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In This Edition

Naomi Klein covers another chapter in, "Disaster Capitalism."

Uri Avnery remembers, "Satan's Counsel."

Victoria Stewart returns with, "What To Do?"

Jim Hightower demands we, "Test Every Cow."

Mel Bartholomew with, "Compost Questions And Answers."

Judy Troftgruben explains how to, "Dry Foods: Part #1."

Greg Palast gets all patriotic about, "The House I Live In."

Chris Floyd examines the, "Three Amigos."

Naomi Wolf uncovers, "Sex Crimes In The White House."

Mike Folkerth reports, "It's That Math Again."

Lisa Duggan remembers, "Jesse Helms, American Bigot."

Ted Rall is back with tongue-in-cheek, "Belief You Can Change."

National Black Republican Chairperson Frances Rice wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Arianna Huffington writes a, "Memo To Obama."

Sam Harris tests, "The Boundaries Of Belief."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion says, "Steven Tyler Laid Off From Aerosmith As Band Jobless Rate Hits 20%" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Three Or More Is A Congress."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Steve Greenberg with additional cartoons and photos from Married To The Sea.Com, Mr. Fish, Internet Weekly.Org, Mike Lane, John Sherffius, The Onion, Archibald Willard, University of Illinois, Big Fat Whale, Issues & Alibis and Pink & Blue Films.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

Three Or More Is A Congress
By Ernest Stewart

In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress. ~~~ John Adams

"And only the good die young." ~~~ Billy Joel

"The FBI could begin investigations by assuming that everyone's a suspect, and then you weed out the innocent,"
~~~ Caroline Fredrickson ~ American Civil Liberties Union ~~~

Here's a list of the traitors in the House and Senate that voted yes for the FISA bill, i.e., "FISA Amendments Act of 2008" that let the "Telecoms" off the hook for treason regarding the Fourth Amendment. They call it a "compromise" bill but the only thing "compromised" is our freedoms!

Barrett (SC)
Bartlett (MD)
Barton (TX)
Bishop (GA)
Bishop (NY)
Bishop (UT)
Bono Mack
Boyd (FL)
Boyda (KS)
Brady (TX)
Broun (GA)
Brown (SC)
Brown, Corrine
Burton (IN)
Camp (MI)
Campbell (CA)
Cole (OK)
Davis (AL)
Davis (KY)
Davis, David
Davis, Lincoln
Davis, Tom
Deal (GA)
Diaz-Balart, L.
Diaz-Balart, M.
Edwards (TX)
English (PA)
Franks (AZ)
Garrett (NJ)
Green, Al
Green, Gene
Hall (TX)
Hastings (FL)
Hastings (WA)
Herseth Sandlin
Inglis (SC)
Johnson, Sam
King (IA)
King (NY)
Klein (FL)
Kline (MN)
Kuhl (NY)
Lewis (CA)
Lewis (KY)
Lungren, Daniel E.
Mahoney (FL)
McCarthy (CA)
McCarthy (NY)
McCaul (TX)
McMorris Rodgers
Meeks (NY)
Miller (FL)
Miller (MI)
Miller, Gary
Moore (KS)
Moran (KS)
Murphy, Patrick
Murphy, Tim
Peterson (MN)
Price (GA)
Pryce (OH)
Rogers (AL)
Rogers (KY)
Rogers (MI)
Ryan (WI)
Scott (GA)
Smith (NE)
Smith (NJ)
Smith (TX)
Smith (WA)
Thompson (MS)
Udall (CO)
Walden (OR)
Walsh (NY)
Weldon (FL)
Whitfield (KY)
Wilson (NM)
Wilson (OH)
Wilson (SC)
Wittman (VA)
Young (AK)
Young (FL)

Here's the list of the Senatorial traitors...
Alexander (R-TN)
Allard (R-CO)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Coleman (R-MN)
Collins (R-ME)
Conrad (D-ND)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Craig (R-ID)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Dole (R-NC)
Domenici (R-NM)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hagel (R-NE)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Inouye (D-HI)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kohl (D-WI)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Lugar (R-IN)
Martinez (R-FL)
McCaskill (D-MO)
McConnell (R-KY)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Obama (D-IL)
Pryor (D-AR)
Roberts (R-KS)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Salazar (D-CO)
Shelby (R-AL)
Smith (R-OR)
Snowe (R-ME)
Specter (R-PA)
Stevens (R-AK)
Sununu (R-NH)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Warner (R-VA)
Webb (D-VA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wicker (R-MS)

Not only do the Telecoms get off the hook for their TREASON but, not mentioned by Barry or Dianne or Jay, in "THE FISA AMENDMENTS ACT OF 2008" is a low level of probable cause that permits the government to wiretap U.S. phone calls, faxes and emails.

For example: HR 6304 (2) Probable Cause section under (C)(Order) undermines protections for persons in the U.S. exercising First Amendment rights. The Act's use of the word "May" in "May Be Considered a foreign power, agent of a foreign power..."appears to legally protect no one from government wiretapping and spying.

This is from the Probable Cause section in HR 6304:

"No United States person may be considered a foreign power, agent of a foreign power, or officer or employee of a foreign power solely upon the basis of activities protected by the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States."

Unbelievably, the House inserted the weak word "may" and failed to insert "SHALL NOT" which would have been more legally binding on Government and police and protected the 1st and 4th Amendments rights of U.S. Citizens. Consequently, it will be harder for persons in the U.S. to defend against government wiretap evidence!

Now that HR 6304 is passed, any person in the U.S. who exercises his or her 1st Amendment Rights under the vague provisions of HR 6304, "MAY BE CONSIDERED" by U.S. Government an agent of a foreign power. This is the result of The House of Representatives leaving out protective words, like "Shall Not Be Considered" an agent of a foreign power.

With this Act passed, it is Free Speech in America only "if you dare!" Well do you dare, America?

Oh, and did I mention it leaves all sorts of loopholes for Bush to continue spying on Americans and also lets Bush off the hook for 30 felonies that, by themselves, would have given him life in prison! Let's have Barry explain that!

Remember these traitors come election day and vote them out of office! In the case of our presidential candidates, vote Green!

In Other News

Our eternal juvenile delinquent, even at age 62, our national embarrassment, was out and about again bringing shame and disgrace to America, this time in Japan at the G8 conference. Bush had to apologize to the "Italian people" for the "unfortunate mistake" after a White House press briefing described Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, as a "despised" leader. It takes one to know one, eh George?

The official briefing note added that Italy was a "country known for governmental corruption and vice." While all that and more was true, Bush was soon apologizing for this latest faux pas.

The unflattering portrait of both Italy and Mr. Berlusconi, who ranks among America's most reliable European allies and adamantly supported Mr. Bush's invasion of Iraq in 2003, came in a handout for US journalists attending the G8 summit.

Mr. Berlusconi's profile dwelt on the seamy side of his political career, he being the only leader at the summit who was farther to the right than Bush and even farther to the right than "Darth Vader!" He was called "a businessman who was considered an amateur in politics but used his influence (see vast wealth) on the media to gain his premiership, which he lost in 2006," read the note. "He is despised by many but respected by some for his bella figura [beautiful image]."

Apparently they have Sheeple in Italy, too?

The profile calls Mr. Berlusconi "one of the most controversial leaders" in Italian history and records - entirely accurately - how he began his career by selling vacuum cleaners and tickets to puppet shows. Which might remind you of a former Texas Congressman who was an insect exterminator before robbing us blind in the House?

To give you an idea just how effective the G8 summit on world hunger can be, James Chapman, of The "Daily Mail" reported:

"Just two days ago, Gordon Brown was urging us all to stop wasting food and combat rising prices and a global shortage of provisions. But yesterday the Prime Minister and other world leaders sat down to an 18-course gastronomic extravaganza at a G8 summit in Japan, which is focusing on the food crisis. The dinner, and a six-course lunch, at the summit of leading industrialized nations on the island of Hokkaido, included delicacies such as caviar, milk-fed lamb, sea urchin and tuna, with champagne and wines flown in from Europe and the US."

Are you surprised, America? I'm not!

The good side of all this was that der Fuhrer wasn't in the country to erase more of our rights and, after 7 years of Bush, there isn't much left of our image abroad that he can damage!

Still, have no fear, his allies in the Senate including the Demoncratic toadies, are about to erase another chunk of the 4th amendment being led by Nancy, Dianne and Barry, all who swore they wouldn't let the Telecoms off the hook and are now flip-flopping at the beck and call of their corpo-rat masters. Be careful what you wish for America. Change can be a change for the worse, too!

And Finally

Your tax dollars at work. Those lovable chuckleheads over at the FBI are at it again, America. This time the "Men-in-Black" want to begin racial profiling. Their new policy, okayed by the "Just-us Department," would allow the agency to open terrorism investigations even if evidence of wrongdoing is lacking. Even if there is no crime what-so-ever they can start an investigation of you!

Although the Fuhrer has disavowed targeting suspects based on race or ethnicity, the new rules would allow the FBI to consider those factors among a number of other traits, to trigger a national security investigation.

Currently, FBI agents need specific reasons -- such as evidence or allegations that a law probably has been violated -- to investigate U.S. citizens and legal residents. The new policy would let agents open preliminary terrorism investigations after mining public records and intelligence to build a profile of traits that, taken together, are deemed suspicious. For example he's a Muslim or a Jew or Black! Or worse yet, he's an Irishman!!!!

This really isn't surprising since for years we have been testing peoples pee for drugs, following that old American tradition of Guilty Until Proven Innocent! Seriously folks, what do you think they've been building all those new "Happy Camps" for, Mexicans? Guess again Abdul or Moshe or Shaquille!

"We don't know what we don't know. And the object is to cut down on that," said one FBI official who defended the proposed policy. Yes folks, that's a direct quote. When was it that the Bureau started taking diction lessons from Yogi Berra, does anyone recall?

Factors that could make someone the subject of an investigation include travel to regions of the world known for terrorist activity, like the Pentagon or U.S. Senate, access to weapons like 90% of American homes have, military training, good news for all us veterans, and a person's race or ethnicity, see, being alive while black, brown or yellow!

Justice spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said, "the guidelines governing when to open a national security investigation would not give the FBI any more authority than it already has." He declined to give further comments!

When you and the family get sent down to, "Camp Freedom" save me the upper bunk and needless to say, don't get in the line for "the showers," America!


"The era of manufacturing consent has given way to the era of manufacturing news.
Soon media newsrooms will drop the pretense, and start hiring theater directors instead of journalists."
~~~ Arundhati Roy ~~~

To contribute to the cause and help us keep fighting for you just visit our donations page and follow the instructions there. Thank you!

Ernest & Victoria Stewart


03-15-1925 ~ 07-03-2008
I think we're all Bozo's on this bus!

10-18-1921 ~ 07-04-2008
Ding Dong the wicked witch is dead!

04-15-1992 ~ 07-07-2008
Off to Beagle Heaven and Rabbit Hell!


The "W" theatre trailers are up along with the new movie poster and screen shots from the film. They are all available at the all-new "W" movie site: http://wthemovie.com. Both trailers are on site and may be downloaded; the new trailer can be seen with Flash on site. You can download in either PC or Mac formats. I'm in the new trailer as myself but don't blink or you'll miss me! The trailers are also available on YouTube along with a short scene from the film.


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


So how do you like the 2nd coup d'etat so far?
And more importantly, what are you planning on doing about it?

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2008 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 7 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. In his spare time he is an actor, writer and an associate producer for the new motion picture "W."

Disaster Capitalism
State of Extortion
By Naomi Klein

Once oil passed $140 a barrel, even the most rabidly right-wing media hosts had to prove their populist cred by devoting a portion of every show to bashing Big Oil. Some have gone so far as to invite me on for a friendly chat about an insidious new phenomenon: "disaster capitalism." It usually goes well--until it doesn't.

For instance, "independent conservative" radio host Jerry Doyle and I were having a perfectly amiable conversation about sleazy insurance companies and inept politicians when this happened: "I think I have a quick way to bring the prices down," Doyle announced. "We've invested $650 billion to liberate a nation of 25 million people. Shouldn't we just demand that they give us oil? There should be tankers after tankers backed up like a traffic jam getting into the Lincoln Tunnel, the Stinkin' Lincoln, at rush hour with thank-you notes from the Iraqi government.... Why don't we just take the oil? We've invested it liberating a country. I can have the problem solved of gas prices coming down in ten days, not ten years."

There were a couple of problems with Doyle's plan, of course. The first was that he was describing the biggest stickup in world history. The second, that he was too late: "We" are already heisting Iraq's oil, or at least are on the cusp of doing so.

It's been ten months since the publication of my book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, in which I argue that today's preferred method of reshaping the world in the interest of multinational corporations is to systematically exploit the state of fear and disorientation that accompanies moments of great shock and crisis. With the globe being rocked by multiple shocks, this seems like a good time to see how and where the strategy is being applied.

And the disaster capitalists have been busy--from private firefighters already on the scene in Northern California's wildfires, to land grabs in cyclone-hit Burma, to the housing bill making its way through Congress. The bill contains little in the way of affordable housing, shifts the burden of mortgage default to taxpayers and makes sure that the banks that made bad loans get some payouts. No wonder it is known in the hallways of Congress as "The Credit Suisse Plan," after one of the banks that generously proposed it.

Iraq Disaster: We Broke It, We (Just) Bought It

But these cases of disaster capitalism are amateurish compared with what is unfolding at Iraq's oil ministry. It started with no-bid service contracts announced for ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, BP and Total (they have yet to be signed but are still on course). Paying multinationals for their technical expertise is not unusual. What is odd is that such contracts almost invariably go to oil service companies--not to the oil majors, whose work is exploring, producing and owning carbon wealth. As London-based oil expert Greg Muttitt points out, the contracts make sense only in the context of reports that the oil majors have insisted on the right of first refusal on subsequent contracts handed out to manage and produce Iraq's oil fields. In other words, other companies will be free to bid on those future contracts, but these companies will win.

One week after the no-bid service deals were announced, the world caught its first glimpse of the real prize. After years of back-room arm-twisting, Iraq is officially flinging open six of its major oil fields, accounting for around half of its known reserves, to foreign investors. According to Iraq's oil minister, the long-term contracts will be signed within a year. While ostensibly under control of the Iraq National Oil Company, foreign firms will keep 75 percent of the value of the contracts, leaving just 25 percent for their Iraqi partners.

That kind of ratio is unheard of in oil-rich Arab and Persian states, where achieving majority national control over oil was the defining victory of anticolonial struggles. According to Muttitt, the assumption until now was that foreign multinationals would be brought in to develop brand-new fields in Iraq--not to take over ones that are already in production and therefore require minimal technical support. "The policy was always to allocate these fields to the Iraq National Oil Company," he told me. This is a total reversal of that policy, giving INOC a mere 25 percent instead of the planned 100 percent.

So what makes such lousy deals possible in Iraq, which has already suffered so much? Ironically, it is Iraq's suffering--its never-ending crisis--that is the rationale for an arrangement that threatens to drain its treasury of its main source of revenue. The logic goes like this: Iraq's oil industry needs foreign expertise because years of punishing sanctions starved it of new technology and the invasion and continuing violence degraded it further. And Iraq urgently needs to start producing more oil. Why? Again because of the war. The country is shattered, and the billions handed out in no-bid contracts to Western firms have failed to rebuild the country. And that's where the new no-bid contracts come in: they will raise more money, but Iraq has become such a treacherous place that the oil majors must be induced to take the risk of investing. Thus the invasion of Iraq neatly creates the argument for its subsequent pillage.

Several of the architects of the Iraq War no longer even bother to deny that oil was a major motivator. On National Public Radio's To the Point, Fadhil Chalabi, one of the primary Iraqi advisers to the Bush Administration in the lead-up to the invasion, recently described the war as "a strategic move on the part of the United States of America and the UK to have a military presence in the Gulf in order to secure [oil] supplies in the future." Chalabi, who served as Iraq's oil under secretary and met with the oil majors before the invasion, described this as "a primary objective."

Invading countries to seize their natural resources is illegal under the Geneva Conventions. That means that the huge task of rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure--including its oil infrastructure--is the financial responsibility of Iraq's invaders. They should be forced to pay reparations. (Recall that Saddam Hussein's regime paid $9 billion to Kuwait in reparations for its 1990 invasion.) Instead, Iraq is being forced to sell 75 percent of its national patrimony to pay the bills for its own illegal invasion and occupation.

Oil Price Shock: Give Us the Arctic or Never Drive Again

Iraq isn't the only country in the midst of an oil-related stickup. The Bush Administration is busily using a related crisis--the soaring price of fuel--to revive its dream of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). And of drilling offshore. And in the rock-solid shale of the Green River Basin. "Congress must face a hard reality," said George W. Bush on June 18. "Unless members are willing to accept gas prices at today's painful levels--or even higher--our nation must produce more oil."

This is the President as Extortionist in Chief, with gas nozzle pointed to the head of his hostage--which happens to be the entire country. Give me ANWR, or everyone has to spend their summer vacations in the backyard. A final stickup from the cowboy President.

Despite the Drill Here. Drill Now. Pay Less bumper stickers, drilling in ANWR would have little discernible impact on actual global oil supplies, as its advocates well know. The argument that it could nonetheless bring down oil prices is based not on hard economics but on market psychoanalysis: drilling would "send a message" to the oil traders that more oil is on the way, which would cause them to start betting down the price.

Two points follow from this approach. First, trying to psych out hyperactive commodity traders is what passes for governing in the Bush era, even in the midst of a national emergency. Second, it will never work. If there is one thing we can predict from the oil market's recent behavior, it is that the price is going to keep going up regardless of what new supplies are announced.

Take the massive oil boom under way in Alberta's notorious tar sands. The tar sands (sometimes called the oil sands) have the same things going for them as Bush's proposed drill sites: they are nearby and perfectly secure, since the North American Free Trade Agreement contains a provision barring Canada from cutting off supply to the United States. And with little fanfare, oil from this largely untapped source has been pouring into the market, so much so that Canada is now the largest supplier of oil to the United States, surpassing Saudi Arabia. Between 2005 and 2007, Canada increased its exports to the States by almost 100 million barrels. Yet despite this significant increase in secure supplies, oil prices have been going up the entire time.

What is driving the ANWR push is not facts but pure shock doctrine strategy--the oil crisis has created the conditions in which it is possible to sell a previously unsellable (but highly profitable) policy.

Food Price Shock: Genetic Modification or Starvation

Intimately connected to the price of oil is the global food crisis. Not only do high gas prices drive up food costs but the boom in agrofuels has blurred the line between food and fuel, pushing food growers off their land and encouraging rampant speculation. Several Latin American countries have been pushing to re-examine the push for agrofuels and to have food recognized as a human right, not a mere commodity. United States Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte has other ideas. In the same speech touting the US commitment to emergency food aid, he called on countries to lower their "export restrictions and high tariffs" and eliminate "barriers to use of innovative plant and animal production technologies, including biotechnology." This was an admittedly more subtle stickup, but the message was clear: impoverished countries had better crack open their agricultural markets to American products and genetically modified seeds, or they could risk having their aid cut off.

Genetically modified crops have emerged as the cureall for the food crisis, at least according to the World Bank, the European Commission president (time to "bite the bullet") and Prime Minister of Britain Gordon Brown. And, of course, the agribusiness companies. "You cannot today feed the world without genetically modified organisms," Peter Brabeck, chairman of Nestlé, told the Financial Times recently. The problem with this argument, at least for now, is that there is no evidence that GMOs increase crop yields, and they often decrease them.

But even if there was a simple key to solving the global food crisis, would we really want it in the hands of the Nestlés and Monsantos? What would it cost us to use it? In recent months Monsanto, Syngenta and BASF have been frenetically buying up patents on so-called "climate ready" seeds--plants that can grow in earth parched from drought and salinated from flooding.

In other words, plants built to survive a future of climate chaos. We already know the lengths Monsanto will go to protect its intellectual property, spying on and suing farmers who dare to save their seeds from one year to the next. We have seen patented AIDS medications fail to treat millions in sub-Saharan Africa. Why would patented "climate ready" crops be any different?

Meanwhile, amid all the talk of exciting new genetic and drilling technologies, the Bush Administration announced a moratorium of up to two years on new solar energy projects on federal lands--due, apparently, to environmental concerns. This is the final frontier for disaster capitalism. Our leaders are failing to invest in technology that will actually prevent a future of climate chaos, choosing instead to work hand in hand with those plotting innovative schemes to profit from the mayhem.

Privatizing Iraq's oil, ensuring global dominance for genetically modified crops, lowering the last of the trade barriers and opening the last of the wildlife refuges... Not so long ago, those goals were pursued through polite trade agreements, under the benign pseudonym "globalization." Now this discredited agenda is forced to ride on the backs of serial crises, selling itself as lifesaving medicine for a world in pain.
(c) 2008 Naomi Klein is the author of, "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism."

Satan's Counsel
By Uri Anery

IT WAS just a passing conversation, but it has stuck in my memory.

It was soon after the Six-Day War. I was coming out of the main hall of the Knesset, after making a speech calling for the immediate establishment of a Palestinian state.

Another Knesset member came down the corridor - a nice person, a Labor Party man, a former bus driver. Uri, he said, catching me by the arm, what the hell are you doing? You could make a great career! You are saying many attractive things - against corruption, for the separation of religion and state, about social justice. You could have a great success at the next elections. But you are spoiling everything with your speeches about the Arabs. Why don't you stop this nonsense?

I told him that he was quite right, but I couldn't do it. I didn't see any point in being in the Knesset if I could not speak the truth as I saw it.

I was elected again to the next Knesset, but again as the head of a tiny faction, which was never going to grow into a strong parliamentary force. The man's prophesy came true.

In the course of the years I have often asked myself whether I was right then. Wouldn't it have been better to give up principles, even for a short time, and win political power, without which it was impossible to realize them?

I don't know if my choice was right. But I have never felt any remorse, because it was the right choice for me.

I REMEMBER this conversation when I hear about Barack Obama. He is facing the same dilemma.

There is, of course, one big difference. I was heading a very small faction in a very small country. He heads a huge party in a huge country. Nevertheless, the nature of the political dilemmas is the same in all countries, big or small.

Politics is, as Bismarck said, the "art of the possible." It demands compromises. The politician is a professional, not so very different from a carpenter or a lawyer. His job is to put together majorities for enacting legislation and taking decisions. To achieve this, he has to make compromises. Some do this easily, since, in any case, principles are not really important to them. But for people of principle, it can be very hard.

So what is the place of principles in politics? Must a politician sacrifice some principles in order to realize others? And if so, where is the limit?

THIS DILEMMA becomes even more acute in an election campaign.

In the course of my political life, I have conducted five election campaigns for the Knesset. Four I won, one I lost.

These days I follow Barack Obama's campaign, follow and understand, follow and get angry, follow and worry.

I listen to what he says, and I understand why he says it.

I look at what he does and often get angry.

I see him walking a tightrope across an abyss, and I worry.

I saw him performing before the Jewish lobby, where he broke all records for fawning, and I asked myself: What, is this the man who will bring about the Great Change?

I heard him speaking enthusiastically about the right of citizens to bear arms, including Uzis and Kalashnikovs, and buried my head. What, Obama?

I heard him supporting the death penalty, a barbaric punishment that positions the US somewhere between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and did not believe my ears. Obama???

I seems that Obama is moving further away from himself with every day that passes - and we are still at the beginning of the main election campaign.

I CAN just imagine the discussion at Obama's staff meetings. There he sits, surrounded by strategists, pollsters and PR people, all of them great experts, at the top of their professions.

Look, Barack, one of them is saying, these are the facts of life. The liberals are with you anyhow, you don't have to win them over. The conservatives are against you, and nothing will change that. But in between there are millions of voters, who will decide the outcome. These you must attract. So don't say anything unusual or radical.

You must tell them the things they want to hear, the second chimes in. Nothing that smells of hard-core liberals, please. We need the votes of rightists and evangelicals, too.

Anything definite will push away votes, a third insists. Every principle will upset somebody, so please don't go into details. Just stick to vague generalities which appeal to everybody.

I have seen many candidates, both in Israel and the US, who started out with a clear and incisive program, and ended up as blurred, boring and faceless politicians.

IN GOETHE'S great drama, Faust sells his soul to the devil for success in this world. Every politician has a Satan of his own, who offers power in exchange for his soul.

You have principles, this Satan whispers in his ear. They are very nice, but if you don't win the elections, they are good for nothing. You can realize them only if you come to power. So it's worth giving up some principles, making some compromises, in order to win. Afterwards you will be free to do whatever your heart desires.

The candidate knows that this is true. In order to fulfill his plans, he must first of all be elected. To get elected, he must also say things he doesn't believe in and give up things he does very much believe in.

And the question is again: Where is the limit? Which concessions are permissible on the way to the aim? Where are the red lines?

The Devil knows that the small compromises will lead to larger compromises, and so on, on the slippery slope to the loss of the soul. Without the candidate noticing, he is sliding downwards, and when he opens his eyes, he finds himself in the filthy political swamp.

This is the first big test for the aspiring leader: to know the difference between the permissible and the forbidden. Between the "art of the possible" and the "end justifies the means." Between the stubborn insistence on his principles and the total surrender to those experts, who turn every new program into a mishmash of empty phrases.

SINCE THE beginnings of democracy in Greece, it has been bedeviled by a question: can the people, the demos, really be relied on to make the right choices? How can the public choose between different solutions for problems of which they have no real understanding? After all, the millions of voters lack even the most rudimentary knowledge about matters of the budget, the complexity of foreign relations, military strategy and the thousands of other matters that a head of state has to decide about.

The answer is: indeed, they have no idea. One cannot demand from a cab driver, a dentist and even a professor of mathematics to be cognizant of Afghan tribes or the international oil scene. So representative democracy is unavoidable. Here the electorate has only one thing to judge by: the perception of leadership qualities.

How do people decide that a candidate is a "leader"? Is it a question of self confidence? Strength of character? Charisma? Physical appearance? Success in previous tasks? Do they believe that he or she will indeed fulfill their election promises?

These days it is not easy to get a true impression, because the candidate is surrounded by a large group of "spin doctors" who manipulate his image, put words in his mouth and stage-manage his appearances. Television is not a modern edition of the ancient Athenian agora, as it is claimed. It is by its very nature a mendacious and falsifying instrument. Yet in spite of everything, it is the image of the candidate that is decisive in the final count.

Barack Obama has impressed millions of citizens, especially the young. After years of moral decay under Bill Clinton and the power-obsessed folly of George Bush, they are longing for change, for a leader they can trust, who has a new message. And Obama has a wonderful talent for expressing this hope in uplifting speeches.

The danger is that when the edifying speeches dissipate, they will leave behind no leader with the character, the strength and the talent to fulfill the promise.

If Obama surrenders to his advisers and to the Satan whispering in his ear, he may gain votes from the other camp but lose his credibility, and not only in his own camp. The public may decide, instinctively, that "he hasn't got it." That, after all, he is not the leader one can trust.

On the other hand, if he is not prepared to make the necessary compromises, if he repels too many voters, he will be exposed to the opposite danger: that he will be left with his principles but without the ability to realize them.

He is facing four grueling months. The temptations are many, on either side. He must decide who he is, how much he is ready to give up without betraying himself.

And perhaps he must follow the example of Charles de Gaulle, who assumed power as a man of war and used the power to make a difficult, almost unbearably painful peace.

I DON'T want to be what Yiddish derisively calls an etzes-geber, from the Hebrew word for advice and the German word for giver. A person who proffers advice without taking any responsibility and without paying any price.

Even if I were asked, I would not presume to give advice to Obama, the candidate for the most powerful office in the world.

Apart from the advice given in "Hamlet" by Polonius to his son Laertes: "This above all: to thine own self be true!"
(c) 2008 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

What To Do?
By Victoria Stewart

"Some people see things that are and ask, Why? Some people dream of things that never were and ask, Why not? Some people have to go to work and don't have time for all that." ~~~ George Carlin

"The liberals in the House strongly resemble liberals I have known through the last two decades in the civil rights conflict. When it comes time to show on which side they will be counted, they excuse themselves." ~~~ Shirley Chisholm

Last weekend I bought tomatoes and onions at a local farmer's market and conversation, as it often does, turned to the state of the world. Dismaying as it may be to the political egos circling the country, the talk was of Darfur and ecological disaster, not campaign promises and empty rhetoric. "What I don't understand," said the woman whose produce I bought, "is why Americans aren't rioting in the streets. How can we sit still for what is happening in the world?"

More than twenty years ago a friend, struggling to survive trickle down economics and feed her children asked the same question.

Why, indeed?

Anesthetized by television, enervated by a surfeit of chemical laden food, terrorized by threats of the abyss of financial disaster-all of these contribute to the appalling lethargy of Americans but two things prevent the implementation of real change.

First, it is the American middle class, and only the American middle class, who can generate change and that huge and powerful group is not ready to accept that responsibility. While I do believe most people-including America's privileged middle class--want a better and more just world, they don't want to give up too much to get it.

And secondly, Americans have not accepted that a corporate conglomerate backed by the military and financed with tax dollars has overthrown their government. No politician in the American arena-not Barack Obama, not John McCain, not Hillary Clinton-is free of the taint of corporate ownership. Without that recognition, the enemy cannot be identified and opposed.

What looms-the overarching corporate state, a sky littered with eavesdropping, voyeuristic spy satellites, genetically modified, poisonous food, famine, drought, pestilence, environmental disaster, unending war, mutating plagues-is overwhelming and surrealistic.

We are now living in a world once seen only in the pages of science fiction.

Hopelessness, powerlessness and despair stalk us all.

Which is why Barack Obama's primary season propaganda was so successful and why so many are willing to rationalize, defend or deny the evidence of his betrayal. The promise of change by a leader of courage and honor sounded like freedom.

It also sounded like all we had to do was stumble into a voting booth, pull a lever and everything would be better.

Americans are not going to riot in the streets. The opportunity for that avenue of change is closed.

We still have freedoms in this country, however, and many people still have the courage and the will to exercise those freedoms. The work of creating a just and peaceful future lacks the glamour of politics and personality. It lies in rebuilding our education system so that we have generations who understand the legal foundations of this country, the application of those laws and the evidence and implications of treason and tyranny. It requires the immediate and unflinching commitment to our children and the children of the world.

What has happened in our country, the environment that allowed George Bush to spearhead a coup d'etat, eviscerate the Constitution, kill millions of innocent people and destroy our economy, was created by decades of inattention to public education. The rise of the disinformation media is the direct result of an uneducated and intellectually stunted populace. We can change that.

The behemoth of corporate government will not be defeated by direct assault. It will take time and uncelebrated hard work to alter the course we have allowed to be set. And it begins with individuals working on a local level to provide for the education and welfare of children. Trust me. This is exactly what the rich do-create future generations to carry on their work. We have the ability to do the same.
(c) 2008 Victoria Stewart is the editor of Issues & Alibis magazine.

Test Every Cow

What is it with those kooky South Koreans? Thousands of them have rushed into the streets in angry protest against - get this - beef imported from the U.S. Are they just nuts? Or, do they know something we don't?

South Koreans want none of our steaks and burgers on their plates, because of worries that America's industrialized beef supply comes with a fatal dose of mad cow disease. So, since President Lee Myung-bak issued an edict in April to lift his country's ban on U.S. beef imports, mass protests have nearly toppled his government.

He hastily renegotiated a watered-down deal with the U.S., but the protesters have kept demanding his ouster, so he has now resorted to a police crackdown on them. Still, Korean supermarkets and restaurants are refusing to sell American beef, and even the McDonald's branches there are advertising that their burgers are made from Australian beef.

The irony here is that American officials could easily assure the Korean people that our beef is free of mad cow disease by conducting a cheap and simple test on every cow that goes to slaughter. Europe and Japan already do this, thus certifying that their cattle are free of the deadly disease. But our own agriculture department refuses to allow such tests, instead arrogantly demanding that our international customers simply trust that every ounce of American beef is safe. Eat it and shut up, seems to be America's marketing plan.

One reason ag officials won't test is that they're afraid they'll find a much bigger mad cow problem than they tell us exists. In Europe, for example, instead of finding only a couple of diseased cattle, testing revealed more than 1,100 cases of mad cow in seemingly healthy cattle that had been approved for slaughter.

It's not Korean consumers who are crazy - it's our own public officials.
(c) 2008 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

Compost Questions And Answers
By Mel Bartholomew

The success of SFG is so dependent on a good home made compost, that using as many different ingredients as you can find is best. There is a lot of interest, as well as questions, concerning compost in our e-mails. So to learn more about compost read some Q and A's that other people have done.

Here are some of our more important Q and A's:

SUBJECT: Compost.

Q: Hi Mel - I am an employee of the County Extension and live in Nebraska. I have a question for you about the use of compost in your mixture for beds.

In conversations with the City officials in charge of the lawn waste _composting project, they have informed me that some herbicide residues are present in the compost which will cause some plant damage if used more than their recommended rate of 1" compost per 6" of soil. Now in your "Mel's Mixture" it seems that the herbicide in the compost would have an effect due to the large amount used, much more than the 1" recommended. So my question is; will composted cow manure (over 2 years, not fresh) work in place of the city compost? Also, the city compost is at pH of 7.9. Does lime need to be added? Thanks in advance.

A: Thanks for your letter and I can see some of the confusion, but it is very simply this: You're trying to think of lawn waste compost as what we call "a good backyard compost made from many different ingredients." Lawn waste compost is not the same. It is merely just one ingredient in the compost and, remember, we suggest that you limit each ingredient to only 10% - at the most 20% of the total volume. So, if you have six inches of Mel's Mix and compost is one-third, that would only be two inches and if lawn waste compost was only ten percent of the compost, that would be 2/10 of an inch in the total six inches. Your county recommendation is not more than one inch, so we are 1/2 of that.

So, do you see the difference when you thought it was much more than one inch when actually it is only 1/2 of that? Besides that, I'm not too keen on lawn waste from a municipal project. I would be more excited about your composted cow manure and I would not even use that as 100%. That is not good compost, either, all by itself. It is just one ingredient. So, put on your thinking cap, read some more of our letters and FAQ's as soon as we get them up and think of all the different things you can put into a compost pile. Cow manure is even better than horse manure, so I would add 20% of that and I would want some of it fresh in the compost pile.

As for your last question : If the city compost is 7.9 pH, the last thing you would add is lime because lime raises the pH. You usually add lime to a very acid soil. Whenever we've tested our homemade compost from many ingredients, it comes out pretty neutral between 6.5 and 7 pH. This is a good buffer for the peat moss and it means that we really don't have to test for pH anymore if we have a good homemade compost.

What do you do in the meantime until you get your own compost operation going? Well, you use a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I would certainly go heavier on the cow manure compost than on the lawn compost.

I hope that answers your questions and clears up those points so you can get going on your garden. Spring is here and good luck this year. Yours truly, Mel B.


Q: My question is: concerning compost I have started my own but not near enough. So I read that you said to buy it but to look out for other things in it. So is cow manure considered good choice for compost? Or is there something else I need to look for? I also cannot find the coarse vermiculite But I was just concerned about what type of compost exactly to get. Thanks a lot!

A: Hi Lora. The best compost is one made from the most ingredients, cow manure is just 2 ingredients. What the cow ate and what they were bedded in. It's a good start but if you want good rich compost you need other ingredients. I know it's hard at the start until you get your own going but you need to buy other types of compost with other different ingredients. As for the coarse vermiculite in large 4 cu. ft. bags, use your telephone and the yellow pages to save a lot of time. Hope that helps get you off to a good start.


Q: Hi Mel, I read a short article on square foot gardening in the magazine Homestead . At the end of the article your website was listed to obtain more information. I found your method of gardening to be interesting; it makes a lot of sense and could be useful here in the state of Indian. You wrote briefly about using compost and making your own. Could you e-mail me more information on making my own compost, or is that tucked in somewhere on your website? Thank you, Jacki

Here is another question: I know nothing about making compost. Is that info in the book I ordered (the original square foot gardening book)? Is there a fast way to get started? Is yard waste okay, or will that potentially produce grass, weeds, trees, etc?

A: All the info you need about making compost is in the book Ann. After all, did you read all the testimonies that said " it's the only book you need, it has everything in it. " You can start by reading the paragraph in the free hand out on the " what is SFG" page . Did you see that?

For quick results, you need to chop up everything in small pieces and then turn the pile often. More work = quick results. But you don't have to do any work if you are willing to wait for nature to do her thing. Yes yard wastes are good but the more different ingredients you add ,the richer the final product will be. Read the FAQs as we put new ones up as well as new Mel's Columns. Don't worry or take your gardening too serious, it should be all fun and there is always next year. Hope that helps and good luck with your garden. Keep in touch and tell all your friends and family about your garden. Best wishes, Mel B.


Q: Hi Mel, Don't know how to copy and paste so I will just send my question via e-mail. I want to start some new square foot gardens. My former ones are full of perennial weeds and are a disaster. I have a huge pile of composted horse manure-at least three years old. Can I use this for the compost portion of the soil mix?? I am very tired of fighting weeds. I don't want to introduce weed seeds but I don't have much regular compost. Also, do you recommend the fertilizers be added as stated in your book like ashes, blood meal, etc? Thank you Becky

A: Dear Becky: Well, I've finally met someone that is new to computers too, like myself. I've just learned how to copy and paste and I've found it to be quite easy once you get over the fear of losing something. What I learned was first, by taking your cursor and holding down the left button on your mouse, you highlight whatever you want to copy, whether it be a word, a whole sentence or a whole page. You just move your mouse until that all highlights or blackens in. Then you let go of the button and you go to "Ctrl" on your keyboard, hold it down and push once the "c" key. That's it. What has happened now is that the computer has stored in its memory whatever you have highlighted. You can click on that page anywhere and it will release the highlight, but it doesn't affect what is stored in the memory.

Next , you go to wherever you want to put it - in another letter, mail or file or wherever you are going to be - then click one left click on the mouse to make the cursor appear wherever you want it to be. Then (and here is the magic part), you hold down the "Ctrl" key and push once the "v" key and suddenly by magic, whatever you wanted to copy is now pasted to that point where you put your cursor. Whatever you copied also remains in its original place. If you want to remove it from the original place, push the "x" key instead of the "c" key; "x" will not copy! Try doing just a few tests or trials, so you get over the fear of losing something valuable. I know how that feels.

Let's next talk about your garden question. Yes, let's get rid of those perennial weeds. When you switch to Square Foot Gardening and start with Mel's Mix you won't have any ever again. I'm going to include in this letter several paragraphs that we've written to other people that talk about compost and locating boxes and different things like that. Perhaps not all will pertain to your question, but I think it will all be helpful. Your huge composted pile of horse manure is great, but it is not a substitute for a compost portion of the Mel's Mix. What we are looking for in the Mel's Mix is a compost that has been made from many different ingredients. Horse manure is only one ingredient. So, I'm also going to include a few paragraphs on people that have to go buy some compost to start with until they can get their own pile ready and then they will be adding a trowel full at a time each time they harvest a square foot. Remember Basic Rule No. 10.

It will perhaps also be necessary to add a little fertilizer at the start because you don't have a real good compost yet and, depending on whether you want organic or non organic, I'm sure a nursery could help you out there. I would look for a general-purpose fertilizer, like a 5-10-5 and that is just to start with. Once you build your own compost pile and start collecting many different ingredients, you are going to have a very rich material to add to your garden and you won't need fertilizer thereafter.

Here are the paragraphs :

To get started call some of your nurseries and garden supply centers like Walmart and Home Depot. Ask them what kind of compost they have and how good is it. You don't want the real cheap ones. Actually you want the most expensive ones because they will have the best ingredients. That will get you started and then you can begin adding your own to each square as you replant (see Basic Rule No. 10) when your pile is ready. Sometimes you just have to go down there and feel it and smell it and you will know the right one to start with. Tell the clerk that you're starting a square foot garden and you need a real good compost.

I've just simplified composting , like all of the other things with SFG. First I would have you go to the " Free Garden Tips " and read those two paragraphs about composting. The other thing is to set up 2 or 3 bins so you can move the material from one to the other.

Keep in mind , the more different ingredients you have, the better your finished compost will be. Try not to have more than 10% or 20% of one thing in the pile. Forget about the layering system, just keep mixing everything together. The smaller the pieces to start and the more often you turn the pile from one bin to another, the faster it will all decompose and give you a finished product.

The best example that I've ever come across was a municipal composting operation in El Salvador. It had many wonderful ingredients, (but they didn't chop them up) then piled them in wind rows about 2 ft. tall and 4 ft. wide which were then covered with black plastic. Of course you know what happened - they didn't get decomposition with air, called aerobic, but they experienced rotting without air, called anaerobic. The solution for them was a series of bins built out of recycled pallets, which we were able to obtain free. We built 7 bins all together and had them turn over a bin, a day. You can picture those bins almost labeled Monday - Sunday. The end result was they had a beautiful compost in 3 weeks instead of 3 months

In summary , I would say to someone, " Don't take composting too seriously, it's not an exact science. " Just find as many of the qualifying ingredients that you can, chop them up in as small of pieces as you can and mix them as often as you can. In deciding all of those things, it's a matter of how much time and energy you want to put into it. Remember that mother nature will do all the work all by herself, you just have to be patient and wait up to a year. So basically, the labor and energy you put into it merely speeds up the operation. That should get you started. Hope that answers all your questions , but if not, please feel free to get back to us with any other. Welcome to Square Foot Gardening. I know you are going to love it. Yours truly, Mel B.


Q: I was reading on the website about a person who had a 12 inch raised bed but was only planning to fill it with 6 inches of Mel's mix. He asked you how he should fill it. Your answer was to use 6 inches of hay on the bottom and to put the 6 inches of Mel's mix on top. My hubby thinks this is nuts because when we turn our garden over next year it will have hay all in it. I say that the hay will break down into compost by next year. Also with us living in zone 7 and having dry heat will the hay help to conserve water in our bed or make it drain very quickly?? Any ideas or thoughts on this?? Can you tell me why you suggest using hay instead of having just 6 inches on top of original soil in our 12 inch deep bed? We live super frugal on one income and I can not afford to fill our new garden with 12 inches of your Mel's mix this year but I am planning to make my own compost to add to it for next year :)

Thank you Mel for taking the time to answer my questions. It has made a huge difference in the planning of my very first garden.

A: JUST A LITTLE WESTERN HUMOR in the subject there Teresa, well that was quick for you to read that answer to someone else and apply it to your situation. So let's see what it's all about. The hay trick worked for me at CNN because I had to have my garden surface and plants up as high as possible so the cameras could capture everything. I also like my garden soil at the top of the box.

If you only need 6" of Mel's mix but have a 12" box, you either have the garden down 6" in the box, or you fill the bottom 6" with some useful but inexpensive material OR of course you could cut the boxes in half to have two 6" deep boxes. If you don't mind a sunken garden 6" down in your box, then there is nothing to do.

Lets talk about composting. We put spoiled hay in our compost pile and it decomposes very nicely. Remember to follow all the rules of composting the SFG way. (see the free hand out on the what is page) Now here is something for your husband to think about so he may better understand the SFG method. I think you said he was concerned that next year "when we turn the garden over the hay will be mixed in the good soil." Please not in SFG, WE NEVER HAVE TO TURN OUR GARDEN OVER EVERY SPRING, NEVER EVER AGAIN . That is an unnecessary toil of old fashioned inefficient single row gardening mentality. Remember rule # 10, we just add some new compost after harvest of each sq and replant that sq. Never again will you have to do ANY HARD WORK.

Yes, the hay will decompose and the garden level will drop gradually but you are going to be adding compost 3 or 4 times a year. It all happens gradually so you never notice and all that time the hay is gradually decomposing into a nice rich base of compost. It will also help moisture retention in the garden especially in your hot dry part of the country. I'm going to include a few paragraphs I've sent to others about composting. Not all will pertain to your situation but may help. Good luck with the garden and tell your husband to just give this a try. He might be pleasantly surprised and have more time for chasing you around the garden but don't trip over those boxes.

Hope that answers all your questions , but if not, please feel free to get back to us with any other. Welcome to Square Foot Gardening. I know you are going to love it. Best Wishes , Mel B.


Q: Since our soil is totally, extremely, terribly alkaline, I hesitate to use the ashes called for in your fertilizer formula in your book. Could you please suggest a substitute?
Thanks - Susan

A: Hi Susan, No problem, just leave them out, someone from Texas wrote me 2 days ago and asked if they should add lime because their soil was such a high pH. Can you imagine that? Have you read our latest improvements where we use a really good homemade Compost which eliminates the need of fertilizer. Good luck in your garden.
(c) 2008 Mel Bartholomew is an inventor, author, and founder of the Square Foot Gardening Foundation.

Drying Food: Part #1
By Judy Troftgruben

Drying is the oldest method of preserving food. The early American settlers dried foods such as corn, apple slices, currants, grapes, and meat. Compared with other methods, drying is quite simple. In fact, you may already have most of the equipment on hand. Dried foods keep well because the moisture content is so low that spoilage organisms cannot grow.

Drying will never replace canning and freezing because these methods do a better job of retaining the taste, appearance, and nutritive value of fresh food. But drying is an excellent way to preserve foods that can add variety to meals and provide delicious, nutritious snacks. One of the biggest advantages of dried foods is that they take much less storage space than canned or frozen foods.

Recommended methods for canning and freezing have been determined by research and widespread experience. Home drying, however, does not have firmly established procedures. Food can be dried several ways, for example, by the sun if the air is hot and dry enough, or in an oven or dryer if the climate is humid.

With the renewed interest in gardening and natural foods and because of the high cost of commercially dried products, drying foods at home is becoming popular again. Drying is not difficult, but it does take time and a lot of attention. Although there are different drying methods, the guidelines remain the same.

Although solar drying is a popular and very inexpensive method, Illinois does not have a suitable climate for it. Dependable solar dehydration of foods requires 3 to 5 consecutive days when the temperature is 95 degrees F. and the humidity is very low. The average relative humidity in central Illinois on days with 95 degrees F. temperatures is usually 86 percent. Solar drying is thus not feasible.

Drying food in the oven of a kitchen range, on the other hand, can be very expensive. In an electric oven, drying food has been found to be nine to twelve times as costly as canning it. Food dehydrators are less expensive to operate but are only useful for a few months of the year. A convection oven can be the most economical investment if the proper model is chosen. A convection oven that has a controllable temperature starting at 120 degrees F. and a continuous operation feature rather than a timer-controlled one will function quite well as a dehydrator during the gardening months. For the rest of the year it can be used as a tabletop oven.



For a good-quality product, vegetables and fruits must be prepared for drying as soon as possible after harvesting. They should be blanched, cooled, and laid out to dry without delay. Foods should be dried rapidly, but not so fast that the outside becomes hard before the moisture inside has a chance to evaporate.

Drying must not be interrupted. Once you start drying the food, don't let it cool down in order to start drying again later. Mold and other spoilage organisms can grow on partly dried food.


During the first part of the drying process, the air temperature can be relatively high, that is, 150 degrees to 160 degrees F. (65 degrees to 70 degrees C.), so that moisture can evaporate quickly from the food. Because food loses heat during rapid evaporation, the air temperature can be high without increasing the temperature of the food. But as soon as surface moisture is lost (the outside begins to feel dry) and the rate of evaporation slows down, the food warms up. The air temperature must then be reduced to about 140 degrees F. (60 degrees C.).

Toward the end of the drying process the food can scorch easily, so you must watch it carefully. Each fruit and vegetable has a critical temperature above which a scorched taste develops. The temperature should be high enough to evaporate moisture from the food, but not high enough to cook the food. Carefully follow directions for regulating temperatures.

Humidity and Ventilation

Rapid dehydration is desirable. The higher the temperature and the lower the humidity, the more rapid the rate of dehydration will be. Humid air slows down evaporation. Keep this in mind if you plan to dry food on hot, muggy summer days. If drying takes place too fast, however, "case hardening" will occur. This means that the cells on the outside of the pieces of food give up moisture faster than the cells on the inside. The surface becomes hard, preventing the escape of moisture from the inside.

Moisture in the food escapes by evaporating into the air. Trapped air soon takes on as much moisture as it can hold, and then drying can no longer take place. For this reason, be sure the ventilation around your oven or in your food dryer is adequate.

Uniform Drying

Drying the food evenly takes a little extra effort and attention. Stirring the pieces of food frequently and shifting the racks in the oven or dryer are essential because heat is not the same in all parts of the dryer. For the best results, spread thin layers of uniformly-sized pieces of food on the drying racks.


Dried fruits are a good source of energy because they contain concentrated fruit sugars. Fruits also contain a rather large amount of vitamins and minerals. The drying process, however, destroys some of the vitamins, especially A and C. Exposing fruit to sulfur before drying helps retain vitamins A and C. Sulfur destroys thiamine, one of the B vitamins, but fruit is not an important source of thiamine anyway. Many dried fruits are rich in riboflavin and iron.

Vegetables are a good source of minerals and the B vitamins thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin. Both fruits and vegetables provide useful amounts of the fiber (bulk) we need. Save the water used for soaking or cooking dried foods because this nutrient-rich water can be used in recipes to make soups, sauces, and gravy.


Many kinds of fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, meat, and fish can be dried. If you have never tried drying food before, though, it's a good idea to experiment first by drying a small quantity in the oven. This way you can see if you like the taste and texture of dried food. At the same time, you can become familiar with the drying process.

]Fruits are easier to dry than vegetables because moisture evaporates wore easily, and not as much moisture must be removed for the product to keep. Ripe apples, berries, cherries, peaches, apricots, and pears are practical to dry.

Vegetables that are also practical to dry include peas, corn, peppers, zucchini, okra, onions, and green beans. Produce from the supermarket is usually more expensive and not as fresh as it should be for drying. It is a waste of time and energy to dry vegetables such as carrots that can be kept for several months in a cool, dry basement or cellar.

Fresh herbs of all types are suitable for drying. The parts of the plant to dry vary, but leaves, seeds, or blossoms usually give the best results.

Lean meats such as beef, lamb, and venison can be dried for jerky. Fish also is excellent when dried. Certain foods are not suitable for drying because of their high moisture content. Lettuce, melons, and cucumbers are a few foods that do not dry well.


Don't be surprised to find a variety of suggestions for drying methods, temperatures, and lengths of time. The drying process is simply not as precise as canning and freezing because it involves so many different factors. You may need to use a trial-and-error approach to find what suits you best. Whatever method you use, be sure to remove enough moisture from the final product so that spoilage organisms cannot grow.

When you dry foods, remember the following:

Cleanliness and sanitation are essential.
The flavor of dried fruits and vegetables will be somewhat different from that of their fresh, canned, or frozen counterparts.


One of the advantages of drying foods rather than canning or freezing them is that you can get by with almost no special equipment. A kitchen oven, drying trays or racks, and storage containers are the only basic equipment needed. If you want to dry large quantities of food, you may decide to buy or make a food dryer, but it is not essential. For sun drying you need only racks and storage containers.

Although the following equipment is not absolutely necessary, it will help you make a more uniformly good product:

A food scale to weigh food before and after drying.
An electric fan to circulate the air.
A thermometer to check the oven temperature.
A blancher for vegetables.
A sulfur box for fruit.

Wood slats or stainless steel screen mesh are the best materials to use for the racks. Cake racks or a wooden frame covered with cheesecloth or other loosely-woven cloth can also be used for drying racks.

Do not use solid metal trays or cookie sheets to dry food because air must circulate all around the food so that drying can take place from the bottom and the top at the same time. Pieces of meat for jerky can be placed directly on the metal racks in the oven if the pieces are large enough not to fall through the spaces in the racks.

Do not use racks made of galvanized screen, aluminum, copper, fiberglass, or vinyl. Galvanized screen contains zinc and cadmium. These metals cause an acid reaction that forms harmful compounds and darkens the food. Aluminum becomes discolored and causes an off-flavor in sulfured fruit. Copper materials destroy vitamin C. Fiberglass may leave dangerous splinters in the food, and vinyl melts at temperatures used for drying.


Oven Drying

Oven drying is the simplest way to dry food because you need almost no special equipment. It is also faster than sun drying or using a food dryer. But oven drying can be used only on a small scale. An ordinary kitchen oven can hold only 4 to 6 pounds of food at one time.

Set the oven on the lowest possible setting and preheat to 140 degrees F. (60 C.). Do not use the broiler unit of an electric oven because the food on the top tray will dry too quickly' Remove the unit if it has no separate control. Some gas ovens have a pilot right, which may keep the oven warm enough to dry the food.

It is important to keep the oven temperature at 140 to 160 F. (60 to 70 C.). So put an oven thermometer on the top tray about half way back where you can see it easily. Check the temperature about every half hour.

Arrange 1 to 2 pounds of prepared food in a single layer on each tray. Put one tray on each oven rack. Allow 1-1/2 inches of space on the sides, front, and back of the trays so that air can circulate all around them in the oven. To stack more trays in the oven, use blocks of wood in the comers of the racks to hold the trays at least I inches apart. Dry no more than four trays of food at a time. A lighter load dries faster than a full load.

Keep the oven door open slightly during drying. A rolled newspaper, a block of wood, or a hot pad will keep the door ajar so that moist air can escape while the heat stays in the oven. Four to six inches for electric ovens or 1 to 2 inches for gas ovens is usually enough space for ventilation, but use a thermometer to check the oven temperature to make sure it stays at 140 F. An electric fan placed in front of the oven door helps to keep the air circulating.

Shifting the trays often is important for even drying because the temperature is not the same everywhere in the oven. Rotate the trays from top to bottom and from front to back every half hour. It helps to number the trays so you can keep track of the order in which you rotate them. Stirring fruit or vegetables every half hour or so also helps the food to dry evenly. jerky needs to be turned over occasionally to keep it from sticking to the trays.

Food Dryer

A commercial or homemade food dryer or convection oven provides automatically controlled heat and ventilation. Most households will not need a dryer unless they dry large quantities of food. A food dryer takes less electricity than drying the same amount of food in an electric oven. However, the temperature is usually lower (about 120 degrees F. or 50 C.), so drying takes a little longer than in an oven.

You can buy a dryer at hardware, housewares farm supply, or health food stores. The price of commercial dryers varies greatly depending on the size, type of heating element, and other, special features. Directions for making an inexpensive dryer (see illustration above) are given in several of the publications listed at the end of this circular. An old refrigerator or icebox can be converted into a food dryer. just be sure the temperature is controlled and the ventilation is adequate.

When using a dryer, preheat it to 125 F. (52 C.). Place the food on trays and stack the trays in the dryer. Gradually increase the temperature to 140 F. (60 C.). It takes 4 to 12 hours to dry fruits or vegetables in a dryer.

Do not use space heaters to dry food. These stir up dust and dirt, which contaminate the food. For the same reason, do not try to dry food on a furnace vent or clothes dryer.

Sun Drying

Sun drying is the old-fashioned way to dry food because it uses the heat from the sun and the natural movement of the air. But bright sun, low humidity, and temperatures around 100 degrees F. are necessary. In Illinois the humidity is usually too high for successful sun drying. This process is slow and requires a good deal of care. The food must be protected from insects and covered at night. Sun drying is not as sanitary as other methods of drying. Don't sun dry food if you live near a busy road or in an area where the air is not clean.

If you decide to sun dry foods, you might want to use a natural-draft dryer (see illustration above). The advantage of this kind of dryer is that it hastens drying by trapping heat from the sun. It also protects the food from insects and birds. Its construction is described in several of the recommended publications.

Place pieces of food on drying trays and then cover them with a layer of cheesecloth or netting to keep off dust and insects. Place the dryer in direct sunlight on a roof or high surface away from animals, traffic exhaust, and dust. After the food is almost dry, put it in an airy, shady place to prevent scorching during the final stage of drying.

Be sure to bring the dryer indoors at night if the temperature drops more than 20 degrees F. Dew and sudden temperature change put moisture back into the food and lengthen the drying time. Fruits and vegetables take 3 to 7 days to dry in the sun. The length of time depends on the type of food and the atmospheric conditions. Natural heat is slower and less dependable than controlled drying in an oven or food dryer.
(c) 1984/2008 Judy Troftgruben, Extension Specialist, Foods and Nutrition and revised by Mary Keith, Assistant Professor, Foods and Nutrition, and Extension Specialist, Foods, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The House I Live In
By Greg Palast

America is a nation of losers. It's the best thing about us. We're the dregs, what the rest of the world barfed up and threw on our shores.

John Kennedy said we are "a nation of immigrants." That's the sanitized phrase. We are, in fact, a nation of refugees, who, despite the bastards in white sheets and the know-nothings in Congress, have held open the Golden Door to a dark planet. We are not imperialists and that's why Bush lies and Cheney lies and, yes, the Clintons lied.

Winston Churchill didn't lie to the Brits about their empire: He said, These lands belong to the Crown, we own'm and we'll squeeze the value from them. "Imperialism," as Karl Marx complained, was a good word in Britain, a word that got you elected in Europe until too recently.

Ignore the fey university hideouts of Europe. Go to Vietnam or to Brazil or to Morocco or to Tibet and you'll ?nd the same thing: America's music, America's freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of spirit and the heartfelt friendship of Americans for others have made the USA truly "the light unto the nations." Americans are not liked worldwide, but loved-sometimes I find that weird, but it's true-and that drives Osama to bombs and madness.

We are a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the cause that all men and women are created equal. It's silly and precious to point out that these ideals have been mangled, abused, ignored and monstered by those with plans to make us an empire. We know that.

America is indeed exceptional. That's not a boast, that's a job we have to do. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson burdened us with that exceptionalism in crafting the most important international law signed up until the Geneva Convention: The Alien Torts Act, in which the USA takes onto itself the right to bring civil penalties against any act of torture, political murder and piracy that occurs anywhere in the world. It is now being used in suits brought against Chevron Oil in Ecuador and against IBM for the death of slave laborers in Nazi Germany.

Damn right America is exceptional. It is America that defiantly walked out of the first "world trade organization," known as the British Empire, announcing, "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal and are ENDOWED BY THE CREATOR with INALIENABLE rights, and AMONG THESE are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Now, think about that. These rights don't come from Congress or Kings or Soviets, they come from The Creator, that is, we are born free-and "we" are Sri Lankans as much as Minnesotans. Our rights are "INALIENABLE": no one, NO ONE, may take them away, not the Ayatollahs of Tehran or Generalissimo Negroponte at the Department of Homeland Security or the kill-o-crats in Baghdad pre- or post- Saddam.

Will the snarling closet imperialists try to turn America from its cause and soul? Damn right they will. That's why two U.S. military lawyers resigned from their posts at the Guantánamo prison camp. They wouldn't put up with Bush-niks tearing up their Constitution. ("We the people" own it, not "them the Republicans.") In Iran, these two guys would have been shot, in Britain arrested. In America, Bush fears them-that their story would come out-as it did. Only in America could that happen.

No question, the USA holds itself exempt from the legal standards of this world-which are execrable. Whose standard should we adopt? China's torture standard? Britain's Secrecy Act as a standard? Switzerland's Nazi-money-protection standard?

Only in America would a Lyndon Johnson order federal troops to protect Black school kids' right to attend class. You don't have to tell me that Johnson then ordered the slaughter of three million Vietnamese-I know, I went to jail to oppose it. But go to Vietnam today and ask what people they most admire? Mention Russians, they laugh; mention Chinese, they may hit you; mention Americans and they say (to my astonishment, I'll admit), "We love Americans."

They don't love Bush. That's because George Bush is not an American. Look, I didn't think much of Bill Clinton, and he dropped into some of the worst quasi-imperial habits of the New World Trade Order. But Clinton was also more popular worldwide than the pope and pizza combined because he represented that American sense of giving- a-shit, empathy and sincere friendship which are hallmarks of America's Manifest Destiny.

Yes, America does have a Manifest Destiny-to Let Freedom Ring-which the evil and greedy and pernicious would twist into a grab for land and resources and ethnic cleansing. And so the Manifest Destiny of the journalists in our shitty little of ?ces in New York and London is to expose these motherfuckers.

Ronald Reagan said, "America is the shining city on the hill." And he hated it, doing his best to turn it into a dark Calcutta of the helpless. And when that didn't work, George II tried to drown us in the Mississippi.

Go back to Taos, New Mexico, Voting Precinct 13. What you'll find there is Pueblo Native war veterans who raise the flag every day and will fight and die for it knowing full well that the fight must also be taken to the pueblo's racially biased voting booths.

Howard Zinn, a shining historian on our hill, reminds us,

"It should be understood that the children of Iraq, of China, and of Africa, children everywhere in the world, have the same right to life as American children."

Damn right, they do. That's what Jefferson meant by "inalienable."

And they won't get their rights to life and liberty from Osama's Caliphate of oil states or China's money-crazed "Communism" nor half of Africa's neo-colonial presidential Draculas or the puppet princes installed today in Iraq by George Bush.

Bush is so far away from his refugee loser roots that he just doesn't get what it is to be American. So he steals the one thing that every American is handed off the boat: a chance. When they take away your Social Security and overtime and tell you sleeper cells are sleeping under your staircase, you don't take a chance, you lose your chance, and the land of opportunity becomes a landscape of fear and suspicion, an armed madhouse.

You want to say that George Bush is an evil sonovabitch? I'd go further: he's UN-AMERICAN.

And that's why he lost the election. TWICE.
(c) 2008 Greg Palast is a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow for Investigative Reporting at the Nation Institute, New York and is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Armed Madhouse Join Palast's Network on MySpace, on FaceBook or on YouTube.

Three Amigos
Bush, McCain, Obama Draw a Blood-Red Line on Iran
By Chris Floyd

The development of a nuclear weapon by Iran is the great, glowing, neon "red line" of American politics today, one that every single major player in the American power structure says cannot be crossed. An ironclad bipartisan consensus has formed on the issue: Iran will not be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon. Period. End of discussion. "All options are on the table" to prevent this from happening, George Bush has repeatedly declared, with John McCain singing along. Meanwhile, Barack Obama has hammered home the point even more forcefully: "I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon -- everything."

"Everything" in a president's power includes the largest military machine in human history and the largest nuclear arsenal on earth, so this is not exactly an idle boast. In fact, the American bipartisan political consensus on Iran amounts to precisely this: putting a gun to someone's head and saying, "If you don't do what I want, I'm going to blow your goddamn brains out."

This Bush-McCain-Obama line was underscored this week by one of Obama's top foreign policy advisers, Anthony Lake, who said "the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran is the biggest threat facing the world," the Financial Times reports.

Think of that: the biggest threat facing the world. Bigger than global climate change. Bigger than poverty and disease. Bigger than growing conflicts over shrinking resources. Bigger than terrorism (which was the last greatest biggest threat facing the world). Bigger than organized crime. Bigger than the Terror War operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and Somalia, which continue to spawn so much death, ruin, extremism and economic turmoil. Bigger than all of these -- and all other threats facing the world -- is the prospect that Iran might, in Lake's words, "get on the edge of developing a nuclear weapon."

This is certainly a remarkable state of affairs, and one which provokes a very simple question: Why? Why is an Iranian bomb (or even the prospect of Iran "getting on the edge" of having one) the ultimate danger facing the world today -- a prospect so dire, so infinitely evil that even the most "progressive" operators in the power structure insist they would be willing to use nuclear weapons to stop it?

Thomas Powers considers this very question in the latest New York Review of Books:

Nothing in the modern affairs of nations has been more exhaustively analyzed and debated than the utility and dangers of nuclear weapons, and yet the dangers posed by Iran with a bomb have been barely discussed. They are treated as a given. The core idea is that Iran cannot be trusted because the country is run by religious fanatics crazy enough to use a bomb if they had one. This is not the first time such arguments have been made. Some Americans, including Air Force generals, believed in the late 1940s that a pre-emptive war against the Soviet Union was justified by the peril of Moscow with a bomb. Twenty years later the Russians, in their turn, were so alarmed by the prospect of Beijing with a bomb that they quietly proposed to the Americans a joint effort to destroy the Chinese nuclear development effort with a pre-emptive attack.

The world's experience with nuclear weapons to date has shown that nuclear powers do not use them, and they seriously threaten to use them only to deter attack. Britain, France, Russia, China, Israel, South Africa, India, Pakistan, and North Korea have all acquired nuclear weapons in spite of international opposition. None has behaved recklessly with its new power. What changes is that nuclear powers have to be treated differently; in particular they cannot be casually threatened....

We must demur slightly from this excellent analysis to note that one nuclear power has in fact used its nuclear weapons: the United States. Back to Powers:

So set aside the question of whether Iran wants an enrichment program to make bomb-grade material or only for the production of electricity... What we ought to ask, then, is why Iran wants its own production capacity for making the stuff of bombs?

What US officials say, when they say anything at all, is that Tehran wants a bomb in order to dominate the Persian Gulf region and to threaten its neighbors, especially Israel. This is a misreading of how other nuclear powers have made use of their weapons. As tools of coercive diplomacy nuclear weapons are almost entirely useless, but they are extremely effective in blocking large-scale or regime-threatening attack. There is no evidence that Iran has a different motive, and plenty of reason for Iran to fear that attack is a real possibility.

Indeed, the Bush administration, far from trying to quiet Iran's fears, makes a point of confirming them every few months. These threats are not limited to words, but are supported with practical steps....

The seriousness of American threats is confirmed by the fact that no significant national leader in the United States has ever disowned or objected to them in clear, vigorous, principled language. It is as if the whole country listens to the administration's threats with breath held, wondering if Bush and Cheney really mean to do as they say, and in effect leaving the decision entirely to them. Americans may count on the President to think twice, but why would leaders in Tehran, responsible for the lives of 70 million citizens, want to depend on President Bush's restraint for their survival and safety? Bush has a history. On his own authority, without the sanction of any international body, he attacked Iraq five years ago and precipitated a bloody chain of events that shows no sign of ending. It would be natural, indeed inevitable, for any government in Tehran, seeing what has happened next door, to ask what could save Iran from a similar fate. An answer is not far to seek: nuclear weapons with a reliable delivery system could do that.

Powers then considers the possibilities of an imminent American strike on Iran:

Bush and Cheney prefer the language of flat command that implies "or else." A long list might be appended here of their frequent warnings that the United States does not trust Iran with the knowledge to enrich bomb-grade uranium and will not tolerate an Iranian bomb. Many of these warnings have been issued in the last month or two and we may expect a continuing barrage until their final days in office. The President's frustration is plainly evident: Saddam Hussein may be gone, but Iran remains defiant, and more powerful than ever. The President's male pride seems to have been aroused; he said he was going to solve the Iranian problem and he doesn't want to back down. The intensity of Bush's desire to crush this final opponent is evident in his words and his body language, but does he retain the power to carry out his threats?

From one point of view the answer seems obvious. It is too late. With the exception only of the neoconservative faithful, every close observer of the American-Iranian standoff says that the administration's threats are empty, that the United States does not have the military resources, or the political support at home, or the agreement of allies abroad, to carry out a full-scale air attack on Iran's nuclear infrastructure, much less to invade and occupy the country. Two of the skeptics, Gates and Mullen, are running the Pentagon, and their cautioning remarks, only a step this side of insubordination, would seem to make attack impossible. But if attack is impossible, why does Bush talk himself into an ever-tighter corner by continuing to issue threats? Does he believe Iran will cave? Are these the only words he thinks people will still listen to? Is he hoping to tie the hands of the next president? Or is he preparing to summon the power of his office to carry out the last option on the table? One hardly knows whether to take the question seriously. It seems alarmist and overexcited even to pose it when the realities are so clear. But it is impossible to be sure-Bush has a history.

Bush indeed has a history. He has a history of launching military aggression. He has a history of launching military aggression on the basis of manufactured threats. He has a history of launching military aggression without the agreement of allies abroad. He has a history of launching military aggression against the advice of "military skeptics," whom he either "retires" or sidelines or ignores when he launches the aggression. He has a history of launching military aggression regardless of the strain it puts on the armed forces or the national treasury.

And he does not need "political support at home" to launch another act of military aggression, if by "political support" Powers means popular backing from the public. Bush is not facing re-election, and never will again. And he has already been given full support from the Democratic-controlled Congress in a series of measures which fully embrace Bush's bellicose stance toward Iran, as well as the specious casus belli he has advanced.

We are indeed simply waiting to see if Bush decides to carry through with his clear intent -- and waiting helplessly, for exactly the reason that Powers outlines: because "no significant national leader in the United States has ever disowned or objected to [the threat of war on Iran] in clear, vigorous, principled language." Indeed, as noted above, all of our "significant national leaders" are in lockstep on this issue, and in their willingness to do "everything in [their] power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, everything in [their] power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon -- everything."

So yes, Bush has a history of military aggression. And the United States has a history of incinerating civilians with nuclear bombs. What seems to be forgotten in all the bloodlusting furor is that Iran has a history of neither.
(c) 2008 Chris Floyd

Sex Crimes In The White House
By Naomi Wolf

Sex crime has a telltale signature, even when those directing the outrages are some of the most powerful men and women in the United States. How extraordinary, then, to learn that one of the perpetrators of these crimes, Condoleezza Rice, has just led the debate in a special session of the United Nations Security Council on the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.

I had a sense of deja vu when I saw the photos that emerged in 2004 from Abu Ghraib prison. Even as the Bush administration was spinning the notion that the torture of prisoners was the work of "a few bad apples" low in the military hierarchy, I knew that we were seeing evidence of a systemic policy set at the top. It's not that I am a genius. It's simply that, having worked at a rape crisis center and been trained in the basics of sex crime, I have learned that all sex predators go about things in certain recognizable ways.

We now know that the torture of prisoners was the result of a policy set in the White House by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Rice -- who actually chaired the torture meetings. The Pentagon has also acknowledged that it had authorized sexualized abuse of detainees as part of interrogation practices to be performed by female operatives. And documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union have Rumsfeld, in his own words, checking in on the sexualized humiliation of prisoners.

The sexualization of torture from the top basically turned Abu Ghraib and Guantnamo Bay into an organized sex-crime ring in which the trafficked sex slaves were US-held prisoners. Looking at the classic S and M nature of some of this torture, it is hard not to speculate that someone setting policy was aroused by all of this. And Phillipe Sands' impeccably documented Torture Team: Rumsfeld's Memo and the Betrayal of American Values, now proves that sex crime was authorized and, at least one source reports, eroticized: Diane Beaver, the Staff Judge Advocate at Guantanamo who signed off on many torture techniques, told Sands about brainstorming sessions that included the use of sexual tension, which was "culturally taboo, disrespectful, humiliating and potentially unexpected."

"These brainstorming meetings at Guantanamo produced animated discussion," writes Sands. "Who has the glassy eyes?" Beaver asked herself as she surveyed the men around the room, thirty or more of them. She was invariably the only woman in the room, keeping control of the boys. The younger men would get excited, agitated, even: "You could almost see their dicks getting hard as they got new ideas" [reported Beaver]. A wan smile crossed Beaver's face: "And I said to myself, you know what, I don't have a dick to get hard, I can stay detached." [Sands, p 63]

The nonsexual torture that was committed ranged from beatings and suffocation, electrodes attached to sensitive areas, and forced sleep deprivation, to prisoners being hung by the wrists from the ceiling and placed in solitary confinement until psychosis was induced. These abuses violate both US and international law. Three former military attorneys, recognizing this blunt truth, refused to participate in the "military tribunals" -- rather, "show trials" -- aimed at condemning men whose confessions were elicited through torture.

Though we can now debate what the penalty for waterboarding should be, America as a nation, maintaining an odd silence, still cannot seem to discuss the sex crimes involved.

Why? It's not as if the sex crimes that US leaders either authorized or tolerated are not staring Americans in the face: the images of male prisoners with their heads hooded with women's underwear; the documented reports of female US soldiers deployed to smear menstrual blood on the faces of male prisoners, and of military interrogators or contractors forcing prisoners to simulate sex with each other, to penetrate themselves with objects, or to submit to being penetrated by objects. Indeed, the Military Commissions Act of 2006 was written deliberately with loopholes that gave immunity to perpetrators of many kinds of sexual humiliation and abuse.

There is also the testimony by female soldiers such as Lynndie England about compelling male prisoners to masturbate, as well as an FBI memo objecting to a policy of "highly aggressive interrogation techniques." The memo cites a female interrogator rubbing lotion on a shackled detainee and whispering in his ear -- during Ramadan when sexual contact with a strange woman would be most offensive -- then suddenly bending back his thumbs until he grimaced in pain, and violently grabbing his genitals. Sexual abuse in US-operated prisons got worse and worse over time, ultimately including, according to doctors who examined detainees, anal sodomy.

All this may sound bizarre if you are a normal person, but it is standard operating procedure for sex offenders. Those who work in the field know that once sex abusers control a powerless victim, they will invariably push the boundaries with ever more extreme behavior. Abusers start by undressing their victims, but once that line has been breached, you are likely to hear from the victim about oral and anal penetration, greater and greater pain and fear being inflicted, and more and more carelessness about exposing the crimes as the perpetrator's inhibitions fall away.

The perpetrator is also likely to engage in ever-escalating rationalizations, often arguing that the offenses serve a greater good. Finally, the victim is blamed for the abuse: in the case of the detainees, if they would only "behave," and confess, they wouldn't bring all this on themselves.

Silence, and even collusion, is also typical of sex crimes within a family. Americans are behaving like a dysfunctional family by shielding sex criminals in their midst through silence.

Just as sex criminals -- and the leaders who directed the use of rape and sexual abuse as a military strategy -- were tried and sentenced after the wars in Bosnia and Sierra Leone, so Americans must hold accountable those who committed, or authorized, sex crimes in US-operated prisons. Throughout the world, this perverse and graphic criminality has added fuel to anxiety about US cultural and military power. These acts need to be called by their true names -- war crimes and sex crimes -- and people in America need to demand justice for the perpetrators and their victims. As in a family, only when people start to speak out and tell the truth about rape and sexual assault can the healing begin.
(c) 2008 Naomi Wolf was born in San Francisco in 1962. She was an undergraduate at Yale University and did her graduate work at New College, Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.

Her essays have appeared in various publications including: The New Republic, Wall Street Journal, Glamour, Ms., Esquire, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. She also is the author of 'The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot' (Chelsea Green, 2007).

It's That Math Again
By Mike Folkerth

Good Morning Middle America, your King of Simple News is on the air.

Remember some time ago when that bonehead "The King of Simple" predicted that Starbucks would get in big trouble? Starbucks was based on the model of selling $1.00 coffee for $4.00 to the mathematically challenged. Starbucks is now closing 600 stores and laying off 12,000 employee's. How could such a well thought out business plan go astray?

There are thousands of businesses in the U.S. that have a similar business plan to Starbucks. Similar in that they can only exist in a particular economic climate, a time when there is loads of discretionary income available to the mathematically challenged. Which pretty much means everyone in the U.S. if world math scores are an indication.

Fancy bottled water, high end antique shops, and exclusive boutiques will fall in line with Starbucks decline. Tap water, consumer goods auction houses and thrift shops will take their place, just as go-cups from home are taking Starbucks place.

How do I know? I had a front row seat for that movie the last time it was showing and even stayed for the credits. I have had three people call in a week asking about retail space to put in a shop to sell used merchandise.

My wife was talking to our friend who owns a real estate title company and she told Cathy about a great second hand clothing store that recently opened and who handles quality clean pressed clothing at a fraction of new. She and my wife plan to visit the store next week.

I was a fast talker who dealt in other peoples merchandise for years...an auctioneer. We watched our crowds for general merchandise dwindle away to the point that we could no longer accept clothing, dated furniture, or canning jars. New was available on credit, rent to own came into vogue, style trumped common sense and, why can, they sell that stuff at the grocery. It made me sick.

Today, don't stand in front of the canning jars when they come up for bid, you might get trampled. Ain't we something?

An old businessman told me years ago that, "More businesses go broke during good times than ever do during bad times." He went on to explain that they don't really go broke during good times, they set themselves up to go broke and then when the economy takes a tick down, down is the direction that they go.

Acceptance, complacency, and lack of innovation are all prevalent during a lucrative business cycle. Acceptance, that not only can you sell a dollar cup of coffee for four dollars, but acceptance that it will go on forever. Complacency in that high costs can be absorbed by raising prices, after all, they went for the four bucks didn't they? Lack of innovation to constantly monitor and change the business model to fit the economic circumstances, polishes off the perfect setup for business failure.

Fortunately we don't practice these dumb tactics at home. Of course we don't. The mega home with the mega mortgage; after all homes always go up in value as do wages. The new twin SUVs parked in the three car garage next to the new boat; hey, you only go around once.

You get the picture, we set ourselves up during the good times to a point that we can't weather any bad times. And, why should we weather any bad times? Our newest political candidates assure us that not only is it not our fault, he or she will fix our ills just as soon as we elect them.

It's up to each of us to run our own lives as we see fit. Having the freedom to do so is a choice that is guaranteed by our Constitution. There is no place in that Constitution that guarantee's to save us from our own poor choices. And that includes poor choices at the voting booth.
(c) 2008 Mike Folkerth is not your run-of-the-mill author of economics. Nor does he write in boring lecture style. Not even close. The former real estate broker, developer, private real estate fund manager, auctioneer, Alaskan bush pilot, restaurateur, U.S. Navy veteran, heavy equipment operator, taxi cab driver, fishing guide, horse packer...(I won't go on, it's embarrassing) writes from experience and plain common sense. He is the author of "The Biggest Lie Ever Believed."

The Quotable Quote...

"The secret of happiness is freedom. And the secret of freedom is courage."
~~~ Thucydides

Jesse Helms, American Bigot
By Lisa Duggan

Did he plan it? Did he struggle on life support until after the midnight hour, timing his last breath? Or had he been dead for days, his associates keeping the body on ice for the holiday announcement? Jesse Helms, dead on the Fourth of July.

Helms would have appreciated the symbolism, confirming the his own mythic identity as a Proud American, but Helms's other legacy as a big fat bigot is well established. From his racist tirades on the radio and television in North Carolina during the 1950s and '60s to his vicious homophobic rants of the 1980s and 90s, he left a highly quotable record of hate.

On the civil rights movement: "'Candy' is hardly the word for either the topless swimsuit or the Civil Rights Bill. In our judgment, neither has a place in America--unless we have completely lost our sense of morality."


"The Negro cannot count forever on the kind of restraint that's thus far left him free to clog the streets, disrupt traffic, and interfere with other men's rights."

On sexual politics and public health: "The government should spend less money on people with AIDS because they got sick as a result of deliberate, disgusting, revolting conduct."

In death it's easy to dismiss Jesse Helms as a colorful buffoon or a relic of the bad old days of segregation and sexism, but that doesn't do Helms's bigotry justice.

Jesse Helms was an important bigot. He didn't just fume and huff. He used the language of cultural politics-called "morality" or "values" or just "freedom"--to shrink the state, reduce the social wage, enhance the interests of ruthless corporate profit mongering and promote US military interventions around the world. He's the poster boy for how cultural politics works, not as an arena separated from the "real" political economy but as the site of the language and emotion through which people live politics and economics everyday.

Helms began his political career in North Carolina as a reporter, with ties to the banking and tobacco industries. As a "newsman" on WRAL radio and television in Raleigh, North Carolina, he didn't just hammer opponents with red-baiting accusations like every other demagogue, he laced his commentaries on radio and television with the kind of creative rhetorical jihads against the New Deal and the civil rights movement that later gave the Rovian Republican Party its bad name. But he didn't rest on his laurels as a rhetorician. He ran for Congress, built a record-breaking Senate campaign war chest, and went on to become a central architect of the New Right network of corporations, foundations and committees.

Malicious rhetorician and image maker, major fundraiser and creator of the modern big-money electoral campaign, networked right-wing institution and movement builder--Jesse Helms was so much more than just another bigot. He was a stalwart supporter of anti-union policies, and active in US foreign policy debates. In his career on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he pursued US imperial policies both overt and covert. He supported inequality at home and violence abroad and gave it all the name Morality. He wasn't just that annoying Senator No, tying up the Congress and stalling judicial nominations and all that. He both reflected and shaped, and helped legitimate and enshrine, a metastasizing array of virulent anti-democratic forces in American politics in the post World War II period.

To paraphrase Gore Vidal's obituary for William F.Buckley, RIP JH--in hell.
(c) 2008 Lisa Duggan is the author of The Twilight of Equality? Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics and the Attack on Democracy (Beacon). She teaches queer studies in the American studies program and the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at NYU.

Belief You Can Change
The Triumph of Faith-Based Politics
By Ted Rall

NEW YORK--I believe in John McCain. Which is why I don't believe him.

When John McCain said he wanted to stay in Iraq 100 years, he didn't mean it. He just said it to get elected.

His claims that the war is going great? Voting time after time to send hundreds of billions of dollars to fund the war without asking for a timetable for withdrawal? All part of his masterful plan to fool right-wing hicks into voting for him.

Once he gets the keys to 1600 Penn, the real, antiwar McCain will reveal his true plan: Evacuation from Iraq within 24 hours. An apology to the United Nations. Bush put on trial for war crimes. Mandatory gay marriage.

He's got a similar plan for FISA. True, he voted to allow the president to eavesdrop on Americans' phone calls and e-mails. He gave the phone companies immunity for the years that they spied on us illegally. As soon as he becomes president, however, McCain will line up all those lying, spying phone company CEOs against the White House wall and personally shoot them with his trusty sidearm, the Beretta PX4.

And he will laugh.

John McCain cares deeply about the same exact things I do. When he takes the Oath of Office on January 20, for example, a certain political cartoonist--not Chief Justice Roberts--will administer it. Government subsidies will allow Americans to travel to Tashkent and other capitals in Central Asia for just $50. And the electronica band Ladytron will play the Inaugural Ball!

Wait a minute, I can hear you saying. John McCain hasn't said any of this stuff. Know what? You're right! In fact, he's mostly said the exact opposite. Which is exactly why I know he'll do it.

Politicians, you see, are liars. Except when they mostly do, they never follow through on their campaign promises. The more they say they're for using federal tax dollars to fund faith-based church groups, for example, the more you know they're actually dogmatic, God-hating secular atheists. Which is, by the way, another reason I believe in John McCain. Because John McCain promises a new kind of politics, one where Americans aren't separated red state from blue state, cat owner from dog walker. One where soaring rhetoric isn't just something we read about in books, but watch on TV from time to time.

Some of John's fans (he feels so near and dear to me, I'm entitled to first-name familiarity) wonder if the old maverick they fell in love with is losing his moral center by lurching to the right. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Straight talk? Not until he wins! After that, look out. We'll be out of NAFTA faster than you can say maquiladora. Socialized healthcare? You bet. Tax hikes for the rich, free Netflix for the poor, billions to rebuild New Orleans, free kitten and puppy neutering too!_Yes, and yes. I know what I make up in my own mind, and what I know is that John McCain is a patriot, a man whose unshakeable iron will remained unbroken even after his North Vietnamese captors tortured him into signing a confession for war crimes. I know that John McCain loves America, and that therefore anything he says or does that indicates otherwise--including, say, signing off on Bush's continued use of torture at Guantánamo--can be nothing more than a necessary attempt to appease the right long enough for him to win the presidency, after which he will no doubt reveal himself to be the liberal, idealistic demigod he has to be because I and others like me have willed him to be so. Regardless of what he says.

Some poutymouths say I'm deluded. That I've once again fooled myself into believing a politician was something other than what he appeared to be, or indeed said he was, all along.

A little while ago, Barack Obama campaigned as a moderate and a moderate and a moderate. Then he came out as a centrist. Such betrayal!

In 2000, there was George W. Bush. People said he was stubborn and merciless, that he made fun of condemned prisoners as he signed their death warrants as governor of Texas. But I thought he did that just to win the votes of the Republican base. Deep down beneath that mean, dumb exterior, I just knew there had to be the soul of a scholar and the wisdom of a sage. Oh, well.

And in 1980, when Reagan ran as a militaristic, scary old coot, I thought it was just a put-on he was using to get elected so he could make college tuition free for me and my friends. But that's all in the past.

Forty years it has taken me to learn what kind of smile is hidden beneath the Senator's snowy comb-over. It is all right, everything is all right, the struggle is finished. I have won the victory over myself.

I love John McCain.
(c) 2008 Ted Rall is the author of the new book "Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?" an in-depth prose and graphic novel analysis of America's next big foreign policy challenge.

The Dead Letter Office...

Frances picks up a few tips on telling anti-truths from Karl.

Heil Bush,

Dear Vorstand Rice,

Congratulations, you have just been awarded the "Vidkun Quisling Award!" Your name will now live throughout history with such past award winners as Marcus Junius Brutus, Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, George Stephanopoulos, Ralph Nader, Vidkun Quisling and last year's winner Volksjudge Anthony (Fat Tony) Kennedy.

Without your lock-step calling for the repeal of the Constitution, your support of our two coup d'etats, your insistence that Martin Luther King was a Republican and your ability to siphon black votes away from Obama with your National Black Republicans group, Iraq and these many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Republican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Iron Cross 1st class with sapphire clusters presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Bush at a gala celebration at "der Wolf's Lair," formally "Rancho de Bimbo," on 08-23-2008. We salute you Frau Rice, Sieg Heil!

Vice Fuhrer Cheney

Heil Bush

Memo To Obama
Moving to the Middle Is for Losers
By Arianna Huffington

Last Friday afternoon, the guests taking part in Sunday's roundtable discussion on This Week had a pre-show call with George Stephanopoulos. One of the topics he raised was Obama's perceived move to the center, and what it means. Thus began my weekend obsession. If you were within shouting distance of me, odds are we talked about it. I talked about it over lunch with HuffPost's DC team, over dinner with friends, with the doorman at the hotel, and the driver on the way to the airport.

As part of this process, I looked at the Obama campaign not through the prism of my own progressive views and beliefs but through the prism of a cold-eyed campaign strategist who has no principles except winning. From that point of view, and taking nothing else into consideration, I can unequivocally say: the Obama campaign is making a very serious mistake. Tacking to the center is a losing strategy. And don't let the latest head-to-head poll numbers lull you the way they lulled Hillary Clinton in December.

Running to the middle in an attempt to attract undecided swing voters didn't work for Al Gore in 2000. It didn't work for John Kerry in 2004. And it didn't work when Mark Penn (obsessed with his "microtrends" and missing the megatrend) convinced Hillary Clinton to do it in 2008.

Fixating on -- and pandering to -- this fickle crowd is all about messaging tailored to avoid offending rather than to inspire and galvanize. And isn't galvanizing the electorate to demand fundamental change the raison d'etre of the Obama campaign in the first place? This is how David Axelrod put it at the end of February, contrasting the tired Washington model of "I'll do these things for you" with Obama's "Let's do these things together":

"This has been the premise of Barack's politics all his life, going back to his days as a community organizer," Axelrod told me. "He has really lived and breathed it, which is why it comes across so authentically. Of course, the time also has to be right for the man and the moment to come together. And, after all the country has been through over the last seven years, the times are definitely right for the message that the only way to get real change is to activate the American people to demand it."

Watering down that brand is the political equivalent of New Coke. Call it Obama Zero.

In 2004, the Kerry campaign's obsession with undecided voters -- voters so easily swayed that 46 percent of them found credible the Swift Boaters' charges that Kerry might have faked his war wounds to earn a Purple Heart -- allowed the race to devolve from a referendum on the future of the country into a petty squabble over whether Kerry had bled enough to warrant his medals.

Throughout the primary, Obama referred to himself as an "unlikely candidate." Which he certainly was -- and still is. And one of the things that turned him from "unlikely" upstart to presidential frontrunner is his ability to expand the electorate by convincing unlikely voters -- some of the 83 million eligible voters who didn't turn out in 2004 -- to engage in the system.

So why start playing to the political fence sitters -- staking out newly nuanced positions on FISA, gun control laws, expansion of the death penalty, and NAFTA?

In an interview with Nina Easton in Fortune Magazine, Obama was asked about having called NAFTA "a big mistake" and "devastating." Obama's reply: "Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified."

Overheated? So when he was campaigning in the Midwest, many parts of which have been, yes, devastated by economic changes since the passage of NAFTA, and he pledged to make use of a six-month opt-out clause in the trade agreement, that was "overheated?" Or was that one "amplified?"

Because if that's the case, it would be helpful going forward if Obama would let us know which of his powerful rhetoric is "overheated" and/or "amplified," so voters will know not to get their hopes too high.

When Obama kneecaps his own rhetoric and dilutes his positioning as a different kind of politician, he is also giving his opponent a huge opening to reassert the McCain as Maverick brand. We know that McCain has completely abandoned any legitimate claim on his maverick image, but the echoes of that reputation are still very much with us -- especially among many in the media who would love nothing more than to be able to once again portray McCain as the real leader they fell in love with in 2000. And the new Straight Talk Express plane has been modeled on its namesake bus, decked out to better recreate the seduction.

The transition between the primaries and the general election -- and from insurgent to frontrunner -- is tricky. Even a confident campaign can be knocked off course. So this is when Obama most needs to remember what got him to this point -- and stick with it.

In a Los Angeles Times article detailing Obama's attempts at "shifting toward the center," Matt Bennett of the centrist think tank Third Way says that Obama is a "good politician. He's doing all he can to make sure people know he would govern as a post-partisan moderate."

But isn't being a "good politician" as it's meant here exactly what Obama defined himself as being against? Instead of Third Way think tankers, Obama should listen to this guy:

"What's stopped us is the failure of leadership, the smallness of our politics -- the ease with which we're distracted by the petty and trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions, our preference for scoring cheap political points instead of rolling up our sleeves and building a working consensus to tackle big problems.... The time for that politics is over. It's time to turn the page."

That was Barack Obama in February of 2007, announcing his run for the White House. "I know I haven't spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington," he said that day, "but I've been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change."

Was that just "overheated and amplified" rhetoric?

The Obama brand has always been about inspiration, a new kind of politics, the audacity of hope, and "change we can believe in." I like that brand. More importantly, voters -- especially unlikely voters -- like that brand.

Pulling it off the shelf and replacing it with a political product geared to pleasing America's vacillating swing voters -- the ones who will be most susceptible to the fear-mongering avalanche that has already begun -- would be a fatal blunder.

Realpolitik is one thing. Realstupidpolitik is quite another.
(c) 2008 Arianna Huffington

The Boundaries Of Belief
By Sam Harris

According to a recent Pew survey, 21 percent of atheists in the United States believe in "God or a universal spirit," and 8 percent are "absolutely certain" that such a Being exists. One wonders if they were also "absolutely certain" they understood the meaning of the term "atheist." Claiming to be an atheist who believes in God is like claiming to be a happily married bachelor. Rarely does one discover nonsense in such a pristine state. Still this hasn't stopped many people from concluding that there is a schism in the atheist community.

The inclusion of a "universal spirit" might have muddied things for some of these putative atheists, but this would not account for the 6 percent of them who rejected such a spirit in favor of a "personal God." Granted, it is not clear what the phrase "personal God" might mean to men and women who have wandered so far from the plain meaning of words, but we can only assume that they believe in a God of the sort that 71% of Americans worship: a deity who can hear earnest and blameless prayers-as for the remission of childhood cancer-and fail to answer them, while granting those of far lesser gravity nearly every day (I rely upon the reader to insert here the most mortifying expression of religious awe ever uttered at the Grammy Awards).

Open the newspaper tomorrow morning, or any morning thereafter, and reflect upon the fact that half of your neighbors (51%) are "absolutely certain" that a "personal God" presides over all this casual destruction. The incongruity and moral carelessness of such certainty is reason enough to keep atheists (the real ones) awake at the ramparts until a proper war of ideas can be finally waged and won.

The Pew survey produced a few more anomalies: 3 percent of "atheists" are "absolutely certain" that a personal God exists and believe that the Bible is His "literal" Word; 4 percent attend religious services weekly; 5 percent pray daily; 2 percent receive answers to their prayers "at least once a week," have witnessed "a divine healing," and draw their morality straight from scripture. It may well be that some atheists, lacking the requisite fear of hell, find it amusing to maliciously waste a pollster's time. I think, rather, that these figures are simply what it sounds like to ram against the error bars in this particular survey.

Pew's sample of 35,556 Americans included 515 respondents who identified themselves as "atheists" (1.6 percent). The margin of error for this subgroup appears to be around 5 percent - which clearly makes a hash of many of the above findings. Among 35,556 people, Pew seems to have found 40 especially confused God-fearing men and women who think they are "atheists." Their mutterings do not offer any special insight into the nature of belief. In search of such insight, we recently conducted a much more detailed poll of atheists and devout Christians through my website. Our sample of respondents was almost the inverse of Pew's: we had 36,781 surveys completed (some respondents completed more than one), mostly by atheists. Rather than accept each persons self-description as an "atheist" or "Christian" at face value, however, we filtered our results by each person's response to the following two statements:

Please indicate your degree of belief in the God of the Bible.

1. Disbelieve strongly

2. Disbelieve somewhat

3. Don't Know

4. Believe somewhat

5. Believe strongly

Please indicate your degree of belief that the Bible is the word of God. 1. Disbelieve strongly

2. Disbelieve somewhat

3. Don't Know

4. Believe somewhat

5. Believe strongly

We then focused on those who responded with a 1 or a 5 to both of these statements. The primary purpose of this poll was not opinion research, in fact. Rather, we were designing stimuli for an experiment that we are now running on atheists and Christians using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The goal of survey was to produce stimuli of two categories - factual and religious - which would behave appropriately once we put members of each group inside our MRI scanner. We needed factual statements that both atheists and Christians would accept with the same order of confidence and religious statements that would divide them more or less diametrically.

In addition to vetting our experimental stimuli, however, we took the opportunity to solicit the opinions of believers and nonbelievers on many psychological and social topics that are not strictly relevant to our neuroimaging work. Many of these results are now available for viewing on my website.

Please e-mail On Faith if you'd like to receive an email notification when On Faith sends out a new question.
(c) 2008 Sam Harris is the author of "The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason" and "Letter to a Christian Nation."

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Steve Greenberg ~~~

W the move Teaser

To End On A Happy Note...

He Came To Our Town
By Chuck Brodsky

He came to our town
For maybe an hour
The streets all got swept
And they planted some flowers
Babies he kissed
To the people he waved
And he stopped
At a Civil War General's grave

He struck just the right pose
He hit just the right chord
When he spoke of the family
And then of the Lord
He addressed the concerns
Of the common man
And he spoke of the glory
Of this mighty land

He had just the right color
His smile was fixed
His wardrobe assembled
From a bagful of tricks
He had gobs of make-up
Caked on his face
Starch in his collar
Every hair was in place

His wife stood beside him
His daughter did too
And behind them, a flag
With the red, white, and blue
Balloons from the rafters
Fell to the floor
Oh, Happy Days
Were gonna be here once more

He could sell you a war
He could revoke your rights
And still come off as your friend
In the camera lights
He'll run negative ads
If he has to to win
He'll go back on his word
He'll shed his old skin

He said all the right words
Quoted Bob Dylan songs
He sounded hip
Even though he quoted them wrong
His closets were cleaned
And his history revised
So his record would be spotless
To most people's eyes

I wasn't touched
By this guy in the least
He was no savior
Nor was he the beast
I have to admit
That they staged a good show
It was all reminiscent
Of four years ago

He came to our town
For maybe an hour
The streets all got swept
And they planted some flowers
Babies he kissed
To the people he waved
And he stopped
At a Civil War General's grave

And after an hour
They whisked him away
Things went back to normal
Over two or three days
The homeless returned
To living outside
And the flowers that got planted
All wilted and died

He came to our town
For maybe an hour
The streets all got swept
And they planted some flowers
(c) 2000/2008 Chuck Brodsky

Have You Seen This...

Democrats Cover Up 30 Bush Felonies!

Parting Shots...

Tyler, already dangerously underweight, says he will
struggle to put food on the table without a steady income.

Steven Tyler Laid Off From Aerosmith As Band Jobless Rate Hits 20%

BOSTON-After years of relative stability, the Aerosmith unemployment rate soared to an all-time high of 20 percent Monday following the downsizing of the band's vocal sector, Steven Tyler.

The announcement of the largest-ever round of Aerosmith layoffs sent shock waves throughout the group, but band leaders said that four decades of perfect employment was "unrealistic" and that it was necessary to shed some of the graying, outmoded workforce.

"Explaining to a longtime Aerosmith employee that his or her job is being eliminated is one of the most difficult challenges we face in this business," Aerosmith manager Trudy Green said in a statement released this morning. "We thank Steven for his many years of loyal service, and wish him the best of luck in all his future endeavors."

Analysts speculate that the sector-wide layoff was a result of multiple factors, including redundancies in the singing-songwriting division, rising rehab fees that have cost the group millions, and a 34 percent decline in jump-kicks since 2003. In addition, some of Aerosmith's younger, more ambitious employees, such as Joe Perry, 57, are willing to sing and play an instrument at the same time, often for half the salary.

"Tying a scarf to a microphone stand is unfortunately no longer a marketable skill," IndustryWeek editor David Blanchard said. "To compete in today's job market, you need to diversify your skill set. Someone who can not only sing, but also play tambourine and haul heavy equipment, is infinitely more valuable to a company."

Aerosmith, whose unemployment rate has held steady at 0 percent since the start-up rock outfit went public in 1970, recently underwent a paradigm shift away from what many deemed an antiquated business model. In the early 2000s, Aerosmith stopped manufacturing hits and instead began to focus primarily on repackaging and redistributing its existing product. This, Green said, made Tyler dispensable.

Tyler was reportedly informed of the decision 45 minutes before the band was scheduled to go onstage for a performance, and was told to pack up his belongings and turn in his Aerosmith "wings" pin before the audience arrived.

"Thirty-eight years of work, and this is the thanks I get?" said Tyler, who was set to retire in just 18 months. "It's embarrassing. When [guitarist] Ray [Tabano] left back in '71, we all got treated to a nice dinner and some cake on his last day. And he was only in the band for five months."

"The only reason I came on with Aerosmith in the first place was the job security," added Tyler, who said that after nearly 40 years of waking up at 5 p.m. sharp and going to work, he won't know what to do with himself when unemployed. "And I liked being able to come in wearing an unbuttoned leather shirt and a leopard-print cowboy hat. Where else am I going to find a job like that?"

Morale among the remaining Aerosmith employees, Tyler's coworkers said, is low.

"I'm going to miss Steven," said rhythm guitarist Brad Whitford. "He was a good guy, and, I don't know, I thought he sang pretty well."

This cost-cutting personnel change is Aerosmith's most radical shift in economic model since the band's experiments as a drug-trafficking cartel from 1978 to 1984, their brief 1986 merger with Run-DMC, and their short-lived 1994 attempt to switch over to fabricating microchips.

"This restructuring is exactly what Aerosmith needs right now," said Justin Levine, an analyst at Lehman Brothers. "Frankly, they've been in brand decline since that Super Bowl halftime show with Britney Spears."

"Everyone was hurt badly in the big 1998 Armageddon Bubble," said Bill Griffeth, host of CNBC's Power Lunch. "At that point, practically everyone-even members of the younger generation-bought into Aerosmith, but it was clear that they would not be able to sustain that level of global interest. In truth, purchasing any of their material since Get A Grip has involved a substantial level of risk."

Tyler is not the only one in the industry to be affected by the recent recession. In January, Bad Company was outsourced to China, and just last week, Don Henley of the Eagles was replaced by a drum machine.
(c) 2008 The Onion


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Zeitgeist The Movie...

Issues & Alibis Vol 8 # 27 (c) 07/11/2008

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