Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Class War? part 2--Some Recent Press Clips

Class War part 2--Press clips

Forgive me for painting all corporate media as only corporate propagandists--MSNBC apparently sometimes produces news that contradicts that sentiment, at least in the first two clips that follow. It seems to be exceptional in that regard, even though their advertising supports the original point. The following clips are perhaps even more germane, RE "Class War," than two recent shows at Democracy Now! on the same subject.

Michael Moore with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Dylan Ratigan With Author Ron Suskind: "Tim Geithner Ran The White House, Stopped Attorney General Eric Holder From Prosecuting Wall Street"

Who's the White House boss?

Start watching at the 2-minute mark.  This is the most important Ratigan clip since his on-air meltdown.  You will hear that Geithner and Summers defied orders from Obama and took over White House policy, instructing Attorney General Eric Holder to back off Wall Street criminal prosecutions.

▪ "Geithner developed a system to keep the existing Wall Street structure in place with no prosecutions, and billions in additional bailouts."

You got that?  That's called an Executive Gag Order - Mr. President. . . .

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


A Good Fight

Robert Reich

So the really big fight — perhaps the defining battle of 2012 — won’t be over Medicare. It won’t even be over Obama’s jobs program.

It will be over whether the rich should pay more taxes.

The President has vowed to veto any plan to tame the debt that doesn’t increase taxes on the rich. The Republicans have vowed to oppose any tax increases on the rich.

It’s a good fight to have.

. . . .

Trickle-down economics has been a cruel joke.

On the other hand — given projected budget deficits — if the rich don’t pay their fair share, the rest of us will have to bear more of a burden. And that burden inevitably will come in the form of either higher taxes or fewer public services.

If anyone’s declared class warfare it’s the people who inhabit the top rungs of big corporations and Wall Street (and who comprise a disproportionate number of America’s super rich). They’ve declared it on average workers.

The ratio of corporate profits to wages is higher than it’s been since before the Great Depression. And even as corporate salaries and perks keep rising, the median wage keeping dropping, and jobs continue to be shed.

You’ve got the chairman of Merck taking home $17.9 million last year. This year Merck announces plans to boot 13,000 workers. The CEO of Bank of America takes in $10 million, and the bank announces it’s firing 30,000 workers.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but the way I see it we’ve got a huge budget deficit and a giant jobs problem. And under these circumstances it seems to me people at the top who have never had it so good should sacrifice a bit more, so the rest of us don’t have to sacrifice quite as much.

According to the polls, most Americans agree.

Attica Is All of Us: Cornel West on 40th Anniversary of Attica Prison Rebellion
. . . .
Cornel West, professor of religion and African American studies at Princeton University and the author of numerous books on race.

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to another 9/11 milestone. This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Attica rebellion. Forty years ago, September 9th, 1971, prisoners took over much of Attica prison in upstate New York to protest the prison conditions. Four days later, on the morning of September 13th, Governor Nelson Rockefeller ordered state troopers to storm the prison. Troopers shot indiscriminately over 2,000 rounds of ammunition. Thirty-nine men would die—prisoners and guards. After the shooting stopped, police beat and tortured scores more prisoners. Ninety of the surviving prisoners were seriously wounded but were initially denied medical care. After a quarter century of legal struggles, the state of New York would eventually award the surviving prisoners of Attica $12 million in damages. . . . .


. . . .

And we live now in revolutionary times, but the counterrevolution is winning. The counterrevolution is winning. The greedy oligarchs and plutocrats are winning. One out of four corporations don’t pay taxes, been gobbling up billions of dollars. And yet, not just 21 percent of our children living in poverty, of all colors, each one precious, 42 percent of America’s children live in poverty or near poverty. That is sick. It’s a moral obscenity. It’s a national disgrace. And yet, we have a political class, no matter what color they are, that won’t say a mumbling word about that poverty. Why? Because it sits outside of the give and fro between a right-wing, mean-spirited Republican Party, run by the oligarchs and the plutocrats, and a spineless Democratic Party, that’s got ties to the oligarchs and plutocrats, and the poor people get left out. They get invisible, disposable.

And yet, we see the same brothers in the 1950s and '60s who were coming out of socially neglected and economically abandoned spaces, called "the ghetto" by Donny Hathaway. By Donny Hathaway, when he said "ghetto," that wasn't demeaning. If you’re from the ghetto, the way he talked about it, you straightened your back up. You got your mind together. You had love in your heart for your brother and sister on the block. And it started on the chocolate side of town, but it spilled over to the vanilla side and the red side and the yellow side and the brown side, too. The unity that we had in Attica among the black and brown—and I saw some white brothers, too. Oh, yes. And that’s elementary. You’ve got to have the unity, but you’ve got to be honest about the powers that be dividing and conquering. And this revolutionary moment, where the counterrevolution is winning. Every time I look at Brother Dhoruba—Brother, I’ve been so inspired by you for 25 years, because you’ve been talking the same thing I’m talking about right now. Same language, here and Africa. We had a good time in Ghana together. Oh, yes, we did. But now it’s coming back. It’s coming back.

And the young people are hungry and thirsty, but the young people are thirsty for truth. Oh, yes. They’re hungry for truth. And the problem is that most of our leaders have either sold out, caved in, gave up. They don’t want to tell people the truth. They’re too concerned about their careers. They’re too concerned about success. They’re too concerned about just winning the next election for their status. In 1971, the Attica brothers told the truth. But they weren’t the only ones. You had a whole cacophony of voices telling the truth. But who wants to tell the truth? The condition of truth is to allow suffering to speak. If you don’t talk about poverty, you’re not telling the truth. If you’re not talking about working people being pushed against the wall, with corporate profits high, you’re not telling the truth. If you’re not talking about the criminal activity on Wall Street and not one person gone to jail yet, you’re not telling the truth. Don’t tell me about the crime on the block with brothers and sisters and Jamal and Latisha out taken to jail, and yet gangsters who are engaged in fraudulent activity, insider trading, market manipulation, walking around having tea at night. That’s what we need.

But the sad thing is—and I’m going to end on this—the sad thing is, the kind of courage that these brothers had in 1971 is in short supply. It’s in short supply. Because when you bring together the national security state and the military-industrial complex, when you bring together the prison-industrial complex and all the profits that flow from it, when you bring together the corporate media multiplex that don’t want to allow for serious dialogue—unless we got Sister Amy or Brother Tavis and some others—and then, when you bring together the Wall Street oligarchs and the corporate plutocrats, and they tell any person or any group, "If you speak the truth, we’ll shoot you down like a dog and dehumanize you the way we did to dehumanize the brothers in Attica," the only thing that will keep you going is you better have some love in your heart for the people. That’s the only thing that will keep you going, the only reason why the long-distance runner Dhoruba, the only reason why Baraka is a long-distance runner. I don’t care if you agree with them ideologically or not. It doesn’t make any difference. They got enough love for the people in their heart to still tell the truth about poverty, about suffering, about struggle, and be able to look—not just presidents, because by presidents you’re just talking about the placeholder of the oligarchs and the plutocrats—I don’t care what color they are—to tell that truth. And most people, they hold off on that. They say, "No, I got one life, one life. I saw what they did. I saw what they done."

We’re going to have a new wave. We’re going to have a new wave of truth telling. We’re going to have a new wave of witness bearing. And we’re going to teach the younger generation that these brothers didn’t struggle in vain, just like John Brown and Nat Turner and Marcus Garvey and Martin King and Myles Horton and the others didn’t. And we shall see what happens. We might get crushed, too. But you know what? Then you just go down swinging, like Ella Fitzgerald and Muhammad Ali.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Princeton University professor, Dr. Cornel West, speaking before close to 3,000 people, part of two panels at the Riverside Church in New York remembering Attica 40 years ago and talking about a blueprint for accountability today.

See Also: Smiley and West’s Poverty Tour

The Social Contract
By Paul Krugman

September 23, 2011 "NY Times" --This week President Obama said the obvious: that wealthy Americans, many of whom pay remarkably little in taxes, should bear part of the cost of reducing the long-run budget deficit. And Republicans like Representative Paul Ryan responded with shrieks of “class warfare.”
. . . .

Why conservatives hate Warren Buffett
Why conservatives hate Warren Buffett

By E.J. Dionne Jr., Published: September 28

Maybe only a really, really rich guy can credibly make the case for why the wealthy should be asked to pay more in taxes. You can’t accuse a big capitalist of “class warfare.” That’s why the right wing despises Warren Buffett and is trying so hard to shut him up.

Militant conservatives are effective because they are absolutely shameless. Many of the same people who think the rich should be free to spend unlimited sums influencing our politics without having to disclose anything are now asking Buffett to make his tax returns public. I guess if you’re indifferent to consistency, you have a lot of freedom of action.

Buffett has outraged conservatives by saying that he pays taxes at a lower rate than his secretary. He’s said this for years, but he’s a target now because President Obama is using his comment to make the case for higher taxes on millionaires.

. . . .
Buffett’s sin is that he spoke a truth that conservatives want to keep covered up: Taxing capital gains at 15 percent means that people who make their money from investments pay taxes at a much lower marginal rate than those who earn more than $34,500 a year from their labor. That’s when the income tax rate goes up to 25 percent. (For joint filers, the 25 percent rate kicks in at $69,000.) For singles, the 28 percent bracket starts at $83,600, the 33 percent bracket at $174,400.

So if an investor such as Buffett pockets, say, $100 million of his income in capital gains, he pays only a 15 percent tax on all that money. For everyday working people, the 15 percent rate applies only to earnings between $8,500 and $34,500. After that, they’re paying a higher marginal rate than the multimillionaire pays on gains from investments. Oh, yes, and before Obama temporarily cut it by two points, the payroll tax added another 6.2 percent to the burden on middle-class workers. That levy doesn’t apply to capital gains or to income above $106,800, so it hits low- and middle-income workers much harder than it does the wealthy.

No wonder partisans of low taxes on wealthy investors hate Warren Buffett. He has forced a national conversation on (1) the bias of the tax system against labor; (2) the fact that, in comparison with middle- or upper-middle-class people, the really wealthy pay a remarkably low percentage of their income in taxes; and (3) the deeply regressive nature of the payroll tax.
. . . .

Tracy Chapman - Talkin bout a revolution

Monday, September 19, 2011

Class War?

[Edited 9/20&25/11]
For as long as I can remember, Republican leaders, and others of the endless greed persuasion, have accused those progressive Democrats, few of which remain today, of engaging in "class war" or "class warfare."

Whenever progressives suggest even modest restructuring of the tax system, back towards what it had been in those prosperous years when Americans were solidly in favor of a progressive tax system which insisted that the fortunate rich contribute a higher percentage of taxes than the unfortunate poor, the Republicans, and now even some misguided and comfortable Libertarians and the right-wing Flea Paty, have made efforts to shut them down.

In the last few decades, with the greedier corporations taking near total control of the propagandistic ideology produced by US media, as well as financial control over our political process, ideas like progressive taxation, not to mention the rights of laboring Americans, have been under constant attack. During that time, the percentage of taxes paid by wealthy Americans and corporations has shrunk to levels beyond the elite's wildest dreams back in the 1970's, worker wages stagnated and the gap between rich and poor widened significantly. This largely Republican "class war" on American working people and the poor has succeeded in reducing millions to joblessness, homelessness, and poverty, and yet, they persist in claiming that anyone, even a corporate Democrat like Barak Obama, is engaging in "class war" when he recognizes the problem and proposes policies that might even slightly help to reverse the trend.

The fact is, there is a class war going on in America, and while it has violent consequences for the poor and unfortunate here and around the world, in the reality of poverty, war, and all that it entails, the real problems created by it have not yet affected the fortunate among us. Having been saturated in right-wing corporate propaganda, even many poor people have difficulty discerning the true causes of their extreme discomfort.

One reason for this is that, as Huxley envisioned, and others understood, "There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel. . . ."

Think of the endless advertisements for anti-depressant medications on television promising to make the personally intolerable perceptions of many into an accommodating if mindless bliss.

Of course corporate television has another role, as hinted at by Huxley, and described by George Orwell in 1984:
"The process [of mass-media deception] has to be conscious, or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence of guilt.... To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies - all this is indispensably necessary."

Today's news about the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, and etc., are full of rich examples, as are the reports of record poverty and joblessness here in the good old USA.

In Iraq, we continue to keep troops there, though we all know the reasons for the war were completely bogus.

In Afghanistan, we continue to fight a war about Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, even though Al Qaeda are of little influence and Osama is supposed to be dead, while our hatreds are now transferred to the Taliban there and in Pakistan.

In Libya, a war we supposedly engaged in to protect civilians, has resulted in many needless deaths, at least 30 to 50 thousand civilians, including a racist pogrom that has claimed the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of black African migrant workers. NATO bombs continue to fall, killing civilians in support of antagonistic groups of tribal rebels intent on regime change--all this for control of oil, even though the original intent was said to be protecting civilians.

Through all this, the US continues to largely ignore the killings in Yemen, Bahrain, and Egypt, not to mention our long-standing support of Israel's slaughters in Palestine and Lebanon.

At home, we are urged to forget our successful history of taxing the rich at a time when corporate taxes and taxes on the rich have reached nearly historic lows, and when the working people of this country are experiencing painful and devastating joblessness, foreclosures and a seemingly hopeless future. Unions are penalized and demonized, even though they are what brought prosperity to the middle classes of past decades.

In addition, today's numerous television crime programs and movies portray a society where the poor and disenfranchised are demonized for acting in stereotypical ways, usually wildly exaggerated. Their civil rights are routinely violated in many of these crime programs, thus reinforcing the idea that they are sub-human, and worthy of any punishment they might receive from an uncaring society. Another aspect of the corporate media's agenda is the plethora of television programs and movies glorifying militarism and war. Given the lack of other opportunities, due in part to the class war by the wealthy, the disadvantaged come to see the military as a career which can provide them security and self esteem.

The poor have successfully been inculcated with a false consciousness that makes them unaware of their true oppressors, and to instead see the oppressor as their benefactors. How else can the elite get them to fight and die in resource/economic wars for a country that could care less about them--a country that does not provide for their livelihoods, higher education and health care--without fooling them with smiles, merit badges and lies? How else can one account for the passivity of the poor when the well-off in their own communities treat them as people who only exist to mow their lawns, clean their houses, serve as little more than ping-pong balls in the prison-industrial complex, and who are expected to increase the property values of their better off neighbors? How else can one account for the poor voting for people who don't serve their interests, but who instead fill them with falsehoods, and use them as tools for their own enrichment? The poor, and the society as a whole, must be led to believe that the problems of the poor are caused by the poor alone, even if they were abused in childhood and beyond, and were never afforded the many opportunities of those better off.

In the 1930's, there was no television or internet to distract people, only the useful, but much less effective propagandistic tools of radio and newsprint, not to mention the effects of the educational establishment and many "professional" psychologists/counselors. Today, the system has many effective distractions and much more effective propaganda, all of which train us for economic enslavement and distract us from our real problems, including those associated with class. These tools are used effectively to make people confused about who their real enemies are, and in the end, some of the downtrodden come to love and identify with their enemies. That is the new/old reality, and it is why our problems, especially the problems facing the less fortunate, are becoming intractable. One can't solve a problem if one is deceived by leaders and others about what the problem really is.

The problem is class war by the fortunate against the unfortunate, but it has been presented and disguised as a class war by the unfortunate against the fortunate, and the fortunate have far fewer scruples. The supporters of this elitist war on the poor, Republican, Democrat, or whatever, have little heart or compassion, and they should be treated accordingly. This is the real war, in America, Baker City, and elsewhere, and it is the only war worth fighting, if you happen to be poor in America.

As Richard Wolff notes in the article directly below:

"The final irony of loose talk about class war is this: the Republican and conservative voices opposing all tax increases for corporations and the rich thereby provoke, as Buffett intimated and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg more explicitly warned last week, a renewal of class consciousness in the US. Then, Washington might learn what class war really is."

The truth about 'class war' in America
Republicans claim, in Orwellian fashion, that Obama's millionaire tax is 'class war'. The reality is that the super-rich won the war

Richard Wolff, Monday 19 September 2011

Republicans and conservatives always fight back against proposals to raise taxes on corporations and rich individuals by making two basic claims. First, such proposals amount to un-American "class warfare", pitting the working class against corporations and the rich. Second, such proposals would take money for the government that would otherwise have been invested in production and thus created jobs.

Neither logic nor evidence supports either claim. The charge of class war is particularly obtuse. Consider simply these two facts. First, at the end of the second world war, for every dollar Washington raised in taxes on individuals, it raised $1.50 in taxes on business profits. Today, that ratio is very different: for every dollar Washington gets in taxes on individuals, it takes 25 cents in taxes on business. In short, the last half century has seen a massive shift of the burden of federal taxation off business and onto individuals.

Second, across those 50 years, the actual shift that occurred was the opposite of the much more modest reversal proposed this week by President Obama; over the same period, the federal income tax rate on the richest individuals fell from 91% to the current 35%. Yet, Republicans and conservatives use the term "class war" for what Obama proposes – and never for what the last five decades have accomplished in shifting the tax burden from the rich and corporations to the working class.

The tax structure imposed by Washington on the US over the last half-century has seen a massive double shift of the burden of taxation: from corporations to individuals and from the richest individuals to everyone else. If the national debate wants seriously to use a term like "class war" to describe Washington's tax policies, then the reality is that the class war's winners have been corporations and the rich. Its losers – the rest of us – now want to reduce our losses modestly by small increases in taxes on the super-rich (but not, or not yet, on corporations).

To refer to this effort as if it had suddenly introduced class war into US politics is either dishonest or based on ignorance of what federal tax policies have actually been. Or perhaps, for conservatives, it is a convenient mixture of both.

Much the same sort of analysis applies to the Republican claims that taxing corporations and rich people takes money that would otherwise be invested in business growth and thus create jobs. Last Friday, the US Federal Reserve reported a record quantity of cash on the books of US businesses (over $2tn). Even with the currently low taxes on businesses and the rich, that money is not being invested and is not creating jobs. It is not being distributed to anyone else and so is not being spent on consumer goods either. Taxing a portion of that money to finance Washington's stimulation of the economy by spending that money – or even better, by using it to hire and pay the unemployed – would be a much more effective way to provide jobs than leaving it as cash hoards in corporations' coffers.

Last month, Warren Buffett upset many of his "mega-rich friends" by what he stated categorically in a New York Times op-ed. He made it clear that he had never encountered any serious investor who decided whether or not to invest based on tax rates. It was always the prospects of profit that made the difference. He then urged Americans to raise taxes on the rich like himself. He also hinted – none too subtly – that it was becoming politically dangerous for the whole economic system's survival to keep having the minority of extremely rich people paying federal tax at lower rates than the middle- and low-income majority.

The final irony of loose talk about class war is this: the Republican and conservative voices opposing all tax increases for corporations and the rich thereby provoke, as Buffett intimated and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg more explicitly warned last week, a renewal of class consciousness in the US. Then, Washington might learn what class war really is.


February 13, 2010 09:00 AM
The Real Battle: Deficit Reduction is Class War

By Susie Madrak

Here's a really good post on the deficit wars - and the myth of economic "recovery." [via Corrente]

For about 20 years now, I've been warning people that the continuing rise in home values was unsustainable - and bad for the economy. I can't stress this enough: Shelter is shelter, and not an investment. Speculating in residential real estate on the basis of constantly-increasing equity is a relatively recent development that drives a lot of bad economic and social consequences. (Don't even get me started on what a very bad idea it is to use property taxes to fund school systems.)

Using houses as ATM distorted many things in the economy, not the least of which was the parallel stagnation in wages. Think about this: since the 70s, we've seen a steady rise in women working outside the home, a rise in property values, and a monstrous increase in personal debt.

Yet wages never kept pace with any of that. (In fact, those of us who still have jobs are now working harder for less money than we earned in the 1970s.) But with a working spouse bringing in additional income and home equity loans, we could convince ourselves that increasing equity was the same as earning more.

It also kept things calm on the domestic political front, because we bought the illusion that the economy was rewarding us. (Which is one of the reasons why otherwise conservative Republicans were always so supportive of women going to work. It helped keep wages low.)

Even though I see great amounts of psychic pain in the transition, I believe that deflated housing prices are an ultimate good. Housing simply shouldn't cost this much when we aren't earning enough to pay for them; we shouldn't have to take out equity loans to get by.

Which is why I'd recommend that you read Jesse's entire article. He points out that the bulk of Obama's bailout funds and the thrust of his policies is aimed not at bailing out underwater mortgages for drowning homeowners, but to reinflate the value of the bad housing assets.

In other words, to continue the class war on behalf of the bankers. view of the rising and well-subsidized efforts of Harold Ford and his fellow Corporate Democrats, the actual “bipartisan” aim seems to be to provide political cover for cutting spending on labor and on social services. Obama already has sent up trial balloons about needing to address the Social Security and Medicare deficits, as if they should not be financed out of the general budget by taxpayers including the higher brackets (presently exempted from FICA paycheck withholding).

Traditionally, running deficits is supposed to help pull economies out of recession. But today, spending money on public services is deemed “bad,” because it may be “inflationary” – that is, threatening to raise wages. Talk of cutting deficits thus is class-war talk – on behalf of the FIRE sector.

The economy needs deficit spending to avoid unemployment and poverty, to increase social spending to deal with the present economic shrinkage, and to maintain their capital infrastructure. The federal government also needs to increase revenue sharing with states forced to slash their budgets in response to falling tax revenue and rising unemployment insurance.

But the deficits that the Bush-Obama administration have run are nothing like the familiar old Keynesian-style deficits to help the economy recover. Running up public debt to pay Wall Street in the hope that much of this credit will be lent out to inflate asset prices is deemed good. This belief will form the context for Wednesday’s State of the Union speech. So we are brought back to the idea of economic recovery and just what is to be recovered.

Financial lobbyists are hoping to get the government to fill the gap in domestic demand below full-employment levels by providing bank credit. When governments spend money to help increase economic activity, this does not help the banks sell more interest bearing debt. Wall Street’s golden age occurred under Bill Clinton, whose budget surplus was more than offset by an explosion of commercial bank lending.

The pro-financial mass media reiterate that deficits are inflationary and bankrupt economies. The reality is that Keynesian-style deficits raise wage levels relative to the price of property (the cost of obtaining housing, and of buying stocks and bonds to yield a retirement income). The aim of running a “Wall Street deficit” is just the reverse: It is to re-inflate property prices relative to wages.

Go read the whole thing.


Robert Reich Debunks 6 Big GOP Lies About The Economy

Is Social Security a Ponzi scheme as Republican Presidential candidate Rick Perry claims? Noted author and former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich debunks that claim and five other lies the right-wing tells about taxes, government and the economy.

The lies Reich debunks:

1) Tax cuts to the rich and corporations trickle down to the rest of us. 

2) If you shrink government you create jobs.

3) High taxes on the rich hurts the economy.

4) Debt is to be avoided and it is mostly caused by Medicare. 

5) Social Security is a Ponzi scheme

6) We need to tax the poor.

Reich was speaking at the "Summit For A Fair Economy" in Minneapolis, Minnesota on September 10, 2011.


Tax Breaks Are Heavily Tilted Toward High Income Taxpayers
Dean Baker
Beat the Press 9/18/11

The Post had a front page column reporting on the cost of tax breaks. The piece likely gave many readers a misleading picture of the main beneficiaries of these tax cuts when it told readers that:

“the bulk went to private households, primarily upper-middle-class families that Obama has vowed to protect from new taxes. ‘The big money is in the middle-class subsidies,’ said Syracuse University economist Leonard Burman, former director of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.


In fact, by far the largest beneficiaries of these tax cuts are upper income individuals as the chart accompanying the piece shows. For example, tax breaks amount to average of $82,400 for families with income between $500,000 and $1,000,000. Close to 70 percent of the mortgage interest deduction goes to families with incomes above $100,000 a year.

These tax breaks tend to be worth less to more moderate income families since in most cases they do not amount to much more than the standard deduction. That means that most families near the median income (@$60,000) see little benefit from these tax breaks.

Republicans Are Not Being Truthful When They Blame "Uncertainty" for Lack of Hiring

Dean Baker
Beat the Press
Monday, 19 September 2011 04:11

The Washington Post has a front page article outlining President Obama's plans for deficit reduction. It then quotes Representative Paul Ryan blaming "uncertainty" for slow growth and high unemployment.

. . . .[see article]

In short, the evidence does not support Representative Ryan's assertion that uncertainty is a major obstacle to hiring and recovery. It would have been appropriate to call readers attention to the fact that the data contradicts Ryan's assertions. Post reporters have the time to evaluate the evidence, the vast majority of its readers do not.

Serious news stories, unlike this one, do not include in their first sentence a reference to "the nation’s rocketing federal debt." Such phrases are best left for the opinion pages.

Did the Stimulus Help?
By James Kwak

This could be a midsize political battle in the run-up to the midterm elections, as discussed by The New York Times. The positions on both sides are too obvious to warrant repeating. If I recall correctly, the Obama administration hurt itself by underestimating the course of future unemployment a year ago when it passed the stimulus (most people were making the same mistake at the time), so now if you compare actual unemployment against original projections it looks like the stimulus had no impact. But that was a forecasting error and has nothing in itself to do with the stimulus itself.

Menzie Chinn has an overview post on the debate in which he argues that, at least from the standpoint of economists, it’s hardly a debate: the stimulus worked.

He points out that leading private-sector economic consulting firms are crediting the stimulus with significant impacts on GDP growth and employment. Here’s the money chart (originally from the Times):

[see article for chart]

Chinn discusses the types of models used to generate those forecasts, and competing models used by a few academics that yielded different results. He also points out that the CBO also estimates significant growth and employment impacts. If you want to pursue the matter further, he links to a couple of contrary arguments.

Of course, none of this will matter in the end because, as someone (Barney Frank?) said, you can’t get elected saying things would have been even worse without you. Unemployment will still be high in November and the Republicans will blame it on Obama. Voters aren’t going to believe macroeconomic models, don’t realize that unemployment is a lagging indicator, and will (with a little justification) think that Obama could have done more to create jobs.

More from CEPR
The Impact of Cutting Social Security Cost of Living Adjustments on the Living Standards of the Elderly

September 20, 2011, Dean Baker and David Rosnick
During the negotiations over raising the debt ceiling, President Obama proposed cutting the annual cost of living adjustment for Social Security by switching to an index that would show a lower measured rate of inflation. This alternative index, the chained consumer price index (CCPI-U), shows an annual rate of inflation that averages approximately 0.3 percentage points less than the consumer price index (CPI-W) that is currently used to index benefits. While this change would lead to $122 billion in savings to the government over the next decade, it also means that beneficiaries would receive lower benefits.

Since the vast majority of retirees rely on Social Security for the bulk of their retirement income, this cut in the cost of living adjustment would imply a substantial reduction in the standard of living of retirees, unless they offset it by saving more during their working years or retiring later in life. While we cannot know for sure how workers in future years will adjust their behavior, this paper assesses their past response to changes in the cost of living adjustment. It finds that they were not able to raise their non-Social Security income in response to cuts in Social Security benefits.

See Report:
The Impact of Cutting Social Security Cost of Living Adjustments on the Living Standards of the Elderly

"People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome." - George Orwell
"a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest"
From "The Boxer" by Paul Simon

Bruce Springsteen: Born in the USA 1984

Monday, September 12, 2011

9/11 Reconsidered: a Decade After; Follow-up #1

In This Edition:

- The 9/11 Commission Report
- Does 9/11 Truth Have A Chance?; Paul Craig Roberts
- Ignorance Is Strength; Corbett Report
- The Terrorism Issue that Wasn’t Discussed; Gareth Porter
- Scott Horton Interviews Glenn Greenwald
- Was There an Alternative? Looking Back on 9/11 a Decade Later; Noam Chomsky.

This blog will make more sense if the previous blog from September 11, 2011 first

In the recent decades of my life, at least since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, those who question or provide alternative explanations to the official declarations of government commissions formed to present findings of "truth" about the more disturbing events in our lives, have been labeled as "conspiracy theorists." We have been taught by the propaganda of corporate media and government that "conspiracy theorists" are simply "nutcases" and "crackpots," crazy, deranged, and probably dangerous people that we must quickly disregard and who should be treated with suspicion. The effect of the demonization, of course, is to prevent people from carefully examining the facts contained in these alternative theories, because, after all, they are just the conspiracy theories of paranoids.

In some cases the falseness of the alternative theory may be obvious, which only reinforces the officially supported idea that any alternative explanation is but the imaginings of another crackpot. The "facts" of other alternative theories are thus left unexamined by most folks eager to avoid being deemed crazy by their peers. As a skeptic and a biologist/naturalist trained in the sciences, with the equivalent of a minor in chemistry, and who has a love of sociology, I have tended to want to hear out the "crackpots" and many others. On some occasions, the facts they present, scientific or otherwise, are compelling, but may not be readily understood by those without scientific training, so it is often easier for some folks to go with the "official" government theories, or, on occasion, to go with the "conspiracy theorists," depending upon their experience and emotional inclination. The major problem for all of us is that we are trained by the educational system of indoctrination to believe that the system and government are truthful, and are looking out for our best interest. Due to our conditioning, it is then, even in the face of the lies we were told about Iraq, sometimes difficult to challenge government pronouncements concerning the truth about events that seem to threaten all of us, and especially to give any credence to the idea that our government may purposefully endanger or deceive us.

The problem then in finding the truth, in most cases, is to examine the scientific facts. This effort, especially for those with no scientific education, is particularly difficult, when there are two competing versions of the "facts." In that case, whether it be the debate about global warming and climate change, or the collapse of the towers at "ground zero," one may look to the motivations, number, and qualifications, of experts on both sides, even if the media tries to suppress them. My mind, after examining the arguments and facts, says there are compelling reasons to doubt the official government version of the events that occurred on 9/11/01.

That said, here are more articles about 9/11.

The 9/11 Commission Report

Also, check out--Philip Zelikow, Executive Director


Does 9/11 Truth Have A Chance?

By Paul Craig Roberts

September 11, 2011 "Information Clearing House" -- -- In the US on September 11, 2011, the tenth anniversary of 9/11, politicians and their presstitute media presented Americans with “A Day of Remembrance,” a propaganda exercise that hardened the 9/11 lies into dogma. Meanwhile, in Toronto, Canada, at Ryerson University the four-day International Hearings on the Events of September 11, 2001, came to a close at 5pm.

During the four days of hearings, distinguished scientists and scholars and professional architects and engineers presented the results of years of their independent research into all aspects of 9/11 to a distinguished panel consisting of the honorary president of the Italian Supreme Court who was an investigative judge who presided over terrorism cases and three distinguished scholars of high renown and judgment. The distinguished panel’s task is to produce a report with their judgment of the evidence presented by the expert witnesses.

The Toronto Hearings were streamed live over the Internet. I was able to watch many of the presentations over the four days. I was impressed that the extremely high level of intelligence and scientific competence of the witnesses was matched by a high level of integrity, a quality rare in US politics and totally absent in the American media.

As I stressed in my recent interview about 9/11 with Jim Corbett and Global Research, I am a reporter, not an independent researcher into 9/11. I pay attention when the fact-based community finds problems with the official propaganda. Perhaps this reflects my age. My generation was raised to believe in evidence and the scientific method. George Orwell and other writers warned us of the consequence of succumbing to government propaganda as a result of disinterest in the truth or government manipulation of one’s patriotism.

My ability to serve as a reporter of scientific evidence is enhanced by my having a Bachelor of Science from Georgia Tech, a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia, and post-graduate education at the University of California, Berkeley, and Oxford University, where my professor was the distinguished physical chemist and philosopher, Michael Polanyi. In the 1960s, I was appointed Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, in order to provide together with Polanyi to the science students at Berkeley a course in Polanyi’s unique contributions to knowledge. Polanyi’s illness prevented the course from happening and condemned me to being a mere economist.

This does not mean that I am infallible or that my reporting is correct. If my reporting stimulates you, go to the presentations, which I believe will continue to be available online, and if not, some edited CD will be available. Try

As one whose own contributions to economics, now belatedly recognized, are “outside the box,” I am responsive to those who can escape peer pressure in order to advance truth. Here are some of the important things I learned from the Toronto Hearings.

The NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology, a government agency) reports on the twin towers and building 7 are fraudulent. Witnesses at the Toronto Hearings proved that building 7 was a standard controlled demolition and that incendiaries and explosives brought down the twin towers. There is no doubt whatsoever about this. Anyone who declares the contrary has no scientific basis upon which to stand. Those who defend the official story believe in miracles that defy the laws of physics.

A nano-chemist from the University of Copenhagen, who together with a scientific team spent 18 months investigating the chemical and physical properties of dust from the towers, found evidence of nano-termite in the dust and quantities of particles not naturally formed by office or normal building fires that indicate another explosive was also present.

These findings explain the extreme high temperatures that produced the molten steel for which indisputable evidence exists. In the orchestrated cover-up, NIST denies that molten steel is present as its presence is inconsistent with the low temperatures that NIST acknowledges building fires can produce.

Physicist David Chandler proved beyond all doubt that building 7 fell over its visible part (other buildings obscure the bottom floors) at free fall speed, an unambiguous indication that explosives had removed all supporting columns simultaneously. There is no possibility whatsoever according to the laws of physics that building 7 fell for the reasons NIST provides. The NIST account is a total denial of known laws of physics.

Many other powerful points were made at the conference that I will not report, at least not at this time, because the revelation of malevolence is so powerful that most readers will find it a challenge to their emotional and mental strength.

Psychologists explained that there are two kinds of authority to which people submit. One is to the authority of people in high positions in the government. The belief that “our government wouldn’t lie to us” is pervasive, especially among patriots. The other source of authority is experts. However, to believe experts a person has to be educated and open-minded and to trust scientific, professional, and scholarly integrity.

In recent years in America, scientific and scholarly authority has come into disrepute among Christian evangelicals who object to evolution and among anti-intellectual Tea Party adherents who object to “elitists,” that is, objection to knowledge-based persons whose knowledge does not support Tea Party emotions.

In other words, qualified, knowledgeable people who tell people what they do not want to hear are dismissed as “the enemy.” Much of the American population is set up to believe government propaganda. Without an independent media, which the US no longer has, people are taught that only “conspiracy kooks” challenge the government’s story. Even on the Internet, this is a main theme on and on, two sites that protest America’s wars but accept the 9/11 propaganda that justifies the wars.

This is the reason that I think that the US is moving into an era where the emotional needs of the population produced by government propaganda overwhelms science, evidence, and facts. It means the abolition of accountable government and the rule of law, because protection from terrorists is more important.

The fact-based world in which “we are not afraid to follow the truth wherever it may lead” is being displaced by dogma. Anyone who doubts “our government” is an anti-American, Muslim-loving, pinko-liberal commie, who should be arrested and waterboarded until the culprit confesses that he is a terrorist.

The event of 9/11 is now outside the realm of fact, science, and evidence. It is a dogma that justifies the Bush/Cheney/Obama war crimes against Muslims and their countries.

Obama regime appointee Cass Sunstein, a Chicago and Harvard Law School professor, thinks the 9/11 movement, for challenging the official “truth”, should be infiltrated by US intelligence agents in order to shut down the fact-based doubters of government propaganda.

When a law professor at our two most prestigious law schools wants to suppress scientific evidence that challenges government veracity, we know that in America respect for truth is dead.

The notion that a country in which truth is dead is a “light unto the world” is an absurdity.


Ignorance Is Strength

9/11: A Conspiracy Theory

Video By Corbett Report


The Terrorism Issue that Wasn’t Discussed

By Gareth Porter

September 11, 2011 -- In the commentary on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the news and infotainment media have predictably framed the discussion by the question of how successful the CIA and the military have been in destroying al Qaeda. Absent from the torrent of opinion and analysis was any mention of how the U.S. military occupation of Muslim lands and wars that continue to kill Muslim civilians fuel jihadist sentiment that will keep the threat of terrorism high for many years to come.

The failure to have that discussion is not an accident. In December 2007, at a conference in Washington, D.C. on al Qaeda, former State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism Daniel Benjamin offered a laundry list of things the United States could do to reduce the threat from al Qaeda. But he said nothing about the most important thing to be done: pledging to the Islamic world that the United States would pull its military forces out of Afghanistan and Iraq and end its warfare against those in Islamic countries resisting U.S. military presence.

During the coffee break, I asked him whether that item should have been on his list. “You’re right,” he answered. And then he added, “But we can’t do that.”

“Why not,” I asked.

“Because,” he said, “we would have to tell the families of the soldiers who have died in those wars that their loved ones died in vain.”

His explanation was obviously bogus. But in agreeing that America’s continuing wars actually increase the risk of terrorism against the United States, Benjamin was merely reflecting the conclusions that the intelligence and counter-terrorism communities had already reached.

The National Intelligence Estimate on “Trends in Global Terrorism” issued in April 2006 concluded that the war in Iraq was “breeding deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim World and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.” It found that “activists identifying themselves as jihadists, although a small percentage of Muslims, are increasing in both number and geographic dispersion.” And in a prophetic warning, it said “the operational threat from self-radicalized cells will grow in importance…particularly abroad but also at home.”

Given the way intelligence assessments get watered down as they ascend the hierarchy of officials, these were remarkably alarming conclusions about the peril that U.S. occupation of Iraq posed to the United States. And that alarm was shared by at least some counter-terrorism officials as well. Robert Grenier, who had been head of the CIA’s Counter-Terrorism Center in 2005-06, was quoted in the July 25, 2007 Los Angeles Times as saying the war “has convinced many Muslims that the United States is the enemy of Islam and is attacking Muslims, and they have become jihadists as a result of their experience in Iraq.”

As the war in Iraq wound down, the U.S. war in Afghanistan — especially the war being waged by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) — was generating more hatred for the United States. As JSOC scaled up its “night raids” in Afghanistan, it never got the right person in more than 50 percent of the raids, as even senior commanders in JSOC recently admitted to the Washington Post. That indicated that a very large proportion of those killed and detained were innocent civilians. Not surprisingly, the populations of entire districts and provinces were enraged by those raids.

If there is one place on earth where it is obviously irrational to antagonize the male population on a long-term basis, it is the Pashtun region that straddles Afghanistan and Pakistan, with its tribal culture of honor and revenge for the killing of family and friends.

Meanwhile, after fleeing from Afghanistan to Pakistan in 2001, al Qaeda had rebuilt a large network of Pashtun militants in the Pashtun northwest. As the murdered Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad recounted in Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, President Pervez Musharraf, under pressure from Washington, began in 2003 to use the Pakistani army to try to destroy the remnants of al Qaeda by force with helicopter strikes and ground forces. But instead of crushing al Qaeda, those operations further radicalized the population of those al Qaeda base areas, by convincing them that the Pakistani government and army was merely a tool of U.S. control.

Frustrated by the failure of Musharraf to finish off al Qaeda and by the swift rise of the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, the Bush administration launched a drone war that killed large numbers of civilians in northwest Pakistan. An opinion survey by New American Foundation in the region last year found that 77 percent believed the real purpose of the U.S. “war on terror” is to “weaken and divide the Muslim world” and to “ensure American domination.” And more than two-thirds of the entire population of Pakistan view the United States as the enemy, not as a friend, according to the Pew Global Attitudes Project.

The CIA and the Bush and Obama administrations understood that drone strikes could never end the threat of terrorist plots in Pakistan, as outgoing CIA Director Michael Hayden had told the incoming President, according to Bob Woodward’s Obama’s Wars. And if Obama administration didn’t understand then that the drone war was stoking popular anger at the government and the United States, it certainly does now. Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair has pointed out that “hatred of America is increasing in Pakistan” because of the drone strikes.

Yet the night raids and the drone strikes continue, as though the risk of widespread and intense anger toward the United States in those countries doesn’t make any difference to the policymakers.

There is only one way to understand this conundrum: there are winners and losers in the “war on terrorism”. Ordinary Americans are clearly the losers, and the institutions and leaders of the military, the Pentagon and the CIA and their political and corporate allies are the winners. They have accumulated enormous resources and power in a collapsing economy and society.

They are not going to do anything about the increased risk to Americans that the hatred their wars have provoked until they are forced to do so by a combination of resistance from people within those countries and an unprecedented rebellion by millions of Americans. It’s long past time to start organizing that rebellion.

Gareth Porter is an independent investigation journalist and historian specializing in U.S. national security policy.


Scott Horton Interviews Glenn Greenwald
Scott Horton, September 11, 2011

Glenn Greenwald, blogger and author of With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful, discusses a 9/11 retrospective alternative to the mainstream media’s distorted coverage; how the national security state has eroded our freedoms and eliminated government accountability; the surprising near-majority of Americans who recognize the root cause of terrorism and don’t believe in trading freedom for security; why a “free press” doesn’t guarantee that the truth is readily available; why everyone should care about Muslims losing their civil rights; how the PATRIOT Act, supposedly a tool for fighting terrorism, is used more often for drug, immigration and financial investigations; and the lack of a political process for changing the system (switching between Democrats and Republicans every few years doesn’t accomplish anything).

Forget the rest of this article--listen to the audio just below!:
MP3 here. (26:55)

For many other interesting interviews, see AntiWar Radio with Scott Horton.

Glenn Greenwald was a constitutional lawyer in New York City, first at the Manhattan firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, and then at the litigation firm he founded, Greenwald, Christoph. Greenwald litigated numerous high-profile and significant constitutional cases in federal and state courts around the country, including multiple First Amendment challenges. He has a J.D. from New York University School of Law (1994) and a B.A. from George Washington University (1990). In October of 2005, Greenwald started a political and legal blog, Unclaimed Territory, which quickly became one of the most popular and highest-trafficked in the blogosphere.

Upon disclosure by the New York Times in December 2005 of President Bush’s warrantless eavesdropping program, Greenwald became one of the leading and most cited experts on that controversy. In early 2006, he broke a story on his blog regarding the NSA scandal that served as the basis for front-page articles in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers, all of which credited his blog for the story. Several months later, Sen. Russ Feingold read from one of Greenwald’s posts during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Feingold’s resolution to censure the president for violating FISA. In 2008, Sen. Chris Dodd read from Greenwald’s Salon blog during floor debate over FISA. Greenwald’s blog was also cited as one of the sources for the comprehensive report issued by Rep. John Conyers titled “The Constitution in Crisis.” In 2006, he won the Koufax Award for best new blog.

Greenwald is the author of A Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency, How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok and Great American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican Politics.

For more articles on 9/11, see the earlier post.

Was There an Alternative?
Looking Back on 9/11 a Decade Later

By Noam Chomsky

We are approaching the 10th anniversary of the horrendous atrocities of September 11, 2001, which, it is commonly held, changed the world. On May 1st, the presumed mastermind of the crime, Osama bin Laden, was assassinated in Pakistan by a team of elite US commandos, Navy SEALs, after he was captured, unarmed and undefended, in Operation Geronimo.

A number of analysts have observed that although bin Laden was finally killed, he won some major successes in his war against the U.S. "He repeatedly asserted that the only way to drive the U.S. from the Muslim world and defeat its satraps was by drawing Americans into a series of small but expensive wars that would ultimately bankrupt them," Eric Margolis writes. "'Bleeding the U.S.,' in his words." The United States, first under George W. Bush and then Barack Obama, rushed right into bin Laden’s trap... Grotesquely overblown military outlays and debt addiction... may be the most pernicious legacy of the man who thought he could defeat the United States” -- particularly when the debt is being cynically exploited by the far right, with the collusion of the Democrat establishment, to undermine what remains of social programs, public education, unions, and, in general, remaining barriers to corporate tyranny.

That Washington was bent on fulfilling bin Laden’s fervent wishes was evident at once. As discussed in my book 9-11, written shortly after those attacks occurred, anyone with knowledge of the region could recognize “that a massive assault on a Muslim population would be the answer to the prayers of bin Laden and his associates, and would lead the U.S. and its allies into a ‘diabolical trap,’ as the French foreign minister put it.”

The senior CIA analyst responsible for tracking Osama bin Laden from 1996, Michael Scheuer, wrote shortly after that “bin Laden has been precise in telling America the reasons he is waging war on us. [He] is out to drastically alter U.S. and Western policies toward the Islamic world,” and largely succeeded: “U.S. forces and policies are completing the radicalization of the Islamic world, something Osama bin Laden has been trying to do with substantial but incomplete success since the early 1990s. As a result, I think it is fair to conclude that the United States of America remains bin Laden’s only indispensable ally.” And arguably remains so, even after his death.

The First 9/11

Was there an alternative? There is every likelihood that the Jihadi movement, much of it highly critical of bin Laden, could have been split and undermined after 9/11. The “crime against humanity,” as it was rightly called, could have been approached as a crime, with an international operation to apprehend the likely suspects. That was recognized at the time, but no such idea was even considered.

In 9-11, I quoted Robert Fisk’s conclusion that the “horrendous crime” of 9/11 was committed with “wickedness and awesome cruelty,” an accurate judgment. It is useful to bear in mind that the crimes could have been even worse. Suppose, for example, that the attack had gone as far as bombing the White House, killing the president, imposing a brutal military dictatorship that killed thousands and tortured tens of thousands while establishing an international terror center that helped impose similar torture-and-terror states elsewhere and carried out an international assassination campaign; and as an extra fillip, brought in a team of economists -- call them “the Kandahar boys” -- who quickly drove the economy into one of the worst depressions in its history. That, plainly, would have been a lot worse than 9/11.

Unfortunately, it is not a thought experiment. It happened. The only inaccuracy in this brief account is that the numbers should be multiplied by 25 to yield per capita equivalents, the appropriate measure. I am, of course, referring to what in Latin America is often called “the first 9/11”: September 11, 1973, when the U.S. succeeded in its intensive efforts to overthrow the democratic government of Salvador Allende in Chile with a military coup that placed General Pinochet’s brutal regime in office. The goal, in the words of the Nixon administration, was to kill the “virus” that might encourage all those “foreigners [who] are out to screw us” to take over their own resources and in other ways to pursue an intolerable policy of independent development. In the background was the conclusion of the National Security Council that, if the US could not control Latin America, it could not expect “to achieve a successful order elsewhere in the world.”

The first 9/11, unlike the second, did not change the world. It was “nothing of very great consequence,” as Henry Kissinger assured his boss a few days later.

These events of little consequence were not limited to the military coup that destroyed Chilean democracy and set in motion the horror story that followed. The first 9/11 was just one act in a drama which began in 1962, when John F. Kennedy shifted the mission of the Latin American military from “hemispheric defense” -- an anachronistic holdover from World War II -- to “internal security,” a concept with a chilling interpretation in U.S.-dominated Latin American circles.

In the recently published Cambridge University History of the Cold War, Latin American scholar John Coatsworth writes that from that time to “the Soviet collapse in 1990, the numbers of political prisoners, torture victims, and executions of non-violent political dissenters in Latin America vastly exceeded those in the Soviet Union and its East European satellites,” including many religious martyrs and mass slaughter as well, always supported or initiated in Washington. The last major violent act was the brutal murder of six leading Latin American intellectuals, Jesuit priests, a few days after the Berlin Wall fell. The perpetrators were an elite Salvadorean battalion, which had already left a shocking trail of blood, fresh from renewed training at the JFK School of Special Warfare, acting on direct orders of the high command of the U.S. client state.

The consequences of this hemispheric plague still, of course, reverberate.

From Kidnapping and Torture to Assassination

All of this, and much more like it, is dismissed as of little consequence, and forgotten. Those whose mission is to rule the world enjoy a more comforting picture, articulated well enough in the current issue of the prestigious (and valuable) journal of the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London. The lead article discusses “the visionary international order” of the “second half of the twentieth century” marked by “the universalization of an American vision of commercial prosperity.” There is something to that account, but it does not quite convey the perception of those at the wrong end of the guns.

The same is true of the assassination of Osama bin Laden, which brings to an end at least a phase in the “war on terror” re-declared by President George W. Bush on the second 9/11. Let us turn to a few thoughts on that event and its significance.

On May 1, 2011, Osama bin Laden was killed in his virtually unprotected compound by a raiding mission of 79 Navy SEALs, who entered Pakistan by helicopter. After many lurid stories were provided by the government and withdrawn, official reports made it increasingly clear that the operation was a planned assassination, multiply violating elementary norms of international law, beginning with the invasion itself.

There appears to have been no attempt to apprehend the unarmed victim, as presumably could have been done by 79 commandos facing no opposition -- except, they report, from his wife, also unarmed, whom they shot in self-defense when she “lunged” at them, according to the White House.

A plausible reconstruction of the events is provided by veteran Middle East correspondent Yochi Dreazen and colleagues in the Atlantic. Dreazen, formerly the military correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, is senior correspondent for the National Journal Group covering military affairs and national security. According to their investigation, White House planning appears not to have considered the option of capturing bin Laden alive: “The administration had made clear to the military's clandestine Joint Special Operations Command that it wanted bin Laden dead, according to a senior U.S. official with knowledge of the discussions. A high-ranking military officer briefed on the assault said the SEALs knew their mission was not to take him alive.”

The authors add: “For many at the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency who had spent nearly a decade hunting bin Laden, killing the militant was a necessary and justified act of vengeance.” Furthermore, “capturing bin Laden alive would have also presented the administration with an array of nettlesome legal and political challenges.” Better, then, to assassinate him, dumping his body into the sea without the autopsy considered essential after a killing -- an act that predictably provoked both anger and skepticism in much of the Muslim world.

As the Atlantic inquiry observes, “The decision to kill bin Laden outright was the clearest illustration to date of a little-noticed aspect of the Obama administration's counterterror policy. The Bush administration captured thousands of suspected militants and sent them to detention camps in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay. The Obama administration, by contrast, has focused on eliminating individual terrorists rather than attempting to take them alive.” That is one significant difference between Bush and Obama. The authors quote former West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, who “told German TV that the U.S. raid was ‘quite clearly a violation of international law’ and that bin Laden should have been detained and put on trial,” contrasting Schmidt with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who “defended the decision to kill bin Laden although he didn't pose an immediate threat to the Navy SEALs, telling a House panel... that the assault had been ‘lawful, legitimate and appropriate in every way.’"

The disposal of the body without autopsy was also criticized by allies. The highly regarded British barrister Geoffrey Robertson, who supported the intervention and opposed the execution largely on pragmatic grounds, nevertheless described Obama’s claim that “justice was done” as an “absurdity” that should have been obvious to a former professor of constitutional law. Pakistan law “requires a colonial inquest on violent death, and international human rights law insists that the ‘right to life’ mandates an inquiry whenever violent death occurs from government or police action. The U.S. is therefore under a duty to hold an inquiry that will satisfy the world as to the true circumstances of this killing.”

Robertson usefully reminds us that “[i]t was not always thus. When the time came to consider the fate of men much more steeped in wickedness than Osama bin Laden -- the Nazi leadership -- the British government wanted them hanged within six hours of capture. President Truman demurred, citing the conclusion of Justice Robert Jackson that summary execution ‘would not sit easily on the American conscience or be remembered by our children with pride... the only course is to determine the innocence or guilt of the accused after a hearing as dispassionate as the times will permit and upon a record that will leave our reasons and motives clear.’”

Eric Margolis comments that “Washington has never made public the evidence of its claim that Osama bin Laden was behind the 9/11 attacks,” presumably one reason why “polls show that fully a third of American respondents believe that the U.S. government and/or Israel were behind 9/11,” while in the Muslim world skepticism is much higher. “An open trial in the U.S. or at the Hague would have exposed these claims to the light of day,” he continues, a practical reason why Washington should have followed the law.

In societies that profess some respect for law, suspects are apprehended and brought to fair trial. I stress “suspects.” In June 2002, FBI head Robert Mueller, in what the Washington Post described as “among his most detailed public comments on the origins of the attacks,” could say only that “investigators believe the idea of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon came from al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan, the actual plotting was done in Germany, and the financing came through the United Arab Emirates from sources in Afghanistan.”

What the FBI believed and thought in June 2002 they didn’t know eight months earlier, when Washington dismissed tentative offers by the Taliban (how serious, we do not know) to permit a trial of bin Laden if they were presented with evidence. Thus, it is not true, as President Obama claimed in his White House statement after bin Laden’s death, that “[w]e quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al-Qaeda.”

There has never been any reason to doubt what the FBI believed in mid-2002, but that leaves us far from the proof of guilt required in civilized societies -- and whatever the evidence might be, it does not warrant murdering a suspect who could, it seems, have been easily apprehended and brought to trial. Much the same is true of evidence provided since. Thus, the 9/11 Commission provided extensive circumstantial evidence of bin Laden’s role in 9/11, based primarily on what it had been told about confessions by prisoners in Guantanamo. It is doubtful that much of that would hold up in an independent court, considering the ways confessions were elicited. But in any event, the conclusions of a congressionally authorized investigation, however convincing one finds them, plainly fall short of a sentence by a credible court, which is what shifts the category of the accused from suspect to convicted.

There is much talk of bin Laden's “confession,” but that was a boast, not a confession, with as much credibility as my “confession” that I won the Boston marathon. The boast tells us a lot about his character, but nothing about his responsibility for what he regarded as a great achievement, for which he wanted to take credit.

Again, all of this is, transparently, quite independent of one’s judgments about his responsibility, which seemed clear immediately, even before the FBI inquiry, and still does.

Crimes of Aggression

It is worth adding that bin Laden’s responsibility was recognized in much of the Muslim world, and condemned. One significant example is the distinguished Lebanese cleric Sheikh Fadlallah, greatly respected by Hizbollah and Shia groups generally, outside Lebanon as well. He had some experience with assassinations. He had been targeted for assassination: by a truck bomb outside a mosque, in a CIA-organized operation in 1985. He escaped, but 80 others were killed, mostly women and girls as they left the mosque -- one of those innumerable crimes that do not enter the annals of terror because of the fallacy of “wrong agency.” Sheikh Fadlallah sharply condemned the 9/11 attacks.

One of the leading specialists on the Jihadi movement, Fawaz Gerges, suggests that the movement might have been split at that time had the U.S. exploited the opportunity instead of mobilizing the movement, particularly by the attack on Iraq, a great boon to bin Laden, which led to a sharp increase in terror, as intelligence agencies had anticipated. At the Chilcot hearings investigating the background to the invasion of Iraq, for example, the former head of Britain’s domestic intelligence agency MI5 testified that both British and U.S. intelligence were aware that Saddam posed no serious threat, that the invasion was likely to increase terror, and that the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan had radicalized parts of a generation of Muslims who saw the military actions as an “attack on Islam.” As is often the case, security was not a high priority for state action.

It might be instructive to ask ourselves how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos had landed at George W. Bush's compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic (after proper burial rites, of course). Uncontroversially, he was not a “suspect” but the “decider” who gave the orders to invade Iraq -- that is, to commit the “supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole” for which Nazi criminals were hanged: the hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of refugees, destruction of much of the country and its national heritage, and the murderous sectarian conflict that has now spread to the rest of the region. Equally uncontroversially, these crimes vastly exceed anything attributed to bin Laden.

To say that all of this is uncontroversial, as it is, is not to imply that it is not denied. The existence of flat earthers does not change the fact that, uncontroversially, the earth is not flat. Similarly, it is uncontroversial that Stalin and Hitler were responsible for horrendous crimes, though loyalists deny it. All of this should, again, be too obvious for comment, and would be, except in an atmosphere of hysteria so extreme that it blocks rational thought.

Similarly, it is uncontroversial that Bush and associates did commit the “supreme international crime” -- the crime of aggression. That crime was defined clearly enough by Justice Robert Jackson, Chief of Counsel for the United States at Nuremberg. An “aggressor,” Jackson proposed to the Tribunal in his opening statement, is a state that is the first to commit such actions as “[i]nvasion of its armed forces, with or without a declaration of war, of the territory of another State ….” No one, even the most extreme supporter of the aggression, denies that Bush and associates did just that.

We might also do well to recall Jackson’s eloquent words at Nuremberg on the principle of universality: “If certain acts in violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us.”

It is also clear that announced intentions are irrelevant, even if they are truly believed. Internal records reveal that Japanese fascists apparently did believe that, by ravaging China, they were laboring to turn it into an “earthly paradise.” And although it may be difficult to imagine, it is conceivable that Bush and company believed they were protecting the world from destruction by Saddam’s nuclear weapons. All irrelevant, though ardent loyalists on all sides may try to convince themselves otherwise.

We are left with two choices: either Bush and associates are guilty of the “supreme international crime” including all the evils that follow, or else we declare that the Nuremberg proceedings were a farce and the allies were guilty of judicial murder.

The Imperial Mentality and 9/11

A few days before the bin Laden assassination, Orlando Bosch died peacefully in Florida, where he resided along with his accomplice Luis Posada Carriles and many other associates in international terrorism. After he was accused of dozens of terrorist crimes by the FBI, Bosch was granted a presidential pardon by Bush I over the objections of the Justice Department, which found the conclusion “inescapable that it would be prejudicial to the public interest for the United States to provide a safe haven for Bosch.” The coincidence of these deaths at once calls to mind the Bush II doctrine -- “already… a de facto rule of international relations,” according to the noted Harvard international relations specialist Graham Allison -- which revokes “the sovereignty of states that provide sanctuary to terrorists.”

Allison refers to the pronouncement of Bush II, directed at the Taliban, that “those who harbor terrorists are as guilty as the terrorists themselves.” Such states, therefore, have lost their sovereignty and are fit targets for bombing and terror -- for example, the state that harbored Bosch and his associate. When Bush issued this new “de facto rule of international relations,” no one seemed to notice that he was calling for invasion and destruction of the U.S. and the murder of its criminal presidents.

None of this is problematic, of course, if we reject Justice Jackson’s principle of universality, and adopt instead the principle that the U.S. is self-immunized against international law and conventions -- as, in fact, the government has frequently made very clear.

It is also worth thinking about the name given to the bin Laden operation: Operation Geronimo. The imperial mentality is so profound that few seem able to perceive that the White House is glorifying bin Laden by calling him “Geronimo” -- the Apache Indian chief who led the courageous resistance to the invaders of Apache lands.

The casual choice of the name is reminiscent of the ease with which we name our murder weapons after victims of our crimes: Apache, Blackhawk… We might react differently if the Luftwaffe had called its fighter planes “Jew” and “Gypsy.”

The examples mentioned would fall under the category of “American exceptionalism,” were it not for the fact that easy suppression of one’s own crimes is virtually ubiquitous among powerful states, at least those that are not defeated and forced to acknowledge reality.

Perhaps the assassination was perceived by the administration as an “act of vengeance,” as Robertson concludes. And perhaps the rejection of the legal option of a trial reflects a difference between the moral culture of 1945 and today, as he suggests. Whatever the motive was, it could hardly have been security. As in the case of the “supreme international crime” in Iraq, the bin Laden assassination is another illustration of the important fact that security is often not a high priority for state action, contrary to received doctrine.

Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor emeritus in the MIT Department of Linguistics and Philosophy. He is the author of numerous bestselling political works, including 9-11: Was There an Alternative? (Seven Stories Press), an updated version of his classic account, just being published this week with a major new essay -- from which this post was adapted -- considering the 10 years since the 9/11 attacks.

Copyright 2011 Noam Chomsky

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 Reconsidered: a Decade After

In This Issue:

- Causes, Consequences and Alternatives
---America Is A Bully. OK. There, I Said It!; Tom Feeley
---A Decade After 9/11: We Are What We Loathe; Chris Hedges
---How I’ll Remember 9-11 This Year; Karen Kwiatkowski
---Public opinion surprises; Glenn Greenwald
---Reporter Recalls 'Reckless Courage' At Ground Zero : NPR
---Let’s Cancel 9/11: Bury the War State's Blank Check at Sea; Tom Engelhardt
---From a Friend

- Questions About the Government Narrative on 9/11
---911 Experts Speak Out (Video)
---You Only Believe the Official 9/11 Story Because You Don't Know the Official 9/11 Story

[Edited 9/12/11]

America has spent an unbelievable week wallowing in the real and understandable hurt of 9/11. Who doesn't feel deep compassion for the victims of that tragedy? It follows a decade in which our leaders and elites, including most of the mainstream media, and many in the two major political parties, have encouraged and nurtured an ideology of thoughtless revenge--a destructive and hate-filled decade-long reaction to the pain that all Americans felt on that day. The legacy of lies, manipulation, endless war and compassionless carnage has left us financially and morally broken. While our leaders and the media have diverted us from thoughtful introspection and constructive political pro-action, to a state of knee-jerk, thoughtless, hate-filled reaction and Islamophobia, the nation has been robbed and left nearly penniless, as our blood and treasure was spent for war and Wall Street. Osama must be smiling in his ocean grave.

What has been largely missing from recent coverage is any compassion for those we label as our enemies, as well as anything approaching sufficient analysis of the real reasons for our troubles, including the roles our imperial foreign policy and our defense of Israel, have played in them. We still seem to nourish the cynical lies instilled by George W. Bush--that they hate us for our "freedom," etc.-- and we invoke our gods and religion to rationalize an unrestrained brutality that no religion should support.

It is said that there were approximately 2,833 people killed in the 9/11 attacks. Our sanctions on Iraq alone, not counting deaths from the "turkey shoot" during the first Iraq war and subsequent missile attacks, had killed an estimated 100,000 to 500,00 children, and additional others, prior to 9/11 ( Estimates vary between 100,000 to over 1.5 million deaths in Iraq due to sanctions.). We have killed, injured, and displaced many hundreds of thousands in Iraq and Afghanistan alone since then, including countless innocent civilians. I have heard no notes of compassion for them during the last week of sacred memorialization. We've lost some 7,500 of our own and the toll continues to mount, at a cost approximating $1,248,088,512,604. How many more needless deaths and countries invaded or controlled will it take to bring "closure" to the American sense of pain over 9/11? How far will we sink into bankruptcy and moral depravity before our lust for revenge and need for "closure" are satisfied?

As an antidote to the pious, uninformed, thoughtless, self-indulgent encouragement of self-pity, grief, and hatred offered by the media and government, I offer the following articles:

Causes, Consequences and Alternatives

America Is A Bully. OK. There, I Said It!

By Tom Feeley

First published December 24, 2002

America is a bully, or so it appears to those who live beyond our shores.

Nobody likes a bully, whether he operates in the schoolyard or in the international arena. Those who support a bully do so out of fear. Hence, bullies never have any real friends. They have followers who are intimidated by the arrogance and power of the tormenter. There are many nations, which appear to be friendly to America, yet they wait patiently with hope in their hearts that one-day the bully will meet his match. Meanwhile, they pay homage to the bully in order that they may avoid his wrath.

To the world outside America's borders it appears that Bin Laden strides into the schoolyard, confronts the bully and slaps his face before his tormented schoolmates. Around the globe, good people who have watched the bully in his conceit, speak of justice and democracy as if he was their inventor and the only person worthy of their benefits, are appalled to find that their horror of the event is accompanied with an inward sense of satisfaction. At last, "the bully got what was coming to him".

In the aftermath of 9/11, America’s citizens are scared. Awakened from a dream of rampant consumerism and ignorance of world affairs, we find ourselves confused and uncertain. How could such a thing have happened? It happened because America's democracy has been subverted, not by communists or terrorists, but by our choices. The great majority of America's people choose to close our eyes or look away when the bully treated the people of other nations in a manner which would sicken them, had it occurred to one of their own family.
. . . .
Injustice is the garden that nourishes terrorism.

A great many of us choose to engage ourselves in rampant consumerism and ignorance of world affairs. After all, who cares what is happening "over there"?

9/11 has taught us nothing. We have become narcissistic and self centered; like the drug addict who refuses to look at himself, we rage on about how everyone is against us, and use our denial to continue our self destructive behavior. In search of another fix we roar across the world dropping bombs on anyone who may try to point out that our sickness is self-imposed.

If America is addicted to power, who then are its friends ? The pushers who feed the habit or those who call to its attention the destruction it brings on its own family?

Tom Feeley is the editor of

Read the whole article at

A Decade After 9/11: We Are What We Loathe
See also

By Chris Hedges

September 11, 2011 "Truthdig" -- I arrived in Times Square around 9:30 on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. A large crowd was transfixed by the huge Jumbotron screens. Billows of smoke could be seen on the screens above us, pouring out of the two World Trade towers. Two planes, I was told by people in the crowd, had plowed into the towers. I walked quickly into the New York Times newsroom at 229 W. 43rd St., grabbed a handful of reporter’s notebooks, slipped my NYPD press card, which would let me through police roadblocks, around my neck, and started down the West Side Highway to the World Trade Center. The highway was closed to traffic. I walked through knots of emergency workers, police and firemen. Fire trucks, emergency vehicles, ambulances, police cars and rescue trucks idled on the asphalt.

The south tower went down around 10 a.m. with a guttural roar. Huge rolling gray clouds of noxious smoke, dust, gas, pulverized concrete, gypsum and the grit of human remains enveloped lower Manhattan. The sun was obscured. The north tower collapsed about 30 minutes later. The dust hung like a shroud over Manhattan.
. . . .

The shock of 9/11, however, demanded images and stories of resilience, redemption, heroism, courage, self-sacrifice and generosity, not collective suicide in the face of overwhelming hopelessness and despair.

Reporters in moments of crisis become clinicians. They collect data, facts, descriptions, basic information, and carry out interviews as swiftly as possible. We make these facts fit into familiar narratives. We do not create facts but we manipulate them. We make facts conform to our perceptions of ourselves as Americans and human beings. We work within the confines of national myth. We make journalism and history a refuge from memory. The pretense that mass murder and suicide can be transformed into a tribute to the victory of the human spirit was the lie we all told to the public that day and have been telling ever since. We make sense of the present only through the lens of the past, as the French philosopher Maurice Halbwachs pointed out, recognizing that “our conceptions of the past are affected by the mental images we employ to solve present problems, so that collective memory is essentially a reconstruction of the past in the light of the present. … Memory needs continuous feeding from collective sources and is sustained by social and moral props.”

I returned that night to the newsroom hacking from the fumes released by the burning asbestos, jet fuel, lead, mercury, cellulose and construction debris. I sat at my computer, my thin paper mask still hanging from my neck, trying to write and catch my breath. All who had been at the site that day were noticeable in the newsroom because they were struggling for air. Most of us were convulsed by shock and grief.

There would soon, however, be another reaction. Those of us who were close to the epicenters of the 9/11 attacks would primarily grieve and mourn. Those who had some distance would indulge in the growing nationalist cant and calls for blood that would soon triumph over reason and sanity. Nationalism was a disease I knew intimately as a war correspondent. It is anti-thought. It is primarily about self-exaltation. The flip side of nationalism is always racism, the dehumanization of the enemy and all who appear to question the cause. The plague of nationalism began almost immediately. My son, who was 11, asked me what the difference was between cars flying small American flags and cars flying large American flags.

“The people with the really big flags are the really big assholes,” I told him.

The dead in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania were used to sanctify the state’s lust for war. To question the rush to war became to dishonor our martyrs. Those of us who knew that the attacks were rooted in the long night of humiliation and suffering inflicted by Israel on the Palestinians, the imposition of our military bases in the Middle East and in the brutal Arab dictatorships that we funded and supported became apostates. We became defenders of the indefensible. We were apologists, as Christopher Hitchens shouted at me on a stage in Berkeley, “for suicide bombers.”

Because few cared to examine our activities in the Muslim world, the attacks became certified as incomprehensible by the state and its lap dogs, the press. Those who carried out the attacks were branded as rising out of a culture and religion that was at best primitive and probably evil. The Quran—although it forbids suicide as well as the murder of women and children—was painted as a manual for fanaticism and terror. The attackers embodied the titanic clash of civilizations, the cosmic battle under way between good and evil, the forces of light and darkness. Images of the planes crashing into the towers and heroic rescuers emerging from the rubble were played and replayed. We were deluged with painful stories of the survivors and victims. The deaths and falling towers became iconographic. The ceremonies of remembrance were skillfully hijacked by the purveyors of war and hatred. They became vehicles to justify doing to others what had been done to us. And as innocents died here, soon other innocents began to die in the Muslim world. A life for a life. Murder for murder. Death for death. Terror for terror.

What was played out in the weeks after the attacks was the old, familiar battle between force and human imagination, between the crude instruments of violence and the capacity for empathy and understanding. Human imagination lost. Coldblooded reason, which does not speak the language of the imagination, won. We began to speak and think in the empty, mindless nationalist clichés about terror that the state handed to us. We became what we abhorred. The deaths were used to justify pre-emptive war, invasion, Shock and Awe, prolonged occupation, targeted assassinations, torture, offshore penal colonies, gunning down families at checkpoints, massive aerial bombardments, drone attacks, missile strikes and the killing of dozens and soon hundreds and then thousands and later tens of thousands and finally hundreds of thousands of innocent people. We produced piles of corpses in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, and extended the reach of our killing machine to Yemen and Somalia. And by beatifying our dead, by cementing into the national psyche fear and the imperative of permanent war, and by stoking our collective humiliation, the state carried out crimes, atrocities and killings that dwarfed anything carried out against us on 9/11. The best that force can do is impose order. It can never elicit harmony. And force was justified, and is still justified, by the first dead. Ten years later these dead haunt us like Banquo’s ghost.

“It is the first death which infects everyone with the feelings of being threatened,” wrote Elias Canetti. “It is impossible to overrate the part played by the first dead man in the kindling of wars. Rulers who want to unleash war know very well that they must procure or invent a first victim. It needs not be anyone of particular importance, and can even be someone quite unknown. Nothing matters except his death; and it must be believed that the enemy is responsible for this. Every possible cause of his death is suppressed except one: his membership of the group to which one belongs oneself.”

We were unable to accept the reality of this anonymous slaughter. We were unable because it exposed the awful truth that we live in a morally neutral universe where human life, including our life, can be snuffed out in senseless and random violence. It showed us that there is no protection, not from God, fate, luck, omens or the state.

We have still not woken up to whom we have become, to the fatal erosion of domestic and international law and the senseless waste of lives, resources and trillions of dollars to wage wars that ultimately we can never win. We do not see that our own faces have become as contorted as the faces of the demented hijackers who seized the three commercial jetliners a decade ago. We do not grasp that Osama bin Laden’s twisted vision of a world of indiscriminate violence and terror has triumphed. The attacks turned us into monsters, grotesque ghouls, sadists and killers who drop bombs on village children and waterboard those we kidnap, strip of their rights and hold for years without due process. We acted before we were able to think. And it is the satanic lust of violence that has us locked in its grip.

As Wordsworth wrote:

Action is transitory—a step, a blow,
The motion of a muscle—this way or that—
’Tis done; and in the after-vacancy
We wonder at ourselves like men betrayed:
Suffering is permanent, obscure and dark,
And has the nature of infinity.

We could have gone another route. We could have built on the profound sympathy and empathy that swept through the world following the attacks. The revulsion over the crimes that took place 10 years ago, including in the Muslim world, where I was working in the weeks and months after 9/11, was nearly universal. The attacks, if we had turned them over to intelligence agencies and diplomats, might have opened possibilities not of war and death but ultimately reconciliation and communication, of redressing the wrongs that we commit in the Middle East and that are committed by Israel with our blessing. It was a moment we squandered. Our brutality and triumphalism, the byproducts of nationalism and our infantile pride, revived the jihadist movement. We became the radical Islamist movement’s most effective recruiting tool. We descended to its barbarity. We became terrorists too. The sad legacy of 9/11 is that the assholes, on each side, won.

Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.

Read entire article here.

How I’ll Remember 9-11 This Year

By Karen Kwiatkowski

September 10, 2011 -- It’s been a decade since the attacks of 9-11. Since that time, the cost of the American government has more than doubled while American economic output has drastically slowed. Communication and public speech has suffered under the weight of the Patriot Act, and today, most Americans understand that their government tracks them and spies upon them. Travel across this beautiful land has been made more expensive, as fuel and food costs have skyrocketed. The new and wholly un-American Department of Homeland Security has settled in for the long war, apparently against the American people and American traditions of liberty.

A recent Frontline television program outlined the research effort by two reporters at the Washington Post in describing a "Top Secret" America. The real federal jobs program in the last decade has been in surveillance, monitoring, and intelligence-development – of Americans on American soil.

In the decade after 9-11, Washington, D.C. launched repeated land wars, government takeovers, and nation-building, first in Afghanistan, then in Iraq, and later in Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and now Libya. None of these wars, all sold as "wars against terrorism" were granted any public congressional debate, and none entailed a Congressional declaration of war.
. . . .
On this ten-year anniversary, I intend to go about my business as usual, and say a prayer of gratitude for the small freedoms I have left. In the afternoon, I’ll be in Charlottesville, Virginia, learning about local apprenticeship and crafts demonstrations. In the evening, I’ll check the livestock and gather the eggs. I won’t allow what I personally experienced that day in the Pentagon, nor the subsequent government drumbeats for war, waving the 9-11 banner, to diminish my awareness of the meaning of liberty.

The real battle for Americans today is a battle to reassert our independence from an overbearing and unsustainable state. Today, we can all celebrate that there are fundamental cracks in the federal state’s veneer, and we can be grateful for the options we still have in our own lives to live free, to practice charity and faith, creativity and productivity, and to rediscover our own power as individuals and communities.

Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D. [send her mail], a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, blogs occasionally at Liberty and Power and The Beacon. To receive automatic announcements of new articles, click here or join her Facebook page. She is currently running for Congress in Virginia's 6th district.

Copyright © 2011 Karen Kwiatkowski


FRIDAY, SEP 9, 2011 11:10 ET
Public opinion surprises

The most common claim to justify endless civil liberties erosions in the name of security -- and to defend politicians who endorse those erosions -- is that Americans don't care about those rights and are happy to sacrifice them.  The principal problem with this claim is that it is false, as a new Pew Research poll demonstrates:
See Poll:
54% - Ten Years After 9/11: United in Remembrance, Divided over Policies
The public continues to be divided over many of the anti-terrorism policies that arose in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, according to a survey conducted Aug. 17-21 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. A majority (54%) say it is not necessary to give up civil liberties in order to curb terrorism while 40% hold the opposite view. In a poll taken right after the attacks, 55% had said it was necessary to give up civil liberties to effectively fight terrorism while 35% disagreed. Read more from PEW

Rest from Greenwald here

Reporter Recalls 'Reckless Courage' At Ground Zero : NPR

. . . . "I believe that grief needs to be private," he says. "That doesn't mean that help can't be given to those who are grieving — it should be given. But you don't make a spectacle out of it. You don't stand up as a politician and wallow in it. And as the media, you don't wallow in it. It's not to deny the tragedy. It's to question the utility of public grief."

Did Sept. 11 Change American Forever?

"Forever is a big word," Langewiesche says. Sept. 11 "certainly did change America, and I was not aware enough of it when I was [at ground zero]. I was so wrapped up in the day-to-day."

That day-to-day cooperation and collaboration, he says, was like "the blossoming of something very beautiful.

"But the larger currents," he continues, "have been hugely self-destructive. One war fought in the wrong way. One war that should never have been. Other wars probably coming as a result. The construction of huge and expensive security bureaucracies. Problems with legal conduct both in war and at home.

"With the current president coming in — finding really these same policies pursued?" he asks. "It seems to indicate that these self-destructive impulses are not a question of the left or the right or who's in charge, but something very worrisome about the United States as a whole. Who we are, what are doing to ourselves."


Let’s Cancel 9/11: Bury the War State's Blank Check at Sea

By Tom Engelhardt

September 08, 2011 "Tom Dispatch" - - Let’s bag it.

I’m talking about the tenth anniversary ceremonies for 9/11, and everything that goes with them: the solemn reading of the names of the dead, the tolling of bells, the honoring of first responders, the gathering of presidents, the dedication of the new memorial, the moments of silence. The works.

Let’s just can it all. Shut down Ground Zero. Lock out the tourists. Close “Reflecting Absence,” the memorial built in the “footprints” of the former towers with its grove of trees, giant pools, and multiple waterfalls before it can be unveiled this Sunday. Discontinue work on the underground National September 11 Museum due to open in 2012. Tear down the Freedom Tower (redubbed 1 World Trade Center after our “freedom” wars went awry), 102 stories of “the most expensive skyscraper ever constructed in the United States.” (Estimated price tag: $3.3 billion.) Eliminate that still-being-constructed, hubris-filled 1,776 feet of building, planned in the heyday of George W. Bush and soaring into the Manhattan sky like a nyaah-nyaah invitation to future terrorists. Dismantle the other three office towers being built there as part of an $11 billion government-sponsored construction program. Let’s get rid of it all. If we had wanted a memorial to 9/11, it would have been more appropriate to leave one of the giant shards of broken tower there untouched.

Ask yourself this: ten years into the post-9/11 era, haven't we had enough of ourselves? If we have any respect for history or humanity or decency left, isn’t it time to rip the Band-Aid off the wound, to remove 9/11 from our collective consciousness? No more invocations of those attacks to explain otherwise inexplicable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and our oh-so-global war on terror. No more invocations of 9/11 to keep the Pentagon and the national security state flooded with money. No more invocations of 9/11 to justify every encroachment on liberty, every new step in the surveillance of Americans, every advance in pat-downs and wand-downs and strip downs that keeps fear high and the homeland security state afloat.

The attacks of September 11, 2001 were in every sense abusive, horrific acts. And the saddest thing is that the victims of those suicidal monstrosities have been misused here ever since under the guise of pious remembrance. This country has become dependent on the dead of 9/11 -- who have no way of defending themselves against how they have been used -- as an all-purpose explanation for our own goodness and the horrors we’ve visited on others, for the many towers-worth of dead in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere whose blood is on our hands.

Isn’t it finally time to go cold turkey? To let go of the dead? Why keep repeating our 9/11 mantra as if it were some kind of old-time religion, when we’ve proven that we, as a nation, can’t handle it -- and worse yet, that we don’t deserve it?

We would have been better off consigning our memories of 9/11 to oblivion, forgetting it all if only we could. We can’t, of course. But we could stop the anniversary remembrances. We could stop invoking 9/11 in every imaginable way so many years later. We could stop using it to make ourselves feel like a far better country than we are. We could, in short, leave the dead in peace and take a good, hard look at ourselves, the living, in the nearest mirror.

Ceremonies of Hubris
. . . .

Note on further reading: I recommend two recent pieces that, amid the mountain of usual writing about 9/11 ten years later, have something out of the ordinary to say: Ariel Dorfman’s “Epitaph for Another September 11” in the Nation magazine on the two 9/11s and how differently two American nations reacted to their disasters, and Lawrence Weschler’s “Memory” in the Chronicle of Higher Education on the shame of a squandered decade.

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project, runs the Nation Institute's

© 2011
Rest of article

From a Friend:

Greetings from MN. My sister found a "meet your muslim neighbors" open house and interfaith prayer service here in Brooklyn Park. We were greeted by the youth group members who had created displays about Habib, Sharia, Common themes between Quran, Bible and Torah, etc. The prayer service was opened by a charismatic young man whose 4 yr. old son recited a few verses of the Quran in Arabic and then we heard from a Lutheran neighboring pastor and a Rabbi from the area, along with the sheriff and someone from Bahia Faith. It was a wonderful way to participate in 9/11 and the community was very welcoming. The following was read by the Lutheran pastor and I thought of all of you:

When the towers of what you know collapse,
what do you know?
Beside the great abyss that has swallowed
what you cherished,
where do you stand?
Before the darkness of war
closed the eyes of your heart,
what did you see?
What does the vast, swirling silence say?

That those who cause pain and those who receive it
fall into the same grave.
That lost in the wreckage every time is
the only God worth having.
That we have seen days dark enough
for resurrection.
That wisdom is born of vulnerability.
That evil is not a monstrous power
but a sinuous thread,
the will to disregard
in service of our fear.
That there is in all of us a great hole,
under a pall of smoke and sorrow,
in which we meet each other
and know each other deeply.
That not victory, but tenderness
will save the world.
That before the dust falls upon us,
we who ourselves are dust will have chosen
to be people of might or people of grace,
one or the other;
and that it is in choosing that we are human,
and in choosing well that we are blessed.
That we are not worthy of our self-confidence
and yet God, still weeping,
resolutely trusts us
with her most fragile hopes.
That our flesh is sackcloth.
That we who are covered with the ash
of our failure, our fear of ourselves,
are yet beautiful,
that we who are certainly lost
can point the way.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

This is from

Questions About the Government Narrative on 9/11

911 Experts Speak Out


You Only Believe the Official 9/11 Story Because You Don't Know the Official 9/11 Story

By Jesse Richard

September 02, 2011 "TV News Lies"-- During the past 10 years I have not met a single individual who, after doing research on the subject then, switched from questioning the official narrative of the events of 9/11/2001 to believing the official narrative of those events.. It is always the other way around. Why do you think that is? There are good reasons for this, and I will try to explain this phenomenon right now.

See Also:
9/11 Reconsidered: a Decade After; Follow-up #1