The following article is Editor Bob Fitrakis' "Raking the Muck" article in the 2009 End of the Year Free Press issue, just out in print January 1, 2010:
Behold, the resurrection of a truly “free press.” The Free Press is of one of the nation’s few remaining alternative newspapers from the 1960s. Our online reporting at provides the content for reflecting back upon this incredibly schizophrenic political year. The Nobel Peace Prize winner and sitting President emerges as our choice for “Hawk of the Year.”

History repeats itself. In January, Norman Solomon warned readers that “LBJ’s ghost hovers” over Obama. Recall that President Johnson ran as the peace candidate in 1964. In his infamous “daisy” commercial he suggested that if we elected the notorious warmonger Senator Barry Goldwater, we were likely to escalate the Vietnam War into a nuclear holocaust. Once he won the election in a landslide, Johnson massively increased the troop count in Vietnam. His approach was a surge, just like Obama’s. Not surprisingly, both surged to promote peace. Like Bush.

In the U.S., straightforward military imperialism and 19th century European-style occupations of less-developed nations are always portrayed as a mission of love, mercy and to “protect our freedoms.” Any Obama supporter should have gotten chills up their spine when they heard the elected peace candidate address the cadets at West Point, borrowing this tired and discredited rhetoric. More than one commentator has pointed out the Orwellian nature of this American propaganda ideal: that war is peace.

Just like Johnson’s Great Society – one promising health care, education, and job opportunities for all – that perished in the jungles of Southeast Asia, Obama promised real change and the routing of the Robber Barons in America. Halfway through the year, peace activist Cindy Sheehan arrived in Columbus as part of her nationwide book tour. She spoke to us about the “10 Greatest Myths of the Robber Class and the Case for Revolution.”

While Obama followed in the footsteps of George W. Bush, matching his policy of transferring the greatest amount of wealth in history from the people of the United States to the casino capitalists that bankrupted our economy, Sheehan took another path in the tradition of Eugene V. Debs and Norman Thomas. Sheehan resurrects a time-honored American progressive populist analysis of following the money trail in wartime. She courageously calls the war profiteers, well, war profiteers.

Equally absurd are the claims of the right-wing populists and birthers that Obama is a Socialist. None of his policies have been half that good. He could have easily given the bailout money to credit unions that are solvent and owned by their members with democratically-elected boards. These community-based organizations would have actually lent the money to rebuild the United States instead of using it for unconscionable bonuses, to merge with other companies and put people out of work, and to invest in undemocratic regimes around the world.

The hysteria of the birthers would have us believe that the anti-socialist, pro-corporate policies of Obama go back to a hideous plot where Barack and his family plotted while he was in utero to place birth notices in Hawaiian newspapers. The birthers’ bizarre accusations are fueled by so-called teabaggers who conveniently ignore the Book of Acts and word of Christ that most of them claim to profess.

All of this is evident in a couple key subjects focused on in this year-in-review issues, the first being health care reform. An unprincipled Republican Party has whipped some of the most ignorant sectors of the American population into a frenzy over the issue of making sure that every American has access to health care. Predictably, the Democrats chose the path of corporate moderation, taking not only the single-payer option out of the debate, but also the “public option,” that works well in Europe out of the equation completely. As we go to press on Christmas Eve, it appear that the Democrats’ solution to the health care crisis is to treat it like car insurance and criminalize those who fail to pay for coverage.

While failing to talk honestly about the health care crisis in America, Democrats have also conveniently ignored the crimes committed by the torturers and war criminals Cheney and Bush. Here in Ohio, Wright State University went so far as to appoint Army Colonel Larry James, the psychologist who presided over the Guantanamo Bay detention center and Abu Ghraib prison, as the Dean of the Professional Psychology Dept. at that central Ohio university.

Still there were some notable victories in 2009. Harvey Wasserman points out the spectacular victory won by the forces of “Solartopia” in defeating the $50 billion dollar welfare check proposed for the nuclear power industry. The appointment of Latina Justice Sotomayer is not only historic, but essential in establishing true diversity in the U.S. justice system. Here in central Ohio, a dedicated group of Greene County citizens and friends and alums of Antioch College won a small but important victory for humanity in winning the right to re-open America’s traditionally most progressive college. Also, the implementation of medical marijuana in the state of Michigan, where our good neighbors to the North reside, signals changes for the Buckeye State as well. Moreover, President Obama is to be commended for allowing states that have passed medical marijuana laws and amendments to regulate the health and safety of their citizens free from DEA and federal drug prosecution. Alas, this is one area where we all should support state’s rights.

We would be remiss to ignore three ongoing tragedies, in terms of social policy. One, the continued political imprisonment of Leonard Peltier. The FBI apparently still has the right to frame political activists and then pressure the President to keep them locked up against all decency and reason. Future historians will record the strange irony of the torturers Bush and Cheney roaming free at the same time, Peltier rots in a federal prison. If we incorporated more indigenous spiritual principles into our secular corporate society, we would no doubt come to the obvious conclusion that mountaintop removal is unacceptable. The Free Press reports on the ongoing battle in Appalachia between the corporate robber barons that are plowing anything green on the mountaintop into the valleys and then rubblizing the peaks of perhaps our nation’s most scenic mountains.

And it is clear that people are still willing to fight. We saw this in Pittsburgh at the G20 when the world’s leading gangster corporate economies met under the protection of a literal police state to divvy up the world’s resources.

To promote peace on earth and good will toward all people, the Free Press is back in print, baby. All power to the people!