Issues & Alibis

Please visit our sponsor!

In This Edition

Amy Goodman says, "Health Care Reform Needs An Action Hero."

Uri Avnery remembers a, "Lover Of The Country."

Joe Conason uncovers, "The Real Death Panels."

Jim Hightower finds, "Banker Bozos Out To Kill Consumer Protection."

Robert Scheer explains, "Letting The Banking Rats Out Of The Bag."

Robert Zieve, M.D. joins us with a must read, "The Newest Heavy Metal Threat."

Paul Krugman concludes we're, "Averting The Worst."

Chris Floyd watches, "Tons of Imperial Fun: Hellfire Hillary Pours Oil On Somalia's Fire."

Case Wagenvoord visits, "The Wacky World Of Rational Superstition."

Mike Folkerth reviews, "The Grandest Ponzi Scheme Of All."

Chris Hedges thinks, "Nader Was Right."

Greg Palast wonders, "Obama On Drugs: 98% Cheney?"

Sarah Palin wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Dr. Jeff Schweitzer examines, "Bible Study In Public Schools."

Joel S. Hirschhorn explores the, "9/11 Mind Swell."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department the fabulous Betty Bowers returns with, "Theater Of The Perturbed" but first Uncle Ernie follows Obama down south, "In Old Mexico."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Steve Breen, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Brian McFadden, Tom Tomorrow, Dees Illustration, Bill Mutranowski, Keith Tucker, Albrecht Dürer, Jeff Parker, MGM, Milton Bradley, TV Guide.Com, Issues & Alibis.Org 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...

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

In Old Mexico
By Ernest Stewart

Now it's siesta time in Akron, Ohio,
But it's back to old Guadalajara I'm longing to go.
Far away from the strikes of the A.F. of L. and C.I.O.
How I wish I could get back
To the land of the wetback,
And forget the Alamo,
In Old Mexico. Ole!
In Old Mexico ~~~ Tom Lehrer

"I don't know but I've heard rumors
Obama and Biden are awearin' bloomers!"
Old Army cadence marching song

They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom
For trying to change the system from within
I'm coming now, I'm coming to reward them
First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin
First We Take Manhattan ~~~ Leonard Cohen

Our beloved fearless leader was off to Guadalajara for yet another meeting of the North American Union. Obama met privately with Mexican President Felipe Calderon to share a few "hoser" jokes, eh, with Felipe before allowing Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to join them for the traditional Mexican dish of Tequila and Tacos. (Rumor has it they made Stephen eat the worm!) Then "The Three Stooges" or "The Three Amigos," as some have called them, went behind closed doors to talk about how they can split up North America for their various corpo-rat masters!

Felipe held his hand out for the $1.4 billion drug-fighting package known as the Merida Initiative. This money will be used to pay off the various drug cartels so they'll "cool it" for awhile and business can get back to normal. (A $100 million chunk of the $1.4 billion was blocked last week by Patrick Leahy. Pat believes that the US should be pursuing an "ethical" foreign policy. He cited reports of torture and other alleged human rights violations in Mexico for his decision but was silent about what we're doing in the Middle East!) Barry shucked and jived Felipe for all he was worth but Felipe wasn't buying the bullshit and threatened to continue imposing tariffs on dozens of U.S. products ranging from fruit and wine to washing machines unless Barry kicked out the money and opened American highways to Mexican trucks. Obama told Calderon he would work "to try to move forward" but also said Congress has "legitimate safety concerns about Mexican trucks." What could be wrong with allowing that? Perhaps it might mean someone who doesn't speak or read English could be driving 55,000 pounds of steel at 80 mph an hour over American roads. Someone who hasn't slept for two days because he's stoned on speed to the point of having tunnel vision. He's driving a truck that might fall apart at any minute right in front of your "Smart Car." Talk bout a rush! I hope you still have health insurance?

Obama, Calderon and Harper are looking for ways to handle an expected new wave of "Swine Flu" cases during North America's upcoming flu season. And how best to spring a Martial Law edict on certain sections of the North American Union while they're at it! John Brennan, Obama's chief homeland security aide, said it is as important to further link up health officials and ready vaccine and antiviral supplies as it is for the three leaders to publicly reinforce a determination not to panic when cases arise. John summed up what was really important to the three amigos...

"There are people who are going to be getting sick in the fall and die," Brennan said. "We want to make sure that we do everything possible to ensure the continuation of commerce, transportation and trade between the three countries."

You'll being dying soon, America, unless of course they need you. Do they need you? Maybe it will be death by injection, death under an Mexican 18 wheeler or death in a Happy Camps(tm) "shower" room but rest assured folks, someone will be making a profit off of it!

In Other News

There is one thing since Big Brother came out of the closet under Bush that I rather like and that is that they just don't care anymore about who knows what they are up to. The fix is in and there is no longer a need to keep things quiet, no back room meetings, it all up front for all to see who care to look. A good example of that is the above National Guard recruiting ad.

Not for the Army or Army reserve but for the Guard, whose traditional service is to work in the states that they call home. So their blatant recruitment of men and women to man the "Happy Camps(tm)" should send alarm bells ringing in your head! Do you hear those bells ringing, America? If it were the Army, the Reserve or the Marines that were doing the recruiting you might think, no big thing as we have black ops prisons and military prisons for the military and POW's around the world. However when it's your home guard that is recruiting for "Internment and Resettlement" which is how they labeled what they did to the Japanese American and German American families during WWII. These American citizens ONLY "crimes" were that their ancestors came from Japan and Germany. They had committed no crimes and weren't accused of committing any but off they went to the camps for many years just the same. In fact, some were held, that is men, women and children until 1948 with no compensation, not even we're sorry for ruining your life. For your losing your homes, businesses, cars and in many cases your lives! Oops we bad!

The various troops under United States Northern Commander General Victor Eugene Renuart* are ready and waiting to spring into action to help FEMA round us up and ship us via rail to the new Happy Camps. They just need some more kids to see that Mom and Pop get into the right line at camp for a refreshing "shower!" Our troops wouldn't turn on us, I hear you cry. To which I might reply, guess again. Our troops won't hesitate to do whatever they are told to do. They have been brainwashed all their lives and after they under go further brainwashing by the military, they emerge fully capable of bayoneting that babe in arms and its mother too, if ordered to do so. They're taught that raping and sodomizing is just good sport after a hard day of slaughtering old folks. It helps one to unwind!

The rightwing is just beginning to understand that they're not immune to what's coming, but will, no doubt, be the first to be rounded up just like Hitler did to the Brown Shirts. The leftists will then all go off to camp, followed by the rest of the excess population. Only the elite and the few trusted slaves needed to see to their every need will be left! If you wake up to reality while strapped inside of a boxcar on the way to camp it's just a bit too late to do anything about your fate. Perhaps right now is a better time to put a stop to this madness?

*Boy, is our face red! Last week we identified in our "Dead Letter Office" department, United States Northern Commander General Victor Eugene Renuart, Jr with a picture of Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering! Yes, I realize it's an easy mistake to make but nevertheless, we would like to apologize for this error most humbly and sincerely to the friends and family of Reichsmarschall Goering!

And Finally

It's becoming obvious that the various tour buses going from state to state to disrupt town hall meetings are doing so with Obama's blessings. Why else would the Dems and Barry stand frozen like deer in the headlights while deep thinkers like Dick Armey and his "Freedom Works" run rampant? Dick Armey, about whom Paul Begala once said, "If goofy ideas ever get to $80 a barrel, I want the drilling rights to Dick Armey's head," is leading the charge.

He's followed by the likes of "Conservatives for Patients' Rights." This group is led by Rick Scott, former head of Columbia/HCA, a healthcare company that paid $1.7 billion in fines for overcharging government programs in the 1990s. Rick has been working with the public relations group responsible for the "swift boat" ads against Kerry in 2004.

Another rat-wing rabble rouser is David H. Koch of "Americans for Prosperity." David's prospering, being the 17th richest man in America as part owner of Koch Industries, a conglomerate with major oil and gas holdings that is the largest privately held company in the United States. He's using his vast fortune to run millions of dollars worth of TV ads against insuring everybody. He is also sponsoring busloads of actors to go and act at various town hall meetings as well as posting the times and locations for town hall meetings so a few local brain deads can join in the fun of destroying America!

Did you ever notice how the Rethuglicans are the kings of euphemisms? Remember the traitorous Patriot Act? Here we have three groups of corpo-rat goons doing their best to keep us enslaved with names like "Americans for Prosperity," (think of the prosperity of losing your house over hospital bills) "Conservatives for Patients' Rights" (the right to die but not the right to see a doctor) and "Freedom Works" (a group dedicated to keeping you enslaved).

Obama could have put a stop to these lies from day one but he did nothing effective. Sure a couple of speeches to the party faithful but, as it was in 1993 and every other time since Franklin D. first tried to get health care for all passed, nothing meaningful will come from this brouhaha except "hey we tried and it's the fault of those nasty mean old Rethuglicans." Well, the Rethuglicans, as mean and as nasty as they are, couldn't have done it without the help of the Demoncrats and a few easily confused Sheeple. And don't forget the bribe money supplied by the insurance industry and the AMA!


We don't sell our readers new cars, fancy homes or designer clothes. We don't advocate consumerism nor do we offer facile solutions to serious problems. We do, however, bring together every week writers and activists who are not afraid to speak the truth about our country and our world. The articles we print are not for the faint of heart.

As access to accurate information becomes more difficult and free speech and the exchange of ideas becomes more restricted and controlled, small publications and alternative presses disappear. Issues and Alibis may soon join that list.

We aren't asking for much-not thousands of dollars a month, not tens of thousands a year. What we need is simply enough money to cover expenses for the magazine. A few thousand dollars a year. A few hundred dollars a month. We cannot continue to go into debt to publish Issues and Alibis but at the same time we cannot, in good conscience, go quietly about our daily lives, remaining silent in face of the injustices perpetrated by our leaders and our government. So we need your help. We need your spare change. A dollar, five dollars, whatever you can contribute. Every penny makes a difference.

Ernest & Victoria Stewart


07-10-1921 ~ 08-11-2009
Thanks for the games!

06-09-1915 ~ 08-13-2009
Thanx for my Axe!


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: 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 Bush Lite so far?
And more importantly, what are you planning on doing about it?

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2009 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 8 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 The Movie."

Health Care Reform Needs An Action Hero
By Amy Goodman

Imagine the scene. America 2009. Eighteen thousand people have died in one year, an average of almost 50 a day. Who's taking them out? What's killing them?

To investigate, President Barack Obama might be tempted to call on Jack Bauer, the fictional rogue intelligence agent from the hit TV series "24," who invariably employs torture and a host of other illegal tactics to help the president fight terrorism. But terrorism is not the culprit here:

It's lack of adequate health care. So maybe the president's solution isn't Jack Bauer, but rather the actor who plays him.

The star of "24" is played by Kiefer Sutherland, whose family has very deep connections to health care reform-in Canada. Sutherland is the grandson of the late Tommy Douglas, the pioneering Canadian politician who is credited with creating the modern Canadian health care system. As a youth, Tommy Douglas almost lost his ailing leg. His family could not afford treatment, but a doctor treated him for free, provided his medical students could observe. As an adult, Douglas saw the impact of widespread poverty caused by the Great Depression. Trained as a minister, he had a popular oratorical style.

He moved into politics, joining the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation party. After several years in Parliament, he led the CCF's decisive victory in the province of Saskatchewan, ushering in the first social democratic government in North America.

Douglas became premier of Saskatchewan, and pioneered a number of progressive policies there, including the expansion of public utilities, unionization and public auto insurance. But Douglas' biggest battle, for which he is best remembered, is the creation of universal health insurance, called Medicare. It passed in Saskatchewan in 1962, guaranteeing hospital care for all residents. Doctors there staged a 23-day strike, supported by the U.S.-based American Medical Association. Despite industry opposition, the Saskatchewan Medicare program was so successful and popular that it was adopted throughout Canada. While Tommy Douglas was fighting for health insurance in Canada, a similar battle was raging in the U.S., resulting in the passage of Medicare and Medicaid, giving guaranteed, single-payer health care to senior citizens and the poor.

Rush Limbaugh, Fox News Channel's Glenn Beck and insurance-industry-funded groups are encouraging people to disrupt town hall meetings with members of Congress. A number of the confrontations have become violent, or at least threatening. Outside President Obama's Portsmouth, N.H., event, a protester with a pistol strapped to his thigh drew further attention with a sign that read, "It is time to water the tree of Liberty." Thomas Jefferson's complete quote, not included on the sign, continues, "... with the blood of tyrants and patriots." Limbaugh says "24" is one of his favorite shows. He has even visited the set. Rush should learn from the real-life actor who plays his hero, Jack. Limbaugh and his cohorts may find truth not as satisfying as fiction.

In 2004, a Canadian Broadcasting Corp. poll named Tommy Douglas "The Greatest Canadian." At a protest in 2000 against efforts to roll back the Medicare system in the province of Alberta, Kiefer Sutherland defended Canada's public, single-payer system:

"Private health care does not work. America is trying to change their system. It's too expensive to get comprehensive medical care in the U.S. Why on earth are we going to follow their system here? I consider it a humanitarian issue. This is an issue about what is right and wrong, what is decent and what is not."

Maybe Jack Bauer can save the day.
(c) 2009 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 750 stations in North America. She is the co-author of "Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times," recently released in paperback.

Lover Of The Country
By Uri Avnery

ON THE morrow of the Six-day War, Amos Kenan came to my editorial office. He was in a state of shock. As a reserve soldier, he had just witnessed the emptying of three villages in the Latrun area. Men and women, old people and children, had been driven out in the burning June sun on a foot march in the direction of Ramallah, dozens of kilometers away. It reminded him of sights from the Holocaust.

I told him to sit down there and then and write an eye-witness account. I rushed to the Knesset (of which I was then a member) and delivered the report to the Prime Minister, Levy Eshkol, and to several ministers, including Menachem Begin and Victor Shem-Tov. But it was too late - the villages had already been razed to the ground. In their place, the Canada Park was created later on with the help of that country, to its lasting shame.

(On the other hand, another eye-witness account, about the destruction of the town of Qalqiliya, did help. After I delivered the report to the ministers, the destruction was stopped and the destroyed neighborhoods were even rebuilt.)

Kenan's report is a human and literary document. It says much about its author, who died this week. Amos Kenan was a moral person.

THE COUNTRY was the center of his mental universe. It was the focus of his world-view, his life-work and his actions. I don't hesitate to say: he was the lover of this country.

In his youth, he belonged for a time to the "Canaanite" group and adopted some of their ideas. But he drew from them the opposite conclusions from those of their founder, the poet Yonatan Ratosh, who denied the very notion of Arab nationhood, as well as the existence of the Palestinian Arab people. Kenan, like me, was convinced that the future of Israel was bound up with the future of Palestine, because the common land commands a partnership of the two peoples.

(A personal remark: when a person eulogizes somebody, he always mentions himself, and this often raises eyebrows. I think that this cannot be avoided: the eulogizer speaks about the eulogized as he knew him, and so the personality of the eulogized is reflected in the mirror of the eulogizer. So please forgive me, if you can.)

I first met him during the 1948 war, on one of my short leaves. At a friend's place, I bumped into the young soldier (he was fully four years younger than I), who was also on leave.

He was born in the country and had been a member of the left-wing Hashomer Hatzair ("The Youth Guard") movement, whose idealistic-moral ideology certainly helped to shape his character. Like many leftist youngsters at the time, he joined the Lehi (Stern Group) underground, which then had a pro-Soviet orientation. With the founding of the state, all Lehi members were drafted into the new Israeli army.

Before that he took part in the atrocious Irgun and Lehi action in Deir Yassin. He had a problem dealing with this - and he always asserted that the massacre was not intended, or that it did not take place at all. He maintained that the commander was killed and that the control over the fighters was lost. He himself was wounded at the beginning of the action, he asserted, and did not see what happened. I was not wholly convinced.

We discovered that we had similar ideas about the future of the newly founded state. We both believed that we had created not only a new state, but also a new nation - the Hebrew nation, which is not just another part of the Jewish Diaspora, but a new entity altogether, with a new culture and a new character. Since this nation was born in the country, it does not belong to Europe or America, but to the region of which it is a part, and all the peoples of this region are our natural allies.

On this basis we objected to the 1956 war, in which Israel put itself at the service of two tainted colonialist regimes, the French and the British. While the war was still going on, a group came together and decided to outline another path for the state. We called ourselves "Semitic Action," and apart from Kenan and myself, our number included the former Lehi leader Nathan Yellin-Mor, Boaz Evron and other good people. Within a year we published a document entitled "The Hebrew Manifesto," with more than a hundred points, which proposed a revolutionary new approach to almost all the state's problems. Its main points: We are a new nation born in this country. Next to the State of Israel, the State of Palestine must come into being. The two states should form a federation, which may also include Jordan. The Arab citizens of Israel must be full partners in the fabric of the state, which will be totally separate from religion.

Since at that time all the Palestinian territories were under occupation - Jordanian in the West Bank and Egyptian in the Gaza Strip, we wanted Israel to supply the Palestinians with money, arms and a radio station, to help them to rise up and liberate themselves. Israel was of course allied with the Jordanian regime.

Immediately after the 1967 Six-Day War, the same group set up an organization called"Federation Israel-Palestine," in which Kenan also played a role. We advocated the immediate founding of the State of Palestine in all the Palestinian territories that we had just conquered, and the setting up of a federation of Israel and Palestine. Many who opposed this then, now recognize that it was the right idea at the right moment.

In 1974, when I was the first "Zionist" Israeli to establish secret contacts with the PLO leadership, I tried, in accord with them, to set up a public body in Israel to continue the contacts openly. Several meetings were held, a lot of discussion took place, and nothing came of it. So we decided to take the bull by the horns: we published a call for the creation of an organization for Israeli-Palestinian peace. The call bore three signatures: Yossi Amitai, Amos Kenan and me. (Actually, Kenan was in France at the time, but before leaving he had given me permission to put his signature on any document I saw fit.)

This call led to the creation of the "Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace," whose founding manifesto was signed by a hundred personalities, including General Matti Peled, Eliyahu Eliashar (the president of the Sephardic community), Lova Eliav, David Shaham, Alex Massis, Amnon Zichroni and Colonel Meir Pa'il.)

At that time, Ariel Sharon also flirted with us. It was after the Yom Kippur War and the "Battle of the Generals" among themselves), and after Sharon had left the Likud which he had created. He wanted to attract Kenan, me and, I believe, Yossi Sarid. He organized a private exhibition of Kenan's paintings at his home, and asked me to set up a meeting between him and Yasser Arafat. His idea was to found a new party which would attract "the best of both the Left and the Right." Amos gave the party the name of his eldest daughter, Shlomtzion, but in the end Sharon set up a right-wing party, and after its poor showing in the 1977 elections, rejoined the Likud.

THE POLITICAL aspect, important as it was, was only one of Kenan's many parts. He was a satirist, writer, poet, painter, sculptor, gardener, chef and who knows what else, a real renaissance person. But all these parts had one common denominator: the country.

On the roof of his home he cultivated dozens of local herbs and spices which he used in his cooking, of which he was inordinately proud. As a writer and a poet, he made an important contribution to the birth of the new Hebrew language: a local, Sabra language, simple, precise, far from the language of the Mishna and the language of the celebrated writer S.I. Agnon, which even young writers like Moshe Shamir were aping. Kenan wrote his essays, books and plays in vernacular but perfect Hebrew.

His star began to rise with his humorous column in Haaretz, "Uzi and Co." He was able to express the deepest truths in a trenchant satire of a few lines. Some of these are Hebrew classics.

In July 1952, the religious minister of transportation, David-Zvi Pinkas, published regulations that practically prohibited the use of cars on the Shabbat. Many of us joined forces to battle this religious coercion and demonstrated in the center of Tel Aviv. But Amos went further: he laid a bomb at the door to Pinkas' apartment. He was caught red-handed, indicted, stubbornly refused to talk and finally acquitted for "lack of evidence."

When the chief of the Tel Aviv police personally went to interrogate him in prison and offered to talk with him "man to man," Kenan countered calmly "the weather today is fine."

As a result of this affair, Kenan was compelled to leave Haaretz , and I welcomed him with open arms to Haolam Hazeh. He contributed to our magazine some of the finest writings we published, some of them almost prophetic.

On his request we sent him to Paris. There he soon found his place among the intellectual elite and moved in with the young French writer, Christiane Rochefort, who wrote her first book about him ("Le Repose du Guerrier"), which was made into a film with Brigitte Bardot. There he also fell in love with a visitor from Israel, a young woman who accepted his offer to stay in his coal cellar, and they married. Nurit Gertz was the exact opposite of him and, I believe, the sole human being in the world able to live with him for long.

When I came to France for the first time, Kenan arranged a meeting with Jean-Paul Sartre, who liked our ideas about Israeli-Palestinian peace. I remember his words to me (in French): "Monsieur, you rolled a stone from my heart. I cannot approve of the policy of the Israeli government, but I also don't want to condemn it, because I do not want to find myself in the same camp with the anti-Semites I detest. When you come from Israel and propose a new path for it, I am happy."

After that Amos and I went to a huge demonstration against the war in Algeria, and the flics beat us both indiscriminately.

KENAN WAS a man of quarrel and strife, who was quick to lose his temper and become aggressive. He had a tendency to hurt those who loved him. "There is only one way not to quarrel with you," I once told him, "and that is to cut off all relations and not to speak with you."

The last time we quarreled was when Gush Shalom called for a boycott on the products of the settlements. Kenan refused to join, ostensibly because we included the Golan settlements. "I don't want to give up the Golan wine," he said half in jest. But he hated the settlements, not only because they were built to obstruct peace with the Palestinians, but also because they symbolized in his eyes the general uglification of the country. He told me once that when looking out of the window of an aircraft he had suddenly realized that "the State of Israel has destroyed the Land of Israel."

In her semi-biographical book about her husband, which appeared not long ago in Hebrew, Nurit Gertz talks about his difficult childhood, when his father was in a mental institution. I suspect that throughout his life, he suffered from a hidden fear that he might inherit the disease. That may explain his bouts of alcoholism. Fortunately for him, he had an extraordinary mother, Mrs Levin, a short, vigorous and resolute woman who raised Amos and his two younger brothers practically on her own.

The only times I saw his face soften was when he was looking at Nurit or their two daughters, Shlomtzion and Rona. I could forgive him all the offensive and abusive attacks, because his creative talent was so much more important.

HE ALREADY disappeared from the landscape some years ago, when he fell victim to Alzheimer's disease. Actually, he faded away together with the culture he had helped to create.

The Hebrew culture which was born in the early 40s died in the 60s. The heavy losses of our generation in the 1948 war and the mass immigration that flooded the state in its first few years meant the death of this unique culture and its replacement by the banal Israeli culture as it is now.

Amos Kenan's death marks the exit of one of that Hebrew culture's last remaining exponents.


At Kenan's funeral, not a single representative of official Israel was present.
(c) 2009 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

The Real Death Panels
By Joe Conason

When Republican politicians and right-wing talking heads bemoan the fictitious "death panels" that they claim would arise from health care reform, they are concealing a sinister reality from their followers. The ugly fact is that every year we fail to reform the existing system, that failure condemns tens of thousands of people to die-either because they have no insurance or because their insurance companies deny coverage or benefits when they become ill.

The best estimate of the annual death toll among Americans of working age due to lack of insurance or under-insurance is at least 20,000, according to studies conducted over the past decade by medical researchers, and is almost certainly rising as more and more people lose their coverage as costs continue to go up.

They die primarily because they didn't have the coverage or the money to pay doctors and thus delayed seeking treatment until it was too late. They don't get checkups, screenings and other preventive care. That is why uninsured adults are far more likely to be diagnosed with a disease, such as cancer or heart disease, at an advanced stage, which severely reduces their chances of survival.

This isn't news. Seven years ago, the Institute of Medicine found that approximately 18,000 Americans had died in 2000 because they had no insurance. Using the same methodology combined with Census Bureau estimates of health coverage, the Urban Institute concluded that the incidence of death among the uninsured was enormous. Between 2000 and 2006, the last year of that study, the total number of dead was estimated to have reached 137,000-a body count more than double the number of casualties in the Vietnam War.

The Institute of Medicine also found that uninsured adults are 25 percent more likely to die prematurely than adults with private health insurance, and other studies have warned that uninsured adults between the ages of 55 and 64 are even more prone to die prematurely. A lack of health insurance is the third-leading cause of death for that age cohort, following heart disease and cancer.

All those appalling figures, which are real rather than mythical, do not include the casualties of insurance company profiteering-namely, all the people, including small children, who perish because of the anonymous "death panels" that deny or delay coverage to consumers. Perhaps the most notorious case in recent years was that of Nataline Sarkisyan, the 17-year-old leukemia patient whose liver transplant was held up by insurance giant Cigna HealthCare. She died for no reason except to protect Cigna's profit margin, but her unnecessary and cruel demise was hardly unique.

Research by the American Medical Association found that the nation's largest insurance companies deny somewhere between 2 and 5 percent of all the claims submitted by doctors. That rough estimate is the best available because private insurers are not required to reveal such statistics (although they certainly maintain them), and the government does not collect them. But in June, a House Energy and Commerce Committee investigation found that three major insurance companies-Golden Rule, Assurant and WellPoint-rescinded the coverage of at least 20,000 people between 2003 and 2007 for minor errors, including typos, on their paperwork; a preexisting condition; or a family member's medical history.

"They try to find something-anything-so they can say that this individual was not truthful," said Representative Henry Waxman, the California Democrat who oversaw the committee probe. He warned that insurance companies launch these nitpicking inquisitions whenever a policyholder becomes ill with a certain kind of condition-usually a costly and deadly one, such as ovarian cancer or leukemia. The result is denial and loss of coverage-and we now know that means increased mortality for innocent people.

So who are the members of the death panels?

You can find them among the corporate bureaucrats who concoct excuses to deny coverage and throw the sick off their rolls. You can find them among the politicians and lobbyists who have stalled reform for years while people died. You can find them among the morons who show up to shout slogans at town halls rather than seek solutions. And you can find them among the cable and radio blabbers, who invent scary stories about reform to conceal the sickening truth.
(c) 2009 Joe Conason writes for The New York Observer. You may reach Joe via email at: Joe Conason

Banker Bozos Out To Kill Consumer Protection

The circus is back in town! But there's no joy about it, for this is the Wall Street Circus, returning to Washington, DC, to twist the legislative process once again so they can continue to profiteer at our expense.

They've brought their whole, three-ring show of legislative jugglers, whip-cracking lion tamers, political contortionists, high-wire acrobats, and bumbling clowns to town in an effort kill Barack Obama's plan to create a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency. We can't allow plain 'ol consumers to have a say in financial policy, cry the bankers, for they would restrict our ability to generate free market profits with our innovative financial products.

Free market? These are the same laissez-fairyland hucksters who free-marketed our economy right into the ditch with "innovative" financial flim-flams that even they didn't understand.

Free market? These are the same failed bank bosses whom we regular taxpayers are presently being forced to bail out with trillions of our tax dollars.

Yet, here they come, clownishly claiming that there's no need for an independent agency to protect consumers from financial sharks, because the Federal Reserve, the comptroller of the Currency, the office of Thrift Supervision, and other federal agencies are already charged with consumer protection responsibilities. Well, yes, Bozos, those agencies do have such duties - which they've routinely ignored for years, instead insisting that their chief regulatory function is to protect the profits of their banker "clients" - consumers be damned.

It is shameful that these bankers, who have ripped-off America with their greed, are now trying to keep consumers from having a real voice in setting and enforcing our country's financial rules. More shameful, though, is that some in Congress are siding with the banksters, rather than grabbing tar and feathers and running their whole sorry circus out of town.
(c) 2009 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.

Letting The Banking Rats Out Of The Bag
By Robert Scheer

The good judge smelled a rat.

"Was there some sort of ghost that performed these actions?" New York federal Judge Jed S. Rakoff demanded to know Monday in rejecting a deal that would let Bank of America off the hook in yet another banker bonus scandal. The Securities and Exchange Commission had charged the bank with covering up for outrageous bonuses given out at Merrill Lynch as the bank acquired the failed stockbrokerage, and now it was letting the bank off the hook with a chicken-feed fine.

"Do Wall Street people expect to be paid large bonuses in years when their company lost $27 billion?" the judge asked, and Lewis J. Liman, the lawyer for Bank of America, assured him they do: "My God! Bonuses on Wall Street? It is not a matter of surprise."

But for those of us less sophisticated in the ways of Wall Street, it is a surprise that Merrill Lynch executives were rewarded for failure at the same time Bank of America was using $45 billion in taxpayer funds to take over the brokerage house. Six hundred ninety-six executives who helped run Merrill into the ground were granted more than a million bucks each.

BofA lawyer Liman attempted to put an egalitarian spin on this government-sponsored welfare for the superrich by pointing out that all told, another 39,000 Merrill employees averaged only $91,000 in bonuses, but the judge wasn't having it: "I'm glad you think that $91,000 is not a lot of money; I wish the average American was making $91,000."

That's the point; the average American is paying for the banking debacle not only in taxes for the bailout but with lost jobs and homes. Yet the SEC, which is supposed to be protecting the ordinary citizen's interests, decided to give BofA execs a bye. The question is why Bank of America and Merrill failed to inform their shareholders that such payoffs were part of the deal. The details of the bonuses were known to BofA CEO Kenneth Lewis and other top bank executives but not mentioned in the merger agreement or proxy statements sent to the company's shareholders for approval.

The SEC complaint did accuse BofA of misleading its shareholders, but instead of digging deeply into how such decisions had been made and by whom, a deal was concocted in which BofA got off with a paltry $33 million fine. That is less than the bonus received by one of the Merrill execs. Yet the SEC deal would have closed the case on how that decision was made.

"You filed a rather uninformative, bare-bones complaint," Judge Rakoff told SEC lawyer David Rosenfeld, who lamely defended the decision to avoid going after the bankers involved, and it is instructive of whose interest he was serving that "[t]he lawyer for Bank of America periodically whispered what appeared to be suggestions to Mr. Rosenfeld," as a New York Times article put it.

Whispering between government regulators and the Wall Street honchos ostensibly being regulated is what got us into this mess in the first place. The SEC looked the other way as the banking bandits piled on hundreds of billions in toxic holdings, and its lawyers evidently still do not get the message that they are not supposed to be facilitators of financial rip-offs.

Thankfully, at least one judge had the courage to challenge the rules of the game and at least delay its predictable outcome. "I would be less than candid if I didn't express my continued misgivings about this settlement at this stage," Rakoff said. "When this settlement first came to me, it seemed to be lacking, for lack of a better word, transparency. I did not know much about the facts from the complaint, I did not know much, or really anything, about the basis of the settlement." He said that accepting the settlement "would leave uncertain the truth of the very serious allegations made" by the SEC and whether any of the bonus money was "derived directly or indirectly from the $20 billion" that BofA received from the government.

That is the only error the judge made; the figure is actually $45 billion in government bailout funds for BofA and $118 billion more in public money to guarantee its toxic assets. Given that enormous investment of taxpayer funds, and the trillions more put at risk because of the folly of those richly rewarded banking bonus babies, transparency would indeed seem to be required as the order of the day. As Judge Rakoff concluded, Bank of America and Merrill Lynch had not only "effectively lied to their shareholders" but the money to finance their bonus scam had come "from Uncle Sam."

Why has it been left to one stellar judge to sound the alarm, and why is Congress and the Obama administration looking the other way?
(c) 2009 Robert Scheer is the editor of Truthdig. A journalist with over 30 years experience, Scheer has built his reputation on the strength of his social and political writing. His columns have appeared in newspapers across the country, and his in-depth interviews have made headlines. He is the author, most recently, of "The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America," published by Twelve Books.

The Newest Heavy Metal Threat
By Robert Zieve, M.D.

This article is about a toxin that few people know about, a toxin that affects most of us in very quiet and insidious ways. It is called depleted uranium. Learning about and coming to terms with this toxin requires us to learn about it with our heads, keep our hearts open to the human suffering involved, and our wills active to take the needed actions guided by conscience.

Many of us have learned about the central toxins of our times, and they are many.

These include, but are not limited to: mercury and other heavy metals, vaccines, fluoridated water, chemicals, and microwaves and electromagnetic smog. To say nothing of the psychological entanglements and blind loyalties from the families into which we were born.

We are developing ways of coping with or detoxifying from these toxins. We can remove and replace our amalgam fillings and take products that help us eliminate mercury from all the places in our body that can do damage. We can stop giving our children vaccines. We can drink purified water. We can eat food that is not sprayed with chemicals, and buy products not made with toxic chemicals. We can stop using cell phones and cordless phones and microwaves, and purchase a protective canopy to put over our beds so that in sleep we are not affective by nearby cell phone towers.

Yet with depleted uranium it is different.

Most of the toxins listed above have well-documented evidence of their effects upon the human body and upon the environment. And more people are becoming aware of them and taking action either individually or collectively. With uranium, we are playing catchup ball.

Uranium and Depleted Uranium

There is uranium and there is depleted uranium. Understanding the distinction between this two is critical.

Uranium is a weakly radioactive element. It is present naturally in our environment. There is research that exposure to low levels of what is called ionizing radiation from earth emanating uranium helps us.

It is physiological and helps us in repairing our DNA. It can stimulate immune function, help us to have better sleep, and is anti fungal. This area of understanding is called radiation hormesis. In distinction, the primary use that humans make of uranium is in making nuclear bombs and in nuclear reactors.

Uranium itself can have chemical and radioactive effects in the human body. It is a nonessential element, and is naturally present in the land especially in areas that are high in granite rocks.

If we take in enough natural uranium, far beyond the range of low level radiation hormesis, it can damage kidneys and bones. It can substitute for calcium in the bones and thus contribute to developing osteoporosis. It can combine with and bind citrates and carbonates in your body. It can deposit in your liver, spleen, and kidneys.

With enough exposure it has been implicated in the development of diabetes, hyperinsulinemia, and obesity. And of course if there is a meltdown of a nuclear reactor, let alone a nuclear bomb, the results upon all life are catastrophic.

Then there is depleted uranium. What is the difference between the two?

Depleted uranium is the waste product of uranium enrichment in nuclear reactors. It is the residue left in massive quantities when bomb-grade uranium is refined or enriched to make reactor fuel and nuclear weapons.

Natural uranium has only 0.7 percent of fissionable uranium that can be used to make nuclear fuel and nuclear bombs. Modern reactors require 3% percent of fissionable U235. So the enrichment process increases the amount of this fissionable U235 from 0.7 percent to 3 percent, and produces depleted uranium as its byproduct.

Why is this significant?

After all, depleted uranium has only 1/3 of the radioactive isotopes of naturally occurring uranium. And it is much less absorbed through the skin. However, it is a biological time bomb when it is inhaled. This is the big problem we have, as you will see.

Tiny uranium oxide particles are inhaled, and then lodge in your lungs, brain, and bone marrow especially, and do damage for years.

Radioactivity: Two Types

Let us look at this area of radioactivity in relationship to depleted uranium. There are two types of radiation: non-ionizing and ionizing. The distinction refers to whether the particular form of radiation carries enough energy to ionize an atom or molecule -- that is, to remove an electron.

Non-ionizing radiation, regardless of the media and business claims, can still do damage, as we have seen in the volume of research in microwave radiation from cell phones, cordless phones, microwave ovens, motion detectors, radar, Wi-Fi, power lines, and cell phone towers.

The industries that make products that use these forms of radiation would have us believe they are harmless. There is ample research and observations now that non-ionizing radiation can be very harmful, even in short periods of exposure. The reader may refer online to such articles as The Radiation Poisoning of America. This, however, is the subject for another article.

Ionizing radiation consists of subatomic particles, like depleted uranium, that have enough energy to detach electrons from atoms or molecules, thus ionizing them. Whether ionization occurs does not depend upon the number of particles in exposure, but rather on the energy of the impinging particles or waves. Examples of ionizing particles are alpha particles, beta particles, and neutrons.

We are increasingly exposed to this ionizing radiation. It comes from radioactive materials, X-ray tubes, particle accelerators, and other applications common to modern allopathic medicine.

Acute exposure can cause significant burns and radiation sickness if the doses are high enough, and cancers and genetic damage at lower doses. In its most extreme, this is the area of killing thousands of people with a nuclear bomb.

Whereas we can limit the sources of ionizing radiation from medical sources if we limit our exposure to such testing on an individual basis, our abilities to limit such exposure becomes more difficult because of the world in which we live.

If there is leaking from a local nuclear facility, we are exposed. If there is nuclear fallout somewhere else in the world, we are exposed. Just as in the area of non-ionizing radiation, ionizing radiation is a social problem and not just a medical issue. Again, the entire area of ionizing radiation is also a subject for another more in-depth discussion.

Why Depleted Uranium?

Why and how would a waste product of nuclear fission in a nuclear reactor become such a worldwide and insidious toxin, one that very few people are even aware of? The answer lies in the ways that science and the military have discovered how depleted uranium can be used.

In the civilian sector, depleted uranium is used in a number of ways. It is in counterweights used in aircraft. Radiation shields used medically have depleted uranium. As do containers for the transport of radioactive materials.

The military sector has also found applications for this byproduct known as depleted uranium. It is used in defensive armor plates. And, it is used to make the most devastating weapons the military uses -- the kinetic energy penetrators in hardened artillery shells that will penetrate tanks and other heavily armored vehicles and buildings. When used, it is like a hot knife that slices through armored tanks.

On impact, depleted uranium ignites. It generates fires and explosions, and death to those in near proximity. In addition, it also generates airborne oxides. This is where the great and long-term damage occurs to millions; 40% of the depleted uranium is left on the battlefield after the battle.

The particles of depleted uranium oxide (DUO) cannot be seen. They are nano particles. Some are smaller than the wavelength of light. To provide perspective, they are 1/10,000 the diameter of a red blood cell. These microsized particles have never existed in the natural environment until now.

The Danger of Depleted Uranium

Depleted uranium kills many people quietly. It is an inhalation time bomb. There is nothing depleted about depleted uranium. Inhaled DU nano particles easily cross the lung/blood barrier in inhalation, and the blood/brain barrier through the nose and into the brain.

The serious and real danger with depleted uranium is in the inhalation of these microparticles of alpha radioactivity.

Such radioactivity is natural at low levels in the environment. It is a highly ionizing form of radiation. And, it is not dangerous unless inhaled. Once inhaled, which DUO universally is, it is the most destructive form of ionizing radiation by far. One gram of DU releases 13,000 alpha particles (a helium nucleus) per second. One alpha particle can cause cancer under the right conditions.

DU inhaled nano particles, less than 10 microns big, stay lodged in tissue for decades, emitting radiation that does great and cumulative damage.

Nobel Prize winner Dr. Herman Muller has described the tiny genetic mutations that are passed on to offspring through family lines after exposure. This has great relevance not only to our soldiers returning from war since 1990, but also to their offspring.

Depleted uranium in your body is like miniature cannons going off for decades inside your body. They fire high-energy particles at 12,000 shots per second. They wreck and damage DNA chains. They induce chemical changes inside cells. And if the particles survive, they can replicate and do even more damage.

To put perspective on DNA damage: It requires 6-10 eV's, or electron volts, to break the DNA or other large molecules in the body. One DU particle inside the body is an emitter of alpha particles. Each alpha particle carries the force of 4.2 million electron volts.

Worldwide and USA

DU is a worldwide toxin. Because it is aerosolized, it can travel great distances from where it is used to penetrate armor in a war. It began to be used in war in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, then in the Gulf War in 1990-91, and continues to be used today.

Gulf War veterans were found to have DU in their clothing, bodies, and semen; 67 percent of them have offspring with birth defects. Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and chronic neurological conditions are much more common among them than in the general public. Lauren Moret, eminent scientist, has stated that DU is the main cause of Gulf War Syndrome.

Whereas only 400 soldiers were killed in the war, 11,000 of the 580,000 soldiers are now deceased, and over 325,000 are on permanent disability as of 2000.

In the areas of the world where it has been used most, mainly the Middle East and in the areas in and around Serbia, the soil and air is so contaminated with depleted uranium that millions of Iraqis and others in the area, as well as their offspring, will be developing cancers for decades to come, cancers they otherwise would not have developed.

Even in Great Britain it is reported that the highest levels of depleted uranium that were ever measured in the atmosphere were transported on currents of air from the Middle East and Central Asia during and immediately after the Tora Bora bombing in Afghanistan and the "Shock and Awe" bombing of Iraq in 2003.

In the USA, serious side effects have been observed in a number of areas. These include areas such as Hanford, Washington; Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Los Alamos, New Mexico; and Portsmouth, Ohio, among others. In Colonie, New York near Albany, 23 years after a US arms plant was shut, it has been discovered that 20 percent of the people in the area are contaminated who have lived there for over 10 years.

DU and Human Illness The adverse effects on human health include the following:

* Lung cancer
* Reactive airway disease
* Neurological abnormalities
* Vision degradation
* Lymphoma and other cancers
* Birth defects in offspring

Children exposed are much more susceptible, having much higher absorption rates as the blood is used to build and nourish bones and soft tissue. The number and type of birth defects in Iraqi children are common and difficult to look at.

Dr. James Howensteine, M.D., has written in April 2006 that we have a lung cancer epidemic from depleted uranium in the US, and that it has just begun. It was reported in 2006 on CNN News American Morning that there are usually 175,000 new cases of lung cancer per year in the US, yet in January and February of 2006 alone there were 172,000 new cases.

In perspective, you can develop lung cancer if you smoke for 30 years, or if you have exposure to depleted uranium in 30 days.

The scientist Leuren Moret, as a result of his research, has stated that the use of depleted uranium in weapons has caused the global diabetes mellitus epidemic. Both mercury and uranium bind on specific biochemical sites of insulin receptors in the human body.

Radiation exposure, whether it be acute in a nuclear bomb or chronic in depleted uranium exposure, generates cascades of free radicals that decimate your body's supply of glutathione and allows free radicals to run rampant through our tissues and organs and do considerable damage.

Unfortunately, the International Atomic Energy Commission continues to state that "...there is no evidence that either natural uranium or depleted uranium is carcinogenic." Yet two-thirds of all breast cancer deaths in the United States occur within 100 miles of a nuclear power plant.

Diagnosis of Depleted Uranium Toxicity

There is no real accurate method of diagnosis of DU poisoning. Hair mineral analysis of uranium does not distinguish between isotopes. And the particles are likely so small as to not be detectable by any conventional means of diagnosis. We cannot wait for an accurate diagnostic test before taking action.

Treatment, Decontamination and Eliminating DU

There are many approaches here. This article will discuss a few.

The general principles and approaches that apply include:

1. Ample amounts of necessary minerals such as magnesium, iodine, selenium, zinc, and others
2. Saunas, both infrared and far-infrared
3. Raising core energy levels with botanical formulas
4. Supporting and improving individual capacities to mobilize and eliminate toxins
5. Therapeutic Clays to remove positively charged particles

There are many botanicals that help in this process, including Siberian ginseng, Reishi, Panax Ginseng, Aloe Vera, Dandelion root, Red Clover, and many others. Herbal adaptogenic formulas normalize, are nontoxic, and are nonspecifically supportive.

Other supplements that may be of help include:

1. Vitamin D in adequate amounts to protect bone strength
2. Thiol supplements such as cysteine and ALA to help improve detoxification pathways
3. L-glutamine to repair intestinal damage.

Important are ample quantities of:

* Chlorella, which is not only a heavy metal chelator but is also radioprotective
* Spirulina, which was used at a dose of 5 grams per day for 45 days after Chernobyl Cilantro, which has research demonstrating its effectiveness in protecting bones from lead and uranium contamination
* Other forms of chelation such as EDTA, DMPS, DMSA and others

Readers are advised to become aware of these treatments and to use them with a qualified health care provider who has experience in their application.

As the reader can surmise, there is no clear treatment for poisoning with depleted uranium. Our focus must be on:

1. Eliminating exposure
2. Correcting damage and mutation of DNA with effective doses of botanicals such as green tea, Japanese Knotweed, curcumin, and others
3. Supporting general health and detoxification
4. Minimizing or eliminating exposure to other forms of radiation, both ionizing and non-ionizing
5. Ingesting foods that strengthen the core energetic systems of the body

Anti-radiation foods include miso soup, spirulina and chlorella, brassica vegetables, beans, sardines and anchovies if not contaminated, olives and olive oil, avocado, and grass-fed animal meat.

More specifically, there are foods to strengthen the three main energetic systems of your body:

1. Kidney/Endocrine: eggs, walnuts, black sesame seeds, yams, berries, sea vegetables, adzucki and black beans
2. Spleen/Immune Network: nourish with yams, carrots with ginger, wild salmon and halibut, pearled barley and some other grains
3. Liver Detoxification Network: dark green leafy bitter vegetables like arugula, collards, kale, spinach, dandelion greens, parsley, radicchio, and others

It is important to also mention that, in spite of the cumulative toxicity to which we are exposed, there is a growing body of insight and experience demonstrating that our illnesses are the manifestation of unresolved inner conflicts.

The German New Medicine work of Hamer, Sabbah, and Renaud (, as well as the work of Bert Hellinger, have shown this to be true in thousands of patients with illnesses.

The Value of "Normal"

Our society places a high value on what we come to perceive as normal. This includes vaccinations, drinking milk, having silver fillings and root canals, watching television, using microwaves and cell phones.

It is now considered normal to save a few lives with vaccinations at the price of chronic health conditions for millions. We make some teeth stronger with mercury/silver fillings but at the price of millions with chronic neurological and immune system impairment. We use depleted uranium in battle to make sure we lose fewer soldiers to death, at the price of millions of soldiers and civilians and their offspring being poisoned for generations.


Uranium from depleted uranium is now a worldwide toxin on par with mercury in its devastating effects. It is like a hidden microchip that will do internal damage to millions of human bodies, and of course animals and other life on the planet, for decades.

Radioactive DU may claim more lives than either Hiroshima or Nagasaki. The environment in Iraq, Serbia, and nearby areas of the Middle East and Central Asia are completely radioactive with DU particles.

What the world requires now is to ban depleted uranium munitions and the use of DU.

In addition, if we are a humanity of conscience, then this requires us to evaluate and treat all exposed, and to find and remove all DU penetrator fragments and contaminated equipment.

Or, we face a progressive poisoning of all life on earth.

It is anything but clear at this time if there is the honesty to face these realities and the will to do what is right. We have the means and the understanding of how to do all of this, and the treatment modalities that can be effective. What is lacking is the will to take the necessary actions outlined here.

Depleted uranium is an epidemic of deception of which very few people are aware. It kills millions quietly.

We are at a critical stage of development as a species and as a civilization. This can be seen clearly in our worldwide economic crisis, environmental changes, medical system meltdown, as well as in the cumulative exposures that include DU, mercury, fluoride, vaccinations, thousands of chemicals, and serious chronic infections like Lyme disease.

The time for denial and piecemeal approaches are over. Integrative Medicine provides the template for the comprehensive approaches that are and will increasingly be necessary to help people heal from the effects of depleted uranium poisoning and the many other cumulative assaults on the human body and all life.

It is in developing a greater clarity in our thinking, and by entering into the sorrow and compassion of the world in our feelings, that we develop the will to do the work that needs to be done.

This we will need to counter the forces of destruction and the fear of annihilation that have grown stronger in the last century, especially since the unleashing of atomic and subatomic forces, and which now increasingly permeate our world militarily, socially, and economically.

We end this article with words from Eckhart Tolle in his book, A New Earth:

"Fear, greed, and the desire for power are the psychological motivating forces not only behind warfare ... but also the cause of incessant conflict in personal relationships.

If the history of humanity were the clinical case history of a single human being, the diagnosis would have to be: chronic paranoid delusions, a pathological propensity to commit murder and acts of extreme violence and cruelty against his perceived enemies? ... Criminally insane, with a few brief lucid intervals."

Let us work to increase the frequency and duration of these lucid intervals.
(c) 2009 Robert Zieve, M.D. is director of Pine Tree Clinic of Prescott, Arizona, and participating physician in the Prescott Natural Medical Center and in EuroMed Clinic in Scottsdale. He is president of the Center for Healthy Medicine, a nonprofit organization developing proposals and strategies for a successful transformation of health care in the United States. Dr. Zieve has a weekly radio show called Healthy Medicine, which can be heard Sundays at 1 PM on KJZA in northern Arizona. He is the author of two books, "Healthy Medicine: A Guide to the Emergence of Sensible Comprehensive Care," and "Beyond the Medical Meltdown: Working Together for Sustainable Health Care."

Averting The Worst
By Paul Krugman

So it seems that we aren't going to have a second Great Depression after all. What saved us? The answer, basically, is Big Government.

Just to be clear: the economic situation remains terrible, indeed worse than almost anyone thought possible not long ago. The nation has lost 6.7 million jobs since the recession began. Once you take into account the need to find employment for a growing working-age population, we're probably around nine million jobs short of where we should be.

And the job market still hasn't turned around - that slight dip in the measured unemployment rate last month was probably a statistical fluke. We haven't yet reached the point at which things are actually improving; for now, all we have to celebrate are indications that things are getting worse more slowly.

For all that, however, the latest flurry of economic reports suggests that the economy has backed up several paces from the edge of the abyss.

A few months ago the possibility of falling into the abyss seemed all too real. The financial panic of late 2008 was as severe, in some ways, as the banking panic of the early 1930s, and for a while key economic indicators - world trade, world industrial production, even stock prices - were falling as fast as or faster than they did in 1929-30.

But in the 1930s the trend lines just kept heading down. This time, the plunge appears to be ending after just one terrible year.

So what saved us from a full replay of the Great Depression? The answer, almost surely, lies in the very different role played by government.

Probably the most important aspect of the government's role in this crisis isn't what it has done, but what it hasn't done: unlike the private sector, the federal government hasn't slashed spending as its income has fallen. (State and local governments are a different story.) Tax receipts are way down, but Social Security checks are still going out; Medicare is still covering hospital bills; federal employees, from judges to park rangers to soldiers, are still being paid.

All of this has helped support the economy in its time of need, in a way that didn't happen back in 1930, when federal spending was a much smaller percentage of G.D.P. And yes, this means that budget deficits - which are a bad thing in normal times - are actually a good thing right now.

In addition to having this "automatic" stabilizing effect, the government has stepped in to rescue the financial sector. You can argue (and I would) that the bailouts of financial firms could and should have been handled better, that taxpayers have paid too much and received too little. Yet it's possible to be dissatisfied, even angry, about the way the financial bailouts have worked while acknowledging that without these bailouts things would have been much worse.

The point is that this time, unlike in the 1930s, the government didn't take a hands-off attitude while much of the banking system collapsed. And that's another reason we're not living through Great Depression II.

Last and probably least, but by no means trivial, have been the deliberate efforts of the government to pump up the economy. From the beginning, I argued that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a k a the Obama stimulus plan, was too small. Nonetheless, reasonable estimates suggest that around a million more Americans are working now than would have been employed without that plan - a number that will grow over time - and that the stimulus has played a significant role in pulling the economy out of its free fall.

All in all, then, the government has played a crucial stabilizing role in this economic crisis. Ronald Reagan was wrong: sometimes the private sector is the problem, and government is the solution.

And aren't you glad that right now the government is being run by people who don't hate government?

We don't know what the economic policies of a McCain-Palin administration would have been. We do know, however, what Republicans in opposition have been saying - and it boils down to demanding that the government stop standing in the way of a possible depression.

I'm not just talking about opposition to the stimulus. Leading Republicans want to do away with automatic stabilizers, too. Back in March, John Boehner, the House minority leader, declared that since families were suffering, "it's time for government to tighten their belts and show the American people that we 'get' it." Fortunately, his advice was ignored.

I'm still very worried about the economy. There's still, I fear, a substantial chance that unemployment will remain high for a very long time. But we appear to have averted the worst: utter catastrophe no longer seems likely.

And Big Government, run by people who understand its virtues, is the reason why.
(c) 2009 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

Hillary give the corpo-rat salute!

Tons of Imperial Fun: Hellfire Hillary Pours Oil On Somalia's Fire
By Chris Floyd

There is apparently no path blazed by George W. Bush that Barack Obama will not eagerly follow. Surges, assassinations, indefinite detention, defense of torture, senseless wars and rampant militarism -- in just a few short months, we've seen it all.

To this dismaying record of complicity and continuity, we can add an increasing direct involvement in the horrific, hydra-headed conflict in Somalia, whose latest round of fiery hell was instigated by the American-backed invasion of Somalia by Ethiopia in late 2006. Under Bush, U.S. forces were deeply and directly enmeshed in the murderous action, dropping bombs on fleeing refugees, "renditioning" other refugees to the tender mercies of Ethiopia's notorious prisons, and even sending in death squads to clean up after missile strikes and bombings. (For background, see "Silent Surge: Bipartisan Terror War Intensifies in Somalia.")

The result of that intervention has been the deaths of thousands of innocent people, the displacement and ruination of hundreds of thousands, and the creation of what many experts call the most dire humanitarian crisis in the world today. It has also resulted in the empowerment of violent sectarian groups and criminal gangs, who have stepped forth to fill the gaps of the fledgling state that the American-Ethiopian "regime change" operation destroyed.

So what do we see from the administration of "hope and change"? We see -- wait for it -- a new "surge" of direct American involvement in the war, with Obama's most ferocious war hawk -- sorry, his top diplomat -- Hillary "The Obliterator" Clinton leading the charge. As Jason Ditz at reports, Clinton has pledged to double the recently announced supply of American weapons to Somalia's "transitional government" -- a weak reed cobbled together by Western interests from various CIA-paid warlords and other factions, and now headed, ironically, by the former leader of the aforementioned fledgling state overthrown by Washington. (Yes, it is hard to tell the players without a scorecard -- or even with one. But if you follow the weapons and the money, you can usually tell who is temporarily on which side at any given moment.)

Clinton, bellicose as ever, accompanied the shipment of 80 tons of death-dealing hardware with a heavy dose of the wild fearmongering rhetoric we've come to know so well in this New American Century. As AP reports, she declared that the radical faction al-Shabab, now leading the insurgency against the transitional government, has only one goal in mind: bring in al Qaeda and destabilizing the whole entire world.

Yes, dear hearts, once again the survival of the planet -- not to mention the sacred American way of life -- is under imminent threat from a gang of evil maniacs; a threat requiring the urgent enrichment of the U.S. arms industry -- sorry, I mean the urgent intervention of American know-how. For as the history of American foreign policy in the last 60 years has clearly shown us, there has never been an internal conflict in any country of the world that was not actually, deep down, a direct threat to all the sweet American babies sleeping in their cribs.

The interim Somali president, Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed -- an Islamist who only a few years ago was considered by Washington as, well, an evil maniac in league with al Qaeda -- agreed with Clinton, saying that al-Shabab aims to "make Somalia a ground to destabilize the whole world." This would be the same al-Shabab that Ahmed has spent most of his presidency trying to negotiate a power-sharing agreement with. (Where's that scorecard again?)

As usual, the AP story buries some of the most blazing, salient facts way down in the uncritical regurgitation of official rhetoric. But credit where it's due, the story does finally note that the new American assistance is not confined to stuff that can kill more Somalis; it also includes - wait for it again -- U.S. military "advisors" to help "train" the forces of the ever-collapsing transitional government.

Clinton also shook a sword at neighboring Eritrea, accusing it of supporting al-Shabab and "interfering" in Somalia's internal affairs. This, while she was announcing the delivery of 80 tons of American weapons to be poured into Somalia's internal affairs. This line is of course just an echo of the continual Bush-Obama warnings against "foreigners" interfering in Iraq. The gall of these gilded poltroons -- denouncing foreign interference while standing on mountains of corpses produced by the endless American "interference" in other countries -- is truly sublime. Clinton said that if Eritrea doesn't start toeing the imperial line, "we intend to take actions." (All you future Gold Star mothers and war widows out there better get out your atlases: your loved ones could soon be dying in yet another part of the world you never heard of.)

What will be the effect of this new "humanitarian intervention" of weapons and advisers? Same as it ever was: more death, more ruin, more suffering, more extremism, more hatred, more sorrow -- and more money for the war profiteers. That is the point, isn't it?
(c) 2009 Chris Floyd

The Wacky World Of Rational Superstition
By Case Wagenvoord

If you scratch at economic theory long enough, you discover it's little more than long strings of arcane mathematical formulae grounded in superstition (the Invisible Hand of the Market), platitudes (peaceful competition) and pipe dreams (eternal growth).

This could explain why our economy has made a terminal trip to the outhouse. Future historians will look back and scratch their heads and wonder how so many bright and educated people allowed superstition to drag them around by their collective nose.

Author Richard Heinburg points out that our government has committed $23.7 trillion dollars in "total potential government support" in an attempt to reinflate a new asset bubble. This figure comes from the inspector general of the government's Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP).

Million, billion, trillion-so what! They all sound the same, so it's hard to distinguish between them.

...unless you substitute seconds for dollars, and then you get the following relationship between them:

· A million is the equivalent of 11.7 days.
· A billion is the equivalent of 37 years.
· A trillion is the equivalent of 37,000 years.

Yet Obama assure us that the worst is behind us. And he is right. When you fall off a mountain, the fall eventually stops. However, the fall doesn't kill you; it's the sudden stop at the end. Prior recessions have been like diving into a body of water. You go under water and then you bob back to the surface. With this meltdown, we fell off the mountain, and it's doubtful we'll climb back up again.

According to Heinburg, capitalism's superstitious beliefin unlimited growth has hit a wall-resource depletion. As could be expected, the mainstream response to this is another platitude, "Man's" infinite ingenuity, i.e., it's only a matter of time before we invent ourselves out of the mess we've made. The only problem with this is that you can't invent coal or oil unless you kill a lot of dinosaurs and keep them under heat and pressure for millions of years. And given that oil, coal and natural gas supply 95% of the world's energy needs, it's doubtful we'll come up with an alternative.

As Heinburg explains:

If the physical scientists who warn about limits to growth are right, confronting the global economic meltdown implies far more than merely getting the banks and mortgage lenders back on their feet. Indeed, in that case we face a fundamental change in our economy as significant as the advent of the industrial revolution. We are at a historic inflection point-the ending of decades of expansion and the beginning of an inevitable period of contraction that will continue until humanity is once again living within the limits of Earth's regenerative system.

One could argue that the tremendous technological advances of the past 200 years have been a fluke made possible by an abundance of cheap oil, and that is what is happening now is a restoration of sanity as the Earth forces us to return to a more balanced lifestyle.

Heinburg bases his arguments on science that has not been funded by Big Oil. Counter arguments tend to leave the world of science and wander into the foggy fields of theology. "You gotta believe! We'll come up with something, so stop being such a heretical naysayer and join the church. God (the Invisible Hand) is in his heaven, and we are his chosen species, so nothing bad can happen to us." And witches fly on brooms.

There's nothing in the Bible that says the next Messiah can't be a cockroach.

Note: If you want a good read, click on the above link. The article is long, but Heinburg is a fluid writer whose prose carries you along.
(c) 2009 Case Wagenvoord. Some years ago, Case Wagenvoord turned off the tube and picked up a book. He's been trouble ever since. His articles have been posted at The Smirking Chimp, Countercurrents and Issues & Alibis. When he's not writing or brooding, he is carving hardwood bowls that have been displayed in galleries and shows across the country. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two cats. His book, Open Letters to George W. Bush is available at

The Grandest Ponzi Scheme Of All
By Mike Folkerth

Good Morning all of your hard working brain cells out there in the real world; your King of Simple News is on the air.

Michael Crabtree has never caught an NFL football in his life. After all, the young Crabtree just completed college. However, Michael does not believe that $23.4 million is enough for him to attempt to catch a ball for the 49ers, who drafted him. Crabtree is now threatening to sit out the season and re-enter the draft next year unless the Niners' pony up some additional green!

So what do foolish young football rookies have to do with American economics? Plenty I'm afraid. How can our entire country be floundering in near economic collapse while at the same time a young man whose total claim to fame is being good at playing a college ball game be offered such a ludicrous sum and turn it down? I'm afraid it boils down to nothing more than ignorance, greed, and profits with the poor continuing to support the rich. It's a psychological thing; a fool and his money soon part.

The truth of the situation seems to reveal that two parallel world's exist simultaneously in the same country, where in one sector, all is right and playing a game is the most important aspect of our society, while the reality of the other world is that millions of Americans are losing their jobs, homes, and retirement security at the same moment. How can that be?

I have been perplexed by the seemingly impossible imbalance of our economic system for most of my adult life. In New York City a small apartment can rent for $2700 per month and in other parts of these same United States that space could be had for $270. How can that be?

We use the same money, operate under the same tax laws, have the same federal government, have access to the same education, markets, goods, and services. . . and yet, there are vast differences in both living costs and average compensation for performing the same work. On the surface, such an economic conundrum should prove arithmetically impossible and would experience an automatic leveling process, but it hasn't; yet.

When I look at the past 39 years of American debt creation that has gone beyond any semblance of real growth and viable production, the answer to some of my most perplexing questions regarding this seemingly impossible imbalance begin to unfold. When debt is created, there are benefactors of that debt, and then there are the equally disadvantaged who shoulder the responsibility of repayment plus interest and fees. The spoils of the greatest Ponzi scheme in world history were purposely passed out to precious few. Those few represent those who were passing out the spoils of federally created debt.

However, as in all pyramid and Ponzi schemes that exist in a finite world, there is an end to the illusion. The U.S. has gone from our last balanced debt vs. growth year of 1969 to a total public and private debt level that is greater than all combined American wealth making it necessary to pass that debt on to future generations who had no hand in the creation of the same.

In the financial centers, such as New York City, the imbalance of those who benefited from this massive and false debt creation gave the illusion that a parallel world of great disparity is possible within the confines of the same nation; it isn't.

Like young Michael Crabtree who wants more than $23.4 Million to catch a football, reality could come to such false markets as Los Angeles and New York City on the same day that Michael gets the news that football is a game supported by viable employment rather than viable employment being supported by football.
(c) 2009 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...

"Dare to be naive."
~~~ Buckminster Fuller

Nader Was Right
Liberals are Going Nowhere With Obama
By Chris Hedges

The American empire has not altered under Barack Obama. It kills as brutally and indiscriminately in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan as it did under George W. Bush. It steals from the U.S. treasury to enrich the corporate elite as rapaciously. It will not give us universal health care, abolish the Bush secrecy laws, end torture or "extraordinary rendition," restore habeas corpus or halt the warrantless wiretapping and monitoring of citizens. It will not push through significant environmental reform, regulate Wall Street or end our relationship with private contractors that provide mercenary armies to fight our imperial wars and produce useless and costly weapons systems.

The sad reality is that all the well-meaning groups and individuals who challenge our permanent war economy and the doctrine of pre-emptive war, who care about sustainable energy, fight for civil liberties and want corporate malfeasance to end, were once again suckered by the Democratic Party. They were had. It is not a new story. The Democrats have been doing this to us since Bill Clinton. It is the same old merry-go-round, only with Obama branding. And if we have not learned by now that the system is broken, that as citizens we do not matter to our political elite, that we live in a corporate state where our welfare and our interests are irrelevant, we are in serious trouble. Our last hope is to step outside of the two-party system and build movements that defy the Democrats and the Republicans. If we fail to do this we will continue to undergo a corporate coup d'etat in slow motion that will end in feudalism.

We owe Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney and the Green Party an apology. They were right. If a few million of us had had the temerity to stand behind our ideals rather than our illusions and the empty slogans peddled by the Obama campaign we would have a platform. We forgot that social reform never comes from accommodating the power structure but from frightening it. The Liberty Party, which fought slavery, the suffragists who battled for women's rights, the labor movement, and the civil rights movement knew that the question was not how do we get good people to rule-those attracted to power tend to be venal mediocrities-but how do we limit the damage the powerful do to us. These mass movements were the engines for social reform, the correctives to our democracy and the true protectors of the rights of citizens. We have surrendered this power. It is vital to reclaim it. Where is the foreclosure movement? Where is the robust universal health care or anti-war movement? Where is the militant movement for sustainable energy?

"Something is broken," Nader said when I reached him at his family home in Connecticut. "We are not at the Bangladesh level in terms of passivity, but we are getting there. No one sees anything changing. There is no new political party to give people a choice. The progressive forces have no hammer. When they abandoned our campaign they told the Democrats we have nowhere to go and will take whatever you give us. The Democrats are under no heat in the electoral arena from the left.

"There comes a point when the public imbibes the ultimatum of the plutocracy," Nader said when asked about public apathy. "They have bought into the belief that if it protests it will be brutalized by the police. If they have Muslim names they will be subjected to Patriot Act treatment. This has scared the hell out of the underclass. They will be called terrorists.

"This is the third television generation," Nader said. "They have grown up watching screens. They have not gone to rallies. Those are history now. They hear their parents and grandparents talk about marches and rallies. They have little toys and gizmos that they hold in their hands. They have no idea of any public protest or activity. It is a tapestry of passivity.

"They have been broken," Nader said of the working class. "How many times have their employers threatened them with going abroad? How many times have they threatened the workers with outsourcing? The polls on job insecurity are record-high by those who have employment. And the liberal intelligentsia have failed them. They [the intellectuals] have bought into carping and making lecture fees as the senior fellow at the institute of so-and-so. Look at the top 50 intelligentsia-not one of them supported our campaign, not one of them has urged for street action and marches."

Our task is to build movements that can act as a counterweight to the corporate rape of America. We must opt out of the mainstream. We must articulate and stand behind a viable and uncompromising socialism, one that is firmly and unequivocally on the side of working men and women. We must give up the self-delusion that we can influence the power elite from the inside. We must become as militant as those who are seeking our enslavement. If we remain passive as we undergo the largest transference of wealth upward in American history, our open society will die. The working class is being plunged into desperation that will soon rival the misery endured by the working class in China and India. And the Democratic Party, including Obama, is a willing accomplice.

"Obama is squandering his positive response around the world," Nader said. "In terms of foreign and military policy it is a distinct continuity with Bush. Iraq, Afghanistan, the militarization of foreign policy, the continued expansion of the Pentagon budget and pursuing more globalized trade agreements are the same."

This is an assessment that neoconservatives now gleefully share. Eliot A. Cohen, writing in The Wall Street Journal, made the same pronouncement.

"Mostly, though, the underlying structure of the policy remains the same," Cohen wrote in an Aug. 2 opinion piece titled "What's Different About the Obama Foreign Policy." "Nor should this surprise us: The United States has interests dictated by its physical location, its economy, its alliances, and above all, its values. Naive realists, a large tribe, fail to understand that ideals will inevitably guide American foreign policy, even if they do not always determine it. Moreover, because the Obama foreign and defense policy senior team consists of centrist experts from the Democratic Party, it is unlikely to make radically different judgments about the world, and about American interests in it, than its predecessors."

Nader said that Obama should gradually steer the country away from imperial and corporate tyranny.

"You don't just put out policy statements of congeniality but statements of gradual redirection," Nader said. "You incorporate in that statement not just demilitarization, not just ascension of smart diplomacy, but the enlargement of the U.S. as a humanitarian superpower, and cut out these Soviet-era weapons systems and start rapid response for disaster like earthquakes and tsunamis. You expand infectious disease programs which the U.N. Developmental Commission says can be done for $50 billion a year in Third World countries on nutrition, minimal health care and minimal shelter."

Obama has expanded the assistance to our class of Wall Street extortionists through subsidies, loan guarantees and backup declarations to banks such as Citigroup. His stimulus package does not address the crisis in our public works infrastructure; instead it doles out funds to Medicaid and unemployment compensation. There will be no huge public works program to remodel the country. The president refuses to acknowledge the obvious-we can no longer afford our empire.

"Obama could raise a call to come home, America, from the military budget abroad," Nader suggested. "He could create a new constituency that does not exist because everything is so fragmented, scattered, haphazard and slapdash with the stimulus. He could get the local labor unions, the local Chambers of Commerce and the mayors to say the more we cut the military budget the more you get in terms of public works."

"They [administration leaders] don't see the distinction between public power and corporate power," Nader said. "This is their time in history to reassert public values represented by workers, consumers, taxpayers and communities. They are creating a jobless recovery, the worst of the worst, with the clear specter of inflation on the horizon. We are heading for deep water."

The massive borrowing acts as an anesthetic. It prevents us from facing the new limitations we must learn to cope with domestically and abroad. It allows us to live in the illusion that we are not in a state of irrevocable crisis, that our decline is not real and that catastrophe has been averted. But running the national debt can work only so long.

"No one can predict the future," Nader added hopefully. "No one knows the variables. No one predicted the move on tobacco. No one predicted gay rights. No one predicted the Berkeley student rebellion. The students were supine. You never know what will light the fire. You have to keep the pressure on. I know only one thing for sure, the whole liberal-progressive constituency is going nowhere."
(c) 2009 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. His latest book is American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle."

Obama On Drugs: 98% Cheney?
By Greg Palast

Eighty billion dollars of WHAT?

I searched all over the newspapers and TV transcripts and no one asked the President what is probably the most important question of what passes for debate on the issue of health care reform: $80 billion of WHAT?

On June 22, President Obama said he'd reached agreement with big drug companies to cut the price of medicine by $80 billion. He extended his gratitude to Big Pharma for the deal that would, "reduce the punishing inflation in health care costs."

Hey, in my neighborhood, people think $80 billion is a lot of money. But is it?

I checked out the government's health stats (at, put fresh batteries in my calculator and toted up US spending on prescription drugs projected by the government for the next ten years. It added up to $3.6 trillion.

In other words, Obama's big deal with Big Pharma saves $80 billion out of a total $3.6 trillion. That's 2%.

Hey thanks, Barack! You really stuck it to the big boys. You saved America from these drug lords robbing us blind. Two percent. Cool!

For perspective: Imagine you are in a Wal-Mart and there's a sign over a flat screen TV, "BIG SAVINGS!" So, you break every promise you made never to buy from that union-busting big box - and snatch up the $500 television. And when you're caught by your spouse, you say, "But, honey, look at the deal I got! It was TWO-PERCENT OFF! I saved us $10!"

But 2% is better than nothing, I suppose. Or is it?

The Big Pharma kingpins did not actually agree to cut their prices. Their promise with Obama is something a little oilier: they apparently promised that, over ten years, they will reduce the amount at which they would otherwise raise drug prices. Got that? In other words, the Obama deal locks in a doubling of drug costs, projected to rise over the period of "savings" from a quarter trillion dollars a year to half a trillion dollars a year. Minus that 2%.

We'll still get the shaft from Big Pharma, but Obama will have circumcised the increase.

And what did Obama give up in return for $80 billion? Chief drug lobbyist Billy Tauzin crowed that Obama agreed to dump his campaign pledge to bargain down prices for Medicare purchases. Furthermore, Obama's promise that we could buy cheap drugs from Canada simply went pffft!

What did that cost us? The New England Journal of Medicine notes that 13 European nations successfully regulate the price of drugs, reducing the average cost of name-brand prescription medicines by 35% to 55%. Obama gave that up for his 2%.

The Veterans Administration is able to push down the price it pays for patent medicine by 40% through bargaining power. George Bush stopped Medicare from bargaining for similar discounts, an insane ban that Obama said he'd overturn. But, once within Tauzin's hypnotic gaze, Obama agreed to lock in Bush's crazy and costly no-bargaining ban for the next decade.

What else went down in Obama's drug deal? To find out, I called C-SPAN to get a copy of the videotape of the meeting with the drug companies. I was surprised to find they didn't have such a tape despite the President's campaign promise, right there on CNN in January 2008, "These negotiations will be on C-SPAN."

This puzzled me. When Dick Cheney was caught having secret meetings with oil companies to discuss Bush's Energy Bill, we denounced the hugger-muggers as a case of foxes in the henhouse.

Cheney's secret meetings with lobbyists and industry bigshots were creepy and nasty and evil.

But the Obama crew's secret meetings with lobbyists and industry bigshots were, the President assures us, in the public interest.

We know Cheney's secret confabs were shady and corrupt because Cheney scowled out the side of his mouth.

Obama grins in your face.

See the difference?

The difference is 2%.
(c) 2009 Greg Palast is a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow for Investigative Reporting at the Nation Institute, New York. Read the rest of this story by picking up his New York Times bestseller, Armed Madhouse: Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales from a White House Gone Wild. His investigative reports for BBC Television and Democracy Now were recently released as a film on DVD: Palast Investigates: From 8-Mile to the Amazon, on the Trail of the Financial Marauders. Join Palast's Network on MySpace, on FaceBook or on YouTube.

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Propaganda Ansager Palin,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution, your obvious lies about death panels which keeps the debate about health care dividing the Sheeple while we keep going to the bank and which may eventually lead to Martial Law, Afghanistan, Pakistan and these many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Iron Cross, first class, with diamonds clusters presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 08-29-2009. We salute you Frau Palin, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Bible Study In Public Schools
Let's Pray on It
By Jeff Schweitzer

The Legislature in Texas in a fit of religious fervor mandated in 2007 that starting in 2009 public schools must teach the "literature and history" of the Good Book. To avoid the obvious constitutional problems of separating Church and State, the law is carefully worded to provide a fig leaf to cover true and rather obvious intent, much akin to how Creationists attempt to hide religious purpose behind the guise of academic freedom.

But rather than continue to engage in this tiresome battle, I say let's fight fire with fire, or at least brimstone with brimstone. Let's agree to teach the bible in all of its bloody, misogynous, murderous, fratricidal glory. Let's teach our impressionable children the following facts about the word of god:

* Exodus 21:20-21
It's OK to kill a slave, because he is nothing but property, but only as long as he does not die from a beating until at least one day later.

* Exodus 21:7
If in need of a little extra income, a father could simply sell his daughter. And of course a female slave is worse off than a male slave; a male slave is automatically freed after 6 years; the woman is never freed.

* Exodus 21:17
The penalty for cursing your parents is death. Perhaps this is not such a bad idea...

* Deuteronomy 22:21
If a woman presents herself as a virgin but is not, on the wedding night, she is to be taken to her father's house and stoned to death. Notice that men do not suffer such a fate. Coincidentally, only men wrote the 66 books that constitute the bible. Women might have fared better with a bit more gender diversity in authorship.

* Leviticus 20:13
Of the exclusively male homosexual acts prohibited by the bible, the penalty for any transgression is death. (Nothing in the bible prohibits lesbian sex).

* Leviticus 16:1-34
God seems to kill people simply for disobeying his word; to get on his good side, these passages in the bible tell how to sacrifice bulls, rams and goats to atone for sins and please god.

But don't think only the Old Testament is nasty and brutish.

* Matthew 10:34
Jesus is no man of peace by his own words: Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I come not to send peace, but a sword.

* Matthew 10:21
Jesus will tear families apart: brother will kill brother, father will kill child, and children will kill parents. That is all OK because it is more important to love Jesus, as we learn next:

* Matthew 10:36
A man's foe shall be they of his own household. Jesus tells us here that if we love our mother and father more than him, we are not worthy. Now there are some family values!

* Matthew 11:20-24
Jesus condemns entire cities to dreadful deaths and eternal damnation because they did not like his sermons.

* Mark 7:9-10
Jesus supports the Old Testament view that disobedient children should be killed, and then criticizes the Jews for not following that law.

* Luke 12:5
Jesus says that we should fear God since he has the power to kill us and then torture us forever in hell; classic effort by religion to frighten people into belief

* John 3:36
If we didn't get the point in Luke, John tells us here that if you don't believe in God, you will feel his wrath forever in hell. Again, not a loving God, but one to be feared as mean and spiteful.

Let us also teach our kids about the amazing inconsistencies in the bible about critical issues. The many authors, none of whom ever met Jesus, can't even agree on when Jesus was born.

* Matthew 2:1
Here Matthew claims that Jesus was born when King Herod was alive: "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king..."

Matthew goes on to say Joseph and Mary only returned to Egypt with their infant son after Herod died. The timing is unambiguous.

* Luke 2:1-5
Luke claims that Jesus was born when Cyrenius was governor of Syria, which did not take place until at least ten years after Herod's death.

He specifically mentions the time Mary is pregnant with Jesus when Caesar Augusts imposes a new tax when Cyrenius was governor of Syria; but he did not become governor of Syria until at least 10 years after Herod died.

So even with the most generous interpretation, Matthew and Luke differ by more than 10 years on the year Jesus was born. That diminishes the credibility of both given that they cannot even get correct this basic bit of biography.

Genesis is equally confusing, giving us two completely different accounts on the creation of man between two passages just a stone's throw apart one chapter away. On the one hand we are told god made Adam, anesthetized him to extract a rib from which he made Eve, and sewed him back up, completing the world's first surgical procedure. We are then informed that no, in fact god made Adam and Eve at the same time. Specifically,

* Genesis 1:26
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

But wait, that is not quite right. We are told just a few passages later that god made only Adam first, and then Eve.

* Genesis 2:7
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

* Genesis 2:19
And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

The bible cannot even get the story of creation right. If Adam had his rib removed for nothing we could be witnessing the first case of medical malpractice.

If we are going to teach the bible in public schools, then let's go for the gusto and teach the entire bible. None of this selective reading of just the fluff.

We do not often see animal sacrifices on Sunday at church or women getting stoned to death, but we should reinstitute those traditions if we want to teach the bible in public schools. Or we can make the world safe for goats, bulls and adulteresses by stopping this nonsense and putting the bible where it belongs: next to the Grimm Brothers fairy tales and far far away from our educational system.
(c) 2009 Jeff Schweitzer. Dr. Schweitzer served at the White House during the Clinton Administration as Assistant Director for International Affairs in the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

9/11 Mind Swell
Joel S. Hirschhorn

As we approach the eighth anniversary of 9/11 consider this paradox. In the post 9-11 years the scientific evidence for disbelieving the official government story has mounted incredibly. And the number of highly respected and credentialed professionals challenging the official story has similarly expanded. Yet, to the considerable disappointment of the international 9/11 truth movement, the objective fact is that there are no widespread, loud demands for a new government-backed 9/11 investigation. The 9/11 truth movement is the epitome of a marginalized movement, one that never goes away despite not achieving truly meaningful results, which in this case means replacing official lies with official truth. What has gone wrong?

Akin to the definition of insanity, the hallmark of entrenched but marginalized movements is that they continue to pursue exactly the same strategy and tactics that have failed to produce solid results. They indulge themselves with self-delusion, defensive thinking and acting as if the world at large must surely and finally wake up, see the light and embrace the Truth. Years and, potentially, decades go by, but this quixotic status quo remains embedded, as if set in intellectual concrete. There is no brain tumor to blame. Nor any mass hypnosis of true believers to prove. There is just monumental disinterest among the dominant culture, political establishment and the broad public that is far more engaged with other issues, problems and movements.

The 9/11 truth movement, at best, gets meager public attention when it is derided and insulted, used as an example of persistent conspiratorial insanity.

Make no mistake; I concluded a few years back, after using my professional engineering and materials science background to study the evidence, that the official government story is a lie. As a former full professor of engineering, I firmly believe that elements of the US government were involved with contributing to (not just allowing) the 9/11 tragedy, but that does not necessarily eliminate the role of those terrorists publicly blamed for the events. Science, logic, evidence and critical thinking told me this.

Who should we blame for the failure of the 9/11 truth movement to fix the historical record and, better yet, identify those in the government who turned 9/11 into an excuse for going to war, getting them indicted, prosecuted, and punished for their murderous acts?

It is too easy to blame the mainstream media and political establishment for refusing to demand and pursue a truly comprehensive and credible independent scientific and engineering investigation. President Obama with his tenacious belief in looking forward, not backward, exemplifies a national mindset to avoid the painful search for truth and justice that could produce still more public disillusionment with government and feed the belief that American democracy is weak at best, and delusional at worst.

Marginalized movements always face competition for public attention. There are always countless national issues and problems that feed new movements and distract the public. There have been many since 9/11, not the least of which was the last presidential campaign and then the painful economic recession, and now the right wing attacks on health care reform. The 9/11 truth movement illustrates a total failure to compete successfully with other events and movements.

This can be explained in several ways. The 9/11 movement has not been able to articulate enough benefits to the public from disbelieving the official government story and pursuing a new investigation. What might ordinary Americans gain? Would proof-positive of government involvement make them feel better, more secure, and more patriotic? Apparently not. In fact, just the opposite. By its very nature, the 9/11 issue threatens many things by discovering the truth: still less confidence in the US political system, government and public officials. Still more reason to ponder the incredible loss of life and national wealth in pursuing the Iraq war. In other words, revealing 9/11 truth offers the specter of a huge national bummer. Conversely, it would show the world that American democracy has integrity.

The second explanation for failure is that the truth movement itself is greatly to blame. It has been filled with nerdish, ego-centric and self-serving activists (often most interested in pushing their pet theory) unable to pursue strategies designed to face and overcome ugly, challenging realities. The truth movement became a cottage industry providing income and meaning for many individuals and groups feeding the committed with endless websites, public talks, videos, books and paraphernalia. They habitually preach to the choir. Applause substitutes for solid results. In particular, it embraces the simplistic (and obviously ineffective) belief that by revealing technical, scientific and engineering facts and evidence the public and political establishment would be compelled to see the light. Darkness has prevailed.

Proof of this are the views expressed days ago on the truth movement by Ben Cohen on the Huffington Post: "I have done some research on the topic, but stopped fairly quickly into when it dawned on me that:

1. Any alternative to the official account of what happened is so absurd it simply cannot be true.
No reputable scientific journal has ever taken any of the 'science' of the conspiracy seriously.
The evidence supporting the official story is overwhelming, whereas the 9/11 Truthers have yet to produce a shred of concrete evidence that members of the U.S. government planned the attacks in New York and Washington."

Similarly, in the London Times James Bone recently said a "gruesome assortment of conspiracy theorists insists that the attacks on the US of September 11, 2001 were an inside job. It is easy to mock this deluded gang of ageing hippies, anarchists and anti-Semites." Truthers continue to face a very steep uphill battle.

A common lie about the truth movement is that there have been no credible scientific articles in peer reviewed journals supporting it. But those opposing the truth movement will and do find ways to attack whatever scientific evidence is produced and published. It takes more than good science and facts for the movement to succeed.

Besides the movement having too many genuine crackpots (possibly trying to subvert it), a larger problem is what has been missing from it: effective political strategies. Besides pushing scientific results and more credible supporters, it did nothing successful to make a new 9/11 investigation a visible issue in the last presidential campaign. It did nothing effective to put pressure on a new, Democrat controlled congress to consider legislation providing the authorization and funding for a new, credible investigation. It seems that people who want to blame the government are often unable to also see the political path forward that requires the government to fund a new investigation.

To its credit, Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth does have a petition aimed at Congress, demanding a new investigation, but has fewer than 5,000 signers. The petition effort in New York City to get a new investigation is commendable, with just under 75,000 signers, but national action is needed. Pragmatically, both efforts are unimpressive compared to other campaigns seeking political action. To get both media attention and political support the movement needs a hundred times more documented supporters, willing to do a lot more than sign a petition.

The tenth anniversary of 9/11 will come fast. The opportunity is making 9/11 an issue in the 2012 presidential campaign. The least delusional and defensive in the truth movement should think deeply and seriously on what needs to change to accomplish the prime goal: having an official investigation that compels most people and history to accept the truth, no matter how painful it is, including the possibility that it finds no compelling evidence for government involvement.
(c) 2009 Joel S. Hirschhorn observed our corrupt federal government firsthand as a senior official with the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association and is the author of Delusional Democracy - Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. To discuss issues write the author.

The Cartoon Corner...

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

2009 Greeting card to George W. Bush (& Oliver Stone) from THE Alternative "W the Movie"

To End On A Happy Note...

Goodbye Dead World
By Tony Walker

Muslims in the east and Christians in the west
Takin' it day by day
I read it in the papers, feel it in my bones
Still it feels so far away
I feel your pain, I'm so ashamed
`Cause were doin' nothin' but fuckin' around playing games
While I was asleep last night, twenty people died in flames
And one thing you can guarantee, the politicians ain't to blame

Were outa time with nature, meltin' at the poles
I think we mighta lost control
And no one loves their neighbor or gives the time of day
What about the golden rule
So, we complain... but it won't change
`Cause were doin' nothin' but fuckin' around playin' games
While I was asleep last night, twenty people died in flames
And one thing you can guarantee, the politicians ain't to blame


So, I'm sayin' goodbye to a dead world
I'm sayin' goodbye dead world, yeah yeah yeah
I'm sayin' goodbye to a dead world
I'm sayin' goodbye to a dead world....

Guitar solo...

We're sayin' goodbye, dead world...
We're sayin' goodbye dead world, yeah yeah yeah
We're sayin' goodbye to a dead world
We're sayin' goodbye to a dead world....
We're sayin' goodbye dead world, yeah yeah yeah
We're sayin' goodbye to a dead world... one more time
We're sayin' goodbye to a dead world....
(c) 2007/2009 Tony Walker

Have You Seen This...

The Good War

Parting Shots...

Yesterday, Jesus and I attended a performance of the dramatic sensation that is sweeping the nation: a theater-in-the-unfound production of "Healthscare!" It's a boisterous Republican-produced melodrama, currently in out-of-town tryouts, being performed at town hall meetings throughout America. As a parade of amateur actors dutifully recited their tortuous lines of sputtering outrage, performed as a geek chorus, more frenzied chants than coherent dialogue, I nudged my nodding-off Savior and muttered: "Honestly, if I'm going to be amused by such scenery chewing pathos, I'd rather see a sobbing Glenn Beck as Medea!"

During the tediously long review, choreographed crazies erupted on cue every time a politician opened his mouth to talk about healthcare. The dialogue and delivery were so over-wrought and under-thought, before the 67th encore, Jesus and I were reaching for our souvenir talking-points program and jealously eying the exits. Frankly, any corybantic catfight on The Real Housewives of Atlanta has more authenticity and dignity than the snarling cue card recitations of the Healthcare Industry Players. And it's not as if Jesus is put off by a little psychotic hysteria. As you will recall, He was recently the first person since 1985 to say "no" to Michael Jackson.

But, speaking of entertainment that has passed its "BEST BY" date, when did American political drama's plots become so predictable, its scripts so sloppy? You will know what every character is going to say once the first apoplectic actor has delivered his first angry monologue, so given to simple-minded repetition is the playwright. According to the monotonous script, every single character hates every single word President Obama says, a dull contrivance that leeches every bit of dramatic suspense from each line, making for a rather listless afternoon of theater! And any hope for a better second act is quickly deflated once you realized that the cast will also hate every single thing the President says in every subsequent scene, no matter what it is he actually winds up saying.

Politics has always been theater. But when did its production values slide so precipitously into a self-indulgent, repetitive chorus that only skirts banality by hinting at insanity? Since our last socialist president, FDR, our ovations have drifted from civic acts to circus acts. When did we go from a president who inconveniently pretends he can stand to a citizenry that pretends it can't stand any inconvenience?

Now, don't get us wrong: As American Christians, Jesus and I both believe that when a child gets healthcare, an angel loses its virginity or, worse, its concealed weapon. Redirecting dollars from arming bombs to vaccinating arms is clearly the work of a wicked, hateful Socialist Satan! (Or is that a Fascist Fallen Angel? Honestly, as Republicans, we don't get all liberal-elite, act-obsessed when it comes to what pejorative labels for unfashionable ideologies really mean!)

Nevertheless, this Republican road show of rage, with its cheap set, set script and unsettling cast, needs to close out of town before it reaches that big burlesque theater on Capitol Hill. After all, rednecks who hanker to become unglued in public so that rich people can make even more money off them will always have Dr. Phil! But this tedious traveling show has all the spontaneity of a Tom Cruise remark, the sincerity of a Bachelor or Bachelorette proposal and the restraint of a community theater production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? And just as with community theater, in this vanity production, it seems as if the only people having fun are the screaming hams hogging the stage.
(c) 2009 Mrs. Betty Bowers

The Gross National Debt

View my page on

Issues & Alibis Vol 9 # 31 (c) 08/14/2009

Issues & Alibis is published in America every Friday. We are not affiliated with, nor do we accept funds from any political party. We are a non-profit group that is dedicated to the restoration of the American Republic. All views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily the views of Issues & Alibis.Org.

In regards to copying anything from this site remember that everything here is copyrighted. Issues & Alibis has been given permission to publish everything on this site. When this isn't possible we rely on the "Fair Use" copyright law provisions. If you copy anything from this site to reprint make sure that you do too. We ask that you get our permission to reprint anything from this site and that you provide a link back to us. Here is the "Fair Use" provision.

"Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors."