Saturday, September 29, 2007

More about Islamofascism

by Paul Gottfried - Sept 25, 2007

Reading reviews in the national press about Norman Podhoretz’s The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism (Doubleday), I was struck by how oblivious to certain facts the reviewers of this book seem to be. Haven’t Ian Buruma of the New York Review of Books, Jay Nordlinger of National Review, Amer Tahiri of the New York Post or any of the other establishment reviewers noticed that Podhoretz knows nothing about “fascism?” His references to this particular phenomenon show all the sophistication of an Abe Foxman tirade designed for ADL donors.

Quite conveniently for himself, Podhoretz links all unpleasant Muslims to a European political movement that he identifies with the Holocaust and of course with “anti-democracy”; nonetheless, he never begins to prove that Muslims doctrinally or programmatically resemble interwar European “fascists,” as opposed to being mere terrorist nuisances. Telling us that fascists were “anti-Semitic” is at best a partial truth, and even if real fascists, like fundamentalist Muslims, didn’t care much for democracy or for the free market, that would put them in the same category with 99% of the human race throughout history.

My friend David Gordon, who has actually had the stomach to digest the entire text, (I myself only had the visceral strength to look at it quite selectively), remarked on its references to the “system of Westphalia,” an arrangement that Podhoretz, to his credit, knows no longer exists. But the Westphalia system, contrary to what Norman indicates, began in 1648. It did not, as Podhoretz and his friends may believe, come out of the “sixteenth century,” a period of time that spawned religious and dynastic strife resulting in the later attempt to create a state-system based on different state religions within different sovereign territories. Apparently Podhoretz believes that the recognition of national sovereignty doesn’t work any more, because we face an international “fascist” enemy, and in any case it was never a democratic way of dealing with the world. To this it might be answered that the system of state sovereignty has been ruined at least partly because of global revolutionaries like Norman Podhoretz.

There is a point of reference in Podhoretz’s diatribe that one might have thought his fellow-journalists would be eager to pursue. Podhoretz directs much of his fire against a group that he seeks to combat, namely, “paleoconservatives.” Although motivating him to pen his polemic, this group does not seem to interest his reviewers, or at least not enough to be worthy of mention. From the reviews one might gather that paying attention to those against whom Podhoretz is railing would be an impropriety, comparable to belching at dinner while being seated next to the Queen of England. Moreover, allowing such reactionary types to respond in the national press would be even more upsetting—something on the order of inviting a Holocaust-denier to a meeting of AIPAC.

In one particularly arresting image in the New York Review of Books (September 27, 2007), Times- religious editor Ian Buruma compares Podhoretz and his followers to a “youngish Old Etonian Foreign Office man at a smart London club at the time of the Boer War.” The trouble with this strained analogy is that Buruma is describing not Edwardian gentlemen but grubby arrivistes. And these arrivistes would not have arrived at their present fame, were it not for their establishment liberal contacts, who treat them as first-rate thinkers while excluding from mention the paleo targets of Podhoretz’s invectives. Without forty years of respectful publicity, which have come gratis thanks to Ian and his New York pals, one wonders where Podhoretz and his movement would now be.

Wounded vets also suffer financial woes

By JEFF DONN and KIMBERLY HEFLING, Associated Press - Sept 30, 2007

TEMECULA, Calif. - He was one of America's first defenders on Sept. 11, 2001, a Marine who pulled burned bodies from the ruins of the Pentagon. He saw more horrors in Kuwait and Iraq.

Today, he can't keep a job, pay his bills, or chase thoughts of suicide from his tortured brain. In a few weeks, he may lose his house, too.

Gamal Awad, the American son of a Sudanese immigrant, exemplifies an emerging group of war veterans: the economic casualties.

More than in past wars, many wounded troops are coming home alive from the Middle East. That's a triumph for military medicine. But they often return hobbled by prolonged physical and mental injuries from homemade bombs and the unremitting anxiety of fighting a hidden enemy along blurred battle lines. Treatment, recovery and retraining often can't be assured quickly or cheaply.

These troops are just starting to seek help in large numbers, more than 185,000 so far. But the cost of their benefits is already testing resources set aside by government and threatening the future of these wounded veterans for decades to come, say economists and veterans' groups.

"The wounded and their families no longer trust that the government will take care of them the way they thought they'd be taken care of," says veterans advocate Mary Ellen Salzano.

How does a war veteran expect to be treated? "As a hero," she says.

Every morning, Awad needs to think of a reason not to kill himself.

He can't even look at the framed photograph that shows him accepting a Marine heroism medal for his recovery work at the Pentagon after the terrorist attack.

It might remind him of a burned woman whose skin peeled off in his hands when he tried to comfort her.

He tries not to hear the shrieking rockets of Iraq either, smell the burning fuel, or relive the blast that blew him right out of bed.

The memories come steamrolling back anyway.

"Nothing can turn off those things," he says, voice choked and eyes glistening.

He stews alternately over suicide and finances, his $43,000 in credit card debt, his $4,330 in federal checks each month — the government's compensation for his total disability from post-traumatic stress disorder. His flashbacks, thoughts of suicide, and anxiety over imagined threats — all documented for six years in his military record — keep him from working.

The disability payments don't cover the $5,700-a-month cost of his adjustable home mortgage and equity loans. He owes more on his house than its market value, so he can't sell it — but he may soon lose it to the bank.

"I love this house. It makes me feel safe," he says.

Awad could once afford it. He used to earn $100,000 a year as a 16-year veteran major with a master's degree in management who excelled at logistics. Now, at age 38, he can't even manage his own life.

There's another twist. This dedicated Marine was given a "general" discharge 15 months ago for an extramarital affair with a woman, also a Marine. That's even though his military therapists blamed this impulsive conduct on post-traumatic stress aggravated by his Middle East tours.

Luckily, his discharge, though not unqualifiedly honorable, left intact his rights to medical care and disability payments — or he'd be in sadder shape.

Divorced since developing PTSD, Awad has two daughters who live elsewhere. He spends much of his days hoisting weights and thwacking a punching bag in the dimness of his garage. He passes nights largely sleepless, a zombie shuffling through the bare rooms of his home in sunny California wine country.

Few anticipated the high price of caring for Awad and other veterans with deep, slow-healing wounds.

Afghanistan seemed quiet and Saddam Hussein still ruled Iraq one year after the Sept. 11 attacks. That's when the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs guaranteed two years of free care to returning combat veterans for virtually any medical condition with a possible service link.

Later, few predicted such a protracted war in Iraq. "A lot of people based their planning on low numbers of casualties in a very short war," says Paul Rieckhoff, an Army combat veteran who founded Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

Also, Iraqi insurgents have relied on disfiguring bombs and bombardment as chief tactics. At the same time, better armor and field medicine have kept U.S. soldiers alive at the highest rate ever, leaving 16 wounded for every fatality, according to one study based on government data. The ratio was fewer than 3-to-1 for Korea and Vietnam.

On the flip side, many are returning with multiple amputations or other disabling injuries not completely fixed even by fancy prosthetics, methodical rehabilitation, and job retraining. The Pentagon counts more than 29,000 combat wounded in the Middle East since the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. Tens of thousands more were hurt outside of combat or in ways that show up later.

There was no mistaking the wounds of Cambodian-American Sgt. Pisey Tan. Eight months into his second tour in Iraq, a makeshift bomb blasted his armored vehicle and took both his legs.

Still, Tan has needed to rely on private donations and family, as well as the government. The government treated him and paid for his artificial legs.

But his brother, Dada, left college to live with him at a military hospital for almost a year. Later, his brother carried him piggyback up and down the stairs at home as Tan got used to his prosthetics.

"That's how our family is," says the Woodlyn, Pa., veteran. "We always take care of our own."

The government says it does too, and with some truth. Of 1.4 million U.S. forces deployed for Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 185,000 have sought care from the VA — a number that could easily top 700,000 eventually, predicts one academic analysis. The VA has already treated more than 52,000 for PTSD symptoms alone, a presidential commission finds.

Veteran John Waltz, of Hebron, Ky., blames his post-traumatic stress disorder on his rescue work at a plane crash aboard a carrier bound for an Iraqi tour. While his condition and disability claim were evaluated, he ran up about $12,000 worth of medical bills, he says. Despite Social Security and his wife's work, the couple's yearly income was cut in half to $30,000.

"We have to be really frugal, as far as what groceries we buy," Waltz says. "I think we're down to just a couple dollars now, until the next time we get paid."

On a national scale, the costs of caring for the wounded certainly won't crush the $13 trillion annual American economy. It probably won't bankrupt the VA, which already treats more than 5.5 million patients each year. But the price tag will challenge budgets of governments and service agencies, adding another hungry mouth within their nests.

Economic forecasts vary widely for the federal costs of caring for injured veterans returning from the Middle East, but they range as high as $700 billion for the VA. That would rival the cost of fighting the Iraq war. In recent years, the VA has repeatedly run out of money to care for sick veterans and has had to ask for billions more before the next budget.

"I wouldn't be surprised if these costs per person are higher than any war previously," says Scott Wallsten, of the conservative think tank Progress and Freedom Foundation.

The costs often fall on veterans and their families. Ted Wade, of Chapel Hill, N.C., can't drive or keep his memories straight since a bomb tore off an arm, hurt his foot, and wracked his brain in an attack on his Humvee in Iraq. He and his wife have had to lower their living standard and accept house payments from parents.

"I can't work because he can't be up here by himself," says his wife, Sarah. "It's my volunteer work, is what it really comes down to."

Yet federal officials say the cost of this wounded influx isn't hurting the quality of care promised to veterans.

At a recent ribbon cutting, the Army's vice chief of staff, Gen. Richard Cody, trumpeted a new rehab center for amputees as "proof that when it comes to making good on such an important promise, there is no bottom line."

Since President Bush took office, medical spending for veterans has risen by 83 percent, says White House budget spokesman Sean Kevelighan. However, that includes the increased numbers of all veterans treated — not just the wave returning from the Middle East.

"The president has made his dedication very clear to troops in the field and after," the spokesman said.

The VA didn't respond to several requests for comment. Recently, though, outgoing chief Jim Nicholson acknowledged trouble keeping up with the pace of disability claims.

But earlier this year, he also insisted that veterans "will invariably tell you they are really getting good care from the VA."

Not invariably.

The VA takes the lead in treating wounds and paying for disabilities of veterans. And it usually does a good job of handling major, known wounds, especially in the early months, by many accounts. The military, Social Security Administration, Labor Department and other agencies add important federal benefits.

However, many veterans and families say the VA often restricts rehabilitation or cuts it off too quickly.

Former Army Ranger Jeremy Feldbusch, of Blairsville, Pa., was blinded and brain-injured by artillery shrapnel in Iraq, but he and his mother decided to get some care outside the VA. His mother, Charlene, says some specialists, especially brain experts, are better in the private sector.

Insurance for major injuries is available at low cost to service members. It pays out up to $100,000 to help cover costs of rehabilitation. But many think it isn't enough.

In Odessa, Fla., the family of John Barnes decided to save most of his $100,000 payout.

They could easily have spent more of it. His mother, Valerie Wallace, estimates her expenses at more than $35,000 to help care for him while he deals with a brain injury and paralysis from a mortar attack on a base outside Baghdad. She took time off from her nursing job, paid $17 an hour for a home health aide, and transported her son to countless rounds of therapy.

Still, she wanted to preserve his insurance money. "John's going to need that money down the road," she says. Instead, she stopped saving, closed out investments, and borrowed against her own insurance.

Disability payments supply monthly income to the wounded, but the VA focuses on replacing lost earnings. A presidential commission has recommended broader compensation for lost quality of life — a concept in line with civilian law. Co-chair Donna Shalala, a former U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services, estimates that the committee's package of recommendations would cost at least several hundred million dollars.

In Oceanside, Calif., Joshua Elmore, says his $1,200-a-month disability payments aren't "even coming close" to replacing what he's lost. A rocket attack on a Marine base in Iraq shattered his arm bones and left other injuries.

He can still do yard work, odd jobs, and go to culinary school. But Elmore, who has two little girls, complains that he can't run and sometimes limps when he walks.

Some wounded veterans turn to private health insurance and other programs outside the federal government, swelling costs for states and towns. Sean Lunde, an Iraq veteran at the Massachusetts Department of Veterans' Services, says his agency rushes emergency funds to some wounded veterans.

Service nonprofits also pay for emergency shelter, housing, job training, food, clothing and transportation for wounded veterans who risk slipping into coverage gaps.

T.J. Cantwell, of Rebuilding Together, says his group puts an average of $20,000 — plus donated supplies and labor — into houses it modifies for injured soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan.

In Rosedale, Md., the group added handrails, new light switches and door knobs, a garage door opener, and other improvements to the home of Army Sgt. 1st Class Juanita Wilson. The 33-year-old mother of two lost part of her arm in a homemade bomb blast in Iraq, but she remains on active duty to preserve her retirement.

Meanwhile, she says of the remodeling job, "If I had to pay for it, probably very little would be done."

Despite all this help, many families drop tens of thousands of dollars on travel to hospitals, stays in hotel rooms, extra therapies, and on making their homes and vehicles accessible to the disabled. Intent on the best care, parents sometimes quit jobs and lose their own health insurance.

Denise Mettie, of Selah, Wash., and her husband have been living "paycheck to paycheck" while she helps in the recovery of her son, Evan. A car bomb in Iraq propelled shrapnel into his brain, and he can no longer walk or talk. His mother gave up her $30,000-a-year bank job and had to buy health insurance for herself and her two daughters, just to watch over her son's hospital treatment, she says.

"What the VA has to offer is insufficient economically to take care of the impact of what happens," says psychologist Michael Wagner, founder of the nonprofit U.S. Welcome Home Foundation and a retired Army medical officer.

Veterans groups finally sued the VA a few months ago, seeking quicker medical care and disability payments for those with PTSD. They claim that the crush of shattered troops has sent the agency into a "virtual meltdown."

Last week, the VA challenged the lawsuit on technical grounds. Its lawyers also argued that even though VA rules commit to two years of free care, that depends upon Congress setting aside enough money.

Upset by his visits with wounded veterans, defense hawk Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., who chairs a defense spending subcommittee, dropped his support for the Iraq war in 2005.

Speaking of the wounded, he now says federal officials are "not taking care of the things they should and ... we're trying to change the direction."

Many recommendations have come from veterans, federal advisers and others. Some involve quicker and heftier disability benefits. And nearly everyone begs for more VA money and staff for medical treatment, though few specify where they'd find extra resources.

Rep. Chris Carney, D-Pa., a military reservist, is promoting a bill to set mandatory annual spending levels for veterans' health care. Prospects are unclear.

Either way, it may be too late for veterans like Awad, who nervously awaits the approach of imagined enemies around what was once his castle.

Iran: CIA, US army 'terrorists'

Iran's Parliament (Majlis)

What's good for the Goose.... And, Iran's statement is based on proven historical and current events.

Press TV News - Sept 29, 2007

Iran's Parliament has issued a statement condemning the terrorist acts committed by the US Army and the Central Intelligence Agency.

215 MP's have signed the statement which cites several crimes committed by the US Military and CIA as blatant examples of terrorist acts.

The statement condemns the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II and using depleted uranium ammunition in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan.

It also slams the US for harboring terrorist groups like the MKO and training al-Qaeda and Taliban militants during the occupation of Afghanistan by the USSR.

The MPs have also cited “the massacre of innocent civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq”, the torture of detainees in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib prisons, and running secret detention facilities in Europe as examples of the US army and CIA's crimes.

The statement calls on the UN to intervene to halt “the atrocities committed by the United States” across the world.

Boycott Israeli universities 'illegal'

Well, we're not boycotting, we're just not doing business with Israel.

Richard Garner, The Independent - Sept 29, 2007

Controversial plans for a boycott of Israeli universities by UK lecturers were dealt a potentially crippling blow yesterday.

The University and College Union, whose members backed boycott calls earlier this year in protest at the treatment of Palestinians, was told by its lawyers that such a move would be illegal.

The decision, taken at the union's annual conference in May, attracted outrage from the Jewish community and many academics.

However, the union revealed yesterday it had now been told the boycott could be in breach of anti-discrimination laws and would be contrary to the aims and objects of the union.

As a result, it cannot spend any of its funds promoting a boycott.

The legal advice states: "It would be beyond the union's powers and unlawful for the union, directly or indirectly, to call for or to implement a boycott by the union and its members of any kind of Israeli universities and other academic institutions: and that the use of union funds directly or indirectly to further such a boycott would also be unlawful."

The advice adds that union meetings should therefore "not be used to ascertain the level of support for such a boycott".

Sally Hunt, the union's general secretary who had opposed the boycott, said the union's first priority had always been "to keep the union safe at what has been a very difficult time".

She added: "I hope this decision will allow all to move forward and focus on what is our primary objective – the representation of our members."

The impact of the legal advice is likely to stall moves to boycott Israeli universities but provoke a fierce debate at the union's annual conference next year,

It will not stop individual members from refusing to work with Israeli universities – although such action is likely to be limited.

Jewish leaders had claimed the boycott was a "frightening" assault on academic freedom. It was opposed by the Government, and Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell even flew to the Middle East in an attempt to soothe ill-feeling created by the decision.

Reaction in Israel was so antagonistic that members of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, were talking of a boycott of British goods by Israelis in retaliation.

Last night the union's legal ruling was welcomed by ministers and university vice-chancellors alike.

Professor Rick Trainor, president of Universities UK, the body which represents vice-chancellors, said; "This is good news. We've said all along that vice-chancellors would not support such a call.

"Our view was, and remains, that any such boycott would be inimical to academic freedom – including the freedom of academics to collaborate with other academics, regardless of nationality and location."

US Politicians, Not Ahmadinejad, Have Blood on Their Hands

by Charley Reese - Sept 29, 2007

Ernest Hemingway explained the problem many years ago. The first thing politicians do to hide their mismanagement, he said, is inflate the currency; the second thing they do is go to war.

Our currency has been inflated and we are at war. The demonization of the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which you saw take place in New York City and on American television, is just the first step in preparing the country for a third war.

The president of Columbia, Lee Bollinger, disgraced himself. Instead of introducing his invited guest speaker, he launched a tirade of abuse and insults. Obviously, he was in hot water with some of Columbia's big donors for inviting Ahmadinejad and chose that petty, shabby way of trying to ingratiate himself to the school's angry sugar daddies. All Bollinger succeeded in doing was making Ahmadinejad look good in comparison with him.

Whether you agree with Iran's president or not, he's the wrong guy to try to demonize. First of all, he is not a dictator. He is an elected president with very little power. He has to get past the legislature, and the real power rests with the senior cleric, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Khamenei controls foreign policy and is commander in chief of all of Iran's armed forces. The legislature rejected nearly all of Ahmadinejad's recommendations for ministers. When he tried to allow women to attend soccer games, the clerics overruled him.

The claims that Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust and has called for the destruction of Israel are false. He has called for regime change, which is something American politicians do every time they find a country whose policies they disagree with. Regime change is a change of government, not genocide. As for the Holocaust, he said it raised two questions: Why put people in prison who question details of the official version, which is what several European countries do. Why should the Palestinians be made to pay for it? Both are good questions.

How American politicians can call Iran a dangerous country and claim that it poses a threat to the U.S. is a mystery. On second thought, it is not a mystery. It just tells you that the politicians think you and I are so stupid that we will fall for the exact same parade of lies and exaggerations that was used to justify the war against Iraq.

Think for yourself. Iran has no nuclear weapons, and its military is designed for defense. It has no offensive capability – no air force, no navy to speak of. Israel, on the other hand, is usually ranked as the fifth most powerful military state on the planet. It has more than 200 nuclear weapons and a superb air force.

Iran has said it has no desire to attack Israel or any other country. It has said its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and that it has no desire for a nuclear weapon. The head cleric has issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons. And there is not one shred of evidence that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon.

Just remember the lies told to you before Iraq: that Saddam Hussein was pursuing a nuclear weapon; that he had enormous stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. The only thing he really had was oil. That's why we went to war, and that's why the administration wants to go to war with Iran.

I've heard some politicians say that Ahmadinejad has "blood on his hands." Well, our $40 billion worth of intelligence cannot even determine if he was involved in the taking of the American embassy back in 1979. As for blood, American politicians have far more Iranian blood on their hands. We overthrew Iran's democratic government and installed the Shah and his secret police. We sided with and assisted Saddam Hussein when he invaded Iran. Tens of thousands of Iranians are dead because of America's foreign policy.

We truly have a corrupt and incompetent government in Washington.

Blackwater guard 'turned gun on colleagues and told them to stop shooting'

The aftermath of the shootout in Baghdad on September 16 in which 11 Iraqis died

by Deborah Haynes, of The Times, Baghdad - Sept 28, 2007

A Blackwater guard reportedly yelled at colleagues to “stop shooting” during an afternoon of chaos in Baghdad that left 11 Iraqis dead and called into question the accountability of all Western private security firms operating in Iraq.

The US-based company, which protects the American Embassy in the capital and its staff, is at the centre of a storm concerning the September 16 drama, which has enraged the Iraqi Government and sparked a series of investigations.

The controversy involved a car bomb, a shootout at a busy roundabout and a standoff between Blackwater guards and Iraqi security forces, according to an initial embassy report that was seen by The Washington Post.

An American official familiar with the investigation said those involved in the incident claimed that at least one Blackwater guard had drawn a weapon on his colleagues and shouted at them to “stop shooting”, the newspaper reported.

The New York Times also quoted an unnamed US official as saying that one or more of the Blackwater guards had called for a ceasefire.

The word ceasefire “was supposedly called out several times ... They had an on-site difference of opinion,” the official said. Ultimately, a Blackwater guard “got on another one about the situation and supposedly pointed a weapon”, the newspaper reported.

At the same time, the official cautioned against jumping to a conclusion on who was to blame because events could become confused in the heat of a fight.

An Iraqi investigation has concluded that the Blackwater guards fired their guns without provocation. But the US official quoted by The New York Times said the guards told American investigators they believed they had shot in response to hostile fire.

The report by the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, which was cited in The Washington Post, was described as a “first blush” of the events that began when the car bomb exploded near a financial compound in western Baghdad while a US official was visiting.

Three Blackwater teams moved to transport the official back to the fortified green zone. Two units returned safely with the official, who was unharmed, but the third team came under fire from “eight to ten” persons” who “fired from multiple nearby locations, with some aggressors dressed in civilian apparel and others in Iraqi police uniforms”, the newspaper quoted the report as saying.

One of the other two teams was re-dispatched to help but during that time the third unit managed to get itself back to the green zone.

As a result, the redeployed Blackwater group found itself in bad traffic at the roundabout at Nisoor Square, confronted by Iraqi police and army.

US soldiers were subsequently sent out to defuse the situation.

A State Department official told The Washington Post that the report was only an initial account that reflected what embassy officers were told by the Blackwater guards immediately after the incident. Details could change, he added.

Blackwater, which employs about 1,000 guards in Iraq, was not immediately available for comment but a spokeswoman was quoted in The New York Times as saying that she could not confirm any of the details provided by the Americans.

A US Embassy spokeswoman in Baghdad said: “We are not commenting on the substance of the investigation.”

US officials were also quoted in both newspapers as questioning the logic of trying to evacuate personnel from the protected compound in the first place rather than remaining inside after the car bomb until the situation was calmer.

Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, has ordered a review board to visit Iraq next week to assess US diplomatic security practices there after the Blackwater incident.

Emphasising the gravity of the situation, the Pentagon has already dispatched a separate, high-level team to review whether American commanders are policing contractors working for them properly.

The five-man team was sent to Baghdad on Sunday by Robert Gates, the US Defence Secretary, who is under pressure to rein-in private security companies, that have earned a reputation in Iraq for being aggressive and trigger-happy.

Too much of the same old pols?

Bush, Clinton, Bush...Clinton? Been there, done that

By NANCY BENAC - Sept 29, 2007

Forty percent of Americans have never lived when there wasn't a Bush or a Clinton in the White House. Anyone got a problem with that?

With Hillary Rodham Clinton hoping to tack another four or eight "Clinton" years on to the Bush-Clinton-Bush presidential pattern that already has held sway for two decades, talk of Bush-Clinton fatigue is increasingly cropping up in the national political debate.

The dominance of the two families in U.S. presidential politics is unprecedented. (The closest comparisons are the father-son presidencies of John Adams and John Quincy Adams, whose single terms were separated by 24 years, and the presidencies of fifth cousins Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt, whose collective 20 years as president were separated by a quarter-century.)

"We now have a younger generation and middle-age generation who are going to think about national politics through the Bush-Clinton prism," said Princeton University political historian Julian Zelizer, 37, whose first chance to vote for president was 1988, the year the first President Bush was elected. And as for the question of fatigue, Zelizer added: "It's not just that we've heard their names a lot, but we've had a lot of problems with their names."

And now, if Hillary Clinton were to be elected and re-elected, the nation could go 28 years in a row with the same two families governing the country. Add the elder Bush's terms as vice president, and that would be 36 years straight with a Bush or Clinton in the White House.

Already, for 116 million Americans, there has never been a time when there wasn't a Bush or Clinton in the White House, either as president or vice president.

Does a nation of 303 million people really have only two families qualified to run the show?

David Gergen, director of Harvard University's Center for Public Leadership and an adviser to presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton, said there does seem to be concern about the possibility of giving "the two dynasties" another four or eight years.

"I think we would be fundamentally healthier if we broadened the zone of candidates who could make it to the top," he said.

Historically, politics has been open to newcomers who rise up to reflect the grass-roots sentiment of the country, Gergen said.

That's still possible, he said, "but it's harder than it used to be, especially because it's so hard to raise money" for expensive national campaigns.

The Clintons and Bushes, he said, have built up strong "brand" recognition for their names — just as the Kennedys did in an age of promise cut short by assassination — making it harder for newcomers to compete.

But sometimes, people just want to try something new.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll taken over the summer found that fully one-quarter of all Americans said that the prospect of having at least 24 straight years of a President Clinton or Bush would be a consideration in their vote for president in 2008.

Even among Democrats, 17 percent said it would be a consideration. That compared with a third of all Republicans.

The nation has changed dramatically since the first Bush claimed the Oval Office in 1988: Then, the Soviet Union was exploring the notion of perestroika, a public Internet was a promise waiting to be fulfilled, gasoline cost about $1 a gallon and Hillary Clinton was an associate still hoping to make partner at the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, Ark.

Clinton, now a two-term senator at age 59, has been asked about the long-standing Bush-Clinton grip on the Oval Office at two Democratic debates, and has a two-part response. She dumps on the Bush part of the historical equation and praises the Clinton component.

Asked in the CNN/YouTube debate in July whether adding another President Clinton to the Bush-Clinton-Bush sequence would bring about real change, Clinton had a ready comeback.

"Well, I think it is a problem that Bush was elected in 2000," she offered. "I actually thought somebody else was elected in that election."

When the question came up again in this week's debate in New Hampshire, she told the audience, "I thought Bill was a pretty good president."

She hastened to add that she's running on her own, and "I'm going to the people on my own."

Gergen said any fatigue factor Clinton faces is "overwhelmed by the positive nostalgia for Bill Clinton among Democrats."

The thought is seconded by Todd Gitlin, a professor at Columbia University's School of Journalism who has written a new book about national politics. He said that while some people are bothered by the dominance of the two families, "right now there is one massive fatigue in America and that is with George Bush. No other fatigue comes close."

But even if the issue is not a problem for Clinton, Gitlin said: "Is it a problem in some large sense that we seem to be alternating dynasties? Yes, I think democracy should be more expansive."

How long could this dynastic dynamic play itself out?

"Keep an eye on their children," Gergen quips.

And, there's always presidential brother Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida. His oldest son, George P. Bush, is considered likely to carry the family's political tradition into the next generation.

A Bush-Bush ticket for 2012? By George!

Outsiders frame political debate

Special interests control campaigns with big bucks

You mean Outsiders and Special Interests like AIPAC?

By JIM KUHNHENN - Sept 29, 2007

They raise millions of dollars, conduct provocative ad campaigns, work with a vast network of like-minded allies and have the power to frame the presidential election going forward as much as the candidates themselves.

That used to define only the liberal, an organization of 3.3 million members that has raised $25 million in the past 18 months and is helping spearhead an anti-war coalition.

Now, a group of conservatives and Republicans with close ties to the White House have formed their own enterprise, Freedom's Watch, landing on the political scene with a $15 million ad campaign to defend President Bush's Iraq war strategy.

But this is just the start. Its organizers don't see themselves as the single-cause Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, who aimed to sink John Kerry's presidential bid in 2004. Instead, they hope to fill what they say is a void on the right, becoming a permanent, well-financed conservative voice on social, economic and national security issues.

"We decided to build something that transcends election cycles," said Bradley Blakeman, the president of Freedom's Watch and a former deputy assistant to Bush. "What we decided was to build an organization that is a never-ending campaign."

As such, Freedom's Watch and could be the left and right bookends not only on the war, but on a number of issues that will decide the 2008 elections and shape congressional debate beyond. Freedom's Watch organizers said they are considering whether to create a political subgroup, like MoveOn has, that could directly play a role in elections.

When Blakeman speaks of "we," he is referring to "friends, former administration people, party leaders, decision makers." Unlike MoveOn, which has its roots in California's Silicon Valley, Freedom's Watch is clearly a Washington creature.

Many in its inner circle of strategists and donors are close to Vice President Dick Cheney or held high posts at the White House. Blakeman, whose 26-year-old nephew died when the World Trade Center collapsed in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, was director of scheduling and appointments at the Bush White House.

Among those who brainstormed with him this summer was Mary Matalin, Cheney's counselor until 2003 and still an adviser to the vice president. Ari Fleischer, the former White House spokesman, is a member of the Freedom's Watch board.

The group's donors include Mel Sembler, a friend of Cheney's and longtime Republican fundraiser. Sembler was chairman of the legal defense fund for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's former chief of staff who was convicted of lying and obstruction of justice in the investigation into the leak of a CIA operative's identity. Another donor is Kevin E. Moley, a former U.S. ambassador to international organizations in Geneva and a senior aide to Cheney during the 2000 presidential campaign.

The group organized itself as a nonprofit lobbying organization and, unlike political organizations that advocates for or against candidates, is not required to identify its donors. Still, when it launched its multimillion-dollar ad campaign on the war in August, Blakeman listed some of its supporters, several of them pro-Israel conservatives.

Besides Sembler and Moley, other donors are Sheldon Adelson, the chairman and chief executive of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., who recently launched a new conservative newspaper in Israel, and several former Bush fundraisers who landed ambassadorial posts. They include Moley and Sembler, who was ambassador to Italy, as well as Howard Leach, former ambassador to France, and Anthony Gioia, former ambassador to Malta.

Blakeman, in an interview, declined to identify any other donors.

All Freedom's Watch backers, he said, share a frustration that conservatives in the past were unable to mobilize in a sustainable way. "We'd form a (political group), everybody would get ginned up, we'd take on an issue and then after the election, we'd disappear," he said. "And all that brain trust and all those resources are gone."

On the left, MoveOn had become a force that teamed up with other liberal organizations and labor-backed groups to influence elections and press liberal causes in Congress. MoveOn created a furor this month, angering even Democrats, when it ran an ad in The New York Times that asked: "General Petraeus, or General Betray Us?" in advance of Gen. David Petraeus' testimony to Congress about the status of Bush's strategy in Iraq.

These days, several of these groups operate out of a building in Washington's K Street corridor, once the realm of corporate lobbyists, where they meet every morning at 10:30 to coordinate their messages on the war, children's health care, the minimum wage and other causes.

"We were ahead of the Democrats on think thanks and white paper operations that feed the Congress and are the source of new ideas based on conservative principles," Matalin said. "Where they jumped ahead of us was by adding the communications arm to that."

Working behind the scenes through most of the summer, Blakeman assembled big-dollar donors and quietly helped pro-war groups ranging from the American Legion to Rolling Thunder make a case for Bush's war strategy. Freedom's Watch also formed partnerships with other groups backing the war, such as Families United, Vets for Freedom and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

But none have the financial power of Freedom's Watch.

In August, the group announced itself to the public with its ad campaign. The ads ran in 20 states in Republican and Democratic congressional districts, aimed at lawmakers whose views of the war were in flux.

The ads feature soldiers who lost limbs in Iraq and mothers or wives who lost sons or husbands in the war. They ads portray efforts in Congress to set timelines for withdrawal of troops from Iraq as "surrender" and, much like Cheney has done, draw a direct link between the Sept. 11 attacks and the Iraq war.

"We've already had one 9-11, we don't need another," the mother of a dead Marine says to the camera in one ad.

In another, veteran John Kriesel, who lost both legs last December in a blast near Fallujah, says: "I know what I lost. I also know that if we pull out now everything I've given in sacrifice will mean nothing.

"They attacked us, and they will again," he adds, as an image of the second plane flying into the World Trade Center appears on the screen. "They won't stop in Iraq."

Well-financed outside groups have become a recurrent feature in national politics. During the 2004 presidential campaign, liberals had America Coming Together and the Media Fund, conservatives had Progress for America and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. They operated as special political entities to help presidential candidates. This year, the Federal Election commission, in separate cases, fined several of them for violations of campaign finance laws.

Grover Norquist, a conservative strategist and head of Americans for Tax Reform, spoke for many critics of campaign finance laws when he said that groups such as Freedom's Watch are the natural result of laws that banned the political parties from accepting contributions of unlimited size.

"Normally that would be the party's job," he said of the advocacy that such groups perform. "But if you can only write a $2,000 check to the parties, five guys can't get together and do that. But five guys can get together and set up Freedom's Watch ... and can make an impact." used to operate as nonprofit, but reorganized its political activity under a political action committee. Its donors are limited to contributions no greater than $5,000 and their identities must be disclosed in reports filed with the FEC.

Eli Pariser, the executive director of Political Action, argues that Freedom's Watch may have money, but it doesn't have a base of support.

"The main difference is that MoveOn is a group of 3.3 million," he said. "Freedom's Watch is a few mega millionaires."

The two groups have already clashed. Within days of MoveOn's ad questioning Petraeus, Freedom's Watch ran its own ad denouncing it.

The two also exchanged ads in a Washington state congressional district where MoveOn ran a commercial critical of Democratic Rep. Brian Baird's opposition to a swift withdrawal of troops from Iraq. MoveOn spent $20,000 on its ads, Freedom's Watch came to his defense with a $30,000 buy.

Cashing in on political stardom

Barack Obama has parlayed his political fame into big bucks

By CHRISTOPHER WILLS - sept 29, 2007

Barack Obama has two best-selling books, a nice salary as a senator and a wife with a handsome income. Earlier this year he reported assets of up to $1.14 million in addition to his Chicago home.

That's small change to some of his presidential rivals, but more than enough to create entanglements and controversies for Obama, a Democrat who has been positioning himself as a friend of the little guy on financial matters.

Recently, he scolded Wall Street executives for focusing too much on their own success and not enough on what's good for the whole nation. And he called for tax cuts for the working poor.

"I didn't just discover working folks on the campaign trail. That's what I've been doing my entire adult life," he told union members Tuesday as he recounted his experience as a community organizer and civil rights attorney.

Obama's own success allowed him to buy a $1.65 million mansion near the University of Chicago in 2005. Political insider Antoin "Tony" Rezko, who was under federal investigation, bought the vacant lot next door and sold part of it to Obama, giving the senator more space.

There has been no suggestion that the arrangement was illegal. Obama paid Rezko for the extra space. But Obama has since said it was a mistake to do business with Rezko, who was indicted last year on charges he sought kickbacks from companies doing business with an Illinois state pension fund.

Rezko and his companies contributed nearly $20,000 to Obama's state and federal races. Obama now has donated that amount to charity.

When he entered the U.S. Senate in 2005, Obama's salary jumped to more than $154,000 — nearly triple what he had been making as an Illinois legislator.

His sudden political stardom also brought him a three-book deal worth $1.9 million from Random House Inc. The deal includes a children's book, and Obama says he'll give $200,000 from that book to charity.

His contract gives Obama 15 percent of the sale of each hardcover book, 8 percent or more from paperbacks and 10 percent from audiobooks. His first book under the deal, "The Audacity of Hope," has sold more than 1 million copies since it was released nearly a year ago.

After Obama was elected to the Senate, his wife's income tripled thanks to a promotion she received at the University of Chicago Hospitals. When Michelle Obama rose from executive director to vice president, her salary increased from $121,910 to $316,962.

Obama says his wife's promotion was based on her merits — she's a Harvard Law School graduate — and not on his Senate victory. "You can't fault her for being smarter and better qualified for all sorts of jobs than I am," he said last year.

Mrs. Obama was also elected to the board of directors of an Illinois-based food supplier called TreeHouse Foods. For that, she was paid about $45,000 in 2005 and $51,000 in 2006.

But Wal-Mart is a major TreeHouse customer, and her husband has criticized the wages and benefits that Wal-Mart provides its workers. Mrs. Obama resigned from the TreeHouse board in May, citing the increasing demands of the presidential campaign, and she has also scaled back her hours for the university hospital system.

The government disclosure reports Obama has filed over the years, and the tax returns he has released voluntarily, reveal a relatively uncomplicated financial picture.

He has made money as a legislator, lawyer and lecturer at the University of Chicago. She has worked for the university and its hospital system and for TreeHouse. Their assets — which are between $457,000 and $1.14 million — are mostly in mutual funds and pensions.

That's paltry compared with some other presidential candidates. Democrats John Edwards and Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican Rudy Giuliani are all worth tens of millions of dollars. Republican Mitt Romney is the wealthiest candidate in the race, reporting assets of between $190 million and $250 million.

Voters rarely seem concerned about whether a candidate is filthy rich or merely wealthy. Matt Bennett, who has worked on several Democratic presidential campaigns, said the main exception would if voters saw hypocrisy — a candidate talking like a blue-collar worker but spending like a movie star, for instance.

"They expect that their leaders are going to be well off, and for most people the difference between having a net worth of $1 million and $20 million is basically irrelevant," Bennett said.

Still, Obama's money is enough to raise occasional complications.

In 2005, Obama's broker invested more than $50,000 in two companies backed by some of his top campaign donors. Obama denied knowing anything about the investments, on which he lost about $13,000, and there was no evidence that he used his office to help the companies.

Ronald Powell, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 881 in Illinois, isn't interested in Obama's finances. What matters, he said, is that Obama has a record of working directly with poor families that wanted better lives.

"He worked the street. He knocked on doors," Powell said. "He speaks from personal experience."

Israel expanding nuclear program

by Press TV News - Sept 29, 2007

A Zionist newspaper has said that Israel is preparing to build a new nuclear site in Naqab desert south of the occupied territories.

According to Zionist newspaper Yediot Achronot, IAEA officials have said that Israel has recently asked several nuclear technology exporting countries to aid the regime in developing a new nuclear site in Naqab desert.

The Zionist regime has over 200 warheads. However, not only does it refuse to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but it also denies the IAEA its nuclear facility inspection rights.

Although Israel is a member of the IAEA, it has not signed the NPT.

The US and Western countries are silent about the Zionist regime's nuclear activities, showing unconditional support for a nuclear program which is not even overseen by the IAEA.

Corn-to-Ethanol: US Agribusiness Magic Path To A World Food Monopoly

Charles E. Carlson, WHTT - Sep 27, 2007

Eight years of Biofuels (ethanol) policy and legislation has cemented in place the first world wide food cabal, which threatens a humanitarian disaster, a famine more serious than those caused by any tsunami, earthquake or drought. This crisis is not in the dim future, it is here.

Congress has, in a series of acts passed in this millennium, handed the perfect monopoly to a few giant agribusiness companies that already have enormous economic power. If you can afford $6.00 a gallon for milk, $4.00 for a loaf of bread and still have money left over for a $50.00 steak at Outback, you may be prepared for 2008, but what about the future? Even if you and I may think we are prepared financially to buy food, whatever the cost, we must have concern for the billion souls who are not and who are condemned to starvation by the corn-to-alcohol conversion scheme.

Subsidies do not make the giant agribusiness firms criminals, only opportunists. Their Public Relations distortion about the value of grain alcohol as fuel is criminal. Congressmen are the real cheats, for they could acknowledge this if they wanted to, but they do not, so they share in the crimes—grand theft and murder by starvation. This being a “Christian” society, it falls to those who heed Jesus’ repeated admonitions to feed the needy and protect those who cannot protect themselves to stop corn-to-alcohol conversion. Make no mistake this is a moral issue.

Many of us Americans still think we have a layer of financial fat and can afford a doubling or tripling of food costs without going hungry. Not so in the third world, and with some in America as well. A friend reminded me, "Meat is not good for us anyway." Some would not mind giving up meat sometimes, but in Darfur or Uganda, there may be no meat or luxury foods to give up. When the price of rice or corn, or beans rises suddenly by a third or half, many will go without.

This recently happened in Mexico City with corn tortilla shells; in the third world, the price of corn may be the difference between life and death. The tortilla story demonstrates that commodity markets are now world markets, when price of corn rises in Chicago the impact is felt in India and Russia.

Engineering a food monopoly

Political leaders of both parties have appropriated billions of dollars to subsidize major agribusiness corporations to destroy food; the latest appropriation was $14 billion. They call the process “bio-fuel” or ethanol production, but because the amount of fuel produced is less than the amount of fuel it takes to produce it, the only correct term for the process is systematic destruction of the food consumed in the process. Agribusiness giants include Archer Daniels Midland, whose income was $44 billion last year, are subsidized to burn up America’s surplus food (mostly corn), while they carry out their principle business, marketing the remaining food which is made more scarce, expensive, and profitable in the process. Congress has created over us the first nearly foolproof, open-ended, food monopoly.

Corn is the most abundant readily storable and amazingly cheap basic foodstuff, and it is being wasted in an age when millions of grain eaters face starvation for lack of vegetable calories. Darfur is only one of many well-publicized examples in central and southern Africa where corn (maize) is a staple but will not grow because of a water shortage. Darfur needs imports, not occupation…food and water will solve its problem quicker than troops. But when the price of commodities go up the quantity of gifts to the poor go down simply because we all define what we give in dollars, not pounds of food, and our dollars buy less food.

The corn-to-alcohol scheme may well be the largest single financial crime of all time. Its cost to consumers (disregarding the direct subsidies) will exceed the total cost of the so-called war in Iraq, plus the cost of the escalated oil prices. It will dwarf the cost of every war, going back and including Vietnam and World Wars II and I. It will even exceed the cost of the oil increase to $81.00 per barrel. There cannot be a bigger issue than food. No problem in America comes close to it in importance, because no one can escape depending on food for survival -- and we are talking about doubling or tripling its cost of basic commodities that the non-rich survive on.

The problem we will expose in this brief paper is not a natural one like drought, tidal wave or earthquake. It is totally man-made for the profit of a few, and it is based on a preposterous, proven lie--that ethanol is a good fuel to burn in autos. The Ethanol subsidy is "take from the poor and give to the rich," scheme. A humanitarian food crisis is a moral issue requiring us to act in the interest of those who cannot act for themselves. Christians should lead.

The perpetual ethanol boondoggle started with laws passed by Congress to subsidize the fermenting of corn and other foods to create grain alcohol, which was supposed to burn in cars instead of fossil fuel to reduce “global warming” and to save precious natural fuel, or so we are told. It is every bit as evil a scheme as if it forced all of us to drink the 13 billon gallons of “white lightning” now being produced in America. (1)

Ethanol, known as grain alcohol, was called moonshine or “white lightning” in the long past years called “Prohibition.” Ethanol has many chemical uses and certain medical properties, but a fuel to run autos it is not, being poor in performance, expensive to make, difficult to transport, all well documented by qualified scientific experts. We will introduce a few whose scientific works explain that corn to ethanol has been an unworkable scam from the very start and exists only because consumers are forced to subsidize it. Those who predicted that ethanol was an economic farce and it would never be economical have been vindicated. What too few foresaw was how bio-fuels were in fact a scam to bring basic food commodities under monopoly price control.

We Hold These Truths believe rising food costs and controlled and engineered world famine are results of ethanol legislation. Our conclusions are not based on complex scientific evidence, though such evidence has been available for years. Common sense and the simple laws of the marketplace are our guides, and there is no better place to begin than at the filling station.

If you look at the gas pump, you’ll see a little sign: “Contains 15% (or 10%) ethanol.” So, if your tank holds 20 gallons and you fill it for a total cost of $50.00, three of the 20 gallons you pump into the tank are grain alcohol made from corn. One study tells us the subsidy to those who make ethanol cost taxpayers $2.21 per gallon of fossil fuel replaced, or $6.63 for three gallons. (The lowest estimate of direct subsidies we find is $.51 per gallon, or $1.53 for your three gallons of alcohol.) This subsidy is over and above the $7.50 you pay for the three gallons of alcohol you pumped into your tank, which will not take you as far as the fuel farmers burned to raise the corn that went into the alcohol! No wonder agribusiness wants to build more plants and distill more corn into alcohol. The three gallons of ethanol are distilled from about 70 pounds of corn that would otherwise have been converted into beef, chicken, eggs, milk, pork or catfish. Corn would and does sustain human life quite nicely as a main staple for those who cannot afford meat, eggs, or milk.

USA Agribusiness already has the capacity to produce about 13.5 billion gallons of ethanol, which will result in the destruction of over 5 billion bushels of corn. Its capacity is skyrocketing, because the more corn agribusiness destroys, the more subsidies they “earn”. Agribusiness spokesmen have voiced plans to consume 25% of the country’s approximate 1.4 billion bushel corn harvest; the price of corn in the marketplace clearly tells us the scheme has already effectively dried up most of the corn reserves…it is likely that we will discover that there are no longer significant grain reserves in the USA.

Starvation is the issue

Grain alcohol, or “white lightning” as it was once called, is reputed to have driven many to insanity. It is your author’s terrible vision that the monopoly created by it will drive many Americans out of the middle class, and it will condemn many millions of third world children to starvation. Huge as the subsidy to grain alcohol distilling is, it is only the tip of a much bigger iceberg; it is this hidden effect that concerns We Hold These Truths--the impact on world food availability, an issue rarely discussed. The enormous, unjustifiable subsidies to agribusiness may not bring famine, but the food shortage that results from food burning for profit will bring famine and slow starvation. This shortage of food will profit agribusiness just as the shortage of oil from the shutdown of Iraq is benefiting big oil now.

Burning food—technically, distilling grain to be grain alcohol--was mandated by Congress, probably because they were lobbied by US agribusiness, and no one objected. It was well known that ethanol burned inefficiently in our autos, could not solve the energy problem, and costs taxpayers incalculable billions at the gas pumps. It can be shown that most of what we pay for ethanol goes directly into the pockets of big Agribusiness in the form of subsidies. (1)

Make no mistake about it; the manufacturing of ethanol (grain alcohol) is no different from burning corn needed for human food in most of the third world. Well-researched reports by academic and industry sources make it clear that ethanol is counterproductive in a variety of ways, including economically, and produces a negative result on the environment.

How Big Is The Corn-to-alcohol Fraud?

The Renewable Fuel Association, a trade organization of big agribusinesses, lists 129 existing plants with 76 more under construction, and projects the total production capacity to a staggering 13,429 billion gallons of ethanol every year. All but a few small, experimental ones burn corn. (2)

History shows an explosion of production in recent years:

2001 1,770 (billions of gallons)
2002 2,130
2003 2,800
2004 3,400
2005 3,904
2007 13,429 Projected
(2) The Renewable Fuel Association

Figures on subsidies and industry profits are hard to come by, but there is no shortage of experts who say the industry exists on subsidies. One very credible report was done by David Pimentel, professor of ecology and agriculture at Cornell, and Tad W. Patzek, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Berkley, a detailed analysis of the energy input-yield ratios of producing ethanol from corn and "bio-diesel" from soybean and sunflower plants. Their report is published in Natural Resources Research (Vol. 14:1, 65-76). We cite a summary report entitled “Producing ethanol and bio-diesel from corn and other crops is not worth the energy.” quotes Dr. Patzek: (3)

"In terms of renewable fuels, ethanol is the worst solution…it is the highest energy cost with the least benefit."

“In terms of energy output compared with energy input for ethanol production, the study found that: --“corn requires 29 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced;” Soybeans and other fuel sources are no better.

"Ethanol production in the United States does not benefit the nation's energy security, its agriculture, economy or the environment

Professor Pimentel of Cornell added in the same paper:

"Ethanol production requires large fossil energy input, and therefore, it is contributing to oil and natural gas imports and U.S. deficits." "There is just no energy benefit to using plant biomass for liquid fuel." "These strategies are not sustainable."

As negative as the Pimentel-Patzek 2004 study, Science Daily’s Energy Bulletin summarized a later study by Dr. Patzek in its 1 Apr 2005, headline, Study: Ethanol Production Consumes Six Units of Energy to Produce Just One, stating the results:

“Dr. Patzek published a fifty-page study on the subject in the journal Critical Reviews in Plant Science. This time, he factored in the myriad energy inputs required by industrial agriculture, from the amount of fuel used to produce fertilizers and corn seeds to the transportation and wastewater disposal costs. All told, he believes that the cumulative energy consumed in corn farming and ethanol production is six times greater than what the end product provides your car engine in terms of power.” (5)

The report warns:

2004, approximately 3.57 billion gallons of ethanol were used as a gas additive in the United States, according to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). During the February State of the Union address, President George Bush urged Congress to pass an energy bill that would pump up the amount to 5 billion gallons by 2012. UC Berkeley geoengineering professor Tad W. Patzek thinks that's a very bad idea.”

However, it appears as of this writing the 5 billion gallon ethanol production goal has already been surpassed, according to The Renewable Fuel Association, which lists the present capacity of the industry at over 13.4 billion gallons. Our simple arithmetic tells us this would use up about five billion bushels of corn each year, exceeding 25% of the entire USA new corn harvest! (2)

The bottom line of alcohol energy non-efficiency

Imagine, according to the most conservative estimates, one must spend 1.29 calories of fossil fuels to raise enough corn to get back 1 calorie of ethanol. This seems to be the best case, and it may be much worse. This is the obscene economics of ethanol. But for taxpayers and consumers it gets much worse. It seem we are forced to pay three times for alcohol fuel; first to subsidize those who make it from corn; next, we pay in higher priced fuel at the pump that does not take us as many miles as if we had no alcohol in our tanks; and lastly (and much the worst) in the perpetual higher cost of food that is destroyed and never to be recovered.

The astonishing subsides

Zfacts reports ethanol from corn subsidies totaled $7.0 billion in 2006 for 4.9 billion gallons of ethanol. That's $1.45 per gallon of ethanol (and $2.21 per gallon of gas replaced)"... resulting in a "$5.4 billion dollar windfall of profits paid to real farmers, corporate farmers, and ethanol makers like multinational ADM (Archer Daniels Midland)." According to this study, consumers paid $3.6 billion extra at the pump. * Subsidies for corn ethanol (4)

1. 51¢ per gallon federal blenders credit for $2.5 billion = your tax dollars.
2. $0.9 billion in corn subsidies for ethanol corn = your tax dollars.
3. $3.6 billion extra paid at the pump.

In summary our Congress has licensed big agribusiness to burn food in exchange for worthless alcohol. Yes, worthless is the right word for corn made ethanol as fuel because it requires more calories to produce than it returns when you burn it. Having a negative value is indeed “worthless” except to those paid to make it by destroying valuable food.

Ethanol is 200 proof “white lightning”. The infamous days of “Prohibition” created laws that made it profitable for a few who raised corn to have a still. Today’s corn-to-alcohol scheme produces almost two gallons of white pure white lightning for every man woman and child on the face of the earth! This means the entire world population could be kept drunk for at least 60 days on the grain alcohol U.S. Agribusiness will produce in just one year…by destroying valuable food.

The scarcity factor in burning food

As outrageous as $7 billion of subsidies in one year are, the worst part of burning food is the shortage of humanly consumable calories and animal food that are an inevitable result. The same agribusinesses that destroys corn, also sell what they do not destroy for food! They are the big wholesale food beneficiaries from the shortage they are paid to create, what a brilliant monopoly. Corn burning has an even more sinister side. It is the primary and greatest direct cause of higher food prices we all feel already, and is a direct threat to the subsistence nutrition of the third world poor. Ethanol subsidies are the key to controlling the food chain. Agribusiness industry giants can control and set the price of food to whatever level they wish to maintain, much as a few companies now control the price of petroleum, so long as they are subsidized to burn surplus corn in unlimited quantity. As long as subsides are available there seems to be no limit to the scheme.

American corn surpluses are a blessing to mankind that has kept world grain prices down for years, a gift to the world from American farmers, and a gift from God! The largest surplus in the world was corn, attesting to the incredible efficiency of the American farmer. If Agribusiness giants can destroy America’s surplus and set the price we pay for corn and everything that substitutes for corn. They can and will then ration food worldwide and determine who lives and who dies.

We have already described the process by which distilling alcohol from corn consumes more energy in fossil fuels than it creates. It is also logical to observe that petroleum prices have gone up very steadily since ethanol became mandatory in gasoline. Crude oil just touched $81.00 per barrel, up 400% from day 911. If ethanol did alleviate the energy shortage, why would we not be seeing lower demand and prices for crude oil?

Every American is paying for this subsidized destruction of corn, not once, but three times. First we pay the subsidized ethanol makers billons (we assume someone pays for what our congress gives away) to create a non-economic product we are forced to use. We pay at the pump because alcohol is better for firewater than for auto fuel; finally, we again pay in higher food prices resulting from the massive destruction of corn and other food surpluses. We pay this, by far the worst cost over and over again every time we eat a hamburger, buy a gallon of milk or a box of cereal.

Corn is not the only food being burned by American agribusiness giants, but it is the only one they need to burn in their drive to control all food prices. Corn triggers the rest. Poor Mexicans were the first to complain. They felt the pinch from a 30% increase in the price of white corn after the wholesale alcoholization of field corn caused the price to shoot up to $4.00 per bushel in 2006...when ethanol finally absorbed most of the corn surplus. Corn is an international market, and the poor in Mexico City felt the pinch immediately even though they eat foods made of white, not yellow, corn.

Corn, a native crop to the Americas, is a blessing to mankind--a truly cheap food, rich in calories and capable of sustaining life. The average wholesale price of corn was less than $.02 per pound in 2000; but by 2007, thanks to the new alcohol refineries in the Midwest, the average price doubled to $.06 per pound. Even after doubling in price, corn is still our cheapest foodstuff, so what is the problem? You might not eat much corn at your house, a few tacos once in a while, a little corn syrup, maybe some in the dog food, but for the most part you eat bread, meat, milk, fresh fruits and vegetables, so who cares about the price of corn?

The problem is that when the price differential among commodities exceeds the difference in food value, the prices of other grains go up too. Farmers also switch what they raise, from what is cheap to what is hot in the marketplace; this year they switched en masse to raising corn. Now wheat has tripled and soybean prices have more than doubled! The runaway corn price finally bubbled over into the soybean and wheat markets in 2007. Soybeans, another food staple, now sell for more than ten dollars a bushel, more then double.

In 2001 the average price of wheat was about $2.50 per 60 pounds or $.04 per pound; right now the price is $9.25 per 60 pounds or $.15 per pound, and has gone up more than 350% since our government started to burn corn. Wheat prices have more than doubled in 2007. Everything made from wheat is already on the rise. We only recently got used to paying $3.00 for a loaf of bread, but this week I bought my first $4.00 dollar loaf of bread, thanks to those who burn corn.

Consider the effect of the wheat price skyrocket in the one huge starvation experiment being carried on in the world today, the 1.3 million citizens of the Gaza Strip. Gaza is a fenced compound with no significant means of foreign exchange other than gifts. Gaza is therefore almost totally dependent upon the wheat elevated over a fence and dumped on the ground near its northern border with Israel. Israel does not interfere with the humanitarian efforts of European countries and private agencies. Imagine the impact of tripling of the price of wheat? Suppose the European Union, which pays for most of the wheat, defines its gift in Euros. With a tripling of wheat prices the amount of bread available inside the wall drops from three loafs to one. Assuming a substance diet inside Gaza 2/3 of the population will now starve unless someone comes up with three times as many Euros. (6)Grain of Hope for Gaza Residence

Meat is made from corn

It is obvious we ask what will happen to meat prices when grain prices have doubled twice; how much will be future chicken, eggs, pork and milk prices? If milk was to doubles twice, as grains have, it will be about $8.00 per gallon! It takes a certain factor of grain to produce a pound of beef on the hoof; it’s a direct ratio, so corn costs translate into beef pork chicken cost of production. There is delayed action in the meat market, before the cost of production hits the dinner table, a boom-bust effect in the marketplace. The grain price explosion has already happened, but the meat explosion is still quietly fizzling away like steak on the grill, ready to explode. It will…it must.

The hungry all over the world that live on corn are the most immediately affected; many more will starve, especially in sub-Saharan Africa where corn is a staple of the diet. But a large part of the American middle class is about to become vegetarian, whether we like it or not, because a meat shortage is right around the corner, and many will soon find meat an unaffordable luxury.


Ethanol is a money loser and an energy waster and could not exist for a day without massive subsidies to agribusiness giants, who in turn can pay giant lobbies to control your Congressmen. I hope we have shown that ethanol is a purposeful, deliberate wasting of food that could feed a hungry world! This author speculates that we will see even higher food prices as agribusiness burns a larger and larger part of the corn crop, now estimated to be approaching 25% of the entire crop. There will be no shortage of ethanol plants along the highways, because someone is being paid to build them, so the capacity to burn food will run wild until forcibly stopped.

The food burners have put the price on a one-way upward trajectory. In the past, high prices always corrected themselves by stimulating more production from farmers, but not this time. Never before did one industry have the ability to destroy almost limitless amounts of surplus commodities, and charge the consumer for doing it. Now agribusiness and their central bankers will have the ability to set the price of all foods by controlling supply and creating convenient “shortages” at will…they have the perfect monopoly.

Our political leaders may lack knowledge, but only because they do not look! The “bio-fuels” lobby appears to have unlimited money with which to convince congressmen to cooperate. These agribusiness monopolists would not build plants for such an obviously uneconomic venture as ethanol, were it not for the subsidies that guarantee their costs.

This paper only scratches the surface of the criminal acts surrounding ethanol. America has been known as the land of plenty and the land that shares it’s plenty. So who is to blame? With 80% of Americans professing Christian beliefs, we have a responsibility before our God not to allow corporate and political criminal elements among us to cast a pall of starvation over the planet. Leader in Christian churches, who have become quite political of late, now must help fix the problem of starvation that they failed to prevent by given carte blanche support to those of one party most responisble.

Congress has total responsibility for creating the corn-to-alcohol monopoly, but it will never reverse itself unless absolutely forced to do because it is bought and paid for. We must arouse a mass with the ability to force Congress to repeal every subsidy for ethanol, regardless of who is hurt by doing so. If this can be accomplished food prices will again stabilize, and there will be enough. Only force will change Congress, do not send this to your congressman in hope that the logic of it will change him. This letter. Instead give it to moral persons. This is a moral issue.

Endnotes to Part I

(1) Biofuels Policy and Legislation

(2) How big is Bio Fuels, The Renewable Fuel Association?

(3) Producing ethanol and biodiesel from corn and other crops is not worth the energy, Physorg Magazine:

(4), Subsidies for corn ethanol:

(5) Science Daily, Ethanol Production Consumes Six Units Of Energy To Produce Just One

(6) Grain of Hope for Gaza Residence

(7) The High Costs of Ethanol, New York Times Sep 19, 2007

40 Years Of Lies

by Walter C. Uhler - Sept 28, 2007

Certain Americans chose a president no smarter than themselves, an illiterate who, in the seventh year of his presidency, still mangles the English language with such sentences as "Childrens do learn." Far worse, however, certain Americans chose a president who then lied to them about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and ties to al Qaeda, in order to send their sons and daughters (along with our sons and daughters) to kill Iraqis and, perhaps, die in an illegal, immoral invasion - now considered the worst strategic disaster in US history.

Even so, certain Americans either shrugged their shoulders or rationalized away the evil behavior of their president when, for example, on the eve of announcing the invasion of Iraq, he "pumped his fist as though instead of initiating a war he had kicked a winning field goal or hit a home run. 'Feels good,' he said." [Paul Waldman, Fraud, p. 8]

Certain Americans cheered him when he proclaimed "Mission Accomplished," more than four years and thousands of lives ago. Certain Americans basked in his phony bravado, when, from the safety of his White House, their coward-in-chief said "Bring 'em on" to the Iraqis just beginning to develop their deadly insurgency. And certain Americans raised few questions when, in 2007, their president falsely told Australia's deputy prime minister that "We're kicking ass" in Iraq.

We know roughly who these certain Americans are. Many are Southern whites, "62 percent of whom voted Republican in House races." [Paul Krugman, "Politics in Black and White," New York Times, Sept. 24, 2007] Many are poorly educated and possess a stupidity fueled by racism. And that explains why the main G.O.P. candidates for president have refused to participate in "a long-scheduled, national debate focusing on issues important to minorities." [Bob Herbert, The Ugly Side of the GOP, New York Times, Sept. 25, 2007] They can't get themselves elected without the electoral support of certain stupid racist white Southern Americans.

Certain Americans love Bill O'Reilly and don't understand the outrage sparked by his observations about dining at Sylvia's in Harlem. O'Reilly reported that he "couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship…There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, 'M-Fer, I want more iced tea.' "

Certain Americans seem incapable of understanding how ridiculous Rush Limbaugh sounded when he asserted that service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq are "phony soldiers." They never thought to ask: "How could he possibly know? He's never served in the US military."

Certain Americans found themselves more outraged by's ad about General Betray Us than by the illegal, immoral, murderous war that renders our country less secure and earns all Americans the well-deserved hatred of much of the world. Unfortunately, feckless congressional Democrats - put into office, in order to end the war - have found it easier to pander to the moral turpitude of certain Americans than achieve the goal for which they were elected. Moreover, when it comes to dealing thoughtfully with Iran, these feckless Democrats proved themselves no more judicious than certain xenophobic Americans.

I saw certain Americans during my jury duty two days ago. It wasn't pretty. Yet, I took great delight in listening to Judge Defino call them to account for their sorry-ass lives.

While the District Attorney and Defense Attorney reviewed the paperwork submitted by prospective jurors, Judge Defino decried those who would attempt to shirk jury duty by providing false and outrageous answers to questions found on the questionnaire. He reminded the prospective jurors in his courtroom that serving on a jury was an honor. And he provided them with a crash course on the American Revolution and the Constitution's separation of powers so wisely demanded by our Founding Fathers.

But, Judge Defino went further. He recalled a time in America's history, when an imperial president subverted the Constitution and a judge, John J. Sirica, helped to reestablish the rule of law in the United States. Judge Defino than added his belief that the judicial branch would soon be called upon, again, to rein in another reckless and overreaching president. Yet, having observed certain Americans in Defino's courtroom, I believe it's fair to say that few understood the points he was attempting to make.

Thus, we had the spectacle of an Admissions Officer at a prominent liberal arts college, who asserted that she'd be more inclined to believe the testimony of a police officer than a civilian eyewitness. Which prompted Judge Defino to ask: "But, what if the officer was a block away from the crime and the civilian eyewitness just ten feet away?"

When an exasperated Defino asked one prospective juror, "Do you really believe that you are incapable of rendering an independent judgment about the guilt or innocence of the defendant?" she meekly responded, "I'm easily swayed." Judge Defino told her to leave the courtroom.

Worst of all was the questionnaire submitted by a middle-aged white male, whose distended beer gut threatened to explode from his faded Iron Maiden t-shirt. After scanning the questionnaire, Judge Defino said, "I don't have the time to waste on you. Get out of my courtroom. And think seriously about trying to get your life in order."

Certain Americans remind me of the "proles" described by George Orwell in his novel, 1984. "Left to themselves, like cattle turned loose upon the plains of Argentina, they reverted to a style of life that appeared natural to them, a sort of ancestral pattern. They were born, they grew up in the gutters, they went to work at twelve, they passed through a brief blossoming-period of beauty and sexual desire, they married at twenty, they were middle-aged at thirty, they died, for the most part, at sixty. Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbors, films, football, beer, and, above all, gambling, filled up the horizon of minds. To keep them in control was not difficult. A few agents of the Thought Police moved always among them, spreading false rumors and marking down and eliminating the few individuals who were judged capable of becoming dangerous…All that was required of them was a primitive patriotism which could be appealed to whenever it was necessary…" Consequently, "The larger evils invariably escaped their notice." And, "as the Party slogan put it: 'Proles and animals are free.'"

Meanwhile Oceania's war without end raged on. So, too, in George W. Bush's United States of America.

Zionists Do Not Represent Jews

From the inception of the Zionist State and particularly in recent times, the impression has been created in the World that there is some connection between the State, which falsely calls itself Israel, and the Jewish people as a whole. Therefore, we who continue to uphold the never-changing tradition of the Jewish people find it proper to again clarify the following points:

A Jew is one who remains faithful to the laws of the Jewish religion, that is, the Holy Torah and its commandments.

The Jewish people became a people before they had their own land, and continued to exist as a people also after they went Into exile, because our very people hood is based exclusively on the Torah. The Holy Land was given to the Jewish people on the condition that they observe the Torah and its commandments. When they failed to do this, their sovereignty over the land was taken from them, and they went into exile. From that time, we are prohibited by the Torah with a very grave prohibition to establish a Jewish independent sovereignty in the Holy Land or anywhere throughout the world. Rather, we are obligated to be loyal to the nations under whose protection we dwell.

This situation has existed for close to 2000 years when the Jewish people were dispersed throughout all corners of the world. During this time, the Jews always remained faithful to the country in which they lived.

The Jewish people are grateful to all those merciful nations which have allowed them to observe Torah and the commandments undisturbed.

From ancient times, the relations between the Jewish and Islamic peoples have always been those of peace and brotherhood, and friendship always reigned between them. The proof of this is the fact that for centuries, in all the Arab lands, hundreds of thousands of Jews lived in honor and amidst mutual esteem.

Jews throughout all generations yearned to grace the sacred soil of the Holy Land and to live there. However, their sole purpose was to fulfill the commandments dependent upon the land and to absorb Its holiness. Never, G-d forbid, did they have any nationalist or sovereign intent whatsoever which, as mentioned above, is forbidden to us. Indeed, also here in the Holy Land, our fathers lived in neighborly harmony with the Palestinian residents of the land, helping one another, to mutual benefit.

Until about two hundred years ago, the vast majority of Jews observed the Torah and the commandments in entirety. Jewry's leaders were Torah scholars, who directed the people according to the Torah. They were loyal citizens in the host nations where they dwelled and to the local laws. They prayed for the welfare of their respective governments. To our sorrow, at that time a small number of Jews slowly left their observance of Torah and commandments. Together with this, they began to deride the spiritual leadership of their people. This assimilation was the basis upon which, one hundred years ago, the ideology of Zionism was born. Its founders were assimilated Jews who had abandoned the Torah.

Immediately at the founding of the Zionist movement, masses of Jews under the leadership of their Rabbis, launched a heavy battle against Zionism. Their attack was directed not only at the non-religious Zionist idea, but rather, primarily at its opposition to the Torah-ordained path that Jewry must follow while in exile. As such, the Zionists incited the nations of the world, demanding political sovereignty over the Holy Land while remaining oblivious to the resentment this would arouse In the Palestinian Arabs, the land's veteran inhabitants. As stated, the leaders of Orthodox Jewry vehemently opposed the movement with all force.

The Zionists refused to heed the voice of the Rabbis and Torah authority. They persisted in their ways until they succeeded in influencing the British government to issue the Balfour Declaration concerning the "establishment of a national home for the Jews in the land of Israel." To our great sorrow, from that point on began the deterioration of the good relations between the Jews and the Arab inhabitants of the land. This occurred because the Arab people understood that the Zionists wished to seize ruler ship from them. In addition, the Arab people had suspicions as if the Jewish people wished to seize control of the Temple Mount and other similar sites. Matters worsened as a result.The Jewish leadership of that time saw it as proper to clarify before the Arab leaders that the Torah-true Jews had no desire whatsoever for sovereignty, and that our desire was to continue to live in peace with the Arabs, as we had always done. The leader of the G-d-fearing Jewish community at that time, Rabbi Yoseph Chaim Zonnenfeld. of blessed memory, organized a delegation in July of 24' which visited King Hussein and his sons Faisal the King of Iraq and the Amir Abdullah In order to lucidly present to them the position of the G-d-fearing Jewish community. The Jewish delegation clarified unequivocally that Torah Jewry is totally opposed to the Zionist sovereignty over the Holy Land. It Is worth noting that the delegation was received with great honor. They were even assured that all Arab lands were completely open to Jews, however, on the condition that the Jews do not demand political rights. This condition also applied to the Holy Land. One of the members of the Jewish delegation, Professor Yisroel Yaakov De Haan, paid with his life for his participation.

Torah Jewry protests at every opportunity against the Zionist rule over the Holy Land, and the Zionist rebellion against the neighboring nations. Torah Jewry has condemned the Zionist oppression of the Palestinians, the land's veteran inhabitants who have been driven from their homes and properties. The Zionists' barbaric and violent deeds are absolutely antithetical to the essence of the Jewish people.Torah Jewry has never ever recognized the Zionist state. Since the Zionists succeeding in establishing their state, Torah Jewry has continuously announced to the world that the Zionists do not represent the Jewish people, and that the name "Israel" that they use is a forgery. For as has been stated above, it is forbidden to us from the Torah to rebel against the nations, and all sovereignty by us is prohibited. Rather, we await the days when all the world will recognize the sovereignty of the Creator, and the words of the prophet Isaiah will yet be fulfilled: "And they will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. No nation will lift its sword against any other, nor will they learn warfare anymore."

Anti-Zionist Orthodox Jews have refrained to this day from taking any funds from the Zionist regime, whether for their educational institutions, synagogues or other benefits. Obviously, they do not participate in the Zionist elections, whether for the "Knesset" or for the municipality. We do not serve in their army, and we even avoid speaking in the Hebrew language that the Zionists Invented. (incidentally, this is not the holy and true Hebrew language in which the Bible is written.) All this is done because Torah Jewry does not recognize the Zionist regime, which Is against the Torah and against humanity.

Lately, the question has once again arisen concerning the Temple Mount and sovereignty over it. Thus, we wish to state unequivocally: a) In our time, it is a severe Torah prohibition for any Jew to set foot on any part of the Temple Mount area. b) The Jewish people have no claim whatsoever to sovereignty over this holy site, which is under Islamic authority, nor over any other holy site. Rabbi Zonenfeld was once asked, "is it true, that the Rabbi prefers an non-Jewish government over all of the Holy Land"? Rabbi Zonenfeld replied, "if King Hussein would rule over Palestine, the holiness of the Holy Land would not be diminished to even to an Iota degree". We yearningly await G-d's great day, when He will return His Divine Presence to Zion, restoring the holy city to its former holiness and glory as in days of old, to be a light to the peoples and the nations.

The Zionists have no right of any sovereignty over even one inch of the Holy Land. They do not represent the Jewish people in any way whatsoever. They have no right to speak in the name of the Jewish people. Therefore, their words, declarations and actions are not in any way representative of the Jewish people. This is because the Zionists' seizing of power over the Holy Land is antithetical to Jewish law, and also because the Zionists do not behave like Jews at all rather, they desecrate the sanctity of the land.

We once again clarify that it is our desire to live in peace with our Arab and Palestinian neighbors, as we did before the Zionist revolution, and as Jews all over the world till today live, accepting the yoke of rulership of their host nation, with complete loyalty. Our sole desire is to serve our G-d and to fulfill His commandments with a perfect heart and to delight in the radiance of the sanctity of the Land.