Home To The World's Best Liberal Thought And Humor

Over Six Billion Served

Please visit our sponsor!

In This Edition

Chris Hedges suggests that you, "Curb Your Enthusiasm For Obama."

Uri Avnery explains the, "Hottentot Morality."

Victoria Stewart tries on, "Sarah's Shoes."

Jim Hightower reviews, "Professor Bush Economic Nostrum."

Thom Watson with some, "Wind Energy Facts."

Mike Adams finds, "FDA Plots to Mislead Consumers Over Irradiated Foods."

Garrison Keillor asks, "Who Wants To See Sarah Palin As The Next President?"

Chris Floyd with an absolute must read, "Lady And The Gramp."

Sam Harris warns, "Palin: Average Isn't Good Enough."

Mike Folkerth wonders, "Rules? What Rules?"

Joel S. Hirschhorn concludes, "With Palin McCain Ups Chances Of Beating Obama."

William Pfaff watches as, "Russia Calls NATO's Bluff."

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Glenn Greenwald smells a rat, "Federal Government Involved In Raids On Protesters."

Vincent L. Guarisco explores, "John McCain In A 'Nutshell' - Philanderer, War Pimp, Bush Policy Clone, and Neocon Liar...."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "McCain: Obama Lacks Experience Running 5,000-Person Town In Alaska" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Help, It's The Police!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Clay Jones with additional cartoons and photos from Married To The Sea, Internet Weekly.Org, Destonio.Net, Dees Illustration.Com, Freaking News.Com, Monte Wolverton, Mike Lukovich, Seeds Of Doubt.Com, Pablo On Politics.Com, FDA, Star Tribune, 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...
Zeitgeist The Movie...

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

Help, It's The Police!
By Ernest Stewart

"Police state, police state, police state... help it's the police!"
Police State ~~~ The Firesign Theater

"...never send to know for whom the bell tolls: it tolls for thee." ~~~ John Donne

"If you vote for the candidate of one of the two major parties, this is your choice: John McCain, war criminal -- or Barack Obama, war criminal." ~~~ Arthur Silber

You may recall the 1st amendment to the US Constitution plainly states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." Unfortunately, it says nothing about the FBI and various branches of the Minnesota Gestapo abridging the freedom of speech or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances!

National Lawyers Guild: Police Raid "Preventive Detention"

Calling what went on in Denver and what is currently going on in Minneapolis and St. Paul a simple "Police Riot" is really a vast understatement. The correct terminology would include words such as treason and sedition, to say the very least!

Not only are protesters being beaten and arrested on trumped up charges but so are reporters and members of the press who dare to try and tell the public these crimes. The government, which is without a doubt behind these various acts of treason, is determined to prevent any news coverage! The planning for this has been in the works for many months as various government agencies have designated such groups as vegans, unions and grandmothers as terrorists. Zeus help you if you actually planned to protest! Groups all over the country were raided even though they had committed no crime nor were planning to commit crimes. Merely exercising the right to protest the illegal, immoral wars and the other thousands of crimes committed by the Junta and their stooges led to these raids!

Our own Amy Goodman dared to cover the convention as a reporter and you can see what happened to her in this video...

Not only are the actions of these Jack Booted Thugs a crime but the message they are sending is a crime also: "We dare you to protest. Come on, punk, and make our day!" Like the NYC police riots during the 2004 Rethuglican Convention, the 2008 will set new standards for treason and sedition!

Of course, this thuggery isn't just being done around the convention. These goons are blocking workers from entering the Mall of America, turning whole trains full of workers and shoppers back in the name of breaking a union. Star Bucks, which no doubt called them out, just bought themselves a few billion dollars of bad publicity, I know I'll never pay $5 bucks for a 50 cent cup of coffee again! The Happy Camps are ready and waiting. At the whim of our beloved west Texas prairie monkey the round-ups can start in earnest (not to mention rounding up Ernest) and off we go to the Crime Family Bush's Gulag Archipelago!

Of course, the main stream media is strangely silent about the mayhem in Minneapolis. Even ABC hasn't had much to say about one of their reporters being arrested for trying to cover the news. Funny thing that, eh? Funny, indeed, considering how they went ballistic when China did the same thing before the Olympics. Every TV network and newspaper chain went on and on about China's horrible actions but nothing is said when we do it, even though we have laws against those actions and China doesn't. I guess it's not fascism when it happens here, eh?

I wrote St Paul mayor Chris Coleman a letter asking for an explanation. If he has the balls to write me back I'll share it with you!

In Other News

I see where Smirky is about to unleash his October surprise. All of Europe and most of the Middle East is abuzz with headlines that the Dutch and other European spy agencies are withdrawing their spooks because we're about to unleash an air war from the four aircraft battle groups just off Iran's southern coasts.

We're planning to send in wave upon wave of unmanned aircraft to attack critical military and scientific targets and when Iran responds by attacking everything from the Green Zone to gulf oil fields to Israel then we'll launch everything in the area including long range bombers and bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran back to the stone age!

According to reports in the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, the country's intelligence service, the AIVD, has stopped an espionage operation aimed at infiltration and sabotage of the weapons industry in Iran.

"The operation, described as extremely successful, was halted recently in connection with plans for an impending US air attack on Iran," said the report.

"Targets would also be bombed which were connected with the Dutch espionage action."

"Well placed" sources told the paper that a top agent had been recalled recently "because the US was thought to be making a decision within weeks to attack Iran with unmanned aircraft."

"Information from the AIVD operation has in recent years been shared with the American CIA secret service."

On Friday, the Israel newspaper Ma'ariv reported that Israel has stepped up preparations for a contingency plan to attack Iran, should diplomatic efforts, via the United Nations, fail to derail Tehran's suspected nuclear weapons program. Since Kinda Sleazy gave the go ahead last month Israel has been chomping at the bit to destroy the last country in the area that can keep her from forming the "Greater Middle-Eastern Co-Prosperity Sphere" and seizing all the land she wants for a little "leiberstraum!"

With the US and NATO trying to surround and dismantle Russia, wouldn't it be funny if the Russians gave a few spare SS-27s with Hydrogen warheads to Iran? Or perhaps the Chinese might spare a few old DF-5s similarly equipped?

With Washington chicken hawks calling for preemptive strikes against Iran before the election, and US and NATO warships cruising the Black Sea, might Russia decide to make a few preemptive strikes of her own against the US and NATO? Stay tuned America, there's more to come!

And Finally

I see where our latest national joke Sarah Palin pulled an Obama trick. Just like Barry, no sooner was she on the ticket than off she ran to genuflect before her Zionazi bosses at AIPAC, where she garnered rave reviews from the assemblage.

Not to be outdone by Barry, who promised to destroy the world if so much as a single Israeli curl was messed up, Sarah, on the arm of "Tailgunner Joe" Lieberman, reported for a little bowing and scraping before the board of directors of the America Israel Public Affairs Committee.

"We had a good productive discussion on the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship, and we were pleased that Gov. Palin expressed her deep, personal, and lifelong commitment to the safety and well-being of Israel," AIPAC spokesman Josh Block said after the meeting. "Like Sen. McCain, the vice presidential nominee understands and believes in the special friendship between the two democracies and would work to expand and deepen the strategic partnership in a McCain/Palin Administration."

Therefore, everyone is on board for committing more war crimes for the expansion of Israel. More American children will be blown to tiny bits in yet another useless, worthless, illegal, immoral war so that our masters, both foreign and domestic, can make a few billion shekels on the death and misery of innocent women and children.

Ergo, the choice is yours, America. Election day is near, go to the polls and vote. Vote for the Nazi war criminals of your choice but vote! Alternatively, you can send a message of peace, hope and good will by voting Green for Cindy and Rosa. The candidates who aren't owned by American corpo-rats and don't owe their allegiance to Israel and war. The choice and the consequences are yours to make. War or peace. Death or life. It seems a very simple choice to me!


We'd like to thank William B from Madison CT for his help. Although you sent it in on August 1st we didn't get it until last Friday due to a glitch in the mail. Thanks, Bro!

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


03-20-1937 ~ 09-01-2008
East Bound and Down Bro!


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


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


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

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

Curb Your Enthusiasm For Obama
By Chris Hedges

Barack Obama's health care plan coddles the corporations that profit from the misery and illnesses of tens of millions of Americans. The plan is naive, at best, and probably disingenuous when it insists that we can coax these corporations, which are listed on the stock exchange and exist to maximize profit, to transform themselves into social service agencies that will provide adequate health care for all Americans. I wish we lived in such a rosy world. I know, and I suspect Obama knows, that we do not.

"Obama offers a false hope," said Dr. John Geyman, the former chair of family medicine at the University of Washington and author of "Do Not Resuscitate: Why the Health Insurance Industry Is Dying, and How We Must Replace It." "We cannot build on or tweak the present system. Different states have tried this. The problem is the private insurance industry itself. It is not as efficient as a publicly financed system. It fragments risk pools, skimming off the healthier part of the population and leaving the rest uninsured or underinsured. Its administrative and overhead costs are five to eight times higher than public financing through Medicare. It cares more about its shareholders than its enrollees or patients. A family of four now pays about $12,000 a year just in premiums, which have gone up by 87 percent from 2000 to 2006. The insurance industry is pricing itself out of the market for an ever larger part of the population. The industry resists regulation. It is unsustainable by present trends."

We face a health crisis. The Democratic and Republican parties, awash in campaign contributions from the beasts they should be slaying on our behalf, have no interest in addressing it. A report in the journal Health Affairs estimates that, if the system is left unchanged, one of every five dollars spent by Americans in 2017 will go to health coverage. Half of all bankruptcies in America are because families are unable to pay their medical bills. There are some 46 million Americans without coverage and tens of millions more with inadequate policies that severely limit what kinds of procedures and treatments they can receive.

"There are at least 25 million Americans who are underinsured," said Dr. Geyman. "Whatever coverage they have does not come close to covering the actual cost of a major illness or accident." Obama, like John McCain, did not support HR 676, the single-payer legislation. The corporations that run our for-profit health care industry, which would be shut down if the bill was enacted, have vigorously fought it through campaign contributions and armies of lobbyists. A study by Harvard Medical School found that national health insurance would save the country $350 billion a year. But Medicare does not make campaign contributions. The private health care industries do. They have lavished money on Obama. He received $708,000 from medical and insurance interests between 2001 and 2006, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. And Michelle Obama is a vice president for community and external affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals, a position that paid her $316,962 annually.

"The private health insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry completely and totally oppose national health insurance," said Dr. Stephanie Woolhandler, one of the founders of Physicians for a National Health Program. "The private health insurance companies would go out of business. The pharmaceutical companies are afraid that a national health program will, as in Canada, be able to negotiate lower drug prices. Canadians pay 40 percent less for their drugs. We see this on a smaller scale in the United States, where the Department of Defense is able to negotiate pharmaceutical prices that are 40 percent lower."

Sen. Obama argues that we can improve the system by expanding government oversight. The government, he says, should require doctors and hospitals to prove they provide quality care. His plan links payment with reported quality. This would mean that health care providers would have to hire even larger staffs to collect and report this data to the government. There would be a $10-billion federal investment in health care information technology over five years under the Obama plan, in essence turning record keeping from paper to electronic data.

Obama's plan, said Dr. Don McCanne, who writes on health care issues, would actually make health plans "more expensive, which compounds the problem."

Obama says he would require insurance companies to use more income from premiums for patient care.

"There isn't an enforcement mechanism," Geyman said bluntly. "Most states have been unable to control rates or set a cap on rates."

Obama's plan would also not cover all Americans. Unlike in Canada, citizens would not be enrolled in a plan automatically. Americans would have to go looking for one they could afford. And if they could not find one they would remain uninsured. Dr. Woolhandler, who is also a professor at Harvard Medical School, estimates that "tens of millions" of Americans would remain uninsured under Obama's plan. These numbers would swell as employers, who provide plans for 59 percent of those who are employed, continue to reduce coverage.

"The only way everyone will get insurance is with national health insurance," she said from Boston in a phone interview. "There is nothing in the Obama plan that will change the bitter reality that working-class families face when their breadwinner gets sick. People with catastrophic illnesses usually lose their jobs and lose their insurance. They often cannot afford the high premiums for the insurance they can get when they are unable to work. Most families that file for bankruptcy because of medical costs had insurance before they got sick. They either lost the insurance because they lost their jobs or faced gaps in coverage that meant they could not afford medical care."

Obama has borrowed John Kerry's idea to have the government absorb certain severe costs, although again the details are not spelled out. Insurers, he says, would no longer be able to discriminate based on preexisting conditions. All children would have health coverage. He would, he says, expand Medicare and Medicare-like coverage to protect the very young and the elderly. This is laudable, if he can make it happen. But the fundamental problem is a health industry run for profit. Our health system costs nearly twice as much as national programs in countries such as Switzerland. The overhead for traditional Medicare is 3 percent, and the overhead for the investment-owned companies is 26.5 percent. A staggering 31 percent of our health care expenditures is spent on administrative costs. Look what we get in return.

We on the left, those who should be out there fighting for universal health care and total and immediate withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, sit like lap dogs on the short leashes of our Democratic (read corporate) masters. We yap now and then, but we have forgotten how to snarl and bite. We have been domesticated. And until we punish the two main parties the way big corporations do, by withdrawing support and funding when our issues are ignored, we will remain irrelevant and impotent. I detest Bill O'Reilly, but he is right on one thing-we liberals are a spineless lot.

Labor unions don't negotiate with corporations on the basis of good will. They negotiate carrying the threat of a strike. What power do we have as long as we cave on every issue we stand for, from opposition to the death penalty to battling back against the military-industrial complex?

It is not about liking or not liking Obama. It is not about race or class or gender. It is not about growing up poor or a member of the working class. There is no shortage of greasy politicians who, once in power, sold out their own. Look at Bill Clinton. It is about fighting back. It is about confronting a system that belittles us, what we stand for and what is best for the majority of Americans. We need to throw our support behind alternative candidates who champion what we care about, whether Cynthia McKinney or Ralph Nader. Bob Barr's health care plan, like John McCain's, is even worse than Obama's tepid proposal. We need to begin to actively and militantly defy the corporate state, and this means stepping outside of the two-party system. Universal health insurance is one issue. There are others. Nothing we care about will change until we do.

The Democrats, who promise to end the war in Iraq, create jobs and provide universal health care, ignore these promises once election cycles are over. And we never make them pay. They gave us NAFTA, the destruction of welfare and increased military spending, and we gave them our vote. This is the party that took back Congress in 2006 on an anti-war platform and then increased troop levels and funding for the Iraq war. This is a party that talks about the crushing weight of debt carried by Americans and then refuses to cap predatory interest rates as high as 30 percent imposed by credit card companies. This is a party that promises to protect our constitutional rights and then passes the FISA bill to protect the telecommunications companies. The list goes on. These politicians, including Obama, must begin to feel heat. They must learn that there is a cost to be paid for working on behalf of corporations and disempowering citizens.
(c) 2008 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.

Hottentot Morality
By Uri Avnery

"If he steals my cow, that is bad. If I steal his cow, that is good" - this moral rule was attributed by European racists to the Hottentots, an ancient tribe in Southern Africa.

It's hard not to be reminded of this when the United States and the European countries cry out against Russia's recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the two provinces which seceded from the Republic of Sakartvelo, known in the West as Georgia.

Not so long ago, the Western countries recognized the Republic of Kosovo, which seceded from Serbia. The West argued that the population of Kosovo is not Serbian, its culture and language is not Serbian, and that therefore it has a right to independence from Serbia. Especially after Serbia had conducted a grievous campaign of oppression against them. I supported this view with all my heart. Unlike many of my friends, I even supported the military operation that helped the Kosovars to free themselves.

But what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, as the saying goes. What's true for Kosovo is no less true for Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The population in these provinces is not Georgian, they have their own languages and ancient civilizations. They were annexed to Georgia almost by whim, and they have no desire to be part of it.

So what is the difference between the two cases? A huge one, indeed: the independence of Kosovo is supported by the Americans and opposed by the Russians. Therefore it's good. The independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is supported by the Russians and opposed by the Americans. Therefore it's bad. As the Romans said: Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi, what's allowed to Jupiter is not allowed to an ox.

I do not accept this moral code. I support the independence of all these regions.

In my view, there is one simple principle, and it applies to everybody: every province that wants to secede from any country has a right to do so. In this respect there is, for me, no difference between Kosovars, Abkhazians, Basques, Scots and Palestinians. One rule for all.

THERE WAS a time when this principle could not be implemented. A state of a few hundred thousand people was not viable economically, and could not defend itself militarily.

That was the era of the "nation state," when a strong people imposed itself, its culture and its language, on weaker peoples, in order to create a state big enough to safeguard security, order and a proper standard of living. France imposed itself on Bretons and Corsicans, Spain on Catalans and Basques, England on Welsh, Scots and Irish, and so forth.

That reality has been superseded. Most of the functions of the "nation state" have moved to super-national structures: large federations like the USA, large partnerships like the EU. In those there is room for small countries like Luxemburg beside larger ones like Germany. If Belgium falls apart and a Flemish state comes into being beside a Walloon state, both will be received into the EU, and nobody will be hurt. Yugoslavia has disintegrated, and each of its parts will eventually belong to the European Union.

That has happened to the former Soviet Union, too. Georgia freed itself from Russia. By the same right and the same logic, Abkhazia can free itself from Georgia.

But then, how can a country avoid disintegration? Very simple: it must convince the smaller peoples which live under its wings that it is worthwhile for them to remain there. If the Scots feel that they enjoy full equality in the United Kingdom, that they have been accorded sufficient autonomy and a fair slice of the common cake, that their culture and traditions are being respected, they may decide to remain there. Such a debate has been going on for decades in the French-speaking Canadian province of Quebec.

The general trend in the world is to enlarge the functions of the big regional organizations, and at the same time allow peoples to secede from their mother countries and establish their own states. That is what happened in the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Serbia and Georgia. That is bound to happen in many other countries.

Those who want to go in the opposite direction and establish, for example, a bi-national Israeli-Palestinian state, are going against the Zeitgeist - to say the least.

THIS IS the historical background to the recent spat between Georgia and Russia. There are no Righteous Ones here. It is rather funny to hear Vladimir Putin, whose hands are dripping with the blood of Chechen freedom fighters, extolling the right of South Ossetia to secession. It's no less funny to hear Micheil Saakashvili likening the freedom fight of the two separatist regions to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.

The fighting reminded me of our own history. In the spring of 1967, I heard a senior Israeli general saying that he prayed every night for the Egyptian leader, Gamal Abd-al-Nasser, to send his troops into the Sinai peninsula. There, he said, we shall annihilate them. Some months later, Nasser marched into the trap. The rest is history.

Now Saakashvili has done precisely the same. The Russians prayed for him to invade South Ossetia. When he walked into this trap, the Russians did to him what we did to the Egyptians. It took the Russians six days, the same as it took us.

Nobody can know what was passing through the mind of Saakashvili. He is an inexperienced person, educated in the United States, a politician who came to power on the strength of his promise to bring the separatist regions back to the homeland. The world is full of such demagogues, who build a career on hatred, super-nationalism and racism. We have more than enough of them here, too.

But even a demagogue does not have to be an idiot. Did he believe that President Bush, who is bankrupt in all fields, would rush to his aid? Did he not know that America has no soldiers to spare? That Bush's warlike speeches are being carried away by the wind? That NATO is a paper tiger? That the Georgian army would melt like butter in the fire of war?

I AM curious about our part in this story.

In the Georgian government there are several ministers who grew up and received their education in Israel. It seems that the Minister of Defense and the Minister for Integration (of the separatist regions) are also Israeli citizens. And most importantly: that the elite units of the Georgian army have been trained by Israeli officers, including the one who was blamed for losing Lebanon War II. The Americans, too, invested much effort in training the Georgians.

I am always amused by the idea that it is possible to train a foreign army. One can, of course, teach technicalities: how to use particular weapons or how to conduct a battalion-scale maneuver. But anyone who has taken part in a real war (as distinct from policing an occupied population) knows that the technical aspects are secondary. What matters is the spirit of the soldiers, their readiness to risk their lives for the cause, their motivation, the human quality of the fighting units and the command echelon.

Such things cannot be imparted by foreigners. Every army is a part of its society, and the quality of the society decides the quality of the army. That is particularly true in a war against an enemy who enjoys a decisive numerical superiority. We experienced that in the 1948 war, when David Ben-Gurion wanted to impose on us officers who were trained in the British army, and we, the combat soldiers, preferred our own commanders, who were trained in our underground army and had never seen a military academy in their lives.

Only professional generals, whose whole outlook is technical, imagine that they could "train" soldiers of another people and another culture - in Afghanistan, Iraq or Georgia.

A well developed trait among our officers is arrogance. In our case, it is generally connected with a reasonable standard of the army. If the Israeli officers infected their Georgian colleagues with this arrogance, convincing them that they could beat the mighty Russian army, they committed a grievous sin against them.

I DO NOT believe that this is the beginning of Cold War II, as has been suggested. But this is certainly a continuation of the Great Game.

This appellation was given to the relentless secret struggle that went on all through the 19th century along Russia's southern border between the two great empires of the time: the British and the Russian. Secret agents and not so secret armies were active in the border regions of India (including today's Pakistan), Afghanistan, Persia and so on. The "North-West Frontier" (of Pakistan), which is starring now in the war against the Taliban, was already legendary then.

Today, the Great Game between the current two great empires - the USA and Russia - is going on all over the place from the Ukraine to Pakistan. It proves that geography is more important than ideology: Communism has come and gone, but the struggle goes on as if nothing has happened.

Georgia is a mere pawn in the chess game. The initiative belongs to the US: it wants to encircle Russia by expanding NATO, an arm of US policy, all along the border. That is a direct threat to the rival empire. Russia, on its part, is trying to extend its control over the resources most vital to the West, oil and gas, as well as their routes of transportation. That can lead to disaster.

WHEN Henry Kissinger was still a wise historian, before he became a foolish statesman, he expounded an important principle: in order to maintain stability in the world, a system has to be formed that includes all the parties. If one party is left outside, stability is in danger.

He cited as an example the "Holy Alliance" of the great powers that came into being after the Napoleonic wars. The wise statesmen of the time, headed by the Austrian Prince Clemens von Metternich, took care not to leave the defeated French outside, but, on the contrary, gave them an important place in the Concert of Europe.

The present American policy, with its attempt to push Russia out, is a danger to the whole world. (And I have not even mentioned the rising power of China.)

A small country which gets involved in the struggle between the big bullies risks being squashed. That has happened in the past to Poland, and it seems that it has not learned from that experience. One should advise Georgia, and also the Ukraine, not to emulate the Poles but rather the Finns, who since world War II have pursued a wise policy: they guard their independence but endeavor to take the interest of their mighty neighbor into account.

We Israelis can, perhaps, also learn something from all of this: that it is not safe to be a vassal of one great Empire and provoke the rival empire. Russia is returning to our region, and every move we make to further American expansion will surely be countered by a Russian move in favor of Syria and Iran.

So let's not adopt the "Hottentot morality." It is not wise, and certainly not moral.
(c) 2008 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Sarah's Shoes
By Victoria Stewart

Put on your red dress, baby
Ya know we're goin' out tonight
Put on your red dress, baby
Lord, we're goin' out tonight
And-a bring along some boxin' gloves
In case some fool might wanna fight

Put on your high-heel sneakers, lordy
Wear your wig-hat on your head
Put on your high-heel sneakers, child
Wear your wig-hat on your head
Ya know you're looking mighty fine, baby
I'm pretty sure you're gonna knock 'em dead
High Heeled Sneakers ~~~ Jerry Lee Lewis

As soon as I saw the photo of the shoes Sarah Palin wore when she first appeared as McCain's VP pick, I knew the woman was serious. And I knew the Democrats were in real trouble. Sarah Palin had come to kick ass and take names.

Sarah Palin, as dimwitted political observers are finally figuring out, was not chosen to woo disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters. She was selected to appeal to the vast majority of American women who do not breathe the rarified air of Ivy League schools and six-plus figure salaries, the women, strangely enough, who were once championed by the feminist movement.

The women's movement of the 70's had its roots in the day-to-day existence of ordinary women. In its most shining and powerful moments, feminism was about recognition and respect for women who did "women's work." One of the central platforms in those early days was equal rights and benefits for women who did not work outside the home, women who did the critically important and much disparaged work of motherhood. It didn't take long, however, for that to change. It was shortly after the birth of my daughter in 1977 that I first encountered the "only a mom" bias that was to become a hallmark of mainstream feminism. The women in the movement who supported this bias, and there were many, displayed not only poor judgment but also revealed the deeply ingrained hatred of women by women.

Second wave feminism resulted many positive changes in the world in general and American culture in particular. And women do have positions of power now that were impossible 50 years ago. Hillary Clinton, after all, did run for the Democratic nomination for president.

Hillary Clinton never had a shot at the Oval Office despite the early press touting her as the president-apparent. Hillary Clinton was permitted to make that run, in part, because she so perfectly fit the stereotype of a feminist. She was easily portrayed as cold, power-hungry and unsympathetic. Even her stand-by-your-man decision didn't help her, and, of course, neither did the man. A lot of women supported her because she was a woman but more women saw her as someone apart, an alien who did not know their lives. And then there were those god-awful pantsuits.

Which brings me back to Sarah's shoes.

When I emailed the photo of those shoes out to friends, one replied, "Wow! If Hillary had worn those shoes she might have won the nomination."

And she's right. Those shoes speak volumes about the votes Sarah Palin is courting.

In spite of the gains women have made over the past thirty years, our status is still precarious. The sexual objectification of our daughters is more blatant than ever. The best efforts at parenting do not protect our children. And the chasm between women in power and the rest of us widens by the minute.

Sarah Palin is Everywoman. She is mother, daughter, sister, wife. She is attractive in a way that threatens no one and reassures both women and men. She is unabashedly feminine, unafraid to wear skirts and proudly defiant, even though an evangelical Christian, of a system that would stigmatize her daughter She is the heir to a feminist legacy that made it possible for women to become serious political contenders but she is also a woman who can stride across a stage as an unknown and walk away as a star.

Sarah Palin represents a political philosophy that is anathema to the beliefs I hold most sacred-the woman doesn't even like polar bears!-but she has a charisma that will be hard to resist. And those shoes? Those shoes say in the secret language of American women, "I am woman." Sarah Palin can roar.
(c) 2008 Victoria Stewart is the editor of Issues & Alibis magazine.

Professor Bush Economic Nostrum

On this Labor day, when families all across America are struggling, it's fitting for us to reflect on the profound insight of that prominent economic theorist, George W Bush. In 2000, explaining his economic policy approach, W declared: "We ought to make the pie higher."

What the professor was trying to express is the old theory that by baking a larger pie, everyone can get a bigger slice. But that theory ignores a special trick of economic pie-making that Bush baked right into his policy: Greed. Yes, the pie is now larger, but Bush simply fattened the slice of the corporate powers and the rich, leaving the workaday majority of folks trying to get by on the same slim pickings they had before... or less.

Sure, CEO pay is surging and the incomes of the superwealthy are zooming, but the incomes of workers is not even keeping up with inflation - indeed the median income for American families is lower than when Bush took office. Meanwhile, the number of people without health coverage is up by six million, and the number of Americans living in poverty is up by nearly six million.

Maybe so, say the Bushites, but if you count the five million new jobs created in the past eight years, you'll see that our policy of tinkle-down economics really does work. Uh - not exactly. It would have taken some 20 million new jobs in those eight years just to keep up with the number of new people entering the job market - so the Bushites are 15 million short of just staying even.

Besides, the issue isn't jobs. Think about it: even slaves had jobs. The issue is wages, income, and rising opportunities. Ask a waitress if she's aware that Bush has created new jobs and she'll say: "Yeah, I know. I have one of them." Under professor Bush, America's economy has been producing more low-wage, service sector jobs, while shipping out the manufacturing and high-tech jobs that offer our people middle-class wages and upward mobility. Instead of tinkle-down, America needs a grassroots policy of percolate-up economics.
(c) 2008 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

Wind Energy Facts
What do I need to know to purchase a residential wind turbine?
By Thom Watson

How do residential wind turbines work?

A wind turbine, which is installed on top of a tall tower, collects kinetic energy from the wind and converts it to electricity that is compatible with a home's electrical system.

In a normal residential application, a home is served simultaneously by the wind turbine and a local utility. If the wind speeds are below cut-in speed (7-10 mph) there will be no output from the turbine and all of the needed power is purchased from the utility. As wind speeds increase, turbine output increases and the amount of power purchased from the utility is proportionately decreased. When the turbine produces more power than the house needs, the extra electricity is sold to the utility. All of this is done automatically. There are no batteries in a modern residential wind system.

Small wind systems for remote applications operate somewhat differently.

Will a small wind turbine save me money?

The wind turbine typically lowers your electricity bill by 50 to 90 percent. It is not uncommon for wind turbine owners with total-electric homes to have monthly utility bills of only $8 to $15 for nine months of the year. In northern parts of the country where less air conditioning is used the bills can be very low year-round. The amount of money a small wind turbine saves you in the long run will depend upon its cost, the amount of electricity you use, the average wind speed at your site, and other factors.

What size turbine would I need for my home?

Homes use approximately 9,400 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year (about 780 kWh per month). Depending upon the average wind speed in the area, a wind turbine rated in the range of 5 to 15 kilowatts would be required to make a significant contribution to meet this demand.

Who should consider buying a wind turbine?

A residential wind turbine can be a relatively large device and is not suitable for urban or small-lot suburban homes. Except for very small wind turbines (i.e., with rotors one meter or less in diameter) on very small towers, a property size of one acre or more is desirable.

The economics of a wind system are very sensitive to the average wind speed in the area, and to a lesser extent, the cost of purchasing electricity. As a general rule of thumb, if economics are a concern, a turbine owner should have at least a 10 mph average wind speed and be paying at least 10 cents/kWh for electricity.

Residential wind turbines have been installed in at least 47 of the 50 states, but the majority of the units have been installed in the Northeast and the Midwest.

Will it help the environment if I install a wind turbine at my home?

Yes. Wind turbines produce no pollution and by using wind power you will be offsetting pollution that would have been generated by your utility company. Over its life, a small residential wind turbine can offset approximately 1.2 tons of air pollutants and 200 tons of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and other gases which cause climate change).

Don't I have to take wind measurements for a year or more?

For most residential systems the cost of taking wind measurements is not justified. Wind resource data published by the U.S. Department of Energy is sufficient for an experienced evaluator to predict wind turbine performance. In very hilly or mountainous areas, however, it may be best to collect wind data before purchasing a system to ensure that your site is not in a sheltered area.

Do wind turbines make noise or interfere with TV reception?

Small wind turbines do make some noise, but not enough to be found objectionable by most people. A typical residential wind system makes less noise than the average washing machine. Wind turbines do not interfere with TV reception.

Will my utility allow me to hook up a wind generator?

Federal regulations (specifically, the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978, or PURPA) require utilities to connect with and purchase power from small (less than 80 MW) wind energy systems. A wind turbine manufacturer should be able to help arrange the required utility company approvals.

See State-by-State small wind information for lists of interconnection requirements for many U.S. states.

Will I have to change any of the wiring in my house?

No. A wind turbine is easily retrofitted to virtually any home without the need to change any wiring or appliances. In most cases, the utility will install a second utility meter to measure how much surplus electricity it is purchasing from the turbine owner.

What about towers?

An 80- to 120-foot tower is usually supplied along with the wind turbine. Towers this tall are necessary to raise the wind turbine above turbulence generated by obstacles on the ground and trees. Wind velocity and, therefore wind turbine performance, increases with altitude. Several different types of towers are available, depending upon which manufacturer you select. Each type has its advantages; the most economical type of tower is the guyed lattice tower, but a hinged tower can be easier for you to install yourself and provides easier access for maintenance.

How much does a wind system cost?

A small turbine can cost anywhere from $6,000 to $22,000 installed, depending upon size, application and service agreements with the manufacturer.

How reliable are wind turbines? Will I have to perform much maintenance?

Most small turbines have very few moving parts and do not require any regular maintenance. They are designed for a long life (up to 20 years) and operate completely automatically.

How do wind turbines perform as an investment?

The wind system will usually recoup its investment through utility savings within six to 15 years and after that the electricity it produces will be virtually free. Over the long term, a wind turbine is a good investment because a well-sited wind system increases property value, similar to any other home improvement. Many people buy wind systems in preparation for their retirement because they don't want to be subject to unpredictable increases in utility rates.

How would I have a wind turbine installed at my home?

Most dealers offer either complete turnkey (ready-to-operate) installations or the option to purchase direct from the factory and install the system yourself. The first option offers more customer support from the company. Self-installation offers significant savings and a hands-on understanding of the turbine. Prospective owners can discuss the options available with manufacturers to decide which method best suits their budget and technical skills.

What are the companies that sell wind turbines?

Small Wind Turbine Manufacturers List

See the AWEA Publications Catalog for books and videos.
(c) 2008 Thom Watson

FDA Plots to Mislead Consumers Over Irradiated Foods
By Mike Adams

Natural News has learned that the FDA is intentionally plotting to deceive consumers over the labeling of irradiated foods, attempting to eliminate any requirement for informative labeling or replace the word "irradiated" with "pasteurized."

In a feature story published by NaturalNews yesterday, we stated that the FDA does not require foods to be labeled as irradiated. We received a lot of questions from readers about that point, with some stating the FDA does, in fact, require foods to be labeled when irradiated. This is not always correct: Most foods are not required to be labeled as irradiated. This story explains the FDA's food irradiation labeling policy in more detail and reveals the FDA's plot to deceive consumers by misleading them into thinking irradiated foods are NOT irradiated.

Foods that are exempt from irradiation labeling.

According to current FDA regulations, any food used as an ingredient in another food does NOT have to be labeled as irradiated. For example, if you buy coleslaw, and the cabbage in the coleslaw has been irradiated, there is no requirement that the coleslaw carry any labeling indicating it has been irradiated.

However, if raw cabbage is irradiated, then current FDA regulations do require it to carry an irradiation label. This label, however, is a symbol, not text, and many consumers have no idea what the symbol really means -- it actually looks like a "fresh" symbol of some sort. In no way does it clearly indicate the food has been irradiated. This is the FDA's way to "hide" the fact that these foods have been irradiated. (The symbol looks a lot more like leaves under the sun than food being irradiated...)

USDA Irradiated food symbol

That same head of cabbage, by the way, if served in a restaurant, requires absolutely no irradiation labeling. All restaurant foods are excused from any irradiation labeling requirement. As stated at the FDA's own website (1):

Irradiation labeling requirements apply only to foods sold in stores. For example, irradiated spices or fresh strawberries should be labeled. When used as ingredients in other foods, however, the label of the other food does not need to describe these ingredients as irradiated. Irradiation labeling also does not apply to restaurant foods.

How the FDA plans to deceive consumers and further hide the fact that foods are being irradiated

As stated above, the FDA does not want consumers to realize their foods are being irradiated. Consumer awareness is considered undesirable by the FDA; an agency that also works hard to censor truthful statements about nutritional supplements and functional foods. Accordingly, the FDA pursues a policy of enforced ignorance of consumers regarding irradiated foods, nutritional supplements, medicinal herbs and all sorts of natural substances. It is currently illegal in the United States to state that cherries help ease arthritis inflammation if you are selling cherries.

On the food irradiation issue, the FDA is now proposing two things that are nothing short of astonishing in their degree of deceit:

FDA proposal #1: Irradiated foods shouldn't be labeled as irradiated unless consumers can visibly tell they're irradiated.

This ridiculous proposal by the FDA suggests that foods shouldn't be labeled as irradiated unless there is some obvious material damage to the foods (like their leaves are wilting). Thus, foods that don't appear to be irradiated should not have to be labeled as irradiated.

Imagine if this same ridiculous logic were used to regulate heavy metals content in foods: If consumers can't SEE the heavy metals, then they should be declared free of heavy metals!

FDA proposal #2: Irradiated foods should be labeled as "pasteurized," not "irradiated."

This FDA proposal is so bizarre that it makes you wonder whether the people working at the FDA are smoking crystal meth. They literally want irradiated foods to be labeled as "pasteurized." And why? Because the word "pasteurized" sounds a lot more palatable to consumers, of course. Never mind the fact that it's a lie. Irradiated foods are not pasteurized, and pasteurized foods are not irradiated. These two words mean two different things, which is precisely why they each have their own entries in the dictionary. When you look up "irradiated," it does not say, "See pasteurized."

But the FDA is now playing the game of thought police by manipulating the public with screwy word replacement games that bear a strange resemblance to the kind of language used in the novel 1984 by George Orwell. And it is, indeed, an Orwellian kind of mind game that the FDA wants to play with the food supply: After unleashing Weapons of Mass Destruction (radiation) onto the foods, the FDA wants to label them all as simply being "pasteurized," keeping consumers ignorant and uninformed.

How do I know the FDA wants to do this? The agency said so itself in an April 4, 2007 document filed in the Federal Register (Volume 72, Number 64). As published in the document (2):

FDA is also proposing to allow a firm to petition FDA for use of an alternate term to "irradiation'' (other than "pasteurized''). In addition, FDA is proposing to permit a firm to use the term "pasteurized'' in lieu of "irradiated,'' provided it notifies the agency that the irradiation process being used meets the criteria specified for use of the term "pasteurized'' in the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the act) and the agency does not object to the notification.

Did you follow all that mind-warping logic? The FDA is essentially begging a company to petition it to use the term "pasteurized" instead of "irradiated" as long as they both result in the food being killed. Once it receives such a petition, it will approve it, claiming it is meeting "the needs of industry."

The FDA already allows lots of word substitutions in the areas of health and medicine. The phrase "Toxic Poison" has been replaced with "Chemotherapy," for example. "Over-medicated with dangerous psychiatric drugs" has been replaced with the term, "Treatment." And the phrase, "Regulated with life-threatening synthetic chemicals" has been replaced with the word "managed," as in "her diabetes has been managed."

So why not introduce all sorts of other word substitutions that might continue the Orwellian "Ministry of Language" propaganda put forth by the FDA?

I say we substitute the word "medicated" with "treated" and "treated" with "rewarded." That way, when a patient describes what drugs she's on, she can say, "I've been rewarded with ten different prescriptions!"

Better yet, let's replace the word "surgery" with "enhancement." So anybody who undergoes heart bypass surgery, for example, can say they've really just had "Heart bypass enhancement!"

It sounds a lot easier to swallow, doesn't it? And that's what it's all about, folks, when it comes to irradiating the food supply: Making it all sounds a lot less treacherous than it really is. Control the words and you control people's ideas, and if there's one thing the tyrannical FDA is really, really good at, it's controlling words!

What the FDA really wants to accomplish.

Let's get down to some blunt truth about the FDA's real genocidal agenda. What the FDA wants here is two things:

1) The destruction of the food supply (genocide)
2) The complete ignorance of the consuming public (nutritional illiteracy)

Genocide and illiteracy. Ignorance and fear. Tyranny, radiation and chemicals... These are the things the FDA truly stands for.

That pretty much sums up the FDA's intent on this whole food irradiation issue. Destroy the food and mislead the People. And then wait for the windfall of profits at Big Pharma as the People degenerate into a mass of diseased, disoriented and desperate health patients. It's business as usual at the FDA.

That's why Dr. James Duke, creator of the world's largest phytochemical database, had this to say about the FDA's food irradiation policy:

"Perhaps the FDA should call up a billion dollar team to consider irradiating another health hazard - the FDA itself, which is almost as dangerous to our health as the pharmaceutical industry."

Why I call this the unleashing of "Weapons of Mass Destruction"

In my previous article on this issue, I've called this food irradiation agenda a "Weapon of Mass Destruction" against the food supply. A couple of readers questioned me about that. Why, they asked, do I consider food irradiation to be a WMD?

WMDs include weapons that indiscriminately cause damage to people and infrastructure that serves the People. Dumping a radioactive substance into the water supply that serves a major city, for example, would be considered using a Weapon of Mass Destruction.

Interestingly, the use of Depleted Uranium by the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan is also an example of Weapons of Mass Destruction, making the U.S. guilty of yet more crimes against humanity. (A previous example is the dropping of nuclear weapons on Japan's civilian population in World War II.)

Irradiating the food supply is also an application of Weapons of Mass Destruction, and here's a thought experiment that will clearly demonstrate it:

Suppose you wanted to irradiate your own garden vegetables. The minute you start trying to buy a machine that produces radiation, you would be quickly considered a terrorist and investigated by the FBI. They would visit your home and ask, "Why do you need a radiation machine?" And if you said you needed to irradiate your garden vegetables, they would look at you like you were completely nuts and probably haul you into the local FBI field office for yet more questioning, all while considering you a possible terrorist and likely adding your name to the no-fly list so you could never travel on commercial airlines.

If you don't believe me, try to acquire a high-powered radiation emitting device and see what happens...

So why is it considered bizarre and possibly criminal when an individual buys a radiation machine to irradiate their own foods, but when the FDA pushes the same agenda on a larger scale, they call it "safety?"

Irradiated food isn't altered, claims the FDA.

Of course, the FDA says the irradiated food isn't altered by the radiation. This statement is an insult to the intelligence of anyone with a pulse. Why? Because if the radiation doesn't alter anything, then how can it kill e.coli and salmonella?

The whole point of the radiation is to kill living organisms. And it works by causing fatal damage to the tissues and DNA of those microorganisms. So guess what it does to the plants? Since radiation isn't selective, it also irradiates the plant fibers and tissues, causing DNA damage and the destruction of enzymes and phytochemicals.

Amazingly, the FDA claims this does not count as "altering" the food because these changes aren't visible.

If it weren't such a nutritional atrocity, it would be downright hilarious. DNA changes are not visible to the human eye, but they can result in serious health consequences. Just ask anyone born with two Y chromosomes.

Eat up, guinea pigs!

Of course, the radiation pushers will claim that nobody really knows whether irradiating the food kills just 1% of the phytochemicals or 99% (or something in between). And they don't know what the long-term effect is on human health, either. This is exactly my point: The irradiation of fresh produce is a dangerous experiment, and we've all been involuntarily recruited as guinea pigs.

I will be curious to see a serious scientific inquiry into the nutritional damage caused to fresh produce by irradiation. I also find it simply astonishing that this decision by the FDA has been made in the absence of such scientific studies. Much like it does with the pharmaceutical industry, the FDA prefers to poison the people first, and then figure out later just how much damage might have been caused.

I say when you're dealing with the food supply, you should err on the side of caution. We are talking about the health of the nation here. This is not a small matter. It should be treated with extreme caution, skepticism and scientific scrutiny. Instead, it is being addressed with a gung-ho attitude framed in mind games and enforced ignorance.

In other words, rather than figuring out whether food irradiation is actually safe, the FDA would rather simply pretend it is.

Welcome to Make Believe Land, where all your food is now safe and nutritious, courtesy of the FDA!


(1) http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/qa-fdb33.html
(2) http://www.foodsafety.gov/~lrd/fr070404.html
(c) 2008 Mike Adams ~~~ Natural News

Who Wants To See Sarah Palin As The Next President?
The Republicans are meeting down the hill from my house. What are they trying to say?
By Garrison Keillor

The Republicans are meeting down the hill from my house, helicopters are pounding the air, and there are more suits on the streets and big black SUVs and a brownish cloud venting from the hockey arena where the convention is assembled. A large moment for little old St. Paul, which is more accustomed to visitations by conventions of morticians and foundation garment salesmen and the Sons of the Desert, and so we are thrilled. It makes no difference that the city is Democratic. What matters is that, for a few days, TV will show a few pictures of the big bend in the Mississippi, the limestone bluffs, the capitol and cathedral, and a tree-shaded avenue or two, and some of the world will know that we exist.

Too bad that the Current Occupant and Mr. Cheney canceled their St. Paul appearances so they could focus on hurricane-threatened New Orleans and lend their expertise to rescue operations. As it turned out, they weren't needed, which has been generally true for a long time. Their reporting for duty now only served to remind everyone of what happened three years ago. And Mr. McCain, as of this writing, seemed torn between coming to St. Paul to address the convention and comforting hurricane victims in Mississippi, if any could be found.

Meanwhile, he posed a stark question for voters to ponder: How much would you like to see Sarah Palin of Wasilla, Alaska, as the next president of the United States? And what does the question say about Mr. McCain's love of the country that she might suddenly need to lead? No need to discuss these things at length, really. The gentleman played his card, a two of hearts. Make of it what you will.

The challenge for Republicans is how to change the subject from the dismal story of Republican triumph the past eight years and get voters to focus on, say, the old man's war record or Mrs. Palin's perkiness or the oddity of the skinny guy's last name. If they can succeed there, they can win this thing.

The Senate race in Minnesota is a good example. The Republican, Norm Coleman, has scored points by whooping up a couple tiny scandalettes -- some old jokes that, like a lot of old jokes, aren't so funny, and a tax snafu by some bookkeeper with dandruff on his shoulders -- against Democrat Al Franken, which may yet succeed in distracting voters from Coleman's important role as whistle-plugger in the $23 billion Iraq scandal.

From 2003 to 2006, Coleman was chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which is responsible for investigating, among other things, "fraud, waste, and abuse in government contracting," and on his watch, the subcommittee held no hearings on the disappearance of billions of tax dollars into "reconstruction projects" in Iraq that didn't seem to reconstruct anything whatsoever. Bundles of newly minted $100 bills on pallets in Baghdad that simply vanished. No-bid contracts lavished on people with connections. What may be the biggest case of war profiteering in the history of buzzardry.

The PSI is a big hammer. It's the subcommittee Joe McCarthy used to go after the U.S. Army and Sen. John McClellan used to go after labor racketeers with the young Bobby Kennedy as chief counsel, but as the Coleman subcommittee it went after federal employees who were traveling business class instead of economy, meanwhile money was pouring out of the Treasury for any Republican who could write "Iraq" with fewer than two spelling errors, and an old Bush retainer was appointed special inspector general to oversee the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund, but without authority to oversee money spent on reconstruction by the Pentagon, which was where most of the money went. All of this Sen. Coleman watched with a cool eye, and he now calculates that Minnesota voters won't have the attention span to read a story with a lot of dollar amounts and acronyms like PSI and IRRF and SIG. Maybe, maybe not.

The simple truth is that, while more than 4,000 Americans gave their lives in the war in Iraq, the war was an enormous financial opportunity for neocons and their friends, and Sen. Coleman was a passive observer of one of the biggest heists in history. The cynicism is staggering to the normal person. He was the cop who busted the hot dog vendor for obstructing the sidewalk while the McGurks were cleaning out the bank. This is no joke. A crook is walking around looking for votes. And the truth is marching on.
(c) 2008 Garrison Keillor

Lady And The Gramp
The Sinister Diversion of the Palin Selection

By Chris Floyd

John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin seems to have thrown the media-political-blogospherical establishments into a tizzy. It's hard to see why. Sure, Cleese would have been better than Palin -- more gravitas, louder voice. And of course, the late, lamented Graham Chapman would make a better president than any of the four ticket-toppers of the two major parties. I mean, even now he would be better, despite being dead and British and all.

But I must say that I strongly disagree with the argument that Sarah Palin is not qualified to be president of the United States. Such a stance betrays a lamentable misperception of the true function of the office in these modern times. It also ignores the craven nature of our political and media establishments, which has been on such brazen display for lo these many years.

First of all, what do you think would happen in the not-unlikely-event that an aged, ailing President McCain either died or became incapacitated? The very instant that Palin assumed the presidency, the aforesaid establishments would surround her with an aura of substance, seriousness, and respect. She would become..."The President"...her title invoked with the same frisson of pleasurable self-abnegation that accompanied every utterance of the holy phrase on "The West Wing." The media would find hidden reservoirs of charisma and command suddenly coming to light. We would hear stories of her folksy charm, her steely resolve, her self-deprecating wit, her surprising grasp of complex issues.

It doesn't matter what kind of poltroon parks his or her butt in the Oval Office, or how they get in there; they will be presented to the people as a figure of moral authority and gravitas -- and be accepted as such by large swathes of the public. How can anyone have lived through the presidency of an utter non-entity like George W. Bush -- not to mention the presidencies of the fourth-rate aristo George H.W. Bush or the literally brain-corroded Ronald Reagan -- and not know this? As Shakespeare told us long ago in King Lear:

"Behold the great image of authority; a dog's obeyed in office."

And haven't the past eight years been a painfully glaring demonstration of the undeniable fact that the office of the presidency is -- or certainly can be -- the emptiest of empty shams, a front behind which powerful elite factions shelter as they push their self-serving and undemocratic agendas? Yes, yes, yes, there are tussles and disagreements, even blood feuds, among the elite, there are narrow areas in which marginal differences in policy approaches might come into play. But no one -- no one -- becomes president or vice-president who has not already bought into the basic package: militarism, empire and continual state intervention in the economy on behalf of the rich and powerful. (For a brilliant exposition of the latter point, see this analysis at A Tiny Revolution, which uses the administration of the "Big Dog" himself as a perfect example of how, with every president, "You're dancin' with whom they tell you to/Or you don't dance at all," in the words of another national bard.)

So one might say that Sarah Palin is in fact uniquely qualified to be a modern-day president of the United States. The Republic and its citizens would be no less safe -- or rather, no less highly endangered -- in her hands than in those of the other three main contestants in the Great Gonzo Gameshow of 2008.


But while the Palin brouhaha provides a measure of comic relief, in the end it is just another ludicrous distraction from the main issue, the one issue that is never discussed openly in the campaign (except, as Arthur Silber notes below, inadvertently): the fact that both major parties and their candidates are co-conspirators in the most savage and extensive war crime of the 21st century: the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Silber zeroes in on the astonishing speech given by Al Gore at the Democratic Convention, in which the man who was actually elected president in 2000 (then meekly gave up the fight -- and the Republic -- long before all of his constitutional recourses against the coup were exhausted) did something almost unheard-of at such a gathering: he spoke the truth. First Silber quotes Gore:

After [the Bush Administration] abandoned the search for the terrorists who attacked us and redeployed the troops to invade a nation that did not attack us, it's time for a change.

Then Silber notes:

As I heard that phrase this evening -- "and redeployed the troops to invade a nation that did not attack us" -- I froze for several seconds. I couldn't believe Gore had said it, or that I had heard it...Consider the line again: "and redeployed the troops to invade a nation that did not attack us."

Iraq did not attack us. Therefore, the United States was not acting in self-defense. The invasion of Iraq was an act of aggression. Thus, the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq constitute an ongoing war crime, indeed a huge, horrifying series of ongoing war crimes. The war crimes continue today, and will continue tomorrow...But the U.S. government and our subservient media deny it to this day. If they go so far as to admit that the war was a mistake (which many still will not), they insist it was an "honest mistake," one based on "bad intelligence" ... At worst, politicians and most of those in the media will say only that the invasion of Iraq was a "blunder," perhaps a terrible one, but still only a "blunder."

But Al Gore said we invaded "a nation that did not attack us." The United States committed a monstrous war crime. That's what Gore's statement means. Do not expect anyone to acknowledge that is what it means.

Silber then details the various Principles of the Nuremberg Tribunal which the United States has violated -- and continues to violate -- in the Iraq War, and notes:

The crimes of those Republicans who supported these actions are unspeakable and eternally unforgivable. Yet the crimes of the Democrats who supported the same actions are still worse. The Democrats insist that they think the invasion and occupation of Iraq were wrong, yet they have continued to fund it, even though it has been within their power to defund it entirely for over a year and a half -- and, of equal and even greater significance in one sense, the Democrats absolutely refuse to hold even one person responsible.

I have hammered at this theme of complicity in war crime and atrocity time and again; such as here, from October 2007:

The only possible way to stop these criminal depredations is to remove Bush and Cheney from office. Nothing else will do it. And any national political figure or presidential candidate who does not have this removal at the top of their agenda, who is not beating this drum day after day and using all their power and influence and position to help bring it about is, as we have noted here before, nothing but an accomplice to torture and murder. -- such as here and here and here and here.)

And here, from another October 2007 piece:

How does it become a man to behave toward this American government to-day? I answer that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it. -- Henry David Thoreau

Every day it becomes clearer that Thoreau's answer is the only basis for a genuinely effective resistance to the accelerating depredations of the Bush-Cheney regime. Disassociation, boycott, filibuster, strike -- call it what you will, but the Gandhian tag might be the best: "non-cooperation with evil." The corruption and authoritarian tyranny that the regime has imposed on the nation are evil. The war of aggression it has launched against Iraq is evil. The war of aggression it is fomenting against Iran is evil. If you would not be complicit in evil, then you must not cooperate with it, and you must not acknowledge its power as rightful or legitimate (however powerless you may be to resist its application by brute force).

If there is to be any way out of the nation's death spiral into darkness, ruin and dishonor, this noncooperation must begin at the top. There is not enough time left now for a broad movement from the general public to rise up and force the ouster of these criminals. Naturally, any and all efforts to raise consciousness of the dire situation and mobilize the public against the regime are welcome and should continue. But even putting aside the mass lethargy and media-addled distraction and indifference that have characterized public reaction to the filth heaped upon them by the regime year after year, it is simply a logistical and organizational impossibility to put together the kind of unprecedented outpouring of street protest and civil disobedience it would require for a grass-roots effort to dislodge the regime in its remaining time in office. Yet in that time, the regime will have mired the nation so much more deeply in intractable evil that even the most well-intentioned successor will be left with nothing but monstrous choices between atrocious and somewhat less atrocious outcomes, with each decision drenched in innocent blood.

So while we can all hope and work to see such noncooperation and dissent spread throughout the general public -- a long-term cultivation looking toward the harvest of a better, more honorable society down the line -- the immediate evil embodied in the crooked Bush-Cheney regime can only be thwarted by action on the institutional level. As I've noted elsewhere, Thoreau's answer should be taken up by every person in public life, beginning with the senators and representatives in Congress. There should be noncompliance, nonrecognition of this illegitimate authority, disassociation from taking part in its workings. No Bush appointees should be approved; indeed, they have already shown their unfitness for office by agreeing to work under the criminal regime in the first place. All legislation offered by the regime should be rejected outright; it is dishonorable to treat with a faction whose unprovoked, unnecessary "war of choice" in Iraq has now killed more Americans than were murdered on 9/11. The only "negotiation" acceptable with such bloodstained wretches is settling the terms of their exit from power.

But as Silber notes, none of these things happened. Rather the reverse, as I noted in April 2008:

[Obama] tied his thinking on torture, illegal wiretapping, aggressive war and all the other depredations of the Bush Regime to his stance on impeachment:

"I often get questions about impeachment at town hall meetings. And I've often said, I do not think that would be something that would be fruitful to pursue. I think impeachment should be reserved for exceptional circumstances."

In other words, very strong, credible, evidence-based charges of launching a criminal war of aggression based on deception is not an "exceptional circumstance" worthy of the investigative and prosecutorial process of impeachment. It might just be a "very dumb policy." Very strong, credible, evidence-based charges of knowingly, deliberately creating a regimen of systematic torture is not an "exceptional circumstance" worthy of impeachment; it might not even be worth further investigation by the Justice Department. It too could just be a "dumb policy" that we should forget about - especially if Republicans are going to make a fuss about it.

In any case, it is obvious that to Obama, "what we already know" does not constitute "exceptional circumstances" - otherwise he would already be pressing for criminal investigation, via the impeachment process or by calling for a special prosecutor... He has pointedly not done so, because he doesn't think it would be "fruitful to pursue" credible (in fact overwhelming) evidence of aggressive war and crimes against humanity committed by American leaders.

As Silber notes, neither Obama nor any other Democrat said a single word at the Convention about holding anyone in government accountable for their high crimes. (Although Joe Biden did manage to sputter a threat about holding Russia accountable for its crimes. Ever hear of that old gospel saw about motes and beams, Joe?) Not even Al Gore brought up the subject, despite his open admission that the United States had committed a flagrant war crime -- by standards which the United States itself promulgated to prosecute war crimes.

Silber then delivers a brutal truth:

If you vote for the candidate of one of the two major parties, this is your choice: John McCain, war criminal -- or Barack Obama, war criminal.

Where is Graham Chapman when you need him?

NOTE: Now, having sampled so many of Arthur Silber's fine wares here, you should get yourself over to his own emporium and cross his palm with some token of appreciation. He's back, and blazing, after a serious bout of illness, and it behooves us all to do what we can to keep this clarifying flame alight.
(c) 2008 Chris Floyd

Palin: Average Isn't Good Enough
She's not qualified to be president, and in picking her, McCain shows that he has little respect for the presidency.
By Sam Harris

So let us ask the question that should be on the mind of every thinking person in the world at this moment: If John McCain becomes the 44th president of the United States, what are the odds that a blood clot or falling object will make Sarah Palin the 45th?

The actuarial tables on the Social Security Administration website suggest that there is a better than 10% chance that McCain will die during his first term in office. Needless to say, the Reaper's scything only grows more insistent thereafter. Should President McCain survive his first term and get elected to a second, there is a 27% chance that Palin will become the first female U.S. president by 2015. If we take into account McCain's medical history and the pressures of the presidency, the odds probably increase considerably that this bright-eyed Alaskan will become the most powerful woman in history.

As many people have noted, placing Palin on the ticket has made these final months of the already overlong 2008 campaign much more interesting. Is Palin remotely qualified to be president of the United States? No. But that's precisely what is so interesting. McCain not only has thrown all sensible concerns about good governance aside merely to pander to a sliver of female and masses of conservative Christian voters, he has turned this period of American history into an episode of high-stakes reality television: Don't look now, but our cousin Sarah just became leader of the free world! Tune in next week and watch her get sassy with Pakistan!

Americans have an unhealthy desire to see average people promoted to positions of great authority. No one wants an average neurosurgeon or even an average carpenter, but when it comes time to vest a man or woman with more power and responsibility than any person has held in human history, Americans say they want a regular guy, someone just like themselves. President Bush kept his edge on the "Who would you like to have a beer with?" poll question in 2004, and won reelection.

This is one of the many points at which narcissism becomes indistinguishable from masochism. Let me put it plainly: If you want someone just like you to be president of the United States, or even vice president, you deserve whatever dysfunctional society you get. You deserve to be poor, to see the environment despoiled, to watch your children receive a fourth-rate education and to suffer as this country wages -- and loses -- both necessary and unnecessary wars.

McCain has so little respect for the presidency of the United States that he is willing to put the girl next door (soon, too, to be a grandma) into office beside him. He has so little respect for the average American voter that he thinks this reckless and cynical ploy will work.

And it might. Palin's nomination has clearly excited Christian conservatives, and it may entice a few million gender-obsessed fans of Hillary Clinton to vote entirely on the basis of chromosomes. Throw in a few million more average Americans who will just love how the nice lady smiles, and 2009 could be a very interesting year.

Tune in next week and watch cousin Sarah fuss with our nuclear arsenal ... .
(c) 2008 Sam Harris is the author of "The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason" and "Letter to a Christian Nation."

Rules? What Rules?
By Mike Folkerth

Good morning America, your King of Simple News is on the air. I hope everyone is having a great holiday weekend and taking the downtime to consider where your chosen path in life is taking you.

As a final thought to the end of a short series on the subject of paradigm shifts, I want to be clear that regardless of your current situation, a shift in perception can be instantly rewarding.

I began to worry that many readers may take my past articles as having only value to those who are monetarily in a position to take heed. Nothing could be further from the truth. Those who are cash stressed and see our current economic times as their darkest days could benefit the most from a major paradigm shift.

Let's dig into paradigms one last time and the affect that these beliefs have on our lives. Paradigms are described as "A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline."

Looking at the description of paradigms in the language of Mikeronomics reads; "A set of rules, assumptions, values and practices that the intellectual community made up to best benefit their own personal interests by convincing you that adopting the daily practice of endless labor and assuming huge ongoing interest bearing debt was in fact a sane and reasonable exchange for your life."

Let me give you some examples that concrete my Mikeronomics description. If I were to ask the average man and woman on the street how many hours are in work day, the answer that I would receive would be "eight." How old should one be to retire? "65." How many weeks of vacation should one expect? "Two, maybe three." Is a large luxurious high taxed home on a thirty year payment plan a good investment? "Absolutely." Is the 30 day new car smell worth seven years of payments? "What are you nuts; of course it is."

I could go on and on and on, but you get the picture; and it's one ugly image. Yet none of the answers above are cast in stone. Most in fact are false and are believed to be true due to our never questioning convention or accepted paradigms.

Here are the correct answers. How many hours should we work each day? What ever amount it takes to provide for a comfortable and happy life. What is the age for retirement? What ever age we are financially able to do so. How many weeks vacation should one expect? Fifty-two if we can get them.

Ya see, someone made up all the rules and they made them up for their benefit, not yours. The good news is that Christmas is coming early this year because you can start disobeying all of these rules tomorrow and the cops won't come and haul you off.

It's unusual to be fiscally smart and a bit of a maverick; but it's not illegal.

Let's go on with the effect of paradigms. Is a large luxurious high taxed home on a thirty year payment plan, along with a two SUVs in the garage (that have lost their new smell but not their seven year payments) a good investment? The answer to this question is directly linked to the questions, "How many hours a day should you work and how old should you be when you retire?"

I'm thinkin' that if you answered yes to the home and car investment questions, that eight hours work per day and age 65 for retirement may be a highly optimistic opinion.

Townsend Whelen wrote more than fifty years ago, "The cost of a thing is the amount of life required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run."

I have considered how I could possibly add to Mr. Whelen's all-telling statement. I can only emphasize that it's your life, don't let non-natural manmade rules dictate how you live it. There are no do-overs.
(c) 2008 Mike Folkerth is not your run-of-the-mill author of economics. Nor does he write in boring lecture style. Not even close. The former real estate broker, developer, private real estate fund manager, auctioneer, Alaskan bush pilot, restaurateur, U.S. Navy veteran, heavy equipment operator, taxi cab driver, fishing guide, horse packer...(I won't go on, it's embarrassing) writes from experience and plain common sense. He is the author of "The Biggest Lie Ever Believed."

The Quotable Quote...

"The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naive and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair."
~~~ H. L Mencken

With Palin McCain Ups Chances Of Beating Obama
By Joel S. Hirschhorn

I applaud John McCain's choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice president nominee. In many ways this choice was far more impressive than Barack Obama's selection of Joe Biden. Better yet, the McCain selection will make the general election campaign far more interesting and competitive.

I say this on the basis of looking at contradictions that the choices raised. Here we have Obama proclaiming endlessly that he was running against the politics of the past, but then he picks an extremely long term senator that is clearly a member of the status quo establishment. Moreover, Obama has kept boasting that he does not take money from lobbyists, but Biden has taken plenty. And then there is the claim of great judgment by Obama for his opposition to the Iraq war, but Biden played an important role as a Democrat in supporting the Bush war.

Palin is a much, much better match with McCain. One relatively small contradiction is that she favors more drilling for oil in Alaska's pristine areas, while McCain has opposed that But beyond that Palin brings something to the game that none of the other three principals does: She is the only one with real executive experience. And in comparison to the other three she has far more solid accomplishments fighting political corruption. Indeed, while Obama talks a good game, Palin is the only one that showed the courage to personally go after high level corrupt politicians - even better, she did this against office holders in her own party. I am impressed. Finally, the whole narrative about the Obamas pulling themselves up from nothing to achieve great things is matched by the Palin story.

During the Democratic convention there was endless talk by the bloviating pundits about their sadness that women have not made it to the top of the political pyramid, even as they kept blabbering about how terrific Hillary Clinton performed. Now McCain puts a woman in exactly the position that so many Democrats wanted Hillary to be in, with a chance to make it to the White House - a very good chance if all the talk about McCain serving just one term (or dying in office) has any chance of happening.

In sum, the selection of Biden was a betrayal to some very important positions and claims of Obama. In contrast, except for one relatively minor position, the selection of Palin was in sync with McCain's political philosophy and positions. The more leftist, progressive side of the Democratic Party has no reason to be thrilled with Biden (who voted for a bankruptcy law that screwed middle class people). But the most conservative wing of the Republican Party has plenty of reason to be thrilled with the Palin selection.

Though Palin may not be sufficient to draw very many women Democrats to vote for the McCain ticket, it may be just as important because it cause many women Democrats to not vote for the Obama ticket. But like most conventional thinkers you are waiting for me to rebut the criticism that Palin has no foreign policy experience. Excuse me, but we have had a few presidents that were governors - think Carter and Clinton - who also had no particular foreign policy experience. So Democrats ought to be cautious in making this criticism of Palin. If McCain wins, she would have ample time and opportunity to become smart about foreign policy. And, oh yes, also remember a former governor Reagan that did pretty well when it came to foreign policy. Enough said.
(c) 2008 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.

Russia Calls NATO's Bluff
By William Pfaff

When a tool is used for the wrong purpose, it may break. NATO has now been broken because it was used by the United States and the European NATO members as a tool for expanding Western power into the Russian "near abroad," and after that, to make an inexplicably rash and dangerous effort to break into and split off portions of the Russian empire as it existed in the 19th century-long before the Soviet Union existed.

This is dangerous, because Russia had to be expected to react, and violently so, to an intrusion into the territorial integrity of the historical Russia. Furthermore, with its assurances of eventual membership, NATO gave implied guarantees to Ukraine and Georgia that it did not intend to honor, or could not honor except at the risk of a war it had no intention of fighting. The outcome of the Georgian affair provides the proof. NATO has been conducting this policy toward Russia on the assumption that Russia is too intimidated by Western military power to resist. Now it has done so, in Georgia. The bluff has been called. The sham of the NATO guarantee has collapsed. Nobody in the West seems willing to admit it.

The Polish and Baltic state governments, the American neoconservatives and acolytes of a "New American Century" of expanding global domination, Vice President Dick Cheney and his friends in the armaments, energy and government services industries, all act as if they do not understand what has happened.

All of these people, and all those in Western Europe who are now demanding immediate admission of Georgia and Ukraine into full NATO membership, are unwittingly doubling the stakes, enlarging their commitment to go to war if Mikheil Saakashvili should make another assault on South Ossetia or Abkhazia in order to re-annex them to Georgia and if Russia again "overreacted."

Of course, they don't mean it, or even understand what they are doing. Or most of them don't; there may be some in Washington today who believe a short and sharp little pre-emptive nuclear attack to disarm Russia might be just the thing, before Russia becomes any stronger. But I don't think there are many people in NATO Europe, or in the United States, prepared to give a nuclear guarantee to Georgian irredentism, or to an attempt to split Ukraine, or intensify its internal divisions.

NATO was founded on Canadian initiative in 1949 as a security alliance of the North American nations with the European military union formed the year before by France, the U.K. and the Benelux countries, to defend against a "resurgent Germany."

The new organization's purpose was to keep the Germans down but also to keep the Russians out. The Cold War had broken out in earnest in 1948, with the Communist coup d'etat in Czechoslovakia. Other European countries joined NATO, and in 1955 a rearmed and rehabilitated Germany became a member of the alliance, which needed its troops.

The organization ultimately saw the Berlin Wall come down and the Soviet Union fatally shaken, and the Soviets' agreeing to the unification of Germany, and of Europe.

This was in 1989, during the administration of the first President George Bush, who convinced his Soviet counterpart, Mikhail Gorbachev, that a free Eastern Europe and a united Germany would benefit the long-term interests of Russia. Gorbachev accepted Germany's unification when he was assured that NATO would not be extended to the East. "Not one inch!" were the exact words of the reply made by Secretary of State James Baker.

That promise was then broken, first by the Clinton administration, then by George W. Bush. Today, the American-led military alliance has been built up to the entire western frontier of Russia, from the Gulf of Finland in the north to the Black Sea. The new members joined NATO for the perfectly good reason that they were afraid (this time) of a "resurgent Russia." They believed that NATO would go to war to defend them, should Russia again become a threat to Europe. However, they did not join in order to take part in an aggressive policy meant to encircle and dismantle Russia. Yet that is what has happened, and Russia has called the bluff.

It is time for the European members of NATO to take a serious hand in this. The question must be asked and answered as to whether the NATO countries wish to continue to pursue an aggressively hostile policy toward Russia. If so, why? To what useful and attainable objective? What is to be gained by supporting Georgia's revanchist demands to control the Ossetian and Abkhazian enclaves, the majority of whose people do not wish to be ruled by Georgia?

What are NATO's intentions with respect to Ukraine? Does it intend to interfere in its internal affairs, to promote the domination of those Ukrainians who are pro-Western and Uniate (Roman) Catholic, over those others who are Russian-speaking and attached to Russia? If so, to what purpose? To force a national split in Ukraine? Or incite civil struggle? What do the NATO governments expect to gain from this? Where are the answers?
(c) 2008 William Pfaff

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Bush,

Dear Justizvollzugsbeamte Fletcher,

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

Without your lock-step calling for the repeal of the Constitution, your support of our two coup d'etats, your willingness to commit acts of treason for the Junta by ending the 1st and fourth amendments to that damned piece of paper, Iraq and these many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Junta Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Iron Cross 1st class with sapphire clusters presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Bush at a gala celebration at "der Wolf's Lair," formally "Rancho de Bimbo," on 10-31-2008. We salute you Herr Fletcher, Sieg Heil!

Vice Fuhrer Cheney

Heil Bush

Federal Government Involved In Raids On Protesters
By Glenn Greenwald

As the police attacks on protesters in Minnesota continue -- see this video of the police swarming a bus transporting members of Earth Justice, seizing the bus and leaving the group members stranded on the side of the highway -- it appears increasingly clear that it is the Federal Government that is directing this intimidation campaign. Minnesota Public Radio reported yesterday that "the searches were led by the Ramsey County Sheriff's office. Deputies coordinated searches with the Minneapolis and St. Paul police departments and the Federal Bureau of Investigation."

Today's Star Tribune added that the raids were specifically "aided by informants planted in protest groups." Back in May, Marcy Wheeler presciently noted that the Minneapolis Joint Terrorist Task Force -- an inter-agency group of federal, state and local law enforcement led by the FBI -- was actively recruiting Minneapolis residents to serve as plants, to infiltrate "vegan groups" and other left-wing activist groups and report back to the Task Force about what they were doing. There seems to be little doubt that it was this domestic spying by the Federal Government that led to the excessive and truly despicable home assaults by the police yesterday.

So here we have a massive assault led by Federal Government law enforcement agencies on left-wing dissidents and protesters who have committed no acts of violence or illegality whatsoever, preceded by months-long espionage efforts to track what they do. And as extraordinary as that conduct is, more extraordinary is the fact that they have received virtually no attention from the national media and little outcry from anyone. And it's not difficult to see why. As the recent "overhaul" of the 30-year-old FISA law illustrated -- preceded by the endless expansion of surveillance state powers, justified first by the War on Drugs and then the War on Terror -- we've essentially decided that we want our Government to spy on us without limits. There is literally no police power that the state can exercise that will cause much protest from the political and media class and, therefore, from the citizenry.

Beyond that, there is a widespread sense that the targets of these raids deserve what they get, even if nothing they've done is remotely illegal. We love to proclaim how much we cherish our "freedoms" in the abstract, but we despise those who actually exercise them. The Constitution, right in the very First Amendment, protects free speech and free assembly precisely because those liberties are central to a healthy republic -- but we've decided that anyone who would actually express truly dissident views or do anything other than sit meekly and quietly in their homes are dirty trouble-makers up to no good, and it's therefore probably for the best if our Government keeps them in check, spies on them, even gets a little rough with them.

After all, if you don't want the FBI spying on you, or the Police surrounding and then invading your home with rifles and seizing your computers, there's a very simple solution: don't protest the Government. Just sit quietly in your house and mind your own business. That way, the Government will have no reason to monitor what you say and feel the need to intimidate you by invading your home. Anyone who decides to protest -- especially with something as unruly and disrespectful as an unauthorized street march -- gets what they deserve.

Isn't it that mentality which very clearly is the cause of virtually everyone turning away as these police raids escalate against citizens -- including lawyers, journalists and activists -- who have broken no laws and whose only crime is that they intend vocally to protest what the Government is doing? Add to that the fact that many good establishment liberals are embarrassed by leftist protesters of this sort and wish that they would remain invisible, and there arises a widespread consensus that these Government attacks are perfectly tolerable if not desirable.

During the Olympics just weeks ago, there was endless hand-wringing over the efforts by the Chinese Government to squelch dissent and incarcerate protesters. On August 21, The Washington Post fretted:

Six Americans detained by police this week could be held for 10 days, according to Chinese authorities, who appear to be intensifying their efforts to shut down any public demonstrations during the final days of the Olympic Games. . . .

Chinese Olympic officials announced last month that Beijing would set up zones where people could protest during the Games, as long as they had received permission. None of the 77 applications submitted was approved, however, and several other would-be protesters were stopped from even applying.

On August 2, The Post gravely warned:

Behind the gray walls and barbed wire of the prison here, eight Chinese farmers with a grievance against the government have been consigned to Olympic limbo.

Their indefinite detainment, relatives and neighbors said, is the price they are paying for stirring up trouble as China prepares to host the Beijing Games. Trouble, the Communist Party has made clear, will not be permitted.

Would The Washington Post ever use such dark and accusatory tones to describe what the U.S. Government does? Of course it wouldn't. Yet how is our own Government's behavior in Minnesota any different than what the Chinese did to its protesters during the Olympics (other than the fact that we actually have a Constitution that prohibits such behavior)? And where are all the self-righteous Freedom Crusaders in our nation's establishment organs who were so flamboyantly criticizing the actions of a Government on the other side of the globe as our own Government engages in the same tyrannical, protest-squelching conduct with exactly the same motives?

Just review what happened yesterday and today. Homes of college-aid protesters were raided by rifle-wielding police forces. Journalists were forcibly detained at gun point. Lawyers on the scene to represent the detainees were handcuffed. Computers, laptops, journals, diaries, and political pamphlets were seized from people's homes. And all of this occurred against U.S. citizens, without a single act of violence having taken place, and nothing more serious than traffic blockage even alleged by authorities to have been planned.

A man whose sister was one of those arrested at one of the raided houses in Minneapolis yesterday emailed me a photograph of her and her friend who was also arrested -

Monica Bicking (r.) and Eryn Trimme -- and he wrote this:

They are still in custody. I've been told that the police have 36 hours to charge her, and that 36 hours starts after the labor day holiday, so they only have to charge her sometime Wednesday. It seems unlikely that they'd do anything to expedite her or Eryn's release.

They were then planning to actually board up her house for unspecified "code violations," but apparently her neighbors were very vocal, and the police ended up agreeing not to do anything so long as the front door was fixed by 6pm (the front door they'd busted in).

Heres is the extraordinary blog item I linked to yesterday from Eileen Clancy, one of the founders of I-Witness Video -- a NYC-based video collective which is in St. Paul to document the policing of the protests around this week's Republican National Convention, just as they did at the 2004 GOP Convention in New York. Clancy wrote this as a plea for help, as the Police surrounded her house and (before they had a search warrant) told everyone inside that they'd be arrested if they exited the home:

This is Eileen Clancy . . . The house where I-Witness Video is staying in St. Paul has been surrounded by police. We have locked all the doors. We have been told that if we leave we will be detained. One of our people who was caught outside is being detained in handcuffs in front of the house. The police say that they are waiting to get a search warrant. More than a dozen police are wielding firearms, including one St. Paul officer with a long gun, which someone told me is an M-16.

We are suffering a preemptive video arrest. For those that don't know, I-Witness Video was remarkably successful in exposing police misconduct and outright perjury by police during the 2004 RNC. Out of 1800 arrests, at least 400 were overturned based solely on video evidence which contradicted sworn statements which were fabricated by police officers. It seems that the house arrest we are now under and the possible threat of the seizure of our computers and video cameras is a result of the 2004 success.

We are asking the public to contact the office of St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman at 651-266-8510 to stop this house arrest, this gross intimidation by police officers, and the detention of media activists and reporters.

That sounds like what it was: a cry for help from a hostage. Hours later, the Police finally obtained a search warrant -- for the wrong house, one adjacent to the house where they were being detained -- and nonetheless broke in, pointing guns, forced them to lay on the floor and handcuffed everyone inside (and handcuffed a National Lawyers Guild attorney outside). They searched the house, arrested nobody, and then left.

Any rational person planning to protest the GOP Convention would, in light of this Government spying and these police raids, think twice -- at least -- about whether to do so. That is the point of the raids -- to announce to citizens that they best stay in their homes and be good, quiet, meek, compliant people unless they want their homes to be invaded, their property seized, and have rifles pointed at them, too. The fact that this behavior is producing so little outcry only ensures, for obvious reasons, that it will continue in the future. We love our Surveillance State for keeping us safe and maintaining nice, quiet order.

_UPDATE: A Professor at the University of Minnesota who lives in the neighborhood where one of the homes was raided yesterday sent photographs he took which rather conclusively demonstrate federal involvement in these raids:

And Feministing has the video -- here -- of the scene yesterday where journalists were detained, along with an interview with the homeowner whose house was raided.
(c) 2008 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy", examines the Bush legacy.

John McCain In A 'Nutshell' - Philanderer, War Pimp, Bush Policy Clone, and Neocon Liar...
Without his shell, McCain is simply a nut that needs to be cracked, picked apart and exposed
By Vincent L. Guarisco

Back in April 2007, I wrote a zinger about the foolish maverick John McCain after he returned from his triumphant walkabout on the brutal streets of Baghdad. Johnny Boy headed straight for the public airways, where he smirkingly gushed that the streets of Iraq are now 'safe.' The foolish war pimp tried to sell the lie that everything was cozy and secure, even as he strutted around wearing his bulletproof vest, surrounded by a heavily armed military entourage buzzing in air and on the ground all around him. Indeed, according to McCain, Baghdad was safe then, and it's even safer today.

Gee, pass the prozac! I guess we're supposed to forget about the scores of GIs and civilians who have since met their brutal end in the very place McCain pranced around. Funny how ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, FOX and the rest of the sorry corporate media failed to do follow-up stories, to show those same streets marred with puddles of blood laced with intestinal tracks, brain matter -- clogged with body parts and various limbs scattered about on those same safe streets. When McCain made his announcement, more than 3,200 of his fellow servicemen and women had been slaughtered in Iraq, millions of Iraqis had been displaced, forced to flee the country or killed outright. Today, 4,147 Americans have been killed and we'll never know how many Iraqis, because we don't do body counts.

Moving right along...

I am a long-time resident and ardent voter in McCain's conservative home state of Arizona. I have lived near the banks of the Colorado River for the better part of 40 years. I'm a proud progressive liberal minority living among many hard-line Republicans in my local area, although I gladly admit the times are changing. The economic hardship under Bush's leadership is quickly changing the political landscape, moving my locals away from their once cherished right-wing stewardship. Thank God for small miracles...

For me, the McCain saga began years ago. As a young boy, I still remember hearing stories about John McCain's legacy as a hero. He first caught my attention when his plane got shot down during the Vietnam war and he was captured by the Viet Cong and imprisoned as a POW in the jungles of Hanoi back in 1967. At the time, being a young faithful lad, I prayed daily, not only for McCain, but for the safe return of all our POWs. Our teachers and parents, unlike those of today, were diligent in keeping us updated on what was happening over there during the war.

In 1969, I was ten years old. I was an impressionable school kid who was encouraged by my parents and teachers to write many letters to soldiers and POWs captured in Vietnam. I did this with great reverence; I was proud to show my support. Looking back on it now, it seems like a million years ago. When I first entered the political fray I was very naive -- just beginning to learn about the worldly tribulations of war and, with puberty factored in, I was also learning the value of family morals, love and commitment. Heck, I had just barely held the hand of my first girl friend and soon afterwards received my very first kiss. Ah yes, It was an exciting, innocent time mixed with love, war, hard knocks and many pleasurable moments. And I will never deny I was an excited impressionable boy who deeply admired my war hero, John McCain! He was an inspiration that guided my hand for many letters written to him personally, and to other GIs as well.

To be fair, I agree with those who maintain that McCain deserves our highest respect for his devoted service to our country, including what he went through during his captivity as a POW. Sadly, however, my respect for him abruptly ended when the mud wore off the bottom of his combat boots soon after he returned in 1973. He soon shattered that youthful admiration, which was replaced with a real lesson in 'betrayal' when I realized what he had done to his first wife, Carol Shepp, after he returned from Vietnam. Having knowledgeable parents is indeed educational, but not always pleasant to say the least. I was completely thrown back to learn that John had several extra-marital affairs and was often unfaithful to his loyal wife who had stood by his side through thick and thin. For me, it was a shameful, dark lesson that ultimately shadowed my view of him as I watched him heartlessly divorce her in order to further his shameful political aspirations.

As an emerging student of current events and history, my admiration for him was always a duel package. I sincerely admired Carol as much as him. I took great pride and interest in her too. To me, she was one of the most admired women of her day -- a sacrosanct patriot who deserved to be seated in the front row of Fourth of July parades next to Gold Star Mothers. She was a heroine, widely admired and loved by all of us for her unwavering devotion to her husband who was held as POW.

Carol was a rare, lonely soul who had the strength to carry on and to faithfully await her husband's return. And she did this at a time when many other wives and girlfriends were writing 'Dear John' letters to those still fighting in battle while learning they had no one to come home to. She was my revered role model from Philadelphia. I dreamed of meeting that special someone who might be just like her -- a precious angel. Unfortunately, Carol was thrown through the windshield of her car in a terrible accident that changed her life forever, rendering her permanently scarred and hobbling on crutches. As a result, Carol was a not-so-pleasant sight for her young unsympathetic husband who wanted to be seen on Capital Hill with a bathing beauty while stumping the halls for a new political career.

John McCain totally destroyed my respect for him with the uncaring, selfish, cold-hearted betrayal in how he dumped her. Indeed, I will never forget nor forgive him for the cruel way he showed his true colors. He quickly threw Carol aside and replaced her with Cindy Hensley, his new rich sugar mama, with whom he was having an affair. Hensley is a spoiled home wrecker, worth approximately 100 million, bred from the loins of a staunch Republican father who conveniently helped elevate Johnny boy within the DC realm. I'm not into Freud, but it's easy to wonder who came so ruthlessly after McCain -- Cindy...or her father?

And this self-righteous, self-serving animal wants my vote? Well, it will have to be a Hell's-Kitchen-burning-white-hot-winter November day in Bullhead City, Arizona before I would even consider putting a checkmark next to his pathetic name in the 2008 Presidential Election. Catch my meaning? Good.

As a final note, after Carol suffered her horrible car accident in 1969, she unselfishly refused to allow her POW husband to be notified of her serious injuries for fear it would not be good for him while he was being held captive. You know, out here in the Arizona desert we have an old saying -- if you put an expensive skirt on a fast moving rattlesnake, political horn-dogs like John McCain will chase it all the way to the Potomac River for a kiss, a hug and especially a vote...

I could go on about the many neocon atrocities McCain has performed throughout his career as a Senator and war pimp for the Bush administration. It's an endless track record -- most of which is public record, easily found for those willing to take the time. So, for all you undecided skeptics, by all means, review his voting record for it is unbridled proof of how he constantly sold us out to K-street lobbyists. His record speaks for itself, the facts and figures are all there which prove he's not on the side of working-class America. In fact, by his own admission, he does not even know how many homes he owns. And keep in mind, McCain believes Americans are not 'rich' unless they earn $5 million or more. Well, I hate to burst his multi-mansion bubble but, take a quick pop-quiz and ask a few average citizens who are now struggling to make ends meet -- how tough it is to hold onto their 'one' home that many are just one paycheck away from losing. Yeah, I'd say McCain is more than a little out of touch with our bottom-feeding needs to say the least.

Or ask a dozen or so jobless Americans who have already lost everything, including their homes. No confusion there folks. In fact, after living in their cars for awhile or, worse yet, after sleeping on concrete sidewalks, most of them would probably consider any cheap apartment to be the equivalent of one of McCain's many mansions. And, bear in mind that McCain's veteran 'brothers in arms' are at the top of the list of homeless. Brother John, can you spare a dime?

McCain has 'arrived.' He's a real Bush kinda guy -- a marriage profiteering elitist who seems content to suffer from mansion-memory-loss and wants to be our next President. He is a pompous philanderer who dumped his crippled wife for a new pampered rich one whose daddy got him where he is today. Amazing.

Bottom line, many of you may have some reservations in supporting Barack Obama or Joseph Biden but, compared to Baghdad (neocon) Johnny, they are fricking saints. But at least no one can deny, they are both loyal and totally committed to those they love. Is it really that hard to believe they may actually share some of that proven compassion with us in their new leadership? Well, if not, consider the alternative choice. Yes, consider the harsh implications of placing another known war hawk into the Oval office for four more grueling years. An old stale nut who says he wants to keep us in 'safe' Iraq for another hundred years. A musical maniac who loves to sing: 'Bomb, bomb, bomb...bomb Iran.' And, oh yes -- while you're at it, tell 'Johnny Rich' how many mansions and condos he really owns. But most importantly, and this is crucial, let's remove this nut from his media protected shell, for all the world to see.
(c) 2008 Vincent L. Guarisco is a freelance writer from Bullhead City AZ., a contributing writer for many web sites, and a lifetime member of the Alliance of Atomic Veterans. The 21st century, once so full of shining promise, now threatens to force countless millions of us at home and abroad into a dark abyss of languishing poverty and silent servitude; a lowly prodigy of painful struggle and suffering that could stream for generations to come. I'm wishing for a miracle, before it is too late, the masses will figure it out and will stand as one and roar. So, pass the word - it's past time to take back what is ours - the American Dream where the pursuit of happiness, the ability to live in a free and peaceful nation is a reality. We bought it, and we paid for it. It's time to take it back. Replies welcomed at: vincespainting1@hotmail.com.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Clay Jones ~~~

W the Movie Theater Trailer

To End On A Happy Note...

The Hands Of Victor Jara
By Chuck Brodsky

The hands of Victor Jara
Were chopped off at the wrists
But still they point a finger
And they raise a mighty fist
There is a revolution
It might be in your backyard
It might be some place like Chile
Or it might be in your heart

The voice of Victor Jara
Was cut out at the tongue
But that does not stop the singing
Songs need to be sung_
He sang about his people
They were not the privileged few
And nothing that's dictated
Will ever ring as true

The blood of Victor Jara
Will never wash away
It just keeps on turning
A little redder every day
As anger turns to hatred
And hatred turns to guns
Children lose their fathers
And mothers lose their sons

The soul of Victor Jara
Hangs on a white cross
Life was his religion
Not for sale at any cost
He defied the generals' orders
By not singing their refrain
In front of all those frightened people
He did not give his life in vain

The hands of Victor Jara
They're strumming the guitar
Down in the Paris Metro
Or in front of the Kerrtry Store
And they hold onto a promise
That torture cannot break
Truer than the average, the hands of Victor Jara
They do not shake
(c) 1996/2008 Chuck Brodsky

Have You Seen This...

I'm Voting Republican

Parting Shots...

McCain: Obama Lacks Experience Running 5,000-Person Town In Alaska
Extolls Veep Pick's Qualifications
By Andy Borowitz

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) used the announcement of his vice-presidential pick, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, to blast the experience of his Democratic rival, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill), arguing that Sen. Obama has never been the mayor of a 5,000-person town.

"The Presidency of the United States of America is the toughest job on the planet," Sen. McCain said. "And my friends, the best testing ground for that job is being the mayor of a 5,000-person town in Alaska."

Sen. McCain unleashed a savage attack on Sen. Obama, claiming that his Democratic opponent would be "at a loss" when faced with the challenges of running a 5000-person municipality in Alaska.

"Let's say a constituent calls you and says that a caribou has wandered onto his front lawn," he said. "My friends, Barack Obama wouldn't know what to do."

He used the hypothetical situation to draw a sharp contrast with his vice-presidential choice: "Sarah Palin would take out her gun and shoot the caribou."

Mr. McCain said that an understanding of foreign affairs, Congress, and other issues that a president has to deal with is "overrated," adding, "That's what 'Presidency for Dummies' is for."

While saying that her "vast experience" was the main reason he selected Gov. Palin, Sen. McCain said that she also had the other three qualifications he was looking for in a vice president: "She is pro-life, pro-drilling, and willing to housesit."
(c) 2008 Andy Borowitz


The Gross National Debt

View my page on indieProducer.net

Zeitgeist The Movie...

Issues & Alibis Vol 8 # 35 (c) 09/05/2008

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."