ninth day of fascism
Eric Holder gave to me
Nine internment camps
Eight surveillance cameras
Seven TIPsters tipping
Six snoops a-sniffing
Five Carnivores
Four airport friskings
Three wiretappings
Two detained Muslims
And a Department of Homeland Security

On the tenth day of fascism
Eric Holder gave to me
Ten less amendments
Nine internment camps
Eight surveillance cameras
Seven TIPsters tipping
Six snoops a-sniffing
Five Carnivores
Four airport friskings
Three wiretappings
Two detained Muslims
And a Department of Homeland Security

On the eleventh day of fascism
Eric Holder gave to me
Eleven years protesting
Ten less amendments
Nine internment camps
Eight surveillance cameras
Seven TIPsters tipping
Six snoops a-sniffing
Five Carnivores
Four airport friskings
Three wiretappings
Two detained Muslims
And a Department of Homeland Security

On the twelfth day of fascism
Eric Holder gave to me
Twelve digital implants
Eleven years protesting
Ten less amendments
Nine internment camps
Eight surveillance cameras
Seven TIPsters tipping
Six snoops a-sniffing
Five Carnivores
Four airport friskings
Three wiretappings
Two detained Muslims
And a Department of Homeland Security.
(c) 2010

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

The Devil Is In Your Chimney!
Is Santa Claus, Satan?

A Special True Christian™ Report Concerning the Origin of Santa Claus

Santa Claus is a Pervert and Satan in DisguiseFreehold, Iowa - Satan's evil plan has created jobs for hundreds of thousands of old lecherous pedophiles throughout this Godly country every December. These filthy homeless hobos just lay on their urine-stained cardboard beds 11 months out of the year, dreaming of Christmas when they can drunkenly traipse into the warmth of departments stores and have innocent little Christian children sit on their vermin-infested laps. Unwary parents happily snap pictures while Satan's obesely wheezing drunks ask their children whether they've been "bad" and whisper lewd suggestions in their angelic little ears with their filthy booze-breath and cigarette-discolored lips. How many unsuspecting tots have suffered a quick grope before Satan's little helper moves on to the next hopeful child in line?

People think that Halloween is the time of year that Satan dresses up, but this is just flat-out wrong. See? The Devil will always try to fool you! Halloween is when Satan delights in watching humans dress in ways that will ensure them entry into the Devil's realm. But it is Christmas time that the Devil saves for himself! It is then when he puts on his most devious costume! And it takes no Sherlock Holmes to see that the Devil's annual disguise is none other than Santa! He even wears his favorite color -- demon red. Even his last name, "Claus," is Olde English for "hoof-claws." Lucifer may be the wiliest of all the deceitful demons that ever drew breath of fire in Hell, but he was pretty sloppy when he decided to try to spoil our Savior's birthday with this disguise. His big devil ego got the better of him when he decided to name his Christmas Anti-Christ after himself. He just moved around the letters in the name, "Satan," into a sonogram and got "Santa." Well, this is to put Prince of Darkness on notice: We are on to you Satan! And we unmask you and heartily rebuke you! Get thee hence from our Christ's birthday party!

Satan once was God's favorite angel. But he tried a heavenly coup and God should have by all rights killed him right then and there. But God, being all that is good, gave him his very own place to rule and called it Hell. And even though God gave Satan free reign to tempt as many people as he wanted (even Christ Himself!) and lots of fabulous stuff to tempt them with (like eternal youth and Lincoln Continentals), Satan was still not satisfied. It made him jealous that Americans have made Christmas the most important retail event of the year, far overshadowing Satan's own holiday, Halloween. So Satan has tried to undermine Christmas by making Santa even more popular than Jesus!

You don't think so? Even the law of the land forbids a baby Jesus in the town square, but who is there instead? You guessed it! Santa! Every time a so-called Christian child asks Santa for something, he is praying to Satan. With each request fulfilled, parents are unwittingly making a pact with the Devil. They may as well be writing in blood, "Satan please distract our children from Jesus with all these shiny toys!" But you know what? When your little boys and girls have grown up and no longer believe that Santa is real, they will find out just how real Satan is when he comes to collect their souls in exchange for all those presents! And God will turn a deaf ear to their pathetic wails of desperation. God will say, "You were more interested in that fat demon who was giving you presents than my Son who was giving you salvation, so you can all rot in Hell for all I care."

So talk to your children before it is too late! Tell them that Santa is no kindly old man; he is an evil demon. And next time your family sees some propped up gin-soaked vagrant in a Mall wearing a red suit with white furry cuffs, set a good example and witness for the other deluded people waiting in line. Loudly, rebuke him! Announce to all the children in the store "Not only is Santa a lie, he will ravage you sexually, drink your blood and drag your palpating carcasses down to Hell with him!" It is only through setting a good example that we can put the Christ back in Christmas.
© 2010 The Landover Baptist Church

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Issues & Alibis Vol 10 # 51 (c) 12/24/2010

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