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In This Edition

Howard Zinn takes us, "From Empire To Democracy."

Uri Avnery is, "Summing Up."

Victoria Stewart sees, "The Up Side."

Jim Hightower says, "Bush Is Ducking His Presidential Responsibility."

Phil Fear is, "Furthering Anarchism In Your Garden."

Mike Adams uncovers the real, "Partnership For A Drug-Free America."

Cynthia McKinney asks, "Where's Kenny Rogers When You Need Him?"

Chris Floyd explores, "The Wounded Shark."

Cindy Sheehan concludes, "Bailing Out Wall Street, Selling Out Main Street."

Mike Folkerth shows, "The Enemy Within."

Colonel Ann Wright reports, "My Daughter's Dream Became a Nightmare."

Mary Pitt wonders, "Where Is Justice?"

Californication Sin-ator Barbara Boxer wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Glenn Greenwald finds, "A Country In Shambles, Under GOP Rule."

Paul Krugman follows, "Health Care Destruction."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department 'The Onion' writes a, "Report: 60 Million People You'd Never Talk To Voting For Other Guy" but first Uncle Ernie reports on, "Martial Law."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Chan Lowe with additional cartoons and photos from Married To The Sea.Com, Mike Adams, Walt Kelly, S. Kelly, Peter Bromhead, Eric Allie, Robert Ariail, Distressed American, Internet Weekly.Org, Associated Press, 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."

Martial Law
Coming soon to your neighborhood
By Ernest Stewart

"Catastrophic Emergency" means any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions; ~~~ NATIONAL SECURITY PRESIDENTIAL DIRECTIVE/NSPD 51 Part B

"If someone sticks up a bank they get a jail sentence. Wall Street sticks up the Nation they get a 700 Billion dollar bailout!" ~~~ Dennis Kucinich

"Unlike Wall Street executives, American families don't have a golden parachute to fall back on. It's clear that Americans' retirement security may be one of the greatest casualties of this financial crisis." ~~~ Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.)

When Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) stated in a speech on the floor of the House that he had been warned that if the $700,000,000,000.00 Socialist bailout of the corpo-rat goons on Wall Street didn't pass it would mean Bush declaring Martial Law. This wasn't political grandstanding but what Bush can do under the National Security Presidential Directive. As it states in Part B Bush can suspend Constitution rights in matters of the economy. Not only that but, according to this little act of treason and sedition, (I might add) Congress could do nothing about it.

As I pointed out before, Smirky now (As of October 1st) has the 3rd Army standing by to carry out whatever our beloved Texas prairie monkey wants. Just the implied threat to use it is, for the purpose of law, an illegal act, an act of treason. Funny how neither Obama nor McCain have spoken out against this, perhaps because it helped them steal around a trillion dollars for their corpo-rat masters or, more likely, because they might want to use it themselves someday.

As we've pointed out, a lot of Bush's game plan was done before by his Granddaddy's business partner, Adolph Hitler. It was after the Reichstag Fire that Hitler began changing the German Constitution and laws; it was after 911 when Bush started changing the Constitution and laws. Concentration camps. Happy Camps. In fact, the Bush family made $2 million dollars off of the financing of Auschwitz. Here we see the hand of Karl Rove (who imagines himself a WWII historian) in naming this act NSPD 51. Hitler, too, had a Directive 51 and used the initials NSPD or National Socialist Party of Deutschland. Hitler had the Gestapo to carry out his Directive 51. Bush has U.S. Northern Command and the 3rd Army.

Do you see a pattern forming yet, America? Like Hitler, Bush went after non-Christian followers of Yahweh, i.e., Muslims, much as Hitler went after the other non-Christian followers of Yahweh, the Jews. Hitler's Brown shirts started the Reichstag fire. Our CIA planned and implemented 911. Here are some of what Bush has done just since the electronic coup d'etat of 2004:

Claiming by executive order emergency powers unauthorized by Congress;
Conducting nation-wide mass arrest exercises in 2005, 2006 and 2007;
Obtaining from Congress removal of legal impediments to the indefinite detention of US citizens without trial;
Obtaining from Congress the authority to use federal troops for domestic police duties, by nullifying the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878;
Obtaining from Congress the authority to use national guard units, without the consent of state's governor, in that or any other state;
Establishing programs to assist in the implementation of martial law using business community, academics, and clergy;
Authorizing by executive order seizing assets of anyone "undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq"; and,
Contracting for the construction of high capacity detention centers throughout the country.

Ergo, don't be surprised if before the election or before January 20, 2009, there is a trumped emergency and we find ourselves under Martial Law and a perpetual Bush dictatorship. Nor should you expect the Con-gress to do anything about it!

In Other News

Well, the Demoncrats and Rethuglicans came together to all but destroy the economy with their $850,000,000,000.00 bailout of some of the richest S.O.B.s in the world. They did this at a time when throwing money at the problem won't solve a thing and will make the coming depression just that much worse.

What they've done will add at least a $5,000.00 tax bill for every American over 18. Ask your representative about that and watch the hemming and hawing begin. Ask him why, with Bush's track record, he would even conceive of giving Goldman Sachs' front man that kind of money to waste, just like he did at Goldman Sachs. I'll guess you weren't surprised to learn another one of Hank's co-conspirators from Goldman Sachs is picked to head the Office of Financial Stability or OFS. Neel Kashkari, 35, a former stooge of Hanks will be in charge of giving away your tax dollars to various criminals, bagmen and ne'er-do-wells.

For those of you who think electing Obama will bring change to "Foggy Bottom" and end the Bush destruction of America, you better think again! Obama was leading the charge for Bush and the Bailout as he has done so many times before with for financing our various war crimes and crimes against humanity all over the Middle East. Electing Barry will mean four more years of Bush. Even old "Wet Start" who knows all about financial scandal from his "Keating Five" daze jumped on the "screw American/bailout Wall Street" bandwagon with Barry, Nancy and Harry.

If they really wanted to save the economy, think what they could have done with that money. They could have built fully equipped, new schools in every village, town and city across America and had money left over. Imagine what that would have done for the economy. They could have put 3.4 million Americans to work, paying each and every one $50,000.00 a year for five years. Again, think of what that could have done! They could have rebuilt our crumbling infrastructure, bridges, and highways. They could have given every man, woman and child a fully complete, zero deductible, health insurance for three years, even with no discount for bulk, with a decent discount 10 years! Instead of any of those or many other legitimate uses that would have surely boosted the economy and ended any threat of depression, you get to face losing your, job, your house, your family, your life, with that huge tax bill to boot so that our Congress can keep feeding off the corpo-rat tit!

And Finally

Have you heard what they've done to your retirement plans? In just the last 15 months the stock market gurus have lost $2 trillion dollars in American retirement savings. Thought you were going to retire at age 62 or 65 or 66 or 67 or 67 1/2, did ya? Forget that. Not only are American's retirement savings gone down the corpo-rat drain and into the houses, yachts and jetliners of the Wall Street goons but pensions and 401 (k) plans are pretty much gone as well!

And you were worried about Social Security, huh? You were just coming to terms with not driving anywhere and cutting down on eating and planning how to winterize your cardboard box so you and the Mrs. don't freeze to death this winter. As Meatloaf once said, "It's always something. There's always something going wrong. That's the only guarantee!"

No, our beloved Prairie Monkey and his corpo-rat pals have gone way beyond Ronald Rayguns wildest, wet dreams. Next on the agenda is to get rid of Medicare and Medicaid. The purpose of all of this, in case you're not hip, is to save trillions in payments and to see that we die by age 40 or 45, hence, the 45 million American without health insurance, the millions out in the street or living in their cars and children going uneducated or undereducated, which is what "No Child's Behind Left" was all about! There are approximately 6 billon too many of us and this is the what they're doing to "thin out the herd!"

Global starvation, a never-ending war and designer diseases like AIDs and West Nile Virus are ways to cull the mob. Genetically-modified food from plants to animals are being tested on unknowing Americans. Antibiotics are injected into animals and are passed on in their meat and by-products. Eventually that will produce germs that we can't stop. Radiating food, poisoning water with pesticides, herbicides and industrial pollutants-the list goes on.

The stock market and all that it entails are just tiny parts of the overall plan. Got those freeze-dried foods put up yet? Got something to make clean water with? Can you survive off the grid? Can you protect your family? Big darkness come soon!


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

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

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

Ernest & Victoria Stewart


07-27-1933 ~ 10-01-2008
Hang down your head and cry!


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."

From Empire To Democracy
By Howard Zinn

Let's not waste $700 billion on a bail-out, but use 'big government' for what it's best at - shaping a society that is fair and peaceable.

This current financial crisis is a major way-station on the way to the collapse of the American empire. The first important sign was 9/11, with the most heavily-armed nation in the world shown to be vulnerable to a handful of hijackers.

And now, another sign: both major parties rushing to get an agreement to spend $700bn of taxpayers' money to pour down the drain of huge financial institutions which are notable for two characteristics: incompetence and greed.

There is a much better solution to the current financial crisis. But it requires discarding what has been conventional "wisdom" for too long: that government intervention in the economy ("big government") must be avoided like the plague, because the "free market" will guide the economy towards growth and justice.

Let's face a historical truth: we have never had a "free market," we have always had government intervention in the economy, and indeed that intervention has been welcomed by the captains of finance and industry. They had no quarrel with "big government" when it served their needs.

It started way back, when the founding fathers met in Philadelphia in 1787 to draft the constitution. The first big bail-out was the decision of the new government to redeem for full value the almost worthless bonds held by speculators. And this role of big government, supporting the interests of the business classes, continued all through the nation's history.

The rationale for taking $700 billion from the taxpayers to subsidize huge financial institutions is that somehow that wealth will trickle down to the people who need it. This has never worked.

The alternative is simple and powerful. Take that huge sum of money and give it directly to the people who need it. Let the government declare a moratorium on foreclosures and give aid to homeowners to help them pay off their mortgages. Create a federal jobs program to guarantee work to people who want and need jobs and for whom "the free market" has not come through.

We have a historic and successful precedent. Roosevelt's New Deal put millions of people to work, rebuilding the nation's infrastructure, and, defying the cries of "socialism," established social security. That can be carried further, with "health security" - free health care - for all.

All that will take more than $700 billion. But the money is there. In the $600 billion for the military budget, once we decide we will no longer be a war-making nation. And in the swollen bank accounts of the super-rich, by taxing vigorously both their income and their wealth.

When the cry goes up, whether from Republicans or Democrats, that this must not be done because it is "big government," the citizenry should just laugh. And then agitate and organize on behalf of what the Declaration of Independence promised: that it is the responsibility of government to ensure the equal right of all to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Only such a bold approach can save the nation - not as an empire, but as a democracy.
(c) 2008 Howard Zinn is the author of, "A People's History of the United States," "Voices of a People's History" (with Anthony Arnove), and "A Power Governments Cannot Suppress." His newest book is A People's History of American Empire, the story of America in the world, told in comics form, with Mike Konopacki and Paul Buhle in the American Empire Project book series. An animated video adapted from this essay with visuals from the comic book and voiceover by Viggo Mortensen, as well as a section of the book on Zinn's early life, can be viewed by clicking here.

Summing Up
By Uri Avnery

IN COLLOQUIAL Israeli Hebrew, when someone discovers something that everybody else already knows, we say: "Good morning, Elijahu!"

Why Elijahu? I don't know. Now one could say: "Good morning, Ehud!"

That's what I said to myself when I read the sensational interview that Ehud Olmert gave this week, on the eve of the Jewish New Year, to the newspaper "Yediot Aharonot".

AT THE end of his political career, after resigning from the prime ministership, while waiting for Tzipi Livni to set up a new government, he said some astounding things - not astounding in themselves, but certainly when they come from his mouth.

For those who missed it, here is what he said:

"We must reach an agreement with the Palestinians, the essence of which is that we shall actually withdraw from almost all the territories, if not from all the territories. We shall keep in our hands a percentage of these territories, but we shall be compelled to give the Palestinians a similar percentage, because without that there will be no peace."

"... including Jerusalem. With special solutions, that I can visualize, for the Temple Mount and the historical holy places ... Anyone who wants to keep all the territory of the city will have to put 270 thousand Arabs behind fences within sovereign Israel. That won't work."

"I was the first who wanted to impose Israeli sovereignty on all the city. I admit ... I was not ready to look into all the depths of reality."

"Concerning Syria, what we need first of all is a decision. I wonder if there is one single serious person in Israel who believes it is possible to make peace with Syria without giving up the Golan Heights in the end."

"The aim is to try and fix for the first time a precise border between us and the Palestinians, a border that all the world [will recognize]."

"Let's assume that in the next year or two a regional war will break out and we shall have a military confrontation with Syria. I have no doubt that we shall smite them hip and thigh [an allusion to Judges 15:8] ... [But] what will happen when we win? ... Why go to war with the Syrians in order to achieve what we can get anyway without paying such a high price?"

"What was the greatness of Menachem Begin? [He] sent Dayan to meet with Tohami [Sadat's emissary] in Morocco, before he even met Sadat ... and Dayan told Tohami, on behalf of Begin, that we were prepared to withdraw from all of Sinai."

"Arik Sharon, Bibi Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Rabin, his memory be blessed ...each one of them took a step that led us in the right direction, but at some point in time, at some crossroads, when a decision was needed, the decision did not come."

"A few days ago I sat in a discussion with the key people in the decision-making process. At the end [I told them]: listening to you, I understand why we have not made peace with the Palestinians and the Syrians during the last 40 years."

" We can perhaps take a historic step in our relations with the Palestinians, and a historic step in our relations with the Syrians. In both cases the decision we must make is the decision we have refused to face with open eyes for 40 years."

" When you sit on this chair you must ask yourself: where do you direct the effort? To make peace or just to be stronger and stronger and stronger in order to win the war ... Our power is great enough to face any danger. Now we must try and see how to use this infrastructure of power in order to make peace and not to win wars."

"Iran is a very great power ... The assumption that America and Russia and China and Britain and Germany do not know how to handle the Iranians, and we Israelis know and we shall do so, is an example of the loss of all sense of proportion."

"I read the statements of our ex-generals and I say: how can it be that they have learned nothing and forgotten nothing?"

MY FIRST reaction, as I said, was: Good morning, Ehud.

I am reminded of my late friend, the poet who went by the name of Yebi. Some 32 years ago, after dozens of Arab Israeli citizens were killed demonstrating against the expropriation of their lands, he came to me in utter turmoil and exclaimed: we must do something. So we decided to lay wreaths on the graves of the killed. There were three of us: Yebi, I and the painter Dan Kedar, who died last week. The gesture aroused a storm of hatred against us, the like of which I have not experienced before or since.

Since then, whenever someone in Israel said something in favor of peace, Yebi would burst out: "Where was he when we laid the wreaths?"

That is a natural question, but really quite irrelevant. Olmert, who fought all his life against our views, is apparently adopting them now. That is the main thing. Not "Good morning, Ehud" but "Welcome, Ehud."

True, we said this 40 years ago. But we were not an incumbent Prime Minister.

True, too, that these things were said and spelled out in detail by many good people, like those who wrote the Gush Shalom Draft Peace Treaty, the Nusseibeh-Ayalon document or the Geneva initiative. But none of them was an incumbent Prime Minister.

And that is the main thing.

IT SHOULD not be forgotten: In the period in which these ideas were crystallizing in Olmert's mind, he was allowing the settlements to expand, especially in East Jerusalem.

That gives rise to an unavoidable question: Does he really mean what he says? Isn't he cheating, as is his wont? Isn't this some sort of manipulation, as usual?

This time I tend to believe him. One can say: the words sound truthful. Not only the words themselves are important, but also the music. The whole thing sounds like the political testament of a person who is resigned to the end of his political career. It has a philosophical ring - the confession of a person who has spent two and a half years in the highest decision-making office in the land, has absorbed the lessons and drawn conclusions.

One can ask: Why do such people reach their conclusions only on finishing their term of office, when they can no longer do much about the wise things they are proposing? Why did Bill Clinton come to formulate his proposals for Israeli-Palestinian peace during his last days in office, after wasting eight years on irresponsible games in this arena? And why, for that matter, did Lyndon Johnson admit that the Vietnam War has been a terrible mistake right from the beginning only after he himself had brought about the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans and millions of Vietnamese?

The superficial answer lies in the character of political life. A Prime Minister rushes from problem to problem, from crisis to crisis. He is exposed to temptations and pressures from the outside and stress from the inside, coalition squabbling and inner-party intrigues. He has neither the time nor the detachment to draw conclusions.

The two and a half years of Olmert's term were full of crises, from the Second Lebanon War, for which he was responsible, to the corruption investigations which dogged him throughout. Only now has he got the time, and perhaps the philosophical composure, to draw conclusions.

That is the importance of this interview: the speaker is a person who stood for two and a half years at the center of national and international decision making, a person who was exposed to the pressures and the calculations, who had personal contact with the leaders of the world and of the Palestinians. A normal person, not brilliant, not a profound thinker by any means, a man of political practice, who "saw things from there that cannot be seen from here."

He has delivered a kind of State of the Nation report to the public, a summary of the reality of Israel after 60 years of the state and 120 years of the Zionist enterprise.

ONE CAN point out the huge gaps in this summary. There is no criticism of Zionist policy over five generations - but that is something that one cannot really expect from him. There is no empathy with the feelings, the aspirations and the traumas of the Palestinian people. There is no mention of the refugee problem (it is known that he is ready to take back just a few thousand in the framework of "family reunion"). There is no admission of guilt for the disastrous enlargement of the settlements. And the list is long.

The primitive basis of his world view has not changed. That is made clear by the following amazing statement: "Every grain of the area from the Jordan to the sea that we will give up will burn our hearts ... When we dig in these areas, what do we find? Speeches by Arafat's grandfather, or Arafat's great great great grandfather? We find there the historical memories of the people of Israel!"

That is utter nonsense. It is totally unsupported by historical and archeological research. The man is just repeating things he picked up in his early youth, he is simply expressing his gut feelings. Anyone sticking to this ideology will find it hard to dismantle settlements and make peace.

All the same, what is in this testament?

It is an unequivocal and final divorce from "All of Eretz Israel" from a person who grew up in a home over which hovered the Irgun emblem: the map of Eretz Israel on both sides of the Jordan. For him, the Irgun slogan "Only Thus" has turned into "Anything But Thus."

It gives unequivocal support to the partition of the country. This time, his adherence to the principle of "Two States for Two Peoples" appears much more genuine, not lip service or sleight of hand. His demand for "fixing the final borders of the State of Israel" represents a revolution in Zionist thought.

Olmert has already said in the past that the State of Israel is "finished" if it does not agree to partition, because of the "demographic danger." This time he does not invoke that demon. Now he speaks as an Israeli who is thinking about the future of Israel as a progressive, constructive, peaceful state.

All this is put forward not as a vision for the remote future, but as a plan for the present. He demands that a decision be taken now. It almost sounds like: Let me continue for another few months, and I shall do it. The unstated assumption is that the Palestinians are ready for this historic turning point.

And he has fixed an Israeli position from which there can be no going back in any future negotiations.

THIS IS the testament of the Prime Minister, and it is obviously intended for the next Prime Minister.

We don't know whether Tzipi Livni is ready to implement such a plan, or what she thinks about this testament. True, she has lately voiced rather similar ideas, but she is now entering the cauldron of the Prime Minister's office. One cannot know what she will do.

I wish her one thing above all: that at the end of her days as Prime Minister she will not have to sit down and give an interview, in which she, too, will apologize for missing the historic opportunity for making peace.
(c) 2008 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

The Up Side
By Victoria Stewart

"Yeah, take a look in the mirror now tell me what you see _
Another satisfied customer in the front of the line for the American dream
I remember when we was both out on the boulevard _
Talkin' revolution and singin' the blues _
Nowadays it's letters to the editor and cheatin' on our taxes _
Is the best that we can do"
America v. 6.0 ~~~ Steve Earle

With any luck, a crisis can provide an opportunity for reflection and self-awareness. I had that luck over the past few weeks as I watched the train wreck of the American and world economies jump the tracks and barrel headlong off a cliff. I have had the great good fortune to recognize that no matter what happens in the world markets and the halls of government, I can take this moment to make my life saner.

My grandparents brought their children up during the Great Depression. Poor to begin with, they experienced the Depression as a worsening of an already intolerable poverty. Even though the extreme deprivation of those years eventually abated, they never forgot the lessons they learned. Blessed (and cursed) with the multi-generational extended family that defines Southern Appalachia, I grew up hearing not only stories but also cautionary tales of that grim and dreadful time. The stock market, bankers and the government were viewed with a mix of contempt, disdain and fear. Poor people often found themselves at the mercy of the rich, I was taught, but that meant people should always know how to provide for themselves. Self-sufficiency and independence were worth more than money. My grandmothers instructed me in the ways of thrift, "making do" and caring for possessions so they would last. They taught me that servitude, "being beholden," was much worse than being poor.

Coupled with memories of the Depression was a simple and literal kind of religious faith that valued compassion, generosity, kindness and stewardship. The words of Jesus were the words of truth and Jesus was a champion of the poor.

It should come as no surprise that I have a healthy disrespect for authority. I have issues with power and privilege.

I was also fortunate to come of age at a time when the middle class, the American bourgeoisie, was seen as politically corrupt and morally pretentious. Thirty-five years ago, it was definitely not cool to be middle class. We were going to have a revolution.

Revolution did come to America but it was not a revolution that freed the poor or empowered the masses. Instead, we were bought and paid for, selling our integrity, our freedom and our independence for illusions of status and retirement funds. The people who were going to change the world and bring down the diseased corporate government somehow became university professors who sat on boards with up and coming politicians. (The real story is not that Barack Obama knew Bill Ayers but how and why Ayers became so thoroughly integrated into the power structure.) We became born again virgins and armchair activists. We bought our cars, watched SNL and felt a little thrill of belonging when we thought about our 401(k)'s. We had arrived.

Baby, this is nowhere.

George W. Bush will (hopefully) be the worst American president the world ever experiences. His years in office have, however, finally galvanized large segments of the population, both here and around the world, to work even more diligently for peace and justice. His administration's blatant and arrogant disregard for the well being of the people and the planet has created a greater awareness of the threats of climate change and unchecked consumption. His very own disinterest and ignorance have stirred the quiescent psyche of the American populace and awakened many for the first time in years. He stirred new calls for revolution. His assumptions of privilege, his greed and gluttony, his ultimate moral decay and snickering cruelty emboldened an already rotten financial system and brought it down.

In a world where the rich have gotten richer and richer, where war, destruction, misery and oppression operate on a grander scale than at any other time in human history and life all around us is degraded and tossed aside, it is not a bad thing that we are forced to slow down, even stop. The planet as a whole is better off for our reduced circumstances.

And there is more good news.

Governments around the world and ours in particular, have lost credibility. Only the most die-hard, jingoistic zealots believe politicians and it is just as well that we know who those people are. The one world, one government behemoth might not be defeated but it can no longer exert the control it hoped to wield. As our society breaks down, and that is what is happening, we can be freed from the financial and cultural chains that have held us captive.

We are on our own.

The "bail-out" of Wall Street, which is the theft of our children's future and intended as a death sentence for our aging population, will remove the stigma from individual bankruptcy and insolvency. As banks and credit card companies prey upon consumers to bolster their sagging profits, more and more people will opt out. Those who want to regain their independence will develop ingenious and innovative methods to circumvent the financial system. We will be able, with forethought and vision, to create viable alternatives for individuals and communities.

Think about what kind of world you truly want. Decide what you value. Know what you want for your children and grandchildren. Let go of this system that is crumbling and begin to build the world you want. Pursue that world with passion and dedication.

As John Kennedy noted in 1959, "The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word 'crisis.' One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity." The power belongs to us now.
(c) 2008 Victoria Stewart is the editor of Issues & Alibis magazine.

Bush Is Ducking His Presidential Responsibility

Where's George? You know... George W, the guy who's supposed to be president, the one who calls himself "The Decider"?

Here we are in the midst of a financial meltdown that Wall Street, the media, the Congress, and even Bush's own treasury secretary urgently tell us is of almost biblical dimensions. Yet, George is oddly aloof, disengaged... almost nonexistent. Yeah, he did make a couple of brief statements, but nothing to match the magnitude of the moment. Far from presidential, Bush has essentially handed off his economic responsibilities to Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, showing up only occasionally as a sideman in "The Hank Show."

And when he has stepped onto the presidential stage, George has appeared clueless and foolish. It was five days after the White House's massive Wall Street bailout was proposed before he even deigned to give a 10-minute speech to a nation nervously wondering what the hell is going on - and it was not exactly a Rooseveltian performance. Instead of rallying the people with something like, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself," a tentative, weak-sounding Bush babbled about needing 700 billion of our tax dollars "to purchase trouble assets that are clogging the financial system." He seemed to be talking to us about a plumbing problem.

More recently, the president was propped up for a White House dog-and-pony show that was supposed to celebrate a bipartisan agreement on the bailout. Congressional leaders attended and both presidential contenders made an appearance, but Bush was totally out of the loop, unaware that there really was no agreement. To his astonishment and dismay, the carefully staged session soon deteriorated into a verbal brawl, and Bush was reduced to shouting at the participants with such keen economic insights as, "this sucker could go down."

I know Bush is a wildly-unpopular lame duck, but even a duck could be more presidential than this guy.
(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.

Fire your dentist and grow one of these.

Furthering Anarchism In Your Garden
Here are more ways to seize control of your life and live outside the system with the help of a home garden.
By Phil Fear

This is my garden juice bar. It consists of wooden boxes (whose bottoms had rotted out) that I placed directly on the soil surface and filled with layers of dry rubbish, green rubbish, chicken manure, compost, and dirt. Then I planted a cupful of wheat berries that I had sprouted over two days. Almost immediately I had large quantities of wheatgrass. I put a wire mesh over the box to keep birds, etc. out. In the morning I grab a handful of dew-laden wheatgrass blades and rip it off against the wire. It cuts easily and I get split-second fresh wheatgrass juice. The box on the left has aging wheatgrass, the box in the middle is garlic, whose greens I also use, and on the right is young, bright green wheatgrass.

Wheatgrass juice is well-known as one of the most powerful of purifiers, much needed in this polluted world. It also is full of many nutrients.

I chew it up, swallowing the juice as I chew. Sometimes I spit out the cub, but usually I continue chewing until I've got all the fiber swallowed, too. Good fiber. Nature's broom.

Another benefit is dental. The American Dental Association will never tell you this, but dental decay is a reversible process in which developing cavities can actually be chemically repaired (according to Dr. Stephen Wei of Iowa's College of Dentistry). Wheatgrass juice is heavily alkaline and contains calcium and phosphorus. According to Viktoras Kulvinskas, it can maintain and repair teeth in the manner discovered by Dr. Wei. I find my teeth feel harder and smoother after chewing wheat grasses. _

The wheatgrass box requires little. I water it normally. After a couple of months, they start sending up stems for seeds. I stop eating at this point as the juice becomes bitter and stems are tough. I let the seeds fully form. The plants die and dry out. The seed pods go to the chickens. The rest of the plants go to the rubbish heap.
(c) 2008 Phil Fear

Partnership For A Drug-Free America
By Mike Adams

Ten days ago, I wrote about Ron and Nadine from Living Libations who were arrested at the U.S. border for trafficking chocolate. It turns out the portable drug test kits used by border agents consistently produce false positives on numerous substances, including essential oils, CoQ10, Dr. Bronner's Soap and many other items. See my pictures of one such false positive in the story link above.

So why do drug agents use these kits if they're not accurate? It's not about being accurate, silly. It's about instilling FEAR into the minds of the citizens. And using these bogus drug test kits, border agents can arrest, imprison and interrogate perfectly innocent victims who are merely carrying raw foods or nutritional supplements across the border.

Of course, people carrying dangerous prescription medications are utterly ignored by border agents, including children carrying mind-altering "speed" amphetamine drugs labeled as medications for "treating" ADHD. These drugs, which were once sold on the street as Speed, are now openly prescribed to tens of millions of children. And the side effects? Brain shrinkage. Slowed neurological development. Violent behavior and dangerous suicidal impulses. See.

The so-called War on Drugs, it turns out, is a very selective war that targets only those drugs that don't make money for Big Pharma. Street drug chemicals, when packaged as medications, are openly allowed to be consumed by infants as young as six months old (under doctor's orders, no less!), and there's even an effort underway now to drug expectant mothers with antidepressant drugs just to ensure their children aren't born with depression. That's called "preventive medicine."

The War on Drugs completely ignores the drug companies, even when teen abuse of prescription drugs is widespread and highly dangerous. Doped up on Ritalin, Oxycontin, SSRIs and other dangerous mind-altering drugs, millions of teens are becoming prescription drug addicts. But while DEA agents are flying helicopter raids over poppy fields in South America, and arresting medical marijuana patients in California, they're doing absolutely nothing to stop Big Pharma from selling medications that are widely (and openly) abused by children and teens.

In fact, the key ingredient to making methamphetamines (meth) is sold over-the-counter to children all across the country. You can walk into a Wal-Mart or Walgreens and buy this stuff without a prescription! And you can find the recipe for making meth out of these drugs with a single search on Google.

So where is the DEA when it comes to protecting children from prescription drug abuse? The DEA, it seems, is AWOL.

Why the War on Drugs is out of control

The War on Drugs has done virtually nothing to stem the tide of illegal street drugs, but it's sure given lots of money and power to another group: The DEA and other drug enforcement tyrants whose careers (and paychecks) depend on continuing their politically-motivated crusade against innocents.

Marijuana arrests are out of control, with nearly 8 million Americans having been arrested for pot possession over the last decade. Meanwhile, the U.S. spends between $10 and $12 billion a year enforcing those laws, and that doesn't count the exploding prison population, where now an astonishing 11 percent of all black men between the ages of 30 and 34 are in prison.

A startling 2.3 million Americans are sitting in prison cells right now, and many are there for victimless crimes such as smoking marijuana. And yet, amazingly, powerful institutions in society directly promote highly addictive drugs to virtually everyone:

o Daily caffeine through coffee and energy drinks for teens
o "Speed" amphetamines for children diagnosed with ADHD
o Highly addictive painkillers like Oxycontin, which are now openly abused by teens
o Over-the-counter cold medicines, now widely used to manufacture meth (crank, ice, etc.)

The real point to all of this, of course, is not to stop Americans from using drugs; it's to force Americans to use patented drugs that earn profits for powerful corporations. The job of the DEA is primarily to eliminate Big Pharma's competition by criminalizing non-patented drugs while protecting patented ones.

In order to concentrate power into their own hands, they must create fear and terrorize the population, which is why the DEA keeps raiding California medical marijuana clinics, by the way... even though they are legal in the State of California!

Who are the real criminals?

The real criminals in society today are not the lazy potheads toking up a joint in the basement. The real criminals are those who terrorize us, take away our freedoms and steal our money while bailing out the rich. And guess who does all three? Your government, of course!

People like Ron and Nadine are unwittingly playing a Ghandi-like role in this grand governmental comedy. By persevering their arrest and interrogation and proving their obvious innocence in the face of outrageous stupidity, they bring focus to the idiocy of modern law enforcement and the real threat posed to innocents by our nation's ill-fated War on Drugs.

Real power comes from health and wisdom, and yet the people running our governments today have neither; so they must fabricate false power through the use of firearms, fear and intimidation. These are the weapons of the weak, and they will ultimately fall to the strength and courage of enlightened, health-infused individuals like Ron and Nadine from Living Libations.

Ultimately, the War on Drugs is not a war on drugs. It's a war on freedom. It's a war on civil liberties. It's a war of control, intended to enslave the People in a system of chemical treatment that solely serves the interests of powerful corporations who are drugging our children into psychological oblivion.

Law enforcement claims its mission is to "protect and serve." They're right: To protect Big Pharma and serve as mercenaries in the war against freedom.
(c) 2008 Mike Adams ~~~ Natural News

Where's Kenny Rogers When You Need Him?
The Big Boys Got Their Bailout, But the Elected Leadership and the Voters Meet at the Election Day Showdown
By Cynthia McKinney

At the precise moment when we couldn't imagine it getting worse, it does. After all, the Democrats, since they acquired majority status in the Congress, delivered funding for George Bush's wars several times. They authorized retroactive immunity for telecoms that helped Bush's Administration illegally spy on us. And they never really considered any alternatives to the basic bailout wish list given to them by Bush and his Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson.

Sadly, I must say that this failure on the part of the Democratic leadership is by far the greatest perfidy of the Democrats yet. I shudder to think what betrayal of the Constitution and the people of this country yet awaits us. I am forced to ask, "What do they stand for?"

I think they have shown us time and time again what they stand for, what their values are, and that they are willing to leave the people behind in their quest to acquiesce to what Bush's base asks for. And remember, Bush told us that his base were the haves and the have mores! So, if the Democratic leadership is more loyal to them than they are to the working people in this country, then a new political alignment of historical proportions is taking effect that the working people of this country must recognize. By their policy choices, it should now be clear that the Democratic leadership in Congress must be removed and a political party that reflects the people's values must be built. Not only do the people need a party of their own, it should now be clear to a vast number of people that the people in this country need a movement that places our values on the political agenda. This was what I said in my remarks accepting the Green Party's nomination as their candidate for President of the United States.

In 2000, when there was clear evidence that the election had been tampered with, and that particularly, black voters had been disfranchised, the Democratic leadership did nothing to recognize and correct this fact. Criminal behavior was met with de facto acceptance, a failure to investigate, and ultimate acquiescence by the Democratic leadership.

Through my Congressional office, on my own initiative, I investigated and discovered one of the mechanisms used to disfranchise voters and put my findings on the Congressional Record. Sadly, because of inaction by the Democratic Congress, the basic mechanism used by the Republicans to steal the vote in 2000 could, in fact, be used today to further disfranchise voters. Further, one million black votes across our country were not even counted, 78,000 of them in Florida alone.

What kind of election is it when the votes don't get counted!

In addition, in the late 1990s, electronic voting machines were introduced into the U.S. election architecture. From that time until today, where they are used, voters and inexperienced or untrained election staff have had to cope with machine meltdowns; screen freezes; dead and dying batteries in the middle of the voting process; deployment of untested machines, particularly in the South, that failed repeatedly due to heat; vote flipping (usually in only one direction); ballots that don't list all the candidates without manipulation of the machine-which could be problematic for some voters; incorrect ballots being displayed on the machines so that voters are allowed to vote in elections for which they are not eligible; machine sleepovers in insecure places where they could be tampered with; meaningless recounts in the absence of a paper trail where only bits and bytes previously entered can be counted; and the absence of a paper ballot that allows for accountability and transparency during and after an election.

Later, it was learned that these machines were not only hackable, but that the instrument used by the voter, the PCMCIA card, could be programmed to change the outcome of the election! Some of the machines were found to have wireless adaptations that opened the election to an additional level of insecurity due to wireless capabilities in everyday blackberries, treos, and other handheld devices.

With all of these defects known, electronic pollbooks were allowed to become an additional part of the election architecture and they produced an additional layer of disfranchisement when incorrect voter information was loaded into them and voters had no means to contest it. In too many cases that took place in my own 2006 election, voters were turned away from the polls only because the pollbooks contained incorrect information!

Elections in this country are now firmly in the grips of electronic voting machine technicians, inexperienced and poorly trained official poll workers, and computer companies using secret software. Sadly, the Democratic leadership has done nothing to eliminate this potential source of fraud, even in this-an election year!

In 2004, the Democratic nominee, John Kerry, promised that the black vote was not going to be disfranchised as it had been in 2000. John Kerry conceded the election the day after Election Day, even as reports were coming in of massive black voter disfranchisement. It was the Green Party and the Libertarian Party that went to Ohio and sorted out exactly what happened and pressed for criminal prosecution of those guilty of election fraud. Sadly, in 2004, after the experience of 2000, an estimated three million votes were not counted.

The Green Party's Bob Fitrakis in Ohio is sounding the alarm again for this year's election. Some blogs like Bradblog, and organizations like Black Box Voting continue to sound the alarm now, even more urgently, and press for election integrity.

Last week I became the first Presidential candidate to sign the StandingForVoters.org pledge to not concede the election unless all votes are counted, and all challenges to the results have been adequately made. We really need the Democrats to sign such a pledge because they have caved in the past two Presidential elections.

In addition to that, the Democrats now have the power of the majority. They are in control of the Congress. And the way the Constitution is written, power flows up from Capitol Hill to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue-not the other way around. But even while in control, the Democrat leadership has done nothing to prepare the way for election integrity in this election. Even in the face of massive preparations for theft again by the Republicans through the use of the same techniques used in 2000 and in 2004 and adding to them voter caging (removing targeted voters from the voter rolls) and enforcement of new voter ID laws. Even judges appointed by Democrats have helped to thwart citizen legal action on behalf of election integrity!

It should be clear that even in an election year, there are serious issues that should be on the table; the Democrats control the Congress and can make public policy to their liking-reflecting their values.

And that's where I want to begin my discussion of the bailout.

Nancy Pelosi is the third most powerful individual in the United States government as Speaker of the House-third in line for the Presidency of the United States. She controls when bills are scheduled for consideration in the House of Representatives, or even whether they are considered or not. The people of this country and her colleagues in the House gave her this position because the people hunger for change and they thought that the Democratic Party would deliver that change to them.

The people of this country want peace, not war and occupation; justice, not fraud; community, not hooliganism. And so, the people of this country voted the Democratic Party into majority status to attain all of that, public policy that reflects their values. Nancy Pelosi, by virtue of her position, has been dealt a royal flush.

By now, Nancy Pelosi could have used that winning hand to stop the funding for war and occupation--$720 million every day-and decided, instead, to subsidize education so no university student graduates one hundred thousand dollars in debt just because he or she wanted an education.

Pelosi could have insisted on reflecting the people's values and our Constitution by repealing the Patriot Acts, the Secret Evidence Act, and the Military Commissions Act. But she did not.

She could have used that royal flush to provide a single-payer, Medicare-for-all, type of health care system for this country, consistent with the wishes of the Democratic Party's base, particularly organized labor and an increasing number of health care professionals. But she did not.

In light of the tremendously important election this year, she could have insisted on enacting some measure of election integrity to prevent another election being held where the announced outcome is truly in doubt. But she did not.

She could have taken her seat at the table as the one player in the room with the winning hand, but she did not.

Instead, she assumed the position of the beautiful girl in the short skirt holding the platter of drinks, serving the men at the table. She could have been the leader and spokesperson for us all, but she is not.

It is clear that our country is at a financial crossroad, and the times call for courageous, daring acts on behalf of the people from those gifted with leadership positions. That, too, is not happening.

From the myriad writings that I have read, including those of former Comptroller General David Walker, it is clear that the financial status of our country is subject to get worse before it gets better. The Bush-Pelosi-Reid bailout exacerbates the situation because the fundamentals of the economy were not dealt with in what is perhaps the most massive transfer of wealth in our modern history. And while the money could have gone to people in need and for programs contributing to the public good, preparing our country for the future, it did not.

I published two papers outlining fourteen points that the Congress could have implemented even without a bailout, but most certainly should have implemented with one. The second paper, written on my son's birthday, was entitled, "A Birthday Gift for a Generation: A U.S. Financial System of Our Own."

Taken in conjunction with the Power to the People Committee's platform available on the campaign website at, those fourteen points 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;
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.

Michael Ruppert recently wrote on his blog:

"There is no victory until the paradigm is broken. Until we change the way money works, we change nothing. Right now, the entire economic paradigm of infinite growth is vulnerable, weak, and exposed. The dribble being offered by Obama and McCain only exposes the fact that everything is broken; that the system itself is the enemy."

Everyone can see that the system is broken: a system that was not created to serve the people of this country. It was totally within Pelosi's purview and that of the Democratic Party to change all of that, but they didn't. In fact, I'm shocked by some of my former colleagues who voted for this bill, particularly the Members of the Congressional Black Caucus who supported this. With this vote, and the failures of the Democratic Party up to now, it should be patently clear that the Democratic Party cannot reflect our values because it is in complete obeisance to someone else's.

The elected leadership of both the Democratic and Republican parties should resign.

That's why I can hear Kenny Rogers's sweet voice wafting through the air now:

"You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.

You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

Now ev'ry gambler knows that the secret to survivin'
Is knowin' what to throw away and knowing what to keep.

Cause ev'ry hand's a winner and ev'ry hand's a loser,
And the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep."

However strong the Big Boys might appear after the October 3rd bailout vote, they still have a "leak" in their game: the people get to vote on November 4th. And that's the biggest "scare card" in the entire deck!

Power to the People!
(c) 2008 Cynthia McKinney

The Wounded Shark
'Good War' Lost, But the Imperial Project Goes On
By Chris Floyd

Don't tell Obama and McCain, but the war they are both counting on to make their bones as commander-in-chief -- the "good war" in Afghanistan, which both men have pledged to expand -- is already lost. Their joint strategy of pouring more troops, tanks, missiles and planes into the roaring fire -- not to mention their intention to spread the war into Pakistan -- will only lead to disaster.

Who says so? America's biggest ally in the Afghan adventure: Great Britain. This week, two top figures in the British effort in Afghanistan -- Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, UK ambassador to Kabul, and Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith, the senior British military commander in Afghanistan -- both said that the war was "unwinnable," and that continuing the current level of military operations there, much less expanding it, was a strategy "doomed to fail."

The biggest headlines went to the comments by Cowper-Coles, whose frank assessment was quoted in a secret French diplomatic cable that was published by a muckraking French magazine last week. Cowper-Coles put it plainly:

The current situation is bad, the security situation is getting worse, so is corruption, and the government has lost all trust....The presence of the coalition, in particular its military presence, is part of the problem, not part of its solution. Foreign forces are the lifeline of a regime that would rapidly collapse without them. As such, they slow down and complicate a possible emergence from the crisis.

These are indisputable facts that have been glaringly obvious to most sentient observers for many years. Yet the diplomat's acknowledgement of reality has been greeted as a shocking breach of decorum by his fellow professional liars in Anglo-American officialdom. His brief outburst of truth (which, to be fair to the good knight, was meant to be in secret; he didn't mean to tell the public the truth!) was quickly disavowed in Washington and London. Although the cable's authenticity was not in question, the UK Foreign Office said that their ambassador's comments "did not reflect official British policy."

That is certainly the unvarnished truth, for "official British policy" has long been to "do whatever the hell the Americans tell us to do." Cowper-Coles was upfront about this too:

Acknowledging that there is no option other than supporting the Americans in Afghanistan, the ambassador reportedly added, "but we must tell them that we want to be part of a winning strategy, not a losing one." The American strategy, he is quoted as saying, "is destined to fail."

Then, just when the Brits thought they were putting a lid on a story that was most displeasing to their Potomac masters, their top military officer in Afghanistan confirmed and amplified the ambassador's analysis in an interview with The Times. Speaking after his unit's second tour on the battlefield in Afghanistan, Brigadier Carleton-Smith said bluntly:

"We're not going to win this war....We want to change the nature of the debate from one where disputes are settled through the barrel of the gun to one where it is done through negotiations," Carleton-Smith said. "If the Taliban were prepared to sit on the other side of the table and talk about a political settlement, then that's precisely the sort of progress that concludes insurgencies like this. That shouldn't make people uncomfortable."

The American-installed president of Afghanistan, former oil company factotum Hamid Karzai, echoed the British assessment. In fact, he went so far as to invite Taliban supremo Mullah Omar -- ranked just a notch below Osama bin Laden in official American demonology -- to return to the country for peace talks, with full guarantees for his personal safety and liberty. Omar quickly rejected the overture, but there is clearly a growing consensus for a negotiated settlement.

A consensus everywhere but Washington, that is. There, in the marbled courts of the Potomac Empire, fierce factional opponents such as Barack Obama and John McCain are marching lock-step with George W. Bush on escalating the war in Afghanistan: more troops, more airstrikes, more "collateral damage."

This bipartisan Washington strategy was distilled perfectly by none other than Karl Rove, the ostensibly retired Bush Regime mastermind who is now working behind the scenes for McCain. As Eric Margolis reports in the Edmonton Sun:

I recently asked Karl Rove, President George W. Bush's former senior adviser, how this seemingly impossible war could be won. His eyes dancing with imperial hubris, Rove replied, "More Predators (missile armed drones) and helicopters!"

It sounds like Rove is giving Obama advice on Afghanistan as well. The Democratic candidate's stated polices on the conflict dovetail exactly with those of Rove, Bush and McCain: Thousands of more troops. More military hardware. More drone missile strikes, not only in Afghanistan but in Pakistan as well. Obama has also pledged to pressure the Europeans to send more troops and hardware of their own to Afghanistan, with "fewer restrictions" on their combat operations.

In other words, the American political establishment is committed to plunging headlong into what almost all outside experts -- including America's closest allies, not to mention the Afghans themselves -- say will be a bloodsoaked, botched catastrophe.

Both Obama and McCain have loudly proclaimed themselves to be agents of "change." And on Afghanistan, we can see that these two wise statesmen are telling the truth. No matter who wins, we will see great change in Afghanistan -- for the worse.


All of this is most curious. The ostensible reason given for the seven long years of continuous death and destruction in Afghanistan -- and the justification for its escalation for many years to come -- is, of course, the 9/11 attacks in the United States. But even if for some reason you took the official account of 9/11 as the gospel truth in every respect, Afghanistan played no role in it at all. We are told that the attack was masterminded by bin Laden's Karl Rove, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed -- who operated in Pakistan. We are told that the other conspirators operated mostly in Germany -- and the United States. There has never been any evidence presented that the Taliban regime in Afghanistan had the slightest operational role -- or even the slightest knowledge -- of an attack on the United States.

On the other hand, there is a good deal of credible evidence that the United States promised to attack Afghanistan -- months before 9/11 -- if the Taliban didn't play ball on oil deals and other issues. There is evidence that even before the attacks, the Taliban offered to turn bin Laden over to international justice, if evidence of his involvement in terrorism was presented. This offer was repeated even more frantically after 9/11. But as for evidence of Afghan involvement in 9/11, there is none.

Thus the only ostensible reason given for the seven-year U.S.-NATO onslaught in Afghanistan is that the Taliban regime gave refuge to bin Laden and his small organization after they were kicked out of Sudan. This was done with the backing of one of the Taliban's closest allies at the time: the Bush Family's business partners, the Saudi royal family. And as Margolis notes, bin Laden, whatever else he might be, was also a national hero in Afghanistan for his part in the Washington-backed holy war against the Soviets.

But for taking in Osama (himself the scion of yet another Bush business partner, the Bin Laden family), at the request of America's ally, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan has had to pay with the innocent blood of tens of thousands of its people, and with seven years of war, chaos, terror and ruin. Even though they had nothing to do with 9/11. Even though they had offered to give bin Laden up for an internationally monitored trial.

But as Margolis notes:

...the current war is not really about al-Qaida and "terrorism," but about opening a secure corridor through Pashtun tribal territory to export the oil and gas riches of the Caspian Basin to the West.


Yet beyond these more immediate, gritty concerns, there is also the blind, iron logic of perpetual war that drives any imperial power. Like a shark, it must keep moving, must keep the water churning, obscured with clouds of blood and fear -- or else it will stand revealed as the naked, brutish, pointless thing that it is: a bestial lust for domination, a secretion of the chemical mud that lies in the lower swamps of our misfiring, imperfect brains. Every imperial project bedecks itself with high-flown rhetoric and shining, self-glorifying, emotion-rousing ideals. These are internalized by millions of individuals, who are then unable to see the world in any other way. Whatever is done in the name of these ideals is rational, reasonable and right; anything that threatens their primacy and authenticity is evil, insane and worthy of destruction.

(This dynamic doesn't apply solely to imperialism, of course. Any all-consuming mythology of meaning and explanation can generate this kind of blind, partisan passion -- as the current presidential campaign illustrates so well, on both sides.)

That's why an empire must keep marching, and roaring in the thought-obliterating noise of war and fear. Peace gives space for reflection, for questioning, for the development of a more human, more humane response to reality. And all of these are deadly to the mud-brain lust for domination, and to the inflated rhetoric that cloaks it. For when empires stop -- or are stopped -- the meaninglessness of the entire project is laid bare.

In his new book, Lenin, Stalin and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe, Robert Gellately quote from the remarkable collection of reportage and private writings by the Russian novelist Vassily Grossman, who covered almost every major Eastern battlefront in World War II. Grossman relates how Soviet soldiers were astounded by the level of comfort and wealth in Germany -- even in the ruined Germany of 1945. Grossman writes:

...our soldiers started to ask themselves, why did the Germans attack us so suddenly? Millions of our men have now seen the rich farms in East Prussia, the highly organized agriculture, the concrete sheds for livestock, spacious rooms, carpets, wardrobes full of clothes. They saw all the paved roads and what was by comparison boundless plenty and luxury and asked themselves plaintively: 'But why did they come to us? What did they want?"

It is not hard to imagine someone in Afghanistan or Iraq looking at the lives of most Americans and asking the same questions. The Germans left their spacious rooms and carpets to slaughter millions of people in foreign lands because they had internalized the emotion-laden, self-glorifying ideals of an imperial project, whose inherent, horrifying emptiness was finally exposed in the husk of a shriveled little man in a concrete bunker putting a bullet through his brain. There was no point to it all.

The imperial desire to hold sway over the distribution lines of the world's oil resources is an immediate impetus behind the destruction of Afghanistan. But the particular pathology of the American elite, especially the Bush Faction, has dictated the particular form this desire for domination has taken. In an excellent essay-review of several new books on the "War on Terror," Pankaj Mishra notes a telling example of the Potomac mindset:

Busy unleashing his awesome firepower on Iraq, Rumsfeld had no idea what to do after his streamlined army reached Baghdad, apart from letting stuff happen. Wiser in Battle, the memoir of the US lieutenant general Ricardo Sanchez (HarperCollins), reveals that, as the Iraqi resistance unexpectedly intensified, the defeat in Vietnam began to prey on Bush's mind, unraveling his syntax as he harangued his commanders in Iraq:

Kick ass! ... We must be tougher than hell! This Vietnam stuff, this is not even close. It is a mind-set. We can't send that message. It's an excuse to prepare us for withdrawal ... There is a series of moments and this is one of them. Our will is being tested, but we are resolute. We have a better way. Stay strong! Stay the course! Kill them! Be confident! Prevail! We are going to wipe them out! We are not blinking!

Anyone who has read Hitler's "table talk" will feel a shiver of familiarity -- and revulsion -- when reading Bush's words. This is the voice of our mud-brain thrashing its way through broken fragments of higher-order thought. This is the voice of an imperial elite -- of our imperial elite.

[For more on how the myths and lies of imperial power are internalized, then acted out in malign, destructive ways, see this important new essay by Arthur Silber, "Perverse Priorities in a World of Lies."]


And so the meaningless imperial project will keep churning forward; this is one solemn campaign promise that we can count on the candidates to honor. The howling atrocity in Iraq will continue in one form or another, but it will now be compounded beyond measure by a new injection of murderous folly in Afghanistan -- a project doomed from the start, as Mishra notes:_

As Tariq Ali bluntly clarifies in his new book The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power (Simon & Schuster), the post-9/11 project of "nation-building" in Afghanistan, which prioritised western interests over all others, was always doomed. It was "a top-down process", trying to create "an army constituted not to defend the nation but to impose order on its own people, on behalf of outside powers; a civil administration that will have no control over planning, health, education etc, all of which will be run by NGOs, whose employees will be far better paid than the locals, and answerable not to the population but to their overseas sponsors; and a government whose foreign policy is identical to Washington's."

American bombing raids, which have killed hundreds of civilians in Afghanistan, further unite fractious Afghans against foreign usurpers. Tariq Ali correctly prescribes skepticism against strategists and journalists who blame Pakistan for increasing attacks on western forces in Afghanistan while disregarding the fact that "many Afghans who detest the Taliban are so angered by the failures of NATO and the behaviour of its troops that they will support any opposition."

Mishra then concludes:

Seven years on, hundreds of thousands are dead, and millions of refugees on the move, while the US seems only to have boosted its old enemies in Afghanistan, Iran and Lebanon, and created formidable new ones in Iraq and Pakistan. In The War Within, Woodward shows the US president slipping deeper into his own world. "We're killin' 'em! We're killin' 'em all!" But not even the Bush administration, which has proved ready to do unspeakable things to its perceived enemies, can kill them all. It can continue to stage elaborate shock-and-awe spectacles, but if, as is increasingly evident, the target audience refuses to be impressed by them, they are rendered utterly futile - even dangerously counterproductive. "Force," as James Baldwin pointed out in the early 1970s during the US bombing of Indochina, "does not work the way its advocates seem to think it does. It does not, for instance, reveal to the victim the strength of his adversary. On the contrary, it reveals the weakness, even the panic of his adversary and this revelation invests the victim with patience."

...A gracious acceptance of the limits of US firepower may not be forthcoming from the next administration, which will face the hard choice to get out or fight on. Indeed, failure may make it even more determined to maintain the pride of US arms and the image of the mightiest power on earth. The prospect of humiliation in Vietnam was what prompted Nixon's devastation of Cambodia, setting the stage for the genocidal Pol Pot. As Hannah Arendt wrote, "when all signs pointed to defeat", the goal was "no longer one of avoiding humiliating defeat but of finding ways and means to avoid admitting it and 'save face'."

Could smashing up Iran or invading Pakistan become the face-saving formula for the exponents of "shock and awe"? ...[Such] is the crazy logic of a wounded militarism that, notwithstanding its battered economy, the US may soon be embattled on many more fronts in what is already its most damaging war.

The United States has lost its pointless war against the people of Afghanistan. Yet both the "progressive" standard-bearer and the "conservative" stalwart have sworn to expand the conflict. Both have internalized the rhetoric and beliefs of a violent imperial project. Both men have shown themselves too weak in truth to escape the fear of appearing weak in the false light of militarism.

What other horrible deeds will these weak men embrace to put off the humiliation of defeat? I think we may find that our darkest years are ahead of us, as the hollow core of imperial ambition is exposed, and a dreadful, mighty reckoning for its atrocities blows back against us with hurricane force.
(c) 2008 Chris Floyd

Bailing Out Wall Street, Selling Out Main Street
By Cindy Sheehan

I am watching the debate on CSPAN over HR 1424 the "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act." As you can imagine there is empty rhetoric on both sides of the issue and there is bi-partisan support and opposition. If anything, it's a little more interesting than usual.

Rep Gary Miller (R-Ca), in a rare lapse of guarded "poli-speak" said that this bill would help the "Small People." Meaning, you and I. Fundamentally, that's what we are to the Congressional-Wall Street Cabal---the "Small People."

But, watching the proceedings, I am underwhelmed how these people are all of a sudden worried about we "Small People."

Congress, under the failed leadership of Nancy Pelosi, has passed laws to undermine our 4th Amendment rights to be safe and secure in our personal correspondence, phone calls and emails. Nancy Pelosi's Congress has given George Bush over 500,000,000,000.00 dollars to wage his insane wars in Iraq and now they are going to give his Secretary of the Treasure, Henry Paulson, (Former CEO of Goldman-Sachs), 850,000,000,000. 00. That's a lot of zeros!

Congressperson after Congressperson have risen to say that we must hand over billions of "Small People" tax dollars so "Small People" will not "lose their jobs" or "lose their homes." We "Small People" have been losing our jobs and our homes at record paces only rivaled in the 1930's, and not one Bill was passed to help the "Small People" keep our jobs and homes. Tent cities are arising all over the country and Congress is going to bailout an industry that caused these cities and not only that, but use our money to help keep the CEO's in the style to which they have become accustomed.

Congressperson after Congressperson have also risen to say that their constituents, we "Small People" are overwhelmingly against the bailout of corporate piracy and pillaging, but he/she will vote for the Bill anyway, because he/she knows better what is good for us "Small People." We will eat our spinach and like it, because our REPRESENTATIVES have become mini-dictators in the shadow of the Fuhrers who are exercising fascistic control over every aspect of our lives.

I would like to remind everyone that at the beginning of the year, Congress passed another "emergency" bill that gave we "Small People" a few hundred dollars that did nothing to stimulate the economy. The solution to the crisis may cost billions of dollars, but not to hand to Wall Street. The bill failed on Monday, but Wall Street did not crash.

The solution is to put our economy to work for we "Small People." Federal Jobs programs that pay living wages to repair our crumbling infrastructure and rebuild the Gulf States so "Small People" can return to their homes.

Put a moratorium on foreclosures until the housing bubble can adjust to reasonable levels and restructure loans with fixed interest rates so "Small People" can pay their mortgages and the economy will "Gurgle Up" to the Congressional-Wall Street Cabal. We need to extend food stamp and unemployment benefits to pump money directly into the "Small People" economy.

Taxes need to be raised on the top one percent of wealthy people in this country that own more wealth than the bottom ninety percent combined. Taxes need to be reduced dramatically for the bottom 99%. A .25 transaction fee for the people who gamble on Wall Street must also be levied and put into the "Small People" economy for such programs as education and energy.

Regardless, if HR1424 passes or fails, every Congressperson, Democratic or Republican, who voted to sell out the "Small" Person needs to be retired and not sent back to Congress in January.

Reject fear-based politics. We "Small People" need courageous REPRESENTATIVES that will work on real solutions for us, because, as a matter of fact, we are not the "Small People," we are the sovereigns in this Republic and we need to reassert our sovereignty and show our employees in DC that we mean business.

Help me replace Nancy Pelosi in January, she has been the biggest Bush enabler of them all. She sent a very obsequious letter to George Bush this week promising him that Congress would pass a Bill for him. Not only did she not hold him accountable for the crimes he has committed while in office, she is giving him one last victory (at the expense of we "Small People") before he shamefully rides into the sunset while our Republic is burning and Nancy Pelosi plays her fiddle, obediently. George Bush is going to leave quite a mess, and this Congress has proven that they not only do not know how to clean up his messes, but they have collaborated in the orgy that made the mess.

Update: HR 1424 just passed and Congress applauded the marauding of our Republic. We "Small People" have been given a significant defeat.

Democrats: 154 yeas; 58 nays
Republicans: 86 yeas; 103 nays
31 Reps not voting
(c) 2008 Cindy Sheehan

The Enemy Within:
By Mike Folkerth

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

My publisher recently asked me if my next book would be titled "I Told You So." I replied that I thought it may be more appropriately titled, "Survival Middle Class."

As my predictions come true one by one, I can't help remind myself that forecasting such dire happenings has nothing to do with genius on my part, but simple old 8th grade math with a dash of common sense.

The most recent of my futuristic forecasting to come to fruition was China's claim that they would in fact go on with their economic bliss long after the U.S. was toast.

When you make a deal with the devil the outcome is predictable; the situation gets too hot to handle. When the people who run our country are related to that devil, it makes things doubly difficult.

I pointed out during the writing of my book that China would use the U.S. market, U.S. money, U.S. technology, U.S. Corporations and our ignorant U.S. leadership to propel themselves into a Chinese domestic expansion program. Guess what?

China has a massive internal market that pales that of America. All they needed was help to build the infrastructure and sha-zam, instant commerce. U.S. government and corporations gladly provided all that they needed. Greed is a powerful enemy.

When our government and corporate leaders were wallowing at the Chinese trough and casting America's future aside with the insane promise that global trade with poverty stricken workers was good for America, I could scarcely contain myself.

Today, China says that they make no excuses for becoming an industrialized nation and the U.S. will have to find another way to reinvent ourselves. China is also turning down the money tap that supplies us with our continual request of more than a Billion dollars per day that keeps our foolish leadership treading water.

America's greatest enemies aren't in Iraq or Iran, they're running for president. Our failures and our current situation didn't come from the invading hordes of China; they came from Washington D.C. and stepped off the elevators on Wall Street.

The enemies of Main Street and our rural farms and ranches are the American elitists of Congress and Corporate America. These people didn't use bullets and bombs to destroy the greatest nation on earth; they used a ball point pen and the total ignorance and cowardice of the American people in a bold daylight heist that resulted in the the wholesale destruction of the Middle Class.

While America is literally being gutted and robbed by the actions of our government and corporations, we send young men and women to die in foreign lands all over the face of the planet in defense of the profits of those who are destroying us from within! WHY CAN'T WE SEE THAT?

Yet we are told that the world's most massive and growing military is necessary to keep US safe. Who is it really keeping safe?

At this point and time, nothing short of revolution will change Middle America's collision course with third world status. Allowing the criminal and manipulated markets of Wall Street to correct, rather than be bailed out, would have been a good start if we were ever to begin healing.

But, it isn't American's that our government is worried about healing, it's our foreign lenders and the corporate investments in those foreign nations that require your suffering and tax dollar. Let there be no mistake about that.

Consider that William Jefferson Clinton signed both NAFTA and the WTO in back to back years...virtually guaranteeing the wholesale destruction of the Middle Class.

Consider that George W. Bush wished to move our Social Security money to Wall Street!

Consider that Barrack Hussein Obama and John McCain wish to allow all illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S. and to open a path for even greater immigration, while at the same time more than 750,000 American workers have lost their jobs in the past nine months.

I apologize for the lack of humor in my article today...I just don't feel all that funny today.

"We have seen the enemy and it is us."
(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...

"I received over 80 thousands phone calls and emails to vote "NO" on this bill, however I know those people don't understand, and therefor, I am going to vote "Yes!"
~~~ Sinator Barbara Boxer

US Army Specialist Megan Lynn Touma was killed in June 2008 in a motel room in North Carolina. (Photo: AP)

My Daughter's Dream Became a Nightmare
The Murder of Military Women Continues
By Ann Wright

"My daughter's dream became a nightmare," sadly said Gloria Barrios, seven months after her daughter, US Air Force Senior Airman Blanca Luna, was murdered on Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas.

On March 7, 2008, Senior Airman Luna, 27, was found dead in her room at the Sheppard Air Force Base Inn, an on-base lodging facility. She had been stabbed in the back of the neck with a short knife. Luna, an Air Force Reservist with four years of prior military service in the Marine Corps including a tour in Japan, was killed three days before she was to graduate from an Air Conditioning, Ventilation and Heating training course.

When she was notified of her daughter's death, she was handed a letter from Major General K.C. McClain, commander of the Air Force Personnel Center, which stated that her daughter "was found dead on 7 March 2008 at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, as the result of an apparent homicide." When her body was returned to her family for burial, Barrios and other family members saw bruises on Blanca's face and wounds on her fingers as if she were defending herself. One of the investigators later told Mrs. Barrios that Blanca had been killed in an "assassin-like" manner. Friends say that she told them some in her unit "had given her problems."

Seven months later, Luna's mother made her first visit to the base where her daughter was killed, to pry more information from the Air Force about her daughter's death. Although the Air Force sent investigators to her home in Chicago several times to brief her on the case, she was concerned that the Air Force would not provide a copy of the autopsy report and other documents, seven months after Luna was killed. The Air Force says it cannot provide Mrs. Barrios with a copy of the autopsy as the investigation is "ongoing." Mrs. Barrios plans to have an independent autopsy conducted.

She was accompanied by her sister and six persons from a support group in Chicago and by several concerned Texans from Dallas, Fort Worth and Denton. The Chicago support group, composed of long-time, experienced social justice activists in the Hispanic community, also included Juan Torres, whose son John, an Army soldier, was found dead under very suspicious circumstances in 2004 at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. Because of his battle to get documents from the Army bureaucracy on the death of his son four years ago, Torres has been helping the Barrios family in their effort to gain information about the death of Luna.

When Mrs. Barrios and friends arrived on the Air Base they were greeted by five Air Force officials. Mrs. Barrios requested that her support group be allowed to join her in an Air Force-conducted bus tour of the facilities where her daughter went to school and the lodging facility where she was found dead, but the request was denied. Mrs. Barrios then asked that her friend and translator, Magda Castaneda, and I be allowed to go on the bus and attend the meeting with the base commander and investigators.

After consultation with the base public affairs officer, Deputy Wing Commander Colonel Norsworthy decreed that only Mrs. Barrios' sister and Mr. Torres could accompany her. Mrs. Barrios, her sister and Mr. Torres are not fluent in English. Mrs. Barrios told the Air Force officers she did not feel comfortable with having translators provided by the Air Force and again asked that Mrs. Castaneda be allowed to translate for her as Mrs. Castaneda had done numerous times during Air Force briefings at her home. She asked that I be allowed to go, as I knew the military bureaucracy.

In front of the support group, the Air Force public affairs officer, George Woodward, advised Colonel Norsworthy not to allow Mrs. Casteneda and me to come on the base and attend the meetings as both of us were "outspoken in the media and their presence would jeopardize the integrity of the meeting with the family."

Mrs. Castaneda countered that during a previous meeting with the Air Force investigators in Chicago, she had been told by one investigator that she asked too many questions. Could that be the reason that she was unable to accompany Mrs. Barrios, she asked? Mrs. Barrios also reminded the officers that after she was interviewed for an article about her daughter that was published in July in the Chicago Reader, "Murder on the Base," she was warned by an Air Force official not to speak to the media again.

Mrs. Castaneda demanded that Woodward provide her a copy of the article on which he based his decision to recommend to the deputy base commander that she not be allowed on the base to translate for the family. Several hours later, Woodward gave Castaneda an article from Indy media in which she was quoted as the translator for Mrs. Barrios, and in which she had translated Barrios' statement: "Luna a four year Marine veteran."

While Colonel Wright (the author of this article) has written numerous articles concerning the rape and murder of women in the military, she reminded the officers that she holds a valid military ID card as a retired colonel, that she had not violated any laws or military regulations by writing and speaking about issues of violence against women in the military and that most families of military members who have been killed are at a disadvantage in dealing with the military bureaucracy in finding answers to the questions they have about the deaths of their loved ones. She reminded the officials that the parents of NFL football player Pat Tillman, who after three Congressional hearings on the death of their son in Afghanistan in 2002, still don't have answers to the questions of who killed their son and why the perpetrator of the crime hasn't been brought to justice. Families of "ordinary" service members, and particularly families with limited knowledge of the military and with limited financial means find themselves at the mercy of the military for information.

The base Catholic chaplain and the staff Judge Advocate, both colonels, were silent during the exchange. One would have thought that perhaps a chaplain who watched as Mrs. Barrios, a single mother whose only daughter had been killed and whose English was minimal, broke down in tears and sat sobbing on the curb as the public affairs officer described her friends as "outspoken and a threat to the integrity of the meetings" would have been sensitive to a grieving mother's need for a family friend who had translated in all the previous meetings with the Air Force investigators - but he was silent. Likewise, the senior lawyer on the base, who no doubt had handled many criminal cases, would have recognized that a distraught mother would need someone who could take notes and understand the nuances of the discussion in English during the very stressful discussions with the investigators - but he was silent. Instead, the colonels bowed to the civilian public affairs officer's advice that "outspoken" women were a threat to the "integrity of the meeting." Eventually, Mrs. Barrios, her sister Algeria and Juan Torres met with Brigadier General Mannon, commander of the 82nd Training Wing, and with three members of the Office of Special Investigations. Mrs. Barrios said they were given no new information about the investigation and questioned again why her friends, who over the past seven months have been a part of the briefings from the Air Force, had been kept out of meetings where the Air Force officials knew they were not going to provide any new information.

Since 2003, there have been 34 homicides and 218 "self-inflicted" deaths (suicides) in the Air Force, and in 2007-2008 alone, five homicides and 35 "self-inflicted" deaths according to the Public Affairs Office of the 82nd Training Wing at Sheppard Air Force base.

On the same day that Mrs. Barrios went to Sheppard Air Force Base, October 3, 2008, the US Army announced that a US Army woman sergeant had been killed near Fort Bragg, North Carolina, by a stab wound in the neck. Sergeant Christina Smith, 29, was stabbed on September 30, 2008, allegedly by her US Army husband Sergeant Richard Smith, who was accompanied by Private First Class Matthew Kvapil.

Smith was the fourth military woman murdered in North Carolina in the past nine months.

On June 21, 2008, US Army Specialist Megan Touma, 23, was killed inside a Fayetteville, North Carolina, hotel, less than two weeks after she arrived at Fort Bragg from an assignment in Germany. She was seven months pregnant. Sergeant Edgar Patino, a married male soldier assigned to Fort Bragg, whom Touma knew from Germany and who reportedly was the father of the unborn child, has been arrested for her murder.

On July 10, 2008, Army 2nd Lt. Holley Wimunc, an Army nurse at Fort Bragg, was killed. Her estranged husband, Marine Corporal John Wimunc of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, has been arrested in her death and the burning of her body and Lance Corporal Kyle Alden was arrested for destroying evidence and providing a false alibi.

Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach had been raped in May 2007 and protective orders had been issued against the alleged perpetrator, fellow Marine Cpl. Cesar Laurean. The burned body of Lauterbach and her unborn baby were found in a shallow grave in the backyard of Laurean's home in January 2008. Laurean fled to Mexico, where he was captured by Mexican authorities. He is currently awaiting extradition to the United States to stand trial. Lauterbach's mother testified before Congress on July 31, 2008, that the Marine Corps ignored warning signs that Laurean was a danger to her daughter.

On Wednesday, October 8, at 11:30 a.m., a vigil for the four military women and all victims of violence will be held at the Main Gate at Fort Bragg, followed by a discussion on violence against women at the Quaker Peace Center in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and by a wreath laying at Lafayette Memorial Park. The events are sponsored by the Coalition to End Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault in the Military, Veterans for Peace and the Quaker Peace Center.
(c) 2008 Ann Wright is a 29-year US Army veteran who retired as a Colonel, and a former US diplomat who resigned in March, 2003, in opposition to the war on Iraq. She served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia. In December, 2001, she was on the small team that reopened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. She is the co-author of "Dissent: Voices Of Conscience." She has written several articles on violence against women in the military, including "Sexual Assault in the Military: A DoD Cover-Up,?" "U.S. Military Keeping Secrets About Female Soldiers' 'Suicides'?" and "Is There an Army Cover Up of Rape and Murder of Women Soldiers?."

Where Is Justice?
By Mary Pitt

As a small voice from the back of the room, I have one question regarding the discovery of the illiquidity of all the huge corporate conglomerates who have taken over the finances of this ostensibly democratic nation. When is somebody going to jail?

Now, I don't profess to truly understand the ins and outs of our financial system and I have absolutely no concept of anything over a million of anything. I think I am in good company as you would be safe in assuming that the majority of the Americam people are in the same boat as I. However, those of us with intact brain cells do remember the Enron fiasco when Congressional hearings were held which exposed the various forms of chicanery which had been perpetrated by the corporate moguls and their compliant accountants. It seems that they had engaged in what they termed "creative accounting" in order to induce pigeons, (pardon me, investors), to continue to trust them with trust funds and other forms of financial donations. We watched with a sense of irony as first one and then another of the perpetrators were marched off to the Federal Countty Clubs. (But our money was still gone.)

Now we learn that the same sort of underhanded and blatantly dishonest business practices had brought down many of those companies who had been entrusted with the very lifeblood of our capitalist financial and political system. They had created false balance sheets which listed the packages of home, auto, small business, and miscellaneous loans which had been issued to patently and obviously poor credit risks at their face value rather than discounting them due to the likelihood that a large percentage of them would default. This created the false image of a company in robust health and highly eligible for the consideration by potential investors.

The only reason we have heard advanced as to the reasons for this perfidy have to do with the eligibility of the corporate officers to draw bonuses, raises, and parachutes with a higher carat of gold content, which only further drained the corporate coffers and caused the business foundation to shake still more. It was only when the whole house of cards was preparing to come down around the ears of the entire system was this condition uncovered by the oblivious souls who were in the position of guardians of the public good, who had been blithely watching the stock market go up and up.

We have been told that it is our fault for borrowing or buying things we could not afford. Shame on us that, if we were searching for a new home with a limited budget, that the fast-talking sales person told us that they had access to "creative financing" which would allow us to pay the interest only for the first two years to allow us time to get our feet under us before having to start paying on the principle. Or shame on us when we went shopping for a used car to replace the old one that had just gasped its last and the slick salesman said that, by the same method, we could afford to drive away in "this little baby right here. And shame on us when our bank told us that Adjustable Rate Loan was the newest thing and had many advantages. Double-shame that we fell for the easy credit card approvals that appeared in our mail regularly. Well, now we have to pay for those mistakes, in spades!

Rather than to risk the collapse from spreading to the international market with the dollar sinking into oblivion, we were told that it would be necessary to obligate the American taxpayers for generations to come for buying out those worthless loans and putting right the condition of these companies. Now, I could be wrong and I readily admit to naiveté in these matters, but I felt it would have been as productive and more fair to the American people if the government were to take them into Federal receivership, terminate without severance pay all the people involved in the conspiracy to defraud, and set the firms on the right path before releasing them back to the control of the shareholders.

However, we must assume that Congress knows best and chose to take another path and the American people will have the opportunity to judge their actions in the upcoming election. While the Congresspersons are at home campaigning, perhaps we will be able to ask them to further account for their reasoning and explain their actions. There are many questions that the wage slaves and others who feel disconnected from the nuts and bolts of managing our futures would like answered if answers there be. Among them are:

Why, when we lose our jobs or have a medical catastrophe dowe not receive any assistance from the government until our resources are so depleted that we qualify for welfare?

Why was it necessary to make the bankruptcy court so restrictive that relief was all but unavailable through that action?

And, oh, so many more questions why we, the people, are treated so much less generously than the multi-billion dollar corporations. If we make a simple mistake on our income taxes, the vaunted accountants from the Internal Revenue Service fall upon us like so many fire ants and we pay up or go to jail and they will follow us to the ends of the earth to collect every penny, costing us out job or profession and ruining our families forever after. Yet, those who are engaged in such corporate criminality are allowed to float away in their golden parachutes and dwell forever after on the Riviera.

Again, I can only ask, when is somebody going to jail for this?
(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...

Boxer & Blair discuss their War Crimes trial defenses.

Heil Bush,

Dear Uberfuhrer Boxer,

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 and giving it to the wealthy goons on Wall Street even though 80,000 voters told you not to, Iraq and these many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Democratic 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 ruby 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 Frau Boxer, Sieg Heil!

Vice Fuhrer Cheney

Heil Bush

A Country In Shambles, Under GOP Rule
Efforts to blame Democrats for the country's deep woes assume deep stupidity on the part of the glorified Regular Voter.
By Glenn Greenwald

There are few things that make political coverage more unbearable -- and more distorting -- than The David Brooks Syndrome: the extremely patronizing and ill-informed pretense, shared by media and right-wing elites alike, that they can study the Little Common People like zoo animals, and then translate and give voice to their simple-minded and ignorant though good-hearted, salt-of-the-earth perspectives. Rarely has this mentality been so transparent as it has been in the wake of the Biden-Palin debate, as pundits and right-wing polemicists like Brooks, Peggy Noonan and Rich "Starbursts" Lowry rushed forward to proclaim giddily that Regular Americans would love Sarah Palin and this love could even help McCain win, despite -- or, really, because of -- her vapid, content-free telegenic presence.

Actual empirical evidence - called "polling data" -- has almost uniformly demonstrated how false these condescending pats on the head are, as every single poll conducted thus far (at least that I'm aware of) found that Americans believed that Biden won and is the far more serious and knowledgeable candidate, and huge numbers continue to have profound doubts about Palin's fitness for office. And the first tracking poll to report a full post-debate day of polling -- the Research 2000 poll for Daily Kos -- finds Obama with a 13-point lead, his largest ever. This joint right-wing/pundit claim that Americans would swoon in the face of Palin's empty chatter, self-conscious folksiness and chronic, seizure-like winking says much more about those making the claim than it does about their Regular People subjects.

As polling data conclusively demonstrates, the mindset of the voting public is infinitely more rational and substance-based than the pundits and the Right fantasize when they lyrically praise the Regular American -- at least it is in this time of perceived (and actual) crisis. What's happening in this country, and in this election, is rather simple and easy to see: (1) the country is in total shambles -- possibly far worse than what people even realize; (2) we have lived for the last eight years under virtually absolute GOP rule; (3) the public knows this; (4) the Republican President and his party are therefore intensely -- historically -- unpopular; and (5) the voting public doesn't want to continue living under the rule of the same faction and same political party that has driven the country into the ground. Having Sarah Palin drop her gerund endings and desperately trotting out the standard, tired GOP attack ads to depict Obama as a radical, fist-pumping, America-hating, unhinged socialist -- when everyone can see with their own eyes that he isn't -- won't change any of that.

That the Right believes in the fundamental stupidity of the American voter while simultaneously pretending to revere and speak for them them is reflected in their belief that they can successfully blame the financial crisis and the country's woes generally on Democrats, who -- while hardly covering themselves with glory -- haven't had any meaningful power in this country for as long as one can remember. Ponder how stupid you must think Americans are to believe that you can blame the financial crisis on the 2004 statements of House Democratsabout Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac when that was a time when the GOP controlled all branches of the Government and nothing could have been more inconsequential than what Barney Frank or Maxine Waters, languishing in the minority in Tom DeLay's tyrannical House, said or did about anything.

In sum, Americans hate the way the country has been ruled, the economic crisis is making them hate that more by the minute, and the country has been dominated by Republican rule for the last eight years -- at least. It's just this simple:

And the reality is even more imbalanced than that graph illustrates: between (1) the tiny margins the Democrats have had when controlling the Senate, (2) the true functional majority of "GOP + Blue Dogs" in the House, (3) the extraordinary centralization of power in the White House, and (4) Democratic complicity and fear, it is GOP policy which ends up prevailing in virtually every instance of alleged "bipartisanship" even during those tiny slivers of ostensible Democratic control.

The overarching reality of the country is that we've lived under unchallenged Republican rule and the country has virtually collapsed on every level. No matter how dumb Rich Lowry and David Brooks fantasize The Regular People to be, those facts are far too glaring to suppress.

UPDATE: In comments, Harksaw suggests adding the Supreme Court to the graph, based on which party appointed the justices. Doing so produces this:_

We've been an overwhelmingly Republican-dominated country for the last eight years (at least) and the results of that couldn't be clearer -- or more devastating.

Rasumussen Report today has a new poll finding that Americans, by 8 points, believe Biden won the debate with Palin. Moreover, Gallup's first tracking poll to include post-debate results finds Obama equaling his largest lead yet -- 50-42, while Rasumussen today continues to show Obama over 50% and thus concludes: "The stability of these results suggests that the McCain campaign faces a very steep challenge in the remaining few weeks of Election 2008." So much for the Right's euphoric claim that Sarah Palin would electrify The Normal Americans and change the face of the race. If anything, McCain has sunk further in the wake of Biden-Palin.
(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.

Health Care Destruction
By Paul Krugman

Sarah Palin ended her debate performance last Thursday with a slightly garbled quote from Ronald Reagan about how, if we aren't vigilant, we'll end up "telling our children and our children's children" about the days when America was free. It was a revealing choice.

You see, when Reagan said this he wasn't warning about Soviet aggression. He was warning against legislation that would guarantee health care for older Americans - the program now known as Medicare.

Conservative Republicans still hate Medicare, and would kill it if they could - in fact, they tried to gut it during the Clinton years (that's what the 1995 shutdown of the government was all about). But so far they haven't been able to pull that off.

So John McCain wants to destroy the health insurance of nonelderly Americans instead.

Most Americans under 65 currently get health insurance through their employers. That's largely because the tax code favors such insurance: your employer's contribution to insurance premiums isn't considered taxable income, as long as the employer's health plan follows certain rules. In particular, the same plan has to be available to all employees, regardless of the size of their paycheck or the state of their health.

This system does a fairly effective job of protecting those it reaches, but it leaves many Americans out in the cold. Workers whose employers don't offer coverage are forced to seek individual health insurance, often in vain. For one thing, insurance companies offering "nongroup" coverage generally refuse to cover anyone with a pre-existing medical condition. And individual insurance is very expensive, because insurers spend large sums weeding out "high-risk" applicants - that is, anyone who seems likely to actually need the insurance.

So what should be done? Barack Obama offers incremental reform: regulation of insurers to prevent discrimination against the less healthy, subsidies to help lower-income families buy insurance, and public insurance plans that compete with the private sector. His plan falls short of universal coverage, but it would sharply reduce the number of uninsured.

Mr. McCain, on the other hand, wants to blow up the current system, by eliminating the tax break for employer-provided insurance. And he doesn't offer a workable alternative.

Without the tax break, many employers would drop their current health plans. Several recent nonpartisan studies estimate that under the McCain plan around 20 million Americans currently covered by their employers would lose their health insurance.

As compensation, the McCain plan would give people a tax credit - $2,500 for an individual, $5,000 for a family - that could be used to buy health insurance in the individual market. At the same time, Mr. McCain would deregulate insurance, leaving insurance companies free to deny coverage to those with health problems - and his proposal for a "high-risk pool" for hard cases would provide little help.

So what would happen?

The good news, such as it is, is that more people would buy individual insurance. Indeed, the total number of uninsured Americans might decline marginally under the McCain plan - although many more Americans would be without insurance than under the Obama plan.

But the people gaining insurance would be those who need it least: relatively healthy Americans with high incomes. Why? Because insurance companies want to cover only healthy people, and even among the healthy only those able to pay a lot in addition to their tax credit would be able to afford coverage (remember, it's a $5,000 credit, but the average family policy actually costs more than $12,000).

Meanwhile, the people losing insurance would be those who need it most: lower-income workers who wouldn't be able to afford individual insurance even with the tax credit, and Americans with health problems whom insurance companies won't cover.

And in the process of comforting the comfortable while afflicting the afflicted, the McCain plan would also lead to a huge, expensive increase in bureaucracy: insurers selling individual health plans spend 29 percent of the premiums they receive on administration, largely because they employ so many people to screen applicants. This compares with costs of 12 percent for group plans and just 3 percent for Medicare.

In short, the McCain plan makes no sense at all, unless you have faith that the magic of the marketplace can solve all problems. And Mr. McCain does: a much-quoted article published under his name declares that "Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation."

I agree: the McCain plan would do for health care what deregulation has done for banking. And I'm terrified.
(c) 2008 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Chan Lowe ~~~

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

To End On A Happy Note...

Homeland (I Want My Country Back)
By Greg Brown

I want my country back
and a good dream to stand up for.
Got my hand over my heart,
but I don't feel at home here anymore.

Big, big flag above the big, big mall,
and the shake rattle and roll to the core.
Things sprawl after they fall,
and I don't feel at home here anymore.

Homeland of Sojourner Truth
and Chief Joseph before,
Many quiet words of wisdom drowned out by TV
and I don't feel at home here anymore.

Blind engineer, war train on the track,
many many a heart is sore.
We want our country back;
we want to feel at home here once more.

I want my country back.
(c) 2003/2008 Greg Brown

Have You Seen This...

Gas: It's America's Crack!

Parting Shots...

Report: 60 Million People You'd Never Talk To Voting For Other Guy

BOSTON-According to an eye-opening report released Tuesday, 60 million people whom you would never talk to, would never be in a position to talk to, and wouldn't even be able to talk to if you tried will be voting for the other candidate in this year's presidential election, and there is nothing you can do about it.

The 110-page document reveals that these strangers share a fundamental vision of our nation's future, a vision that shockingly runs completely counter to your own and is furthermore embodied by the candidate whom you could not in a million years fathom being the leader of the free world. Even more frightening, the report says, is that their votes count just as much as yours.

Just by looking at them, it's clear to you that your guy is the only sane choice.

"While you are 100 percent certain that your preferred candidate's stance on issues such as foreign policy and the economy would appeal to any human being with half a brain, there is, in this very same country, an equally large voting bloc which believes that you and your candidate of choice are absolutely insane," the report's co-author Dr. Mark Grier said during a press conference. "Every single thing you love about your candidate's personality, vice presidential pick, and family, 60 million other registered voters absolutely deplore."

"What you consider to be this country's ruin," Grier added, "these other people actually consider to be this country's savior."

The report also confirmed that even if you were able to communicate with these other citizens, your passion and conviction would never be enough to convince them not to vote for their candidate, just as they would never be able to convince you not to vote for your candidate, and just as nobody can convince anybody else that what they believe to be right is wrong, regardless of how clear the evidence to the contrary may be.

The report maintained that, during your purely hypothetical discussion, both of you would come off as smug, narrow-minded, or downright ignorant if you tried to criticize the other candidate's positions on key issues such as abortion and gay rights. The ensuing argument would only further cement both of your feelings of disgust toward the other candidate.

And yet incredibly, sources said, neither one of you would technically be wrong.

Because-and this is reportedly the most maddening part-even though these people's unwavering support for their candidate completely dumbfounds you, you cannot even get angry at them, since they are not voting for him because they are idiots or because they want to spite you, but rather because they actually believe that he is the better choice to run our nation.

The study, which comes as a result of 20 years of research conducted in America's cities, suburbs, and rural towns, indicates that residents living in places you "wouldn't be caught dead in" have never even once considered voting for your candidate at any point during the campaign, and never will, and this is just the way it is always going to be.

The report confirms that this frustrates you.

"The mere fact that you and these 60 million strangers actually live in the same country and salute the same flag seems to defy all reality, yet it's completely true," University of Pennsylvania sociology professor Dr. Marie Stratton said. "And what's even more incredible, there is no indication that you will ever talk to these people about your differences, because you prefer conversing with those who validate your opinions and give you a sense of self-satisfaction."

According to the report, based on the social and cultural trends in the nation, over the next 20 years the number of people with whom you would never speak is only expected to increase. By the 2032 election, there will be an astonishing 150 million people you will never meet who will hate you and your candidate with the same fervent passion with which you will hate them and their candidate.

"I'm voting for [the other guy] all the way," Ohio resident Ethan Washburn said in a statement Monday. "I think that when it comes to foreign and domestic issues, he is best suited for the job. And anyone who thinks otherwise is an idiot."

"I'm voting for [the candidate opposite of Washburn] all the way," Florida resident Tom Redman said in a statement Monday. "I think that when it comes to foreign and domestic issues, he is best suited for the job. And anyone who thinks otherwise is an idiot."

Remarkably, the one thing you do have in common with these 60 million other people is that you both know several assholes who are actually planning to vote for a third-party candidate, if you can believe that shit.
(c) 2008 The Onion


The Gross National Debt

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Zeitgeist The Movie...

Issues & Alibis Vol 8 # 39 (c) 10/10/2008

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