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In This Edition

Naomi Klein explores, "The Bailout Profiteers."

Uri Avnery reminds us why Israel calls him, "Our Obama."

Victoria Stewart takes time for, "The Pause."

Jim Hightower dreams the impossible dream, "Wanted: A Competent Government."

Lynn Berry promotes, "Ancient Seeds."

Mike Adams asks, "Can Obama's Win Lead to Meaningful Health Care Reform?"

Ted Rall says, "No We Didn't."

Chris Floyd explains, "Failed States."

Cindy Sheehan exclaims, "I Will Never Concede Defeat!"

Mike Folkerth announces, "Change is Coming; You Choose What Kind."

Greg Palast finds, "The Pits: Georgia's GOP Swipes The Peach State."

Eric Alterman concludes, "A Liberal Supermajority (Finally) Finds Its Voice."

Georgia Sin-ator Saxby Chambliss wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Glenn Greenwald follows, "The Post And 'The Most Disliked President Since Polling Began In The 1930s.'"

AOL reports, "How The "Other" Candidates Did Last Night."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department 'The Onion' reports, "Struggling Americans Forced To Work Extra-Dimensional 4th Shift" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "The Fight Goes On!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of R.J. Matson with additional cartoons and photos from Derf City, Bruce Yurgil, Bob Englehart, Old American Century.Org, Married To The Sea.Com, RF, Wizard Of Whimsy, The Simpsons, The Onion, 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."

The Fight Goes On!
By Ernest Stewart

"He's coming around folks! He's going to be OK and ready to play "Symptom Six" of 'Beat the Reaper!'"
Waiting For The Electrician Or Someone Like Him ~~~ The Firesign Theater

"The President may employ the armed forces to restore public order in any State of the United States the President determines hinders the execution of laws or deprives people of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law or opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws."
~~~ The John Warner Defense Authorization Act ~ signed into law by George W. Bush ~ October 17, 2006 ~~~

"...our soldiers, working with the Bosnian government, seized terrorists who were plotting to bomb our embassy in Sarajevo."
~~~ George W. Bush ~ 2002 State of the Union address ~~~

Congratulations America, you managed to elect the lesser of two evils again. As my starter wife, Bitchzilla, was wont to say from time to time, "Whoop-de-doo horse shit!" Sure, we dodged the McCain bullet, which would have guaranteed America's death, but are we really any better off? Sure black America was thrown a bone of sorts and Obama is really pissing off a lot of racists, which is a good thing, but it's really only window dressing!

The world rejoices at Obama's election but only because they don't know him very well. They, like the American voters, in a few months or years will certainly change their tune. The truth is, with this election we haven't changed much at all. In fact, in some instances we've gotten worse.

On Tuesday Californians made discrimination legal with the passage of Prop 8, as did the citizens of Arizona and Florida. Today it's okay to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation. Today tens of thousands of legal marriages are now illegal. Can legal discrimination for other things be far behind? Methinks the round up of illegal aliens will be next. Look out, Pedro! Perhaps they'll outlaw being married and being black? I mean, they choose to be black don't they? In addition, all interracial marriages are over as well! Or perhaps driving while being Jewish or Catholic will be voted on next? Of course, Californians are getting just what they deserve and will continue to reap what they've sown for years to come. The traitor Nancy Pelosi was reelected in spite of her many crimes and acts of treason and sedition and, of course, they still have the Arnold leading the way into the brave new world of Fascism. So much for the change, eh? So much for the "left coast" theory! Of course, I'm not surprised for I found out while living amongst the native Californians they are the craziest people on the planet, bar none!

If one listens carefully, one can hear on the breeze "The Who" singing bits of, "Won't Get Fooled Again..."

And the world looks just the same
And history ain't changed
'Cause the banners, they all flown in the next war

We could have voted for real change. We could have voted to elect real black folks and women into the White House but instead got an elitist white man like all the others presidents in our history. Yes, he's black if you buy the Jim Crow laws that said any percentage of "black blood" makes you black. If his blonde-haired, blue-eyed mother, the years he lived in the home of a white banker and his attendance of elitist schools makes him black then he's black? Black or white, he's just another man who has voted every chance he got to promote our war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and now hopes to expand the slaughter in Afghanistan and over the Hindu Kush into Pakistan. Cynthia would have ended those wars and brought all of our troops home but now the endless wars will go on and on. We'll continue to murder millions of innocents, draining the rest of our treasury and slaughtering more of our children in the process. So don't wonder where the blood on your hands came from, America! He voted to legalize the illegal acts of government spying on innocent Americans. Cynthia would have ended those and brought charges against the perpetrators, now under Barry "Big Brother" will grow even bigger. Northcom will continue to grow until the day it unleashes the Panzers against American neighborhoods and those neighborhoods will no doubt be black and Latino neighborhoods. To start with, that is!

There's nothing in the street
Looks any different to me
And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye

Big brother will continue to look over our shoulders at our every move and all those rights that Smirky stripped away from us will remain lost. The signing statements will continue, the Junta criminals will go unpunished. The corpo-rat's will continue going to the bank at our expense and making new and horrible laws to control us. Pelosi and Reed will continue to lead the House and Senate for the benefit of our corpo-rat masters as they've done before and all those election promises will be forgotten until the next cycle. In-other-words, same ole, same ole, America!

So don't look for me to be dancing in the streets with the Sheeple. There's nothing to celebrate and the fight for our freedom still goes on! Did you wonder how we're going to meet our date with destiny predicted by the Mayans for 12-21-2012? Well wonder no more. Destiny's name is Barry!

In Other News

I see where the traitors over at Northern Command have announced that two more U.S. military units will be assigned for domestic homeland security missions, tripling the total number of combat-ready, jack booted thugs operating inside the U.S. to around 4,700. You may recall that Northern Command was set up to be Smirky's private Praetorian Guard.

Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart, commander of U.S. Northern Command recently told the Colorado Independent, "In the next three years the military plans to activate and train an estimated 4,700 service members for specialized domestic operations, according to which was created in 2002 for homeland defense missions. It's to help us manage the consequences of a large-scale event," said Renuart. "We have one [unit] now trained and equipped and assigned to the Northern Command. We'll grow a second one this calendar year of 2009 and a third one in the calendar year 2010 so we can provide the nation three sets of capabilities that could respond to an event of the size of 9/11 or larger."

Mike German of the American Civil Liberties Union's legislative office in Washington., D.C., points out, "This isn't a military police brigade or a civil affairs brigade. This is actually a combat brigade being assigned a domestic mission." You know, with tanks and helicopter gunships!

The "Army Times" quoted 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier as saying that the units would be trained in the use of "non-lethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals" for the purposes of "crowd and traffic control." You may recall how these same neighborhood kids controlled traffic throughout Iraq, i.e., run a stop sign and they'll machine gun everyone in your car, kids and dogs included! Oops, sorry grandma, but you shouldn't have changed lanes without a turn signal, grandma, grandma!

All this is a complete violation of the Posse Comitatus Act and the Insurrection Act. Yes, I know, that all that and many more of our rights were taken away with John Warner's "Defense Authorization Act," signed by our beloved Texas prairie monkey back on October 17, 2006. For those of you keeping score this was repealed by HR 4986: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, reinstating the Posse Comitatus Act and the Insurrection Act of 1807. Despite this repeal, President Bush attached a signing statement saying that he did not feel "bound by the repeal." Bush needs to feel bound by heavy ropes and chains! Keep your wicks trimmed and your powder dry, America!

And Finally

You may have heard about the six Algerians, (all of whom had taken citizenship or residence in Bosnia) who had been kidnapped by Bush and sent to our concentration camp down in Gitmo? The men who recently had all the charges against them dropped but are still being held? Their story is our shame and one of Smirky's many war crimes.

These six men had been investigated, on a tip from a Serbian spook, by the Bosnian police for plotting to bomb our embassy in Sarajevo and had been cleared by the police and by the Bosnian courts when Cheney got on the phone. As the Bosnian court was preparing to release their six prisoners, Prime Minister Behman was informed that Bush, Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld had been personally briefed and the White House had decided that, if they were freed, US troops in the NATO Stabilization Force in Bosnia would seize them, using "whatever force is necessary." So, despite a three-month investigation of the men by the Bosnian police, their clearance by the police and the Sarajevo court and a specific demand by the Dayton Peace Accords-established Bosnian Human Rights Chamber that they should not be forced to leave Bosnia, US forces kidnapped all six, shackled and blindfolded them and sent them on down to Gitmo where for seven years they have been held incommunicado, abused and tortured.

Lawyers defending these men found that the US threatened to pull its troops out of the NATO peacekeeping force in Bosnia if the men were not handed over immediately. According to testimony presented by the Bosnian Prime Minister, Alija Behman, the deputy US ambassador to Bosnia in 2001, Christopher Hoh, told Behman that if he did not hand the men to the Americans, "then let God protect Bosnia and Herzegovina."

If this was the only time that this sort of thing has happened it would be an outrage but those six aren't even the tip of the iceberg. Consider that of all the thousands to be kidnapped and sent to Gitmo or other black-ops "Happy Camps," slightly more than 96% of those "terrorist" schoolteachers, shopkeepers and taxi cab drivers have been cleared and released but only after many years of torture, maiming and, in a few hundred cases, death! Not a single one received a dime in compensation for the ruin of their lives. The didn't even get an apology! After all of these atrocities committed by the Junta how many of them will be brought to trial by Barry for their war crimes and crimes against humanity? What sentence will Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Powel and Ashcroft receive? Will they end up like Saddam dangling from a rope for their mass murder? I see that the Kangaroo Court down in Gitmo sentenced Osama bin Laden's media specialist to life in prison for terrorism. What sentences will old "Watch what you say" Junta media specialist Ari Fleischer get? What will Scott McClellan or the rest of them get for the same crimes? If you said that none of the Junta will ever be punished for any of their crimes, you win a shiny gold star for your forehead and may stay after class and clean the erasers!


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

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

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

Ernest & Victoria Stewart


05-16-1912 ~ 10-31-2008
Louie Louie Oh NO!

02-01-1938 ~ 11-01-2008
R.I.P. Lonesome Cowboy Burt!

10-23-1942 ~ 11-04-2008
Thanks for all the new worlds!


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."

The Bailout Profiteers
By Naomi Klein

On October 13th, when the U.S. Treasury Department announced the team of "seasoned financial veterans" that will be handling the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street, one name jumped out: Reuben Jeffery III, who was initially tapped to serve as chief investment officer for the massive new program.

On the surface, Jeffery looks like a classic Bush appointment. Like Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, he's an alum of Goldman Sachs, having worked on Wall Street for 18 years. And as chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission from 2005 to 2007, he proudly advocated "flexibility" in regulation - a laissez-faire approach that failed to rein in the high-risk trading at the heart of the meltdown.

Bankers watching bankers, regulators who don't believe in regulating - that's all standard fare for the Bush crew. What's most striking about Jeffery's résumé, however, is an item omitted when his new job was announced: He served as executive director of Paul Bremer's infamous Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, during the early days of the Iraq War. Part of his job was to hire civilian staff, which made him an integral part of the partisan machine that filled the Green Zone with Young Republicans, investment bankers and Dick Cheney interns. Qualifications weren't a big issue back then, because the staff's main function was to hand over stacks of taxpayer money to private contractors, who were the ones actually running the occupation. It was this nonstop cash conveyor belt that earned the Green Zone a reputation, in the words of one CPA official, as "a free-fraud zone." During Senate hearings last year, when Jeffery was asked what he had learned from his experience at the CPA, he said he thought that contracts should be handed out with more "speed and flexibility" - the same philosophy he cited back when he was in charge of regulating Wall Street traders.

The Bush Administration has since reversed the Jeffery appointment, perhaps thinking better of giving a CPA alum such a central role in the Wall Street bailout. Still, the original impulse underscores the many worrying parallels between the administration's approach to the financial crisis and its approach to the Iraq War. Under cover of an emergency, Treasury is rapidly turning into an economic Green Zone, overrun with private companies collecting lucrative contracts. Fittingly, one of the first to line up at the new trough was none other than the law firm of Bracewell & Giuliani - yes, that Giuliani. The firm's chairman, Patrick Oxford, could scarcely conceal his glee over the prospect of cashing in on the bailout. "This one," he told reporters, "is very, very big." At least four times bigger, in fact, than the post-9/11 homeland-security bubble, from which Giuliani and his various outfits have profited so extravagantly. Even bigger, potentially, than the price tag for the Iraq War itself.

In Iraq, the contractors were tasked with reconstructing the country from the mess made by U.S. missiles. After years of corruption born of no-bid contracts and paltry oversight, many Iraqis are still waiting for the lights to come back on. Today, a new team of contractors is lining up to reconstruct the U.S. economy - reconstruct it from the mess made by the very banks, brokers and law firms that are now applying for contracts. And it's not at all clear that America can survive their assistance.

See if any of this sounds familiar: As soon as the bailout was announced, it became clear that Treasury officials would hire outsiders to perform their jobs for them - at a profit. Private companies wanting to help manage the bailout were given just two days to apply for massive, multiyear contracts. Since it was such a mad rush - after all, the entire economy was about to implode - there was no time for an open bidding process. Nor was there time to draft rigorous rules to make sure that those applying don't have serious conflicts of interest. Instead, applicants were asked to disclose their conflicts and to explain - and this is not a joke - their "philosophy in fulfilling your duty to the Treasury and the U.S. taxpayer in light of your proprietary interests and those of other clients." In other words, an open invitation to bullshit about how much they love their country and how they can be trusted to regulate themselves.

The first major contract to be awarded in the bailout was for legal advice - and the choice Treasury made was Halliburton-esque in its audacity. Six law firms were invited to bid, but four declined, either because they didn't want the contract or because they had too many conflicts of interest. Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said the fact that so many law firms chose not to bid "shows that the guidelines are sufficiently rigorous."

Or it may just show that the bidder who won the contract - Simpson Thacher & Bartlett - takes a more relaxed approach to conflicts than its colleagues. The law firm is a Wall Street heavy hitter, having brokered some of the biggest bank mergers in recent years. It also provided legal support to companies trading mortgage-backed securities - the "financial weapons of mass destruction," as Warren Buffett called them, that detonated the banking industry. More to the point, it was hired to provide legal services to the Treasury in its negotiations to spend $250 billion of the bailout money purchasing equity in America's banks. The first stage of the plan involves buying stakes in nine of the country's top banks. Incredibly, Simpson Thacher has represented seven of the nine: JPMorgan, Bank of New York Mellon, Bank of America, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch.

According to its contract, Simpson Thacher has agreed not to represent any of the banks "against the U.S." when they negotiate with Treasury for the equity money. However, the firm has retained the right to represent banks when they apply for other parts of the $700 billion bailout not covered by its contract. (It has promised to erect a "firewall" to stem the flow of "confidential information" to those clients.) The firm will also continue to work for the banks on a range of other lucrative deals - and that's where the problem lies. Take Lee Meyerson, Simpson Thacher's lead lawyer on the bailout negotiations, who is specifically named in the contract as "essential" to the project. As the company's hotshot attorney, Meyerson has personally represented three of the nine banks that were bailed out in the first round, in addition to many others that will surely apply for cash injections. One of the bailed-out banks is Bank of New York Mellon, whose $29 billion merger Meyerson helped negotiate. Mergers like that can bill in the millions. Is Simpson Thacher able to put aside its loyalties to its biggest clients and negotiate deals for the taxpayer that could exact real costs from those very clients?

It might be possible to set aside concerns about divided loyalties if it were clear that Simpson Thacher is helping Treasury to wrangle the best deals possible for U.S. taxpayers. But the firm's first test - the deal to give $125 billion to the nine big banks to ease the "credit crunch" that is crippling the economy - wasn't exactly reassuring. Secretary Paulson promised that the banks won't just "hoard" the money - they will quickly "deploy it" through the economy in the form of badly needed loans. There is just one hitch: Neither Paulson nor Simpson Thacher got that "deploy" part in writing - nor did they put in place any mechanism to require the banks to spend their taxpayer billions. Apparently, the part about lending the money to homeowners and small businesses was sort of implied.

"There is no obligation for banks to lend the money one way or the other," Jennifer Zuccarelli, a Treasury spokeswoman, tells Rolling Stone. "But the banks have the understanding" that the money is intended for loans. "We're not looking to control their operations."

Unfortunately, many of the banks appear to have no intention of wasting the money on loans. "At least for the next quarter, it's just going to be a cushion," said John Thain, the chief executive of Merrill Lynch. Gary Crittenden, chief financial officer of Citigroup, had an even better idea: He hinted that his company would use its share of the cash - $25 billion - to buy up competitors and swell even bigger. The handout, he told analysts, "does present the possibility of taking advantage of opportunities that might otherwise be closed to us."

And the folks at Morgan Stanley? They're planning to pay themselves $10.7 billion this year, much of it in bonuses - almost exactly the amount they are receiving in the first phase of the bailout. "You can imagine the devilish grins on the faces of Morgan Stanley employees," writes Bloomberg columnist Jonathan Weil. "Not only did we, the taxpayers, save their company...we funded their 2008 bonus pool."

It didn't have to be this way. Five days before Paulson struck his deal with the banks, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown negotiated a similar bailout - only he extracted meaningful guarantees for taxpayers: voting rights at the banks, seats on their boards, 12 percent in annual dividend payments to the government, a suspension of dividend payments to shareholders, restrictions on executive bonuses, and a legal requirement that the banks lend money to homeowners and small businesses.

In sharp contrast, this is what U.S. taxpayers received: no controlling interest, no voting rights, no seats on the bank boards and just five percent in dividend payouts to the government, while shareholders continue to collect billions in dividends every quarter. What's more, golden parachutes and bonuses already promised by the banks will still be paid out to executives - all before taxpayers are paid back.

No wonder it took just one hour for Paulson to convince all nine CEOs to accept his offer - less than seven minutes per bank. Not even the firms' own lawyers could have drafted a sweeter deal.

The day after it met with the nation's top banks, Treasury announced that it had selected the firm that would receive the juiciest contract of all: that of "master custodian." The winning company will be to the bailout what Halliburton is to the military: the contractor of contractors. It will purchase toxic debts from Wall Street, service them and auction them off in the future - a so-called "end-to-end process." The contract is for a minimum of three years.

Seventy firms applied for the gig; the winner was Bank of New York Mellon. Describing the scope of the megacontract, bank president Gerald Hassell said, "It's the ultimate outsourcing - because the Federal Reserve and the Treasury do not have the mechanics to run the entire program, and we're essentially the general contractor across the entire program. It's going to cross our entire company."

This raises an interesting point: Has the Treasury partially nationalized the private banks, as we have been told? Or is it the other way around? Is it Treasury that has been partially privatized by Wall Street, its massive rescue plan now entirely in the hands of a private bank it is directly subsidizing?

Shortly after receiving the contract, Hassell told investors that his institution is now well-positioned to profit from the market meltdown. "There's a lot of new business that's going on even in this chaotic marketplace," he said, "and so some of those things have been very positive to us." Just how positive, we don't know, because Treasury has blacked out the 10 lines of the "master custodian" contract that reveal how much Bank of New York Mellon will be paid. Though Treasury says it will release the information eventually, the secrecy goes beyond anything the Bush administration attempted in Iraq. Even Halliburton's dodgy contracts came with price tags attached.

Still, when the terms of the contract do become public, they may turn out to be surprisingly modest. Goldman Sachs has apparently offered to fulfill at least one bailout contract for free. Altruism may not be their only motivation. The real money at stake in the bailout lies not in payment for the work but in how the work is done. Think about it: If you're the one selling your debts to the government, wouldn't you also want to help decide which debts are eligible and how much they're worth? "The financial firms with assets to sell are in many instances the same firms the Treasury will rely on to value and manage the assets it is buying," The New York Times observed. "That is an invitation for these firms to set the price too high or to indulge in other mischief at the taxpayers' expense."

Bank of New York Mellon has a bad record for mischief. It is embroiled in a $22.5 billion money-laundering lawsuit in Moscow and has been forced to pay out a $14 million settlement in a related case. Though the bank's "master custodian" contract with Treasury prohibits unethical conduct, the arrangement seems rife with opportunities for abuse. According to its most recent earnings report, Bank of New York Mellon holds $1.2 billion in subprime mortgage securities. That means that in addition to the $3 billion it will receive as part of the equity program, it will also be eligible to apply for taxpayer money from the program it is being paid to administer. Neither the bank nor Treasury would comment on this direct conflict of interest.

On the same day that he allocated the first $125 billion to the banks, Secretary Paulson announced the largest federal budget deficit in U.S. history. Buried in his statement was a preview of the next phase of the financial disaster. The deficit numbers, he declared, reinforce the need to "pursue policies that promote economic growth and fiscal responsibility, and address entitlement reform." He was referring to Americans who feel entitled to receive Social Security in their old age and Medicaid when they are sick. Those programs, Paulson implied, might not be able to survive the budget crisis he is currently creating for the next administration.

This is why the stakes of the bailout are so high: Unless we get a good deal, there will be nothing left over after the banks are done feeding to pay for the meager services now provided in exchange for taxation, let alone for the more ambitious initiatives promised on the campaign trail. The spiraling cost of saving Wall Street from its bad bets is already being used as an excuse for why we can't solve our many other crises, from health care to climate change.

There is a better way to fix a broken financial system. Treasury's plan to buy up the toxic debts never made sense and should be immediately scrapped - a move that would also handily get rid of most of the crony contractors. As for purchasing equity in banks, the next round of deals - and there will be more - has to start from the premise that the banks are bankrupt and will therefore accept whatever terms we choose to impose, including real regulatory oversight. The possibilities of what could be done if a chunk of the banking system were genuinely under public control - from a moratorium on home foreclosures to mandatory investment in green community redevelopment - are limitless.

Because here is what George Bush and Henry Paulson are hoping we won't figure out: When a society no longer has enough money to pay for its most pressing needs, there are worse things than discovering you own the banks.
(c) 2008 Naomi Klein is the author of, "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism."

Our Obama
By Uri Avnery

IN THREE days, it seems at the moment, the incredible will happen: the most important "white" country in the world will elect a black president.

143 years after the assassination of Abe Lincoln, the man who freed the slaves, and 40 years after the assassination of Martin Luther King, the dreamer of the Dream, a black family will occupy the White House.

This will have huge implications in many directions. One of them is an electrifying message to a world-wide order to which I belong: the Order of the Optimists.

HOW DOES an optimist differ from a realist? My definition is: a realist sees reality as it is. An optimist sees reality as it could be.

Antonio Gramsci, the Italian communist thinker, believed in "the pessimism of the intellect and the optimism of the will." I disagree. True, for anyone versed in world history it is easy to be a pessimist, but for each pessimistic lesson there is an optimistic one (and vice versa, unfortunately).

A year before the ascent to power of Adolf Hitler, few believed it to be possible. But it did happen, and a dark chapter began on the pages of world history. On the other hand, a year before the fall of the Berlin Wall, practically nobody believed that it would happen in their lifetime.

At the beginning of 1947, hardly anyone believed that within a year the State of Israel would come into being. At the same time, also at the beginning of 1947, practically nobody imagined that a Naqba (disaster) would befall the Palestinians. But it happened.

David Ben-Gurion used to say that all experts are experts on what has happened, not what is going to happen. That is not entirely true. Science fiction writers have predicted many things. And in this country, too, there have been some prophets of doom who warned about what would happen to Israel if it proceeded in the direction it was moving. But in principle it is true: experts analyze the existing situation and tend to extrapolate from it into the future. But the future is made by human beings, who are never entirely predictable.

In a world in which a person like Barack Hussein Obama can appear from nowhere and advance within a few years to the highest levels of world politics - nothing is predictable, and therefore everything is possible. As the ancient Jewish maxim goes: "Everything is possible and permission is granted."

For all the optimists of the world, the message of these elections is: Yes, we can! Good and evil are in our hands. And if we want it, as Herzl said, it is no fairy tale.

THAT REMINDS me of the German, the Frenchman, the Englishman and the Jew who decided to write about elephants. The German goes to Africa, returns after ten years and composes a five-volume tome: "A Foreword to a General Introduction to the Origins of the African Elephant." The Frenchman comes back after half a year and writes a slim and elegant volume: "The Love Life of Elephants." The Englishman returns after a week and produces a booklet: "How to Hunt Elephants." The Jew stays at home and writes an essay about "the Elephant and the Jewish Question."

During the last few weeks, the Jews in America and in Israel have been asking: Is He Good For The Jews?

One contribution to the answer was provided by the American citizens in Israel who have already voted. According to press reports, almost all of them are Jews, most of them are Orthodox and most of them voted for John McCain.

Official Israel has been hard put to hide its fear of Obama. A black man. A man whose grandfather was a Muslim. Whose middle name is Hussein. An unknown quantity. Frightening.

Obama, on his part, has gone out of his way to show that he would support the Israeli government exactly as his predecessors have. He groveled in the dust before AIPAC. He surrounded himself with Bill Clinton's Jewish aides and hinted that they would enjoy the same status in his future administration. But go and believe a candidate's election promises. They are worth as much as a garlic's skin, as we say in Hebrew.

Some people do believe in promises. I have received an e-mail message from a British person: "So instead of the Jewish neo-cons who have ruled Washington we shall get the Jewish Zionists who ruled there under Clinton. What's the bloody diff?"

But official Israel is full of angst. The public TV channel has spread pro-McCain propaganda quite openly (while on commercial Channel 10, the commentator Nitzan Horowitz exuberantly supported Obama.) A senior official leaked to Haaretz that Nicholas Sarkozy had privately warned of the frightening inexperience of Obama - a story (whether true or false) designed to provide the McCain campaign with live ammunition in its fight for the Jewish vote in Florida. In a scandalous gesture, the right-wing Israeli ambassador in Washington, Salai Meridor, travelled to a remote town to meet Sarah Palin (of all people!).

SO, IS HE "Good For Israel?" In the old Jewish way, this question must be answered with another question: "For which Israel?" There is more than one Israel, as there is more than one USA.

George W. Bush, our devoted friend, betrayed his "vision" and gave Ariel Sharon an all-encompassing permit to enlarge the settlement blocs, each of which is a deadly landmine on the road to peace. He hindered Israel from making peace with Syria, which he added to the "Axis of Evil." His invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq gave an immense push to the anti-Israel Muslim fundamentalists, to the creeping domination of Lebanon by Hizbullah and to the strengthening of Hamas in Palestine. No wonder Osama Bin-Laden prays to Allah for a McCain victory. (Perhaps that's the only hope left to McCain.)

Bush's predecessor, Bill Clinton, another great friend of Israel, helped Ehud Barak after Camp David to spread the lie that "I have turned every stone, offered them everything they wanted, Arafat has rejected all my generous offers, we have no partner for peace." This mantra dealt a tremendous blow to the Israeli peace camp, from which it has not recovered to this day. At the same time the settlements were being enlarged at a frantic pace, with the knowledge and tacit approval of the Clinton administration. And no wonder: under Clinton, all matters pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were in the hands of a group of Jewish Zionists. There was not a single Arab around.

There are those who reassure the Obama-fearers in Jerusalem. Even if he wants to change things, they say, he won't be able to. The supporters of (official) Israel dominate the Democratic Party, which enjoys the support and the generous donations of the Jewish voters even in these elections. The supporters of (official) Israel will dominate the next Congress, as they did the last. As in the past, a politician who supports Israel by only 100%, instead of 110%, will be committing political Harakiri.

THIS IS all true, but still I dare to hope that Obama will be revealed as a friend of the Other Israel, the Israel that seeks peace.

He promises change. I believe that for him this is not an empty phrase, but something more profound that is rooted in his character.

The thing that is going to happen this week is not just another transition from one party to another party, when the difference between the two is minimal. The new arrival is a person who has the ability, and seemingly also the will, to get things out of the rut and look at everything with new eyes.

That happens from time to time in the United States, which in this respect is superior to other democracies, and especially ours. A new person comes to power and, like the turn of a kaleidoscope, everything looks different.

As far as the national interests of the US are concerned, the "larger Middle East" is not a secondary theater. It is one of the most important, and the new administration will have to deal with it right from the beginning. This is also the theater where the catastrophic failures of Bush are the most obvious.

When Obama and his people - and I hope that they will be new people, not the wrecks from the Clinton era - examine this subject, they will be compelled to arrive at a self-evident conclusion: that the hatred for the US that is boiling from Morocco to Pakistan is inextricably bound up with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is what has poisoned all the wells. This is the trump card in the hands of the Sunni Osama Bin-Laden and the Shiite Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This conclusion was already made clear in the bi-partisan Baker-Hamilton report, which Bush has thrown into the wastebasket.

This conclusion leads to another one: that it is in the American interest to turn over a new page in our region and to really work for an Israeli-Palestinian, Israeli-Syrian, Israeli-all-Arab and perhaps even Israeli-Iranian peace. This conclusion was apparent already on the morrow of 9/11. I wrote at the time that this was going to happen, any minute now, as the inevitable lesson from the disaster. I was wrong. Bush and the Bushites went in the opposite direction, and made the situation ten times worse. I hope that it will happen now.

In other words: I hope with all my heart that Obama will continue to support Israel, but not the Israel of the bullies, the impostors and the hypocrites, who pretend to be negotiating for peace while enlarging the settlements, tightening the oppression in the occupied territories and blabbering about bombing Iran. It is not this Israel that should be supported by the next president, but the Israel that is ready for peace, prepared to pay the price for peace and crying out for an American administration that will give the decisive push to the initiative.

OBAMA'S ADVISORS may answer with a question: OK, but where is the Israeli leadership that will respond to such an initiative?

Where is the Israeli Obama?

We can respond to that only with embarrassed silence. We cannot point to anyone in the Israeli political arena who is ready to take on this task.

But an optimist will give another answer: only yesterday you did not have an Obama either. He appeared, because something happened deep down in the "national psyche" of the United States. There was an expectation and there was a longing for a person who would speak the language of hope, audacity, change. And when he appeared, the indifferent public rose and followed him enthusiastically. All the more so because the situation was bad and it was clear that the old road just leads to worse.

That can happen here, too. Our Obama can appear suddenly when there is a demand for him. When people get finally fed up with all those politicians, devoid of vision and courage, who pack our stage today. When the demand for change is so strong that it passes from the phase of griping at Sabbath-eve parties to the phase of mobilization and deeds. Then it will become clear that we, too, have a young generation and that our indifferent public can change radically.

The victory of the American Obama may well give a big push to the emergence of an Israeli Obama, hopefully as charming as the original. The victory in America should mean for us, paraphrasing a Hebrew poet: If there is an Israeli Obama, let him appear at once!
(c) 2008 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

The Pause
By Victoria Stewart

"The music of the Baroque era (seventeenth century to mid-eighteenth century) made use of the special effect of silence in music.....he general pause of the Baroque was used to illustrate concepts such as eternity, death, sublime, infinity and silence in vocal music."
~~~ Haydn on Understanding Music ~ Yael Kaduri-Wittgenstein ~~~

"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." ~~~ Mark Twain

"Thinking is the place where intelligent actions begin. We pause long enough to look more carefully at a situation, to see more of its character, to think about why it's happening, to notice how it's affecting us and others." ~~~ Margaret J. Wheatley

I must confess I was moved by the unabashed joy and personal eloquence of Americans as they celebrated Barack Obama's victory. Even though I do not expect the change that his supporters believe he will bring, I do feel a lightening, a noticeable lifting of the grimness George W. Bush inflicted on the world. And I must also admit that the skepticism with which I regard Obama cannot compare to the terror I felt at the thought of a John McCain presidency. I want to believe that it is possible for a good and decent human being, a person of principal and honor to become president of this country. I want to believe we could have a president who would actually put the needs of the people of this country above the needs of the corporate elite. I want to believe that Barack Obama's election represents the triumph of hope.

I want to believe but I don't.

I do believe that we have a respite, a small moment in which to assess what has happened to the country, to the world and to each of us as individuals during the past eight years. I think we have an opportunity to take a look at American history, to face the truth of our collective past and let that scary truth propel us into intelligent action. Those of us, that is, who want to secure some sort of life that is not dependent upon the kindness of multinational corporations and international monetary funds.

Despite the impressive number of electoral votes racked up by Obama, he did not achieve a popular landslide. The final numbers still aren't in but it is clear that nearly 50 million people voted for John McCain. Fifty million people-some of whom I know, work with, am related to-felt John McCain and Sarah Palin reflected their values and goals. The wave of hope and potential created by this victory is crashing on a cold and stony beach.

Already here in Trinity, SC * fights are breaking out in schools over the outcome of the presidential election. School administrators have forbidden students to discuss the election and rumors have begun to circulate about a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan. Barack Obama's election, despite its historic import and stirring symbolism, was not a landslide, and obviously some people did not read the Wall Street Journal's op ed that advised "we can put to rest the myth of racism as a barrier to achievement in this splendid country." The violence in the schools here has not made the local news. And it would take more than a few fistfights in a small town to break into the national spotlight but these incidents demonstrate the fragility of our illusions.

I am often astounded by how surreal reality has become. I find it hard to take in the magnitude of the problems we face. We are experiencing the collapse of the world we have known. Scarcity of resources including food, water and fuel, climate change, population growth and emerging diseases are our immediate future and we cannot count on our government, no matter who is president, to save us.

A few weeks ago I sat in the sun in a field outside Charlotte, NC and listened to the breathtaking music of Frank Della Penna's carillon. Until that afternoon I was convinced that the planet would be a better place without the presence of humans. I had become so disheartened by the destruction and pain we spread to all living things that I could not see any reason for us to continue. As the 35 bells of Della Penna's instrument transported me out of despair I was reminded that we humans have created some things of beauty. We have managed somehow to find the sacred, the holy, the joyous and we still possess the capacity for compassion and kindness and love. Those are the things we must try to preserve.

What Barack Obama's victory has brought us-and this is huge-is time. A little time, granted, but still time to reflect upon what we are about to harvest and why and time to begin the work of making sure that if we survive, we will sow better in the future.

*With a nod to American Gothic.
(c) 2008 Victoria Stewart is the editor of Issues & Alibis magazine.

Wanted: A Competent Government

As we traipse merrily into our voting booths, let's revisit the quaint notion that a government ought to be minimally competent.

I know, I know - since Ronnie Reagan, we've been told that "government is the problem, not the solution." Well, we've learned that this is certainly true when government is placed in the slippery hands of incompetent ideologues who get their government jobs because they hate government and don't want it to work. Just look at FEMA, the once-proud Federal Emergency Management Agency that's now been reduced to a cruel joke.

The defining slogan for FEMA was articulated after Hurricane Katrina by George W: "Heck of a job, Brownie," he exulted to the incompetent political hack he had appointed to head the relief agency. Brownie is now gone, but FEMA continues to be a model of how not to run government.

In fact, the agency still can't get the hang of something as straightforward as providing trailer homes for families displaced by floods. It took months for FEMA officials to get trailers to thousands of Katrina victims. Then, the trailers turned out to be contaminated with toxic formaldehyde, which the agency denied at first, then tried to cover up, and still hasn't resolved.

Now, flood victims in Iowa are getting a dose of FEMA's patented rudeness. Again, the issue is formaldehyde in trailers. While agency officials acknowledge the problem, they are blaming the victims, asserting that maybe they're doing dry-cleaning in the trailers! FEMA even claimed that simply cooking in the trailers could elevate formaldehyde levels. Excuse me! Aren't there trailers that allow families to cook without getting formaldehyde poisoning? At least the Iowans have trailers. In Texas, six weeks after Hurricane Ike, more than 3,000 trailers are still needed for families whose homes are gone - but FEMA has delivered only 200.

We're about to get a new government, and one of its first jobs will be to give us a government that works again.
(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.

Ancient Seeds
The Key to Feeding the World
by Lynn Berry

All over the world, crops are failing because they are unable to cope with more frequent extreme weather changes. One day there could be a snap frost, while another day, it could be extremely hot. In these conditions, our modern day seeds are not able to produce the crops we need.

The basis to our crops are seeds developed over the last 50 years. These seeds have ensured good yielding crops. However, these genetically uniform seeds are not able to cope in adverse conditions; conditions which are becoming more frequent.

According to Dr Ken Street (agricultural ecologist), also known as the Seed Hunter, the solution is to find ancient seeds from areas where growing conditions are adverse, and mix these with modern varieties. The 'mixing' could involve the manipulation of genes.

Street works for a seed bank research program based in Syria and aims to find ancient varieties of wheat as well as wild chickpea. His belief is that chickpea, "the poor man's meat" is an important food staple for many in the world. However, like wheat, chickpea crops are failing and now intervention is required for chickpea and other crops to survive.

Street with his team of seed hunters search for the ancient varieties in Tajikistan - a country with adverse growing conditions. What soon becomes obvious is that the modern variety of seeds have taken over. Typically these have been handed to villagers by aid agencies keen for people to support themselves by growing high yielding crops. The old varieties are then lost. As a worldwide phenomena, this practice represents 80% of crop diversity lost.

In more remote areas, the team begin to find more ancient varieties of wheat which they collect for the seed bank. Then finally, in a village without road access, they find the wild chickpea, amongst other rare varieties of plants. This variety of chickpea is not edible, but it is a storehouse of super-resilient genes. These genes can be used to produce stronger, more resilient versions of chickpea crops.

Over the last five years, farmers have been struggling with the so-called high yielding seeds/crops, and to encourage better yields, they have been applying more and more fertilizer. It may take some time, for the more resilient seeds to be developed. In the meantime, is the solution to apply more deadening chemicals to the soil?

It is in diversity, rather than uniformity that our future lies. We are discovering, and perhaps not too late in discovering, that nature has indeed provided us with a diversity that enables crops to grow in a range of environmental conditions. We are discovering that seeds and soil are complex biological entities much like ourselves. Rather than always wanting more, we need to work with nature to produce just what we need.

Currently farmers in the eastern states of Australia are hoping that the imminent locust plague will not touch their best crop in eight years. For some it has been their only crop in eight years after severe drought conditions in that time. We too hope that the crops will survive and but know that this pattern of struggle must change for us to have hope in the future.
(c) 2008 Lynn Berry

Can Obama's Win Lead to Meaningful Health Care Reform?
13 Urgent Suggestions for a Healthy USA
By Mike Adams

In an astonishing turn of events for a nation that seemed headed for certain economic destruction just weeks ago, Americans overwhelmingly chose Democratic candidates in yesterday's elections, selecting Obama as the next U.S. President and securing Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate. While virtually the entire world is now celebrating the close of the era of Bush tyranny, the question that's on everyone's mind today is: Ok, now what?

For starters, in the last eight years, President George W. Bush has managed to leave behind a God-awful mess. The nation is embroiled in two wars, a cascading banking crisis, out-of-control debt spending, an unprecedented health care crisis, an environmental mess and an international relations reputation that's downright disastrous. Its economy is in serious trouble, its manufacturing base is all but gutted, and its citizens are far less free today than they were eight years ago, thanks to the ill-named Patriot Act and all the fear mongering that followed 9/11.

Is Obama being set up?

Any person thinking they can waltz into the White House and fix these issues needs to have their head examined. In fact, it's not unreasonable to wonder if the half-dozen or so men who actually control the world have allowed Obama to win this election in order to have a convenient scapegoat for upcoming economic disasters. What better way to discredit the very idea of a black President than to make sure the Titanic starts sinking under his watch?

Of course, that's the conspiracy theory viewpoint on all this. The Optimists Club viewpoint says that Obama will solve real problems for our nation. And while I could write an entire article on the justified skepticism about any one President being able get much of anything done in our present political environment, in the spirit of positive change, I'm going to focus instead on offering suggestions for how we can revolutionize our national health care system under an Obama presidency.

The days of Big Pharma dominance may be ending

Let's start with some good news: The days of Big Pharma's dominance over Washington may be coming to an end. No more drug companies ripping off the taxpayers thanks to a Bush-approved Medicare bill that made it illegal for the U.S. government to negotiate volume discounts with Big Pharma. An Obama presidency will stick it to Big Pharma and work to help lower the cost of prescription drugs for consumers. (But that's not really a health care solution. It's just making dangerous drugs cheaper.)

You can also say goodbye to any kind of ridiculous pre-emption ruling that would grant Big Pharma blanket immunity against claims by victims who are harmed by their dangerous products. An Obama presidency will very likely see the passage of laws reinstating the rights of consumers to sue companies who sell them dangerous products, even when they're approved by the corrupt, fraudulent U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Here's an important question: Could an Obama presidency prioritize meaningful FDA reform and the restoration of health freedoms for all Americans?

Without question, there's more chance of this happening under Obama than McCain, but let's also remember that Big Pharma is all of a sudden funneling tens of millions of dollars into the pockets of Democrats, and there's one simple truth about Washington that transcends all political parties: Money buys influence.

And Big Pharma has more money than you can imagine (thanks, in part, to the Bush-sponsored Big Pharma ripoff of America over the last eight years).

Thirteen suggestions for positive change on health and health care

So what can Obama really do to revolutionize health care in America and slash the disastrous health care costs now devastating our national economy? Here are my 13 suggestions on revolutionary actions that could make a lasting, positive impact on the future of health care in the United States of America.

#1 Launch a national health insurance program that covers all citizens

Having 45 million Americans walking the streets without health insurance is an embarrassment. We need a simple, national health insurance program that provides basic coverage to everyone. That's for starters. From there, we can get into nutrition, disease prevention, natural health and other subjects.

#2 Allow naturopathic health practitioners to treat patients (and get paid for it)

It's time to end the ridiculous monopoly on health insurance collections by drug-wielding doctors and oncologists. Why shouldn't health insurance cover chiropractors, herbalists, naturopaths, bodywork practitioners and other providers of the healing arts? It's time to end the AMA monopoly and embrace the future of medicine.

#3 Ban junk food and soda advertising

As much as I believe in Free Speech, I don't support it when it's commercial speech funded by wealthy corporations whose products harm our children, promoting obesity, diabetes, heart disease and mental disorders. ALL advertising of junk foods, sodas and other non-nutritional foods and beverages should be permanently banned. Sure, they can still sell cola that causes diabetes and obesity; they just can't advertise it anywhere.

#4 Legalize stevia; outlaw aspartame

Stevia is a safe, non-caloric herb that sweetens foods and beverages without adding any sugar or artificial chemicals. It's legal just about everywhere in the world other than America, where the FDA has kept it outlawed in order to protect aspartame profits (a crime engineered by none other than Donald Rumsfeld).

#5 End FDA tyranny over health supplements

The FDA has censored the free speech of health supplements for so long that people have virtually forgotten what it even looks like. Ending FDA tyranny and censorship would allow supplement companies to tell the truth about the scientifically-validated health benefits of their products.

#6 End Direct-To-Consumer drug advertising

DTC drug advertisements have no medical justification whatsoever. They exist for one reason: To spread false information about fictitious diseases (disease mongering) so that more people buy more drugs they don't need. Ending drug ads would save billions of dollars and thousands of lives each year.

#7 Clean house at the FDA and USDA

The FDA is staffed largely with white-collar criminals who used to work for drug companies. That's why the agency is so blatantly corrupt, routinely making decisions that betray the American public. It's time to clean house at the FDA and fire (or arrest) the offending decision makers at the top who have engaged in such destructive actions against the American people.

#8 Tell the truth about anti-cancer nutrients in public service announcements

Want to prevent cancer in America? Nearly 4 out of 5 cancers can be prevented with Vitamin D alone, and this is especially true among men and women with dark skin color. But the cancer industry remains silent on this issue, preferring to keep black men and women nutritionally illiterate (like in the slave days, remember?) rather than allowing them to read and learn the truth about how they could be empowered with free nutrients that can prevent and even reverse cancer.

The cancer industry is an industry of immense evil, operated much like the Bush Administration's war-mongering machine, keeping people trapped in fear and false information while destroying their health and lives. It's time to stop the cancer industry crimes against humanity and tell the truth about Vitamin D and other anti-cancer nutrients.

#9 Provide free nutritional supplements to the entire population

There are some things that taxpayers should always fund for the next generation: Education, environmental protection and the gift of nutritional supplements. ALL young women of child-bearing age should be on prenatal supplements. Providing taxpayer-funded multivitamins and multi-mineral supplements to the population is the single greatest investment any nation can make in its health. If the supplement is made with quality ingredients and not the usual low-cost multivitamin garbage (like synthetic vitamins), it could greatly enhance health, reduce disease and slash health care spending costs in just a few months. Get 100 million people taking resveratrol and you'll see a huge drop in heart disease and cancer. And that's from a single supplement! (Imagine if they all took Moxxor, too... Wow!)

#10 Ban the poison from the food supply!

All the following ingredients should be outright banned because they are poison: MSG, yeast extract, aspartame, sodium nitrite, partially-hydrogenated oils, artificial coloring chemicals, saccharin (and other chemical sweeteners), processed salt, processed sugar and processed white flour. Natural alternatives exist for all these ingredients.

#11 Cancel all patents on genes and medicines

Medicine should exist for the public good, not for private profit. It is the endless quest for pharmaceutical profits that has turned the industry of medicine into a raging monstrosity of fraudulent science and deceptive marketing. Ending the patent protection on medicines would unleash a new era of natural substances being made available that are safer, more affordable and far more effective than prescription drugs. More than 95% of all prescription drugs can be directly replaced with medicinal foods, herbs or nutritional supplements, saving the nation trillions of dollars and ending the tyranny of Big Pharma and the FDA.

#12 Restore health freedoms to America

Vaccination programs should never be enforced at gunpoint in a free society. Nor should chemotherapy be forcefully injected into someone shackled with handcuffs. Yet these things are happening in America right now (Maryland, New Jersey, etc.). It's time to restore health freedoms in America and return to the People the right to choose what medical treatments they wish to accept for themselves and their children. Freedom cannot be administered at gunpoint! Mandatory vaccination programs should be immediately halted, including the ridiculous HPV vaccine programs which were nothing more than clever fear-mongering and profit-taking.

#13 End the drugging of our children with psychiatric drugs

It's time to end the horror of our children being mass-medicated with dangerous psychiatric drugs that cause violent behavior, suicides and school shootings. The industry of psychiatry is literally run by madmen who have been drugging our children with dangerous amphetamines. ADHD is entirely made up by Big Pharma to sell more drugs. This chemical holocaust against our children must be brought to an end.

But what about prevention?

Obama says he's for investing in "preventative" health care, but as NaturalNews readers know very well, that's just a code word for an agenda of mass mammography, mandatory vaccinations and mental health screening that will only result in yet more people being harmed and killed by conventional medicine.

Nowhere in Obama's health care platform does he talk about nutritional cures for disease, health freedom or restoring companies' free speech rights to talk about the benefits of nutritional supplements. If we hope for the Obama administration to pursue any meaningful reforms in the area of health, we are going to have to educate Democrats about natural health, the cancer industry, the FDA and the promise of natural medicines for ending these epidemics of degenerative diseases -- almost all of which are preventable.

Using the information we know right now, we could eliminate 90% or more of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, obesity, Alzheimer's disease, kidney stones, depression, asthma, skin disorders and much more.

Watch NaturalNews for grassroots action announcements in 2009

Throughout the Obama presidency, NaturalNews will be spearheading grassroots action campaigns to urge support for health legislation that moves us in the direction of natural health and honest medicine. Subscribe to our email newsletter to stay informed of these important initiatives (see the link on the top right of this page).

With the Bush criminals out of the White House, we may very well have a unique opportunity to get some pro-health legislation passed in America. But it will take a lot of effort, intention and hard work to make it happen. Remember: Big Pharma is funding Democrats now, hoping to buy their influence with drug money. We have to counter that destructive influence with positive, truthful information about the natural health solutions available right now that could revolutionize the future of health care in our nation.

While Obama's election doesn't guarantee any of this will be successful, we at least now have a chance. I say we use it to create the greatest good possible. Let's use this opportunity to restore health, freedom and nutritional literacy to the People. Let's take back this power from the corporations, the bureaucrats and the professional criminals who have occupied Washington for the last eight years. It's time to give America back to the People who have suffered so long under the oppression and tyranny of the Bush-supported FDA and the scandalous medical industry.
(c) 2008 Mike Adams ~~~ Natural News

No We Didn't
Obama Win More Hysterical Than Historical
By Ted Rall

NEW YORK-There is less here than meets the eye.

Yes, the election results are notable. But they don't mean as much as people think.

First, the important stuff: The first black president has been elected. And not just elected by a majority of voters, many of whom were black and/or first-time voters, but by nearly half of white voters. Twenty-eight years after the Reagan Revolution, the electorate has repudiated Republican inaction-on Iraq, in New Orleans, most of all on the economy-to an extent not seen since Watergate. Americans delivered a proxy impeachment of George W. Bush, holding McCain less to account for his policies than his association with a (cough) leader they blamed for their troubles.

It isn't quite fair. George W. Bush, lest we forget, had a 90 percent approval rating during the fall of 2001. Now that Bush's support is down to a Carrot Top-like 22 percent, it's only fair to remember that he's the same guy in 2008 that he was in 2001. And, for that matter, when a majority of Americans thought he was doing such a good job that they voted for another four years in 2004.

Nothing much has changed. The economy sucks, but that's been true since 2000. It's been one continuous meltdown since the dot-com crash. We lost Afghanistan the day we invaded it; ditto Iraq. Doing nothing to help New Orleans during Katrina-well, that was just Republicans being Republicans. The difference now? There is no difference.

Don't be fooled by the electoral college rout. The popular vote reveals that United States remains a deeply divided country. Bush got 51 percent of the vote in 2004; Kerry drew 48 percent. Obama defeated McCain 51-48. A surge of newly registered voters, including many African-Americans energized by Obama's candidacy, accounts for the three percent difference.

No one's mind has changed. People who voted for Bush in 2004 voted for McCain. If everyone who voted for Obama had shown up at the polls four years ago, John Kerry would be president. Obama's victory is the triumph of retail fundraising, computer metrics, and a team of smart, focused advisors who knew how to exploit them.

It helped to have a weak opponent. McCain ran as the new Bob Dole-cranky, out of touch, and untelegenic. "That one" was a terrible speaker. Every aspect of his campaign, from his fascism-influenced slogan ("Country First"), to a Silver Star logo that riffed on his POW experience to a public tired of war, to picking a vice presidential running mate with whom he'd spent 15 minutes (less than you'd need to get hired at Wendy's), was tone deaf. As so many American elections do, this one came down to fear. People were scared of losing their jobs, their homes, and their 401(k)s. McCain, his mindset stuck in the '60s, thought they were more worried about the Weathermen and the SDS.

All things considered, McCain did well.

If he follows his win by closing Bush's gulag archipelago of black sites, secret prisons and concentration camps at Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and Guantánamo (and don't forget Diego Garcia and the prison ships), if he quickly orders a withdrawal from Iraq and reconsiders his foolish campaign pledge to double down against Afghanistan, Obama will be good for the United States' international image.

If he acts to restore economic confidence with two vast infusions of federal money into people's pockets-first, with a new WPA-type national infrastructure program to create jobs and, second, with a bailout of homeowners and renters in danger of foreclosure and eviction, he will still have something of a country left to run four years from now.

But no one should delude themselves into believing that racism or its kissing cousin conservatism are dead. Barack Obama, after all, is only half-black, and not even half-African-American at that. Jeremiah Wright aside, Obama had a white upbringing. A product of the elite, he went to an Ivy League college (the same as mine, at the same time). If we were looking at President-Elect Sharpton, I'd believe in this change. (Too scary? Exactly.) As things stand, the rich white people who own and run the country have little to fear.

Meanwhile, very nearly half of the American electorate voted Republican. After seven years of not finding (or looking for) Osama. After five years of horror in Iraq. After eight years of shrinking paychecks. After everything that's happened, nearly half of voters wanted more of the same.

If the Republicans had picked a better candidate, they would have won. If Obama had presented a truly distinct alternative to conservatism-socialized healthcare, say, or opposing both stupid wars rather than the least popular stupid one-he would have lost. Conservatism? Dead? Not a chance.

A change is gonna come. But this ain't it.
(c) 2008 Ted Rall is the author of the new book "Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?" an in-depth prose and graphic novel analysis of America's next big foreign policy challenge.)

Failed States
America and Iraq, Rotted by War Crime
By Chris Floyd

"Where should we go now?" he asked. "Death faces us everywhere."

And so the great historical presidential campaign of 2008 is finally at an end. By every reasonable and legitimate measure, Barack Obama will be the winner. But of course "reasonable and legitimate measures" mean little when dealing with deliberately fomented chaos and chicanery of the American electoral process, the laughingstock of the rest of the world, whose people stand in slackjawed amazement as they watch and wait -- in dreadful impotence -- to see which hegemon will emerge from the stormcloud of filth, lies, ambition and money that howls around the campaign trail.

It has been, as usual, a bizarre, even lunatic experience, completely untethered from reality, obsessed with trivia, gossip and spin, and emptied, again deliberately, of anything resembling substance. Vague hope is offered by one side, vague, wiggly fear by the other. "Change" is the universal mantra, but both sides have fully and unashamedly embraced all the fundamental tenets and practices of the current power structure: militarism, corporatism, authoritarianism. Both candidates enthusiastically support the so-called War on Terror and the so-called War on Drugs, with all of their horrendous violence and corruption. Both champion unrestricted surveillance on ordinary citizens, and draconian punishments for the millions incarcerated in cramped and increasingly privatized prisons, where the poor and luckless are abandoned to the depradations of gangs and the brutality of ill-paid, ill-trained guards. Both back the inexorable growth of the death penalty to cover an ever-wider array of offenses, even non-lethal crimes. Both support the so-called "bailout," the gargantuan redistribution of wealth from working people to the fraudulent rich.

Where then is the promised "change"? A radical imperial faction might be replaced by one slightly more moderate in a few areas (although not in terms of the state's war machine, its global empire of bases and its commitment to geopolitical domination). This may result in a few differences here and there for many people (a not insignificant consideration for those affected, of course), but it does not constitute any kind of genuine "change" in the operations of power.

What's more, as Arthur Silber has often noted, this factional transfer will also have the effect of blunting the already-meager criticism of these brutal operations of the power structure. Many "progressives" will turn apologist for interventions and escalations when they are instigated by one of "their own" (as they imagine the center-right technocrat Obama to be). The Right will certainly attack Obama's foreign policy with hysterical denunciations -- but only because they will think he is not brutal enough (and, of course, because he is black, and because they will feel psychosexually humiliated by the fact that one of their own clique is not in power). But we'll deal further with issue in a subsequent post.


Nowhere is the irreality of the campaign more glaring than in regard to Iraq. This truly monstrous endeavor -- which was launched with precisely the same kind of falsification, manipulation and blood-firing propaganda that attended the Nazi invasion of Poland, and has left more than a million innocent people dead and almost five million driven from their homes -- has been a non-issue in the campaign. It is as if it never happened, and is not still happening, day after day. Or rather, it is as if it has no meaning, no importance, no moral weight whatsoever. The supposed "anti-war" candidate has never condemned the conflict for what it is -- an abominable crime, an indelible stain on the name of America -- but criticizes it only as "bad policy," a misguided effort ineptly executed. That is, until the advent of the "surge," which both Obama and McCain agree has been a wild success. Both men continually bow to the wisdom and greatness of General David Petraeus, who like another bland and bloodless figure, Vladimir Putin, has mysteriously risen from obscurity to the commanding heights of power -- literally so, as he has now taken charge of the raging guts of the empire: its wars of domination in the oil lands and distribution lines of the "arc of crisis" that stretches from the Horn of Africa to the Hindu Kush.

The Democratic surrender on the Iraq issue has been breathtaking, though not surprising, given the party's craven performance in supporting the war since regaining control of Congress in 2006. Obama is ready to "move on" from Iraq to his promised escalation of the quagmire in Afghanistan and his stern promises to "curb Russian aggression," while McCain too is eager to proclaim "victory" in the raped and broken land, and start splashing around in various other imperial puddles. In this, they are simply -- and inevitably -- reflecting the views of the entire political and media establishments (with a very few notable exceptions). The result has been a jarring and dangerous dislocation between perception and reality. The American elite believe Iraq is basically behind them now, aside from a bit of mopping up and tinkering with the "status of forces agreement." But as Patrick Cockburn, one of the most insightful and experienced witnesses of the long war crime in Iraq, reports in The National, there has been no victory or resolution in Iraq, nor is there likely to be anytime soon. From Cockburn:

I was in Baghdad during the first half of October and then flew to New York. Never has there been such a deep gap between what Americans think is happening in Iraq and the reality on the ground. Senator John McCain keeps celebrating the supposed triumph of the "surge", and seems to imagine that "victory in Iraq" is now in sight. His exotic running mate Sarah Palin sneers at the "defeatist" Barack Obama. And Obama, afraid to appear unpatriotic, has recanted his earlier doubts about the surge and attempted to avoid discussion of Iraq in general. With American voters understandably absorbed by the financial crash and coming depression, attention to events in Iraq has evaporated: the American media have barely mentioned the rejection of the SOFA.

In New York I found it strange that so many people believed the surge had brought an end to violence in Iraq. It was a curious sort of military victory, I observed, that required more troops in Iraq today - 152,000 - than before the surge began. The best barometer for the real state of security in Iraq, I kept telling people, is the behaviour of the 4.7 million Iraqi refugees inside and outside the country. Many are living in desperate circumstances but dare not go home. Ask an Iraqi in Baghdad how things are, and he may well say "better". But he means better than the bloodbath of two years ago: "better" does not mean "good".

A small story in the New York Times on Monday underscores this grim fact:

... the tragedy of one family in Kirkuk is a reminder of just how dangerous life in Iraq continues to be. In the past year, Khudaer Muhammad Abdullah, 49, endured the loss of his two older sons. On Sunday he lost his last son, and his 4-year-old daughter is now hospitalized with serious wounds. His last son, Muhammad Khudaer Muhammad, 7, was killed when part of a rocket-propelled grenade exploded on a vacant lot where he was playing soccer with three other children, according to police reports.

Muhammad was killed instantly in the blast. His friend Ahmed Hamid Jelu, 9, lost both legs and died at a hospital shortly afterward. Two other children - Hassan Dhaya, 7, and Muhammad's sister, Ahlan Khudaer Muhammad - were seriously wounded.

Mr. Abdullah, a shepherd, said that he had just returned from leading his sheep to pasture when Muhammad asked permission to play soccer with some friends in the lot across the road from the family's home. bout 15 minutes later, around 3 p.m., Mr. Abdullah heard an explosion.

"Their bodies were completely torn apart by the blast," Mr. Abdullah said. His son, he surmised, must have been sitting on the ground waiting for the ball to be passed to him, because he found Muhammad seated. An official at Kirkuk's morgue later said that Muhammad's head had been blown off.

That was just the latest tragedy to befall Mr. Abdullah's family, and it has left him wondering if there is such a thing as a safe place to live here. He already had lost his two older sons as a result of the war, he said. First, Muazzaz, 19, was kidnapped and killed. Then last month, Saad, 21, was killed in a suicide bombing near the Kirkuk police academy, where he was a student....

Mr. Abdullah said that he had moved to Kirkuk in 1987 to flee the violence that the war between Iran and Iraq brought to his home city of Basra.

"Where should we go now?" he asked. "Death faces us everywhere."

A small story, dealing largely with the secondary effects of the society-gutting forces unleashed -- and often deliberately empowered -- by the "bad, poorly executed" policy of America's aggression in Iraq: unimportant individuals, nobodies, losers, flotsam on the waves set in motion by the geopolitical games and greed of powerful elites -- such as the archons in Washington who stoked both sides in the Iran-Iraq War, prolonging the conflict, worsening it, egging it on, delighted to see what Churchill liked to call the "recalcitrant tribes" killing each other in their hundreds of thousands.

And now hundreds of thousands more nobodies are dead, victims of the same irreality, the same blindness to reality. As Cockburn reports:

The American problem in Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein has always been political rather than military. Simply put, the Americans have had too few friends in Iraq, and their allies have sided with the US for tactical reasons alone. The majority Shia community initially co-operated with the US in order to achieve political domination, and it needed American military force to crush the Sunni Arab uprising of 2004-7. But the Shia leaders always wanted power for themselves and never intended to share it with the Americans in the long term. The Sunni guerrillas did surprisingly well against the American army, but their community was decisively defeated in the bloody battle for Baghdad fought by government death squads and sectarian militias. It was this defeat - and not simply hostility to al Qa'eda in Iraq - that led the Sunni rebels to seek their own alliance with the US.

As we have stated here over and over: the "success" of the surge -- that is, the relative drop in the horrific death rate in the occupied land -- has been due largely to the vicious ethnic cleansing sponsored and supported by American power. The American presence in Iraq began in murder, it has been sustained by murder, and when and if it ever ends, it will leave more murder behind. Yet according to our national leaders, our great and good, no crime has been committed there. No one is responsible. No lessons have been learned -- except of course the need to "surge," to escalate, to drop more bombs, kill more people, round up more captives, more quickly and more efficiently. This is what both Obama and McCain promise for Afghanistan, as Iraq withers away into a forgotten, smoldering ruin.
(c) 2008 Chris Floyd

I Will Never Concede Defeat!
By Cindy Sheehan

"I have fought the good fight, I have run the good race, I have kept the faith." ~~~ St. Paul in 2Timothy

This past month, I kept on saying to my supporters, staff, interns, volunteers and myself, that no matter what happened on November 4th that we could hold our heads up high and be very proud of our campaign. Until yesterday, I wasn't sure that what I said would be true, but I feel an incredibly sense of peace and pride in our accomplishments. There were so many victories over the last year that the American paradigm of "winner-take all" just doesn't fit.

We moved into San Francisco a little over a year ago with less than nothing. We used savings and credit cards to open our office and sometimes to keep it open. We transformed a former "sex shop" to a fully functioning and vibrant campaign office. Our "natural base" never materialized, so we had to build a foundation in less than a few months.

In August, we historically gained ballot access as only the 6th independent campaign in California history to do so. Our platform based on humane economics was in place long before the recent collapses and resultant bailouts. Our labor platform was hailed all over the world, while unions here in SF supported the corporate "rescuer" Nancy Pelosi.

Cindy for Congress never once sold out our solid principles based campaign and would never sell out the voters of San Francisco like Nancy Pelosi has. Nancy Pelosi ran from my campaign and our demands to debate me and we persevered and did so amazingly well after a near total media black out and several attempts at political intimidation.

We got to the end of this stage with a barrel full of integrity and a boatload of dedication and love. Dozens of activists came from all over the country to be here to help us spread our progressive, peace based message and thousands donated to help keep our campaign afloat.

We have moved right through November 4th because this is a movement for peace and against corporate control of our political system. Movements can't stop, we must keep moving.

The way we do elections in this country must be reformed because clearly the campaigns with the most money won all over the country. If we never level the playing field to allow the people's voice and message to be heard, the tyranny of incumbency and the obscene amount of money spent on these circuses will continue and true progressive change will never happen.

We will still have to fight the establishment with everything we have. Yesterday, at about 10am, we were traveling around the district and receiving huge amounts of support and were dismayed to see an article from the AP saying that Nancy Pelosi had already defeated me. Our exit polling (from every area in the district) showed me receiving between 35-60% of the vote. We were very optimistic that we would do much better than we ultimately ended up doing.

However, Cindy for Congress got almost twice as many votes as anyone who has ever run against Pelosi since she eked out a primary victory in 1987 over Harry Britt, who was also the most progressive candidate. We raised a decent amount of money and are honored by the support we have gotten from all over this nation.

This is not the time to give up and give in to the politics of blinding amounts of money shrouded in "hope."

On November 5th, we still have millions of people sleeping on our streets and without jobs and health care. We still have our troops mired in two unconscionable wars that Obama has not promised to end. Our economy is still on a very precarious footing and oil, the lifeblood of the elite, is running out. There are many people in this world, and yes, this country that are food insecure and the next resource wars may be over water.

Despite all this, I slept like a baby last night for the first time in months. I feel like a new person today and am holding my head up high. Last year, I dedicated my campaign to my son, Casey, and his comrades who have tragically fallen and the people of Iraq and Afghanistan that our government have devastated. We need to continue to make their deaths count for something noble. I dedicate the next steps to them, also.

There are still many "fights" and "races" ahead. Take a few days to celebrate, mourn, reflect and then jump back in with both feet into the struggle for peace and justice.

Thank you for your support!

Cindy Sheehan
(c) 2008 Cindy Sheehan

Change is Coming; You Choose What Kind
By Mike Folkerth

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

It has been flat gorgeous here in Western Colorado with one of the prettiest falls in my memory. I sincerely wish that our economic forecast was a mirror image of the fall weather here at my mountain home.

We have a sign hanging by the door of the Folkerth domicile that reads, "If you are lucky enough to be in the mountains, you are lucky enough." My wife and I were talking about the subject of being content where you live and more aptly, enjoying being home.

We both feel fortunate in that we very much like to be home and love the surrounding country. That makes "sucking it up" a whole lot easier. If a person is dissatisfied with their surroundings, it adds a great deal of stress to this entire mess.

One of the great freedoms that we have in the U.S. is the ability to move. That ability has become somewhat hampered in recent times by the inability to sell homes and find new employment. But where there is a will, there is a way.

On the home selling front, it is important to remember that if a person sells for less than they had expected, but buys in a new locale at a similar reduced price, the impact is negligible. Look at the whole picture, not just at the sales price of your current assets.

I would also suggest that you look at the indicator on your transmission of life and shift into reverse. Our future can be found in our past. In the not so distant past, Americans lived a much simpler, less stressful lifestyle. Simplify your lifestyle on your own terms, because simplify you will one way or another.

For those who believe that recovery is just around the election-corner and that everything will return to the borrow-and-gorge era that has brought us to this unfortunate juncture; good luck.

Americans are the most wasteful and inefficient people on earth. That will change. As a whole, we somehow have gotten the idea that resources are less valuable than our personal time. That too will change. That is why we consume 75% more resources over our lifetime than our European counterparts. And you guessed it; that is going to change.

When I was in the auction and liquidation business (making a living as a fast talker) I watched the entire country change habits. Eighteen years ago, there were seven auction houses in a 60 miles radius of my present home, all making a living. Today, there are none.

As rent to own, no down financing, buy-now and pay-later, home equity loans, buy here - pay here, and other scams that allowed our mathematically challenged populous to buy nearly anything on credit, the auction business dried up and the dump business saw renewed activity.

Why spend your valuable time at an auction getting bargains, when you can have new Chinese stuff on the payment plan? After all, those nasty old auction folks wanted you pay for your purchases before leaving. What a ridiculous requirement!

One of my last big liquidations was a hospital that was going to be torn down (built in 1980). It was full of beautiful oak doors, office furniture, electrical equipment, lighting, drop ceiling tiles, automatic doors, large thermo-pane windows, fire sprinkler systems, boilers, etc. etc.

I contacted every contractor in the area and there was no interest whatsoever. The comment that I heard over and over was, "The labor to remove this stuff is greater than the value." Or, "I can't put this used crap in a new building."

Had it not been for some local churches working with volunteer labor, there would have been little removed from this large complex. As it was, a lot of valuable resources went to a landfill...forever.

Had this hospital been in Mexico, they would have picked it as clean as a Thanksgiving turkey at a hobo convention. But not in the U.S.A., we are special; our time is worth more than natural resources.

America is in flux and the results will be permanent change, the physical world is tiring from of our excesses. Not to mention that our population is tiring from having to pay for those excesses. Change on your own terms.
(c) 2008 Mike Folkerth is not your run-of-the-mill author of economics. Nor does he write in boring lecture style. Not even close. The former real estate broker, developer, private real estate fund manager, auctioneer, Alaskan bush pilot, restaurateur, U.S. Navy veteran, heavy equipment operator, taxi cab driver, fishing guide, horse packer...(I won't go on, it's embarrassing) writes from experience and plain common sense. He is the author of "The Biggest Lie Ever Believed."

The Quotable Quote...

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

The Pits: Georgia's GOP Swipes The Peach State
By Greg Palast

The evil little &*%$'s are doing it again.

Even as they drown in the anger of platoons of pissed-off voters, Republican operatives are swiping ballots with both hands.

Ground zero is Georgia. It's here where the sick little vulture named Saxby Chambliss won the US Senate seat six years ago by calling his Democratic opponent, a guy who'd lost three limbs in Vietnam, a friend of Osama bin Laden.

There's no way in hell that Chambliss can slime his way back into the Senate in the face of over half a million newly registered voters (Black and young - 69% for Obama) without jacking them out of their votes. That's what the Republicans are up to. Right now. As we speak.

Over 50,000 the new voters in Georgia have been blocked from voting by using a nasty little new law, the Help America Vote Act signed by George Bush. (Bush is helping us vote - look out!)

I just got this from Christina Rush in the Peach Pit state:

"They really have stolen my vote and I don't know what to do about it at this late stage. I just found out 2 days ago that I do not exist on the voters rolls in Georgia. I have disappeared. After calling 866-OUR VOTE and the Secretary of State (for GA), it has been determined that the last vote I was accounted for was the 1996 General Election. That's awfully strange to me, considering that I voted in the recent Primaries and that last two General Elections (2000 and 2004)."

"Everyone is 'very sorry' this is happening, but no one can tell what I can do to make my vote count for THIS election. The only advice I've been given is to fill out a new voters registration form and I'll be eligible for any future elections, just not THIS one."

"So, what can I do except tell anyone and everyone who will listen?"

And no one is going to listen to you or the other 50,000 dumped voters in Georgia.

But here's the good news: it won't save them. The GOP is toast. Paint the White House black and blue and Congress the same hue.

But the steal in Senate races may allow the GOP to savage, obstruct, sabotage President Obama's ability to repair the damage of eight years of looting by the unelected junta of the Bush regime. They begin with the theft of the Georgia Senate seat, now heading into a run-off.
(c) 2008 Greg Palast is a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow for Investigative Reporting at the Nation Institute, New York and is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Armed Madhouse Join Palast's Network on MySpace, on FaceBook or on YouTube.

A Liberal Supermajority (Finally) Finds Its Voice
By Eric Alterman

Readers of the Washington Post woke up one recent Friday morning to a remarkable juxtaposition of two ostensibly unrelated articles. The first was a news analysis titled The End of American Capitalism?, which heralded the apparent demise of laissez-faire as the intellectual underpinning of the nation's economic system. In the same paper was another story: Anger Is Crowd's Overarching Emotion at McCain Rally, which described a John McCain event characterized by hysterical crowd attacks on Barack Obama as an ally of terrorists, a "socialist" and other angry epithets. By coincidence, the thread that connected these two disparate stories could be found that morning in the New York Times, in an implicitly self-critical column by David Brooks. He wrote:

Modern conservatism began as a movement of dissident intellectuals.... Driven by a need to engage elite opinion, conservatives tried to build an intellectual counterestablishment with think tanks and magazines. They disdained the ideas of the liberal professoriate, but they did not disdain the idea of a cultivated mind.... But over the past few decades, the Republican Party has driven away people who live in cities, in highly educated regions and on the coasts.... What had been a disdain for liberal intellectuals slipped into a disdain for the educated class as a whole.

Brooks--a nearly perfect product of the right-wingers' long-term investment in the fertilization of the conservative imagination, having done stints at the Wall Street Journal editorial page and The Weekly Standard before being invited to the Times and PBS's NewsHour--was unwittingly explaining the connection between the collapse of Friedmanite capitalism and the mindless fury of the Republican base. The upshot is that conservatives, having fed at the trough of power for the better part of three decades, are out of ideas and have targeted their appeal to a coterie of Americans remarkably similar to the minority coalition enjoyed by Barry Goldwater in 1964, with an angry, retrograde message that harks back to Joe McCarthy. McCain's baffling, fumbling performances at the presidential debates reflect this confusion. He didn't know whether to attack Obama or defend what remains of his reputation. Pathetically, he ended up accomplishing neither.

Liberals and progressives, however, are in the opposite position. Obama has proven an inspirational messenger, speaking to and for a public eager to embrace the kind of politics that has been demonized and trivialized for the past eight years by mainstream media desperate to deflect the right's accusations of "liberal bias." According to the Pew Center's extensive national survey, released well before this endless election got under way, roughly 70 percent of respondents believe that the government has a responsibility "to take care of people who can't take care of themselves." Two-thirds (66 percent)--including most of those who say they would prefer a smaller government (57 percent)--support government-funded health insurance for all citizens. Most also regard the nation's corporations as too powerful, while nearly two-thirds (65 percent) say corporate profits are too high--about the same number who say "labor unions are necessary to protect the working person" (68 percent). When it comes to the environment, a large majority (83 percent) back stricter laws and regulations, while 69 percent agree "we should put more emphasis on fuel conservation than on developing new oil supplies" and 60 percent say they would "be willing to pay higher prices in order to protect the environment."

Yet the MSM--with precious few exceptions--remain wedded to right-wing assumptions long since discredited by reality. We don't need to look at extremes like the infamous performance of ABC's George Stephanopoulos and Charles Gibson in the Clinton-Obama debate in January--one that may possibly have cost that network any hope of participating in the general election debates. Just examine the thrust of the questions asked during the Obama-McCain contests. Even absent distractions like lapel pins and preacher politics, virtually all questions regarding the financial crisis assumed that the meltdown calls for a drastic reduction in public investment--as if Keynesianism, rather than Friedmanite economics, were somehow at fault. And why was just about every foreign policy question predicated on the alleged efficacy of neocon-style threats of the use of force? Where were the questions about the need for collective action to combat climate change? Where were the debates about the causes and effects of the global migration and food crises? Why did we hear not a single inquiry about the challenges to labor and environmental standards arising from the billion or so workers in China, India and elsewhere, who stand ready to displace millions of Americans in our increasingly globalized workplace? And where were the questions about torture, wiretapping US citizens and restoring respect for our Constitution?

In a wonderfully apoplectic editorial titled A Liberal Supermajority, frightened Journal editors worried that an Obama landslide could presage "one of the most profound political and ideological shifts in U.S. history. Liberals would dominate the entire government in a way they haven't since 1965, or 1933." Among the coming horrors: "Medicare for all...[a] green revolution...ational, election-day voter registration...the end of Guantanamo and military commissions...'net neutrality' rules...."

America's liberal supermajority has watched as its country has been degraded and dishonored for the past eight years while many in the MSM have either cheered, acquiesced or looked the other way. If you ask me, the pundit with the greatest gift for political prophecy right now is the late, great Sam Cooke: "It's been a long, long time coming, but I know a change is [finally] going to come."
(c) 2008 Eric Alterman is a Distinguished Professor of English, Brooklyn College, City University of New York, and Professor of Journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. He is also "The Liberal Media" columnist for The Nation, a senior fellow and "Altercation" weblogger for Media Matters for America, (formerly at MSNBC.com) in Washington, DC, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC, where he writes and edits the "Think Again" column, a senior fellow (since 1985) at the World Policy Institute at The New School in New York, and a history consultant to HBO Films.

The Dead Letter Office...

Saxby gives the Republican salute

Heil Bush,

Dear Uberfuhrer Chambliss,

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 rallying white Georgia voters with, "The Other Folks Are Voting," Iraq and these many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Republican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Iron Cross 1st class with diamond clusters presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Bush at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally "The White House," on 11-29-2008. We salute you Herr Chambliss, Sieg Heil!

Vice Fuhrer Cheney

Heil Bush

The Post And 'The Most Disliked President Since Polling Began In The 1930s'
By Glenn Greenwald

In February, 2007, David Broder -- the Dean of the Washington Press Corps -- announced that "President Bush is poised for a political comeback" and "is demonstrating political smarts that even his critics have to acknowledge." Today, his own paper, The Washington Post, documented how painfully wrong that was, that George Bush's presidency is one of the greatest failures in all of American history, and he is so widely despised that he dare not show his face in public for fear of further hurting his party's nominee:

Even for a declared optimist, Bush has appeared remarkably sanguine in this season of discontent. The economy is melting down, his own party has shunned him, and Tuesday's election is shaping up as a searing rebuke to his eight years in office. . . .

"Everybody kind of wanted to spend the last 100-plus days doing some legacy things, and the financial crisis has thrown a wrench into that," said one prominent Republican who regularly talks with senior White House officials.

"You have a combination of no legacy stuff, a horrible economic mess and the likelihood that Obama is going to win," this person added. "There is a real sadness there."

None of this would matter, of course, if not for Bush's deep and abiding unpopularity. Bush has not commanded approval from a majority of the nation since early 2005, making him arguably the most disliked president since polling on the question began in the 1930s. A Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll last week put Bush's approval rating at 24 percent and found that McCain had made little headway in separating himself from Bush or his policies.

It's not for lack of trying. For the first time in recent memory, a sitting president has effectively sat out the presidential race, avoiding public appearances on behalf of McCain and other Republicans and raising far less money than usual in private fundraisers. Bush voted for McCain by absentee ballot rather than voting in person in Texas, as he has for the past three elections, and officials say he plans to spend election night at the White House rather than at a rally or other campaign-related event. . . .

"This is unprecedented for a president to be this invisible during a campaign," said Charlie Cook, editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. "This is what happens when you have a 25 percent approval rating."

George Bush is the person in whom the Right placed its blind faith, the one they glorified and held up as the ultimate standard-bearer of what they believe in. And now he -- and they -- lay in shambles and disgrace. No matter what metric one uses, it's difficult to overstate what a profound failure the Bush presidency is, and everyone -- including Bush -- knows that. The most important aspect of this Tuesday's election is to finalize their humiliating repudiation and to bury them for what they've done.

Despite all of that, The Washington Post's Ombudsman, Deborah Howell, today wrote a column claiming that one reason that The Post and other papers are losing money is because they are "too liberal"; have had "more favorable stories about Barack Obama than John McCain," and "conservatives are right that they often don't see their views reflected enough in the news pages." To mitigate newspapers' financial problems, Howell decrees: "the imbalance still needs to be corrected." She adds: "Neither the hard-core right nor left will ever be satisfied by Post coverage -- and that's as it should be."

What if the actual facts -- i.e., "reality" -- are consistent with the views of "the hard-core left" and contrary to the views of the "hard-core right"? What if, as has plainly been the case, the conservatives' views are wrong, false, inaccurate? What if the McCain campaign was failing and relying on pure falsehoods and sleazy attacks, and The Post's coverage simply reflected that reality? It doesn't matter. In order to sell more newspapers, according to Howell, The Post's news coverage must shape itself to the Right and ensure that "their views [are] reflected enough in the news pages" (I don't recall Howell complaining when her newspaper -- according to its own media critic -- systematically suppressed anti-war viewpoints in its news pages and loudly amplified pro-Bush and pro-war views).

In Howell's view, The Post shouldn't determine its news reporting based on what is factually true. Instead, it should shape its coverage to please this discredited, failed political movement -- in order to sell more papers. That corrupt formula is, of course, what is now meant by "journalistic balance" -- say what both sides believe and take no position about what is true -- and it is precisely that behavior which propped up this incomparably failed and deceitful presidency for so long. The establishment media bears much of the responsibility for what has happened during the last 8 years, and amazingly enough, the lesson many of them seemed to have learned is that they didn't go far enough ("we're too liberal; we need to accommodate the Right more"). If there is an Obama presidency, watch for them very quickly to re-discover the long-dormant concept of "adversarial behavior."
(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.

How The "Other" Candidates Did Last Night
From AOL

This morning, every media outlet in America is congratulating Barack Obama and offering condolences to John McCain.

But few of them spare a word for the other names on the ballot, except perhaps to note that Ralph Nader and Bob Barr, the two highest-profile third-party candidates in most states, didn't end up having much of an impact. Unlike in many previous elections, the network and news-network web sites mostly eliminated third-party candidates from their graphics, even if you drilled down to a county-by-county level, rendering third party candidates all but invisible.

So here's a pop quiz. How many Presidential candidates got 100 or more votes nationwide last night?

According to AOL, one of the few outlets to have printed the full order of finish for the Presidential race, the answer is 24 right now, with 96% reporting, and may be 25 when (or if) all of the votes are finally counted.

Because I was curious, here are the all of the candidates , in order of diminishing electoral returns. The first two need no introduction; they are followed by some familiar and some less familiar faces:

1. Barack Obama: 63,507,800 votes

2. John McCain: 56,151,859 votes

3. Ralph Nader: 653,606 votes

The second most polarizing politician of the 2000 election was back. This time, instead of running as the national candidate of the Green Party, Nader achieved ballot access through a patchwork of individual state nominating petitions and small third parties or state-level parties.

At AOL and most other sources, he is listed simply as the candidate of the Ecology Party of Florida, whose constitution calls for government based on the Precautionary Principle, and defines themselves as committed to "peaceful revolutionary action" and "opposition to corporate power". In Michigan, however, Nader was on the ballot of the Natural Law Party instead. The Natural Law Party was founded in Iowa in 1992 by followers of the Maharajah Mahesh Yogi and his teachnigs on transcendental meditation. The party quickly spread to the UK and were briefly successful - for a third party - in the 1990s. Their visibility was helped by the outrageousness of some of their candidates' claims, such as the claim that if all citizens of the world meditated hard enough, they would learn to fly and thereby solve all of the world's problems.

In California, Nader was the nominee of the Peace and Freedom Party, a California third party that was born out of Vietnam war protests in 1967 and has previously served as a platform for candidates such as Eldridge Cleaver, Dr. Benjamin Spock and Leonard Peltier. They now describe themselves as "California's Feminist Socialist Political Party," and "The Internationale" is sung at the close of each of their meetings.

4. Bob Barr: 487,451 votes

Libertarianism is based on the principle that that government is best that governs least; the platform of the Libertarian Party calls for the elimination of all victimless crimes, such as drug laws; the absolute freedom of individuals to make their own sexual choices; and that the government leave abortion questions to individuals rather than having the state impose a solution. It also calls for the elimination of nearly any regulation of any sort on business or the market, and the elimination of all entitlement programs and any government-run schools; the only role for the government is to provide a military and police force.

Barr's nomination as the Libertarian candidate in 2008 was controversial among libertarians, which is not surprising given many of Barr's positions in congress, where he tried to ban the Wiccan religion in the military and was a strong advocate of drug law enforcement, which he now opposes.

5. Chuck Baldwin: 174,142 votes

Coming in fifth is ultraconservative Florida pastor Chuck Baldwin. Baldwin's "flagship" party was the Constitution Party, formerly the "U.S. Taxpayers' Party." The Constitution Party is a party for those who think the Republican party is too liberal; Pat Buchanan flirted with it several times, and his brand of hard-right social politics seems a good fit for this party, whose platform calls gays and lesbians "sexual offenders" and decries the "radical feminization" of the military caused by women being allowed to receive basic training. The party also supports expanding the death penalty, considers foreign aid unconstitutional and immoral, calls global warming a discredited lie used by "globalists" to seize power, seeks a return to the gold standard, and appears to call for a U.S. invasion of Panama. The first plank in the platform, of course, is a strong opposition to abortion of any kind.

As the nominee of the Constitution Party, the most visible and mainstream of the ultra-right third parties in the United States, Baldwin also received endorsements from other far-right parties...including the notorious Alaskan Independence Party, of which Todd Palin was formerly a member and which supports a public referendum on whether Alaska should remain a State or become an independent nation; and the League of the South, a neo-Confederate separatist party that has called opposition to the use of the Confederate flag "cultural genocide."

6. Cynthia McKinney: 142,145 votes

McKinney, a controversial former Democratic congresswoman, was the nominee of the Green Party, Ralph Nader's own stomping ground and a party with real electoral power in many European nations with proportional representation.

Started as a single-issue ecological party, the Greens now call for environmentalism and social justice. Like the Constitution Party on the right, the Greens are the first refuge for those who find the Democrats too conservative. They support unilateral nuclear, chemical and biological disarmament, oppose most international trade agreements, want "under god" removed from the Pledge of Allegiance and support the elimination of college tuition. Their environmental platform includes an absolute opposition to nuclear energy and a moratorium on all highway-widening projects nationwide.

7. Alan Keyes: 34,533 votes

After losing the Constitution Party nomination to Chuck Baldwin, former Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes made a run for the White House with his third political party of the 2008 season, the America's Independent Party. Where the Constitution Party is isolationist, calling for an end to foreign wars, the AIP platform emphasizes "peace through strength" and appears to endorse the Bush Doctrine. On most other points, the two parties are quite similar.

8. Ron Paul: 19,583 votes

After his highly-publicized campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, Ron Paul rejected the idea of a third-party run. However, the Constitution Party of Montana decided to remove Chuck Baldwin from the Montana ballot and replaced him with Ron Paul. Paul did not seek the nomination and did not campaign for it, and later endorsed Baldwin. However, his name remained on the ballot, where he drew about 3% of the vote.

9. Gloria La Riva: 7,517 votes

La Riva was the 2008 candidate of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, a "revolutionary Marxist" party whose goal is a socialist revolution in the United States. It is strongly identified with Hugo Chavez's Bolivarian regime in Venezuela.

10. Roger Calero: 7,148 votes

Roger Calero ran as the candidate of one of the oldest socialist parties in the United States, the Socialist Workers' Party. Calero's run was even more quixotic than most third-party presidential campaigns, since he is not an American citizen and is therefore not Constitutionally qualified for the presidency.

11. Brian Moore: 6,378 votes

Brian Moore barely outpoll "None of These Candidates" despite being the candidate of three separate parties: the Socialist Party USA, a successor to Eugene Debs' Socialist Party of America; the Liberty Union Party, a nonviolent socialist group created to oppose the Vietnam War; and the Mississippi branch of the Natural Law Party.

12. None of These Candidates: 6,251 votes

Since 1975, Nevada voters have been guaranteed by law the right not to vote for anyone in statewide elections. "None of These Candidates" garnered 6,000 votes for President in Nevada this year, around half a percent of the state's total vote.

13. Richard Duncan: 3,672 votes

Richard Duncan, an Ohio real estate agent and perennial candidate from Ohio (the only state where he was on the ballot), polled 17 votes for President in 2004. In 2008, perhaps helped by a profile in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, he made a better showing. His policy positions are vague, but that's all part of his "fresh, clean approach" to politics (or, for the more cynical, to promoting his band).

14. James Harris: 2,388 votes

Roger Calero, the Socialist Worker's Party candidate in tenth place, could not legally be listed on the ballot in some states because he was not Constitutionally eligible for the Presidency. In those states, the SWP listed Harris, their 2000 candidate, instead.

15. Charles Jay: 2,307 votes

Jay may not have the most votes, but he has the best party name in this year's race, as the nominee of the Boston Tea Party. The BTP is a splinter group of extreme libertarians who broke off from the Libertarian Party, which they felt wasn't libertarian enough. Their one-sentence platform supports smaller government and opposes any increase in government of any kind and for any reason.

16. John Joseph Polachek: 1,212 votes

The New Party was founded as a different kind of political party; one that would endorse major-party candidates instead of running its own, with the goal of eventually replacing the major parties with shifting coalitions of smaller parties. This obviously didn't work out so well, and the party is now defunct. As a curious footnote to this year's election, the main driving force behind the party's creation and for most of its life was the community organizing group ACORN.

So how did Polachek get on the ballot, and what does he stand for? Nobody knows. He is on the ballot because he submitted a blank petition to the Illinois Secretary of State, without a single signature. This obviously did not meet the 2,500 signature requirement for ballot access--but because nobody bothered to challenge him, he stayed on the ballot for the general election, where he garnered 1,300 votes. Eventually, he turned out to be a Chicago cabbie, with "over 16 years experience as the executive of my taxi cab," who had apparently honed his debating skills by arguing politics with his fares.

17. Jeffrey Wamboldt: 766 votes

Wamboldt was on the ballot in at least one state, Wisconsin, for both President and Vice-President as the representative of We the People: The American People's Party. Positioning themselves as an independent alternative to the two-party system, their platform includes campaign finance reform, a national initiative process, universal health care, a higher minimum wage, and cuts in military spending. This spin-off of Ross Perot's Reform Party doesn't mention Wamboldt's candidacy on its web site, which appears to have been last updated in 2000.

18. Frank McEnulty: 740 votes

At his website, frankforpresident.org, McEnulty describes himself as a "regular guy." He was initially on the ballot for the New American Independent Party, a noninterventionist, protectionist, environmentalist, generally populist party with a few odd planks in their platform (for instance, greatly reducing the number of airplane flights in the United States for environmental reasons). However, he was then nominated as the vice-presidential candidate of Ross Perot's Reform Party. He stayed on the ballot as New AIP candidate in states where the Reform Party was not on the ballot--which turned out to be all of them, except for Mississippi, which is why McEnulty is at #18 and his top-of-the-ticket running mate is below at #22.

19. Thomas Stevens: 683 votes

Stevens was the nominee of the Objectivist Party, dedicated to the ideals of Ayn Rand and on the ballot in Colorado and Florida. Rand's philosophy of "objectivism" blends libertarian politics with a moral imperative towards absolute personal self-interest, viewing altruism and human sympathy as inherently anti-human and degrading. Her books are still inexplicably popular among a certain set (including former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan), but her political party doesn't seem to be going anywhere.

20. Gene Amondson: 630 votes

Winner of the Blast from the Past award, Gene Amondson represents the still-active, but considerably less influential, Prohibition Party. That's right; the party that once brought you the 18th Amendment is now running 20th in the national polls. The party has nominated a Presidential candidate in every election since 1872; the third-longest such streak in America, after only the Republicans and Democrats; Herbert Hoover ran on the Prohibition line (as well as the Republican) in his successful 1928 campaign. Their best showing as an independent party was in 1904, when now-forgotten Silas C. Swallow earned more than 250,000 votes, and they pulled 100,000 votes as recently as 1948.

While the early Prohibition Party supported progressive causes, seeing alcohol prohibition as a step towards perfecting the human condition, the modern party is essentially a cultural conservative, Bible-based party with a strong anti-alcohol, anti-drug plank. Amondson, a Church of God minister and sometime Billy Sunday impersonator, has pictures of himself on his campaign web site picketing Anheuser-Busch's St. Louis brewery dressed as the Grim Reaper. Despite an appearance on the Daily Show, Amondson recorded the second-worst showing at the polls in party history.

21. Jeffrey Boss: 600 votes

Boss, the candidate of the Vote Here Party, has pretty much only one plank in his campaign: his claim that he personally witnessed high-level agents of the U.S. government engineering the attacks of September 11, 2001. On his campaign web site, he describes himself as "Either the first Jew running for President or one of the first" and hedges his bets by noting that he is also running for Senate in New Jersey. He also claims to have filed for an injunction in Federal court seeking to postpone the election based on alleged misfeasance by the NSA.

22. Ted Weill: 467 votes

Ross Perot's Reform Party has fallen hard since Perot won nearly 20 million votes in 1992. Only on the ballot in one state, Weill is reported to have made large political contributions to both Ralph Nader and Lyndon LaRouche, two names you don't see linked together very often (except in lists of "perennial presidential candidates"). 23. George Phillies: 434 votes

Another Libertarian splinter candidate, Phillies was the preferred candidate of the Libertarian Party's New Hampshire affiliate, who ran him instead of Bob Barr. George Phillies could not duplicate the success of the Philadelphia Phillies a week earlier.

24. Jonathan Allen: 276 votes

Colorado businessman Allen ran on the oddly named, and all-around odd, HeartQuake08 Party ticket. According to their almost indecipherable web site, the "HeartQuake" they are trying to trigger is "one of the most refreshing and profound political transformations in America since the historic days of our Founding Fathers." Other than that, they seem to like universal health care and dislike abortion, among a lot of unusually vague(even for politics) positions on other issues.

25. Bradford Lyttle: 97 votes

Bringing up the rear is Lyttle, the founder and candidate of the American Pacifist Party. The platform is about what you'd expect, and got as much traction as you'd expect in the election.
(c) 2008 AOL
Editors Note: I would add: Not Voting with 120,000,000 non votes.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ R.J. Matson ~~~

W The Movie ~ Official Trailer

To End On A Happy Note...

By Ton Lehrer

If you visit American city
You will find it very pretty
Just two things of which you must beware
Don't drink the water and don't breathe the air

Pollution, pollution
They got smog and sewage and mud
Turn on your tap
And get hot and cold running crud

See the halibuts and the sturgeons
Being wiped out by detergents
Fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly...
But they don't last long if they try

Pollution, pollution
You can use the latest toothpaste
And then rinse your mouth
With industrial waste

Just go out for a breath of air
And you'll be ready for Medicare
The city streets are really quite a thrill
If the hoods don't get you, the monoxide will

Pollution, pollution
Wear a gas mask and a veil
Then you can breathe
Long as you don't inhale

Lots of things there that you can drink
But stay away from the kitchen sink
The breakfast garbage that you throw into the bay...
They drink at lunch in San José

So go to the city
See the crazy people there
Like lambs to the slaughter
They're drinking the water
And breathing, cough, the air
(c) 1963/2008 Tom Lehrer

Have You Seen This...

This is Your Brain on Morality ~ Sam Harris

Parting Shots...

Struggling Americans Forced To Work Extra-Dimensional 4th Shift

CINCINATTI-According to a report released Monday by the U.S. Department of Labor, skyrocketing consumer prices coupled with stagnant wages have forced many Americans to work a fourth shift in another dimension in order to make ends meet.

The extra-dimensional shift, which occurs on a time axis at right angles to that of normal reality, allows American workers to supplement their incomes by taking on extra hours, while still maintaining the morning, afternoon, and overnight shifts they need in order to stave off bankruptcy.

"The maximum 24 hours of possible work time offered by our plane of existence is simply not enough to provide a living wage in the current economic climate," Labor Secretary Elaine Chao wrote in a letter introducing the report. "These difficult circumstances have compelled 76 percent of the American workforce to seek additional hours in an alternate space-time dimension, where more competitive wages can help them to avoid house foreclosures."

Many cash-strapped citizens such as Glenn Vernacini, a master welder at the GE aviation plant in Evendale, OH, have welcomed the opportunity to pad their income by working extra hours in lateral time, only to return at the exact moment they left. Vernacini, however, admitted that his regular trips to the alternate universe have taken their toll.

"It's hard, but what other option do I have?" Vernacini said. "Having every atom in my body split and retranslated into a different form of matter just to make a few extra bucks isn't exactly my idea of fun, but my family needs to eat."

"I age an extra eight hours every time I work the fourth shift, and it's really starting to wear me down," Vernacini continued. "And having to buy a new shirt every time my body is flattened out to 4,000 times its usual surface area is one more strain on my budget that I don't need."

Some businesses have already installed a rip in the space-time continuum in their break-room areas so that employees can report for work in the other dimension as soon as their Earth shifts end. People who regularly work the fourth shift have reported that the tasks they perform are more or less exactly the same as during their other shifts, though they have to contend with frequent plasma storms and occasionally meet themselves leaving for one shift as they arrive for another, which can be demoral- izing.

"The worst part about my job in the other dimension is trying to digest the silica-based food product they serve in the cafeteria there," said Thomas Kinney, a line inspector who takes on a fourth shift three days a week at the Coca-Cola bottling plant in alternate Atlanta, GA. "It's probably the most painful part of working a fourth shift. That, and not getting to see my kids grow up."

People across the country have reported similar problems associated with working extra hours in another dimension. The biggest complaint arises from the fact that work time continues in the fourth shift when the employee is not working there. This often results in workers arriving to find that they are far behind in their labor and have to stay longer in the alternate dimension in order to catch up.

"This is just another big 'screw you' to hardworking Americans," said single mother Laura Tanner, who often works concurrent fourth shifts as both a cashier at an area Citgo station and a nursing home caregiver. "Did you know my employer doesn't cover my health insurance while I'm in the other realm? And just yesterday I arrived at my alternate work and, looking at the schedule, discovered that I had somehow convinced myself to pick up my own fourth shift the following evening. What am I supposed to do about that?"

An economic stimulus package from the other plane of existence is expected to provide some relief to those who work the extra-dimensional shift to make ends meet. However, most American workers remain skeptical that the plan will provide any real help, as it is slated to arrive just after it is spent.
(c) 2008 The Onion


The Gross National Debt

View my page on indieProducer.net

Zeitgeist The Movie...

Issues & Alibis Vol 8 # 43 (c) 11/07/2008

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