Death In Family, No 09-19-08 Edition.

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In This Edition

Naomi Klein revisits, "New Orleans: The City That Won't Be Ignored."

Uri Avnery remembers the, "Lonely Rider."

Victoria Stewart requires, "Voting Conscience."

Jim Hightower reveals, "What McCain's VP Choice Says About Him."

Neil McLaughlin presents, "The Top Twelve Foods For Long Term Storage."

Mike Adams reports, "What The Drug Companies Really Want."

Cynthia McKenny's remarks at the, "'Fighting Bob' Fest."

Chris Floyd with a must read, "Surge Protectors."

Captain Eric H May with the weather report, "Occult IKE -- Geo-War 9/11."

Mike Folkerth reviews, "The Adoption Of Freddie And Fannie."

Jason Miller concludes, "Yes, We're Matricidal."

William Pfaff sees, "The Cold War Reversed."

St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Glenn Greenwald outs, "The Mighty, Scary Press Corps."

Sam Harris explores, "Brain Science And Human Values."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department the fabulous Betty Bowers returns with, "Introducing Caribou Barbie" but first Uncle Ernie is "Recalling Acts Of Treason: 911 Revisited."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Mike Keefe with additional cartoons and photos from Brian McFadden, Micah Wright, Mike Wrathell, Dan Berger, Jeff Danziger, Megadeath, Jen, Code Pink Alert.Org, Betty Bowers, NOAA, 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."

Recalling Acts of Treason: 911 Revisited
By Ernest Stewart

"I know 9-11 was an inside job, the police know it's an inside job, and the firemen know it too."
~~~ New York City auxiliary fire lieutenant Paul Isaac, Jr. ~~~

"It is unacceptable for Iran to possess a nuclear weapon. It would be a game changer. It's sufficient to say I would not take military action off the table, and that I will never hesitate to use our military force in order to protect the homeland and the United States' interests." ~~~ Barrak Obama 09-04-08

For my military knowledge, though I'm plucky and adventury,
Has only been brought down to the beginning of the century;
But still, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.
The Pirates of Penzance ~~~ Gilbert and Sullivan

The seventh anniversary of the false flag attack known as 911 has come and gone with the promise of another one on the horizon. It was, of course, the fourth time we've attacked ourselves for political and monetary gain.

Our first "Reichstag Fire" was Pearl Harbor. You may recall when FDR set up the Japanese to attack us? You'll remember that the governments of Great Britain, the Netherlands, Australia, Peru, Korea, and the Soviet Union warned the U.S. that Japan was planning to attack Pearl Harbor. Robert Stinett, a decorated naval veteran of World War II who served under Lt. George H.W. Bush, examined thousands of U.S. government documents declassified under the Freedom of Information Act proving that FDR knew about the planned attack on Pearl Harbor but allowed it to happen. According to materials published by the National Security Agency in 1994, the JN-25B code had been cracked in December 1940. The entire Pearl Harbor attack plan was revealed by that code which was regularly used in messages intercepted by U.S. military intelligence. FDR did more than just allow the attack to happen. A memo declassified in 1988 and written on October 7, 1940 by Navy Lt. Commander and Japan expert Arthur McCollum outlined an eight-point plan designed to provoke Japan into a first strike against the United States. These provocations included deploying U.S. warships in Japanese waters, seizing Japanese assets in the United States, and a total embargo on Japan. All eight points of this plan were carried out by FDR before the attack on Pearl Harbor. All this done so we could become #1 and rule the world.

For those of you who say the Junta couldn't keep a secret if their lives depended upon it, I agree. Just remember the WWII information didn't come out until the late 80s and mid 90s. Be patient and similar proof will come to light about 911, too. In fact, a lot of it already has but the Sheeple being the Sheeple...

Our second false flag was a little operation called Operation 34A, also know as the Gulf of Tonkin incident. You'll recall we claimed North Vietnamese PT boats attacked a pair of US destroyers in international waters off Vietnam. Actually, those destroyers were trying to get the Vietnamese to attack the ships by shelling Vietnam, thus committing an act or war. Again, the war related industries and body bag manufactures were the only winners. Half a million US kids were wounded and 60,000 died. 3 million South East Asians were slaughtered to make a buck for our corpo-rat elite. Unlike WWII, the Vietnam war destroyed our economy, forcing us off the gold standard and beginning our long downhill slide.

During this time just before current presidential contender Johnny McCain began his long stay at an apartment in downtown Hanoi with his two hooker spy friends, his daddy was running an "Operation Northwood's" project for LBJ, i.e., the attack on the USS Liberty. You'll remember how Israel attacked and tried to sink the Liberty at LBJ's bidding in order to blame the ship's loss on Egypt so we could enter the war and save Israel while gaining permanent bases in the Middle East. Does that ring any deja vue bells, America? Trouble was, the ship didn't sink and, even though they called back American fighters before they could intervene, the truth got out before she could be sunk and the survivors were sworn to either keep it secret or face a firing squad. It took another 30 years for the truth to come out, but come out it did.

Our fourth false flag attack was 911 where, like in WWII, a number of countries warned us that the attack was coming. Issues & Alibis found at least 7 countries that warned us but Robert (Robin) Cook, the British Foreign Secretary, said the number was 11. These countries told us who, when, where, why and how. Of course, as 911 was another CIA operation, we already knew about it and stood the air force down lest they intervene and spoil the plot. I figured it out in July when Bush went to Genoa and took his own missile battery with him. The Italians had uncovered a plot to fly an airliner into the G8 meeting building. That's when I knew they'd attack the WTC, which had just missed being destroyed in `93, and would, no doubt, go for the Pentagon, Langley and the US Capitol with airliners as well. My only mistake was the date, which I got wrong by a week. Not seeing the now obvious 911, I thought the day after Labor Day, one week earlier, would be the best time to strike. I came to this conclusion after the announcements in June that pilots would no longer be able to carry guns aboard airliners, something started under JFK and allowed right up until that time. It was also announced that all Junta members would henceforth fly only in air force planes! Not to mention our good friends the Taliban turned down our offers of a carpet of gold for letting Cheney build his pipeline through Afghanistan and decided they'd rather have a carpet of bombs, which was our other offer. Much like the Kennedy sanction, the CIA set up it's own, Osama and the CIA group Al Qaeda, like they did in Dallas with Lee Harvey Oswald, another CIA operative. If you've seen the photo of George HW Bush leaning up against the Book Depository building moments after the motorcade sped away, you'll no doubt recall that smirk on his face!

The conclusion to all of this is that eventually the truth about 911 will come out and will be recognized by all but only after the participates are long since dead just as with WWII and the USS Liberty. As Papa Smirk once said, "If the people knew what we had done, they would chase us down the street and lynch us."

In Other News

I see that Barry had a little Freudian slip the other day. (See above video) Is he a Muslim or a Christian? Does that matter? Does Palin's talking in tongues bother you? Being a Pentecostal, she's liable to do that at any time. For example if old "wet start" bites the big one and Sarah takes the reins and, while making a speech at the United Nations, breaks into gibberish before the world, would that bother you? In the abstract, it bothers me but not in reality. What bothers me about Barry, Johnny, Joe and Sarah is that they're all war hawks, with Johnny, Barry and Joe being war criminals! Then there's Sarah stating that we sent troops to fight in Iraq as a "task from God!" Who's that standing by that signpost up ahead? Why it's Rod Serling!

Time and time again, they've all spoken out in favor of that never ending war our corpo-rat masters want so that they can get rid of most of us and have the world to themselves. Our masters' agents of change are the above four who will carry their plans to expand the war. Johnny, Sarah and Joe want to invade Iran. Barry wants to do that and attack Pakistan as well! No matter who wins we'll get basically the same results as Joe once said on The Daily Show, "John McCain is a personal friend, a great friend, and I would be honored to run with or against John McCain, because I think the country would be better off, be well off no matter who won!" Uh huh!

Of course, the election itself may be just smoke and mirrors anyway. What with most of the country still voting on electronic, paperless, non-traceable, rat-wing corpo-rat owned machines the outcome may have already been programmed, tallied and counted! Ergo, the next eight weeks of campaigning, rabble rousing and photo ops could be simply entertainment for the masses.

Of course, you could do something that just might make a difference. Most Americans won't bother voting because the main parties just run the same old bunch of crooks and thieves, so why bother? If the folks who are planning on sitting this one out would instead go to the polls and vote, we might be able to save the day and stop the World War which is just a few months away. If these folks would register and vote for Cynthia and Rosa all this madness that we've seen in the last 7 1/2 years could be ended and repairs made to our tattered Constitution and Bill of Rights. We could end the wars and their war crimes and bring those responsible to justice for their crimes instead of letting them get away with mass murder, war crimes, crimes against humanity, the theft of trillions of your tax dollars, the destruction of three countries, i.e., Iraq, Afghanistan and America. You could do this and ensure your children and their children a decent, safe, healthy place to live. If we don't prevent it, either Barry or Johnny will lead us off into that brave new world of death and destruction. As H.L. Mencken said, "People deserve the government they get, and they deserve to get it good and hard."

And Finally

From what I understand, there are still a few buildings in Afghanistan that are standing and haven't been turned back into dust yet? Accordingly, Major General Jeffrey Schloesser, Commander of Combined Joint Task Force-101 and Commanding General of the 101st Airborne Division wants more troops sent to Afghanistan to get the job done!

Jeffy says, "Though U.S., coalition and Afghan troops are making steady progress against increasingly active insurgent forces in Afghanistan, it's time to turn up the heat. I believe that more forces are required. And I think that over the next several months we can put them, certainly, to good use." "I'd like to speed it up," Schloesser said of the anti-insurgent campaign's pace in Afghanistan. He estimated that a troop increase on the order of "a series of thousands" would be of sufficient size.

"I'm going to ask for more troops. I think it's pretty commonly known that I already have," Schloesser said. "And, I'm optimistic that we'll potentially see them in the coming months."

Apparently we've only managed to slaughter a few tens of thousands and wound a paltry hundred thousand or so women and children in "Operation Secure The Pipeline." It's obvious the general feels we're not getting the biggest bang for our buck and wants to step up the slaughter. What with the $ billions spent on the new "children seeking" smart bombs in the inventory just lying around, going to waste.

Then, of course, with more cross border raids into Pakistan, he hasn't the troops to finish the job of wiping out the towel heads before he's sent home. He fears if he doesn't up the ante a bit he'll never get that fourth star!

Sorry, Jeffy, most of the troops who are leaving Iraq and sent to Afghanistan are for the pre-invasion build up along the border of Iran. You'll have to make do with the US and NATO troops that you already have to finish the job on the Afghanis. However, you might take the money given for the rebuilding of Afghanistan and buy, instead, some soldiers of fortune from Blackwater to do your dirty work? These mercenaries really enjoy the work of slaughtering and raping women and children and will certainly help you in suppressing and intimidating the populace!

Jeffy added, "Meanwhile, there is absolutely no way that the enemy will triumph in Afghanistan. We're not losing this war, and we won't lose it even if additional troops don't show up in the next several months." Which, to me sounds like we're losing the war. What's that sound like to you?


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


05-03-1953 ~ 09-04-2008
Free at last!

08-04-1910 ~ 09-06-2008
R.I.P. sweetie!


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


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


So how do you like 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."

New Orleans: The City That Won't Be Ignored
By Naomi Klein

The early results are in: Hurricane Gustav has helped John McCain's bid for the White House. This is nothing short of incredible.

In the combination of New Orleans and hurricanes, we have the most powerful argument possible for the necessity of "change." It's all there: gaping inequality, deep racism, crumbling public infrastructure, global warming, rampant corruption, the Blackwater-ization of the public sector. And none of it is in the past tense. In New Orleans whole neighborhoods have gone to seed, Charity Hospital remains shuttered, public housing has been deliberately destroyed--and the levee system is still far from repaired.

Gustav should have been political rat poison for the Republicans, no matter how well it was managed. Yet, as Peter Baker noted in the New York Times, "rather than run away from the hurricane and its political risks, Mr. McCain ran toward it." If this strategy worked, it was at least partly because Barack Obama has been running away from New Orleans for his entire campaign.

Unlike John Edwards, who started and ended his nomination bid surrounded by the decay of New Orleans's Ninth Ward, Obama has shied away from the powerful symbolism the city offers. He waited almost a year after Hurricane Katrina to visit New Orleans and spent just half a day there ahead of the Louisiana primary. During the Democratic National Convention, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden made no mention of New Orleans in their keynotes. Bill Clinton spared just two words: "Katrina and cronyism."

In his Denver speech, Obama did invoke a government "that sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes." But that only scratches the surface of what happened to New Orleans's poorest residents, who were first forcibly relocated and then forced to watch from afar as their homes, schools and hospitals were stolen. As Obama spoke in Denver, families in New Orleans were already packing their bags in anticipation of Gustav, steeling themselves for yet another evacuation. They heard not even a perfunctory "our thoughts and prayers are with you" from the Democratic candidate for President.

There are plenty of political reasons for this, of course. Obama's campaign is pitching itself to the middle class, not the class of discarded people New Orleans represents. The problem is that by remaining virtually silent about the most dramatic domestic outrage in modern US history, Obama created a political vacuum. When Gustav hit, all McCain needed to do to fill it was show up. Sure, it was cynical for McCain to claim the hurricane zone as a campaign backdrop. But it was Obama who left that potent terrain as vacant as a lot in the Lower Ninth Ward.

Until now, Obama's supporters have largely accepted the campaign's assessment of the compromises necessary to win, offering only gentle prodding. The fact that the Republicans have managed to turn New Orleans to their advantage should put a decisive end to this blind obedience.

Republicans have a better attitude toward their candidate. When they don't like McCain's positions, they simply change them. Take the hottest-button issue of the campaign: offshore oil drilling. Just four months ago, it was not even on the radar. During the Republican primary, the issue barely came up, and when it did, McCain did not support it. None of this bothered former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and his newly minted American Solutions for Winning the Future. Gingrich waited patiently for what his party loves most: a crisis. It arrived in May, when oil approached $130 a barrel. First came a petition to lower gas prices by opening up domestic drilling (nonsense). Next was a poll, packed with laughably leading questions: "Some people have suggested that, to combat the rising cost of energy and reduce dependence on foreign energy sources, the United States should use more of its own domestic energy reserves, including the oil and coal it already has here in the United States. Do you support or oppose this idea?" You can guess what people said. Two weeks later, McCain flipped on offshore oil drilling.

There was always a risk attached to making offshore drilling the centerpiece of the McCain campaign, since it is not nearly as safe as its advocates claim. Environmentalists have been trying to point this out, but nothing makes the case quite as forcefully as a Category 5 hurricane rocking oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, forcing evacuations and raising the specter of a serious spill.

Gustav was one of those rare moments when political arguments are made by reality, not rhetoric. It was the time to simply point and say: "This is why we oppose more drilling." It was also the time to recall that during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the official Minerals Management Service report found more than 100 accidents leading to a total of 743,400 gallons of oil spilled throughout the region. To put that figure in perspective, 100,000 gallons is classified as a "major spill." If one is feeling particularly bold, a Category 5 hurricane is also an opportune time to mention that scientists see a link between heavier storms and warming ocean temperatures--warmed in part by the fossil fuels being extracted from those fallible platforms.

Obama was not able to make these kinds of arguments when Gustav hit. That's because his campaign had made another "strategic" decision: to compromise on offshore oil drilling. Again a vacuum that had been opened up was rapidly filled by the Republicans, who instantly (and absurdly) linked the hurricane to the need for "energy security." The morning after Gustav made landfall, Bush called for more drilling. Earlier, McCain had visited the hurricane zone with his new running mate, Sarah Palin, whose sole prior claim to national fame was telling cable shows that "we need to drill, drill, drill."

In moments of crisis, it is possible to speak hard truths with great force and clarity. But when the truth has gone silent, lies, boldly told, work almost as well.
(c) 2008 Naomi Klein is the author of, "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism."

Lonely Rider
By Uri Avnery

AT THE funeral of Abie Nathan, I said to myself: the Israel-as-it-is takes its leave from the Israel-as-it-could-have-been.

From the state that we dreamed of when it was founded. A state where moral considerations govern both domestic and foreign policy. A state whose citizens take responsibility for their own actions and the actions of their country.

Abie Nathan symbolized these aspirations, not in theory, but in practice - by his own deeds.

I WAS an eye-witness to the birth of this Abie.

At the end of the 50s, coming home from a few days abroad, I heard the latest news from the Tel-Aviv scene: some members of the air-crew of El Al had opened a new café in the very center of the city, at the corner of Disengoff and Frishman.

We liked "California" from the beginning, not least because of the host, a pilot called Abie. It was said that he was born in Iran and had grown up in India, had joined the Royal Air Force there and had volunteered as one of our first pilots in the 1948 war.

Abie was 33 at the time, with a dark complexion and a broad smile. He spoke mostly English, or Hebrew with a marked English accent. He was a perfect host and knew how to make his guests feel special, as if they were his personal friends. Within a short time, the place became the meeting-point of Tel-Aviv's Bohemians - the group of artists, writers, media people, celebrities and night-lifers who had turned Tel-Aviv into the center of the country's social life. Politicians, too, were attracted by the liveliness of the place.

The restaurant 's life revolved around him: when he was absent for a few weeks, the clients, too, disappeared. He knew how to pamper people, offer drinks "on the house," and prepare the special dishes people liked. There were also "regular tables." (The table I joined on Friday afternoons still convenes to this very day.)

The young state of those days was optimistic, fermenting, a paradise for young people. The new Hebrew culture with its authors, poets, theaters and satirical programs was flourishing, and the Bohemians of Tel-Aviv set the tone. Their organ was "Haolam Hazeh," a radically anti-establishment weekly magazine, whose editor I was.

One day in the summer of 1965 Abie took me aside and asked for my opinion. Some friends, he said, were urging him to run for the Knesset.

Frankly, my first reaction was that it was a practical joke. But after some days, I realized that he was deadly serious. Abie, who saw the politicians at his tables and listened to their conversations, asked himself: Why are they any better than I?

A small group of friends from among the clients of the restaurant gathered around him. They were "with it" people, and egged him on. What had started as a game was to have far-reaching consequences.

I MUST confess that it made me angry.

A short time before, the government had enacted a new press law that was quite openly intended to muzzle Haolam Hazeh. It mandated draconian punishments for newspapers that published "evil tongue" (Hebrew for libel), clearly intended to stop our revelations about government figures. In response, a group of peace and human rights activists founded a movement that represented the radical line of the magazine: peace with the Palestinians, the fight against corruption, separation between state and religion, social solidarity. They called it the "Haolam Hazeh - New Force Movement." It was an audacious endeavor: until then, no one had ever succeeded in breaking into the Knesset with a new political force- at the time it an exclusive club of old-established parties and their splinter groups.

Our movement appealed to the young generation that had grown up in the country. Abie's list was liable to attract to itself parts of this public, the size of which was uncertain and perhaps too small to satisfy the minimum percentage clause. It seemed to me an irresponsible game.

Abie's friends, among them some public relations people, were looking for way to draw attention to his list. They hit upon a gimmick: some years before, Dwight Eisenhower had been elected after promising to "fly to Korea" in order to end the war there. Well, Abie was pilot, why not promise that he would fly to Egypt?

Egypt was then the main enemy of Israel. Nine years before, Israel had attacked it in collusion with two colonial powers, France and Britain. Everybody understood that going there was a very dangerous undertaking.

Abie acquired a small airplane, painted it white and named it "Peace 1." It was displayed in an empty plot near the restaurant. One of his friends composed a popular jingle.

However, the gimmick did not work. Abie's list got only 2135 votes, far from the minimum required. The Haolam Hazeh list attained 1.5% of the vote throughout the country, and I was elected. If we had had the support of all of Abie's voters, we would have won a second seat.

That could have been the end of the story - but something had happened to Abie. The idea that had started as an election gimmick took hold of him. The extrovert, carefree restaurateur, the darling of the Bohemians, started to treat the matter of peace very seriously.

A few months after the elections, in the middle of a meeting in the Knesset, somebody brought me the startling news: Abie was on his way to Egypt. In the morning he had climbed into his plane and just taken off. The whole country was holding its breath. And than the blow fell: the radio announced that his plane had been shot down, and that it was unclear whether Abie had survived.

The public was shattered. Agitated people, some of them weeping openly, were glued to the radios. And then came another exciting announcement: Abie had not been shot down after all, but had landed safely in Port Said and been cordially received by the Egyptian governor.

A brilliant playwright could not have wrung the public heart more effectively. True, the Egyptians did not take Abie to meet Gamal Abd-al-Nasser, the already legendary Egyptian leader, but they refueled his plane and sent him home with all respect.

Nobody who lived through that day in Israel will ever forget the experience. As for myself, I stopped doubting Abie's sincerity and started to see his actions in a new light.

WE DID not become partners. Abie had no partners. He paid no attention to the views of others, doing everything according to his own lights. Like the first flight, all his actions were intensely personal: he took the initiative, he made the decision, he implemented it. He took personal responsibility for everything and took the consequences upon himself. But he had a very important talent: to infect others with his driving enthusiasm, even for tasks that seemed impossible and altogether fantastical. Some of those who accompanied him then remained faithful to him to his last day.

His strength and his weakness was this "lone rider" style. He never founded a movement and never joined one. He never adopted a political program. These things did not interest him. He was not moved by the need for the creation of a political force that could have an impact on government policy. He left these tasks to others. He was a person of emotions, and all his actions appealed to emotions.

That was a new thing. The Israeli peace camp, with all its factions, always appeals to logic. It tries to persuade the Israeli public that peace is necessary for the existence, the future, the security and the well-being of the State of Israel. But politics is not only a matter of logic. Emotions play an important role. As I insist again and again: in politics it is not rational to ignore the irrational. Abie acted from the heart, and thus touched the hearts of people.

He also had another big advantage: he was an Oriental Jew. The Israeli peace camp is almost exclusively Ashkenazi (of European origin). In the annual 100,000 strong memorial demonstrations in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, the absence of the Oriental public is very obvious. Many Oriental people believe that the whole thing about peace is really only a matter for the "Ashkenazi elite". And here comes a man born in Abadan, Iran, with a very pronounced Oriental appearance, and a down-to-earth approach.

Abie became an authentic Oriental hero. One can argue about how many people the admiration for the man Abie has really attracted to the struggle for peace. But for some years, "peace" (four letters in Hebrew) stopped being a four-letter word for this public.

MUCH HAS been written about his exploits, and I need not enumerate them here. His commitment to peace became wider and deeper. He sold his restaurant and bought a ship. It stood idle in New York harbor, was moved from pier to pier and rusted, until he had collected enough money to equip it, sail it to Israel and establish "The Voice of Peace". It anchored off the shore of Tel-Aviv (and was for years the first sight I saw through my window in the morning). It became a part of Israeli life.

This, too, was a typical Abie enterprise. There was no editorial staff, nor any clear political-educational program. The voice of Peace was Abie, and Abie was the Voice of Peace. A large audience of young people listened regularly to the station's excellent music, and incidentally absorbed Abie's sermons in English or English-accented elementary Hebrew. He voiced his musings any time and any way the spirit moved him, interspersed with interviews with peace activists. His voice became familiar to every Israeli. When Big Money moved into the advertising field and he stopped getting advertisements, he almost went bankrupt. As a protest, he sunk his ship in a ceremonial act.

All along, Abie remained a very lonely person. Only after his death did I hear that he had parents and sisters in Israel and had broken off all communication with them. He also had two daughters from different women, but with them, too, his connection was fragile. Perhaps his character and stormy lifestyle did not allow him a family life, and perhaps the reason was that he had been sent as a child to a boarding school and until the end - as he told an interviewer - never forgave his parents.

He compensated for his loneliness by inviting lots of friends to the big parties he held at home, pampering his guests with exotic Indian food which he spent hours preparing himself with his faithful Indian helper, Rada. It was during one of these parties in 1977, on the roof of his apartment, that we heard the bitter news that the Likud had come to power.

AFTER THE Yom Kippur War he flew to Egypt again, this time on a commercial flight, hoping to meet the Egyptian President. Something in the preparations went wrong. On arrival at Cairo airport, he saw that there was nobody there to receive him. He made his way to a hotel in the center of the city, and, alone in his room, became more and more worried that he might be mistaken for a spy. He made a frantic call to Eric Rouleau, a well-connected French journalist in Paris who contacted his friends in the Egyptian government. Soon some senior Egyptian intelligence officers arrived, took Abie on a tour of the city and put him on a plane home.

His lone-rider actions became wider and more frequent. He started a hunger strike against the establishment of settlements in the occupied territories and put up a tent in the center of Tel Aviv. It became a focus for celebrities who came to express admiration. Only with great difficulty was he persuaded to stop before some irreparable harm should come to him.

He met with Yasser Arafat when this was absolutely forbidden and - unlike me - was twice sent to prison for this. The law under which he was condemned was enacted by the government of Shimon Peres, a fact that did not prevent Peres from eulogizing Abie last week with much emotion.

During the Nigerian civil war, when it became known that people were dying of hunger in Biafra, Abie went there and organized a salvation effort. When hunger broke out in Ethiopia, he set up a tent city there and brought relief. On his return, he complained bitterly about the big bureaucratic international aid organizations, which wasted so much money and brought so little relief, because of their condescending attitude towards the natives.

Another time he organized a children's gathering, asking the children to give up their war toys in return for others. The tanks and warplanes were destroyed on the spot. His theatrical streak was in the foreground on all these occasions.

At the time when the Israeli government was cooperating with the South African apartheid regime, Abie was one of the few people in the country to protest loudly against this abhorrent policy.

All the actions that emanated from his fertile mind had much in common: they demanded personal courage, self-confidence, imagination and a gift for improvisation, and above all empathy with the suffering of others and a burning desire to help.

SOMEBODY ONCE told me: But Abie is crazy!

Better crazy for peace, was my answer, than crazy for war!
(c) 2008 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Voting Conscience
By Victoria Stewart

The other day I received a much-forwarded email recommended for "consideration" in deciding who will get my vote. The author of this particular email is a supporter of John McCain. I don't often get emails from McCain supporters but when I do, they are almost always filled with lies and hate. This email was different and Joe asked that people talk to each other about the problems facing our country and our planet and the upcoming election. I decided to take him up on that suggestion and talk to Joe and the long list of people who had his email before I. This was my response.

As I read this email I was struck by several things, not the least of which was "Joe's" suggestion that, "It is time for anyone who wants to keep America first, who wants the right man leading their nation, to start a dialogue with their friends and neighbors and ask who they're voting for, and why." Now I don't know if Joe is a real person. This may be yet another internet "hoax." But I do know the person who sent it to me and a number of people on that mailing list and so, because I truly believe we must learn to work together if we are to have any reasonable future, I want to open that dialogue.

As I watch the endless cycle of campaign ads and celebrity interviews that comprise this presidential campaign I wonder at the deep divide that exists between the supporters of Barack Obama and John McCain. I wonder at it because, as I listen to these two men, I don't see that much difference between them. I hear a lot of talk about experience and character but what I see is two men who have had extremely privileged lives and are far removed from the problems most of us face. John McCain is the son and grandson of admirals. His wife is extremely wealthy and it is true that he did not readily know how many homes they owned. While most of us struggle to hold on to one home, it seems somehow wrong that a man running for president doesn't know how many residences he and his wife, own. Barack Obama spent part of his childhood in Indonesia, graduated from Columbia University and Harvard Law School, both of which are undeniably institutions of America's privileged class. I am certain that he has suffered incidents of racial prejudice and bias but he is not and has not ever been part of this country's underclass. He has not felt the need to hold on to his faith or his guns.

We have become bitterly separated by two men who have nothing in common with us.

Religion has become central to this campaign and as I watch these two men try to out-Jesus each other I cannot find actions to back up those claims of piety. Both Obama and McCain are self-proclaimed Christians and yet I do not recognize the teachings of Christianity in their plans for our country and the world.

Joe described himself as a born-again Christian and, growing up in a small and conservative Christian church, I understand what that means. I am no stranger to the teachings of Jesus so I know that men who speak of war and conquest, men who use the Prince of Peace to serve the God of War are not men who represent me.

We are supposed to be stewards of the earth. That means we care for the earth and all its creatures. We have not done that. We have been poor caretakers, placing our desires and greed above all else. The price of that negligence is coming due. No amount of drilling will give us enough oil to return to the days of massive consumption. We have reveled in a gluttony of things, gobbling up the earth's resources in huge bites. We were not given an unlimited supply of resources. We are running out. Men in power who tell us we can return to the prosperity of the past know better. They are lying to secure our votes.

Our economy, which is failing, is not going to rebound. Ignoring common sense, we believed that we could have unending and unlimited growth. We became conditioned to want more and bigger and newer. And now that expansion is over. It will not come again. If we are to regain economic stability and independence, we must have a massive overhaul in the way we live. Men in power who tell us that it is not necessary know they are lying.

Our health care system is broken. It is morally reprehensible to profit from illness. The insurance and pharmaceutical industries are interested in their financial health, not your physical health and men in power who tell us we can fix health care and leave it in the hands of these two industries are lying.

What I see in this country, which has offered so much to so many, is a population of generous and good-hearted people who believe in right and wrong, who will always champion the underdog, sacrifice for the less the fortunate, stand for fairness and equality and suffer individually for the betterment of the whole. I see a people with a profound capacity for love and kindness. I see a people who understand what it means to love your neighbor as yourself, to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I see a people who are strong and resilient and resourceful. I see a people of who believe in the goodness of humanity.

What I don't see are leaders to match our people. I see men who deceive us in their quest for power, who align themselves with huge multinational corporations with no allegiance to our country; men who use our goodness, our trust and our faith to dupe us.

I was taught that I should vote my conscience and conscience tells me to vote for the person who will work to bring peace to this world, someone who will care for the children, provide for the poor and face the future honestly so that we might build something honorable and true.

I do not see that person in Barack Obama or John McCain.
(c) 2008 Victoria Stewart is the editor of Issues & Alibis magazine.

Sarah gives the Republican salute

What McCain's VP Choice Says About Him

John McCain might love America, in the abstract, but he clearly has little regard for us Americans, in the here and now.

That's the message that he sent with his choice of Sarah Palin to be Vice President of the United States. Sure, the VP job itself doesn't require much heavy lifting, but it's the job-to-come that makes one's nominee a momentous selection, since 300 million people who might suddenly find this person sitting in the biggest office in America. Being 72 years of age and having a history of health problems, McCain had a special responsibility to choose the best to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. He flubbed it.

This is not about Palin and her readiness for prime-time speechmaking. It's about McCain's fitness to be president. The decision on a running mate is the most telling one that a presidential candidate makes, and McCain made his impetuously, almost flippantly.

He wanted his senate buddy, Joe Lieberman, to run with him, but he was denied that choice by the angry right wing of his party. So, at the last minute, he seemed to say, what the hell, how about that lady governor in Alaska? He had not even met Palin until this year. He knew no details about her and had not been considering her at all seriously. Then, at loggerheads with the Republican right and with his nominating convention looming, McCain had to rush her through a cursory background check only 24 hours before he had his first face-to-face meeting with her, which was the same day he hastily up offered the vice-presidency. The vice-presidency!

McCain would have given more thought to picking out another house for himself than he did in picking Sarah Palin. Such recklessness reveals a stunning lack of judgment and shows what little respect he has for the American public. His responsibility was not just to find a political running mate who appeals to the Republican base, but someone who is capable of stepping into the Oval Office as President of the United States.
(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.

The Top Twelve Foods For Long Term Storage
By Neil McLaughlin

(NaturalNews) With the recent surge in food prices it makes sense to buy foods that last and to obtain a bulk discount. However it is pointless to stock up on unhealthy food. During an emergency, having enough snacks won't increase the odds of survival. So what are some of the best foods to stock up on? The keys to consider are: shelf life, bulk price and nutritional content. This article will explore some of the best options.

Top 4 Packaged Foods to Store (Indefinite shelf life)

1) Jarred Raw Nut Butters - Sesamum indicum (Pedaliacea), Arachis hypogaea (Fabaceae)
Having peanut butter, almond butter and sesame tahini (sesame seed butter) will provide for many recipes and a concentrated protein source that is easy to prepare. $5.00 per pound.

2) Canned Tomatoes - Solanum Lycopersicum (Solanaceae)
The amount of Lycopene, the key phytonutrient in tomatoes, actually becomes more bioavailable when they are canned. Canned tomatoes can be used to make homemade pasta and pizza sauce along with chili. $1.25 per pound.

3) Canned Beans - Cicer arietinum (Faboideae), Phaselous vulgaris (Leguminosae)
Having cans of black beans, red beans, chili beans and garbanzo beans handy supports a variety of complementary sources of complete protein (when served with rice). Garbanzo beans are the key component of hummus. They are available in extra large 25 ounce cans and even 108 ounce cans. $1.15 per pound.

4) Canned Sardines - Harengula jaguana (Clupeidae) (Unsalted, in Spring Water)
Sardines are whole organisms with lots of healthy Omega-3 oil. Sardines offer a complete protein source along with trace minerals. The healthiest ones still have the bones. Small fish like sardines contain far less mercury than tuna. $2.00 per pound.


Top 4 Bulk Grains to Store (2 year shelf life)

1) Brown Rice - Oryza sativa (Poaceae)
A staple grain, brown rice is cheaper than white rice and while it doesn't taste as good it is a health food versus a junk food. A blend of brown and white rice is the ideal for both health and flavor $1.25 per pound.

2) Spelt flour - Triticum spelta (Poaceae)
Having the ingredients to make bread dough will provide for many recipes. It is important to keep flour sealed in water tight containers to keep out moisture and insects.

3) Popcorn - Zea Mays Everta (Poaceae)
Cooked on the stove top, fresh popcorn beats any snack from a bag and is a great source of fiber. Ideally one will buy organic as popcorn is one of the most pesticide-laden foods and might be GMO corn. Store in air tight containers to preserve freshness and keep out bugs. See recipe below. $1.26 per pound.

4) Dried Peas - Pisum sativum (Papilionaceae)
Dried peas are a great source of protein and if mixed with rice provide a balanced meal. Dried peas can be cooked with ham hocks or soup bones to make soup.

NOTE: Bulk rate is for 25 lb bag. Store grains in sealed containers or they will become host to bugs. Observe grains carefully before using.


Top 4 Protein Sources to Store (6-12 month shelf life) 1) Raw Milk Cheese from Grass Fed Cows - Bos taurus (Bovidae)
Raw milk cheese gets better with time and is a complete food, meaning you could survive and thrive consuming absolutely nothing but raw milk cheese! It should be aged 60 or more days. Buy it in one big piece if possible, and keep it at about 44-48 degrees (F). Keep an eye on mold growth, and if small spots develop just scrape them off. If the cheese has come in contact with plastic it should be scraped off as it will absorb the taste and chemicals in plastic. $8 per pound.

2) Grass Fed Beef and Lamb - Bos taurus (Bovidae), Ovis aries (Bovidae)
If purchased in bulk grass-fed beef costs as little as $3 per pound and lamb for as little as $5.25 per pound. It can be canned, frozen, or divided up. The bones are even cheaper and can be used to make nutrient dense stock. See the product review for Grass fed Beef and Lamb for details on buying meat in bulk. $3-$20 per pound.

3) Free Range Chicken - Gallus domesticus (Thesienidae)
Whole chickens with the organs are essential for providing long term health via chicken soup. They keep for long periods in the freezer. They can provide several different meals. For quality chicken, the lard is useful, and the skin is healthy to consume. Chickens can be stuffed with leftover (dried) bread scraps, the chicken organs fortify the gravy with nutrients, and the bones can be made into soup. Not to mention the meat itself. Leftover bone scraps can be composted or ground up for pet food.

4) Miso soup - Glycine max (Fabaceae),br> Miso soup is extremely concentrated and provides a great source of protein. Miso is a fermented food that contains living enzymes. One or two tablespoons of miso paste make a whole pot of soup.


Is Saving Money Hoarding?

Some people consider stocking up on food to be "hoarding," imagining that this causes a shortage and price increases. Perhaps this makes them feel better about the fact that the only food they have is 2 liters of Diet Cola, a half-eaten Italian sub and a frozen burrito. In reality there is no world food shortage, but a delivery shortage, and the illusion of a shortage created by having too many U.S. dollars in circulation. Ideally, everyone would store enough (non-GMO, royalty-free) seeds to plant every fruit, vegetable, spice and medicinal herb that will grow in your area, and enough long-term storage food to last about one year (or until you could grow and harvest your own seeds from scratch). While you may not have land, the seeds will still hold value during a food emergency and they can be used to barter for food with those in the opposite situation. Start learning how to grow a garden even if you have to use 5 gallon buckets.


Recipe for Stovetop Popcorn

It's amazing how few people today have ever made popcorn without the microwave. Microwaved popcorn is often made with hydrogenated oil, contains toxic diacetyl in the butter flavoring, cooks packaging material residues right into the food, and produces more plastic waste. Meanwhile popcorn can be made on the stovetop in the same amount of time, high quality organic palm oil and coconut oil can be used and then real butter and sea salt can be added. These oils contain healthy Omega-3 fatty acids and are solid at room temperature so they can absorb more heat. Here is a recipe to make real popcorn:

Ingredients: * 1/2 cup organic popcorn
* 1 Tbsp organic palm oil (and/or coconut oil, high oleic sunflower or safflower oil)
* (option 1) 2 tsp sea salt and 1 pat of unsalted, biodynamic, cultured (or raw) butter
* (option 2) 1 tsp kelp (or dulse) with 1 dash of cayenne pepper
* (option 3) 1/2 packet of organic powdered cheese


* Heat oil on high in a large stainless steel pot (steel, cast-iron, or glass only - avoid non-stick).
* When oil starts to smolder (about 60 seconds) add popcorn, which ideally forms a single layer.
* Shake pan back and forth to keep popcorn moving or it will scorch.
* When first kernel pops, cover and keep shaking, lowering temperature to medium-high.
* When popcorn has thunderous popping rate, you can turn off the heat but continue shaking pot.
* Crack lid slightly to allow steam to release (watch out for escaping kernels).
* When popping rate slows to less than 1 per second, pour popcorn into large paper bag.
* Add pat of butter to now-empty pot where it will melt from the heat (for extra, add some olive oil).
* Add dry seasonings to paper bag and shake well.
* Pour popcorn into large serving bowl and top with melted butter.



Support your local farmers market and buy organic if possible.

Thanks to Tropical Heat's Organic Market in Lake Mary, FL for delivering above grains.
(c) 2008 Neil McLaughlin is a computer scientist specializing in 3d graphics and simulation.

What The Drug Companies Really Want
By Mike Adams

(NaturalNews) Ever wonder how the drug companies REALLY want to sell pharmaceuticals? Here's the answer: Through vending machines! Bypass the doctors, advertise drugs directly to consumers, and get them to insert their credit cards into drug-dispensing machines that pretend to "diagnose" diseases by asking people to take an instant survey.

Do you sometimes feel like life is too much to handle? Do you ever start projects but fail to finish them? Have you ever felt sad about something? If so, you may be suffering from a brain chemistry disorder that requires pharmaceutical treatment! Here, just insert your "treatment."

The small print, of course, says you'll be billed $12 per pill, and dispensed 100 pills for a total of $1200 dollars, 90% of which will be billed to the federal government and paid by taxpayers.

What a scam, huh? This is where the industry is headed. CVS Pharmacies already have in-house clinics that can diagnose diseases and prescribe drugs for them all in the same minute!

If retail pharmacies are going to play doctor, diagnosing fictitious "diseases" and then prescribing dangerous pills to "treat" those diseases, then why do we need doctors in the loop at all? Big Pharma has figured out it would be a lot more profitable to just skip the doctors and sell drugs directly to consumers.

This is why they are lobbying the FDA so strongly to move hundreds of popular prescription-only drugs to over-the-counter (OTC) status. That way, the doctors are taken completely out of the loop, and consumers can buy all these high-profit pharmaceuticals themselves, like mind slaves responding to direct-to-consumer drug advertising.

The FDA recently admitted it hopes to convert 50% of blockbuster prescription drugs to OTC status. That list even includes dangerous, deadly drugs like statins and antidepressants.

Keep in mind this is all happening in a political environment where the FDA claims herbs, supplements and superfoods are so dangerous that zero health claims should be allowed by the companies selling them. But deadly prescription drugs are so safe, the FDA says, that even children should be able to walk into a Wal-Mart and buy unlimited bottles of statins and antidepressant drugs, completing the purchase through a self checkout lane that doesn't even require the oversight of a pharmacist.

It's an amazing world we live in, huh? Just remember: When you someday see prescription drugs being sold in vending machines, we predicted it first right here on NaturalNews.
(c) 2008 Mike Adams ~~~ Natural News

"Fighting Bob" Fest
By Cynthia McKinney

Thank you Mr. Garvey, Mr. Nader, and Granny D.

Bob LaFollette said, "I do not want the vote of a single citizen under any misapprehension of where I stand: I would not change my record on the war for that of any man [or woman], living or dead." And with that, Republican Bob LaFollette launched a successful campaign for reelection to the Senate without backtracking one step on his antiwar position. And after that fight, under the banner of the Progressive Party, he launched a campaign for President that brought together socialists, Blacks, women, labor, and farmers. Bob LaFollette was a man of his times and yet was also a man ahead of his time. From the U.S. Congress to the Wisconsin governorship to a Presidential campaign, Bob LaFollette remained true to his values. And the people of this state courageously supported him.

For twelve years while in the U.S. Congress, I consistently voted no on Pentagon budgets that sent one half trillion dollars to an institution that couldn't even balance its books and prevented the entire government from doing so.

I voted against the record of Pentagon waste, fraud, and abuse that led that institution to admit that it had "lost" 2.3 trillion dollars and yet asked for more money because, as Donald Rumsfeld testified, U.S. taxpayers could afford it.

And yet year after year, at a time when poverty in this country was growing, the racial divide in this country was growing, income inequality was growing, both Democrats and Republicans forgot the people who sent them to Washington and voted for Pentagon budgets that led to Rumsfeld's dramatic testimony.

Where I come from, with the values I was raised with, it's outrageous to spend so much money on war toys that return so little--only death and destruction, to the people. In fact, it was Republican President, Dwight Eisenhower, who reminded us that every dime spent on the military and war was in a very real sense a theft from people who are in need and from our children.

Yet both the Democratic and Republican nominees plan to increase the Pentagon's budget, continue to add countries to Dick Cheney's list of 60 against which the United States must be prepared to go to war. And sadly, that appears to include both China and Russia. Both nominees sadly have voted to fund today's wars and occupations to the tune of $720 million each and every day over and above the half trillion that the Pentagon gets and then "loses."

"Fighting Bob" fought to protect the rights of workers in this country and abroad. Yet, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans want to revisit NAFTA and the Congressional majority has not even mentioned a livable wage for America's workers. I'm proud to have introduced legislation in the Congress to provide for a national livable wage.

"Fighting Bob" clung stubbornly to civil liberties protections embodied in the Bill of Rights, and defended the right of citizens to dissent from U.S. war policy. Yet, the people of this country and in the global community have been saddled with impediments to those protections with the passage of the Patriot Acts, the Secret Evidence Act, the Military Commissions Act, prosecution of the so-called War on Drugs as well as the War on Terror. Yet, neither of the political parties has suggested the propriety of repealing those laws, ending the War on Drugs, and decreasing the militarization of local law enforcement that is so prevalent from city to city across our country.

Why did Denver and Minneapolis need $100 million grants to the police to protect delegates to those Conventions from protesters demonstrating for peace?

Torture, war crimes, crimes against humanity, lying to and spying on the American people, and crimes against the peace are all hallmarks of our country today, and yet impeachment has been taken off the table!

Well, I rightly put impeachment, 9/11 Truth, Republican Party Presidential election theft in the 2000 Presidential election and Democratic Party complicity in that theft on the table, and I'm putting election integrity in 2008 on the table.

I am proud to have introduced the Arms Trade Code of Conduct to regulate U.S. transfer of conventional weapons. I introduced the National Forest Protection and Restoration Act to protect our remaining national forests from clear-cutting timber barons. I authored legislation to end all use of depleted uranium, stop the funding for Plan Colombia, investigate the way conscientious objectors are treated by the Pentagon, extend Agent Orange benefits for U.S. soldiers, prohibit tax breaks for corporations that move U.S. jobs overseas, and I passed legislation that resulted in the U.S. Department of Agriculture admitting that for decades it systematically discriminated against minority farmers.

My very first campaign theme was "Warriors Don't Wear Medals, They Wear Scars." And I publicly wear the scars meted out to a black woman who dares to dissent in a political system that doesn't allow it. "Fighting Bob" was celebrated and ridiculed. The press lied on him and his patriotism was questioned. He even changed political parties, but he remained true to his values and understood that the only reason we engage in the political process is to have our values reflected in public policy. It is right that his values are annually commemorated and I thank you for including me in today's celebration of both a great man and a great idea: America.

"Fighting Bob" showed us that when our country has been hijacked, it is possible for the people to take it back!

We need a movement in this county and an opposition party! Let's take our country back. Power to the people!
(c) 2008 Cynthia McKinney

Surge Protectors
Obama Embraces Bush-McCain Spin on Iraq
By Chris Floyd

Barack Obama has now declared -- on Fox News, no less -- that George W. Bush's escalation of the flagrant war crime in Iraq has "succeeded beyond our wildest dreams." He also proclaimed his "absolute" belief in the "War on Terror," and pledged, once again, "never to take a military option off the table" (not even the nuclear option) against the "major threat" of Iran.

In short, he continued his relentless campaign to purge himself of any of that weak-sister "anti-war" taint that got attached to him in the early days of his campaign -- which was, of course, responsible for his phenomenal rise in the first place. He rode that wave to national prominence -- trading on the desperate hopes of millions of Americans that the ungodly criminal nightmare in Iraq might finally end -- but it was obvious long ago that he was never going to dance with the ones that brung him. Once it was clear that he might really make it all the way to the top of the greasy pole, he began a dogged campaign to prove to our ruling elite that he would be a "safe pair of hands" for the imperial enterprise.

We've seen this in, among other things, the shameful FISA vote, the bellicose threats to launch incursions into Pakistan (a policy which the Bush Administration is already implementing, with the usual deadly results for civilians), the ritual and repeated assertions of his willingness to attack Iran, and the foolhardy promise to shepherd Georgia's entry into NATO -- a mirror-image of Dick Cheney's stance, and a policy guaranteed to ratchet up tensions with Russia and quite possibly spark not only a new Cold War but a hot war of horrendous proportions if Georgia pulls its future NATO treaty partners into another conflict with Moscow.

But it is Obama's surrender on the Iraq War front -- or rather, the anti-Iraq War front -- that is most striking, and most disheartening. On the very night that John McCain was putting the "success" of the surge at the center of his campaign, Obama was openly, cravenly laying down one of his chief weapons at the feet of Bill O'Reilly. Obama's cheerleading for the surge -- "beyond our wildest dreams!" -- surpassed anything that McCain himself has claimed for the escalation.

Obama also emphasized the obscene and morally depraved position that has become the Democrat's standard line on Iraq: that the lazy, no-good Iraqis "still haven't taken responsibility" for running "their own country." The arrogance and inhumanity of this position is staggering, almost indescribable. The United States of America invaded Iraq, destroyed its society, slaughtered its citizens, drove millions from their homes, occupied the country and made itself the ultimate master and arbiter of the conquered land -- but still the Iraqis are condemned for "not taking responsibility for their own country."

Not a single Iraqi attacked America. Not one. America's action has killed more than a million Iraqis. But it is the Iraqis who are now "responsible."

Not only has Obama validated McCain's position on the surge, but his and the Democrats' stance on the Iraqis' "responsibility" also completely buys into the Bush Faction's lie that the "government" of Iraq -- installed at the point of foreign guns, with a "constitution" based upon the arbitrary directives of an occupying power -- is somehow legitimate. This stance too validates the "success" of the entire war: "Hey, they've got a legitimate government there now, so they need to take responsibility for their own country."

This bears repeating: the Democrats' position on Iraq fully accepts -- and even celebrates -- the Bush Administration's fundamental claims for the war. The war has established a legitimate, democratic government in Iraq, Bush and the Democrats both say. The "surge" has succeeded "beyond our wildest dreams" in "securing" Iraq, Bush and the Democrats both say. When "conditions on the ground" are right, America should withdraw its "combat troops" from Iraq, leaving behind an unspecified number of troops for training Iraqi security forces, conducting counterterrorism operations and providing security for other American personnel and reconstruction projects, Bush and the Democrats both say.

Where then is the actual difference -- the evidence for genuine "change" -- between these two positions? While the Democrats will occasionally assert that instigating the war was a "mistake" -- because we should have been fighting more wars elsewhere -- they steadfastly refuse to denounce it as an illegitimate and criminal action. And, as we have seen, they agree almost entirely with Bush on the results that the war has produced. The rhetoric is different, of course, and each side denounces the other in the usual partisan bickering -- but the fundamental agreement is undeniable.

And now Obama has made it explicit: a success "beyond our wildest dreams."


But let's put the disturbing implications of Obama's stance aside for a moment, and deal with the facts of his statement. Is the surge really a "success"?

Well, yes, it is. The "surge" -- which in addition to an influx of troops included the ruthless ethnic cleansing of Baghdad, the walled ghettoization of vast swathes of the city, and the arming and funding of violent sectarian militias across the land -- certainly succeeded in extending the duration of the murder, suffering and chaos engendered by America's armed and belligerent presence in Iraq.

So it is indeed a great "success" ... in the same way that, say, Albert Speer's miraculous efforts to keep the Nazi war machine going from 1943 to 1945 -- resulting in the deaths of millions of people, including the worst ravages of the Holocaust -- was a "success."

This is what Obama is celebrating when he lauds the "wild" success of the "surge": the extension and entrenchment of war he ostensibly opposes.

But is the surge a "success" on its own public terms, in the way that it is portrayed almost universally now in the media: a bold campaign that has brought peace and security to Iraq? Of course not. As Juan Cole points out below, the "surge" (and several other major factors unrelated to the U.S troop escalation, not least of which is Iran's intervention to tamp down Shiite insurgency and bolster the allies it shares with Bush in the Baghdad government) merely reduced the amount of violence in Iraq from that of an unspeakable hell on earth to the level of some of the very worst sectarian conflicts of the last century. As Cole noted a few days ago (see original for links):

AP reports that Baghdad is still very dangerous despite lowered death tolls from political violence:

"Small scale bombings and shootings persist in the capital - each a reminder that the war is not over and that Baghdad remains a place where no trip is routine and residents are still guided by precautions. Most won't drive at night. Many try to avoid heavily clogged streets, remembering that suicide bombers and other attackers intent on killing large numbers of civilians favor traffic jams or congested areas . . . [in August] at least 360 civilians were killed and more than 470 wounded in violence throughout the country, according to an Associated Press count."

That would be 4,320 civilians killed in political violence every year if the level stayed that low. (I take it this number excludes killed 'insurgents' and Iraqi security forces, so that actual number of war-related deaths would be much higher annually.)

It is estimated that 75,000 persons have died in the civil war in Sri Lanka since 1982, or 2800 a year.

Iraq is higher, just with regard to civilian casualties.

The Kashmir conflict is estimated to have killed 70,000 persons since 1988, or about 3500 a year.

Iraq is higher.

In the Lebanon Civil War of 1975-1990, it is estimated that at least 100,000 persons were killed, 75,000 civilians and 25,000 military.

If we extrapolated out Iraq's August death rate for civilians over 15 years, that would be 64,000 or not far from the toll in Lebanon's war.

Let me repeat: The level of violence at this moment in Iraq is similar to what prevailed on average during one of the 20th century's worst ethnic civil wars! It is still higher than the casualty rates in Sri Lanka and Kashmir, two of the worst ongoing conflicts in the world.

Only in an Orwellian society could our press declare the relative decline in monthly death tolls in Iraq to constitute "calm" in an absolute sense.

And that is if the August levels are taken as the baseline and if the numbers continue to be that low. If we averaged deaths during the previous 12 months, the baseline would be much higher.

The current Iraq Civil War is one of the world's most deadly continuing conflicts, worse than Sri Lanka and Kashmir and on a par with the 15-year long Lebanon Civil War!

This is the "success" that exceeds all dreams, according to the Democratic candidate for President of the United States -- the voice, you'll recall, of hope and change.

But there is no hope in Obama's stance on Iraq today, which does not differ in any fundamental way from that of George W. Bush or John McCain. And given the Democrats' agreement on every front with Republican positions -- on Iraq, Iran, Russia, the War on Terror, authoritarianism, offshore drilling, etc., etc., etc. -- there will be no change come November either.
(c) 2008 Chris Floyd

Occult IKE -- Geo-War 9/11
By Captain Eric H. May

Military Correspondent

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." ~~~ Hamlet, Act I, Scene 5

There has always been a bizarre synchronicity in the 9/11 affair. You may think that I mean to comment on the coincidence that our national emergency condition was begun with an attack some seven years ago on 9/11 -- the very national date code that already said "Emergency!" to the American people. But I was thinking more about the coincidence that 9/11/01 followed the strange announcement of 9/11/90 by the first President Bush that the first Middle Eastern War would create a "New World Order." The attack of 9/11/01 came eleven years later to the day.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if there weren't another strained coincidence with another 9/11 event on this week's seventh anniversary, such as a hurricane like IKE striking a US Gulf Coast target. It would be another little numeric/numerological reminder that our pre-9/11 home sweet home of America has become a post-9/11 homeland sweet homeland, Amerika, and that the only sure guarantee against a hostile world is an absolute government.

This kind of thinking is either medieval or postmodern, depending on your reason for believing that the unlikely coincidences will continue to come. If you believe, as do a solid chunk of the American people, that God's hand is made manifest when such improbabilities occur, then you are as much a child of faith as Saint Francis. If, on the other hand, you believe that these "signs" are false miracles set in place by occult powers who have captured our country in a dark conspiracy, then you are as cynical as Socrates.

I suppose it all begins with what you think of the weather -- especially of IKE, which is tentatively scheduled for a US landfall this Thursday, on the seventh anniversary of 9/11. I offer more food for thought than digested answers. IKE will speak for himself, although there are those who suggest that he has already said plenty in his name itself:

"I" the first letter, can be used to represent its occult value of "9" -- the ninth letter;
"K" its second letter, can be used to represent its occult value of "11".
So, some would have it that IKE has already been "written" as a "9/11" event.

I am hardly the first to observe that the super-storms of the post-9/11 era have been effective weapons against the American people. Indeed, in this area of growing interest, I merely echo a direct Bush quote. After touring the devastation from Katrina in New Orleans, he put the matter succinctly:

"It's as if the entire Gulf Coast were obliterated by the worst kind of weapon you can imagine." ~~~ George W. Bush, Sept. 3, 2005

Years earlier, Clinton's Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, admitted the weaponization of primordial Earth forces at a 1997 counter-terrorism conference:

"Others are engaging even in an eco-type of terrorism whereby they can alter the climate, set off earthquakes, volcanoes remotely through the use of electromagnetic waves. So there are plenty of ingenious minds out there that are at work finding ways in which they can wreak terror upon other nations. It's real, and that's the reason why we have to intensify our efforts, and that's why this is so important."

Sources for both official statement are cited in my most recent article about the matter: Storms and Quakes -- Weapons of War?
(c) 2008 Captain May is a former Army military intelligence and public affairs officer, as well as a former NBC editorial writer. His political and military analyses have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Houston Chronicle, Military Intelligence Magazine and is the intelligence correspondent for Issues & Alibis magazine. For his homepage and schedule of upcoming interviews, refer to his homesite.

The Adoption Of Freddie And Fannie
By Mike Folkerth

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

I had a big weekend as I officially turned 62 yesterday and will begin drawing Social Security. I once worried that our government had squandered the Social Security money away, but events over the week-end involving a couple of kids named Fannie and Freddie have now proven that there is actually no end to the government coffers.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were losing billions from their childish lending practices and were finding it more and more difficult to have their allowances raised by the private sector. These famous kids were behaving so badly that stock in Fannie fell from $68.50 to $3.53, and Freddie, not to outdone, went from $65.85 down to $2.26. Freddie and Fannie became unwanted step children of the financial community and were put up for adoption.

Luckily for these orphans, they were "too big to fail," and were quickly adopted on Sunday by a bachelor going only by the name of "Uncle Sam."

This adoption is a wonderful and charitable event and has created a global stock rally as folks around the world have determined that not only will Uncle Sam protect poor orphans, but also the foreign bond holders who have been feeding these kids. That's right, Fannie and Freddie were getting foreign aide.

To take it directly from the horse's mouth, Jacky Choi, a Hong Kong-based fund manager at Value Partners Ltd., which manages about US $5 billion in assets in Asia, said "The bailout comes as a relief to the many Asian governments and institutions with the mortgage giants' debt on their books."

So ya see, the stock market is not nearly as risky as you may have imagined if it involves America's lenders such as Japan and China who certainly can't be left holding the proverbial bag. Otherwise they may not loan us anymore money and we would have default on the deed to Yellowstone Park. The risk and the debt have to be shared and we are certainly a sharing lot here in the good ol' U.S. of A.

How many of you are familiar with the old, "The Band" song, "Take a load off Fanny?" Alright everyone, all of you tax payers out there, in the key of 'C', sing along with me now. "Take a load of Fannie, take a load for free, take a load off Fannie and Freddie, and and, and, put the load right on me." Good, excellent singing today.

The really good news is that our very own federal government has now become America's number one lender. Oh joy. Finally we will be borrowing from someone with a proven track record of incurring unlimited debt that can be enjoyed by generations to come.

All of our worries are over...well, except for the former Big-3. Chrysler, Ford and G.M. are hoping to get a $50 Billion loan from that same Uncle Sam character so that they can get busy making better cars that get higher gas mileage. Now there is a concept worth consideration...about 20 years ago.

The Freddie and Fannie deal is probably the most under-reported event of this year. This is a moronic monumental move to salvage the un-retrievable mess that government wrote, produced, directed and starred in. This is a remake of the old hit film, "Gone With the Wind."

For anyone who hasn't already done so, please click on "the book" button at the top of the page. Read the free chapter "Smoke and Mirrors." As you read that chapter, consider that I wrote that portion of my book when housing was an absolutely white hot investment with no end in sight.

If you enjoy that chapter, you'll love the rest of the book. I discount the book to my blog readers. Send me an e-mail with your mailing address and I'll send you a signed book including first class postage for $12.50.

I didn't write the book and I don't write this blog to make money, I write to try and help those who I can. We have to get ready for what is coming as individuals, families and friends; Government will continue to drag us further and further down if we allow them to. There is a better way.
(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...

"Resistance is not futile, but the most constructive and noble stance of all."
~~~ Lew Rockwell

Yes, We're Matricidal
Murdering Mother Earth one forest, one species and one atom at a time
By Jason Miller

"I am the earth. You are the earth. The Earth is dying. You and I are murderers." ~~~ Ymber Delecto

What a sorry lot we humans are, particularly those of us immersed in the "American Way of Life." Killing is indeed our business. And business has never been better.

According to the World Resources Institute, 4 species go extinct every hour "due to tropical deforestation alone."

More than half the tropical rainforests are gone and at the rate we're going, we will have reduced chopped, hacked, sawed, dozed, and burned our way to the virtual eradication of the "lungs of the planet" by the year 2030.

Kids, get ready to start suffocating because we're NOT giving up our meat habit! Patrick Henry was prepared to die for liberty, but we have a nobler agenda: Give us more grazing land or give us death!

Reflecting the spiritually perverse beings we are here in America (don't be fooled by our carefully polished veneer of civility and humanity-we're the most savage murderers of all) is the fact that we are considering replacing our "commander-in-chief," (the most heinous war criminal since Hitler) with a senile war-mongering septuagenarian and his recently anointed reactionary sidekick who never met a non-human animal she wouldn't slaughter or an ecosystem she wouldn't decimate in the name of "hunting," "free enterprise," or "resource acquisition."

Or we may occupy the impending vacancy in the White House with a pseudo-progressive who has sworn his allegiance to the genocidal "state" of Israel and to corporate America whilst surrounding himself with a depraved and ruthless entourage, most of whom sold their souls to Wall Street and the military industrial complex years ago.

McCain at the helm? Obama on the throne? Who cares? Either way we party on here in America, oblivious to the devastation and suffering our obscene existence is causing. Our factory farms will continue torturing and slaughtering billions of animals each year to satiate our meat addiction, McDonald's will keep our arteries clogged and our ascent to obesity intact, Big Pharma will inundate us with soothing and sedating "happy pills" to ensure our guilt-free participation in the murder of the planet, Big Oil will gleefully continue meeting our gluttonous demand for its "black gold," and the corporate media will keep our wretched and vile hologram intact by constantly re-enforcing rabid nationalism, ahistorical thinking, consumerism, narcissism, alienation, rugged individualism, "free" markets, the virtues of wealth, and the "superiority" of the American Way.

While numerous complex entities and dynamics enable the power elite to maintain their strangle-hold on wealth and power, military might remains their principal means of dominating, extorting, exploiting, stealing, and annihilating with impunity. While we outspend the rest of the world (that's all other countries combined, mind you) maintaining and expanding the war machine we revere with religious fervor, it is not money alone that gives our lords and masters the capacity to keep the world safe for capitalism and corporate plunder.

Our dirty little secret here in the US is that we built and buttressed our crumbling empire by unleashing a force so potent and so capable of rendering life on Earth extinct that it makes capitalism's "slow motion" ecocide look like candy-striping. In 1945 we became the first and only country to harness the power of nuclear fission and utilize it as a weapon of mass destruction. Our cold-blooded murder of hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians cemented our position as global hegemon.

When the uber-capitalist ruling elite of the US saw a socioeconomic system that was a potential threat to their supremacy, they successfully convinced most of their wage slaves that they were well off under a system of the rich, by the rich and for the rich and that the "communist threat" in Russia must be extinguished. What was their solution? They forced the Russians (who were moving with amazing rapidity to industrialize an agrarian economy which was dwarfed by that of the US) into a pissing contest over who could manufacture the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons.

Their strategy was of course successful. The Soviet Union eventually collapsed. Country-clubbing white men with snow on the roof-top and fog on the brain maintained their "right" to clench their billion dollar net worth statements in one decrepit claw and the deeds and titles of their myriad precious possessions in the other. And the rest of us could breathe easy knowing that the "American Way of Life" was no longer in jeopardy. But at what cost to the Earth and the rest of its inhabitants?

Nuclear non-proliferation is a joke. Treaties, vows, resolutions, good intentions, and promises involving crossing hearts, hoping to die and sticking needles into eyes have resulted in even more nukes brandished by more nations. Meanwhile, we US Americans continue dictating who gets "nuclear privileges" AND we still possess more WMD's than any other nation. When is another country going to invade us, depose the evil junta in DC, and hold a public lynching like our puppets did in Iraq?

Thankfully sanity (or perhaps just sheer luck) has prevailed and we have been the only nation brutal and stupid enough to employ nuclear weapons. And we have put our nuclear knowledge to constructive use by harnessing the power of the atom to create electricity. Yet when Prometheus brought us the "fire of the Twentieth Century" and told us we could use it for peaceful purposes, he failed to warn us that if this "fire" gets out of control we're all cooked.

Nuclear power only produces 20% of the electricity consumed in the US, but accounts for a number of staggering problems we simply keep sweeping under the rug for future generations to solve. Forget logic or consideration for our children or for Mother Earth, though. John McCain, Greenpeace founder Patrick Moore, and a host of other whores to the nuclear power industry hail nuclear energy as a "green" alternative to fossil fuels and clamor for more.

Yes, let's build more nuclear power plants. After all, given our culture of militarism and death, why not erect as many temples honoring Thanatos as is humanly possible?

Let's take a closer look at the technology many are ready to embrace as the "remedy for Climate Change."

Nuclear power is touted as a cheap alternative to coal (and other ways of producing energy). While it is a less expensive means of actually generating electricity once a reactor is online (the operating cost is about half that of a coal-fired plant), there are tremendous fiscal costs associated with building a nuclear facility, removing and storing radioactive waste, and decommissioning a plant once it is retired. (One hasn't been closed yet but the estimated cost to do so is around $300 million).

And just who's underwriting these outrageous costs? We the taxpayers! On May 12, 2008, the Wall Street Journal wrote, "For electricity generation, the EIA concludes that solar energy is subsidized to the tune of $24.34 per megawatt hour, wind $23.37 and 'clean coal' $29.81. By contrast, normal coal receives 44 cents, natural gas a mere quarter, hydroelectric about 67 cents and nuclear power $1.59."

More importantly, the threat nuclear energy poses to the environment is so high that calling it "green" is an absurdity one would think had sprung from the mind of Lewis Carroll.

Since nuclear plants rely on large bodies of water to cool reactors (and avoid a melt-down) and discharge about 70% of the heat they generate (as waste), they are vulnerable to droughts and cause significant thermal pollution in the bodies of water that cool them.

Nuclear power production begins to contaminate the environment with radioactivity before the fuel even arrives at the plant. It takes a ton of uranium ore to produce 3 kilograms of uranium oxide. While the tailings that are left behind emit small levels of radiation, they do release radon gas and radioactive dust at a rate 10,000 times faster than the unmined ore. This nuclear contamination stays in the environment for 100,000 years and over time reaches such high levels that a Los Alamos Laboratory report concluded that we need to, "to zone the land in uranium mining and milling districts to forbid human habitation."

Nuclear power facilities produce a steady stream of low-level radioactive waste, including gas, solid and liquid. Gaseous and liquid wastes are "cleaned and diluted," but are eventually released into the environment. Solid wastes are transported to one of three low-level radiation disposal sites in the US where they continue accumulating and emitting radiation into the environment. Sounds Earth-friendly, doesn't it?

About once a year 33% of a reactor's fuel rods are replaced, producing anywhere from 12 to 30 tons of high level nuclear waste. The frightening part is that we've been using this "green" technology for 40 years now and still haven't figured out a safe and permanent means of disposing of its extremely dangerous and lethal by-products. Temporary pools or dry cask storage (large steel cylinders that require constant monitoring) onsite at nuclear facilities house most of the spent reactor fuel, which will remain a dire threat to the environment for tens of thousands of years. Nuclear power plants are running out of storage capacity and the "permanent storage solution" at Yucca Mountain, projected to be operational in 2017, is little more than a tentative and distant speck on the horizon. Perhaps we could erect dry casks on some of the sprawling estates that McCain has forgotten he owned....

How remote is the possibility of a nuclear melt-down resulting in a disaster? Let's ask the thousands of heavily irradiated victims of Chernobyl and those living in the vicinity of the "near miss" at Three Mile Island.

Lest we forget, nuclear reactors are "dual-use" by virtue of the fact that plutonium is one of their by-products and plutonium can be used to produce nuclear weapons. Small wonder our ruling class trembles with fear (hence their belligerence, bullying and macho posturing) at the prospect of Iran (a nation which refuses to genuflect to the American/Israeli Empire) developing nuclear reactors to generate power.

And someone please explain what it is that's so "green" about a source of electricity that produces waste that people (whom our malevolent and brutal foreign policy has pissed off-there are millions and millions of them) could use to make a "dirty bomb" and then deploy it against us. Granted the potential efficacy of a dirty bomb is subject to debate, but who wants to find out? We already have 104 repositories for bomb-making materials scattered across the United States. Let's push to add more!

While many anti-nuclear activists focus their efforts on opposing the issuance of licenses to build new nuclear power plants, another approach may prove to be more effective and is in play at this moment. Members of IPSEC, a group of over 70 community groups, have devoted themselves to shutting down the nuclear power plant known as the Indian Point Energy Center. Grassroots and non-profit, the objective of IPSEC groups like Riverkeeper is to replace nukes with a truly safe form of sustainable energy and to preserve the integrity of the environment. If IPSEC is successful in setting a precedent by catalyzing the shuttering of Indian Point, a domino effect could ensue and spell the beginning of the end for the menace of nuclear power.

For a litany of reasons, IPSEC is wholly justified in its appeals to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to deny Entergy Corporation's bid to renew Indian Point's license for another 20 years. In fact, if sanity and moral considerations amounted to more than a pair of sickly midgets making desperate and ridiculous attempts to halt the stampeding herd of narcissistic consumers and greedy corporations that are the embodiments of monopoly capitalism, there wouldn't even be a debate.

Indian Point is situated about 25 miles from New York City, a rather populous area, eh? (93 million people live within a 500 mile radius of this nuclear facility, most of whom would be impacted by a major accident or meltdown at Indian Point).

Indian Point's two reactors that continue to function were built in 1974 and 1976, which means that they are old, hence prone to cracks, leaks, fissures, wear, deterioration, and the like. It also means that they were built to less stringent safety specifications than newer reactors.

At one time Indian Point had three functional reactors. In an October 2001 article (entitled America's Terrorist Nuclear Threat to Itself) long-time anti-nuclear activist Harvey Wasserman wrote, "Indeed, Indian Point Unit One was shut because activists warned that its lack of an emergency core cooling system made it an unacceptable risk. The government ultimately agreed."

In 2006 the NRC fined Entergy Corporation, the owners and operators of Indian Point, $130,000 for problems associated with its system designed to warn nearby residents to evacuate in the event of a nuclear crisis.

Until they finally began moving them to dry casks in January of this year, Indian Point had 1500 tons of spent fuel rods stored in temporary pools. These pools have been leaking tritium and strontium-90 (both highly toxic substances) into the groundwater and the Hudson River since 2005 and are demonstrably vulnerable to sabotage or attack. And as Wasserman elucidates in the previously cited article, these pools (not to mention the reactor cores) are horrific accidents waiting to happen:

"Without continuous monitoring and guaranteed water flow, the thousands of tons of radioactive rods in the cores and the thousands more stored in those fragile pools would rapidly melt into super-hot radioactive balls of lava that would burn into the ground and the water table and, ultimately, the Hudson."

Indian Point Energy Center manifests nearly all that is inane and insane about humans shattering atomic nuclei and hubristically believing we can play with the fires of hell without getting burned.....

Yet there's at least a "little" Eichmann in all of us as we faithfully participate in our ecocidal "American Way of Life." So what do we care about a little radiation here or a few meltdowns there? Remember, "Killing is [our] business.....and business is good!" Just ask a member of that species that will be extinct in about 15 minutes....

For those of you refusing to bow at the altar of Thanatos, click on the links below to find out what you can do to help IPSEC shut down Indian Point:
(c) 2008 Jason Miller is a recovering US American middle class suburbanite who strives to remain intellectually free. His essays have been widely published, he is an associate editor for Cyrano's Journal Online, and publishes Thomas Paine's Corner within Cyrano's. He welcomes your constructive correspondence.

The Cold War Reversed
By William Pfaff

Paris - There is much current talk about a new cold war, or a new configuration of nations, a new power balance (or imbalance). There is something in this; it's a consequence of the crisis produced by Georgia's foolhardy and tragic attack on South Ossetia and upon the Russian soldiers stationed there. This upset standard thinking about the U.S. and about Putin's Russia

(Parenthetically, there is no longer dispute as to Mikheil Saakashvili's responsibility for launching the attack, presumably in the mistaken belief that Georgia's pending NATO candidature would either deter Russian retaliation, or force the United States and NATO to support his adventure. He was wrong on both counts. See the devastating report by C.J. Chivers and Thom Shanker in the September 3 New York Times.)

What is being ignored in discussion of new power balances and revived cold war is the reason why international relations have fundamentally changed since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The cold war was ideological struggle. It obviously involved power confrontations, the Warsaw Pact versus NATO, the presumed Soviet military threat to Western Europe, the Korean war - and of course the nuclear threat.

But what was behind it was Marxist-Leninist, and later Maoist, ideology. These were doctrinally expansionist. They said that capitalism was in its final stages, the class war between workers and industrial-capitalism and imperialism approaching its culminating crisis, and Communism on the march towards inevitable victory.

You can question to what extent leaders in Moscow and Beijing really believed this. They had to act as if they believed it. Millions of Communists in the West and an unknowable number in the U.S.S.R. and China really did believe it. The ideology was the only source of legitimacy and power for the Soviet and Chinese Communist parties and governments.

They had to seem ever on the march, expanding - or seeming to expand - because they had to make people believe that they were revolutionary regimes which sooner or later, by the scientifically determined dialectical progression of history, were guaranteed to produce victory, a New Dawn, the Great Day, The Victory of the East, and millenarian rule by workers and peasants, and the "progressive intellectuals" allied with them. The United States and its allies were in the struggle for classical geopolitical and strategic reasons. They had interests to defend. They were defending the new democratic postwar order in Western Europe. Harry Truman, Dean Acheson, Clement Attlee, Ernest Bevin, George Kennan, and the leading American and Allied diplomatic figures of the time, were not ideologues. They were all in the classical sense of the term, conservatives, defending the democratic order.

It is true that during the period when John Foster Dulles was American secretary of state, the United States itself caught a bad case of the ideological fevers. Dulles was a prominent churchman, a Presbyterian Elder, as well as an international lawyer, and as John Lukacs writes in his history of the Cold War, brought "the distressingly puritanical and at times even pharisaic inclination to see in the world struggle a national personification of good versus evil." The fever unfortunately became a chronic condition, with as yet no cure.

Thus today the situation is the reverse of 1948-1950. Russia is not an ideological power. It has no doctrine to sell. Its preoccupations are prosperity and power. Vladimir Putin has no wish to subvert and rule the United States or Europe. He just doesn't want NATO's candidates biting his ankles. He wants level-headed governments on his borders who don't make trouble for Russia. But that is perfectly, if regrettably, normal.

The United States has been invading troublesome Caribbean and Central American neighbors since the mid-19th century. It was what the U.S. Marine Corps did for a living - Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic. Ronald Reagan absurdly invaded Granada, officially to save American students from dangerous Cuban airport laborers. The senior George Bush invaded Panama to seize President Manuel Noriega, a former employee of the CIA. It has never been explained what those two invasions were really about. There were (widely publicized) clandestine operations in Nicaragua and El Salvador. All this has been taken for granted as the Monroe Doctrine at work.

China is no longer an ideological power. Chinese Communism has been intellectually dead for two decades. The Party is kept going with all its congresses and assemblies because that furnishes the only justification China's leaders have for why they are in power. China's actual politics function through Party co-option, favoritism and power struggle. This one day will probably end in a major crisis, as I have said before in this space.

China is not an expanding power. It wants Taiwan, various "lost" islands in the China Seas; it demands recognition that Tibet is Chinese. But all this is traditional. It certainly is not promoting Communism abroad.

Today the world's only expansionist ideological power is the United States, aggressively pushing everywhere, persuading, promoting, and even invading countries for "democracy." It wants to make everyone democratic "like us," which in the end means to do as we want them to do. The ideology is meant to be generous, but it is a generosity devoted to the control of energy resources, raw materials, trade, and finance.

This makes the U.S. the expanding and aggressive nation in the world today, the one with a "global ideology," with military power to back it up. This frightens people. When the power doesn't work as intended, as in the Caucasus, it makes other people frightened, the ones who have bet on the U.S. to advance their own agendas. That is what is changing the geopolitical map.
(c) 2008 William Pfaff

The Dead Letter Office...

John wraps himself in the flag

Heil Bush,

Dear Polizeirichter Harrington,

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 2nd class with copper 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 Harrington, Sieg Heil!

Vice Fuhrer Cheney

Heil Bush

The Mighty, Scary Press Corps
By Glenn Greenwald

Criticizing the McCain campaign for refusing to allow reporters to question Sarah Palin, Time's Jay Carney writes:

Political operatives love to talk about circumventing the media and other co-called "elites" -- i.e., independent specialists, observers and thinkers. The operatives convince themselves they can take their candidate's message directly to the people -- on their terms, without all that poking and prodding and skepticism. That's propaganda. In a democratic society, it rarely works for long.

If only that were true. But if there's one indisputable lesson from the last eight years, it's that political propaganda works exceedingly well -- not despite an aggressively adversarial press but precisely because we don't have one. Carney's idealistic claims about the short life-span of propaganda in American democracy are empirically false:

"Half of Americans now say Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the United States invaded the country in 2003 -- up from 36 percent last year, a Harris poll finds" (Washington Times, 7/24/2006); "Nearing the second anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, seven in 10 Americans continue to believe that Iraq's Saddam Hussein had a role in the attacks" (Washington Post, 9/6/2003); "The same poll in June showed that 56% of all Republicans said they thought Saddam was involved with the 9/11 attacks. In the latest poll that number actually climbs, to 62%" (USA Today/Gallup poll, 10/6/2004); "The latest Harris Poll has some interesting results on public opinions of Saddam Hussein's possible links to al Qaeda. Of those Americans polled, 64% agree that Saddam Hussein had 'strong' links to al Qaeda" (Harris poll, July 21, 2006); "49 percent of Americans think the president has the authority to suspend the Constitution . . . Only a third of Americans understood that much of the rest of the world opposed our invasion [of Iraq]. Another third thought the rest of the world was cheering our invasion, and a third thought the rest of the world was neutral" (Rick Shenkman, June, 2008).

Of course Carney is right in theory that anyone running for Vice President ought to submit to questioning from the media. But the idea that her doing so will be some great blow against propaganda is wrong for numerous reasons. Who are these great, aggressive journalists who are going to question her in a meaningfully adversarial way in order to expose the falsehoods behind the image that is being created around her?

When they decide in a couple of weeks that Palin is ready to do so, she'll go and sit down with Brit Hume or Larry King or Charlie Gibson or some other pleasant, accommodating person who plays a journalist on TV and have a nice, amiable, entertaining chat about topics that are easily anticipated. Having been preceded by all sorts of campaign drama about her first interview and the excitement that she's not up to the task, her TV appearance will be widely touted, score big ratings, and will be nice entertainment for the network that presents it. It will achieve many things. Undermining propaganda isn't one of them.

This idea that she's some sort of fragile, know-nothing amateur who is going to quiver and collapse when subjected to the rough and tumble world of American journalism is painfully ludicrous, given that -- as the Canonization of the endlessly malleable Tim Russert demonstrated -- that imagery is a fantasy journalists maintain about themselves but it hardly exists. The standard journalistic model of "balance" means that the TV journalist asks a few questions, lets the interviewee answer, and then moves on without commenting on or pointing out false claims, i.e., without exposing propaganda (Carney can check his own magazine to see how that sad, propaganda-boosting process works -- here, here, and here). Few things are easier than submitting to those sorts of televised rituals.

Moreover, Sarah Palin isn't Dan Quayle. She is extremely smart -- much smarter than the average media star who will eventually be interviewing her -- and she is very politically skilled as well. She didn't go from obscure small-town city council member to Governor to Vice Presidential nominee by accident. She'll be more than adequately prepared for the shallow, 30-second, rote exchanges that pass for political interviews in our Serious mainstream discourse. Anyone expecting her to fall on her face or be exposed as some drooling simpleton is going to be extremely disappointed. That might (or might not) happen with real questioning, but she's not going to face that.

If anything, this growing drama about Palin's supposed fear of facing America's super-tough "journalists" who are chomping at the bit to expose her is going to help her greatly, for exactly the reason Digby wrote here, after highlighting Chris Matthews' complaints that Palin won't yet submit to interviews:

As if submitting to Chris Matthews' questions ever told voters anything meaningful about the candidates.

They are going to work themselves into a frenzy over this. And the right will hold Palin off just long enough for the outcry to become deafening. And then Palin will appear in front of a gargantuan television audience (again) on something like 60 Minutes --- and do quite well. They are already working the media hard to make sure they don't go for the jugular -- and they won't.

People need to get over the idea that Palin's some kind of Britney Spears bimbo. She's a professional politician and from the looks of it, a pretty good one. She's not going to fall on her face on TV. They will build the expectations accordingly.

Carney is exactly wrong. Propaganda thrives -- predominates -- in our democracy for many reasons, the principal reason being that we don't have the sort of journalist class devoted to exposing it. Anyone who wants to contest that should examine the empirical data above, or more convincingly, just look at what the Bush administration has easily gotten away with over the last eight years -- the systematic deceit, the radicalism, the corruption, the crimes.

The ideological extremism and growing ethical questions that define Sarah Palin -- and especially the discredited, rejected core beliefs of John McCain -- means that the McCain campaign should have much to worry about in this election. Having Sarah Palin face the mighty, scary American press corps certainly isn't one of them. That's just a melodramatic distraction, one that will redound to the GOP's benefit. Palin will "face" our media soon enough, and it will probably be the easiest thing she'll have to do between now and November._

_* * * * *

Beginning this Monday, Salon Radio with Glenn Greenwald will resume on its regular schedule (every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 2:00 p.m. EST). The work involved in traveling to the conventions, covering the protests and other related events, and making videos and the like proved to be far more time-consuming than I anticipated and made producing the radio show virtually impossible. Now that things are returning to normal, the Radio Show will as well.__

UPDATE: Several people in comments suggest/hope that Palin's refusal to submit to press questioning will alienate journalists and make them more intent on investigating her and subjecting her claims to scrutiny. A healthy journalistic instinct would indeed produce that reaction. But is that what we have?

It isn't just that the Bush administration has been the most secretive in modern history (though it has been), but Dick Cheney seemed to take sadistic pleasure in purposely concealing from reporters even the most innocuous information, just to show he could. He even refused to say how many people worked in his office, or who worked there, or even where he was and what he was doing on any given day. Did that propel journalists to investigate him more aggressively or subject his claims to greater investigative scrutiny? Yes, that is a rhetorical question. A properly functioning press corps would become more adversarial and aggressive when treated with such contempt by the GOP. Ours becomes more browbeaten, more passive, more eager to please.
(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.

Brain Science And Human Values
A reply to Jonathan Haidt
By Sam Harris

The human brain is an engine of belief. Our minds continually consume, produce, and attempt to reconcile propositions about ourselves and the world that purport to be true: Iran is seeking to acquire nuclear weapons; human beings are contributing to global climate change; I actually look better with gray hair. What must a brain do to believe such propositions? This question marks the intersection of many fields: psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, economics, political science, and even jurisprudence. Understanding belief at the level of the brain is the main focus of my current research, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Belief encompasses two domains that have been traditionally divided in our discourse. We believe propositions about facts, and these acts of cognition subsume almost every effort we make to get at the truth-in science, history, journalism, etc. But we also form beliefs about values: judgments about morality, meaning, personal goals, and life's larger purpose. While they differ in certain respects, these types of belief share some important features.

Both types of belief make tacit claims about normativity: claims not merely about how we human beings think and behave, but about how we should think and behave. Factual beliefs like "water is two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen" and ethical beliefs like "cruelty is wrong" are not expressions of mere preference. To really believe a proposition (whether about facts or values) is also to believe that one has accepted it for legitimate reasons. It is, therefore, to believe that one is in compliance with a variety norms (i.e., that one is sane, rational, not lying to oneself, not overly biased, etc.) When we really believe that something is factually true or morally good, we also believe that another person, similarly placed, should share our conviction.

Despite the remonstrations of people like Jonathan Haidt and Richard Shweder, science has long been in the values business. Scientific validity is not the result of scientists abstaining from making value judgments; it is the result of scientists making their best effort to value principles of reasoning that reliably link their beliefs to reality, through valid chains of evidence and argument. The answer to the question, "What should I believe, and why should I believe it?" is generally a scientific one: Believe a proposition because it is well supported by theory and evidence; believe it because it has been experimentally verified; believe it because a generation of smart people have tried their best to falsify it and failed; believe it because it is true (or seems so). This is a norm of cognition as well as the epistemic core of any scientific mission statement.

But what about meaning and morality? Here we appear to move from questions of truth-which have long been in the domain of science if they are to be found anywhere-to questions of goodness. How should we live? Is it wrong to lie? If so, why and in what sense? Which personal habits, uses of attention, modes of discourse, social institutions, economic systems, governments, etc. are most conducive to human well-being? It is widely imagined that science cannot even pose, much less answer, questions of this sort.

Jonathan Haidt appears to exult in this pessimism. He doubts that anyone can justifiably make strong, realistic claims about right and wrong, or good and evil, because he has observed that human beings tend to make moral judgments on the basis of emotion, justify these judgments with post hoc reasoning, and stick to their guns even when their post hoc reasoning demonstrably fails. As he says in one of his earlier papers, when asked to justify their emotional reactions to certain moral (and pseudo-moral) dilemmas, people are often "morally dumbfounded." He reports that subjects often "stutter, laugh, and express surprise at their inability to find supporting reasons, yet they would not change their initial judgments..." But couldn't the same be said of people's failures to solve logical puzzles? I think it would be fair to say that the Monty Hall problem leaves many of its victims "logically dumbfounded." Which is to say that even when a person gets the gist of why he should switch doors, he often cannot shake his initial intuition that each door represents a 50 percent chance of success. This reliable failure of human reasoning is just that-a failure of reasoning. It does not suggest that there isn't a single correct answer to the Monty Hall problem. While it might seem the height of arrogance to say it, the people who actually understand the Monty Hall problem really do hold the "logical high ground."

As a counterpoint to the prevailing liberal opinion that morality is a system of "prescriptive judgments of justice, rights, and welfare pertaining to how people ought to relate to each other," Haidt asks us to ponder mysteries of the following sort: "But if morality is about how we treat each other, then why did so many ancient texts devote so much space to rules about menstruation, who can eat what, and who can have sex with whom?" Interesting question. Are these the same ancient texts that view slavery as morally unproblematic? It would seem so. Perhaps slavery has no moral implications after all-could Abolition have been just another instance of liberal bias?-otherwise, surely these ancient texts would have something of substance to say about it. Or, following Haidt's initial logic, why not ask, "if physics is just a system of laws which explains the structure of the universe in terms of mass and energy, why do so many ancient texts devote so much space to immaterial influences and miraculous acts of God?" Why indeed.

Haidt is, of course, right to worry that liberals may not always "hold the moral high ground." In a recent study of moral reasoning, subjects were asked to judge whether it was morally correct to sacrifice the life of one person to save one hundred, while being given subtle clues as to the races of the people involved. Conservatives proved less biased by race than liberals and, therefore, more even-handed. It turns out that liberals were very eager to sacrifice a white person to save one hundred non-whites, but not the other way around, all the while maintaining that considerations of race had not entered into their thinking. Observations of this sort are useful in revealing the biasing effect of ideology-even the ideology of fairness.

Haidt often writes, however, as if there were no such thing as moral high ground. At the very least, he seems to believe that science will never be able to judge higher from lower. He admonishes us to get it into our thick heads that many of our neighbors "honestly prefer the Republican vision of a moral order to the one offered by Democrats." Yes, and many of them honestly prefer the Republican vision of cosmology, wherein it is still permissible to believe that the big bang occurred less than ten thousand years ago. These same people tend to prefer Republican doubts about biological evolution and climate change. There are names for this type of "preference," one of the more polite being "ignorance." What scientific purpose is served by avoiding this word at all costs?

Haidt appears to consider it an intellectual virtue to adopt, uncritically, the moral categories of his subjects. But where is it written that everything that people do or decide in the name of "morality" deserves to be considered part its subject matter? A majority of Americans believe that the Bible provides an accurate account of the ancient world (as well as accurate prophecies of the future). Many millions of Americans also believe that a principal cause of cancer is "repressed anger." Happily, we do not allow these opinions to anchor us when it comes time to have serious discussions about history and oncology.

Much of humanity is clearly wrong about morality-just as much of humanity is wrong about physics, biology, history, and everything else worth understanding. If, as I believe, morality is a system of thinking about (and maximizing) the well being of conscious creatures like ourselves, many people's moral concerns are frankly immoral.

Does forcing women and girls to wear burqas make a positive contribution to human well-being? Does it make happier boys and girls? More compassionate men? More confident and contented women? Does it make for better relationships between men and women, between boys and their mothers, or between girls and their fathers? I would bet my life that the answer to each of these questions is "no." So, I think, would many scientists. And yet, most scientists have been trained to think that such judgments are mere expressions of cultural bias. Very few of us seem willing to admit that simple, moral truths increasingly fall within the purview of our scientific worldview. I am confident that this period of reticence will soon come to an end.

Unless human well-being is perfectly random, or equally compatible with any events in the world or state of the brain, there will be scientific truths to be known about it. These truths will, inevitably, force us to draw clear distinctions between ways of thinking and living, judging some to better or worse, more or less true to the facts, and more or less moral.

Of course, questions of human well-being run deeper than any explicit code of morality. Morality-in terms of consciously held precepts, social-contracts, notions of justice, etc.-is a relatively recent invention. Such conventions require, at a minimum, language and a willingness to cooperate with strangers, and this takes us a stride or two beyond the Hobbesian "state of nature." But prior to emergence of explicit notions of right and wrong, the concept of well-being still applies. Whatever behaviors served to mitigate the internecine misery of our ancestors would fall within the scope of this analysis. To simplify matters enormously: (1) genetic changes in the brain gave rise to social emotions, moral intuitions, and language... (2) which produced increasingly complex cooperative behavior, the keeping of promises, concern about one's reputation, etc... (3) which became the basis for cultural norms, laws, and social institutions whose purpose has been to render this growing system of cooperation durable in the face of countervailing forces.

Some version of this progression has occurred in our case, and each step represents an undeniable enhancement of our personal and collective well-being. Of course, catastrophic regressions are always possible. We could, either by design or negligence, employ the hard-won fruits of civilization, and the emotional and social leverage of millennia of biological and cultural evolution, to immiserate ourselves more fully than unaided Nature ever could. Imagine a global North Korea, where the better part of a starving humanity serves as slaves to a lunatic with bouffant hair: this might, in fact, be worse than a world filled merely with warring Australopithecines. What would "worse" mean in this context? Just what our (liberal?) intuitions suggest: more painful, less fulfilling, more conducive to fear and despair, etc. While it will never be feasible to compare such counterfactual states of the world, that does not mean that there are no experiential facts of the matter to be compared.

Haidt is, of course, right to notice that emotions have primacy in many respects-and the way in which feeling drives judgment is surely worthy of study. It does not follow, however, that there are no right and wrong answers to questions of morality. Just as people are often less than rational when claiming to be rational, they are often less than moral when claiming to be moral. We know from many lines of converging research that our feeling of reasoning objectively, in concordance with compelling evidence, is often an illusion. This is especially obvious in split-brain research, when the left hemisphere's "interpreter" finds itself sequestered, and can be enticed to simply confabulate by way of accounting for right-hemisphere behavior. This does not mean, however, that dispassionate reasoning, scrupulous attention to evidence, and awareness of the ever-present possibility of self-deception are not cognitive skills that human beings can acquire. And there is no reason to expect that all cultures and sub-cultures value these skills equally.

If there are objective truths about human well-being-if kindness, for instance, is generally more conducive to happiness than cruelty is-then there seems little doubt that science will one day be able to make strong and precise claims about which of our behaviors and uses of attention are morally good, which are neutral, and which are bad. At time when only 28 percent of Americans will admit the truth of evolution, while 58 percent imagine that a belief in God is necessary for morality, it is truism to say that our culture is not prepared to think critically about the changes to come.
(c) 2008 Sam Harris is the author of "The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason" and "Letter to a Christian Nation."

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Mike Keefe ~~~

W The Movie_teaser 1

To End On A Happy Note...

None of Us Are Free
By Widespread Panic

You better listen my brother
'cause if you do you can hear
There are voices still callin' from across the years
And they're cryin' across the ocean
And they're cryin' across the land
And they will until we all come to understand

That none of us are free
None of us are free
None of us are free if one of us is chained
None of us are free

Well there are people in the darkness
And they just can't see the light
And if we don't say it's wrong then that says it's right
We got to feel for each other
Let our brothers know we're here
Got to get the message and send it out loud and clear

That none of us are free
None of us are free
None of us are free if one of us is chained
None of us are free
Well it's the single truth
We all need to see
That none of are free if one of us is chained
None of us are free

Well I swear to you salvation isn't very hard to find
None of us can find it on our own
We got to join together. spirit, heart and mind
All the are suffering, knows they're not alone
None of us are free
None of us are free

If you just look around you
You're see what I say
'cause the world's gettin' smaller each passin' day
Now it's time to make some changes
Now it's time all realized
That the truth is shinin' right before our eyes

'cause none of us are free
None of us are free
None of us are free if one of us is chained
None of us are free

Well it's the very heart of humanity
'cause none of us are free if one of us is chained

None of us are free
None of us, none of us
None of us, none of us
None of us, none of us are free
None of us, none of us
None of us, none of us
None of us, none of us are free
None of us are free
None of us are free
None of us are free if one of us is chained
None of us are free

'cause it's the very truth
We all need to see
That none of us are free if one of us is chained
None of us are free
(c) 2003/2008 Solomon Burke

Have You Seen This...

Israeli War Crimes

Parting Shots...

Evangelicals Give Sarah Palin a "Get Out of Values Free" Card

While John McCain may be rethinking his lackadaisical decision to outsource the vetting of Sarah Palin to the more curious American press, I've really enjoyed watching all these surprising layers peel off of the panglossian pioneer we were introduced to only last week. Looking a bit like one of those stock and staid librarians in movies, the one who is only moments away from removing her glasses and liberating a thick, lustrous mane of hair with a seductive snap of the neck while stripper music trumpets on the surround-sound, Palin exudes a sense that she is always about to reveal something unexpected before our startled eyes. And the really fun part: I have a hunch she'll only know what that something is moments before we do. But, of course, weeks before John McCain will.

What I have enjoyed witnessing to a far lesser degree has been my fellow evangelical Republicans' response to Palin's energetic striptease of embarrassing information. It seems that the very idea of Dick Cheney's office being redecorated with moose throws and baby seal pelt doilies by a ferociously ambitious MILF from Alaska has rendered a group of professional faultfinders and scolds mawkishly carefree, giddy in their eagerness to forgive. With a mix of opportunism and testosterone, habitual chiders like James Dobson are swooning over Palin, light-headedly jostling to anoint and absolve. The GOP's rehabilitation of poor, maligned Murphy Brown has been as blithe as it has been sudden.

Yes, in many ways Sarah is our kind of gal. Her first priority when she began her contentious reign as the amusingly vindictive mayor of a small, snowy town? Try to ban books at the local library that contained the type of naughty words that so rudely besmirch the English language's great literature! And, yes, Palin embraces the God of our President and Party, a God who is more likely to fritter away His day romantically daydreaming about a $30 billion gas pipeline than plucking a victim of one of His hurricanes out of a capsized canoe.

But it is not this shared (and profitable) vision of a mercantile God that has evangelicals verbally petting Palin like a pack of Emo youths whose ecstasy has just kicked in. No, their ardor springs solely from a rather discrete source revealed rather indiscreetly: She's fixated on bringing every embryo she comes near to term. And she has created an "abstinence only from condoms" family that recklessly makes it its mission to ensure that there will be plenty of them, wanted or, as in the case of the last two, not.

Apparently, according to many of my fellow evangelicals, Palin could hold up a liquor store naked on a meth-binge just as long as she and her underage daughter keep pushing out the young'uns! According to Dobson, "The media are already trying to spin this as evidence Gov. Palin is a 'hypocrite,' but all it really means is that she and her family are human."

But perhaps the biggest hypocrite in this story is Dobson. Is he now casting the issues of unwed pregnancy and teenage sex as inconsequential trifles, to be carelessly thrown under John McCain's Straight Jacket Express? After all, he has quickly scolded unwed mothers in the past, showing a far less happy-go-lucky, "stuff happens" insouciance to "values." [And speaking of scolding unwed teenage mothers: What, exactly, is the holdup on setting a date, Bristol, dear? Is it a busy-as-bee caterer - or an election, after which the boyfriend who doesn't want kids can go back to college?]

Imagine the horror and tut-tutting if Barack Obama had a pregnant daughter (well, that and the probable interest by the New England Journal of Medicine). Do you think Dobson would fawn over the news - perhaps, encourage Miss Obama to have a few more? Probably not. Remember how he famously lit into Mary Cheney for having a child without being married to a man? Now, wait. Does that mean that this isn't partisan pandering after all, just saying whatever claptrap is needed to get a Republican to pick some more wild-about-fetuses Supreme Court justices? Oh, how foolish! What was I thinking? Mary, while a Republican, is, moreover, a homo. And, in evangelical circles, being a homosexual is about the only thing as potent as being pro-fetus: The former condemns with the ease the latter absolves.

So close to Jesus, I know which appliance Bristol will name her child after,

Mrs. Betty Bowers
America's Best Christian
(c) 2008 Mrs. Betty Bowers

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Zeitgeist The Movie...

Issues & Alibis Vol 8 # 36 (c) 09/12/2008

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