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In This Edition

Naomi Klein with a call-to-arms, "Now Is The Time To Resist Wall Street's Shock Doctrine."

Uri Avnery exclaims, "It Can Happen Here!"

Victoria Stewart lives, "Under A Black Flag."

Jim Hightower says, "Let's Bust Wall Street Bank Robbers."

Phil Fear explains, "How To Make A Solar Power Generator For Less Than $300."

Mike Adams submits a, "Raw Food Review."

Cynthia McKinney gives, "A Gift For A Generation."

Chris Floyd covers, "The Resurrectionists."

Joel Hirschhorn finds, "Our Republic Raped And Still No Revolution!"

Mike Folkerth does the math, "McCain, Obama = No Hope."

Sheila Samples previews, "The Peter Principle Playoffs."

Mary Pitt concludes, "Palin Simply Doesn't Matter."

Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Glenn Greenwald discovers, "Bailout Follows The 10 Normal Principles For How Our Government Functions."

Ted Rall watches, "Bush, Congress Party Like It's 1929."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "McCain Replaces Palin With Startled Deer" but first Uncle Ernie got dem ole, "Posse Comitatus Blues."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Jeff Koterba with additional cartoons and photos from Derf City, John Sherffius, Left Wing Conspiracy.Com, Wrapped-in-the-Flag.Com, Daryl Cagle, Dees Illustration.Com, Keith Tucker, CWA, 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."

Posse Comitatus Blues
By Ernest Stewart

"Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both." ~~~ § 1385.

Robin Hood, Robin Hood,
Riding through the glen,
Robin Hood, Robin Hood,
With his band of men,
The Adventures Of Robin Hood

"I've seen the future, brother: it is murder."
The Future ~~~ Leonard Cohen

By the time you read this article it will already be too late. The fix is in. The game is over. While you were sleeping, America, in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act and the Insurrection Act, our beloved dictator formed a rapid response group from the 3rd Infantry Division. Their jobs will be to respond to anything that Smirky tells them to with overwhelming force and do it within the borders of these here United Snakes! What's wrong with that? Ya'll remember what William Tecumseh Sherman did to Georgia and the Carolinas? He was a "smart Alec!"

You might ask if this is much ado about nothing as state governors have had the ability to call out National Guard troops to respond to anything that the cops can't handle. An example from my youth was M-60 tanks shooting parts of Detroit and Detroiters into tiny bits during the 1967 riots. There is a lesson for all of you survivalists with your deer rifles and such. You'll last about a nano-second against the Army or Air Force!

No, the difference is that Smirky, without authority of anyone else, and for whatever reason he likes, can send the 3rd Infantry division wherever he wants. To stop you from legally protesting, having a meeting or even voting by declaring "Martial Law" and sending out the troops. They can also round you up and hold you indefinitely in a flu epidemic or other disease outbreak whether real or imaginary. Don't like it? Too bad. They have ways of making you cooperate! All summer long various groups have been out in US cities practicing doing to US citizens what they've been doing to Iraqi citizens. In fact they've been doing this since Bush took power in the 12-12-2000 coup d'etat.

As I've explained before, "U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) was established Oct. 1, 2002 to provide command and control of Department of Defense (DoD) homeland defense efforts and to coordinate defense support of civil authorities. USNORTHCOM defends America's homeland," in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, the Insurrection Act and other federal laws! Another benefit of PNACs and the CIAs 911 act of treason!

USNORTHCOM's specific mission: USNORTHCOM anticipates and conducts Homeland Defense and Civil Support operations within the assigned area of responsibility to defend, protect, and secure the United States and its interests." You may recall that the CIA was set up to protect "American interests" which actually means the interests of our corpo-rat masters! The current traitor appointed by Bush to head this illegal group is Air Force General Victor E. Renuart, Jr. who assumed command of North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command on March 23, 2007.

So as of October 1st, 2008 the stage is set, the players have all rehearsed their parts, the equipment (tanks, Bradleys, helicopter gunships) are standing by, the Happy Camps are staffed and the curtain is rising on the "Fall of the American Empire" and the October surprise to end all surprises! Stay tuned!

In Other News

Although he doesn't look a thing like Errol Flynn, Henry M. Paulson is Robin Hood in reverse, mayhaps "Robbin' Hood" would be more to the point! You'll no doubt recall Herr Paulson was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs. Do you think that Treasury Secretary Paulson's bailout of AIG is connected to his former firm Goldman Sachs? It turned out that the failure of AIG would have cost Sachs $20 billion. A coincidence, no doubt, eh? NOT! Now Hank is doing to the US economy what he once did to Goldman Sachs, i.e., destroying it!

Old Robbin' Hood is out to get that $700,000,000,000.00 for his Wall Street cronies by hook or by crook and regardless of what the people want. Most people I've talked to have just one word for Hank's Wall Street buddies and that word is JUMP! With that addition to all the other bailouts will mean a $5,000.00 bill for every American over the age of 18 on top of your normal tax burden. All just so some wealthy S.O.B.s can become even richer. Got an extra five grand to spare, America? We don't have money for schools, jobs, infrastructure or health care but we can afford to give these crooks and thieves the goldenest parachute of all time!

What needs to be done is round up everyone on Wall street from middle management on up to the CEOs and put them all in the darkest dankest, sh-t holes we can find and leave them there until they rot away. Take all of their assets, houses, cars, boats, planes, bank accounts, etc and use it to pay off the stockholders and then break up these mega corporations and turn them back into little companies so a few dozen groups of men don't hold the economy by the throat.

If I told you that Hank and W have many things in common, for example, they both have a MBA from Harvard, would you be surprised? The twin architects of our current economic disaster are both Harvard grads. Again, it just goes to show you what a degree from Harvard is really worth!

And Finally

I got a taste of the future the other day and as Leonard said, "it is murder!" While returning from a trip to Asheville, we stopped in a gas station to gas up as the stations in our neck of the woods were all closed because the oil companies cut off the supply to keep prices high even a the cost per barrel keeps dropping. I recently had to drive up to central Michigan to attend my father's funeral I found plenty of gas and zero stations closed, however, by the time I got back to the Carolina's, there were gas shortages everywhere with 80% of the stations out of gas. I suddenly flashed back to 1973 when OPEC held back the oil and all of America was standing in lines. The difference being, that this time it was American Corporations that were screwing us!

Ergo I thought I'd stop out on the interstate and gas up before driving down those country lanes back to our home in Trinity, South Carolina. When I pulled into the stations all the pumps were working but there was a bit of a line as most of these folks were heading into Charlotte, which is just down the road and out of gas. I patiently waited my turn and when it came, a SUV driven by a moron jumped the line and took my spot. As he was coming back from football game with his teenage and two younger sons, all wearing Clemson shirts, I hesitated to walk over and give him a head butt and then stomp him into goo, which was the first thing out of my mind after waiting 15 minutes to get some gas. Instead when I could get to the pumps just in front of him, I spent the next 5 minutes verbally abusing him, talking about his mother, grandmother and his great grandmother, too. Nor when he was through pumping his gargantuan truck full of premium did I let him out as I had him blocked in front with the truck and trailer behind him who didn't have the room to back up. So he had to wait until we left (and I flipped him the bird) to get out! He no doubt called the police which came flying in with half a dozen cars as we were leaving the station.

When Victoria returned from paying for our purchase and found out that I didn't at least draw some blood, my sweet, peaceful, love your neighbor, darling of a wife said she'd have kicked his ass had she known that I hadn't!

In that moment, I saw what is awaiting us, just around the corner. I saw that in just a few days of having no gas or electricity or water or food this "Christian Nation" will, in a heartbeat, go for each others' throats and will kill one another for a tank full of gas, a loaf of bread or an hours worth of electricity without a seconds hesitation! You can thank Old Deadeye Dick and his corpo-rat pals at Goebbels/Nixon and the other oil cartels for this current emergency and the fun and games to come, America! As I've said, so many time before, "The people at ground zero will be the lucky ones!"


We'd like to thank Dr. Phil and Mr. Jack (Yes, there is a "Who" song in there somewhere!) for their generous donations this week, we're slowly beginning to close in on our goal to keep fighting for yet another year. Thanks guys!

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


01-15-1909 ~ 09-25, 2008
Arthur, only the good die young!

01-26-1925 ~ 09-26-2008
"I picture my epitaph: 'Here lies Paul Newman, who died a failure because his eyes turned brown'."


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


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


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

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

Now Is The Time To Resist Wall Street's Shock Doctrine
By Naomi Klein

I wrote The Shock Doctrine in the hopes that it would make us all better prepared for the next big shock. Well, that shock has certainly arrived, along with gloves-off attempts to use it to push through radical pro-corporate policies (which of course will further enrich the very players who created the market crisis in the first place...).

The best summary of how the right plans to use the economic crisis to push through their policy wish list comes from Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich. On Sunday, Gingrich laid out 18 policy prescriptions for Congress to take in order to "return to a Reagan-Thatcher policy of economic growth through fundamental reforms." In the midst of this economic crisis, he is actually demanding the repeal of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which would lead to further deregulation of the financial industry. Gingrich is also calling for reforming the education system to allow "competition" (a.k.a. vouchers), strengthening border enforcement, cutting corporate taxes and his signature move: allowing offshore drilling.

It would be a grave mistake to underestimate the right's ability to use this crisis -- created by deregulation and privatization -- to demand more of the same. Don't forget that Newt Gingrich's 527 organization, American Solutions for Winning the Future, is still riding the wave of success from its offshore drilling campaign, "Drill Here, Drill Now!" Just four months ago, offshore drilling was not even on the political radar and now the U.S. House of Representatives has passed supportive legislation. Gingrich is holding an event this Saturday, September 27 that will be broadcast on satellite television to shore up public support for these controversial policies.

What Gingrich's wish list tells us is that the dumping of private debt into the public coffers is only stage one of the current shock. The second comes when the debt crisis currently being created by this bailout becomes the excuse to privatize social security, lower corporate taxes and cut spending on the poor. A President McCain would embrace these policies willingly. A President Obama would come under huge pressure from the think tanks and the corporate media to abandon his campaign promises and embrace austerity and "free-market stimulus."

We have seen this many times before, in this country and around the world. But here's the thing: these opportunistic tactics can only work if we let them. They work when we respond to crisis by regressing, wanting to believe in "strong leaders" - even if they are the same strong leaders who used the September 11 attacks to push through the Patriot Act and launch the illegal war in Iraq.

So let's be absolutely clear: there are no saviors who are going to look out for us in this crisis. Certainly not Henry Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs, one of the companies that will benefit most from his proposed bailout (which is actually a stick up). The only hope of preventing another dose of shock politics is loud, organized grassroots pressure on all political parties: they have to know right now that after seven years of Bush, Americans are becoming shock resistant.
(c) 2008 Naomi Klein is the author of, "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism."

It Can Happen Here!
By Uri Avnery

THE GERMAN name Sternhell means bright as the stars. The name fits: the positions of Professor Ze'ev Sternhell indeed stand out sharply against the darkness of the sky. He warns against Israeli fascism. This week, Israeli fascists laid a pipe-bomb at the entrance of his apartment and he was lightly injured.

The choice of victim seems surprising at first. But the perpetrators knew what they were doing.

They did not attack the activists who demonstrate every week against the Separation Wall in Bil'in and Na'alin. They did not attack the leftists who mobilize every year - this year, too - to help the Palestinians pick their olives near the most dangerous settlements. They did not attack the "Women in Black" who demonstrate every Friday, or the women of "Machsom Watch," who keep an eye on events at the army checkpoints. They attacked a person whose entire activity is in the academic field.

The struggles on the ground are essential. But their main purpose is to influence public opinion. That is the main battlefield, and there the man of letters has an important part to play.

On this battlefield, two visions confront each other, two visions that are as far apart as the West is from the East. On the one side: An enlightened Israel, modern, secular, liberal and democratic, living in peace and partnership with Palestine as an integral part of the region. On the other side: a fanatical Israel, religious, fascist, cut off from the region and civilized humanity, a people that "dwells alone and shall not be reckoned among the nations" (Numbers, 23:9), where "the sword will devour for ever" (2 Samuel 2:26).

Ze'ev Sternhell is one of the outstanding guides of the enlightened vision. His positions are bright as the stars, resolute and incisive. Not a surprising target for the Neo-Nazi pipe-dreamers and pipe-bombers.

THE FIELD of Sternhell's academic expertise is the origins of Fascism, a subject that has occupied me all my life. The reasons for our interest are similar: Nazism left an indelible stamp on our childhood and fate. As a child, I witnessed the rise of Nazism in Germany. As a child, Sternhell saw it in Poland, when, after the death of his father, he lost his mother and sister in the Holocaust.

"He who has been scalded by boiling water is cautious even with cold water," a Hebrew adage goes. Those who experienced Fascism bursting into their lives in childhood are sensitive to the slightest symptom of the outbreak of this disease. In 1961 I wrote a book called "The Swastika" (which exists only in Hebrew), in which I tried to crack the code of the roots of Nazism. At the end of the book I posed the question: Can it happen here? My unequivocal answer was: Yes, indeed.

Because of this, I am sensitive to every warning sign in our society. As a journalist and magazine editor, I shone the searchlight on all such signs. As a political activist, I fought against them in the Knesset and in the street.

Sternhell, on his part, after a military career, is a pure academic. He uses the instruments of academia: research, teaching and publication. He strives for exact definitions, without seeking popularity or avoiding provocation. In one of his articles years ago he asserted that the violent response of the Palestinians to the settlements is quite natural. By this he attracted the lasting wrath of the settlers and the extreme Right, which made an effort to prevent him from receiving the Israel Prize, Israel's highest distinction.

Now the pipe-bombs are speaking.

WHO LAID the bomb? A lone individual? A group? A new underground? The terrorists from the settlements? That's for the police and the Shin-Bet to find out.

From the public point of view, the matter is much more simple: it is quite clear in which flowerbed these poisonous weeds grow, which ideology serves as fertilizer, and who is spreading it.

Israeli Fascism is alive and kicking. It is growing in the flowerbed that produced the various religious-nationalist underground groups of the past: the group that tried to bomb the Muslim shrines on the Temple Mount, the underground that tried to assassinate the Palestinian mayors, the "Kach" gang, the perpetrator of the Hebron massacre Baruch Goldstein, the murderer of peace activist Emil Gruenzweig, the murderer of Yitzhak Rabin and all the underground groups that were uncovered at an early stage before their deeds could bring them to public notice.

These acts cannot simply be attributed to individuals or "rogue groups." There exists a definite fascist fringe at the margin of Israel's political society. Its ideology is religious-nationalist, and its spiritual leaders are mostly "Rabbis," who formulate its world view and the practical application. These Jewish idolaters do not work in secret. On the contrary, they offer their wares on the open market.

This sector is concentrated in the "ideological" settlements. That does not mean that all settlers are fascists. But most fascists are settlers. They are concentrated in certain well-known settlements. By accident or not by accident, all these settlements are located in the heart of the West Bank, beyond the Separation Wall. The first of these, in the Hebron area, were installed with the help of "leftist" leader Yigal Allon, and in the Nablus area by "leftist" leader Shimon Peres.

DURING THE last months, there has been a marked increase in the number of incidents in which settlers attack Palestinians, soldiers, policemen and "leftists."

These acts are committed openly, in order to terrorize and deter. Settlers riot in the Palestinian villages whose lands they covet, or for revenge. These are "pogroms" in the classical sense of the term: riots by an armed mob intoxicated with hatred against helpless people, while the police and the army look on. The Pogromchiks destroy, injure and kill. These days it is happening more and more frequently.

In the few cases when the army or the police intervene, they do not turn on the settlers, but on the Israeli peace activists who come to help the beleaguered Palestinian farmers. The spokesmen of the Security Establishment and the commentators try to sound balanced and speak about "rioters from the Left and the Right." That is a false even handedness, which itself belongs to the Fascist arsenal of tricks.

The Settlers' pogroms are violent by nature, both in thought and deed, while the peace activists are non-violent on principle. If there is violence, it comes from the army and the border police, the pretext being that local boys have been throwing stones. What is not mentioned is that the well-protected soldiers and border policemen pursue the Palestinian demonstrators into the alleys of their villages.

The "boldness" of the extreme right-wing thugs - or "rightist activists" as the media insist on calling them courteously - is increasing by the day. They do whatever they want, knowing full well that no harm will befall them. The police do not interfere, since anyhow the courts will not mete out meaningful punishment.

ANYBODY WHO knows the history of Nazism is familiar with the shameful role played by the courts and the other law-enforcement agencies in the German republic vis-à-vis the law-breakers whose declared purpose was to put an end to the democratic system. The judges imposed ludicrously light penalties on Nazi rioters, whom they considered "misguided patriots," while treating Communist rioters as foreign agents and traitors.

Now we are experiencing this phenomenon here. The law-breaking settlers get symbolic sentences, while Palestinians who are accused of much lesser offenses get harsh penalties. Nowadays, even a settler who sets his dog on a company commander goes free, as does a settler who breaks the bones of a battalion chief.

The army's internal justice system can only be called monstrous: the commander who held up a bleeding woman in labor at a checkpoint causing the death of the child, was punished with two weeks detention. The commander who told a soldier to shoot a handcuffed Palestinian prisoner in the leg was "transferred," meaning that this war criminal can serve in another unit.

DOES THE increase in the number and severity of such incidents testify to the increasing power of Israeli Fascism? At first sight, one might get this impression.

However, on second thought I think that the opposite is true.

The fanatical settlers know that they have lost the support of public opinion in Israel, and that ordinary people consider them dangerous thugs. Their actions, as seen on television, arouse distaste, even abhorrence. The vision of "All of Eretz-Israel" has not only lost altitude - it has crashed on the ground of reality. The Zealots are acting out of weakness and frustration.

Much as the Nazis hated the German republic, these fanatics are starting to hate the State of Israel. And with good reason. They see that they have no place in a national consensus that is solidifying around the concept of "Two States for Two peoples," whether it is being accepted for negative reasons, such as demographic fears or the burdens of occupation, or for positive reasons, such as the hope for peace and prosperity after the withdrawal from the occupied territories.

The discussion about the borders is still going on, but the majority sees the Separation Wall as the future border. (As we made clear right from the beginning, the wall was not really being constructed in order to keep out Palestinian suicide bombers, as was claimed, but as a future border between the two states.)

The Israeli establishment wants to annex the lands between the wall and the Green Line, and is prepared to give the Palestinians Israeli areas in return. What does this tell the settlers?

Most settlers live in settlements near the Green Line, which according to this concept will be joined to Israel. These are, not by accident, the non-ideological "lifestyle" settlers, those who were looking for cheap apartments and "quality of life" at a short distance from Tel-Aviv or Jerusalem. These settlers will, probably, agree in the end to any peace that leaves them in Israel.

The great majority of the extreme settlers, those motivated by a religious-Fascist ideology, live in the small settlements east of the wall, which must be dismantled when peace comes. This is a small minority even among the settlers, supported by a radical minority on the extreme right. That is where violent Israeli Fascism is growing.

ONCE UPON a time it seemed that a Red Line ran parallel to the Green Line - that nationalist-religious terrorism would hurt "only" Palestinians, not Israelis. Even Rabbi Meir Kahane, a born fascist, said so.

That illusion was shattered with the murder of Yitzhak Rabin. Israeli Fascism was found to be like any other classical Fascism, which thunders against the "foreign enemy" but directs its terrorism against the "enemy within." The pipe-bomb at the entrance of Sternhell's home must turn on all the red lights, as it joins the murder of Emil Gruenzweig and the threats on the lives of other conspicuous peace activists.

The decisive battle, the battle for Israel, is entering a new phase - much more violent, much more dangerous. But more serious than any danger to individuals is the danger to Israeli society as a whole. Especially if it does not mobilize all its resources - government, police, Security Service, the law, the courts, the media and the educational system - for an all out battle against this danger.

I do not believe that Fascism will win in our society. I believe in the strength of Israel democracy. But if I am pushed into a corner and asked: "Can it happen here?" I am bound to answer: "Yes, it can."
(c) 2008 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Under A Black Flag
By Victoria Stewart

"Don't call what your wearing an outfit. Don't ever say your car is broke.
Don't worry about losing your accent. A Southern Man tells better jokes.
Have fun, but stay clear of the needle, call home on your sister's birthday.
Don't tell them you're bigger than Jesus, Don't give it away."
Outfit ~~~ Drive-By Truckers

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross." ~~~ Sinclair Lewis (1935)

"Every normal man must be tempted at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats." ~~~ H. L. Mencken

James Howard Kunstler's book "The Long Emergency" (Atlantic Monthly Press, April 2005) details his research and projections about peak oil and what it means for the United States. When I first read an excerpt from his book in the March 24, 2005 issue of Rolling Stone, this paragraph stood out for me:

I'm not optimistic about the Southeast, either, for different reasons. I think it will be subject to substantial levels of violence as the grievances of the formerly middle class boil over and collide with the delusions of Pentecostal Christian extremism. The latent encoded behavior of Southern culture includes an outsized notion of individualism and the belief that firearms ought to be used in the defense of it. This is a poor recipe for civic cohesion.

But Kunstler, like many Americans, has a genuine antipathy for Southerners based upon unsubstantiated stereotypes and no real understanding of the region or the culture but he is wise to be wary. That came home to me recently at a gas station in rural South Carolina.

A day before Hurricane Ike hit Galveston gas prices began to rise above $5.00 a gallon in parts of South Carolina. By the afternoon of September 12, some stations were out of gas and others were limiting purchase amounts. Some people panicked, driving from station to station searching for gas. Since Ike had not made landfall and was not nearly as powerful as had been feared, I attributed the price rise to corporate greed and the shortages to individual greed. I, like a lot of people, didn't expect supplies to stay low long. Now, almost three weeks later, the shortages and at-the-pump rationing continue, Wall Street and the Bush Administration are threatening Armageddon and Henry Paulson is demanding all our money for a very long time. Tempers down south are running a little hot.

As a Southerner, I know that my genetic heritage predisposes me to violence. I am descended from criminals and religious fanatics, circuit riding preachers and prostitutes, moonshiners and suffragists. My commitment to pacifism is philosophical. It is not a natural state of being. Still, I was surprised-and my husband was especially surprised-at how angry I became when a SUV-driving, aging frat boy jumped the line at a gas station to get his $40.00 worth of gas first. I wasn't angry over the gas. I was infuriated by the assumption of privilege, the smug bad taste of his school flags and football decals, the irresponsible model he presented to his sons and his willfully ignorant allegiance to plundering, greed and destruction. Until that moment, I had managed to repress how deeply I despise of what our country has become.

And how it has changed me.

I did not "put hands on" that man. I didn't fling myself in front of the gas pumps, dare him to try to get gas and tell him what an ill-bred, rude and contemptible human he was. I didn't suggest that his mother would be ashamed of him or diminish him in front of his children. But I wanted to reduce him to a sniveling heap of guilt and self-loathing. I wanted to snatch away his unquestioned belief in his own superiority. I wanted to destroy his view of himself.

People are afraid. On a deep, brainstem level, we know our very survival is threatened. Our society is so far removed from the reality of existence, so detached from the essential requirements for life, that we know intuitively and instinctively that we are doomed. We no longer possess the skills to care for ourselves. And like the cornered rats we are, we will fight.

How utterly depressing.

I am not sure what prevented me from accosting that man-luck, chance, karma or some errant rational gene that gained ascendancy. It wasn't conscious self-restraint.

I hear on the news that the gas shortages will last another couple of weeks. Fights at gas stations are breaking out more frequently. People are having trouble getting to work. Services have been interrupted. School and government offices are shutting down.

The future, indeed, is now.

And that future holds a greater threat for violence, not just from our government and military but, also and more immediately, from members of our own communities. As the economy crumbles and necessities become more difficult to acquire, violence will become even more common. We are on the on brink of violent civil unrest.

When I think back on what occurred at that gas station I am not frightened by my anger. I have a lifelong and vocal hatred for power, privilege and rudeness. What frightens me is that had I confronted that man I risked igniting the fear and anger which is running just beneath the surface in all of us. I risked causing real harm.

The coming weeks, months and years will be very difficult. No economic bailout or lack thereof, no president, no government can spare us the world we have made. Many, perhaps most, of us will die. If you are not where you want to be, begin making plans to get there. Think of water, growing seasons, like-minded family or friends. Consider the climate, the requirements for heating and cooling. Think defensibility. Plan for the worst.

As I have said before, I don't find much to recommend humans. If we cease to exist the world will be a better place for all the other life forms. But if we do survive as a species we should take care with what we become. We should plan for what we want to be.

We should do it now.
(c) 2008 Victoria Stewart is the editor of Issues & Alibis magazine.

Let's Bust Wall Street Bank Robbers

On September 19, Ryan Mueller was sentenced in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, to six years in prison for stealing $20 from a toddler's piggy bank.

Think how much better things would have gone for him had his name been Freddie Mac, Bear Stearns, or any of the other monikers of the high-flying Wall Street investment banks. These institutional street thugs have robbed the piggy banks of millions of American homeowners. Yet, only two days after Ryan Mueller's conviction, Treasury secretary Henry Paulson went running after the Wall Street Gang - not to arrest them, but to cover their wrongdoing with a $700-billion bailout.

That's more than $2,000 for every man, woman, and child in our land - victims being forced to pay the perpetrators of a legalized theft that has wrecked the housing market, eliminated thousands of jobs, and sent our economy into a deep tailspin.

Paulson (formerly a Wall Street Banking honcho, himself) wanted what he called "a clean" bailout bill. In other words, an 11-or-12-figure transfer of wealth from us to them, with no strings attached - no punishment for the scofflaws who were in charge, no help for homeowners who got robbed, no protection for taxpayers, and no re-regulation to keep the kleptocrats from repeating their grand larceny.

Bush & Company has had to choke down a huge serving of ideological crow here. He and his laizzes-faire wrecking crew forced this jerry-rigged system of "Yee-Haw!" capitalism on America, and now they want socialism to clean up their disaster.

The Bushites tell us we have no choice, for these giants are "too big to fail." Well - hello - if that's so, it's time to break them up, not make them even bigger and fewer. Let's put a little competition in the system, so America does not remain at the mercy of a handful of financial greedheads and boneheads.
(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.

How To Make A Solar Power Generator For Less Than $300
By Phil Fear

Using parts easily available from your local stores, you can make a small solar power generator for $250 to $300. Great for power failures and life outside the power grid. Power your computer, modem, dvd, tv, cameras, lights, or DC appliances anywhere you go. Use in cabins, boats, tents, archaeological digs, or while travelling throughout the third world. Have one in the office store room in case of power failures in your highrise. I keep mine in my bedroom where it powers my cd player, turntable, lights, modem, laptop, and (ahem) a back massager. I run a line out the window to an 8" x 24" panel on the roof.

1. Buy yourself a small solar panel. For about $100 you should be able to get one rated at 12 volts or better (look for 16 volts) at an RV or marine supplies store.

Powerfilm R15-300 Rollable Solar Panel - $ 98.47 This 300 mah (approx 5 watt) solar panel comes with a cable that can connect to a battery or various other devices. The internal batteries of your wireless electronics can be charged by connecting the PowerFilm• Rollable Solar Panel to your device's 12V cigarette lighter adapter by using the optional (not included) RA-2 Female Cigarette Lighter Adapter is required for your solar panel.

2. Buy yourself a battery. Get any size deep cycle 12 volt lead/acid or gel battery. You need the deep cycle battery for continuous use. The kind in your car is a cranking battery--just for starting an engine. Look for bargains, it should cost about $50-60.

3. Get a battery box to put it in for $10. (This is good for covering up the exposed terminals in case there are children about If you going to install the system in a pump shed, cabin, or boat, skip this.)

Xantrex XPower 1500 W/60 AH BATTERY - $ 336.00
From: GoGreenSolar.com

3. Buy a 12 volt DC meter. Radio Shack has them for about $25.

4. Buy a DC input. I like the triple inlet model which you can find at a car parts store in the cigarette lighter parts section for about $10. This is enough to power DC appliances, and there are many commercially available, like fans, one-pint water boilers, lights, hair dryers, baby bottle warmers, and vacuum cleaners. Many cassette players, answering machines, and other electrical appliances are DC already and with the right cable will run straight off the box.

5. But if you want to run AC appliances, you will have to invest in an inverter. This will convert the stored DC power in the battery into AC power for most of your household appliances. I bought a 115 volt 140 watt inverter made by Power-to-Go at Pep Boys for $50. More powerful inverters are available by mail. Count up the number of watts you'll be using (e.g., a small color television(=60 watts) with a VCR(=22 watts), you'll need 82 watts). A variety of cheap inverters from 100 watts to 3000 watts can be had from Lane's Professional Car Products. Type "inverters" into his search bar.

6. Use a drill to attach the meter and DC input to the top of the box.

7. Use insulated wire to attach the meter to the wingnut terminals on the battery. Connect the negative (-) pole first. Only handle one wire at a time. Connect the DC inlet to the battery in the same way. Connect the solar panel to the battery in the same way.

8. Close the lid (I use a bungee cord to keep it tight). Put the solar panel in the sun. It takes 5-8 hours to charge a dead battery; 1-3 hours to top off a weak one. It will run radios, fans, and small wattage lights all night, or give you about 5 hours of continuous use at 115 volt AC, or about an hour boiling water. This system may be added on to with larger panels, inverters, and batteries. _Options: A pop-up circuit breaker may be added between the positive treminal and the volt meter. Some of you will want an ampmeter as well. The panels I recommend have built-in bypass diodes, but I recommend charge controllers for people who have panels without diodes. Another option is a voltage regulator, which is not necessary for a system this small, but a larger system would require one.

Technical specifications for this solar power generator, some solar links, and more about solar power.
(c) 2008 Phil Fear

Raw Food Review
Sproutein Powder is Raw Protein Made from Freeze Dried Sprouts
By Mike Adams

Continuing our article series on new raw foods, today we take a look at an exciting new raw, sprouted protein product from Sprout Living. It's called Sproutein, and it's a (relatively) high-protein powder made almost entirely from freeze-dried sprouts.

The raw protein supplement market is simply exploding with consumer demand. As people learn about the benefits of plant-based proteins and raw foods, they're increasingly looking for raw, plant-based protein products that provide the nutrients they need to stay healthy and fit.

Sprout Living has just come out with a new protein product called Sproutein. At the Raw Spirit Fest, I was handed the very first sample of this product, along with a hot-off-the-press label that I had to stick on it myself! Made from freshly freeze-dried sprout powders (see below), this product is raw, nutrient dense and absolutely packed with phytonutrients that nourish the body and eliminate degenerative disease (like cancer or heart disease). There are so many anti-cancer nutrients in this product, it would take me a whole book just to cover them.

Most protein products are one dimensional and don't provide many phytonutrients. That's fine if you're adding your own superfoods to your protein smoothies, but some people want a protein source that's rich in sprout nutrients. That's where Sproutein fits the bill. The drawbacks are that it's only about 1/3rd protein and it's a bit on the gritty side (13g of fiber vs. 11g of protein per serving). The taste is also definitely not for beginners looking for a sweet-tasting protein. This is more for hard-core folks looking for very high nutrient density in a protein powder. I really enjoyed it in my smoothies, but then again I'm the kind of guy that drinks marine phytoplankton in my water.

The incredible healing power of sprouts

You're no doubt familiar with the remarkable healing benefits of raw sprouts. Sprouts are nutrient-dense superfoods, and they're loaded with enzymes, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. They even pack a potent anti-cancer punch: Many in the raw foods community consider sprouts to be the most powerful class of cancer-fighting foods in the world, and eating raw broccoli sprouts every day, for example, bathes your body's cells in a healing stream of anti-cancer nutrients.

The Sproutein product from Sprout Living is brand new, just released days ago. It's USDA Organic and 100% raw. It contains absolutely no fillers, chemical sweeteners or additives of any kind. Here are the ingredients:

Freeze Dried Sprout Powders (Sunflower Sprouts, Amaranth Sprouts, Millet Sprouts, Flaxseed Sprouts, Kale Sprouts, Quinoa Sprouts, Mung Bean Sprouts, Alfalfa Sprouts), Hempseed Protein Powder, Goji Berry Powder, Black Maca Root Powder, Yacon Root Powder, Lucuma Powder.

As astute nutritionists will note, the yacon root and lucuma powder add a touch of sweetness to the formula. The maca root gives a bit of energy, and the goji berry powder offers a wealth of health-boosting phytonutrients.

The kale sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, sunflower sprouts and flaxseed sprouts are all powerful anti-cancer superfoods that many people have used to actually cure advanced-stage cancers. The number of people curing cancer on a raw foods diet is simply astonishing, by the way, and sprouts are one of their main foods.

The flaxseed sprouts offer healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and the quinoa sprouts offer healthy, full-spectrum protein. Together, it's an impressive formula that really delivers hard-core nutrition to those who want a nutrient-dense form of protein in their diet.

The nutrition facts on Sproutein

Each serving is 4 scoops (57g) and contains:

o 5g of fat (all plant-based, healthy fats)
o 35g of carbohydrates (all plant-based, low-glycemic carbs)
o 11g of protein
o 13g of fiber

So how does Sproutein taste?

For starters, it's a bit on the gritty site. I recommend blending it with a smoothie rather than just stirring it into water. The texture is definitely not as smooth as something like SunWarrior brown rice protein, but this is understandable, given that it's made of freeze-dried sprouts.

The taste is quite nice if you're really into hard-core raw foods nutrition. I loved it. But for regular folks, this product is too green-tasting and intense. In other words, your kids are probably not going to ask for seconds. It's not a mainstream consumer product. It's just for the most well-informed health-conscious consumers who understand the incredible healing power of sprouts and want a superfood supplement that delivers it.

Compared to other superfood products, it's nowhere near as tasty as Delicious Greens 8000, for example, nor does it come close to the really smooth taste of Emerald Balance It's more along the lines of superfoods from Dr. Jameth Sheridan of HealthForce which are widely considered the most nutritionally-potent superfood powders in the world.

Fresh is still better

One thing you should always consider about superfood supplements (including this one) is that fresh is always the best. If you can eat fresh sprouts, that's better than eating freeze-dried sprouts. And freeze-dried is better than cooked. So always go for the fresh, raw, living foods when you can. At times when you don't have access to fresh, go for the superfood supplements (or use them together).

For example, each day I blend up a fresh batch of raw food juices. I blend organic celery, carrots, kale, parsley, citrus fruits and berries into a delicious RAW green smoothie. But I don't stop there: I add superfood powders like Boku Superfood, Living Fuel or Emerald Balance. I'm now starting to add Sproutein powder to that mix.

This gives me a combination of fresh, RAW superfoods and the freeze-dried superfood powders. I also like to use Vitamineral Green or other nutrient-dense powders to crank up the nutrient density of the drink.

If I were traveling and blending up food in a hotel room, I would obviously have to go with just the straight powders, and that's fine for a few days, but I always get back to fresh, raw juices as quickly as possible.

Sproutein is also more convenient than live, fresh sprouts. Growing sprouts takes time and effort, and if you've ever grown a farm of sprouts in your own kitchen, you know how much work it can be. Sproutein makes it simple for you: Just eat the powders, and you can eliminate the time (and mess) of growing the sprouts yourself. For that fact alone, it's worth every penny.

(c) 2008 Mike Adams ~~~ Natural News

A Gift For A Generation
A U.S. Financial System of Our Own
By Cynthia McKinney

Last week, I posted ten points (that were by no means exhaustive) for Congressional action immediately in the wake of the financial crisis now gripping our country. At that time, the Democratic leadership of Congress was prepared to adjourn the current legislative Session to campaign, without taking any action at all to put policies in place that protect U.S. taxpayers and the global community that has accepted U.S. financial leadership. Those ten points, to be taken in conjunction with the Power to the People Committee's platform available on the campaign website at, are as follows:

1. Enactment of a foreclosure moratorium now before the next phase of ARM interest rate increases take effect;
2. elimination of all ARM mortgages and their renegotiation into 30- or 40-year loans;
3. establishment of new mortgage lending practices to end predatory and discriminatory practices;
4. establishment of criteria and construction goals for affordable housing;
5. redefinition of credit and regulation of the credit industry so that discriminatory practices are completely eliminated;
6. full funding for initiatives that eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in home ownership;
7. recognition of shelter as a right according to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights to which the U.S. is a signatory so that no one sleeps on U.S. streets;
8. full funding of a fund designed to cushion the job loss and provide for retraining of those at the bottom of the income scale as the economy transitions;
9. close all tax loopholes and repeal of the Bush tax cuts for the top 1% of income earners; and
10. fairly tax corporations, denying federal subsidies to those who relocate jobs overseas repeal NAFTA.

In addition to these ten points, I now add four more:

11. Appointment of former Comptroller General David Walker to fully audit all recipients of taxpayer cash infusions, including JP Morgan, Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and AIG, and to monitor their trading activities into the future;
12. elimination of all derivatives trading;
13. nationalization of the Federal Reserve and the establishment of a federally-owned, public banking system that makes credit available for small businesses, homeowners, manufacturing operations, renewable energy and infrastructure investments; and
14. criminal prosecution of any activities that violated the law, including conflicts of interest that led to the current crisis.

Ellen Brown, author of "The Web of Debt" writes at, "Such a public bank today could solve not only the housing crisis but a number of other pressing problems, including the infrastructure crisis and the energy crisis. Once bankrupt businesses have been restored to solvency, the usual practice is to return them to private hands; but a better plan for Fannie and Freddie might be to simply keep them as public institutions."

Too many times politicians have told us to support the "free market." The unfolding news informs us in a most costly manner that free markets don't work. This is a financial system of their making. It's now past time for the people to have an economic system of their own. A reading of the full text on the Congressional "Agreement on Principles" for the proposed $700 billion bailout reveals the sham that this so-called agreement truly is. Today our country faces an economic 9/11. The problem that is unfolding is truly systemic and no stop-gap measures that maintain the current bankrupt structure will be sufficient to resolve this crisis of the U.S. economic engine.

Today is my son's birthday. What a gift to the young people of this country if we were to present to them a clean break from the policies that produced this economic disaster, the "financial tsunami" that former Comptroller General David Walker warned us of so many months ago and instead offered them a U.S. economic superstructure that truly was their own.

Power to the People!
(c) 2008 Cynthia McKinney

The Resurrectionists
Beltway's Big Money Cultists Bail Out the Dead
By Chris Floyd


The crisis of Wall Street's financial meltdown has demonstrated, once again, that although the Bush Faction thugs are criminals, killers, torturers, and thieves, without even the slightest competence in governing, they remain brilliant political tacticians. They may be willfully ignorant and brutally stupid in almost every other area, but when it comes to advancing their own narrow interests -- at the expense of the political opposition -- their low cunning cannot be denied.

Just look how they have made the Democratic leadership the face of the Administration's bailout plan -- which is perhaps the most virulently unpopular government action in the last 100 years. This unconscionable giveaway to the greedy rich was cooked up in the poison kitchen of the Oval Office, long before the late summer collapses that triggered the public crisis -- yet at every turn, before every camera, who do we see fighting hard for the plan? Why, Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank, front and center, day after day, talking it up, defending the President and his wise counselor, the rapacious Wall Street profiteer Henry Paulson. When the bailout goes through, and ordinary Americans see that their own lives and livelihoods are still collapsing all around them, who are they going to blame? Why, the Democrats, of course.

As usual -- as always -- the Democrats have handed their ostensible opponents a razor-sharp sword. You can hear it now: "That radical liberal feminist from San Francisco, that stubby little Massachusetts homo -- they're the ones who did this to you! Liberals and Jews and homos, they've stabbed you in the back again!"

As always, this message will be sponsored by the very Wall Street wolves which the Democrats are now falling all over themselves to save. The Democratic sell-out will, once again, be used to discredit any notion of ameliorating the most savage effects of unrestricted corporate power: "See what happens when them libruls monkey with the free market?" Just as soon as the biggest fraudsters and grafters behind the meltdown have filled their coffers with enough taxpayer loot to feel safe again, the extremist sect of "free market fundamentalism" will raise its banner over Wall Street -- and Washington -- once again.

In fact, this has already happened once in the last 20 years: hardly outside the living memory of many if not most of our media mavens and political operators. The Savings and Loan meltdown -- which, once again, saw the Bush Family in the thick of the muck -- resulted in a gargantuan bailout of, yes, fraudsters and grafters....like Neil Bush, for one. They wrecked vast financial institutions, devoured pensions, destroyed businesses, ruined the lives of millions of people -- and got away clean. What's more, the extremist doctrine of unregulated greed that led to the crisis was not only not discredited by this crimeful and shameful episode -- it was exalted to new heights a short time later... by a young, hip, "progressive" Democratic president elected on a platform of "hope and change," replacing a failed, incompetent, and highly unpopular Republican president named George Bush.

Yes, it was Bill Clinton, "the Man from Hope," who oversaw the accelerated dismantling of nearly all of the remaining checks and balances on rapacious Big Money greed. It was Clinton who helped lay the groundwork for outright criminal enterprises like Enron and "legitimate" criminal enterprises like Hank Paulson's Goldman Sachs and all the other high flyers who gamed a system that suddenly had no rules, except one: make your pile and screw everybody else. (It was also Clinton who gave billions to Halliburton and other war profiteers in a vast "privatization" of the U.S. military, laying the foundation for the world-historical thievery of Bush's corporate cronies in the killing fields of Iraq; but that's another story.)

And make no mistake: just as before, it will be the young, hip "progressive" candidate of hope and change taking over from a failed president named George Bush who will oversee and acquiesce in the resurrection of free market fundamentalism after a catastrophic failure of the cult's doctrine. In fact, Obama has joined the Democratic leadership in trying to keep the cult from losing its supremacy even now. He has joined John McCain in supporting the "breakthrough" on the bailout reached on Sunday. The young, hip, "progressive" candidate said that although it was unfortunate that American taxpayers and their descendants will have to endure further impoverishment and degradation just to keep rich, stupid, blind, greedy, slobbering gluttons in clover, the bailout plan "is a necessary step."

Here we can see that the resurrection of the crony capitalist cult has already begun. For if one thing is true in this wild frenzy of elite panic (some of it genuine, some of it deliberately whipped up to scare the proles into falling in line), it is this: the bailout plan proposed by Bush and championed by the Democratic leadership is not a necessary step at all. It is a step, yes; but as dozens of the nation's top economists will tell you, it is the wrong step: it will not "solve" the current crisis, will not punish the perpetrators of this global grand theft, nor bring genuine relief to the millions of ordinary people who will go down in the fallout of this elite folly.

However, if your primary goal is to ensure that the cult of coddled crony capitalism retains its divine dominion over national and world affairs, then, yes, the Bush-Obama-McCain-Pelosi-Paulson-Frank bailout proposal is indeed "necessary."


Arthur Silber and Mike Whitney continue to be the most penetrating expounders of the reality behind the financial meltdown and the disastrous bailout plan. Whitney has produced a series of richly detailed pieces at CounterPunch, outlining the financial nitty-gritty of the crisis, and also pointing to the alternative approaches offered by some of the world's most learned economic experts. Silber has built a remarkable series of posts around Whitney's articles, bringing out the deeper implications of the crisis and its connections to the wider failures and atrocities of the bipartisan corporate-militarist state that now rules in place of the dead Republic.

Silber demonstrates this once again in his latest piece on the crisis, pointing to Whitney's latest piece and drawing on other reports as well, to hammer home several hard truths that are going unnoticed in the media carnival surrounding the oh-so-"necessary" bailout.

Silber zeroes in on a Washington Post piece that, in the paper's endearingly clueless fashion, essentially gives the game away:

Both Republicans and Democrats are desperately trying to make it appear that they're looking out for the well-being of the indentured servants whose lives their rulers so carelessly dispose of. That's hardly surprising in light of the notably loud groundswell of rejection at the terms of this plan. But it wouldn't do to encourage the riffraff too much, and the Democrats understand very well indeed who is actually calling the shots here. [From the WP]:

Democrats also made a number of concessions, abandoning demands that bankruptcy judges be empowered to modify home mortgages on primary residences for people in foreclosure. They also agreed not to dedicate a portion of any profits from the bailout program to an affordable housing fund...

Let them live in tents! proclaim the Democrats.

But the Democrats did succeed with certain of their demands, and in every case the solution proves to be utterly meaningless and toothless:

The administration also agreed to Democratic demands that the financial services industry should help pay for the program. Under the agreement, the president would be required to propose a fee on the industry if the government has not recovered its money through sales of the assets within five years.

"The president would be required to propose..." Required to propose, but it appears no one is required to impose. Tough language! And does anyone honestly believe that after all the accounting gimmicks, the shifting of funds here, there and everywhere on the impossibly incomprehensible books of many different firms, any of this will come to anything? ....As the Post article makes clear, the essence of the Bush administration proposal will soon be enacted: American taxpayers will be forced to pay for generations to solve a problem that cannot be solved, all so that the ruling class is spared any substantial degree of discomfort.

He then points to Whitney's sobering analysis:

The financial system is blowing up. Don't listen to the experts; just look at the numbers. Last week, according to Reuters, "U.S. banks borrowed a record amount from the Federal Reserve nearly $188 billion a day on average, showing the central bank went to extremes to keep the banking system afloat amid the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression." The Fed opened the various "auction facilities" to create the appearance that insolvent banks were thriving businesses, but they are not. They're dead; their liabilities exceed their assets. Now the Fed is desperate because the hundreds of billions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) in the banks vaults have bankrupted the entire system and the Fed's balance sheet is ballooning by the day. The market for MBS will not bounce back in the foreseeable future and the banks are unable to roll-over their short term debt.

The Federal Reserve itself is in danger. So, it's on to Plan B; which is to dump all the toxic sludge on the taxpayers before they realize that the whole system is cratering. It's called the Paulson Plan, a $700 billion outrage which has already been disparaged by every economist of merit in the country....

From Reuters: "Borrowings by primary dealers via the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, and through another facility created on Sunday for Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Merrill Lynch, and their London-based subsidiaries, totaled $105.66 billion as of Wednesday, the Fed said."

See what I mean; they're all broke. The Fed's rotating loans are just a way to perpetuate the myth that the banks aren't flat-lining already. Bernanke has tied strings to the various body parts and jerks them every so often to make it look like they're alive. But the Wall Street model is broken and the bailout is pointless.

Yes, as I noted above, it is pointless -- if your chief aim is to mitigate the now-unavoidable catastrophe in some fashion, and provide some alleviation to the innocent people harmed by it. But if you want to raise the rotting corpse of the Market Messiah, stick it high on a pole and worship it as a god, in hopes that its priests will give you money and power, then without a doubt, the bailout plan is -- what's that word again? -- necessary.
(c) 2008 Chris Floyd

Our Republic Raped And Still No Revolution!
By Joel S. Hirschhorn

Are Americans ready for a revolution? What worse than the current meltdown of the financial sector, the unraveling of our economy, and burdening us and future generations with astounding debt is needed to convince Americans that the two-party plutocracy has sold out ordinary Americans? What we are witnessing is far worse than the taxation without representation that spurred the American Revolution. Taxation with MISrepresentation is a greater evil and shameful sellout of democracy that so many Americans have fought and died for.

Yet, despite over 80 percent of Americans saying that the nation is on the wrong track - BEFORE the current financial crisis, Americans sheepishly seem ready and willing this year to keep voting for Democrats and Republicans. If they had one shred of the smartness and courage of our nation's Founders, they would overwhelmingly vote for third party presidential candidates to send the clearest and most patriotic message possible to the ruling class that has both major parties in their pocket.

Ousting Democrats and Republicans is more justified and needed than removing the tyranny of the King of England. Our elected domestic tyranny operating as a plutocracy masquerading as a democracy has been raping our nation. Yet middle class victims seem more than willing to keep bending over and asking for more pain and insult as they fall hook, line and sinker for the lies of both Barack Obama and John McCain.

It is far too easy, with the financial sector meltdown, for Americans to only blame Republicans. But Bill Clinton started the deregulation of the financial sector and every evil and stupid thing George W. Bush and Republicans have done could not have happened without the cooperation of corrupt and cowardly Democrats in Congress. They too have inflicted economic sodomy on us and contributed to disgracing our Constitution.

What incredible absurdity that the government seems ready to spend $700 billion to bail out countless crooked, mismanaged and greedy companies (and similar money on the Iraq war) and not ever seriously propose to spend that kind of money on rebuilding the nation's crumbling physical infrastructure that would immediately create millions of new good paying jobs desperately needed by the middle class.

Now is the time for Americans to wake up, stand up and vote down Republicans and Democrats. How wonderful it would be if the candidate that claims the presidency only receives, say, 20 percent of all eligible voters. This is the first necessary step for we the people to take back OUR country.
(c) 2008 Joel S. Hirschhorn observed our corrupt federal government firsthand as a senior official with the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association and is the author of Delusional Democracy - Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. To discuss issues write the author.

McCain, Obama = No Hope
By Mike Folkerth

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

I'll lead off with the results of the Presidential Debate last evening. My opinion of the outcome is that both of these guys would fail in their own businesses within 30 days. Fortunately for them, they work for us; unfortunately for us, they work for us.

I noted that McCain said that all military spending is off limits for cuts of any kind as are Social Security and Medicare benefits. Obama didn't disagree. In fact when asked around 40 times what they would cut neither had any specific ideas.

The absolute statement that the military budget was a sacred cow is disturbing to say the least. Such a statement would lead me to believe that these men are well aware that our world is going to erupt with fighting over resources. One economist put it best: "American's believe that all global resources are ours, they were just mistakenly put in another country."

Obama was braced on several occasions over his projected $850 Billion in additional spending which he promises to pay by taxing others. No spending cuts, just greater taxation. Obama alluded to the premise that such an arrangement makes it free.

Now let's cut to the quick. Our military budget along with government retirements and benefits, combined with Social Security and Medicare promises, will soon require 100% of total current tax collection. This may well be the reason that neither committed to any net spending cuts. Anything that they could possibly cut will immediately be consumed in another area. In technical language, it' called "the point of diminishing returns." In real terms, it's called bankruptcy.

Don't worry about bankruptcy. At the rate we are going, our leadership may well be able to drag this thing out with additional borrowing and our kids will be the ones who have to face the music. And after all, isn't that the plan?

Both men last evening promised that in a short period of time we would have independence from foreign oil and jobs, jobs, jobs. All while reducing pollution and getting greener by the minute. Of course we will.

The promise from both empty suits to rid ourselves of foreign oil was based on having nukes on every corner, standing next windmills, that will be surrounded by solar panels. So what do all of these solutions have in common? They produce electricity. We don't use oil to produce electricity, it costs too much. Well heck Ralph, back to the drawing board.

Note that both did in fact promise growth and therefore note that neither of them give a hoot and holler about you or our diminishing quality of life. Oh, they talked about the fact that our economy is failing, but neither know why, or at least aren't willing to say so.

The U.S. reached zenith on the premise for exponential growth 38 years ago. We have now reached zenith for false monetary growth and exponential societal debt as our basis. Yet the two men who are poised to lead this country are seemingly clueless regarding the root cause that has brought us to this terrible juncture.

The only word that I heard from either man that had any resemblance to the truth was from Obama. That word was "if." He said that "We may get our money back from the bailout, when," and after a slight pause, he continued, "if" the stock market recovers."

Perhaps this was a Freudian slip from a man who has designs on taxation at a level that will assure that our American companies never profit, or for that matter the American people. Or perhaps he really does understand the base problem; either way, he offered no solutions, but simply mathematically impossible rhetoric.

Expanding our growth, consumption, and population in the exponential manner that was promised by our future leadership is in direct conflict with our balance with Mother Earth. That is why these same promises have been made, but not kept, for the past 38 years.

Mortal man has limitations and that fact should be evident to the dimmest person after 38 years of our futile attempt to combat nature and natural laws; we haven't won a round yet.
(c) 2008 Mike Folkerth is not your run-of-the-mill author of economics. Nor does he write in boring lecture style. Not even close. The former real estate broker, developer, private real estate fund manager, auctioneer, Alaskan bush pilot, restaurateur, U.S. Navy veteran, heavy equipment operator, taxi cab driver, fishing guide, horse packer...(I won't go on, it's embarrassing) writes from experience and plain common sense. He is the author of "The Biggest Lie Ever Believed."

The Quotable Quote...

"The person who stands up and says, 'This is stupid,' either is asked to behave or, worse, is greeted with a cheerful, 'Yes, we know! Isn't it terrific!'"
~~~ Frank Zappa

The Peter Principle Playoffs
By Sheila Samples

"We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men." ~~~ George Orwell

So here we sit, our heads jerking back and forth so rapidly most of us are suffering severe whiplash. Will the US attack Iran? Will Israel attack Iran? Or will the two war-mongering bullies join forces and "bomb, bomb, bomb" that belligerent twit-nation into subservience?

It's a great game. A deadly game. The momentum to attack Iran has been building for so long that we're conditioned to watching it like some grotesque international tennis competition. It's the Peter Principle Playoffs, with neoconsters and ziomonsters out on the court milling around, working at their highest "levels of incompetence," feverishly plotting Iran's destruction. Foul lines mean nothing to them. There are no rules, no officials, no scores, no accountability.

Bolton's Law

Immediately before Bush invaded Iraq, the criminally insane John Bolton, then Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, made a personal trip to Israel to assure Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that as soon as we destroyed Iraq, we'd "deal with threats" from Syria, Iran and North Korea. However, it's obvious Iran has always been at the top of the list.

Since 2003, both US and Israeli governments, the corporate media, especially Fox News, and the US Congress have been unrelenting in their campaign to convince the world that Iran is an immediate nuclear threat, although Iran insists it is seeking nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. In August 2003, the UK Guardian's Simon Tisdall wrote, "They call it a trap. But we call it Bolton's first law of international power politics; keep the other guy guessing; wear him down. When he gives a little, demand a whole lot more. Then zap him anyway."

Bolton's Law: Make wild accusations. Escalate terror and confusion. Kill. Repeat.

It's no laughing matter, but the sight of this tousle-headed, "got milk?" maniac running in circles, warning of -- demanding -- a nuclear holocaust is good for a grin, albeit a grim one. Even as he was being forced onto the United Nations over national and international objections, Bolton was hot on Iran's trail. He insisted that Iran is the most dangerous critter out there -- harboring terrorists, arming terrorists, training terrorists -- sending bombs, IEDs, weapons to Iraq to kill Americans. If it weren't for Iran, there would have been no 9-11 attack because Iran provided safe haven for the box-cutting killers headed our way. Bolton warned if Iran managed to produce a single nuclear weapon, Israel, the United States -- the world -- was toast. He promised that Iran will come after us. "That's the threat," Bolton barked, "that's the reality whether you like it or not. And it will be just like Sept. 11, only with nuclear weapons this time."

Bolton keeps showing up for work even though his paycheck is now signed by the second most powerful Israeli Lobby, the American Enterprise Institute . He's determined that Iran is going down and, if he can't goad the US into action, he will whip Israel into a frenzy. Like the Batman's Joker, Bolton leaps from the pages of the Wall Street Journal in catastrophic convulsions on a regular basis. On July 15, Bolton insisted "we should be intensively considering what cooperation the U.S. will extend to Israel before, during and after a strike on Iran. We will be blamed for the strike anyway," Bolton reasoned, "...so there is compelling logic to make it as successful as possible. At a minimum, we should place no obstacles in Israel's path, and facilitate its efforts where we can."

Who's On First?

Bolton is surrounded by fellow psychopaths like Norman Podhoretz who insists our only choice is to bomb Iran before Iran gets the bomb and bombs us. Podhoretz is a key figure in the Playoffs with his constant drumbeat that Iran is the "leading sponsor of terrorism in the world," and once it achieves nuclear technology, we're all gonna die!

And National Review's Larry Kudlow, who swooned ecstatically when Israel cluster-bombed Lebanon two years ago. Israel was "doing the Lord's work," defending freedom against the "Iranian cat's-paw" of terrorism. Kudlow says Israel must not stop, but furiously attack "all the terrorist sanctuaries, training camps, weapons caches, and missile systems it can find." Scary Larry enthusiastically supports at least half of Bolton's Law -- the last half.

Others joining Bolton for whom the destruction of Iran is a political game include Bill Kristol, virtuous "bookie" Bill Bennett, Joe Lieberman, and Daniel Pipes, whose harsh and raucous predictions center around whether Bush will attack Iran before or after the upcoming election. If McCain wins, most say that Bush will pass the nuclear baton to him while sprinting to the finish line to pardon his fellow war criminals. However, if McCain should lose, they agree that Bush will get his war on and leave the mess for Obama to clean up.

Those who continue to beat the drums of war trust that we will believe what they say without considering the obvious. Just last week, to coincide with President Ahmadi-Nejad's visit to the UN, former UN ambassador Richard Holbrooke, former CIA director James Woolsey, former Clinton Middle East coordinator Dennis Ross, and former UN representative for management and reform Mark Wallace wrote an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal regurgitating rigid neoconservative talking points.

Channeling Cheney, they wrote that we shouldn't believe Iran when it says it "needs nuclear energy and is enriching nuclear materials for strictly peaceful purposes." Hey, Iran has "vast supplies of inexpensive oil and natural gas," so there's no "legitimate economic reason for Iran to pursue nuclear energy."

Then, unable to resist an unsubstantiated "Bushism" or two, these heavy hitters warned that "Iran is a deadly and irresponsible world actor," and should it get the bomb, Iran would "sponsor terror, threaten our allies, and support the most deadly elements of the Iraqi insurgency."

Finally, they whipped out Bolton's Law with the wild -- and discredited -- accusation that "President Ahmadinejad specifically calls for Israel to be 'wiped from the map,' while seeking the weapons to do so."

The constant discordant barrage of accusations and demands is so outrageous we attempt to shrug it off as mostly ideological clatter-babble, yet we sit paralyzed with fear. We are unable to recognize the real danger that looms just beyond the shadows.

But we know he's there. When Dick Cheney emerges, we are bewitched by the horror he evokes as he piles lie upon bloody lie about Iran's nuclear activities -- in spite of international findings and US intelligence lack of evidence. He accuses Iran of smuggling weapons of mass destruction into Iraq to kill Americans. Iran is training insurgents, is joined at the hip with Al-Qaeda, is the world's most dangerous sponsor of terrorism, and if it can get its hands on just one nuclear weapon, it will immediately lob it in Israel's direction.

In 2005, Cheney instructed the Pentagon to draw up a plan for a nuclear attack on Iran should another 9-11-type terrorist attack on the U.S. occur, even if Iran had nothing to do with it. To provoke a war, Cheney suggested dressing up Navy Seals as Iranians, putting them on fake Iranian speedboats, and shooting at them. Murdering Americans in cold blood, exterminating 60-70 million innocent Iranians and contaminating millions more throughout the region is a small price for Cheney to pay. Iran must face the consequences for having the audacity to possess two-thirds of the world's oil.

Bad, Bad Ahmadi-Nejad

Since being elected in June 2005 as Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad has rhetorically stepped in it and tracked it all over the Persian rug. Scarcely in office four months, he gave a speech in which he quoted the Ayatollah Khomeini who had said years earlier -- "This regime occupying Jerusalem (een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods) must [vanish from] from the page of time (bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad)." That comment was transcribed as Ahmadi-Nejad threatening to wipe Israel off the map, and despite repeated efforts to get the correct translation out, the world's media went into a shrieking frenzy that has yet to abate.

Ahmadi-Nejad has made numerous public and private diplomatic overtures to the United States in the last three years, and all have been rejected -- with insults, sneers, and threats. It is critical to the outcome of the Playoffs that spectators see Ahmadi-Nejad as a criminally insane killer who is a threat to the entire world. He is sort of cocky, and his arrogance at insisting that Iran has the same rights and privileges under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as the other members, that Iran has the right to pursue nuclear power for peaceful purposes, and that George Bush is not Iran's "Decider" is driving guys like Bolton over the edge.

Which -- when you think about it -- is not necessarily a bad thing...

So, who is this guy? Few know that Ahmadi-Nejad is an Engineer with a Ph.D on transportation engineering, a university professor, a working member on the Iran Civil Engineering Society, and the Islamic Association of Students in the Science and Technology University, as well as others. He is an accomplished journalist and former managing director of the Hamshahri newspaper. He was the mayor of Tehran before running for president. Even fewer know that, in reality, he wields no power other than that allotted to him by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader. He's deeply religious, stubborn and reckless. He's unpredictable and, at times, dangerous. Ohmigod -- Ahmadi-Nejad is "Bush with Brains!"

Should We Fear Iran?

Iran's nuclear ambitions for other than peaceful purposes are as elusive as Iraq's WMD, which defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld said were "in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat." Yet we are in danger of being swept up in the propaganda catapulted by the Bush administration and the corporate media once again. Perhaps we should take a deep breath and apply a bit of logic here, pay close attention to the obvious. If Iran is truly a threat to the entire world, then we should be afraid. However, demanding that Iran either prove a negative or face extermination of millions of its citizens does not, and should not, pass the terror smell test.

It is obvious that, in this unstable era, we should be aware of, and even fear, those countries bristling with nukes. For starters, the United States has more nuclear weapons than any other nation. Then there's Russia, China, France, Britain, India, Pakistan, North Korea and...shhhhh...Israel. Currently, Pakistan is in turmoil and threatening to shoot down US planes that fly across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and kill civilians, Russia refuses to back off from its Georgia stance no matter how vigorously Condi Rice wags her finger in its face, China has abruptly cut off financial deals with the US because of the plummeting dollar, and North Korea is restarting its Yongbyon nuclear reactor because Bush broke his promise to remove it from Washington's list of state sponsors of terror.

Yet, amidst all this fury and instability, we are obsessed with destroying Iran -- a nation that, in modern history, has never attacked another country -- and which has repeatedly maintained it seeks nuclear power primarily for generating electricity for its growing population. In 2005, Ayatollah Khamenei issued a Fatwa that "the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that Iran shall never acquire these weapons."

What is obvious to anyone familiar with the timeline of Iran's nuclear program from the 1950s is that Iran has never sought nuclear energy for anything other than peaceful purposes. In 1957, the Shah opened the American Atoms for Peace in Tehran, and signed an agreement with the US for cooperation in research on peaceful uses of nuclear technology. And, in 1968, Iran signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty on the first day it opened for signature. In the late 70's, the US supplied Iran with two nuclear power reactors and enriched uranium fuel, and granted Iran the "most favored nation" status so it would not be discriminated against when seeking permission to reprocess US-origin fuel.

To restate the obvious -- if we are to fear Iran, it is not because, as Bush said in June -- "They refuse to abandon their desires to develop the know-how which could lead to a nuclear weapon" -- it is because Iran threatens to defend itself if attacked. It is because other nations, such as Russia, refuse to stand idly by as Iran is "wiped off the map."

We need to get our minds around who is the aggressor here. Because if we continue to passively watch the evil unfold; if Dick Cheney wins the behind-the-scenes, off-court power struggle, the Peter Principle Playoffs will be over and the entire Middle East will explode in nuclear flames.
(c) 2008 Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is a regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites. Contact her at: rsamples@wichitaonline.net

Palin Simply Doesn't Matter
By Mary Pitt

This comment may seem to come from far left field but, when you stop to consider it, the perfect sense of it will become apparent. First, Senator John McCain was all set to prove his "bipartisanship" by naming his colleague and good buddy, Senator Joe Lieberman, as his running mate. His Republican advisors vetoed that idea and told him he needed to choose someone to bring around the religious right who had, to that time, been lukewarm about the prospect of voting for the secular McCain and would not be impressed by the addition of a Jew and a Democrat.

Now, McCain was not overly impressed by Governor Mike Huckabee and the other possibilities might have expected to be asked to actually do something in the McCain administration if they won. I am a contemporary of John McCain, (actually a few years older), and I am familiar with his history throughout his adult life. He is a man who, while being happy to appear to be agreeable to a bipartisan approach to getting what he wants, is also willing to "go it alone" despite any opposition and has actually been quite successful at it. In fact, anybody who was anticipated a "partnership" administration in the manner of Bush/Cheney or even Clinton/Gore is to be greatly surprised.. In the macho world of the military, there is only one "Top Dog."

When interviewed prior to being named for the slot, Governor Palin questioned what the duties of a vice-President might be. Well she might. The Constitutional duties of the holder of that seat are to, "preside over the Senate and inquire about the President's health daily," she is likely to find that this is precisely the extent of her duties under a President McCain. If McCain wants someone to do the job of Dick Cheney in a new administration, he will name someone like Joe Lieberman to a new post which he has the authority to create after the changes in "Executive Privilege" as interpreted by George W. Bush, and the veep will fade into the background as they so often have. I wouldn't go so far as to accuse the good Senator of being a male chauvinist but he has not been known for expressions of his "female sensitivities."

Governor Palin should realize that she is trying to play in the Big Leagues now and being named as the vice-Presidential candidate is not winning Miss America. She is as much "a decorator accent" as Britney's dog. It doesn't matter what she thinks nor what she says beyond attracting the religious nuts to vote for the "big guy" and the best she can hope for as the result of her efforts will be a good paycheck, a fine temporary home in the Naval Observatory, and a lifetime pension. All of which will be good for now but, twenty years from now, she will be approached in the street with the question, "Didn't you used to be somebody?"

(c) 2008 Mary Pitt is a very "with-it" old lady who aspires to bring a bit of truth, justice, and common sense to a nation that has lost touch with its humanity in the search for societal "perfection." Huzzahs and whiney complaints may be sent to mpitt@cox.net

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Bush,

Dear Schatzkammer Sekretär Paulson,

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 calling for emptying the treasury before we leave office, Iraq and these many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Junta Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Iron Cross 1st class with diamond 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 Paulson, Sieg Heil!

Vice Fuhrer Cheney

Heil Bush

Bailout Follows The 10 Normal Principles For How Our Government Functions
By Glenn Greenwald

The word being used most frequently to describe the bailout package that is about to pass is "extraordinary." That adjective may apply to the amounts of money being transferred from taxpayers to Wall Street, but the process by which this is all happening is anything but "extraordinary." All of the "principles" that drive how our Government functions in general -- what explain the last eight years at least -- are perfectly evident in what has happened here:__

(1) Incredibly complex and consequential new laws are negotiated in secret and then enacted immediately, with no hearings, no real debate, no transparency. Nancy Pelosi has praised herself for decreeing that the new law will be online for 24 hours before Congress votes on it -- a full 24 hours for the American public to understand and assess a law that forces them to subsidize Wall St.'s losses in a way that may impact them for decades, if not generations. The most significant and consequential pieces of legislation over the last eight years -- the Patriot Act, the various expanded surveillance laws, the Military Commissions Act -- were the by-product of identical anti-democratic processes.__

(2) Those who created the crisis, were wrong about everything, drive the process. Experts who dissent from the prevailing Washington orthodoxy, particularly ones who were presciently warning about what was happening, are simply ignored -- systematically excluded from the process. Professor Nouriel Roubini:

It is pathetic that Congress did not consult any of the many professional economists that have presented -- many on the RGE Monitor Finance blog forum -- alternative plans that were more fair and efficient and less costly ways to resolve this crisis. Last week, Hank Paulson -- who bears responsibility for the crisis in numerous ways -- demanded that $700 billion be transferred to him in order to purchase toxic assets from his Wall St. friends, and while there was much howling of outrage in many quarters, no other framework was ever considered.

(3) Public opinion is largely ignored, as always, and public anger is placated through illusory, symbolic and largely meaningless concessions. Much is being made over the allegedly strong oversight provisions to limit the Treasury Secretary's power, accomplished through the creation of two oversight panels -- one that is composed of 5 administration officials (including the Treasury Secretary himself, the Federal Reserve Chairman and the SEC Chairman -- the definitive foxes guarding the hen house), and another that is appointed by Congress but which -- as is true for everything Congress touches -- has little real authority over what is done.

Identically, executive compensation limits -- used to bestow the plan with its populist bona fides -- are minimal and extremely limited. Worse, the public is being told that the financial services industry must pay for any losses to the Treasury still outstanding after five years, but the bill requires nothing of the sort, simply requiring that the president "propose" a plan for recoupment, not that Congress enact any such plan.

And, most of all, while not as absolute as it was in the original Paulson proposal, the Congressional plan still vests extraordinarily vast and centralized power in the Treasury Secretary -- just as Paulson demanded. As the NYT put it this morning: "During its weeklong deliberations, Congress made many changes to the Bush administration's original proposal to bail out the financial industry, but one overarching aspect of the initial plan that remains is the vast discretion it gives to the Treasury secretary." __

(4) The Government begins with demands for absolute power so brazen and absurd that anything, by comparison, seems reasonable. Thus, the law that will be passed does improve on the original Paulson Plan in certain ways -- equity shares under some circumstances, some oversight provisions and mild home-owner protections -- and people thus end up grateful for what is, by any measure, an extreme outcome, all because it's not quite as extreme as what the Bush administration began by demanding.__

(5) Wall Street, large corporations and their lobbyists own the Federal Government and both parties, and (therefore) they always win. Professor Roubini:

Thus, the Treasury plan is a disgrace: a bailout of reckless bankers, lenders and investors that provides little direct debt relief to borrowers and financially stressed households and that will come at a very high cost to the US taxpayer. And the plan does nothing to resolve the severe stress in money markets and interbank markets that are now close to a systemic meltdown . . . . This is again a case of privatizing the gains and socializing the losses; a bailout and socialism for the rich, the well-connected and Wall Street. And it is a scandal that even Congressional Democrats have fallen for this Treasury scam that does little to resolve the debt burden of millions of distressed home owners.

Both parties depend on, are drowning in, the largesse of the very industries they are supposed to regulate, and the only possible outcome from the very beginning was that Congress would do what most helps Wall St. and their largest corporate donors. That's what they always do.

(6) The people who run the Washington Establishment are drowning in conflicts of interest. Hank Paulson let Lehman Brothers go bankrupt while intervening to save AIG, only for it to be revealed after the fact that Goldman Sachs -- Paulson's career-long firm of which he was Chairman until just a couple years ago -- would have lost $20 billion had AIG failed. Worse, Goldman's current CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, was present with Paulson when the decision to save AIG was made.

Beyond the litany of Wall St.-loyal government officials demanding this Wall St.-friendly bailout (Bush's Chief of Staff, Josh Bolten, is also a former Goldman Sach official), Congressional leaders are, with very few exceptions, all vested heavily in Wall St. As but one example, Nancy Pelosi's tens of millions of dollars are invested (.pdf) in firms such as AIG, AT&T and others. It only stands to reason -- as always -- that if Wall St. is both owning the Government and running it, it will prevail over the proverbial "Main Street" every time. And it does, and just did again.__

(7) For all the anger over what Wall St. has done, the Government -- as it bails them out -- isn't doing anything to rein in their practices. Nancy Pelosi today said: "We sent a message to Wall Street -- the party is over," but to the extent that's true, the Government has done nothing to bring it to an end. To the contrary, by announcing -- yet again -- that there are never any consequences for recklessness and real corruption on the part of the ruling class, that behavior is only being further incentivized. If you were running a large financial services corporation whose failure would jeopardize many other companies, why wouldn't you continue to pursue extremely high-risk/high-reward transactions, comfortable in the knowledge that the Congress you own will protect you from any real cataclysmic failure (in exactly the way that high government officials know they can commit crimes with impunity and thus are incentivized to do so)?__

(8) When the Government wants greater and greater power and wants to engage in pure corruption, it need only put the population in extreme fear and it gets its way in every case. Establishment mavens rush forth to assure the public that they have no choice but to submit to what the Government is demanding. The anger and impotence level of the citizenry increases further, further alienating them from their Government and ensuring even greater levels of submission in the future, grounded in an accurate perception of futility.__

(9) On the most consequential and fundamental questions that define the country, the establishment/leadership of both political parties are in full agreement, and insulate themselves from any political ramifications by acting jointly. Democrats in particular jump eagerly into line when told they must cooperate with the White House to avert whatever the Disaster du Jour is (and in this case, House Republicans were most impressive in defying these orders until they, too, were basically whipped into line), but ultimately, the differences between the parties at the level of their leadership are impossible to detect.__

(10) Whenever you think that the Government has done things so extreme that it can't top itself -- torture, theories of presidential lawbreaking, a six-year war justified by blatantly false pretenses -- it always tops itself. On top of the massive debt under which the country was already drowning, another $700 billion is now being added in order to save the nation's richest individuals from the consequences of their own recklessness, allowing many of them not only to remain enriched, but become further enriched, all while basically ensuring that the Government is incapable of spending any money for years, if not longer, on programs designed to improve the lives of the vast, vast majority of its citizens -- the same citizens who are forced to fund this bail-out. That seems hard to top, but the only thing certain is that they will find a way to do so.__

UPDATE: Amazingly, the House just rejected the bailout, sending the Dow plummeting by more than 500 points. According to Kagro:

The bill is defeated. 205-228 -- there was a last, and I mean really last, minute switcher. A Dem, switching from yea to nay. Could have been a yea voter looking to move to reconsider. Partisan breakdown: 140 Dems for, 95 against, and 65 Rs for, 133 against. The economy and the markets are clearly in severe distress, and some form of Government action is needed. I don't think anyone denies that. But this was the wrong deal, and in terms of market confidence and stability, there's probably nothing worse than announcing so definitively -- again -- that a deal has been agreed to, only for it to be defeated. Our political leaders are as inept as they are corrupt.

UPDATE II: House Republicans are blaming a speech Nancy Pelosi gave this morning for defeat of the bill, claiming that her "partisan tone" drove many GOP members to vote against it. That is really dumb. If House Republicans decided how to vote on this bailout based on a speech Nancy Pelosi gave -- rather than their views on the merits -- that is as potent an indictment of those GOP members as anyone else could make.

What seemed to happen is that enough members were afraid of the extreme public anger against this bailout bill and petrified of what it would do to their future job security. That's a good thing -- it's called responsiveness and accountability.
(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.

Bush, Congress Party Like It's 1929
Save People, Not Bankers
By Ted Rall

NEW YORK--Seat belt laws embolden drivers to drive faster, causing a net loss of life. It's the law of unintended consequences, also known as the Peltzman effect: the safer you feel, the more risk you take.

Sam Peltzman, the economist after whom said effect is named, says that government bailouts like the Bush Administration's $700 billion attempt to stave off economic collapse are no more effective than "pouring money down a rat hole." Moral hazard--rewarding reckless people and companies while allowing responsible ones to fail (hello, Lehman Brothers) may avert one economic crisis while planting the seeds of a worse one down the road.

"In the long run," says Peltzman, "you're just laying the groundwork for more because you're giving people an incentive to take too much risk, where a big part of the risk gets laid off on the taxpayer."

I don't think much of the laissez faire, magic-of-the-marketplace, let-'em-eat-flat-screens school of Darwinian economics flogged by the University of Chicago, where Milton Friedman once reigned supreme and Peltzman is a professor emeritus. But I think he has a point here--with a twist. Government intervention is appropriate and necessary during tough economic times. But not if you bail out corporations.

The 1979 Chrysler bailout is a perfect example. Jimmy Carter's $1.2 billion loan sent an unwholesome message to Detroit: don't change a thing. If you get into trouble, the government will rescue you. The Big Three kept selling gas guzzlers. Nimble foreign automakers that spent the 1980s and 1990s developing hybrid technology are crushing them now.

More recently, the government bailed out the airlines after 9/11, notably by limiting negligence lawsuits by relatives of victims. It's hardly a coincidence that the major carriers haven't done much to improve security. Similarly, it's hard to see how U.S. taxpayers will benefit by lending my former employer Bear, Stearns $29 billion to facilitate its sale to JPMorganChase. Bear's corporate culture, reeking of the testosterone-drenched arrogance of its seven-figure-salaried executives, led it to fib about the worth of the collateralized debt obligations that supposedly guaranteed the payment of its subprime mortgage hedge funds. When traders learned the truth, confidence in the firm collapsed, sealing its fate.

Or would have, if the feds hadn't come along. Letting Bear go under might have prompted caution among future wannabe Masters of the Universe. If capitalism survives this debacle, we'll see more like it as a result.

Democrats are asking for some laudable amendments to Bush's plan. They want to give bankruptcy court judges the power to reduce monthly mortgage payments, cap executive salaries, and increase Congressional oversight of the financial services companies involved. Good ideas, but none go far enough. Besides, they'd expire at the end of 2009. Does anyone think the economy will be booming by then?

Each family that loses their house creates a ripple effect. Empty homes lower their neighbors' property values. Some dispossessed workers, unable to find a new place near their jobs, become unemployed. Savings are wiped out. Forced to move, parents pull children out of school, disrupting their education in ways that will hurt them and society decades from now. Banks are burdened with the costs of maintaining property they don't want until they can unload it at a reduced price--further depressing real estate prices. Society, even renters, has an interest in preventing foreclosures.

The unpredictable nature of the current real estate price plunge has created another set of problems. Tobin Harshaw of The New York Times sums up a complicated mess as nicely as anyone I've read: "There are a whole bunch of mortgage-backed securities, the value of which is not known, because nobody knows what the default rates on the underlying mortgages are likely to be." Investors can't set prices, much less invest, without reliable information. So credit markets have seized up.

Americans are peering into the abyss, a.k.a. the End of Everything As We Know It. So whom are we counting upon to save the day? The same Bushist dead enders and Congressional layabouts who let Osama bin Laden live and New Orleans die.

So yeah, we're toast. But let's talk about what should be done:

1. Declare a Bank Holiday. As FDR did in 1933, Bush should shut down the financial system--banks, stock and currency exchanges--for a week or so to avoid panic selling, cool down market volatility, and give Congress time to craft carefully considered legislation rather than the spend-a-thon slapped together over the last Black Weekend. It bodes ill that liberals and conservatives alike have so little faith in the plan. Take some time; get it right.

2. Reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act. The current mortgage meltdown couldn't have happened without Senator Phil Gramm, now a key economic advisor to John McCain. In 1999 Gramm led the repeal of the Depression-era legislation that had separated commercial from investment banks, allowing Citigroup and other companies to sell mortgage-backed securities that blurred the line between Main Street and Wall Street. Let the financiers handle derivatives, structured investment vehicles, and other arcane financial instruments. Banking should return to its dull, staid roots as a business that pays interest on deposits and collects interest on loans without imperiling those deposits.

3. Bail out homeowners, not lenders. Stop doling out hundreds of billions, even trillions, of dollars, to a few banks and issue the cash to the disaggregated tens of millions of Americans who will spend the money and stimulate the economy instead. Which brings us to...

4. Abolish predatory interest rates. Millions of people in danger of losing their homes would not be in trouble if their banks weren't charging usurious interest rates. Every primary homeowner should be automatically refinanced to a floating 30-year mortgage, with the interest rate set at 1/4 percent point above the fed funds borrowing rate. Similarly, all consumer credit card debt should be refinanced to prime plus 1/4. The same goes for student loans. Secondary and vacation homes don't qualify. Unemployed homeowners can apply for hardship deferrals, allowing them to skip mortgage payments until they find a job. Payday loans ought to fall under similar guidelines. In Utah, the average interest rate on payday loans is 521 percent! Of course, reforms will cut deeply into lenders' earnings. Many banks would be at risk of going under, which is why...

5. Banks that fail should be nationalized. As should investment banks and any other institution that needs federal taxpayer money to avoid failure. If we the people fund 'em, we the people own 'em. If and when the economy recovers, the Treasury collects the spoils and cuts our taxes.

6. Withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan, and slash defense spending. Christopher Whalen, managing director of Institutional Risk Analytics, tells USA Today the government may have to cover $1.4 trillion in bad mortgage debt. That's a lot of money, but I have good news: we can get it. In 2007, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq would cost at least $2.4 trillion through the next decade--even more if Obama or McCain keep their pledges to send more troops to Afghanistan next year. Cutting our losses and cutting the $515 billion a year Defense Department appropriations budget would help finance the clean-up of the mortgage meltdown.

(Now a syndicated columnist and editorial cartoonist, Ted Rall was a trader at Bear, Stearns & Co. and a loan officer at the Industrial Bank of Japan during the 1980s.)
(c) 2008 Ted Rall is the author of the new book "Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?" an in-depth prose and graphic novel analysis of America's next big foreign policy challenge.)

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Jeff Koterba ~~~

W the Movie Music Video ~ DJ Monkey's 3rd World War

To End On A Happy Note...

Love Me, I'm A Liberal
By Phil Ochs

I cried when they shot Medgar Evers
Tears ran down my spine
I cried when they shot Mr. Kennedy
As though I'd lost a father of mine
But Malcolm X got what was coming
He got what he asked for this time
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

I go to civil rights rallies
And I put down the old D.A.R.
I love Harry and Sidney and Sammy
I hope every colored boy becomes a star
But don't talk about revolution
That's going a little bit too far
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

I cheered when Humphrey was chosen
My faith in the system restored
I'm glad the commies were thrown out
Of the A.F.L. C.I.O. board
I love Puerto Ricans and Negros
As long as they don't move next door
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

The people of old Mississippi
Should all hang their heads in shame
I can't understand how their minds work
What's the matter don't they watch Les Crane?
But if you ask me to bus my children
I hope the cops take down your name
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

I read New Republic and Nation
I've learned to take every view
You know, I've memorized Lerner and Golden
I feel like I'm almost a Jew
But when it comes to times like Korea
There's no one more red, white and blue
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

I vote for the democratic party
They want the U.N. to be strong
I go to all the Pete Seeger concerts
He sure gets me singing those songs
I'll send all the money you ask for
But don't ask me to come on along
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

Once I was young and impulsive
I wore every conceivable pin
Even went to the socialist meetings
Learned all the old union hymns
But I've grown older and wiser
And that's why I'm turning you in
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal
(c) 1967/2008 Phil Ochs

Have You Seen This...

Greg Palast: Rove Has Already Fixed the 2008 Election

Parting Shots...

McCain Replaces Palin With Startled Deer
Hoofed Running Mate Could be Game-changer
By Andy Borowitz

With less than a week to go before the crucial vice-presidential debate, GOP presidential nominee John McCain announced today that he was replacing his running mate, Alaska governor Sarah Palin, with a startled deer.

According to campaign insiders, the decision to select a hoofed mammal to replace Gov. Palin evolved after Sen. McCain watched his running mate's performance in a series of interviews with CBS's Katie Couric.

"Good Lord, a startled deer could do better than that," Sen. McCain reportedly said, prompting his aides to draw up a shortlist of startled deer.

The Arizona senator supposedly brushed aside concerns that a startled deer would wilt under the pressure of a televised debate, telling aides, "At least a goddamn deer won't go on about Alaska being close to Russia."

The McCain campaign said today that Sen. McCain's new running mate, Bucky the Red Deer, would not be made available to the press prior to the debate.

"Bucky is very much a work in progress," said McCain campaign manager Rick Davis. "Right now we're working on keeping him from bolting off the stage."

Bucky's opponent in the upcoming debate, Delaware senator Joseph Biden, appeared today to be trying to manage expectations for the high-stakes face-off with his four-legged rival.

"Bucky the Red Deer is articulate, bright and clean," Sen. Biden said. "That's storybook, man."

Elsewhere, former "American Idol" star Clay Aiken revealed that he was gay in an exclusive interview with Duh magazine.
(c) 2008 Andy Borowitz


The Gross National Debt

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Zeitgeist The Movie...

Issues & Alibis Vol 8 # 38 (c) 10/03/2008

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