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In This Edition

Scott Ritter declares, "The Road Out Of Iraq Begins In Vietnam."

Uri Avnery asks can you, "Spot The Difference."

Victoria Stewart explores, "Nancy Reagan And Me."

Jim Hightower recalls, "Bush's Failed Victory Lap In Iraq."

Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar exclaims, "Too Sick To Work? Need Health Care? Take A Number!"

Dr. Betty Martini reveals, "Aspartame - Rumsfeld's Bioweapon Legacy."

Chris Hedges finds, "Man Is A Cruel Animal."

Chris Floyd lectures, "American Politics 101."

Mike Adams explores, "Replication Of Milgram's Shocking Experiments Proves 70 Percent Of People Will Torture Others If Ordered."

Mike Folkerth wonders, "We Are What We Drive; Really?"

Stephanie Mencimer explains, "Why The Auto Bailout's A Dead End."

Ted Rall hears, "Obama's Weasel Words."

"Dead-eye Dick" Cheney wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Glenn Greenwald reports, "Cheney Says Top Congressional Democrats Complicit In Spying."

Mary Pitt feels, "A New Wind Blowing."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' Felix Minderbinder says, "Orders Pour In For Bush Attack Shoes" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Another One Bites The Dust Part Deux."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Marshall Ramsey with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Mike Keefe, Derf City, David Horsey, Bill Day, John Cole, The Heretik, Blood For Oil.Com, Paramount Pictures, Issues & Alibis.Org and Pink & Blue Films.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

The Quotable Quote...
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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."

Another One Bites The Dust Part Deux
By Ernest Stewart

Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
And another one gone, and another one gone
Another one bites the dust
Another One Bites The Dust ~~~ Queen

"A fool and his money are soon parted. The rest of us wait for tax time." ~~~ Albert Einstein

"The word Politics, comes from the Latin, "Poli" meaning "Many" and from
the English "Tics" meaning "Blood Sucking Creatures," Poli -Tics.
~~~ Uncle Ernie ~ 1971 ~~~

As the great American philosopher Yogi Berra once said, "This is like deja vu all over again." What triggered it this time was the untimely-timely death of Karl Rove's Ohio bagman Michael Connell.

You may recall that Connell, the Republican "IT guru," and top IT consultant to Messrs. Rove, Bush, McCain and a bevy of Ohio Congressional Republicans, had been in the nation's capital on unknown business before his single engine plane crashed Friday night on the way home just three miles short of the runway in Akron, Ohio. Connell had been set to testify against the GOP in the King-Lincoln Bronzville v. OH Sec. of State lawsuit over electronic theft of the Ohio vote during the 2004 election. He died just before he could implicate the Junta and Diebold Corp. for their crimes of sedition in Ohio. Connell also set up and then erased and moved those "private" White House email boxes for Smirky, Cheney and Rove. You may recall those infamous GWB43.com accounts? That was Connell's work.

You also may recall that a lot of GOP enemies have met this very same fate. For example, Mel Carnahan's plane went down when it, like Connell's plane, ran out of gas. Mel was beating the pants off of John Ashcraft for Ashcraft's Missouri Senate seat when he had the mysterious crash that killed him and his son, Randy. Unfortunately, for the GOP and for America, dead Mel went on to beat Ashcroft for the Senate seat and we got stuck with Johnny when Bush decided to rub it in and selected the defeated Ashcroft as his Attorney General.

Then, you remember, the last Senate liberal bit the big one in another mysterious plane crash. Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone, his wife Sheila and daughter Marcia died when their plane ran out of fuel. Are you starting to see a pattern forming here, folks? All three thorns in the side of the Rethuglicans were removed, simply, quickly, and permanently without the slightest suspicion being raised by the corpo-rat owned press.

In Other News

Then there was Bernard L. Madoff's Ponzi scheme that the Securities and Exchange Commission was either too stupid or too corrupt to detect, even with people pointing it out as the Ponzi scheme that it was. Most likely, members of the SEC were paid to look the other way. Why else would they ignore complaints against Madoff going back ten years?

The end result was Bernard got away with some $50 billion of the rich and powerful's money. I know, oh, boo hoo hoo! Not a lot of middle class or poor people's money here. Of course, Bernard's scheme was insured by your tax dollars to the tune of $500,000 a piece. Ergo, if you lost more than that then you had way too much money to begin with and as we all know, a fool and his money are soon parted!

How did Bernard do it? Simple. He played to their greed. Everyone knew what he was doing was illegal but as long as they were in on it, making money hand-over-fist that was ok. As with all things that the elite do, the proverbial fix was in and there was no need to worry about legalities! And, as with all Ponzi schemes, those in on it to begin with might actually make a little money before the scheme collapses. They get a little money for their investments from new members but eventually the money runs out as there are only so many suckers on the planet!

What was unusual about Madoff's swindle is that it continued for over two decades and was the largest Ponzi scheme ever uncovered with perhaps $50 billion lost or missing. It was also the first fully international Ponzi scheme, with investors from Europe, the Middle East, and China but most investors came from the US. One hedge fund, the Fairfield Greenwich Group, put over $7 billion into Madoff's fund and encouraged others to invest in it as well.

Bernard Madoff is a 70 year old apparently affable but retiring, person. He was very active in Jewish circles and many of his investors were wealthy Jews, such as Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg and Mortimer Zuckerman. His investors included many Jewish organizations including the Eli Weisel Foundation and Yeshiva University. OY VEY, such a deal!

And Finally

It's the time of the year where I normally (well for the last seven years anyway) write a year-in-review piece reminding everyone about all the horrors in the world that we somehow managed to survive. This is generally followed by a look forward to the horrors to come in the new year. I swore last year it would be my last as it takes way too much time in this, the busiest time of year. What with all the rampaging in-laws and outlaws and such to deal with rather than the world year-in-review, I'll do a much shorter magazine year-in-review piece!

This year's end is especially busy as we recently blew up our 11 year old Outback and are scraping up the $3400 to get it back. A special thanx to Ken who loaned us one of his Mercedes while "Nellie Belle" was being fixed. Without that act of kindness, we'd be up the creek without a paddle! Last year's economic shortfalls hit the magazine as well as the rest of the economy and we ended up borrowing $3000 to meet out expenses, something we cannot afford to do again. A few of our more generous readers cut that down loss down to about $1200. We had an extra $2000 dollar bill last year as we were forced to buy a new computer as our old ones "bit the dust" so our cost of operation went from near $5000 to $7000. If not for having to buy the computer, we'd have had an $800 surplus, something we've never had. That's right, folks. We've never made a dime at this and unlike every other blogger, reporter and editor, we do this because we have to, regardless! For the first five years I picked up all costs but that big bank book is long since empty and since the end of 2005 we've continued publishing with the help of our readership, just about breaking even until this year when a lot of our regular contributors became unemployed or underemployed.

Ergo, as we can't take on any new debt without going under, in 2009 we'll continue to publish until the bills come due and if we can't make them then we'll close shop and I'll go back to work as your very wicked ole Uncle Ernie hard rock/rocking blues DJ until the bombs begin to fall. After all, according to the Mayans we're on a downhill count of less than four years (12-21-2012) to when the "big darkness come" and we need to get prepared! Happy Holidaze Ya'll!


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


08-17-1913 ~ 12-18-2008
Thanks for the tip!

01-17-1927 ~ 12-25-2008
R.I.P. sweetie!


The "W" theatre trailers are up along with the new movie poster and screen shots from the film. They are all available at the all-new "W" movie site: 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 Road Out Of Iraq Begins In Vietnam
By Scott Ritter

This article is the second part of a four-part series that explores policy options for President-elect Barack Obama regarding Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Russia. The first article, "With Iran, Obama Needs More Carrot, Less Stick," ran Nov. 13.

It has often been said that Iraq is not Vietnam and that any effort to compare the two wars is misguided and intellectually dishonest. While I would be the first to concur, one can never forget Carl von Clausewitz's maxim that "war is an extension of politics, by other means." As such, every war represents a model for all conflict, insofar as it represents not simply force-on-force military engagement, but, more important, military-political interaction which incorporates the domestic dynamic of the involved nations. Vietnam the war was not simply lost on the field of battle in Southeast Asia, just as Iraq the war was not lost in the deserts of the Middle East. The American military, in both conflicts, was never defeated in a major engagement. In fact, tactically and operationally speaking, the American military dominated the battlefield in both conflicts, and yet America the nation emerged the loser in each.

The United States today has come to grips with the reality that President George W. Bush's ill-conceived military misadventure in Mesopotamia has failed, and it is time to bring our troops home. A similar understanding was had in 1968, when the majority of Americans recognized that President Lyndon Johnson's war of escalation represented little more than death by a thousand cuts. It took President Richard Nixon five years to disengage America from Vietnam, after he had attempted his own escalation. Based on the recently consummated status of forces agreement governing the American military presence in Iraq, the U.S. is militarily committed to Baghdad through 2011. How President-elect Barack Obama chooses to frame the next three years is critical in terms of America's ability to truly disengage from Iraq.

Should Obama fall victim to those who postulate the need to obtain "victory" in order to preserve American "honor," it is likely that the nightmare in Iraq will continue well past the 2011 deadline, since those goals will never be met. However, if the new president takes a page from history and proceed with Iraq as Henry Kissinger, Nixon's leading Vietnam policy advisor, did with Vietnam, agreeing to "an historical process or a political process in which the real forces in Vietnam will assert themselves, whatever these forces are," then there may be hope. Kissinger was not willing to have America fall on its sword when it came to defending the corrupt government of President Nguyen Van Thieu in Saigon. Nor should Obama commit America to defend to the death the nonviable government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad. What is required is a "decent interval" in which America provides Iraq with a window of opportunity for the "real forces in Iraq" to assert themselves, "whatever these forces are."

The "surge" of American military forces into Iraq that occurred in 2007-2008 has run its course. However fleeting the stability engendered by this action proves to be, the fact is, from an American domestic political imperative, one can point to a statistical improvement in terms of fewer American and Iraqi casualties. A political case can be made that a condition has been created which will allow for gradual "Iraqification," similar to Nixon's "Vietnamization" efforts in the 1970s, in which the government in Baghdad assumes a greater responsibility for its own security. U.S. military planners must not fall victim to the fantasy of a perfect solution for Iraq, since the reality is that whatever solution emerges will have little to do with American military efforts and everything to do with the political realities of Iraq after the end of American occupation. All that is needed is a "decent interval" in which the perception of an American-induced stability catches hold among the American people, and by extension, American politicians.

I stated in 2003 that because the American invasion of Iraq had more to do with domestic politics than it did with genuine national security, America would be in Iraq for two to three national political cycles, for a total of eight to 12 years. I stand by that assessment today. Congress is on the cusp of being able to turn its back on Iraq. However, there are many members of Congress (representatives and senators alike) who have invested considerable political capital in supporting the Iraq conflict. To them, Iraq represents a domestic political problem. Therefore it is imperative that, however Obama chooses to couch the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq, he throws the "peace with honor" crowd a bone-even if everyone recognizes that all America wants is to buy time for a full disengagement before the Maliki government collapses, just as the Thieu government collapsed a mere two years after the last American forces departed South Vietnam.

If this advice sounds defeatist, it is. There is no way to spin the reality that America will not "win" the war in Iraq. All we can hope for is to recognize the fact that the decision to invade was in truth more about empowering a neoconservative cabal in American politics than it was about achieving lasting change in the Middle East. "Regional transformation," long the battle cry of those in the Bush administration who sought American global hegemony, was a smoke screen which used national security issues to achieve domestic political dominance. Now that the American people have spoken, and Barack Obama has won the American presidency, it is time to reject with finality the policies of the neoconservative ideologues who got us into Iraq and embrace instead a new direction which has America working multilaterally to achieve a model of global cooperation based on genuine peace and stability, as opposed to one built on unilateral coercion and violence. If a policy seeking a "decent interval" permits American forces to be withdrawn from Iraq, achieving "peace with honor" in the process, then the Vietnam parallel will be most welcome. If it is true that "war in an extension of politics, by other means," then the converse, in which politics, by any means, is the tool for retracting war, must also be correct. Let us hope that Obama is able to contain and control the domestic American political environment so that the war in Iraq is "retracted" as soon as possible.
(c) 2008 Scott Ritter a former Marine Corps intelligence officer, was a chief inspector for the United Nations Special Commission in Iraq from 1991 until 1998. He is the author of several books; "Target Iran," with a new afterword by the author, was recently released in paperback by Nation Books.

Spot The Difference
By Uri Avnery

A MAN was asked about his sons. "I have three," he said, "but one of them is a complete idiot."

"Which one?" they asked.

"Take your pick," he replied.

In 51 days, we shall vote for a new Knesset and a new government.

Three big parties are competing for the prize: Kadima, Likud and Labor.

From there on, see the joke.

IS THERE a real choice? In other words, are there any real differences between the three parties?

As in the game "Spot the Difference,",they are so tiny that one needs really good eyes to discover them.

There are, of course, political differences between the three. But what the three parties, and the three leaders, have in common is far more important than what divides them.

Binyamin Netanyahu says that this is not the time for peace with the Palestinians. We have to wait until conditions are ripe. Not on our side, of course, but on the Palestinian side. And who is going to decide whether the conditions are ripe on the Palestinian side? Binyamin Netanyahu, of course. He or his successors, or the successors of his successors.

Tzipi Livni says - or so it seems - the very opposite. We have to talk with the Palestinians. What about? Not about Jerusalem, God forbid. And not about the refugees. So about what? About the weather, perhaps? Tzipi's plan, one has to conclude, is to go on talking and talking and talking, and never to reach any practical agreement.

Ehud Barak has not withdrawn his fateful pronouncement of eight years ago, when he came back from the failed (thanks to him) Camp David conference: "We have no partner for peace."

Not one of the three has stood up and told the public in simple words: I am going to make peace with the Palestinians in the course of 2009. This peace will include the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 borders, with agreed minor border changes on the basis of 1:1, turning Jerusalem into the capital of the two states and agreeing on a reasonable solution of the refugee problem, a solution Israel can live with.

Not one of the three has offered any peace plan at all. Only hollow words. Only spin.

Like the alternative offered by Netanyahu: to ameliorate the living conditions of the Palestinians. Living conditions under occupation? When 600 roadblocks in the West Bank prevent free movement? When every violent act of resistance leads to collective punishment? When death-squads go out in the night to liquidate "wanted men?" Only a madman would invest money in such a territory.

ALL THE THREE are united in their view that Hamas must be eliminated. True, not one of them declares publicly that the Gaza Strip should be reoccupied - something that is wildly unpopular both with the public and the army chiefs. But all three support the tight blockade on the Gaza Strip, believing that if the population has no bread and the hospitals no medicaments or fuel, the Gaza public will rise up and overthrow the Hamas regime. For now, the opposite is happening. This week a quarter of a million people - almost half the adult population of the Strip! - took part in a rally to celebrate the birthday of Hamas.

Not one of the three has stood up and said: I shall talk with Hamas and bring them into the peace process.

Neither did one of the three get up and say: I shall make peace with Syria in the course of 2009. The terms are known, I accept them, I intend to sign.

Perhaps all three of them secretly think so. But each of them tells himself/herself: "What, am I crazy? To take on the Golan settlers and their supporters in Israel?" Someone who is not prepared to remove even one miserable outpost in the West Bank, for fear of a clash with the fanatical settlers there, will not take any such risk on the Golan Heights either.

ON THE other hand, all three have the same emergency exit: the Iranian bomb. What would we do without it! "The main danger to the existence of Israel is the Iranian bomb!" declares Barak. Declares Tzipi. Declares Netanyahu. A finely attuned choir.

Since the beginnings of Zionism, it has been looking for ways to escape from the "Palestinian problem." Why? Because if the Zionist movement had admitted that there even exists a Palestinian people, it would have had to find a solution to the actual situation and to the moral problem. Therefore, a hundred different pretexts have been found, each in its time, to ignore the dilemma.

Nowadays the Iranian bomb fulfils this function. Here is a clear and present danger. An existential danger. Stop bothering me about the Palestinian problem. Nothing urgent there. It can be postponed for a few years (or a few generations). The Iranian bomb is what needs immediate attention. After we solve this problem (it's not clear how) we shall be free to deal with the Palestinian nuisance.

Logic, of course, says the opposite. If we sign a peace agreement with the entire Palestinian people and put an end to the occupation, the Persian rug will be swept from under the feet of Ahmadinejad and the likes of him. When the Palestinians recognize Israel and make peace, the anti-Israeli Crusade (or, rather, Crescentade) will lose its steam.

OK, SO in matters of war and peace there is no difference between the three. But what about the other issues? The economic crisis fills the headlines. All the candidates promise to deal with it. To find any difference between their pronouncements, one would need a microscope.

One might have expected Netanyahu to be different from the others. After all, he was the High Priest of privatization. To privatize everything, from steel cables to shoestrings. This dogma has now collapsed in the United States, and is collapsing in Israel too. Does this bother Netanyahu? Does it make him more humble? Not in the least. Now he demands, without batting an eyelid, massive state intervention. Like Livni. Like Barak.

State and religion? Not one of the three demands separation between them. Not one demands civil marriage, or the rolling back of religious coercion, or the calling up of thousands of yeshiva students. Not one demands the inclusion of the core subjects - like English and mathematics - in the curriculum of the state-financed religious schools. God forbid! God forbid! After all, all of them will need Shas and/or the Orthodox party tomorrow.

The Arab citizens? All of the parties court them ardently. But not one of them promises them anything real. Real equality? Only in words. Cultural autonomy? Of course not. The implementation of the recommendations of the government commission of inquiry that was appointed after the October 2000 killings? Not a chance!

And the list goes on. Subject after subject.

SO IS THERE really no difference between the three? Is a vote for one of them the same as a vote for any of the other two?

I would not go that far.

There are small differences - but when we are dealing with fateful matters, even a small difference is significant.

Netanyahu, for example, brings with him a very rightist crew. They include fascist elements that must not be ignored. There is a danger that he would set up a government that would include "extreme-right" (meaning: outright fascist) parties, on top of the rightist-orthodox Shas party. His victory would signal to the whole world that Israel has chosen the path to the abyss. It may also bring up the possibility - the nightmare of Israeli politics - of a clash with the United States, now led by Barack Obama.

The battered (and rightly so) Labor Party at least includes a social-democratic element that makes it different from the other two. It is weak but not entirely insignificant.

Kadima, that cross-breed of leftist rightists and rightist leftists, is in spite of everything better than Likud, from which most of its candidates have sprung. Netanyahu and Livni grew on the same tree, but on different branches. Tzipi may still surprise us for the better. If Netanyahu springs any surprises at all, that would be a miracle.

Aside from the three big ones, there are, of course, several smaller one-issue parties, each in its own niche, which address specific sectors of the public and which have at least a clear and honest message: the Arab parties, Meretz, the Orthodox list, Shas, the Liberman party, the "Jewish Home" (formerly National-Religious party). Probably they will be joined by some new election lists. Each of them is a story in itself, but none of them will set up the next government.

The real story is between the Three Big, and it is a sad story indeed.

The choice between them is a choice between bad, worse and still worse. Between toothache, migraine and backache.

Nothing good will come out of this election. The question is only how bad the results will be.

THE CONCLUSION: This must not happen again!

Quite probably, the next Knesset, too, will not last for more than a year or two. Then there would be new elections, which might well be fateful.

On February 11, 2009, the day after the coming elections, those who seek change must start to think anew. Those who long for a democratic, secular, progressive Israel, an Israel at peace with its neighbors and imbued with social justice within, must decide to take matters into their own hands,

They must start a new intellectual and organizational effort to realize these important aims. No longer to be satisfied with voting for the "lesser evil" but finally to vote for the greater good, and - together with sectors that have not been partners up till now - to work out solutions that have not yet been tried in ways that have not yet been tried. To bring about an Obama-like miracle.

Instead of the three good-for-nothing sons, a fourth son must appear.
(c) 2008 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Nancy Reagan And Me
By Victoria Stewart

For the past several months, we have been bombarded with reminders of perilous or unpleasant times in our nation's history. Over the past few weeks we have begun learn about bad times in the world's history. It's hard to avoid a bit of anxiety now and then as I remember what my life was like during, oh say The Reagan Years or The Nixon Years. I really don't want to go back there.

While Richard Nixon was President of the United States, I was learning experientially what it was like to be female and have no power. I was learning as a child that my one value was sexual and I had no control over how that value was traded or used. My experiences were neither uncommon nor isolated.

Crossing all racial and socioeconomic barriers is an indifference to the violence and hatred directed toward women and children. It was during Richard Nixon's presidency that the degree of pain inflicted upon the children born in the years after WWII generated serious civil protest. Of all the protest groups and movement's proliferating during the Nixon years, it was the Women's Movement together with the ongoing Civil Rights Movement, which produced lasting social change.

The media, when it directed a rare spotlight on human and civil rights' issues, fostered and promoted a competition among groups working for the rights of women and children and those working to oppose racism. Seldom does anyone get publicity for recognizing the common cause in all groups working to end oppression and tyranny. In fact, when tentative alliances begin to form between human right's groups, the media works diligently to create mistrust and hated within those groups.

So when I hear about how our social and economic climate is reverting to that of 1969, I am reminded of what it was like to be a child whose primary value was sexual at a time when girls had no access to birth control, no legal protection against rape, incest or sexual abuse, no legal right to safe, medically supervised abortions, limited access to higher education and fairly paid work. I am reminded of what it was like when the prevailing cultural paradigm held that women were genetically, spiritually, morally and intellectually inferior to males, a view held by leaders in business, politics, religion and science. When Richard Nixon was president, I learned first hand what it meant to be institutionally and legally dehumanized.

And I learned that success in fighting oppression comes from learning to speak the language of common experience.

Jimmy Carter, whose presidency is underrated, misunderstood and purposefully obscured, gave us a tiny glimpse of what a conscientious and thoughtful person could bring into being. If we are lucky and some sort of decency prevails over time, Jimmy Carter's presidency will come to be viewed by historians as a time when the wellbeing of all humans was held as sacred by a US President. The events that allowed Carter to be presented as ineffective, unpatriotic, militarily soft and amusingly quaint (I mean, the man turned the thermostat down in the White House!) will be viewed differently in an unbiased reckoning.

There's a reason no one is bringing up Carter's presidency and that silence says much about the times in which we find ourselves.

Ronald Reagan. Now there was a man who understood politics. I don't know it he ever gave a thought to anyone other than himself but if so, those thoughts were self-congratulatory and never boded well for the other person. But I suspect that Reagan, like Marie Antoinette, was so removed from any reality outside his own narrow world, he did not even remotely understand anything he did.

Those of us in the lowest classes, however, got the message loud and clear.

Under Ronald Reagan, a man Barack Obama liked to quote during campaign speeches, I experienced a deep poverty enforced by the legal and cultural intricacies of child support and custody and promoted by the rise of the misogynistic religious right. Those years brought about a splintering of the women's movement as religion was used as a bludgeon and a cudgel. "Feminists" were media defined as somehow separate from women who cared for and about children. "Feminist" came to mean anti-woman by virtue of being "anti-male."

Ronald Reagan was used to victimize, oppress and disempower people of color, women, children, labor unions and the poor. Any organizations whose advocacy improved the lot of these groups were marginalized or co-opted. The growing numbers of poor, a direct consequence of the financial policies entrenched during the Reagan administration, were broken into warring factions whose allegiance was based on religion and race. In the most rigid of those factions, women and children are chattel.

I'm not real excited about being back there, either.

Of course, we aren't really back in those days but rather at a juncture where the offspring of the mating of the Nixon and Reagan presidencies are revealed.

The ferocity of religious hatred is a most frightful phenomenon. We are scarily close to witch burnings and indentured servitude. Religion is the most effective device available to promote racial, gender, sexual, ethnic, tribal (national) and age related tyrannies. Promises of heavenly reward and threats of divine retribution are still stunningly effective propaganda tools. The president-elect's elevation of Rick Warren to official court prophet signals Obama's willingness to accelerate national religious tensions. The financial threat to the power elite, the ongoing resource wars (water will be next) and the looming worldwide famine requires a ramping up of the double-think campaigns and an intensification of fear and hatred. We must be distracted as negotiations continue to secure the future of the corporatists. Who were those horsemen of the Apocalypse again?

It is no surprise, then, that in these Days of Import and Calamity women play carefully regulated roles. The triumvirate of Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton and Caroline Kennedy is so well-crafted it smacks of alchemy. I confess, I'm impressed. And amused.

I think this grouping of women is supposed to be reassuring, a presentation of the range of acceptable and successful female models. These are women who are willing to compromise the health, freedom and safety of children, women and the poor to accommodate power. Let me be clear. These women, for all of their accomplishments and pedigrees, are doing what they're told. Are championing war, violence, terror, torture, starvation, ignorance and genocide. And unlike the powerful women of the Nixon and Reagan years, Obama, Clinton and Kennedy chose to play at this table. (Imagine for a moment the ranking male members of these three families working together. Would you fell a little, umm, threatened. maybe?)

Pat Nixon, it seemed to me when I saw here, was scared, a woman aware of what hid in the corners of her room. I always felt a kind of pitying revulsion when I thought of her. She reminded of the women I knew growing up who were too broken to protect their children. Women who are complicit in atrocities through their denial and inaction.

Nancy Reagan exemplified a woman comfortable with comfort and luxury. She made no apologies for her appreciation of glamour, beauty, wealth and privilege. She put herself front and center in a her favorite shade of shrieking red, a woman who would not shrink into the background when her husband held center stage. And a woman who understood the dangers of her time and did what was necessary to protect herself.

More of us have learned, however, in the years since Pat and Nancy to pay attention the figures the powerful give us as inspirations. A shift of consciousness has taken place. Women and their children still bear the brunt of violence, war and poverty but more of us refuse to be collaborators. We will not go quietly!

As winter grips us, Barack Obama grants position and favors, establishing coalitions with the established powers and discarding supporters whose interests might conflict with a program of empire, war and conquest. We hear whispers of the Great Depression.

In his kowtowing to the forces that offer religious sanctification to bigotry, I am reminded that the hatred which feeds homophobia also fuels misogyny. Barack Obama traded the uncomfortable honesty of Jeremiah Wright for the Rick Warren's ugly fear-mongering and no cadre of prominent women can disguise his betrayal. When screaming religious fanatics began to run roughshod over the Republican party, Nancy Reagan relied more and more on the advice of her astrologer, knowing she could not trust the intent of presidential advisers. How comforted I would be if Barack Obama renounced his association with the god of war and appointed a presidential astrologer.

Nancy, I'm sorry. I didn't understand.
(c) 2008 Victoria Stewart is the editor of Issues & Alibis magazine.

Bush's Failed Victory Lap In Iraq

In 2003, just before the Bushites invaded and occupied Iraq, Vice President Dick Cheney assured our wary nation that the whole thing would be a cakewalk, and that George W would be a hero to the people there: "The Iraqis will throw flowers," Dick gloated.

Well, after six years, 4,209 deaths of American soldiers, and a couple trillion of our dollars poured into Bush's awful war, it has hardly been a cakewalk. Still, Cheney did get it partially right - the Iraqis are throwing something at George: Their shoes! It was hardly a gesture of gratitude when an Iraqi journalist hurled both of his shoes at Bush's head, shouting: "This is a gift from the Iraqis, this is the farewell kiss, you dog!"

Ironically, Bush's press conference in Baghdad was part of what his staff called a "victory lap" to Iraq - a carefully orchestrated PR tour to portray the fading president as a beloved and successful war guy. Unfortunately, the orchestrators had not factored in a journalist armed with chutzpa and shoes.

In fact, though, Bush staffers knew that there is deep and widespread anger toward their man by the people of that battered country. That's why they had to sneak him into Iraq unannounced, requiring a full-scale, secret military operation to get him from the airport to his show-and-tell press conference inside the Army's heavily fortified "green zone." Contrast George's backdoor appearance with the visit made to Baghdad in March by his arch-enemy in the region, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran. The Iranian's trip was announced weeks in advance, he traveled openly in a motorcade, and he was welcomed with a red-carpet ceremony.

This is Jim Hightower saying... Of course, Bush can get no solace back in his own country, where two-thirds of the people say his war is not worth fighting and our troops should get out, pronto.
(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.

Too Sick To Work? Need Health Care? Take A Number!
By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar

Master toolmaker John McClain built machine parts with details so small they couldn't be seen with the naked eye. Then a lump on his neck turned out to be cancer.

Shalonda Frederick managed a bakery, and decorated cakes for special occasions. One day her face and hands, and her arms and legs, started clenching up. Then she fell off a ladder at work. It turned out to be multiple sclerosis.

McClain, 56, and Frederick, 33, are unlucky enough to have gotten seriously ill in their most productive years. Theirs is a daily struggle against life-changing circumstances.

As if that weren't enough, after years of counting on employer medical benefits, they are uninsured -- and trapped in one of the most troubling gaps in the nation's health care system.

After reviewing their cases, the government declared McClain and Frederick too sick to work and started issuing them monthly Social Security disability checks. Then they found out they'd have to wait two years to get health care through Medicare. Even though workers and their employers pay the payroll taxes that fund Medicare, federal law requires disabled workers to wait 24-months before they can begin receiving benefits.

McClain and Frederick are far from alone. An estimated 1.8 million disabled workers are languishing in Medicare limbo at any given time. And about one out of eight dies waiting.

As many as one-third of those waiting are uninsured.

Frederick needs an expensive injection to control her symptoms; McClain, a scan of a new, and potentially problematic, spot. Neither can afford it. Instead, they fend off creditors, sink deeper into debt and fume that a system they paid into all those years isn't available when they need it.

"The government is the screwiest insurance company I ever saw," said McClain, of Allen, Texas. "What is it that I was paying for out of my check every pay period? They have taken the charge for Medicare out of my paycheck, and now that I need it, I can't have it."

With President-elect Barack Obama promising to guarantee health care coverage for all, advocates for the disabled are hoping that repeal of the Medicare waiting period is finally at hand.

"The current law is really indefensible," said Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. "There is no logic behind requiring people who are determined to be disabled to wait two years before they become eligible for Medicare." Bingaman introduced a bill to phase out the waiting period, and as a senator Obama co-sponsored it.

It turns out there is a simple explanation for the waiting period: cost.

In 1972, Congress and President Richard Nixon agreed to expand Medicare to cover not only seniors but the disabled. They created a waiting period to minimize costs and discourage people from gaming the system.

Over time, the consequences of the waiting period -- and the costs of repeal -- have only grown.

In the 1970s, there wasn't a whole lot medical science could do for many cancer patients. Now cancer is thought of less as a death sentence, and more as a manageable disease.

But as drugs and treatments for serious illnesses have improved, the cost of closing the Medicare gap has ballooned. Estimates range up to $12 billion a year. And that gives lawmakers pause.

"When it comes to people dying of cancer, you can't help but be sympathetic," said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. "But at a time when we have a big downturn in the economy, it may be questionable what can be done in a lot of these areas." Grassley, the senior Republican on the Senate committee that oversees Medicare, said he hasn't made up his mind about a repeal of the waiting period.

A possible compromise that could save taxpayers money would be to subsidize a continuation of employer coverage for disabled workers during the 24-month wait. Many can keep their benefits now, provided they pay the full premium, which not all can afford.

But that wouldn't help those without job-based coverage.

The government already exempts people who need kidney dialysis and those with Lou Gehrig's disease from the waiting period.

Economist Pamela Farley Short of Penn State University, who has researched the issue, said the waiting period should concern all workers.

"It's easy to think it's not going to happen to me," she said. "But when you follow people over time, just over 15 percent of those who are 55 are going to be on Medicare before they turn 65. That doesn't seem so trivial."

Nearly 7 million disabled people under age 65 are now covered through Medicare.

Of those still waiting for coverage, about 60 percent manage to hang on to private insurance. Many draw down their retirement savings to pay premiums through a previous employer's health plan. Others fall into poverty and are picked up by Medicaid. As many as one in three, like McClain and Frederick, wind up uninsured.

McClain was diagnosed with cancer a little more than two years ago. He was at work one night when he reached up to scratch his neck and felt a big lump. He hadn't been feeling particularly well for several months. The next day he started getting dizzy and went to the emergency room.

Eventually, the diagnosis came back: a tumor on his left tonsil.

McClain doesn't spare himself when it comes to blame. He started smoking cigarettes at 13, and, though he has cut down, has been unable to quit.

"I don't know how to say how stupid I am for still smoking," he said.

His cancer treatment has been arduous: Chemotherapy. Radiation. A feeding tube. Bouts of depression and anxiety. His weight dropped from about 150 pounds to 116. But the cancer seems to be retreating.

McClain has begun to feel his energy come back, and he yearns to go back to the machine shop. Yet he is worried about a small area in his throat. And he can't afford to pay for a scan because he lost his insurance at the end of October.

"I think I have around $22 in savings," he said. "After talking with my creditors and a debt management company, it sounds like bankruptcy. The funny part is, I have a perfect payment history to this day, and none of them can figure out how I made it this far." Like McClain, Frederick, the former bakery manager, is spiraling toward bankruptcy.

Multiple sclerosis is a progressive disease in which the immune system attacks the protective covering around the nerves. It can lead to paralysis. Frederick was diagnosed in 2002.

"My MS affects my mobility," said Frederick, of Glen Burnie, Md. "I have shaky hands and legs. When I lay still at night, I can feel my muscles vibrate. It's like a dim humming and I can't sleep. I stretch my legs, and then I can't bend them."

Frederick had to leave the bakery because her hands shook too much to decorate cakes. Then, in the fall of 2007, she lost her fallback job as an event planner. Even with her disability check, she is behind on rent and utilities. Without health insurance, she can't afford an injection that costs around $3,000 each time and helps control her MS. She is supposed to get a treatment every three months. Her last was in July.

"They tell you to go to school and graduate and get a career," Frederick said. "I did all of that, so why is this happening now?"

"I'm old enough to know that there are things in life that happen that aren't fair," she continued. "I was employed from when I was 15 to when I was 32. I worked my whole life and I paid into this fund."
(c) 2008 Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar

Aspartame - Rumsfeld's Bioweapon Legacy
By Dr. Betty Martini

Before reading this article everyone should hear James Turner, Atty, explain how Don Rumsfeld called in his markers to get aspartame, a deadly chemical poison approved when the FDA said no. The entire film can be gotten at http://www.docworkers.com.

Among the many ironies of our modern world is that Gerald Ford awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom-America's highest civilian honor-to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on January 19, 1977. Just a few weeks later on March 8, Rumsfeld became the CEO of G.D. Searle to take point on a mission to force the Food and Drug Administration to approve for human consumption a known carcinogen and neurotoxic poison.

Mission accomplished: Today some 9,000 commonly consumed products are laced with this weapon of mass misery and millions of people live with chronic illnesses linked to the artificial sweetener aspartame. It is our belief at The Idaho Observer that if some guy named Parkinson can have a disease named after him, then Donald Rumsfeld ought to have his own disease, too. Hence the term Rumsfeld disease A.

Rumsfeld's Disease

A Politically-Induced Biochemical Disaster Of Global Proportions
By Don Harkins

Today, Donald Rumsfeld is known throughout the world as the former zealous U.S. Secretary of Defense who was waging a global "war on terror" in search of "terrorists" and "weapons of mass destruction." Most people, however, are not aware that Rumsfeld himself unleashed a chemical weapon of mass destruction upon the world in 1981-and it,s still out there destroying people all over the world. That "WMD" is aspartame and it has been scientifically and anecdotally linked to millions of chronic illnesses and deaths.

The evidence shows that, with full knowledge of aspartame,s neurotoxicity and carcinogenicity, Rumsfeld, as the CEO of G.D.

Searle, Co., "called in his markers" to achieve U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the artificial sweetener aspartame, better known by its trade name "NutraSweet."

Consumer advocate attorney Jim Turner, who was instrumental in the 1969 banning of cyclamate in the U.S. for its link to various forms of cancer, met with representatives of aspartame approval petitioner Searle in 1974. The main topic of discussion was neuroscientist Dr. John Olney's 1971 study which showed that aspartic acid caused lesions in the brains of infant mice. According to Turner, arguably the world's foremost authority on aspartame's dubious legal history, Rumsfeld was apparently hired by Searle for one specific purpose: To obtain FDA approval for aspartame.

Betty Martini is the director of Mission Possible, a worldwide consumer advocacy organization formed in 1992 as a voice for those demanding that the FDA reverse its approval of aspartame and order its removal from foods, beverages and medical preparations. Martini is even more bold in her charges against Rumsfeld. Martini believes the Washington insider, former three-term U.S. Rep. From Illinois (1962-1968), secretary of defense (1975-1977) and executive assistant to President Gerald Ford, was hired by Searle because, "He was willing to get a deadly chemical poison, aspartame, approved for human consumption."


In December, 1965 Searle chemist James Schlatter discovered aspartame while working on an ulcer drug. The substance, comprised of 50 percent synthetic phenylalanine, 40 percent synthetic aspartic acid and 10 percent methanol, was about 200 times sweeter than sugar by weight and had no calories. By spring, 1967, Searle began conducting safety trials in preparation for petitioning the FDA for product approval.

Soon after the trials began, lab animals (monkeys and mice) began experiencing adverse effects ranging from brain lesions and tumors to seizures and death. Yet Searle petitioned the FDA for aspartame approval in February, 1973. According to Turner, Searle provided the FDA with over 100 studies claiming they proved aspartame was "safe." Independent analyses of these studies, however, proves conclusively that aspartame is actually a dangerous, neurotoxic, carcinogenic and highly-addictive drug.

Trusting Searle's promise that aspartame was safe, the FDA approved the limited use of aspartame in dry goods on July 26, 1974. Turner and Dr. Olney formally objected to the approval. Their petition triggered an FDA investigation of Searle's lab practices which proved that Searle had provided the FDA with inaccurate conclusions resulting from manipulated data derived from poorly-designed studies. The FDA reversed its decision to approve aspartame in dry goods.

On January 10, 1977, the FDA formally requested that the U.S. Department of Justice convene a federal grand jury to determine if Searle should be criminally indicted for "concealing material facts and making false statements" with regard to its petition for aspartame approval.

Among the many charges FDA investigators made about Searle's shoddy lab practices was how rats that developed tumors would undergo surgical removal of the tumors and then be placed back into the study as if nothing had happened to them.

The grand jury investigation was led by U.S. Attorney Samuel Skinner. In July 1, 1977, while the investigation was being conducted, Skinner left the Justice Department and took a job with Sidley & Austin-the law firm representing Searle. The statute of limitations eventually ran out and the grand jury disbanded without reaching any conclusions regarding Searle and its lab practices.

Amid this controversy, Rumsfeld was hired as Searle CEO on March 8, 1977 and immediately began cleaning house. Rumsfeld, who had no previous business executive experience before becoming CEO of Searle, reorganized several departments in the company and fired many of its high-level managers, replacing them with other politically-connected Washington, D.C., insiders.

Though the controversies deepened and the evidence proving the poisonous nature of his company's product continued to accumulate, Rumsfeld and his team continued to push for FDA approval of aspartame.

A team of FDA investigators headed by Jerome Bressler attempted to block Rumsfeld, et. al, by publishing what has become known as the "Bressler Report" on August 1, 1977. The report cited several instances where Searle intentionally mislead the FDA in its petition for marketplace approval of aspartame. The FDA then formed a public board of inquiry (PBOI) in 1979 to rule on the myriad safety issues surrounding aspartame.

By this time, FDA investigators and independent scientists had exhaustively reviewed the Searle studies and additional studies had been conducted. There was no doubt, based upon objective analyses of evidence that had accumulated for over a decade, that aspartame was deathly poisonous to lab animals and caused a statistically significant number of them to develop tumors.

On September 30, 1980, the PBOI concluded that aspartame should not be approved pending further investigation of its link to the formation of brain tumors and that the FDA "has not been presented with proof of reasonable certainty that aspartame is safe for use as a food additive."

The coup

Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president January 21, 1981. Rumsfeld, while still CEO at Searle, was part of Reagan's transition team. This team hand-picked Dr. Arthur Hull Hayes, Jr., to be the new FDA commissioner. Dr. Hayes, a pharmacologist, had no previous experience with food additives before being appointed director of the FDA. He, like Rumsfeld, did, however, have experience with chemical warfare studies while connected to the Department of Defense. According to The Washington Post, Hayes was, "one of a number of doctors who conducted drugs tests for the Army on volunteers.to determine the effect of a mind-disorienting drug called CAR 301,060," at Fort Detrick, Maryland.

The Post further explained why Hayes was the perfect choice to politically force the approval of aspartame: "According to a declassified 1976 report prepared by the Army Inspector General, Hayes had planned a research study to develop the mind-altering CAR 301,060 as a crowd control agent."

The report, detailing Hayes activities beginning in 1972, further indicated that Hayes was involved in similar biochemical mind control research studies until being named FDA director.

One of Hayes, first official acts as FDA chief was to approve the use of aspartame as an artificial sweetener in dry goods July 18, 1981. In order to accomplish this feat, Hayes had to overlook the scuttled grand jury investigation of Searle, overcome the Bressler Report, ignore the PBOI,s recommendations and pretend aspartame did not chronically sicken and kill thousands of lab animals. Hayes, left his post at the FDA in November, 1983, amid accusations that he was accepting corporate gifts for political favors. Just before leaving office in scandal, Hayes approved the use of aspartame in beverages. According to The Post, Hayes, next job was in the private sector where he served as a high-paid senior medical advisor for Searle's public relations firm.

The aftermath

Within weeks of aspartame's approval for use in beverages, cans of diet sodas and other sweet drinks were on the market. To help sell Americans on using the artificial sweetener, intense advertising campaigns began programming the public to believe that sugar has lots of calories; calories make us fat and NutraSweet has no calories-therefore it won't make us fat.

Based upon this almost universally-accepted oversimplification of biochemical reality, aspartame has enjoyed 25 years of marketplace success and is now in an estimated 7,000 to 9,000 commonly-consumed products in at least 100 countries. When Searle was absorbed by Monsanto in 1985, Rumsfeld reportedly received a $12 million bonus.

Not surprisingly, the same adverse reactions seen in lab animals in the 60s and 70s are now being seen in the general population. In his first book on aspartame (1990), Dr. H.J. Roberts stated that in five or 10 years we would have a worldwide plague on our hands if we do not remove aspartame from our food supply. With the printing of "Aspartame Disease: An Ignored Epidemic" (2001), Dr. Roberts declared that the world is, indeed, plagued by a global epidemic of symptoms associated with aspartame use.

* Aspartame is being identified by a growing number of researchers and physicians as an underlying cause of chronic ill health in America and other countries throughout the world.

* It interacts with other substances such as pharmaceutical drugs to produce adverse reactions.

* All metabolites of aspartame (formaldehyde, methanol, diketopiperazine and formic acid) are toxic to the human body and are especially toxic to the brain.

* Aspartame comprises over 80 percent of consumer complaints filed with the FDA.

* The FDA has generated a list of 92 symptoms associated with aspartame consumption that include nausea, dizziness, irritability, insanity, blindness, deafness, weight gain and death.

* The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claim that 500,000 people each year simply "drop dead" for no apparent reason from what it labels "sudden cardiac death."

* Dementia among all ages (especially the elderly) and learning disabilities among children, in the U.S. and abroad, have been skyrocketing since 1981.

As of today, the number of scientific and studies showing that aspartame is, indeed, an underlying cause of chronic physical and mental illness and death out number studies proving its safety by at least 400 to zero. Proof of this fact can also be determined by what happens in many cases when people stop using aspartame: Their chronic symptoms disappear.

The legacy

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Gerald Ford-the highest civilian honor in America-on January 19, 1977. A few months later, Rumsfeld became the CEO of Searle to secure political approval for a product that science had proven to be a highly-addictive neurotoxic drug that causes chronic ill health, brain tumors and death. The evidence indicates that FDA approval for aspartame was a high-level political priority undoubtedly connected to its capacity to adversely effect the minds and bodies of those consuming it.

Because Rumsfeld placed politics above public health and safety, hundreds of millions of people throughout the world cannot think clearly and suffer from a variety of chronic illnesses. It is, therefore, fitting that symptoms associated with aspartame use be known as "Rumsfeld's disease."

Caption: The search of a suitable picture of Donald Rumsfeld turned up this image from Portland Indy Media. Though it may seem satirical, is it? What goes through the mind of a man who knowingly poisons his own people?

End of Article

Note from Betty Martini:

Only yesterday in national news we learned diet and low calorie pop will be left in schools which will poison our children. As an example, Coke Zero has aspartame. Aspartame is a chemical hypersensitization agent because it is a neurotoxic drug/chemical poison. It not only interacts with all drugs but all vaccines and other toxins and unsafe sweeteners like Splenda, a chlorocarbon poison. So our children don't have a chance. Only a few weeks ago an epidemiological study by Sharon Fowler at the University of Texas based on 8 years data links diet drinks with obesity. Aspartame also can precipitate diabetes, simulates and aggravates diabetic retinopathy and neuropathy, destroys the optic nerve and interacts with insulin. In July 0f 2005 a 3 year Italian study was released by the European Foundation for Oncology and Environmental Sciences which revealed it causes leukemia, lymphoma and malignant brain tumors. Their July 14 05 report declares: "The results demonstrate ... that aspartame is a carcinogenic agent." How many mothers knowing this would want their children drinking an addictive carcinogenic agent. Aspartame liberates free methyl alcohol which causes chronic methanol poisoning. This affects the dopamine system of the brain and causes addiction. Now understand why the pop companies want this poison in your schools which causes Rumsfeld Disease.

Neurosurgeon Russell Blaylock, M.D., one of the world's leading authorities on aspartame neurotoxicity, extensively reviewed the Soffritti report. "This study confirmed the previous study by Dr. Trocho and co-workers (l998), which also found the formaldehyde breakdown product of aspartame to be damaging to cellular DNA and that this damage was cumulative. The type of damage was a duplicate of that associated with cancers. These two studies strongly indicate that drinking a single diet cola sweetened with aspartame every day could significantly increase one's risk of developing a lymphoma or leukemia."

Dr. Blaylock said further "This study should terrify mothers and all those consuming aspartame sweetened products. This was a carefully done study which clearly demonstrated a statistically significant increase in several types of lymphomas and leukemias in rats. Both of these malignancies have increased significantly in this country since the widespread use of aspartame."

Only the animals exposed to aspartame developed malignant brain tumors and we are now taking aspartame brain tumor cases for litigation in New York, New Jersey, Madison County, Illinois and Mississippi. Simply contact me at Bettym19@mindspring.com

Dr. Blaylock also said "They found that even lower doses of aspartame could cause these malignancies, yet the higher the dose, the more cancers that were seen. Since aspartame can increase obesity and may even cause the metabolic syndrome that affects 48 million Americans, there is no reason to ever consume this product. At the least, it should be immediately banned from all schools."

Any mother reading this article with children in school should immediately take this to their principal, children's teacher and PTA along with the movie, Sweet Misery, and demand that all products with aspartame (NutraSweet/Equal/Spoonful, E951/Canderel/Benevia, etc.) and especially pop with this poison be removed - period, no if's, no and's and no but's. And Board of Educations should also remove the lobbyists and those who would offer money to keep poisoned pop in schools. How much is the brain of your child worth. Remember this is the cause of the epidemic of ADD, ADHD, autism, Tourettes, and behavioral problems.

For documentation of this read the experts books:

Aspartame Disease: An Ignored Epidemic
H. J. Roberts, M.D.
or 1 800 827 7991

Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills and Health & Nutrition Secrets
By neurosurgeon Russell Blaylock, M.D.

Web sites: http://www.wnho.net and http://www.dorway.com. Aspartame Toxicity Center, http://www.holisticmed.com/aspartame. Aspartame Information List, http://www.wnho.net Get involved. Rumsfeld Disease may become one of the largest plagues in world history. The list of horrors is unending. Thanks to despicable and greedy Big Pharma/Codex, in England supplements from industry now contain aspartame. Diane Fleming still remains in a prison in Virginia because methanol was found on her husband's autopsy and they thought she poisoned him even though she passed their lie detector test. Doctors affidavits state he died from aspartame which causes methanol poisoning. Athletes like Fleming are dying because aspartame damages the cardiac conduction system and causes sudden death, although his was not sudden.

Enough is enough. Eradicate Rumsfeld Disease from our schools and from our planet.

Don Harkins of the Idaho Observer has given permission to have this republished. To help the effort the Idaho Observer - www.idaho-observer.com publishes 24 page booklets for distribution on Rumsfeld Disease called the Artificially Sweetened Times. Distribute them throughout your schools, offices and churches to help eradicate Rumsfeld Disease. And if you think the pop companies didn't know the gum was loaded be sure to read the protest of the National Soft Drink Assn. on www.dorway.com

Dr. Betty Martini, Founder
Mission Possible International
9270 River Club Parkway,
Duluth, Georgia 30097
770 242-2599

Idaho Observer
Spirit Lake, Idaho 83869
Phone 208-255-2307
Email observer@coldreams.com
Web http://idaho-observer.com
(c) 2008 Dr. Betty Martini

Man Is A Cruel Animal
By Chris Hedges

It was Joseph Conrad I thought of when I read an article in The Nation magazine this month about white vigilante groups that rose up out of the chaos of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans to terrorize and murder blacks. It was Conrad I thought of when I saw the ominous statements by authorities, such as International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, warning of potential civil unrest in the United States as we funnel staggering sums of public funds upward to our bankrupt elites and leave our poor and working class destitute, hungry, without health care and locked out of their foreclosed homes. We fool ourselves into believing we are immune to the savagery and chaos of failed states. Take away the rigid social structure, let society continue to break down, and we become, like anyone else, brutes.

Conrad saw enough of the world as a sea captain to know the irredeemable corruption of humanity. The noble virtues that drove characters like Kurtz in "Heart of Darkness" into the jungle veiled abject self-interest, unchecked greed and murder. Conrad was in the Congo in the late 19th century when the Belgian monarch King Leopold, in the name of Western civilization and anti-slavery, was plundering the country. The Belgian occupation resulted in the death by disease, starvation and murder of some 10 million Congolese. Conrad understood what we did to others in the name of civilization and progress. And it is Conrad, as our society unravels internally and plows ahead in the costly, morally repugnant and self-defeating wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, whom we do well to heed.

This theme of our corruptibility is central to Conrad. In his short story "An Outpost of Progress" he writes of two white traders, Carlier and Kayerts, who are sent to a remote trading station in the Congo. The mission is endowed with a great moral purpose-to export European "civilization" to Africa. But the boredom and lack of constraints swiftly turn the two men, like our mercenaries and soldiers and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan, into savages. They trade slaves for ivory. They get into a feud over dwindling food supplies and Kayerts shoots and kills his unarmed companion Carlier.

"They were two perfectly insignificant and incapable individuals," Conrad wrote of Kayerts and Carlier, "whose existence is only rendered possible through high organization of civilized crowds. Few men realize that their life, the very essence of their character, their capabilities and their audacities, are only the expression of their belief in the safety of their surroundings. The courage, the composure, the confidence; the emotions and principles; every great and every insignificant thought belongs not to the individual but to the crowd; to the crowd that believes blindly in the irresistible force of its institutions and its morals, in the power of its police and of its opinion. But the contact with pure unmitigated savagery, with primitive nature and primitive man, brings sudden and profound trouble into the heart. To the sentiment of being alone of one's kind, to the clear perception of the loneliness of one's thoughts, of one's sensations-to the negation of the habitual, which is safe, there is added the affirmation of the unusual, which is dangerous; a suggestion of things vague, uncontrollable, and repulsive, whose discomposing intrusion excites the imagination and tries the civilized nerves of the foolish and the wise alike."

The Managing Director of the Great Civilizing Company-for as Conrad notes "civilization" follows trade-arrives by steamer at the end of the story. He is not met at the dock by his two agents. He climbs the steep bank to the trading station with the captain and engine driver behind him. The director finds Kayerts, who, after the murder, committed suicide by hanging himself by a leather strap from a cross that marked the grave of the previous station chief. Kayerts' toes are a couple of inches above the ground. His arms hang stiffly down "... and, irreverently, he was putting out a swollen tongue at his Managing Director."

Conrad saw cruelty as an integral part of human nature. This cruelty arrives, however, in different forms. Stable, industrialized societies, awash in wealth and privilege, can construct internal systems that mask this cruelty, although it is nakedly displayed in their imperial outposts. We are lulled into the illusion in these zones of safety that human beings can be rational. The "war on terror," the virtuous rhetoric about saving the women in Afghanistan from the Taliban or the Iraqis from tyranny, is another in a series of long and sordid human campaigns of violence carried out in the name of a moral good.

Those who attempt to mend the flaws in the human species through force embrace a perverted idealism. Those who believe that history is a progressive march toward human perfectibility, and that they have the moral right to force this progress on others, no longer know what it is to be human. In the name of the noblest virtues they sink to the depths of criminality and moral depravity. This self-delusion comes to us in many forms. It can be wrapped in the language of Western civilization, democracy, religion, the master race, Liberté, égalité, fraternité, the worker's paradise, the idyllic agrarian society, the new man or scientific rationalism. The jargon is varied. The dark sentiment is the same.

Conrad understood how Western civilization and technology lend themselves to inhuman exploitation. He had seen in the Congo the barbarity and disdain for human life that resulted from a belief in moral advancement. He knew humankind's violent, primeval lusts. He knew how easily we can all slip into states of extreme depravity. __"Man is a cruel animal," he wrote to a friend. "His cruelty must be organized. Society is essentially criminal,-or it wouldn't exist. It is selfishness that saves everything,-absolutely everything, --everything that we abhor, everything that we love."

Conrad rejected all formulas or schemes for the moral improvement of the human condition. Political institutions, he said, "whether contrived by the wisdom of the few or the ignorance of the many, are incapable of securing the happiness of mankind."

He wrote "international fraternity may be an object to strive for ... but that illusion imposes by its size alone. Franchement, what would you think of an attempt to promote fraternity amongst people living in the same street, I don't even mention two neighboring streets." He bluntly told the pacifist Bertrand Russell, who saw humankind's future in the rise of international socialism, that it was "the sort of thing to which I cannot attach any definite meaning. I have never been able to find in any man's book or any man's talk anything convincing enough to stand up for a moment against my deep-seated sense of fatality governing this man-inhabited world."

Russell said of Conrad: "I felt, though I do not know whether he would have accepted such an image, that he thought of civilized and morally tolerable human life as a dangerous walk on a thin crust of barely cooled lava which at any moment might break and let the unwary sink into fiery depths."

Conrad's novel "Heart of Darkness" ripped open the callous heart of civilized Europe. The great institutions of European imperial powers and noble ideals of European enlightenment, as Conrad saw in the Congo, were covers for rapacious greed, exploitation and barbarity. Kurtz is the self-deluded megalomaniac ivory trader in "Heart of Darkness" who ends by planting the shriveled heads of murdered Congolese on pikes outside his remote trading station. But Kurtz is also highly educated and refined. Conrad describes him as an orator, writer, poet, musician and the respected chief agent of the ivory company's Inner Station. He is "an emissary of pity, and science, and progress." Kurtz was a "universal genius" and "a very remarkable person." He is a prodigy, at once gifted and multi-talented. He went to Africa fired by noble ideals and virtues. He ended his life as a self-deluded tyrant who thought he was a god.

"His mother was half-English, his father was half-French," Conrad wrote of Kurtz. "All Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz; and by-the-by I learned that, most appropriately, the International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs had entrusted him with the making of a report, for its future guidance. ... He began with the argument that we whites, from the point of development we had arrived at, 'must necessarily appear to them [savages] in the nature of supernatural beings-we approach them with the might as of a deity,' and so on, and so on. 'By the simple exercise of our will we can exert a power for good practically unbounded,' etc., etc. From that point he soared and took me with him. The peroration was magnificent, though difficult to remember, you know. It gave me the notion of an exotic Immensity ruled by an august Benevolence. It made me tingle with enthusiasm. This was the unbounded power of eloquence-of words-of burning noble words. There were no practical hints to interrupt the magic current of phrases, unless a kind of note at the foot of the last page, scrawled evidently much later, in an unsteady hand, may be regarded as the exposition of a method. It was very simple, and at the end of that moving appeal to every altruistic sentiment it blazed at you, luminous and terrifying, like a flash of lightning in a serene sky: 'Exterminate all the brutes!'"
(c) 2008 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. His latest book is American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.

American Politics 101
By Chris Floyd

1. Justice is for Suckers

Dick Cheney's recent admission on national television that he approved the waterboarding of a Terror War captive is, of course, the most prominent salvo in an on-going campaign to secure presidential pardons for the war criminals of the Bush Regime before the War Criminal-in-Chief leaves office next month. As many others have noted, Cheney's declaration that he -- and by implication, everyone else at the top level of government -- approved a torture technique that is a flagrant violation of United States law is aimed at making it impossible for George W. Bush not to issue pardons for his minions who set up and maintained the literally murderous gulag constructed, with his own full knowledge and approval, during his term in office.

So here's a prediction: at some point shortly before he waddles off the national stage, Bush will issue a weasle-worded blanket pardon for all those involved in his torture and murder program. This will be presented as a measure to protect those "on the front lines of the War on Terror" -- the interrogators of the military and the various security agencies -- from "politically motivated prosecutions." But its true aim will be to absolve those responsible for this Hitlerian-Stalinist war crime: Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Gonzales, Feith, Yoo, and many others, including, of course, the jabbering putz in the Oval Office himself.

This pardon will provoke about as much controversy as Bush's father's pardons of the Iran-Contra criminals just before he left office as a disgraced and despised failure in 1992. Those pardons had the effect of crippling the investigation of a terrorist-enabling scam that was about to implicate Bush himself. This investigation -- and others -- were later killed off completely by Bush I's successor, Bill Clinton, who -- strangely enough -- is now regarded by the elder Bushes as a sort of unofficial son. [See "A Tale of Two Houses: How the Bushes and Clintons Took Us to Hell."]

That is to say, Bush II's upcoming pardon of himself and his accomplices will be a one-day story -- two days at the very most -- before it is buried by feverish folderol about the Obama nomination ... and by Obama himself, who will doubtless issue some sort of statement expressing the need for the nation to "move on" from such matters of ancient history in light of the tough challenges ahead, etc., etc.

And if in the unlikely event that Bush does not issue such pardons, it can only mean one thing: he has already received assurances that the principals behind this evil and shameful system will not be prosecuted.

2. School for Scandal

How can it be that such abominable and flagrant (not to mention counterproductive and ineffective) crimes -- crimes which have provoked the deaths of thousands of Americans -- will not be prosecuted by the United States government? A new biography of one of the CIA's founding fathers and guiding lights, James Jesus Angleton, gives us a clue. A review of the book in Lobster, the always-interesting UK-based journal of "deep politics," provides the following quote. Referring to Angleton's education at Yale and Harvard (George W. Bush's two alma maters), author Michael Holzman notes:

Angleton was educated by men paid to educate men of his class to believe -- and to behave as if by second nature -- that protecting the interests of that class was identical with patriotism.

This also applies to the ambitious proles who work and worm their way into the service of this class, such Dick Cheney, and countless others. As we have said here over and over, the elite (and their sycophants) believe that the maintenance of the elite's own power, wealth and privilege is synonymous with the "national interest." Thus their deep and abiding sincerity when defending, say, the wanton murder of a million innocent human beings in Iraq, or the employment of base and sickening tortures on other human beings held captive in a secret, lawless system.

See? Politics isn't really that complicated after all, is it?
(c) 2008 Chris Floyd

Replication Of Milgram's Shocking Experiments Proves 70 Percent Of People Will Torture Others If Ordered
By Mike Adams

(NaturalNews) The Milgram experiments from the early 1960's are classic (but shocking) studies that demonstrated the "sheeple-ness" of people everywhere. In the experiments -- which have been replicated numerous times across multiple cultures, races and age ranges -- subjects willingly engaged in administering extremely painful electric shocks to other human beings for no reason other than the fact they were ordered to do so by an apparent authority figure.

These studies have long demonstrated the "do what I'm told" mentality of approximately 70 percent of the population. Only 30 percent of the study subjects refused to torture fellow human beings when so ordered.

Now, this famous study has been replicated at Santa Clara University in California. It's important to understand that in none of these studies were humans actually being tortured or given electric shocks, but the study subjects believed they were administering such torture because the apparent recipients of the electric shocks were actors who screamed in pain to coincide with the apparent delivery of the electric shocks.

The true "subjects" of the study were actually the people recruited to administer the electric shocks. But as is common in many psychological experiments, they were told they were simply taking part in the study of the other person (the person being shocked), and they had to administer electric shocks to that person if they answered questions incorrectly. Meanwhile, the study "enforcer" (one of the true researchers running the whole thing) would command the administration of such electric shocks at increasingly painful levels, starting at low voltage and increasing the voltage well beyond 150 volts (which can be lethal).

The real reason why most people are willing to do whatever they're told

What's amazing about these experiments is the astonishing willingness of people to deliver shocks above 150 volts to victims who are writhing in pain, screaming and begging for them to stop. Using nothing more than the application of verbal authority, these study subjects continued to torture and apparently cause great pain and suffering to another human being.

For many years, psychologists speculated the original studies must have somehow been flawed. Humans beings couldn't be so cruel and gullible, could they? But now this repeating of the study immediately clobbers any debate on the subject and forces us all to confront the terrible reality: Most human beings of all ages, races, religions, cultural upbringings and professions will actively torture, harm and even kill fellow human beings if ordered to do so.

Why is this important to understand? Because it explains the sheeple effect that's so dominant in society today. Why do consumers obey apparent authorities so blindly? Why do they do what they're told even when it goes against all common sense and their own ethics?

You might hear many scientists offer a conventional explanation for this phenomenon, where they're talking about the power and leverage of authority symbols (such as the study researcher wearing a white lab coat) or the transmission of implied authority through voice commands and body language, but I have a different explanation for what we're seeing here.

My explanation is far simpler: Modern society trains human beings to be mind slaves, not independent thinkers.

You were raised to be a mind slave

Think about it: From the very first day you go to kindergarten, you're punished for getting out of line (literally), talking out of place, expressing your own ideas or refusing to follow commands. This psychological brow-beating goes on for thirteen years, and it's enforced by most parents, counselors and other authority figures.

In fact, the primary point of school is not to teach children things that are really true (American history, for example, is a laughable collection of outrageous lies and distortions), but rather to create an obedient mind slave that can function in society. By the time the average child graduates from high school, they may not know how to read or write, but they sure know how to do what they're told.

For many, this continues through college and graduate school. Medical schools, for example, are advanced brainwashing institutions where independent thinkers are rejected from the system long before they can practice medicine.

Only the arts or the theoretical sciences encourage free thinking, and that's why you'll find the most free-minded people in areas like theoretical physics, fine arts, dance, music, poetry and so on. (There are exceptions in every area, of course. I'm just talking about general trends.)

The delusional behavior surrounding holidays

The cultural madness surrounding is a perfect example of brainwashing en masse. On command, people all across America will obey their commercial masters and go Christmas shopping. They'll put up Christmas lights and props and trees. And a few days later, they'll take them all down again. Ten months later, the same yards that used to host symbols of Jesus, angels and religious symbols will be replaced with images of bloody skeletons, vampires, decapitated human bodies and supernatural spirits.

Apparently nobody thinks this is strange other than myself and a few other free thinkers. I watch may neighbors with amazement as they cart off the bloody vampire props, store them away in their garages, and light up their yards with angels and Biblical scenes. These people have no idea they are totally brainwashed into following a system of commercial exploitation called "holidays."

You name the holiday, and there's a whole different system of commercially-motivated brainwashing behind it: Easter, Valentine's day, Fourth of July, New Year's Day, etc. On each holiday, the people obediently buy what they're told, drink what they're told, put up the props in their yards that they're told, and even run around knocking on doors begging for candy because that's what they're told to do.

It's utterly amazing to observe. I'm not saying we can't celebrate the Christmas holiday for what it really stands for, or spend quality time with family, or bless each other in whatever religious tradition we hold true. Those are all legitimate times of gathering, or celebration, or giving thanks. What I'm talking about is the commercial massploitation of the sheeple and how willingly people go along with the whole thing of spending money and decorating their yards with the appropriate symbols that merely serve as signs that demand other people get in line and follow suit.

I seriously considered putting up Halloween decorations this Christmas, because my neighbors erected a carnival of flashing lights and motorized reindeer so obnoxious that, in my mind, it was just begging to be contrasted with a scene of decapitated human bodies and bloody zombies taken from somebody's stored Halloween props. But I couldn't bring myself to actually BUY any of that stuff, and I figured the whole message would be wasted on the mindless neighbors anyway. But I reserve the right to try this next year! In fact, I'd love to see somebody do this and post a video of it on YouTube.

Seriously, folks: Why is it okay to have symbols of dead bodies and supernatural spirits in your yard on October 31st but not December 31st? Free thinkers don't have to follow the commercial calendar, didn't you know? We can put holiday props in our yards whenever we want, and they don't have to match YOUR holiday expectations.

Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer. Had a very shiny... decapitated head? I'll bet 99% of the people on the 'net don't even know where Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer came from. He was invented by the Macy's department store as a clever story designed to sell more stuff! Every time we sing that song, it's like singing a commercial. Let's all go Christmas caroling and sing TV commercial jingles, shall we?

Truly, holiday behavior reveals the best examples of insanity in modern society. And it's all happening right in front of your (shiny?) nose, oblivious to the common man (and woman).

Are you a free thinker, or an "obedient worker?"

The Milgram experiments merely prove that America's brainwashing education system is very, very good at producing what George Carlin called obedient workers. These obedient workers do what they're told, pay their taxes and will even follow orders that make no sense -- like Bush and Obama urging people to go out and spend more money in order to "help the economy."

It's senseless advice for a nation where the savings rate is already zero, but the 70 percent who are obedient workers also turn out to be obedient spenders and consumers.

Needless to say, NaturalNews is only read by the 30 percent who would walk out of the Milgram experiment. We are the independent, free-minded thinkers who evaluate each situation on its own merits, paying no special attention to the mad ramblings of apparent authority figures. In fact, the typical NaturalNews reader would blatantly refuse to administer electric shocks to another human being in any experiment. Unless, of course, the recipients of those electric shocks happened to be drug company CEOs, but that's a different experiment altogether. (That's also a joke. I don't condone the use of violence against fellow human beings; even criminals.)

The upshot of all this is one, important realization: About 70 percent of the people around you are dangerously obedient to even the most insane directives given by apparent authority figures. And if properly motivated, they would even torture YOU as long as they were told to do so.

To invoke the philosophy of The Matrix, about 70 percent of the people are still plugged in to the system, and until their minds are freed, they are potentially a danger to the 30 percent who can actually think for themselves. A good rule of thumb is to never be caught with too many 70-percenters around you. Hang with the 30-percenters.

Most people greatly overestimate their mental independence

There's another fascinating element to all this: Virtually everyone thinks they would never administer the electric shocks if they took part in the Milgram experiments. But when faced with the aggressive verbal demands of the researcher, they give in and punch the shock button anyway.

Just like most authority figures in modern society, the study researchers use clever psychological tactics to try to convince people they have to push the button. They'll claim that if they don't cooperate, the study will be ruined, or thousands of dollars will be lost, or the apparent "patient" will be somehow harmed by not receiving the proper correction stimulus. The researchers use every verbal tactic they can think of.

It's a lot like President Bush standing at a podium and talking about yellow cake uranium, or issuing a "terr" threat, or using all kinds of verbal scare tactics that are completely fictitious. The point is not to inform you but rather to alter your behavior so you do what they want. Not coincidentally, about 70 percent of the American people were also strongly in favor of the War on Iraq following the 9/11 attacks.

I can't wait to read the haters and flamers post negative comments to this story, because what they're actually doing is demonstrating the depth of the brainwashing they have embraced as 70-percenters. People who are brainwashed into obeying orders will aggressively defend the very system that brainwashed them. Any person threatening to think for themselves gets slammed, criticized or verbally abused in much the same way that the Milgram experimenters verbally abused the study subjects to cajole them into obeying.

Authority is all in your head

The relevant point in all this is to realize that the whole scheme of authority in the modern world is artificially constructed. Authority exists only in your mind, not in the real world. For example, when people drive on the roads, they're afraid to cross the yellow lines (or white lines). Why? Because in their minds, the lines represent borders that cannot be crossed due to the fear of being reprimanded by authority. This is true even when crossing the lines makes sense!

You see this behavior all the time in modern society. At Costco, people just wait at the exit for some lame worker to check their receipt and mark it with a pen. People actually line up like cattle even after they paid for their stuff! I just walk out the door with the stuff I paid for, utterly ignoring the silly "receipt checkers" who keep screaming "Sir! Sir! Sir!" What I've learned is that after three or four screams, they just shut up and go back to the line of sheeple. Just slap on a pair of headphones, crank up your iPod and walk right out of the store, folks. Why are you giving up your Constitutional rights and submitting yourself to illegal search and seizure for a cart full of stuff you just paid for? (Moooooo!)

Same thing at Wal-Mart. If your bags set off the security device, don't be an idiot and actually stop and let them search your bags like you're some kind of criminal! And yet more than 90% of the people will do exactly that! (More Moooooo!)

Just keep walking. You didn't steal your stuff, did you? Then what are you stopping for? The fact that the security alert sounds off is Wal-Mart's problem, not your problem. You have nothing to do with their security glitches. Just pretend you're deaf and couldn't hear the thing anyway. If they accost you, use lots of sign language that emphasizes the use of the middle finger.

Behavioral psychologist Pavlov proved that he could make a dog drool by ringing a bell. Wal-Mart has proven that you can make a human being stop and turn around by sounding a similar bell at the exit door. Amazing!

You'll also find that most people tend to walk on the official pathways when they enter or leave buildings. They don't take the shortest path; they take the "official" path, which may be much longer.

And don't get me started talking about television commercials. There's a great example of highly-effective brainwashing that nobody even seems to notice. People who watch TV will swear up and down that the commercials don't affect them at all, and then they'll go to the store and buy exactly the same brand names advertised to them on television.

It's downright hilarious.

It's not hilarious that they're brainwashed. That's just sad. What's hilarious is that people have been brainwashed into thinking they're NOT brainwashed even while they are! "The terrorists hate freedom," we're told, which implies that we're all free. Oh really? Then why do all my neighbors do exactly the same thing on every holiday? Why are they as predictable as a line of puppets strung up to the same control device?

The Milgram experiments simply prove that the vast majority of people are really sheeple who will do what they're told, even with zero awareness of being influenced.

So if you're a true free thinker, consider yourself fortunate: You're already in the top 30 percent of all the people in the country.

By the way, standard IQ tests don't take into account anything resembling real-world intelligent that would involve thinking for yourself. A person can have an IQ of 170 and still be a total robot zombie that does exactly what they're told by anyone with sufficient authority status.

I'd rather hang with a high school dropout who has some real-world street smarts than an over-educated yes man who's little more than a puppet for the mind controllers.

People live their entire lives in a state of perpetual hypnosis

By the way, as a side note, every time we run a story on NaturalNews about hypnosis, we get a few pieces of hate mail from people who claim hypnosis is evil and based on some sort of occult witchcraft.

What they don't realize is that the very beliefs they are demonstrating in their emails to us are perfect examples of hypnosis! (The belief that "hypnosis is evil," for example, is a hypnotically-induced belief usually programmed into somebody by an authority figure in a competing belief system that sees hypnosis as a threat to their own authority.)

Most people walk through their whole lives hypnotized and rarely, if ever, snap out of it long enough to think for themselves. The Milgram experiments demonstrate a very effective form of command hypnosis, by the way, which has been proven again and again to work on 70 percent of the population.

Most people are running around hypnotized most of the time. And some of them are medicated at the same time, which makes for a rather psychotic combination: Medicated and hypnotized!

Needless to say (but I'm gonna say it anyway), typically the most easily hypnotized people end up finding career paths in law enforcement, the military or government jobs where following orders is readily accepted. Again, there are exceptions to this (in fact, we've got some awesome NaturalNews readers in the military stationed in Iraq right now), but generally speaking, the easily-brainwashed seek professions that are compatible with doing what you're told while disengaging your brain.

I don't know why people tend to get so uptight about this topic, by the way. I'm just telling you the way it is, and I'm not sugar-coating it. The majority of the people are actually sheeple in disguise. And that means the majority of the U.S. voters are, in fact, the very same people who would be willing to torture a fellow human being if ordered to do so!

Now you know why watching politicians seems to hurt so much.

By the way, I've authored a book that teaches you how to stop being a commercially-exploited mind slave and protect your mind from the seduction of consumerism. It's called Spam Filters for Your Brain and you can get it here.

If you value the freedom of your own mind, you'll love this book. It's strictly for the 30-percenters who can think for themselves.
(c) 2008 Mike Adams is the editor of Natural News

We Are What We Drive; Really?
By Mike Folkerth

Good Morning to the working Middle Class of the world, your King of Simple News is on the air.

As the auto industry continues to make headlines, there are a few thoughts that I just I can't let go of. One nagging detail is the very real fact that automobiles are a poor value. They have been a poor value for years. Americans happily lose $BILLIONS per year in losses that are directly linked to auto ownership.

How many times have you heard someone say, "You lose $5,000 when you drive off the lot." And then that same person goes down and drives off the lot!

While many items depreciate, auto's and boats are standouts. I flew for many years and over that course of time, I owned several airplanes. Not once did I lose a dime.

As an auctioneer, I have sold 20 and 30 year old common farm tractors for more than they cost new. Try selling a 1988 Chevy Impala or Ford Van and see what you are offered.

It's a mind set ya know. The tractor is used for work and if it gets the work done, who cares what it looks like? Now let someone drive up in an older car and we immediately think...uh-oh, some unfortunate unsuccessful bum just arrived.

Years ago, I had an issue with a work truck that I had purchased from a dealer. The truck had obvious mechanical issues that the dealer was aware of, but failed to disclose. Upon approaching him about a fix, he basically told me to go fly a kite. I was so cash stressed at the time, that I couldn't afford a kite.

I did however have friend who was a very successful real estate broker, was educated in an eastern university and who drove a new black Lincoln Towncar. My friend agreed to pose as my lawyer.

Parking the Lincoln in front of the door and exiting in plain sight complete with leather briefcase and a high end suit, my friend walked in and said, "I'm J. Wesley Smithson, attorney for my friend Mr. Folkerth." I simply grinned and nodded in the affirmative.

My friend spelled out quite eloquently, the cost and anguish that was about to be bestowed upon the dealer and we suddenly came to an agreement. Not a happy agreement, but an agreement all the same.

The car, the clothes, and the expensive leather briefcase sealed the deal. And, I suppose my friend's arrogant attitude didn't hurt anything. The point is that we are conditioned to believe that we are what we wear and drive. And more importantly, we are willing to pay dearly for that visual impression.

The second thing that I can't shake from the auto mess is the cost of repair. Not so many years ago, a starter for the average auto cost maybe $50.00. Today, installed, that starter can cost $500.00.

There was also a shop in every town that repaired starters and alternators. The last one in our area closed the doors about three years back.

The examples of poor engineering are endless. The heater core in your car or truck is a miniature radiator that circulates hot water and a fan blows air through the core and provides heat to the interior. The cost of replacing a heater core in Ford pickup is somewhere in the neighborhood of $700. The core costs maybe $60, the labor is the remainder.

So why the high labor? To access the heater core, it's best to remove the front seat, you must drop the steering column, pull out the entire dash, and then access the 7"X7.5" core. Dodge and Chevy aren't much better.

Back in the day, a small panel that covered the heater core was removed from under the hood and in about 30 minutes, the entire job was complete.

The auto industry has dug their own grave and we have assisted them by willingly paying the price of "lookin' good." That parties over.
(c) 2008 Mike Folkerth is not your run-of-the-mill author of economics. Nor does he write in boring lecture style. Not even close. The former real estate broker, developer, private real estate fund manager, auctioneer, Alaskan bush pilot, restaurateur, U.S. Navy veteran, heavy equipment operator, taxi cab driver, fishing guide, horse packer...(I won't go on, it's embarrassing) writes from experience and plain common sense. He is the author of "The Biggest Lie Ever Believed."

The Quotable Quote...

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

Why The Auto Bailout's A Dead End _
Detroit's primary moneymaking vehicle has been selling credit, not cars. The Big Three may have finally run out of road.
By Stephanie Mencimer

If the federal government bails out the Big Three, who's going to buy their cars? Like those homeowners around the country who have found they owe more money than their homes are worth, millions of Americans are similarly underwater on their car loans. That debt burden will make it virtually impossible for millions of potential consumers to buy a car for years to come. This factor will severely blunt any good that a cash infusion might do for Detroit. For this, the auto industry has no one to blame but itself.

According to industry analyst Art Spinella, president of CNW Research, fully 85 percent of Americans with a car loan have negative equity. Other studies show that these loan holders, on average, owe $4,400 more than their cars are worth. Millions of Americans didn't get upside down on their car loans without a lot of help. Enter the great scourge of the American consumer market: the car dealer. Car dealers have been out in force in recent days lobbying Congress and holding rallies at dealerships around the country to generate support for the rescue plan. As a result, there's been a fair amount of sepia-toned media coverage about the desperate plight of the poor, local car dealer, that pillar of the community who supplies softball teams with T-shirts. And it's true. These folks are now threatened right along with the Detroit assembly-line workers. The National Association of Auto Dealers predicts that 900 dealerships will fail over the next year.

Lost in all the news coverage is the fact that many car dealers played a central role in creating the current mess. As franchisees of the manufacturers, car dealers don't make much money actually selling cars. The markups are pretty slim, and in recent years, Detroit has squeezed their dealerships for more and more profits. In the old days, car dealers would come up with creative ways to compensate for the small margins, such as rolling back odometers to sell cars for more than they were worth. But after Congress cracked down on the practice, dealers (and manufacturers, too) found a better way to pump up their bottom lines: selling financing.

Back in 2003, Forbes magazine observed that GM was better described as a bank that happens to make cars than as an automaker. At the time, as much as 90 percent of the company's profits came from its lending arm (which also had a mortgage branch), not from car sales. For the past decade, much of Detroit's output has been little more than a vehicle for selling credit, and the dealers have done the dirty work for them the way local mortgage brokers generated large volumes of questionable loans for big banks and finance firms.

Here's how it works: When a customer comes into a dealership to buy a car, he already knows how much the car should cost (thanks to the Internet), but he usually relies on the dealership to arrange the financing, often because they advertise lower rates than banks. That's when the scam starts. Many car dealers routinely load up car loans with all sorts of expensive but useless add-ons. These include such things as "theft etch," when a dealer will spend $37 to etch the VIN number of the car onto the windshield, tout it as an "antitheft measure," and charge the customer upward of $2,000 for it. Unbeknownst to most car buyers, dealers also routinely-and legally-bump up the interest rate offered by the bank or finance company in exchange for kickbacks from the lenders, which are often the manufacturers themselves. And in many cases, dealers encourage customers to trade in a car that isn't worth the amount of their current loan by offering to roll the old loan into the new one, thus inflating the principal and making the loan more lucrative for the lender. That's how people can end up owing $40,000 on a Ford Focus. This only works because auto lenders now stretch out the terms to six or seven years to make the payments affordable, a practice that virtually ensures that many cars won't last as long as the loan. (In the 1980s, by contrast, Spinella says the average car loan lasted only three years and required a 20 percent down payment, which limited the kind of negative equity problem seen today.)

These are not aberrant practices. They are endemic to the industry. Earlier this month, the FBI raided two California dealerships accused of defrauding a local credit union by falsifying loan documents. And in September, Bill Heard, the country's biggest Chevy dealership group, a $2.1 billion operation with dozens of outlets all across the South, shut down after GMAC cut off its financing stream. The state of Georgia had sued the company, alleging that Heard dealerships had lied to lenders about their customers' income on loan applications, forged signatures on loan agreements, and packed car loans with all the usual junk. The state's consumer affairs office had been investigating the company since 2003, and had sued it before over deceptive advertising practices. Consumer watchdogs suspect that Heard's legal trouble lies at the root of GMAC's decision to stop funding the dealerships.

Loan fraud is so widespread in the auto industry that even dealerships owned by a US congressman have been accused of engaging in it. Before coming to Congress, Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) was one of the biggest car dealers in his state. (He has recently started selling off some of his dealerships.) This summer, he was hit with multiple lawsuits filed by former employees alleging that his dealerships routinely engaged in auto fraud, including submitting fraudulent loan applications to lenders.

The driving force behind all of these loan shenanigans is Wall Street. The automakers' finance arms (and banks, too) have made a fortune by packaging the inflated loans made by their dealerships and selling them as securities. It's the same scheme that ultimately brought down the subprime mortgage industry. And just like the mortgage lenders, the automakers and their finance arms must have been well aware that the loans generated by their own dealers were frequently bad ones. That's because consumer lawyers have been successfully suing them over this for years.

Tom Domonoske is a lawyer in Virginia who specializes in auto fraud cases. He says he's had dozens of cases where car dealers have created fictitious tax returns, pay stubs, and other paperwork to push through loans for people who couldn't afford them. But he says that even though the lender is frequently sued in these cases along with the car dealer, he's never once seen an automaker's lending arm cut off a dealership's financing after discovering fraud. "They want dealers to keep moving their products," he says. Rather than clean up the dealerships, the automakers simply started putting mandatory arbitration clauses in the loan documents so that customers who ended up getting screwed couldn't sue.

Until now, the negative impact of car dealers' sleazy credit practices mostly affected consumers. Meanwhile, it prevented GM and Chrysler from having to scale back production. The offers of longer loan terms and easy credit lured in customers who either had no business buying a car or couldn't truly afford the cars sold to them. "They essentially postponed a reckoning," says Joan Claybrook, the president of the nonprofit consumer group Public Citizen. Detroit automakers were warned years ago that these practices would come back to haunt them.

In 2004, major auto analysts noted that the lengthening loan terms and the increasing number of potential car buyers who were upside down on loans would lead to no good end for the auto industry, and GM in particular. Deutsche Bank analyst Rod Lache was prescient when he told Automotive News that the negative equity problem would only get worse if the automakers didn't address it. Observing that the average amount of money owed by someone trading in a car with negative equity had jumped from $2,900 to $4,000 in just a five-month period, he wrote, "The impact on US demand, price and mix from this phenomenon could be devastating, particularly if the impact is compounded by rising rates."

That's exactly what is happening now, a problem exacerbated by the credit crunch that won't be solved by simply giving the automakers taxpayer money. "Ultimately, no matter how much money Congress throws at the automakers, it's car buyers who will rescue them or not," says Rosemary Shahan, head of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety. Just as environmentalists have seen the bailout as an opportunity to change the way American companies make cars, it also offers a unique chance to change the way they sell cars. Shahan and other consumer groups have come up with a short list of things that Congress might do in this regard.

For instance, Congress could cap the amount that car dealers can increase interest rates on auto loans, as California has done. This would be a major step in limiting the growth of negative equity. Lawmakers could also create a restitution fund to help car buyers affected by dealership bankruptcy. This problem is growing as more dealerships go out of business and fail to pay off the original loans of customers who traded in old cars and purchased new ones.

Congress could also roll back a provision auto lenders won in the 2005 bankruptcy reform bill requiring individuals who file bankruptcy to repay the entirety of a car loan, even if they owed substantially more than their car was worth. Previously, someone in bankruptcy would only be required to pay back the loan up to the actual value of the car. Returning to the old system would allow more people to get out from under their debt-some of which was created through dealer fraud-and allow them to eventually rejoin the car market.

Unfortunately, none of these measures is even on the table, says Shahan, who was recently in Washington trying to inject the consumer angle into the bailout debate. Failing to provide meaningful relief to homeowners facing foreclosure has turned the banking bailout into something of a flop. Laura MacCleery, a lawyer who spent many years working on auto issues at Public Citizen before going to work for the Brennan Center for Justice, says she's amazed that Congress hasn't learned anything from the mortgage mess. "Are they going to make the same mistake twice?"she asks. The auto industry may be hoping the answer is "yes."
(c) 2008 Stephanie Mencimer is a reporter in Mother Jones' Washington, DC, bureau and the author of Blocking the Courthouse Door: How the Republican Party and Its Corporate Allies Are Taking Away Your Right to Sue (Free Press, 2006).

Obama's Weasel Words
On Iraq, Antiwar Candidate Delivers More Carnage
By Ted Rall

Obama won the Democratic nomination and the presidency by speaking out against the Iraq War. Now that he's packing for Washington, however, the old Chicago lawyer is using Harvard Law weasel words to make sure the war goes on for years.

Germans are organized. The French are snotty. Americans have a national character trait, too: inattention. It's now obvious that Obama exploited our hard-wired inability to read between the lines to lay the groundwork for what many of his supporters will soon view as a terrible betrayal.

Right there, in a July 14th op/ed, is Obama's triumph of plausible deniability: "The differences on Iraq in this campaign are deep," he wrote in The New York Times. "Unlike Senator John McCain, I opposed the war in Iraq before it began, and would end it as president."

Seems clear. End means end. Finito. No more. But there's an interesting phrase in Obama's promises to pull out, repeated throughout the campaign: "combat troops." "We should seize this moment to begin the phased redeployment of combat troops that I have long advocated," he wrote in his op/ed. "We can safely redeploy our combat brigades."

"It's time to end this war," Obama concluded. Ending the war would mean following the political cartoonist Matt Bors' prescription: The troops would go to the airport. They would board planes. They would fly away.

But Obama doesn't want to end the war.

Obama will classify some units as "combat troops" and send them to Afghanistan, which he wants to expand into an even bigger war. But tens of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of troops, will remain in Iraq, killing and getting killed.

"Even though the [U.S.] agreement with the Iraq government calls for all American combat troops to be out of the cities by the end of June [2009]," reported the Times on December 22nd, military planners are "now quietly acknowledging that many will stay behind as renamed 'trainers' and 'advisers' in what are effectively combat roles. In other words, they will still be engaged in combat, just called something else."

Obama isn't just recycling Clinton's staff. He's also into his aphorisms: It depends on what the meaning of "combat troop" is.

How many non-combat combat troops will still be shooting and bombing Iraqis after 2011? "My guess is that you're looking at perhaps several tens of thousands of American troops," says Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a Bush appointee who has been asked by Obama to stay on-presumably because he approves of the superb job the Bush Administration has done in Iraq. Obama's military advisors, reports The Los Angeles Times, "have said that residual force could consist of as many as 50,000 troops."

When Americans hear about military advisers helping to train foreign forces, they think of JFK, who sent a skeleton crew of 1,400 advisers to South Vietnam in 1961. (Let's not dwell on how that turned out.)

50,000 troops-this being the Pentagon, you know it'll be more-is a full-scale war. Indeed, when President George H.W. Bush invaded Panama and overthrew its government in 1989, he used 57,000 troops.

Of course, we should have seen this coming. Obama talked and talked and talked about his opposition to the Iraq War. He's good at that. But whenever he had a chance to put his vote where his mouth was, he chumped out. Time after time, he voted for Bush's requests to send billions of taxpayer dollars to Halliburton and other war profiteers. He never voted no.

"I have been very clear even as a candidate that, once we were in, that we were going to have some responsibility to make it work as best we could, and more importantly that our troops had the best resources they needed to get home safely," Obama said during the campaign. "So I don't think there is any contradiction there." But the money isn't provided to get our troops home safely. It's to keep them in Iraq, fighting and killing and being killed. As Obama well knew.

With Detroit automakers and three million jobs teetering on the brink of disaster for lack of a $25 billion bailout, you'd think Obama would want to end a war that wastes that much in 12 weeks. Yet, even in a depression, Barack Obama is no less devoted to the pit of blood and treasure that is Iraq than George W. Bush.

Forget preemptive war. How about preemptive impeachment?
(c) 2008 Ted Rall is the author of the new book "Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?" an in-depth prose and graphic novel analysis of America's next big foreign policy challenge.)

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Bush,

Dear Vice Fuhrer Cheney,

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, daring anyone to do anything against our various acts of treason, sedition, war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture, and for empting the treasury of trillions of dollars, Iraq and these many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Junta Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Bush at a gala celebration at "der Wolf's Lair," formally "Rancho de Bimbo," on 01-17-2009. We salute you Herr Cheney, Sieg Heil!

Signed by the office of,
Vice Fuhrer Cheney

Heil Bush

Cheney Says Top Congressional Democrats Complicit In Spying
By Glenn Greenwald

Dick Cheney's interview yesterday with Fox's Chris Wallace was filled with significant claims, but certainly among the most significant was his detailed narration of how the administration, and Cheney personally, told numerous Democratic Congressional leaders -- repeatedly and in detail -- about the NSA warrantless eavesdropping program. And, according to Cheney, every one of those Democrats -- every last one -- not only urged its continuation, but insisted that it be kept secret:

WALLACE: Let's drill down into some of the specific measures that you pushed - first of all, the warrantless surveillance on a massive scale, without telling the appropriate court, without seeking legislation from Congress.

Why not, in the aftermath of 9/11 and the spirit of national unity, get approval, support, bring in the other branches of government?

CHENEY: Well, let me tell you a story about the terror surveillance program. We did brief the Congress. And we brought in...

WALLACE: Well, you briefed a few members.

CHENEY: We brought in the chairman and the ranking member, House and Senate, and briefed them a number of times up until - this was - be from late '01 up until '04 when there was additional controversy concerning the program.

At that point, we brought in what I describe as the big nine - not only the intel people but also the speaker, the majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate, and brought them into the situation room in the basement of the White House.

I presided over the meeting. We briefed them on the program, and what we'd achieved, and how it worked, and asked them, "Should we continue the program?" They were unanimous, Republican and Democrat alike. All agreed - absolutely essential to continue the program.

I then said, "Do we need to come to the Congress and get additional legislative authorization to continue what we're doing?" They said, "Absolutely not. Don't do it, because it will reveal to the enemy how it is we're reading their mail."

That happened. We did consult. We did keep them involved. We ultimately ended up having to go to the Congress after the New York Times decided they were going to make the judge to review all of - or make all of this available, obviously, when they reacted to a specific leak.

But it was a program that we briefed on repeatedly. We did these briefings in my office. I presided over them. We went to the key people in the House and Senate intel committees and ultimately the entirely leadership and sought their advice and counsel, and they agreed we should not come back to the Congress.

Cheney's reference to the "additional controversy concerning the program" that arose after 2004 and that led to additional Congressional briefings is ambiguous and creates a somewhat unclear time line: is he referring to late 2004, when the White House learned that The New York Times knew about the NSA program and was considering writing about it (only to then obey the President's orders to keep it a secret), or is he referring to the time when, more than a full year later, in December 2005, the NYT finally got around to writing about it, once Bush was safely re-elected?

Either way, Cheney's general claim is as clear as it is incriminating. According to him, key Congressional Democrats were told about the illegal NSA spying program in detail, and they not only actively approved of it, but far beyond that, they insisted that no Congressional authorization should even be sought, based on what was always the patently inane claim that to discuss the fact that the administration was eavesdropping on our conversations without warrants (rather than with warrants, as the law required) would be to reveal our secrets -- "our playbook" -- to Al Qaeda.

It is certainly true that Dick Cheney is not exactly the most scrupulously honest public servant around. In fact, he's almost certainly the opposite. Still, what he said yesterday was merely an expanded and more detailed version of what has previously been publicly reported and, to some degree, confirmed about the knowledge and support of Democratic leaders for the NSA program. Cheney's claims encompasses the following key Democrats:

Nancy Pelosi (Ranking Member, House Intelligence Committee, House Minority Leader);

Jane Harman (Ranking Member, House Intelligence Committee);

Jay Rockefeller (Ranking Member, Senate Intelligence Committee);

Harry Reid (Senate Minority Leader).

Unsurprisingly, Pelosi, Harman and Rockefeller all voted last July to legalize warrantless eavesdropping and to immunize telecoms from liability, thereby ensuring an end to the ongoing investigations into these programs. And though he ultimately cast a meaningless vote against final passage, it was Reid's decisions as Majority Leader which played an instrumental role in ensuring passage of that bill.

One would think that these Democratic leaders would, on their own, want to respond to Cheney's claims about them and deny the truth of those claims. After all, Cheney's statement is nothing less than an accusation that they not only enthusiastically approved, but actively insisted upon the continuation and ongoing secrecy, of a blatantly illegal domestic spying program (one that several of them would, once it was made public, pretend to protest). As Armando says, "The Democratic members who participated in this meeting have two choices in my mind - refute Cheney's statements or admit their complicity in the illegal activity perpetrated by the Bush Administration."

I'm going to spend the day calling these members and trying to get some response to Cheney's claim. If I'm unable to obtain any responses, I'll post their numbers and encourage everyone to make similar calls. As I wrote on Saturday -- and documented before: "As a practical reality, the largest barrier to any route to prosecution -- including this one -- is that the Congressional Democratic leadership was complicit, to varying degrees, in the illegal programs." That's true not only of the NSA program, but also the Bush/Cheney torture program.

One last point: there is much consternation over Dick Cheney's "Nixon/Frost moment" yesterday, where he expressly endorsed the idea that, as a "general proposition," a "wartime" President can do anything he wants -- even if it violates duly enacted statutes -- as long as it's justified in the name of national security. In one sense, Cheney was being so explicit yesterday about his belief in Bush's lawbreaking powers in part because he's taking pride in being so defiant on his way out the door -- daring a meek and impotent political class to do anything about his lawlessness -- and also because Chris Wallace conducted one of the best interviews (and, revealingly, one of the only interviews) about the Bush/Cheney view of executive power.

But that this was the Bush administration's central operating principle is something that -- as was true for Cheney's involvement in America's torture regime -- was long known. As I wrote all the way back in December, 2005, days after the NSA scandal was first revealed:

These are not academic questions. Quite the contrary, it is hard to imagine questions more pressing. We are at a moment in time when not just fringe ideologues, but core, mainstream supporters of the President -- not to mention senior officials in the Administration itself - are openly embracing the theory that the President can use the power and military force of the United States to do whatever he wants, including to and against U.S. citizens, as long as he claims that it is connected to America's "war" against terrorists - a war which is undeclared, ever-expanding, and without any visible or definable end.

While Bush advocates have long been toying with this theory in the shadows, the disclosure that Bush ordered warrantless eavesdropping on American citizens in undeniable violation of a Congressional statute has finally forced them to articulate their lawless power theories out in the open. Bush got caught red-handed violating the law, and once it became apparent that no argument could be made that he complied with the law, the only way to defend him was to come right out and say that he has the right to break the law. So that debate -- over the claimed limitlessness of George Bush's power -- can't be put off any longer.

By itself, the long-disclosed September 25, 2001 Yoo Memorandum left no doubt that our Government had formally and explicitly adopted an ideology of lawlessness. As a country, we just chose to ignore all of that, chose to do nothing about it. The absues and extremism of the last eight years began as a Bush administration initiative, but it culminated as something for which both political parties, our leading political and media institutions, and our citizenry generally bear collective responsibility.

* * * * *

On a somewhat related note, this creepy little post inserted onto Matt Yglesias' Center for American Progress blog by Jennifer Palmieri, the CEO of CAP's "Action Fund", is a vivid exhibit illustrating how Washington works, for reasons which Matt Stoller, Markos Moulitsas, and Brendan Nyhan all describe. Matt very well may not consider it to constitute interference with his editorial autonomy, but it nonetheless illustrates the potential constraints that can come from writing for an organization like that.

When I first joined Salon, the commitment they made, which for me was non-negotiatiable, was absolute editorial independence. Though that's an unusual commitment for a magazine to make, they did make it, and they never once -- in almost two years of my being here -- even came close to violating it. Even as I've waged quite acrimonious mini-wars with friends and former colleagues of top editors and officers here, and even as I've aggressively advocated views that were, at times, the opposite of the ones top editors here were advocating, there's never been a hint of interference or even pressure, and I couldn't even fathom their doing anything like sticking a note onto my blog of the type Palmieri just inserted onto Matt's blog.

Editorial independence is quite rare and quite valuable. It's still one of the key distinguishing features between blogs/alternative media outlets and establishment media. As Atrios suggests: "contemplate the issue of editorial independence, and the various revenue models which make it possible or not." It's worth supporting the bloggers who practice it and the media venues that allow and encourage it.

UPDATE: As I said, Cheney's time line is unclear, and it's possible, when he references an "additional controversy," he's referring to the DOJ's objections to the NSA program in March, 2004 -- not anything having to do with the New York Times. That would mean the detailed, expanded briefings he's describing would have included then-Minority Leader Tom Daschle, but not Harry Reid (who only became Minority Leader in 2005, once Daschle lost). If Cheney is describing 2005 briefings, they would have included Reid. That's all the more reason why responses from leading Democrats here is required.

That key Democrats were briefed on the NSA program is anything but new. USA Today reported in 2006 that Democratic leaders including Pelosi were repeatedly briefed on the program. There is some marginal dispute about what they were and weren't told, but no dispute about the existence of the briefings and the complete lack of any real efforts by Democrats to stop it or even object.
(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.

A New Wind Blowing
By Mary Pitt

The whole country is agog with the news of the Madoff Ponzi scheme and the billions he scammed from big investors, but nobody appears to realize that it is only the tip of a huge iceberg. There are other so-called legitimate institutions afloat in the private sector that are profiting from similar scams with the heartfelt approval of the raging capitalists in government as well as private individuals.

Foremost among these are the insurance companies as they have become established in America. Even the government social programs such as Medicare and Medicaid are administered by the accounting departments of insurance companies. The regulations regarding these programs were written in large part by the insurance companies and, as the result, even the very poor are not getting the services they need under their provisions.

Look at the case of a lady I will call Suzy, a middle-aged lady who, though mentally retarded, had worked as a bus person in a hospital cafeteria until her vision deteriorated so badly that she became qualified for Social Security Disability Support. Since she was not yet 65 years old, she was not initially eligible for Medicare and so became dependent on Medicaid for two years for her health care. At the age of forty years, she was found to have serious heart trouble and required a quadruple bypass surgery. Then she required a medical regimen that would last for all her life. Among the many medications upon which her life depended was the blood thinner, Coumadin, a patented and quite expensive tablet. She thrived amazingly well and recovered nicely.

Though her vision was her "primary disability," the coverage provided for her eyes was minimal and she struggled to pay for the necessary replacement of her lenses as that condition continued to progress. Eventually, a surgerical procedure was developed which would help to recover a portion of her vision. She had become eligible for Medicare and the surgery was covered but the new lenses were something that she had to pay for herself from her limited income. Gone were the "Coke-bottle" glasses due to the addition of the implanted lenses. She could stop practicing with the white cane and see well enough to be able to cross a street without assistance.

Then Medicare Part D was instituted and she had to look to an insurance company for the medications. This became a near disaster which was to threaten her life. The insurance company would pay only for generic medications and so she had to exchange the highly successful regimen of Coumadin for the generic Warfarin, commonly known for its primary use as a rat poison. As her pharmacist later explaind, Warfarin is not "dosage stable," meaning that the strength is known to vary from batch to batch and she was receiving a "bad batch!" She became covered with black-and-blue patches as the capillaries leaked under her skin and a medical examination disclosed the fact that she was also bleeding internally.

The Warfarin dosage was adjusted but, as she improved, she still complained of "floaties" in her vision. The ophthalmological surgeons found that she had bled inside her eyes and the "floaties" were specks of blood and it would take time for them to resorb. Eventually this occurred. However, the implanted lenses had become permanently clouded and so a second surgery was necessary to replace them, and of course, new glasses were necessary since there was additional permanent damage to her vision. It makes one wonder whether the money saved by "buying generics" was equal to the cost of the second surgery and the after-care, not to mention the added suffering of the patient and the sacrifices for her to have to pay for the second pair of glasses.

This is typical of the quality of care that is provided by Medicare, which is merely a copy of the insurance company standards. The health of the patient takes a back seat to the pennies which are saved by the mandatory desgination of which meds are covered. Suzy is not an anomaly but merely an example of the many shortcomings that are occuring on a daily basis. None of the plans are adequate to the needs. Mothers of young children who become ill are forced to wait until they have the money for the "co-payment" before taking them to the doctor. People who have survived surgery for life-threatening conditions are forced to delay or cancel appointments for after-care because they cannot afford the co-payments. The result is that they wait and become more ill, requiring more care than if they had been able to have their care directed by their physician rather than by an insurance clerk or by their need to pay their rent and utilities.

On the other hand, the insurance companies become more prosperous and even more greedy, They live by the bottom line, some even consolidating into "investment groups" that can later be saved from their own folly by government bailouts. One company had a CEO who embezzled a couple iof million dollars but the newspapers have not carried a story about his punishment, if any. Perhaps they consider that the loss of his cushy, high-dollar job was sufficient. They live in an entirely different world from those for whose health they have assumed responsibility and about whose welfare they couldn't care less. It's all about the bottom line to them.

Now we are promised "change" which will "reform" the health care system. What we see discussed is a further subsidy to insurance companies or a plan to "assist" poor people in the payment of their premiums, all of which will only aggravate the problem. Even the compiuterizing of all medical records and the facilitation of their more rapid sharing willl not cut much from the cost of health care delivery. It is only by the removal of power over our most personal care from the hands of the money-grubbing "private enterprise" that this can be accomplished. It is not "socialist" to propose a single-payer plan. The government would not own the hospitals and doctors would not be government employees. They would continue to do business as usual and they and the patients would still make decisions as to the necessary care and procedures. And they would save money by being able to follow a simpler billing procedure.

As the old war-protest song told us, "The answer is wrrtten in the wind." There is no way to remedy the problem of public health and its burgeoning costs other than to accept it as a public problem,. The cost of health care is threatening all of America's industrial base, though the workers have the ever-increasing premiums withheld from their paychecks in varying percentages and still must cope with the omni-present "deductibles and co-payments." If the same amounts were withheld and paid into a public fund, health care would improve and the cost could be contained. Even those who presently carry individual health insurance would find the costs to be even less than they are currently paying. Physicians' costs would drop due to the lack of necessity to bill various companies and to comply with the pertinent and diverse forms and regulations of those companies. And, incidentally, the corporations would be relieved of the burgeoning costs of providing health care for employees and retirees.

A wise man, Henry Kaiser, once said, "It costs less to keep people healthy than to make them well." It is time for us, as a nation, to recognize that wisdom and to turn our attention to the provision of all types of health care to all our citizens, not just those who can afford to carry insurance or have the few dollars in their pockets to get past the front desk to obtain the care that they need. The dyed-in-the-wool capitalists will bellow that we would be killing the insurance companies. We can only reply that they are killing us, may they rest in peace. Our out-going President touts "responsibility" and indicates that "it is every man for himself." We see no acceptance of responsibility from the insurance companies and we are determined to defend ourselves from the many-tentacled monster that has us by the throat.

The citizens of the United States need universal health care and they need it now. What they do NOT need is yet another éommission" of very important people who will sit around for a year or two listening to lectures and instruction by a crew of insurance company officials and announce at last another plan to lubricate those same insurance companies with more of the taxpayers' money. The predictable result would be to throw still more stumbling blocks between the American citizen and his physician.

We must allow the new wind to blow away the cobwebs of complacency and allow our leaders to consider the common sense in moving health care from the profit-making industries and place it where it belongs, in the hands of the health care professionals and the scientific community. Only witth a realistic assessment from this point of view can we understand and find the best answer to the problem. We must allow no more low-income workers to fall through the huge cracks in our medical system and no more children to depend on the skillful manipulation of the family budge to provide the care that they need. No more must our elderly be required to subsist on meager rations in order to pay for their medications, becoming ever more frail as they march to a hospice. Only when these problems are faced head-on can the American Dream get back on the road to reality.

We have a nation that must be rebuilt; we have a democracy to be set back on the right track; we have a national debt that will be with us for generations, and an economy that is depleted of resources. This cannot be accomplished by a nation of ill, handicapped people with neglected children and working adults who are needlessly worried about the welfare of their families. For our nation and our own future, we must correct this situation and we must do it now.
(c) 2008 Mary Pitt is a very "with-it" old lady who aspires to bring a bit of truth, justice, and common sense to a nation that has lost touch with its humanity in the search for societal "perfection." Huzzahs and whiney complaints may be sent to mpitt@cox.net

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Marshall Ramsey ~~~

W The Movie Trailer

To End On A Happy Note...

Suicide Is Painless
From the movie M*A*S*H*

Through early morning fog I see
visions of the things to be
the pains that are withheld for me
I realise and I can see.

That suicide is painless
it brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.

The game of life is hard to play
I'm going to lose it anyway
the losing card I'll someday lay
so this is all I have to say.

Suicide is painless
it brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.

The sword of time will pierce our skins
it doesn't hurt when it begins
but as it works its way on in
the pain grows stronger... watch it grin!

Suicide is painless
it brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.

A brave man once requested me
to answer questions that are key
is it to be or not to be
and I replied 'oh why ask me?'

Suicide is painless
it brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.

And you can do the same thing if you please.
(c) 1970/2008 Johnny Mandel & Mike Altman

Have You Seen This...

Fire Fire ~~~ EZO

Parting Shots...

Orders Pour In For Bush Attack Shoes
Bush attack shoe orders up
By Felix Minderbinder

WASHINGTON (FMLive Wire) -- The shoe hurled at President George W. Bush has sent sales soaring for the Turkish shoe maker as orders pour in from Iraq, the USA, Congress, Iran, Europe and other developing and developed nations.

The gray-brown, thick-soled "Model 271" shoe has been renamed "The Bush Attack Shoe" or "Bye-Bye Bush Brain," said Armazana Babadana who owns the Istanbul-based shoe producer Babadana Armazana and Sons Shoes-To-Go-and-Throw Inc.

"We've been selling these shoes for years but, thanks to Bush, orders are flying in like crazy," he said. "We've hired an agency to push television advertising for this shoe."

Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zeidi hurled a pair of the famous and much coveted shoes at Bush at a news conference in Baghdad on December 14th. Although both shoes missed the president, the journalist was jailed and severely beaten. He is now seeking a pardon from the Iraqi Prime Minister.

Babadana has received orders for 3,000,000 pairs of the shoes since the attack, more than 1,000 times the number his company sold each year since the model was introduced in 1999. The company plans to employ 10,000 more staff to meet demand, he said.

"Model 271" is exported to markets including Iraq, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Israel, Albania, the EU, Bulgaria, Monaco, the USA, Russia, the Vatican, Canada, Britain, and Indonesia.

Babadana said he received an order this week for 4,000 pairs from the US Congress shoe shop, and indicated he plans to open an outlet here in Washington, DC.

"We have also had personal orders for the shoe from Hillary Clinton, the Pope, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Richard Branson, Dick Cheney, George Soros, Miley Cyrus, Paris Hilton, Pamela Anderson, Prince, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie," he added.

"Everyone wants these shoes. They really hate Bush and his idiotic neocons."
(c) 2008 Felix Minderbinder ~ Live Wire


The Gross National Debt

Zeitgeist The Movie...

Issues & Alibis Vol 8 # 50 (c) 12/26/2008

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(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors."