Martial law grocery shopping 

Plus: Election inspiration

Plus: Election inspiration
As usual, I am broke as hell, so when it came time to go grocery shopping today, I chose Aldi's. Aldi's is like Trader Joe's under martial law, and few of the people who shop there would do so if they didn't have to.
It's nice to know that if the terrorists want to attack Fishers, thereby striking at the very heart of the nation, our authorities will be prepared.
Aldi's is a de facto poverty-assistance program, or what daily life would be like if all grocery stores were being operated by the government. The German government. From the minute you arrive, the store reminds you that you are poor. They make you deposit a quarter just to get a shopping cart. They charge you for grocery sacks, hoping you'll do them a favor and take your purchase home in their empty boxes. They have no need for baggers. You do it yourself. Their produce just sits in the open, unrefrigerated. Their frozen food, meat and milk looks suspiciously old. You take your chances. If you don't care about brand names, though, you can rack up some really good deals on canned and boxed goods. A huge container of instant oats, enough for 75 breakfasts, costs $1.39. Canned goods are a dime or two cheaper than Wal-Mart and 25 cents cheaper than Kroger's. Still, they make you feel like you're a welfare recipient - which, not incidentally, I'm two or three missed paychecks from being. It all works out. As I was making a batch of chili using Happy Harvest Stewed Tomatoes and Great Value kidney beans, I surfed the Web - and what I saw didn't exactly thrill me. The New York Times reported over the weekend that CIA officials have been meeting with small-town police chiefs about the possibility of terror attacks. The Times quoted what they thought was the most hayseed police chief possible. "'I wouldn't say I was shocked that they were there,' said George G. Kehl, who for 26 years has been the police chief of Fishers, Ind., a suburb of 55,000 people north of Indianapolis. 'But I was surprised. It was a first in my career.'" It's nice to know that if the terrorists want to attack Fishers, thereby striking at the very heart of the nation, our authorities will be prepared. The Times also debunked one of the chief untruths being propagated by the Bush-Cheney operatives, namely that the economy is getting better and better and there's no need to worry. Actually, the ability of average people to keep up with inflation is dropping. The Times quoted an economist who put this in perspective: "'There's a bit of a dichotomy,' said Ethan S. Harris, chief economist at Lehman Brothers. 'Joe Six-Pack is under a lot of pressure. He got a lousy raise; he's paying more for gasoline and milk. He's not doing that great. But proprietors' income is up. Profits are up. Home values are up. Middle income and upper-income people are looking pretty good.'" That, of course, has been the master plan of the rascals in Washington all along: steal from the middle class and give to the rich. No wonder that businessmen and terrorists are the No. 1 supporters of the Bush-Cheney ticket. In my surfing, I did find something I can get behind, on a page promoting the new movie called A Cinderella Story. It's an officially-sanctioned promotional site that allows you to perform anonymous phone pranks over the Internet, and you can spoof the caller ID to make it appear to be from any phone number in the world. Awesome. It's ostensibly teen idol Hilary Duff reading a personalized promotional message for the film, which appears to be a 21st century 16 Candles. Who knows? Who cares? I'll never see the flick anyway. All I know is that you can freak people the hell out using this thing. You can, as someone did, put your friend's home number on the caller ID field of the Web site and have it call her cell. Jolted her, it did. I've come to expect many things, most of them unfavorable, from multinational media companies like Warner, but one of the last things I ever expected to get was phone phreak monkeywrenching. Try it yourself and see, but do not use it to call me. Thank you. The last thing I saw on my weekend surfing was a welcome relief. It's the new Clinton Presidential Library site and all of Bill's public papers and speeches are being archived there. One paragraph was particularly inspirational to me. It dates from Oct. 21, 2000, when President Clinton visited the Indiana State Fairgrounds for a campaign rally for Rep. Julia Carson, a Hoosier hero if ever one existed. It addresses something that crosses my mind quite frequently. Why even bother being a progressive in Indiana, when the forces of freedom are constantly under attack by the right-wing media, uncaring TV stations and apathetic voters. The former president addressed these issues head on, and his words should energize all right-thinking Hoosiers: "If Indiana can elect Evan Bayh and Frank O'Bannon back to back, if Indianapolis can elect Bart Peterson, the first Democratic mayor in a month of Sundays, if Indiana can send me Julia Carson to drive me crazy until I say yes to whatever she's asking, if Indiana can provide us Joe Andrews, the spark plug of our national revival of the Democratic Party, all of you, between now and election day, can find some people to talk to." There's fewer than 120 days until the election, one which will be the most important of our lifetimes. The country is hanging in the balance. If you're not already registered to vote, do so immediately. Talk to your friends and make sure they vote. We need to take America back.

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