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In This Edition


Glenn Greenwald wonders, "What's Worse: Trump's Campaign Agenda Or Empowering Generals And CIA Operatives To Subvert It?"

Uri Avnery flashes, "Wistful Eyes."

Glen Ford says, "Tell Trump, And The Democrats, Too: We Demand Black Community Control Of The Police."

John Pilger with a must read, "On The Brach 2017, The Beckoning Of Nuclear War."

Jim Hightower asks, "When Will Wall Street Quit Being Stupid?"

John Nichols explores, "Scott Walker's Crony Capitalism."

William Rivers Pitt has a deja vu in, "The GOP Wrecking Machine Takes Aim At The Debt Ceiling, Again."

Charles M. Blow showcases, "America's Whiniest 'Victim.'"

Robert Parry with a must read, "Neocons Leverage Trump-Hate For More Wars."

David Suzuki concludes, "Environmental Protection Act Review Could Strengthen Human Rights."

Charles P. Pierce reminds us, "He's Not Afraid. He's Not Going Away."

David Swanson orates, "Prosecuting Famine Creation."

Norman Solomon with a must read, "DNC Fraud Lawsuit Exposes Anti-Democratic Views In Democratic Party."

Texas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich has, "Night Thoughts On Trump And America."

Matt Taibbi reports, "There Is No Way To Survive The Trump White House."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz says, "Mike Pence Considering Running For President In 1820" but first, Uncle Ernie sez, "Isn't It Time To Wag The Dog?"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Chan Lowe, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Gage Skidmore, Marcio Cabral de Moura, Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Michael Reynolds, Matt York, Chip Somodevilla, Mark Peterson, Al Drago, The New York Times, Redux, Columbia Pictures Corporation, Office of Director of National Intelligence, Whitehouse.gov, Russian government photo, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, HBO, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org. Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

The Quotable Quote...
The Vidkun Quisling Award...
The Cartoon Corner...
To End On A Happy Note...
Have You Seen This...
Parting Shots...

Welcome one and all to "Uncle Ernie's Issues & Alibis."













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Isn't It Time To Wag The Dog?
By Ernest Stewart

"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." ~~~ Albert Einstein

"It's a fraught situation. This is the first case in which an analysis of climate change of this scope has come up in the Trump administration, and scientists will be watching very carefully to see how they handle it." ~~~ Michael Oppenheimer ~ Professor of geoscience and international affairs at Princeton University.

"No, no, you have to understand, I had a tremendous victory, one of the great victories ever." ~~~ Donald Trump

"I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts." ~~~ Abraham Lincoln



You knew it was coming, didn't you? It was only a matter of time until Trump began to wag the dog. As his presidency lies in shambles what else was our lunatic-in-chief to do? It's desperate times at the White House and desperate times call for desperate measures.

Ergo Trump said this the other day:
"North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States," Trump said, arms folded across his chest. "They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He [Kim Jong-un] has been very threatening-beyond a normal state. And as I said, they will be met with fire and fury, and, frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before."
I'm not surprised. He knows he's cornered. Try as he might with one insane tweet after another, after another he can't break the facts that a couple of grand juries are studying his collusions with Putin that helped put Trump in the White House. Even with Russias help he wouldn't have made it to 1600 Pennsylvania avenue without the help of the DNC who over threw the will of the people to see Bernie elected by shoving Hilary down our throats. That worked out well, huh? Since the days of Slick Willie the DNC has goose stepped off to the far right hoping to out Republican the Republicans for the 1%s favor, and Trump is the result.

It began when FDR got rid of his liberal vice president Henry A. Wallace and replaced him with Harry S. Truman who was the 1%'s patsy. Harry had no problem nuking Japan, whether or not this was necessary doesn't enter in to it. With projected losses of 500,000 dead and a million or more Americans wounded Harry had no choice. Trump however wants to use it, as it will make him a big boy! And all America will rally around him, and the Putin prosecution will disappear, and everything will be as it should be, or so he thinks.

Trouble is, the hawks on both sides of the aisle are cheering him on even though it will probably end up as WWIII. One should remember the words of Albert Einstein!

In Other News

I see where a draft report on the current impact of global heating on the United States, produced by 13 Federal agencies, has been leaked to the New York Times. The scientists apparently were afraid that the anti-science Trump administration will suppress the findings because they are morons, and have been bought and paid for by big oil and coal.

One of its main findings is that man-made climate change is already having an impact on the United States. For instance, the West is hotter, which exacerbates droughts and the East is wetter which causes more floods.

The report says, amongst other things, that:
The world has warmed (globally and annually averaged surface air temperature) by about 1.6 F (0.9 C) over the last 150 years (1865 - 2015), and the spatial and temporal non-uniformity of the warming has triggered many other changes to the Earth's climate.

Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans.

Thousands of studies conducted by tens of thousands of scientists around the world have documented changes in surface, atmospheric, and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; disappearing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea level; and an increase in atmospheric water vapor.

Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate changes.

The last few years have also seen record-breaking, climate-related, weather extremes, as well as the warmest years on record for the globe.
They also put out a chart that even Trump can't refute but will no doubt refute anyway!



As Alice Cooper once sang, "Welcome to my Nightmare" trouble is, it's your nightmare too!

And Finally

Here's some more good news. NOT! According to a new survey, slightly more than half of Republicans say they would support postponing the 2020 presidential election if President Trump proposed it to make sure only eligible American citizens can vote.

According to the poll conducted by two academic authors and published by The Washington Post, "52 percent of Republicans said they would back a postponement of the next election if Trump called for it." Which is, of course, an act of treason, however I'm not surprised, are you?
"If Trump and congressional Republicans proposed postponing the election to ensure only eligible citizens could vote, support from Republicans rises to 56 percent."
These pollsters also found that, "47 percent of Republicans think Trump won the popular vote."

A majority of Republicans, some "68 percent, also thinks millions of illegal immigrants voted in the presidential election and 73 percent think voter fraud happens somewhat or very often."

For those of you who think you can persuade these voters to believe otherwise by using logic and the truth, all I can say is, good luck with that. I've been at it for 17 years and I always end up, "preaching to the choir." I've only managed to pull a handfull out of the Matrix that wanted to stay out of the Matrix. Most run right back and plug themselves in preferring comfortable lies to the cold brutal truth. Yep, life being a sooth sayer pretty much sucks! I've concluded it's so much easier writing sci-fi and fantasy than poli-sci!

Keepin' On

I have said that this is my second favorite thing to do every week, to come before you and beg for money, every week until we get our bills paid. My favorite thing is to drill small holes in my knee caps with an ancient brace and bit. Or would be, but I'm not a masochist; however, the show must go on; so here I am again.

Gone are those golden daze of yore when a couple of folks with money, not that "white money," but the folding kind, would step up and pick up our publishing tab for the year. Those indeed were the daze, but I fear those daze have come and and gone; so it's up to all of you to step up and pay your fair share of keeping us active, fighting the good fight for you and yours. Can you name any other group that does what we do without taking a dime? Most take a six or seven figure salary. The difference is, all I owe allegiance to is to you, and not those who can afford to pay a 6 or 7 figure salary.

Ergo, please visit this site and follow the directions therein; and, against all odds, we'll be here for you every week with the latest news; whether good or bad, you can always deal with the truth; but you need to know what it is; and you'll find it here! Where else can you find it?

*****


01-01-1929 ~ 08-07-2017
Thanks for the film!



04-22-1936 ~ 08-08-2017
Thanks for the music!



03-12-1963 ~ 08-10-2017
Thanks for the film!




*****

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For late breaking news and views visit The Forum. Find all the news you'll otherwise miss. We publish three times the amount of material there than what is in the magazine. Look for the latest Activist Alerts. Updated constantly, please feel free to post an article we may have missed.

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So how do you like Trump so far?
And more importantly, what are you planning on doing about it?

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2017 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.







What's Worse: Trump's Campaign Agenda Or Empowering Generals And CIA Operatives To Subvert It?
By Glenn Greenwald

During his successful 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump, for better and for worse, advocated a slew of policies that attacked the most sacred prongs of long-standing bipartisan Washington consensus. As a result, he was (and continues to be) viewed as uniquely repellent by the neoliberal and neoconservative guardians of that consensus, along with their sprawling network of agencies, think tanks, financial policy organs, and media outlets used to implement their agenda (CIA, NSA, the Brookings/AEI think tank axis, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, etc.).

Whatever else there is to say about Trump, it is simply a fact that the 2016 election saw elite circles in the U.S., with very few exceptions, lining up with remarkable fervor behind his Democratic opponent. Top CIA officials openly declared war on Trump in the nation's op-ed pages and one of their operatives (now an MSNBC favorite) was tasked with stopping him in Utah, while Time Magazine reported, just a week before the election, that "the banking industry has supported Clinton with buckets of cash . . . . what bankers most like about Clinton is that she is not Donald Trump."

Hank Paulson, former Goldman Sachs CEO and George W. Bush's Treasury Secretary, went to the pages of the Washington Post in mid-2016 to shower Clinton with praise and Trump with unbridled scorn, saying what he hated most about Trump was his refusal to consider cuts in entitlement spending (in contrast, presumably, to the Democrat he was endorsing). "It doesn't surprise me when a socialist such as Bernie Sanders sees no need to fix our entitlement programs," the former Goldman CEO wrote. "But I find it particularly appalling that Trump, a businessman, tells us he won't touch Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid."

Some of Trump's advocated assaults on D.C. orthodoxy aligned with long-standing views of at least some left-wing factions (e.g., his professed opposition to regime change war in Syria, Iraq/Libya-style interventions, global free trade deals, entitlement cuts, greater conflict with Russia, and self-destructive pro-Israel fanaticism), while other Trump positions were horrifying to anyone with a plausible claim to leftism, or basic decency (reaffirming torture, expanding GITMO, killing terrorists' families, launching Islamophobic crusades, fixation on increasing hostility with Tehran, further unleashing federal and local police forces). Ironically, Trump's principal policy deviation around which elites have now coalesced in opposition - a desire for better relations with Moscow - was the same one that Obama, to their great bipartisan dismay, also adopted (as evidenced by Obama's refusal to more aggressively confront the Kremlin-backed Syrian government or arm anti-Russian factions in Ukraine).

It is true that Trump, being Trump, was wildly inconsistent in virtually all of these pronouncements, often contradicting or abandoning them weeks after he made them. And, as many of us pointed out at the time, it was foolish to assume that the campaign vows of any politician, let alone an adept con man like Trump, would be a reliable barometer for what he would do once in office. And, as expected, he has betrayed many of these promises within months of being inaugurated, while the very Wall Street interests he railed against have found a very welcoming embrace in the Oval Office.

Nonetheless, Trump, as a matter of rhetoric, repeatedly affirmed policy positions that were directly contrary to long-standing bipartisan orthodoxy, and his policy and personal instability only compounded elites' fears that he could not be relied upon to safeguard their lucrative, power-vesting agenda. In so many ways - due to his campaign positions, his outsider status, his unstable personality, his witting and unwitting unmasking of the truth of U.S. hegemony, the embarrassment he causes in western capitals, his reckless unpredictability - Trump posed a threat to their power centers.

It is often claimed that this trans-partisan, elite coalition assembled against Trump because they are simply American patriots horrified by the threat he poses to America's noble traditions and institutions. I guess if you want to believe that the CIA, the GOP consulting class, and assorted D.C. imperialists, along with Bush-era neocons like Bill Kristol and David Frum, woke up one day and developed some sort of earnest, patriotic conscience about democracy, ethics, constitutional limits, and basic decency, you're free to believe that. It makes for a nice, moving story: a film from the Mr.-Smith-Goes-to-Washington genre. But at the very least, Trump's campaign assaults on their most sacred pieties was, and remains, a major factor in their seething contempt for him.

From the start of Trump's presidency, it was clear that the permanent national security power structure in Washington was deeply hostile to his presidency and would do what it could to undermine it. Shortly before Trump was inaugurated, I wrote an article noting that many of the most damaging anti-Trump leaks were emanating from anonymous CIA and other Deep State operatives who despised Trump because the policies he vowed to enact - the ones American voters ratified - were so contrary to their agenda and belief system. Indeed, they were even anonymously boasting that they were withholding secrets from Trump's briefings because they decided the elected President should not have access to them.

After Trump openly questioned the reliability of the CIA in light of their Iraq War failures, Chuck Schumer went on Rachel Maddow's show to warn Trump - explicitly - that he would be destroyed if he continued to oppose the intelligence community.

Although it is now common to assert - as a form of in-the-know mockery - that the notion of a "Deep State" in the U.S. was invented by Trump supporters only in the last year, the reality is that the U.S. Deep State has been reported on and openly discussed in numerous circles long before Trump. In 2010, the Washington Post's Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Dana Priest, along with Bill Arkin, published a three-part series which the paper entitled "Top Secret America: A hidden world, growing beyond control."

The Post series documented that the military-intelligence community "has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work." The Post concluded that it "amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight."

In 2014, mainstream national security journalists Marc Ambinder and D.B. Grady published a book entitled "Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Agency," which documented - in its own words - that "there is a hidden country within the United States," one "formed from the astonishing number of secrets held by the government and the growing ranks of secret-keepers given charge over them."

Other journalists, such as Peter Dale Scott and Mike Lofgren have long written about the U.S. Deep State completely independent of Trump. The belief that the "Deep State" was invented by Trump supporters as some recent conspiratorial concoction is based in pure ignorance about national security discourse, or a jingoistic desire to believe that the U.S. (unlike primitive, inferior countries) is immune from such malevolent forces, or both.

Indeed, mainstream liberals in good standing, such as the New Republic's Jeet Heer, have repeatedly and explicitly speculated about (and, in Heer's case, warned of) the possibility of Deep State subversion of the White House:

The terrifying thing here is the only people able to stand up to Trump so far are the denizens of the Deep State. Also the Chinese gov't. The American Deep State is in open conflict with an incoming president who is twitchy, thin-skinned & paranoid. What could go wrong? For me, the most terrifying thing about this political moment is the intervention of the Deep State (against both Clinton & Trump).

It's very hard to change American foreign policy (absent a Pearl Harbor or 9/11) because NatSec elite very mulish & committed to status quo. Call it what you will -- the National Security Elite, the Deep State, the Blob. It's very pig-headed & knows how to sabotage change. To qualify earlier tweet, there's a lot Deep State can do short of a coup: leaking and investigation. That's all to the good.

That the U.S. has a shadowy, secretive world of intelligence and military operatives who exercise great power outside of elections and democratic accountability is not some exotic, alt-right conspiracy theory; it's utterly elemental to understanding anything about how Washington works. It's hard to believe that anyone on this side of a 6th Grade civics class would seek to deny that.

The last several weeks have ushered in more open acknowledgment of - and cheerleading for - a subversion of Trump's agenda by unelected military and intelligence officials. Media accounts have been almost unanimous in heralding the arrival of retired Marine Gen. John Kelly as White House Chief of Staff (pictured, top photo), widely depicted as a sign that normalcy is returning to the Executive Branch. "John Kelly Quickly Moves to Impose Military Discipline on White House," the New York Times headline announced.

The current storyline is that Kelly has aligned with Trump's National Security Advisor, Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, to bring seriousness and order to the White House. In particular, these two military men are systematically weakening and eliminating many of the White House officials who are true adherents to the domestic and foreign policy worldview on which Trump's campaign was based. These two military officials (along with yet another retired General, Defense Secretary James Mattis) have long been hailed by anti-Trump factions as the Serious, Responsible Adults in the Trump administration, primarily because they support militaristic policies - such as the war in Afghanistan and intervention in Syria - that is far more in line with official Washington's bipartisan posture.

As the Atlantic's Rosie Gray reports, McMaster has successfully fired several national security officials aligned with Steve Bannon and the nationalistic, purportedly non-interventionist foreign policy and anti-Muslim worldview Trump advocated throughout the election. As Gray notes, this has provoked anger among Trump supporters who view the assertion of power by these Generals as an undemocratic attack against the policies for which the electorate voted. Gray writes: "McMaster's show of force has set off alarm bells among Bannon allies in the pro-Trump media sphere, who favored Flynn and regard the national-security adviser as a globalist interloper."

In a bizarre yet illuminating reflection of rapidly shifting political alliances, Democratic Party think tanks and other groups have rallied behind McMaster as some sort of besieged, stalwart hero whose survival is critical to the Republic, notwithstanding the fact that, by all accounts, he is fighting to ensure the continuation of the U.S. war in Afghanistan and escalate it in Syria. As usually happens these days, these Democrats are in lockstep with their new neocon partners, led by Bill Kristol, who far prefer the unelected agenda of McMaster and Kelly to the one that Trump used to get elected:

"The success or failure of the Bannon/alt-right/Russian assault on McMaster will be a key moment for the Trump Administration--& the country.
It is certainly valid to point out that these Generals didn't use tanks or any other show of force to barge into the White House; they were invited there by Trump, who appointed them to these positions. And they only have the power that he agrees that they should exercise.

But there's no denying that Trump is deluged by exactly the kinds of punishments which Schumer warned Trump would be imposed on him if he continued to defy the intelligence community. Many of Trump's most devoted haters are, notably, GOP consultants; one of the most tenacious of that group, Rick Wilson, celebrated today in the Daily Beast that the threat of prosecution and the tidal waves of harmful leaks has forced Trump into submission. The combination of the "Goldman Boys" and the Generals has taken over, Wilson crows, and is destroying the Bannon-led agenda on which Trump campaigned.

Whatever else is true, there is now simply no question that there is open warfare between adherents to the worldview Trump advocated in order to win, and the permanent national security power faction in Washington that - sometimes for good, and sometimes for evil - despises that agenda. The New Republic's Brian Beutler described the situation perfectly on Friday:

"Where the generals haven't been empowered to run the show, they have asserted themselves nonetheless. 'In the earliest weeks of Trump's presidency,' the Associated Press reported Tuesday, Mattis and Kelly agreed 'that one of them should remain in the United States at all times to keep tabs on the orders rapidly emerging from the White House.'"
It would be sensationalizing things to call this a soft coup, but it is impossible to deny that real presidential powers have been diluted or usurped. Elected officials have decided that leaving the functioning of the government to unelected military officers is politically preferable to invoking constitutional remedies that would require them to vote.

Beutler is a full-scale, devoted enemy of Trump's political agenda, and is clearly glad that something is impeding it. But he also recognizes the serious, enduring dangers to democracy from relying on military officials and intelligence operatives to serve as some sort of backstop, or supreme guardians, of political values and norms.

It's particularly ironic that many of the same people who have spent the year ridiculing the notion that the U.S. has any kind of Deep State are now trumpeting the need for the U.S. military to save the Republic from the elected government, given that this, roughly speaking, is the defining attribute of all Deep States, at least as they depict themselves.

There have been some solitary Democratic Party voices expressing concern about these developments. Here, for instance, is what Barbara Lee had to say as most of her fellow Democrats were cheering the arrival of Gen. Kelly in the West Wing:

"By putting Gen John Kelly in charge, Pres Trump is militarizing the White House & putting our executive branch in the hands of an extremist."
But hers was clearly the minority view: the military triumvirate of Kelly, Mattis and McMaster has been cast as the noble defenders of American democracy, pitted against those who were actually elected to lead the government.

No matter how much of a threat one regards Trump as being, there really are other major threats to U.S. democracy and important political values. It's hard, for instance, to imagine any group that has done more harm, and ushered in more evil, than the Bush-era neocons with whom Democrats are now openly aligning. And who has brought more death, and suffering, and tyranny to the world over the last six decades than the U.S. National Security State?

In terms of some of the popular terms that are often thrown around these days - such as "authoritarianism" and "democratic norms" and "U.S. traditions" - it's hard to imagine many things that would pose a greater threat to all of that than empowering the National Security State (what, before Trump, has long been called the Deep State) to exert precisely the power that is supposed to be reserved exclusively for elected officials. In sum, Trump opponents should be careful of what they wish for, as it might come true.
(c) 2017 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. His most recent book is, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism.





Wistful Eyes
By Uri Avnery

THE WHOLE world watched with bated breath while the days passed. Then the hours. Then the minutes.

The world watched while the condemned man, Muhammad Abu-Ali of Qalqiliya, waited for his execution.

Abu-Ali was a convicted terrorist. He had bought a knife and killed four members of a family in a nearby Jewish settlement. He had acted alone in a fit of anger, after his beloved cousin, Ahmed, was shot and killed by the Israeli border police during a demonstration.

This is an imaginary case. But it resembles very much what would happen if a real case that is now pending were to take this turn.

THERE IS no death penalty in Israel. It was abolished during the first years of the state, when the execution of Jewish underground fighters (called "terrorists" by the British) was still fresh in everybody's mind.

It was a solemn and festive occasion. After the vote, in an unplanned outburst of emotion, the entire Knesset rose and stood at attention for a minute. In the Knesset, such expressions of emotion, like applause, are forbidden.

On that day I was proud of my state, the state for which I had spilled my blood.

BEFORE THAT day, two people had been executed in Israel.

The first was shot during the early days of the state. A Jewish engineer was accused of passing information to the British, who passed it on to Arabs. Three military officers constituted themselves as a military court and condemned him to death. Later it was found that the man was innocent.

The second death sentence was passed on Adolf Eichmann, an Austrian Nazi who in 1944 directed the deportation of Hungarian Jews to the death camps. He was not very high up in the Nazi hierarchy, just a lieutenant-colonel ("Obersturmbannf├╝hrer") in the SS. But he was the only Nazi officer with whom Jewish leaders came into direct contact. In their minds, he was a monster.

When he was kidnapped in Argentina and brought to Jerusalem, he looked like an average bank clerk, not very impressive and not very intelligent. When he was condemned to death, I wrote an article asking myself whether I was in favor of his execution. I said: "I dare not say yes and I dare not say no." He was hanged.

A PERSONAL confession: I cannot kill a cockroach. I am unable to kill a fly. That is not a conscious aversion. It is almost physical.

It was not always so. When I had just turned 15, I joined a "terrorist" organization, the Irgun ("National Military Organization"), which at the time killed lots of people, including women and children, at Arab markets in retaliation for the killing of Jews in the Arab rebellion.

I was too young to be employed in the actions themselves, but my comrades and I distributed leaflets proudly proclaiming the actions. So I certainly was an accomplice, until I left the organization because I started to disapprove of "terrorism."

But the real change in my character occurred after I was wounded in the 1948 war. For several days and nights I lay in my hospital bed, unable to eat, drink or sleep, just thinking. The result was my inability to take the life of any living being, including humans.

So, naturally, I am a deadly enemy of the death penalty. I greeted with all my heart its abolition by the Knesset (before I became a member of that not-very-august body.)

But a few days ago, somebody remembered that the death penalty was not really quite abolished. An obscure paragraph in the military code has remained in force. Now there is an outcry for its application.

The occasion is the murder of three members of a Jewish family in a settlement. The Arab assailant was wounded but not killed on the spot, as usually happens.

The entire right-wing clique that governs Israel now broke out in a chorus of demands for the death penalty. Binyamin Netanyahu joined the chorus, as did most members of his cabinet.

Netanyahu's attitude can easily be understood. He has no principles. He goes with the majority of his base. At the moment he is deeply involved in a huge corruption affair concerning the acquisition of German-built submarines. His political fate hangs in the balance. No time for moral quibbles.

PUTTING ASIDE, for the moment, my personal mental disabilities concerning the death penalty, judging the problem on a rational basis shows that it is a huge mistake.

The execution of a person who is considered a patriot by their own people arouses profound anger and a deep desire for revenge. For every person put to death, a dozen others arise to take their place.

I speak from experience. As already mentioned, I joined the Irgun when I was hardly 15. A few weeks before, the British had hanged a young Jew, Shlomo Ben-Yossef, who had shot at an Arab bus full of women and children, without hitting anyone. He was the first Jew in Palestine to be executed.

Later on, after I had already forsworn "terrorism", I still felt emotionally involved whenever the British hanged another Jewish "terrorist". (I take pride in having invented the only scientifically sound definition of "terrorism": "A freedom fighter is on my side, a terrorist is on the other side.")

ANOTHER ARGUMENT against the death penalty is the one I described at the beginning of this piece: the inherent dramatic effect of this penalty.

From the moment a death sentence is passed, the entire world, not to mention the entire country, gets involved. From Timbuktu to Tokyo, from Paris to Pretoria, millions of people, who have no interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, get aroused. The fate of the condemned man starts to dominate their lives.

Israeli embassies will be deluged by messages from good people. Human rights organizations everywhere will get involved. Street demonstrations will take place in many cities and grow from week to week.

The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian people, until then a minor news item in newspapers and on TV news, will be the center of attention. Editors will send special correspondents, pundits will weigh in. Some heads of state will be tempted to approach the president of Israel and plead for clemency.

As the date of execution grows nearer, the pressure will grow. In colleges and in churches, calls to boycott Israel will become shrill. Israeli diplomats will send urgent alarms to the Foreign Office in Jerusalem. Embassies will strengthen anti-terror precautions.

The Israeli government will meet in urgent emergency sessions. Some ministers will advise commuting the sentence. Others will argue that that would show weakness and encourage terror. Netanyahu, as usual, will be unable to decide.

I KNOW that this line of argument may lead to a wrong conclusion: to kill Arab assailants on the spot.

Indeed, this is a second discussion tearing Israel apart at the moment: the case of Elor Azaria, a soldier and field medic, who shot at close range a wounded Arab assailant lying on the ground and bleeding profusely. A military court sentenced Azaria to a year and half in jail, and the sentence was confirmed on appeal. Many people want him released. Others, including Netanyahu again, want his sentence commuted.

Azaria and his entire family are enjoying themselves hugely at the center of national attention. They believe that he did the right thing, according to an unwritten dictum that no Arab "terrorist" should be allowed to remain alive.

Actually, this was openly pronounced years ago by the then Prime Minister, Yitzhak Shamir (who himself, as a leader of the Lehi underground, was one of the most successful "terrorists" of the 20th century). For that he did not need to be very intelligent.

FROM WHATEVER angle one looks at it, the death sentence is a barbaric and stupid measure. It has been abolished by all civilized countries, except some US states (which can hardly be called civilized.)

Whenever I think about this subject, the immortal lines of Oscar Wilde in his "Ballad of Reading Gaol" come to my mind. Observing a fellow prisoner, a convicted murderer, awaiting his execution, Wilde wrote:

I never saw a man who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon the little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky...
(c) 2017 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom







Tell Trump, And The Democrats, Too: We Demand Black Community Control Of The Police
By Glen Ford

The cops at a Long Island, New York, pro-police event "laughed and cheered" when President Trump urged them to brutalize immigrant prisoners - "animals," as he called them. Then, caught in mid-guffaw, the supervisors and flaks for the bad boys and girls in blue struggled to straightened out their faces and disavow Trump's remarks.

"What the president recommended...is not what policing is about today," claimed Steve Soboroff, a civilian commissioner of the Los Angeles Police Department, which is forever situating police brutality somewhere in the past.

"The president's comments stand in stark contrast to our department's commitment to constitutional policies and community engagement," said New Orleans police chief Michael Harrison. His city took until last December to reach a $13.3 million settlement for Katrina-related police murder and maiming of civilians.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police hastily restated its policy "that any use of force is carefully applied and objectively reasonable considering the situation confronted by the officers" -- a statement that sounds very much like the standard legal defense presented in the miniscule fraction of police brutality cases that actually go to trial.

The police department in Suffolk County, where Trump gave his speech, was compelled to allow federal oversight of its treatment of Latino immigrants in 2013, including claims that the department "discouraged Latino victims from filing complaints and cooperating with the police, and failed to investigate crimes and hate crime incidents involving Latinos." A former Suffolk County police chief was recently sentenced to almost four years in prison for beating up an immigrant who stole pornography and sex toys from the chief's car. But, Trump's spittle was barely dry on the podium before the department declared, on Twitter: "We do not and will not tolerate roughing up of prisoners..." The department "has strict rules & procedures relating to the handling of prisoners... Violations of those rules are treated extremely seriously."

Democracy Now! trotted out Maya Wiley, the chairwoman of New York City's Civilian Complaint Review Board. Wiley actually bragged that her panel is "one of the oldest civilian oversight bodies in the country, and certainly the largest" -- which simply means it has been party to more police murders of civilians than any similar body since its beginnings in the 1950s.

The New York Times exploited Trump's bestiality with an editorial in praise of the police. "Law enforcement's backlash against this speech says something about how forward-looking police officials think about their responsibilities," wrote the Commissars of Capital at the Times. In this narrative -- shared by virtually all corporate media, but rooted nowhere in reality -- the police are in a perpetual process of reform. Trump is trying to drag the cops back into a savage past that they are valiantly attempting to escape. The editorial suggests "the president might bear this in mind the next time he opens his mouth on this subject."

The problem with the criminal justice system, according to both the Times and New York police review board chairwoman Wiley, is a lack of trust between the police and the community. "Enforcement strategies based in brutality make it difficult to solve crimes - because they alienate communities from the law, making it harder for officers to do their jobs," according to the Times. Wiley is most concerned about "safety." "One of the ways we create safety is that we have better relationships between police and community, the community trusts police, they're able to come to police," she said.

If only more "trust" could be created between "the community" and the armed, coercive forces of the state, everything would be lovely. Questions of power and democracy do not enter into the corporate equation -- including corporate "reformers." Maya Wiley speaks of the inability of police to "do their jobs" when communities feel alienated, assuming that their "job" is to provide "safety" to the community. But, that is like saying the job of prison guards is to keep inmates safe, rather than keeping them in captivity.

The real issues are power and democracy; the democratic exercise of power by the people of the community. Democracy demands that a self-determining people define "the job" that the police are hired to perform, and that the community have the power to hire and fire security personnel. When security regimes are imposed on a people by outside forces, it is repression, an injustice that must be resisted. No justice, no peace.

When Trump blows his whistle to incite the police to further crimes of repression, the more calculating corporate forces seize the opportunity to set the bar of "reform" even lower. The people are conditioned to equate justice with a lessening of instances of police brutality and blatant disrespect -- but not with community power over the police. They are discouraged from demanding that the police be directly accountable to the communities they patrol. Instead, the people are told to concentrate on the methods used by police to impose "order" in the community. Instead of "Power to the People," the demand becomes, "Please don't hurt us too badly."

So-called "community policing" is a gimmick and diversion. As Mumia Abu Jamal, the nation's best known political prisoner, puts it: "Body cameras? Training? BS. Nonsense. Done. It is a bourgeois mirage."

A coalition New York area organizations is pushing an expansion of the immigrant-based "sanctuary cities" concept, to include the historical victims of economic and police repression in the United States. "Where," they ask, "is the sanctuary for folks impacted by the War on Drugs, racial profiling, or police violence? Where is the sanctuary for people with convictions?" Among the demands of the "Freedom Cities" campaign are "Community Control," to "gain real control of the institutions that people interact with daily, including police and other public agencies"; and "Community Defense," to "establish systems of self-defense in neighborhoods to protect rights and dignity."

Elements of Black Lives Matter have taken similar positions.

The Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations, which is holding a national conference in Chicago, August 12 and 13, last year ratified a 19-point National Black Political Agenda for Self-Determination that calls for Black Community Control of the Police:

"We demand the immediate withdrawal of all domestic military occupation forces from Black communities. This democratic demand assumes the ability of Black people to mobilize for our own security and to redefine the role of the police so that it no longer functions as an agency imposed on us from the outside."
True community control of the police means the abolition of the outside-imposed force and termination of its mission of mass Black incarceration and the containment and terrorization of the Black community. However, the domestic "army of occupation" cannot be expelled through simple protest actions, or by episodic rebellions. It must be displaced and replaced by people's security organizations that are deployed and strengthened over time.

Self-determination is hard work. Body cameras and "community policing" schemes don't get us there. Neither does cursing Trump.
(c) 2017 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.







On The Brach 2017, The Beckoning Of Nuclear War
By John Pilger

The US submarine captain says, "We've all got to die one day, some sooner and some later. The trouble always has been that you're never ready, because you don't know when it's coming. Well, now we do know and there's nothing to be done about it."

He says he will be dead by September. It will take about a week to die, though no one can be sure. Animals live the longest.

The war was over in a month. The United States, Russia and China were the protagonists. It is not clear if it was started by accident or mistake. There was no victor. The northern hemisphere is contaminated and lifeless now.

A curtain of radioactivity is moving south towards Australia and New Zealand, southern Africa and South America. By September, the last cities, towns and villages will succumb. As in the north, most buildings will remain untouched, some illuminated by the last flickers of electric light.

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper

These lines from T.S. Eliot's poem The Hollow Men appear at the beginning of Nevil Shute's novel On the Beach, which left me close to tears. The endorsements on the cover said the same.

Published in 1957 at the height of the Cold War when too many writers were silent or cowed, it is a masterpiece. At first the language suggests a genteel relic; yet nothing I have read on nuclear war is as unyielding in its warning. No book is more urgent.

Some readers will remember the black and white Hollywood film starring Gregory Peck as the US Navy commander who takes his submarine to Australia to await the silent, formless spectre descending on the last of the living world.

I read On the Beach for the first time the other day, finishing it as the US Congress passed a law to wage economic war on Russia, the world's second most lethal nuclear power. There was no justification for this insane vote, except the promise of plunder.

The "sanctions" are aimed at Europe, too, mainly Germany, which depends on Russian natural gas and on European companies that do legitimate business with Russia. In what passed for debate on Capitol Hill, the more garrulous senators left no doubt that the embargo was designed to force Europe to import expensive American gas.

Their main aim seems to be war - real war. No provocation as extreme can suggest anything else. They seem to crave it, even though Americans have little idea what war is. The Civil War of 1861-5 was the last on their mainland. War is what the United States does to others.

The only nation to have used nuclear weapons against human beings, they have since destroyed scores of governments, many of them democracies, and laid to waste whole societies - the million deaths in Iraq were a fraction of the carnage in Indo-China, which President Reagan called "a noble cause" and President Obama revised as the tragedy of an "exceptional people." He was not referring to the Vietnamese.

Filming last year at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, I overheard a National Parks Service guide lecturing a school party of young teenagers. "Listen up," he said. "We lost 58,000 young soldiers in Vietnam, and they died defending your freedom."

At a stroke, the truth was inverted. No freedom was defended. Freedom was destroyed. A peasant country was invaded and millions of its people were killed, maimed, dispossessed, poisoned; 60,000 of the invaders took their own lives. Listen up, indeed.

A lobotomy is performed on each generation. Facts are removed. History is excised and replaced by what Time magazine calls "an eternal present." Harold Pinter described this as "manipulation of power worldwide, while masquerading as a force for universal good, a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis [which meant] that it never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest."

Those who call themselves liberals or tendentiously "the left" are eager participants in this manipulation, and its brainwashing, which today revert to one name: Trump.

Trump is mad, a fascist, a dupe of Russia. He is also a gift for "liberal brains pickled in the formaldehyde of identity politics," wrote Luciana Bohne memorably. The obsession with Trump the man - not Trump as a symptom and caricature of an enduring system - beckons great danger for all of us.

While they pursue their fossilised anti-Russia agendas, narcissistic media such as the Washington Post, the BBC and the Guardian suppress the essence of the most important political story of our time as they warmonger on a scale I cannot remember in my lifetime.

On 3 August, in contrast to the acreage the Guardian has given to drivel that the Russians conspired with Trump (reminiscent of the far-right smearing of John Kennedy as a "Soviet agent"), the paper buried, on page 16, news that the President of the United States was forced to sign a Congressional bill declaring economic war on Russia. Unlike every other Trump signing, this was conducted in virtual secrecy and attached with a caveat from Trump himself that it was "clearly unconstitutional."

A coup against the man in the White House is under way. This is not because he is an odious human being, but because he has consistently made clear he does not want war with Russia.

This glimpse of sanity, or simple pragmatism, is anathema to the "national security" managers who guard a system based on war, surveillance, armaments, threats and extreme capitalism. Martin Luther King called them "the greatest purveyors of violence in the world today."

They have encircled Russia and China with missiles and a nuclear arsenal. They have used neo-Nazis to instal an unstable, aggressive regime on Russia's "borderland" - the way through which Hitler invaded, causing the deaths of 27 million people. Their goal is to dismember the modern Russian Federation.

In response, "partnership" is a word used incessantly by Vladimir Putin - anything, it seems, that might halt an evangelical drive to war in the United States. Incredulity in Russia may have now turned to fear and perhaps a certain resolution. The Russians almost certainly have war-gamed nuclear counter strikes. Air-raid drills are not uncommon. Their history tells them to get ready.

The threat is simultaneous. Russia is first, China is next. The US has just completed a huge military exercise with Australia known as Talisman Sabre. They rehearsed a blockade of the Malacca Straits and the South China Sea, through which pass China's economic lifelines.

The admiral commanding the US Pacific fleet said that, "if required," he would nuke China. That he would say such a thing publicly in the current perfidious atmosphere begins to make fact of Nevil Shute's fiction.

None of this is considered news. No connection is made as the bloodfest of Passchendaele a century ago is remembered. Honest reporting is no longer welcome in much of the media. Windbags, known as pundits, dominate: editors are infotainment or party line managers. Where there was once sub-editing, there is the liberation of axe-grinding cliches. Those journalists who do not comply are defenestrated.

The urgency has plenty of precedents. In my film, The Coming War on China, John Bordne, a member of a US Air Force missile combat crew based in Okinawa, Japan, describes how in 1962 - during the Cuban missile crisis - he and his colleagues were "told to launch all the missiles" from their silos.

Nuclear armed, the missiles were aimed at both China and Russia. A junior officer questioned this, and the order was eventually rescinded - but only after they were issued with service revolvers and ordered to shoot at others in a missile crew if they did not "stand down."

At the height of the Cold War, the anti-communist hysteria in the United States was such that US officials who were on official business in China were accused of treason and sacked. In 1957 - the year Shute wrote On the Beach - no official in the State Department could speak the language of the world's most populous nation. Mandarin speakers were purged under strictures now echoed in the Congressional bill that has just passed, aimed at Russia.

The bill was bipartisan. There is no fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans. The terms "left" and "right" are meaningless. Most of America's modern wars were started not by conservatives, but by liberal Democrats.

When Obama left office, he presided over a record seven wars, including America's longest war and an unprecedented campaign of extrajudicial killings - murder - by drones.

In his last year, according to a Council on Foreign Relations study, Obama, the "reluctant liberal warrior", dropped 26,171 bombs - three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day. Having pledged to help "rid the world" of nuclear weapons, the Nobel Peace Laureate built more nuclear warheads than any president since the Cold War.

Trump is a wimp by comparison. It was Obama - with his secretary of state Hillary Clinton at his side - who destroyed Libya as a modern state and launched the human stampede to Europe. At home, immigration groups knew him as the "deporter-in-chief."

One of Obama's last acts as president was to sign a bill that handed a record $618 billion to the Pentagon, reflecting the soaring ascendancy of fascist militarism in the governance of the United States. Trump has endorsed this.

Buried in the detail was the establishment of a "Center for Information Analysis and Response". This is a ministry of truth. It is tasked with providing an "official narrative of facts" that will prepare us for the real possibility of nuclear war - if we allow it.
(c) 2017 John Pilger was born and educated in Sydney, Australia. He has been a war correspondent, film"maker and playwright. Based in London, he has written from many countries and has twice won British journalism's highest award, that of "Journalist of the Year," for his work in Vietnam and Cambodia.







When Will When Will Wall Street Quit Being Stupid?
By Jim Hightower

The self-described "Geniuses of Wall Street" are being stupid. Again.

In 2007, their stupid schemes and frauds crashed our economy, destroying middle-class jobs, wealth, and opportunities. Far from being punished, however, the scofflaws were bailed out by their Washington enablers - so the moral lesson they learned was clear: Stupid pays! Go Stupid!

Sure enough, here they come again! Rather than investing America's capital in real businesses to generate grassroots jobs and shared prosperity, Wall Street is siphoning billions of investment dollars into speculative nonsense - such as bundles of high-risk, subprime auto loans.

It works like this: Car dealers, eager to goose up sales, hawk new vehicles to lower-income people, offering quick loan approval, even to those with poor credit ratings. Banks - eager to hook more people on monthly car payments - okay these subprime car loans without verifying the buyer's ability to pay. Then, a Wall Street bank's investment house buys up thousands of these iffy individual loans, bundles them into multimillion-dollar "debt securities," and sells them to wealthy global speculators. Last year alone, banks sold $26 billion-worth of these explosive bundles of car loans.

This is a gaseous repeat of Wall Street's subprime mortgage bubble that burst a decade ago. The scam generates easy money at the start for speculators and banksters - but as more and more low-income buyers are unable to make their car payments, defaults build up and the whole financial bubble pops.

Wasting America's much-needed investment capital on a scheme that intentionally puts people in cars they can't afford with loans they can't repay is not only stupid, but immoral... and it's killing our real economy. Why are we letting elite Wall Street loan sharks do this to us?
(c) 2017 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at HightowerLowdown.org.




Wisconsin governor Scott Walker's plan to give the technology firm Foxconn a taxpayer-funded
$3 billion package to build a new plant in Wisconsin has been called "generally an awful way to lure jobs."




Scott Walker's Crony Capitalism
By John Nichols

If Scott Walker were a fiscal conservative, he would be ashamed of himself.

But Walker is not a fiscal conservative. And he has no shame, as Wisconsinites who know how their tax dollars are spent are rapidly discovering.

Walker, who has claimed over the years that the state is too impoverished to adequately fund public education, public services and roads, has suddenly determined that Wisconsin has an extra $3 billion to hand off to a controversial multinational corporation that is famous for making big promises to nations and states and then failing to deliver.

How is this possible?

Easy. Walker is running for re-election and, as a career politician, he is perfectly happy to sacrifice fiscal responsibility on the altar of his own ambition. Never mind that, in doing so, he embraces precisely the sort of crony capitalism that sincere conservatives have long decried.

It could be that the Taiwanese technology firm Foxconn really will build a sprawling factory in Wisconsin and hire thousands of workers. But the deal that Walker wants Wisconsin taxpayers to fund-a $3 billion giveaway package in return for the promise that a $10 billion plant will be developed in the southeastern corner of the state-is so bad that the Bloomberg View business editors label Walker's approach "generally an awful way to lure jobs."

"In short," they editorialized last week, "Wisconsin's plan is likely to help a few people in an unpromising industry find temporary work before they're displaced by technology-and to do so at the expense of everyone else in the state." That isn't just "a bad deal," argues Michael Hicks, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Indiana's Ball State University. "It is an over-the-top bad deal for Wisconsin."

In an analysis published by MarketWatch, Hicks explained: "In a market economy, companies taking risk and hiring workers is a necessary ingredient to prosperity. That is not what is happening here. Foxconn bears no meaningful risk in this deal. All the risk and all the labor costs for the next decade and a half are borne by the beleaguered taxpayers of Wisconsin."

If Walker were some kind of economic development genius, his defenders could make a case that he knows more about these kinds of things than Hicks, a distinguished professor of economics who specializes in state and local public finance and the effect of public policy on the location, composition and size of economic activity.

But Walker is the guy whose 2016 presidential campaign collapsed when Republican primary rival Donald Trump detailed his failures-"I mean, Walker's state, Wisconsin, is a catastrophe from an economic and a financial standpoint..."

Now Walker is running for re-election and he is so desperate for a job-creation "win" that he's not bargaining. He's giving away the store.

That's bad economics and, perhaps, bad politics.

Hicks suggests: "Voters might wish to ask just why each Wisconsin household is stuck with a nearly $1,200 bill to subsidize a company that is half as productive as Wal-Mart, and one-tenth as productive as Harley-Davidson." He's right.
(c) 2017 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.




Rep. Tom Cole (right) presides over a hearing on the rules that will dictate
debate on the American Health Care Act at the US Capitol March 24, 2017 in Washington, DC.





The GOP Wrecking Machine Takes Aim At The Debt Ceiling, Again
By William Rivers Pitt

October 1, 2017 will be the fourth anniversary of the last time Republicans shut down the government because they felt the rest of us had too many nice things. It happened then because of the debt ceiling, or more accurately, because a bunch of Tea Party wreckers tried to use the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip instead of treating it like what it is: an economic thermonuclear weapon that, if detonated, would lay waste to everything.

Why is the debt ceiling so important? According to Business Week at the time of the last crisis:

Failure by the world's largest borrower to pay its debt -- unprecedented in modern history -- will devastate stock markets from Brazil to Zurich, halt a $5 trillion lending mechanism for investors who rely on Treasuries, blow up borrowing costs for billions of people and companies, ravage the dollar and throw the US and world economies into a recession that probably would become a depression. Among the dozens of money managers, economists, bankers, traders and former government officials interviewed for this story, few view a US default as anything but a financial apocalypse.
Before 2013, no one in Congress had ever dreamed of screwing around with the debt ceiling. It was raised whenever necessary in a pro forma vote that was as common, and essential, as you and I taking our next breath. Suddenly, four years ago, there was an influx of right-wingers into Congress who went to the Tom Coburn School of Economics -- there actually is no such thing as the debt ceiling, don'tcha know -- and decided to wrap their hands around the lightning.

Back then, the fight was about defunding the Affordable Care Act; about cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security; about then-Speaker John Boehner getting dragged into battle by his Tea Party flank with the debt ceiling as their doomsday weapon. They tried this number in 2011 and managed to get the nation's credit rating downgraded. In 2013, it led to more than two weeks of government shutdown and an eventual humiliating retreat by the Republican Party. The federal government went back to work on October 17, and the issue of the debt ceiling has lain dormant ever since.

Here we go again, probably. The debt ceiling must be raised by congressional vote no later than September 29 of this year, and already, some of the same strange minds from 2013 are lining up to play with fire again. The song, as Led Zeppelin reminds us, remains the same. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma), channeling Speaker Boehner for The New York Times, October 2013: "Representative Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican close to Mr. Boehner, said he believed that the speaker would like to see a deal that included a new way of calculating inflation that would slow the growth of federal benefits; a means testing for Medicare, as well as some other Medicare savings; and at least some slight changes to the Affordable Care Act, like a repeal of a medical device tax unpopular with some Democrats."

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma) this week on MSNBC: "Most Republicans want to do something to lower the trajectory of the debt. I mean, a clean debt ceiling hike is like having a credit card and saying 'I've reached my limit, I'm just going to change the limit higher without changing any of my spending habits.' That's a tough sell to Republicans."

Rep. Cole is not alone, but he and his cohort are definitely bucking Republican Party leadership this time around. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, along with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, are desperate to see a "clean" debt ceiling bill pass both chambers of Congress as soon as possible.

Even Mick Mulvaney, the current director of the Office of Management and Budget who helped invent the idea of turning the debt ceiling vote into a hostage crisis back when he was in the House, is going along for the ride. Leadership needs this to go smoothly not only to keep the economy from eating itself, but to prove to the wider world that they can actually accomplish something with a government controlled in triplicate by their own party.

They know they'll need Democratic help to pass this, and the Democrats have made it abundantly clear that anything attached to a debt ceiling bill is dead on arrival. Democrats in the Senate also have the ability to filibuster anything they don't like on this issue, which adds to their leverage.

There has been talk of Democrats using that leverage to extract some of their own concessions during the upcoming negotiations, like, for example, making sure President Trump and some congressional bitter-enders can't sabotage the Affordable Care Act from the inside out. Like as not, however, the Democrats will probably choose to try herding their noisy cousins to a "Yes" vote on a clean bill and get this damned thing off everyone's desk before someone gets hurt.

Don't count on smooth sailing with this, no matter how adamant the GOP leadership may be. Within the convoluted confines of the Republican Caucus, the Earth is flat, there is no gravity, dinosaurs never existed because they aren't mentioned in the Bible, and the threat of breaking the debt ceiling is an excellent way to transfer billions of dollars in social safety net funding to their wealthy benefactors.

These people have not made a habit of going gently into that good night, as the recent health care debacle made abundantly clear. There is no reason to expect anything different this time around. On the hook is nothing more or less than the economic existence of the United States. September 29 is D-Day. I'll see you on the beach.
(c) 2017 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.




President Donald Trump boarding Air Force One on Friday,
heading to a vacation at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.



America's Whiniest 'Victim'
By Charles M. Blow

Donald Trump is the reigning king of American victimhood.

He is unceasingly pained, injured, aggrieved.

The primaries were unfair. The debates were unfair. The general election was unfair.

"No politician in history - and I say this with great surety - has been treated worse or more unfairly," he laments.

People refuse to reach past his flaws - which are legion! - and pat him on the back. People refuse to praise his minimal effort and minimal efficacy. They refuse to ignore that the legend he created about himself is a lie. People's insistence on truth and honest appraisal is so annoying. It's all so terribly unfair.

It is in this near perfect state of perpetual aggrievement that Trump gives voice to a faction of America that also feels aggrieved. Trump won because he whines. He whines in a way that makes the weak feel less vulnerable and more vicious. He makes feeling sorry for himself feel like fighting back.

In this way he was a perfect reflection of the new Whiny Right. Trump is its instrument, articulation, embodiment. He's not so much representative of it but of an idea - the waning power of whiteness, privilege, patriarchy, access, and the cultural and economic surety that accrues to the possessors of such. Trump represents their emerging status of victims-in-their-own-minds.

The way they see it, they are victims of coastal and urban liberals and the elite institutions - economic, education and entertainment - clustered there. They are victims of an economy evolving in ways, both technical and geographic, that cuts them out or leaves them behind. They are victims of immigration and shifting American demographics. They are victims of shifting, cultural mores. They are victims of Washington.

No one speaks to these insecurities like the human manifestation of insecurity himself: Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is their death rattle: That unsettling sound a body makes when death nears.

But, Trump's whining is not some clever Machiavellian tactic, precisely tuned for these times. Trump's whining is genuine. He pretends to be ferocious, but is actually embarrassingly fragile. His bravado is all illusion. The lion is a coward. And, he licks his wounds until they are raw.

Now, pour into this hollow man Steve Bannon's toxic, apocalyptic nationalism and his professed mission - "deconstruction of the administrative state" - and you get a perfect storm of extreme orthodoxy and extreme insecurity.

Trump becomes a tool of those in possession of legacy power in this country - and those who feel that power is their rightful inheritance - who are pulling every possible lever to enshrine and cement that power. Suppressing the vote. Restricting immigration. Putting the brakes on cultural inclusion.

Make America great again. Turn back the clock to a time when privileges of whiteness were supreme and unassailable, misogyny was simply viewed as an extension of masculinity, women got back-alley abortions and worked for partial wages, coal was king and global warming was purely academic, and trans people weren't in our bathrooms or barracks. The good old days.

Now the power of the presidency is deployed in this pursuit. The only thing that holds the line against absolute calamity is the fact that Trump lacks focus and hates work.

I have found that a close cousin of extreme caviling is sloth. As Newsweek puts on this week's cover, he is a "Lazy Boy." He may keep himself busy with things he considers to be work, but his definition of that word and mine do not seem to be in alignment. Twitter tantrums, obsessive television viewing, holding campaign-style rallies to feed his narcissistic need for adulation. Those things to me do not signal competence, but rather profound neurosis. True productivity leaves little space for this extreme protestation.

And, not only is he a lazy whiner, he's also a projectionist: He is so consumed by his insecurities that he projects them onto others. Trump branded Ted Cruz a liar, when he himself wouldn't know the truth if it slapped him in the face. He blasted Hillary Clinton as being crooked, when he himself was crooked. He sneered at President Obama's work ethic - among many other things - but Trump's own work ethic has been found severely wanting.

In 2015, Trump said, "I would rarely leave the White House because there's so much work to be done." He continued: "I would not be a president who took vacations. I would not be a president that takes time off."

Lies.

Trump has spent an unseemly amount of time away from the White House, playing golf, and is at this very moment on a 17-day vacation.

Trump is like the unfaithful spouse who constantly accuses the other of infidelity because the guilt of his or her own sins has hijacked their thinking and consumed their consciousness. The flaws he sees are the ones he possesses.

This projection of vice, claiming of victimhood, and complaining about vanishing privileges make Trump an ideal front man for the kind of cultural anxiety, desperation and anger that disguises itself as a benign debate about public policy.
(c) 2017 Charles M. Blow. I invite you to join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter (@CharlesMBlow), or email me at chblow@nytimes.com.




A scene from "Dr. Strangelove," in which the bomber pilot (played by actor Slim Pickens) rides a nuclear bomb to its target in the Soviet Union.



Neocons Leverage Trump-Hate For More Wars
The enactment of new sanctions against Russia and Iran - with the support of nearly all Democrats and Republicans in Congress - shows how the warmongering neocons again have come out on top,
By Robert Parry

A savvy Washington observer once told me that the political reality about the neoconservatives is that they alone couldn't win you a single precinct in the United States. But both Republicans and Democrats still line up to gain neocon support or at least neocon acceptance.

Part of the reason for this paradox is the degree of dominance that the neoconservatives have established in the national news media - as op-ed writers and TV commentators - and the neocon ties to the Israel Lobby that is famous for showering contributions on favored politicians and on the opponents of those not favored.

Since the neocons' emergence as big-time foreign policy players in the Reagan administration, they also have demonstrated extraordinary resilience, receiving a steady flow of money often through U.S. government-funded grants from organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy and through donations from military contractors to hawkish neocon think tanks.

But neocons' most astonishing success over the past year may have been how they have pulled liberals and even some progressives into the neocon strategies for war and more war, largely by exploiting the Left's disgust with President Trump.

People who would normally favor international cooperation toward peaceful resolution of conflicts have joined the neocons in ratcheting up global tensions and making progress toward peace far more difficult.

The provocative "Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act," which imposes sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea while tying President Trump's hands in removing those penalties, passed the Congress without a single Democrat voting no.

The only dissenting votes came from three Republican House members - Justin Amash of Michigan, Jimmy Duncan of Tennessee, and Thomas Massie of Kentucky - and from Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky and Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the Senate.

In other words, every Democrat present for the vote adopted the neocon position of escalating tensions with Russia and Iran. The new sanctions appear to close off hopes for a detente with Russia and may torpedo the nuclear agreement with Iran, which would put the bomb-bomb-bomb option back on the table just where the neocons want it.

The Putin Obstacle

As for Russia, the neocons have viewed President Vladimir Putin as a major obstacle to their plans at least since 2013 when he helped President Obama come up with a compromise with Syria that averted a U.S. military strike over dubious claims that the Syrian military was responsible for a sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013.


Russian President Vladimir Putin
with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
at an energy meeting on Nov. 23, 2015, in Tehran.

Subsequent evidence indicated that the sarin attack most likely was a provocation by Al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate to trick the U.S. military into entering the war on Al Qaeda's side.

While you might wonder why the U.S. government would even think about taking actions that would benefit Al Qaeda, which lured the U.S. into this Mideast quagmire in the first place by attacking on 9/11, the answer is that Israel and the neocons - along with Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-governed states - favored an Al Qaeda victory if that was what was needed to shatter the so-called "Shiite crescent," anchored in Iran and reaching through Syria to Lebanon.

Many neocons are, in effect, America's Israeli agents and - since Israel is now allied with Saudi Arabia and the Sunni Gulf states versus Iran - the neocons exercise their media/political influence to rationalize U.S. military strikes against Iran's regional allies, i.e., Syria's secular government of Bashar al-Assad.

For his part, Putin compounded his offense to the neocons by facilitating Obama's negotiations with Iran that imposed strict constraints on Iran's actions toward development of a nuclear bomb and took U.S. war against Iran off the table. The neocons, Israel and Saudi Arabia wanted the U.S. military to lead a bombing campaign against Iran with the hope of crippling their regional adversary and possibly even achieving "regime change" in Tehran.

Punishing Russia

It was in that time frame that NED's neocon President Carl Gershman identified Ukraine as the "biggest prize" and an important step toward the even bigger prize of removing Putin in Russia.


Former Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland,
who pushed for the Ukraine coup and helped pick the post-coup leaders.

Other U.S. government neocons, including Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and Sen. John McCain, delivered the Ukraine "prize" by supporting the Feb. 22, 2014 coup that overthrew the elected government of Ukraine and unleashed anti-Russian nationalists (including neo-Nazis) who began killing ethnic Russians in the south and east near Russia's border.

When Putin responded by allowing Crimeans to vote on secession from Ukraine and reunification with Russia, the West - and especially the neocon-dominated mainstream media - denounced the move as a "Russian invasion." Covertly, the Russians also helped ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine who defied the coup regime in Kiev and faced annihilation from Ukrainian military forces, including the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, which literally displayed Swastikas and SS symbols. Putin's assistance to these embattled ethnic Russian Ukrainians became "Russian aggression."


Nazi symbols on helmets worn by members of Ukraine's Azov battalion.
(As filmed by a Norwegian film crew and shown on German TV)

Many U.S. pundits and journalists - in the conservative, centrist and liberal media - were swept up by the various hysterias over Syria, Iran and Russia - much as they had been a decade earlier around the Iraq-WMD frenzy and the "responsibility to protect" (or R2P) argument for the violent "regime change" in Libya in 2011. In all these cases, the public debate was saturated with U.S. government and neocon propaganda, much of it false.

But it worked. For instance, the neocons and their liberal-interventionist sidekicks achieved extraordinary success in seducing many American "peace activists" to support the "regime change" war in Syria by sending sympathetic victims of the Syrian government on speaking tours.

Meanwhile, the major U.S. media essentially flacked for "moderate" Syrian rebels who just happened to be fighting alongside Al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate and sharing their powerful U.S.-supplied weapons with the jihadists, all the better to kill Syrian soldiers trying to protect the secular government in Damascus.

Successful Propaganda

As part of this propaganda process, the jihadists' P.R. adjunct, known as the White Helmets, phoned in anti-government atrocity stories to eager and credulous Western journalists who didn't dare visit the Al Qaeda-controlled zones for fear of being beheaded.

A heart-rending propaganda image designed to justify a major U.S. military operation inside Syria against the Syrian military.

Still, whenever the White Helmets or other "activists" accused the Syrian government of some unlikely chemical attack, the information was treated as gospel. When United Nations investigators, who were under enormous pressure to confirm the propaganda tales beloved in the West, uncovered evidence that one of the alleged chlorine attacks was staged by the jihadists, the mainstream U.S. media politely looked the other way and continued to treat the chemical-weapons stories as credible.

Historian and journalist Stephen Kinzer has said, "Coverage of the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press."

But all these successes in the neocons' "perception management" operations pale when compared to what the neocons have accomplished since Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton last November.

Fueled by the shock and disgust over the egotistical self-proclaimed pussy-grabber ascending to the highest office in the land, many Americans looked for both an excuse for explaining the outcome and a strategy for removing Trump as quickly as possible. The answer to both concerns became: blame Russia.

The evidence that Russia had "hacked our democracy" was very thin - some private outfit called Crowdstrike found Cyrillic lettering and a reference to the founder of the Soviet KGB in some of the metadata - but that "incriminating evidence" contradicted Crowdstrike's own notion of a crack Russian hacking operation that was almost impossible to trace.

So, even though the FBI failed to secure the Democratic National Committee's computers so the government could do its own forensic analysis, President Obama assigned his intelligence chiefs, CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, to come up with an assessment that could be used to blame Trump's victory on "Russian meddling." Obama, of course, shared the revulsion over Trump's victory, since the real-estate mogul/reality-TV star had famously launched his own political career by spreading the lie that Obama was born in Kenya.

'Hand-Picked' Analysts

According to Clapper's later congressional testimony, the analysts for this job were "hand-picked" from the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency and assigned to produce an "assessment" before Obama left office. Their Jan. 6 report was remarkable in its lack of evidence and the analysts themselves admitted that it fell far short of establishing anything as fact. It amounted to a continuation of the "trust us" approach that had dominated the anti-Russia themes for years.


Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (right)
talks with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office,
with John Brennan and other national security aides present.

Much of the thin report focused on complaints about Russia's RT network for covering the Occupy Wall Street protests and sponsoring a 2012 debate for third-party presidential candidates who had been excluded from the Democratic-Republican debates between President Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney.

The absurdity of citing such examples in which RT contributed to the public debate in America as proof of Russia attacking American democracy should have been apparent to everyone, but the Russia-gate stampede had begun and so instead of ridiculing the Jan. 6 report as an insult to reason, its shaky Russia-did-it conclusions were embraced as unassailable Truth, buttressed by the false claim that the assessment represented the consensus view of all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies.

So, for instance, we get the internal contradictions of a Friday column by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius who starts off by making a legitimate point about Washington groupthink.

"When all right-thinking people in the nation's capital seem to agree on something - as has been the case recently with legislation imposing new sanctions on Russia - that may be a warning that the debate has veered into an unthinking herd mentality," Ignatius wrote as he questioned the wisdom of overusing sanctions and tying the President's hands on when to remove sanctions.

Lost Logic

But Ignatius failed to follow his own logic when it came to the core groupthink about Russia "meddling" in the U.S. election. Despite the thinness of the evidence, the certainty about Russia's guilt is now shared by "all right-thinking people" in Washington, who agree that this point is beyond dispute despite the denials from both WikiLeaks, which published the purloined Democratic emails, and the Russian government.


Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with U.S. President Donald Trump
at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7, 2017.

Ignatius seemed nervous that his mild deviation from the conventional wisdom about the sanctions bill might risk his standing with the Establishment, so he added:

"Don't misunderstand me. In questioning congressional review of sanctions, I'm not excusing Trump's behavior. His non-response to Russia's well-documented meddling in the 2016 presidential election has been outrageous."

However, as usual for the U.S. mainstream media, Ignatius doesn't cite any of those documents. Presumably, he's referring to the Jan. 6 assessment, which itself contained no real evidence to support its opinion that Russia hacked into Democratic emails and gave them to WikiLeaks for distribution.

Just because a lot of Important People keep repeating the same allegation doesn't make the allegation true or "well-documented." And skepticism should be raised even higher when there is a clear political motive for pushing a falsehood as truth, as we should have learned from President George W. Bush's Iraq-WMD fallacies and from President Barack Obama's wild exaggerations about the need to intervene in Libya to prevent a massacre of civilians.

But Washington neocons always start with a leg up because of their easy access to the editorial pages of The New York Times and Washington Post as well as their speed-dial relationships with producers at CNN and other cable outlets.

Yet, the neocons have achieved perhaps their greatest success by merging Cold War Russo-phobia with the Trump Derangement Syndrome to enlist liberals and even progressives into the neocon drive for more "regime change" wars.

There can be no doubt that the escalation of sanctions against Russia and Iran will have the effect of escalating geopolitical tensions with those two important countries and making war, even nuclear war, more likely.

In Iran, hardliners are already telling President Hassan Rouhani, "We told you so" that the U.S. government can't be trusted in its promise to remove - not increase - sanctions in compliance with the nuclear agreement.

And, Putin, who is actually one of the more pro-Western leaders in Russia, faces attacks from his own hardliners who view him as naive in thinking that Russia would ever be accepted by the West.

Even relative Kremlin moderates such as Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, are citing Trump's tail-between-his-legs signing of the sanctions bill as proof that the U.S. establishment has blocked any hope for a detente between Washington and Moscow.

In other words, the prospects for advancing the neocon agenda of more "regime change" wars and coups have grown - and the neocons can claim as their allies virtually the entire Democratic Party hierarchy which is so eager to appease its angry #Resistance base that even the heightened risk of nuclear war is being ignored.
(c) 2017 Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America's Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).








Environmental Protection Act Review Could Strengthen Human Rights
By David Suzuki

Governments change -along with laws, regulations and priorities. It's the nature of democracies. In Canada, we've seen environmental laws implemented, then weakened or overturned, then strengthened and re-instated. But the basic necessities of health, well-being and life shouldn't be subject to the shifting agendas of political parties. That's why Canada should recognize the right to a healthy environment in its Constitution -something 110 countries already do.

We're a ways from that, but some promising developments give hope for the possibility that all people in Canada may soon enjoy the right to breathe fresh air, drink clean water, eat healthy foods and take part in decisions that affect their lives. In June, the federal Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development -made up of Liberal, Conservative and NDP members of Parliament -released a report recommending, among other things, that government legally recognize the right to a healthy environment in the Environmental Protection Act.

If government implements the recommendations, it would be the first time the right to a healthy environment has been recognized in Canadian federal law.

The report, based on a year-long review of the act, includes 87 recommendations regarding air- and water-quality standards, toxins in consumer products, protection for vulnerable populations and communities, environmental justice and the right to a healthy environment. If implemented, these recommendations would deliver far-reaching health benefits, so it's no surprise that many people and organizations from the health and medical sectors, academia and beyond have endorsed them. Federal environment and health departments and ministers have until October 15 to review and respond to the report.

The government renewed the Environmental Protection Act in 1999 as the primary law governing toxins and pollution. But it needs further updating and strengthening. Changing conditions, a lack of resources and poor enforcement have limited its effectiveness. The Toronto Public Library collected more late-book fines in one year than the government has collected from fines imposed through the act in 20 years!

Considering that an estimated 7,700 people in Canada die prematurely from causes related to poor air quality and Canada ranks 25th among rich countries on children's well-being, in part because of a failure to improve air quality, improving the act is critical. A study by the International Institute for Sustainable Development shows pollution alone costs Canada more than $39 billion a year.

Acting quickly to implement the recommendations will save lives, prevent illnesses and reduce associated costs. By requiring safe replacements for toxic substances, it will also bolster the green chemistry industry, one of the world's fastest-growing economic sectors.

It could also set a precedent for including environmental rights in other laws, such as the Canadian Environmental Assessment, Fisheries, Navigable Waters and National Energy Board acts, which are also under review. This would help ensure higher standards for air, soil and water quality.

And it could help drive the impetus for a stand-alone environmental bill of rights. In recognizing environmental rights as human rights, the committee's recommendations mark a shift in the way we discuss environmental protection. A stand-alone bill would take the concept further. It would put human and environmental health at the centre of decision-making, and ensure consistency and coherence between different environmental laws. It would help institutionalize environmental rights protection within governing bodies, make the process of implementing environmental rights more transparent and assist judges in making informed and consistent decisions in cases when those rights are violated. Ultimately, the right to a healthy environment should be included in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to ensure consistency in environmental and health protection between provinces and territories and to make it easier to uphold citizens' rights regardless of which federal political party is governing. The recommendations for improving the Environmental Protection Act are an important stepping stone. They would quickly improve environmental protection in Canada and pave the way for a stand-alone environmental bill of rights. Our political representatives face many competing interests and priorities, so it's critical for us all to let them know we want them to carefully consider and implement the committee's recommendations.
(c) 2017 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.








He's Not Afraid. He's Not Going Away
Robert Mueller is going after all of it.
By Charles P. Pierce

(Permanent Musical Accompaniment To The Last Post Of The Week From The Blog's Favourite Living Canadian.)

Quiz time.

What's the only thing worse than being the target of a grand jury called by Robert Mueller?

Being the target of two grand juries called by Robert Mueller!

From NBC News: Special Counsel Robert Mueller has tapped multiple grand juries, including juries in Washington and Virginia, in an effort to gather evidence in the ongoing federal investigation into Russia's meddling in the U.S. presidential election, three sources familiar with the matter told NBC News. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Mueller had impanelled a separate grand jury in Washington, but sources familiar with the matter say that Mueller is using existing grand juries in both Washington and Virginia.

It appears that Mueller's after it all-the alleged financial shenanigans that pre-date last November's election, the slow-dancing with Russian oligarchs, the infusions of cash from the banks of the Volga that kept the Trump Organization in business, the overpayment by Russians for condos owned by the Trump Organization-everything, as the great Lennie Briscoe once said to a Russian mob kingpin, right down to the rubber in your wallet. He is not afraid and he is not going away.

There is no possible way that this White House is D'd up for the Category Five shitstorm that's coming over the next six months to a year. Right now, there's no indication that anyone there has any grasp at all about how anything in Washington works, let alone how to handle the magnitude of what's rolling up the driveway of the West Wing. This is why we should join Eugene Robinson in being alarmed about what the president* told his fans in West Virginia on Thursday night:

"They can't beat us at the voting booths so they're trying to cheat you out of the future and the future that you want..."They're trying to cheat you out of the leadership you want with a fake story that is demeaning to all of us. And most importantly, demeaning to our country."
Chris Matthews was correct in seeing a little Huey Long in what the president* fed to the base on Thursday night, even though, truth be told, the Kingfish would have eaten the likes of Donald Trump on toast. ("Who took on the Standard Oil men and whipped they ass?") This president* will pull the temple down on his own head if it means another twenty bucks or if it means keeping the dark side of his business dark.

Already, the house organ is playing a tune called, "Grand Juries. Why Do We Need'em?" And then there was this hilarious moment on CNN this morning when bed-sniffing yahoo Kenneth Starr, who needed to know what Bill Clinton did with a cigar but couldn't be bothered to investigate rapes at the college over which he had been chosen to preside, managed to smack Chris Cuomo's gob into next Thursday. Starr said:

"I do think it is a, certainly a serious matter when a special counsel is accused-and I was accused of that-of exceeding his or her authority. That's a serious matter because we do not want investigators and prosecutors out on a fishing expedition."
Ken Starr said that, and this whole business is nowhere near as weird as it's going to get.
(c) 2017 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.








The Quotable Quote...



"The world is violent and mercurial--it will have its way with you. We are saved only by love-love for each other and the love that we pour into the art we feel compelled to share: being a parent; being a writer; being a painter; being a friend. We live in a perpetually burning building, and what we must save from it, all the time, is love."
~~~ Tennessee Williams









Prosecuting Famine Creation
Remarks at the Democracy Convention, Minneapolis, Minn., August 4, 2017
By David Swanson

I was asked to speak about prosecuting weapons dealers and war makers with a focus on Saudi Arabia. There are, I think, many ways that one could go about that. I say this as a non-lawyer, with certain perverse preferences that lawyers generally don't share.

For example it's my belief that if a president declares a bill to be unconstitutional and simultaneously signs it into law, he hasn't done something sophisticated and moderate, rather he's handed us Reason #82 to impeach him. This is what Trump just did with a signing statement on the sanctions bill. A signing statement, if you haven't heard, was an outrage when Bush the Lesser developed it as a tool for announcing his intent to violate the very laws he signed into being. When Obama violated the Constitution and his campaign promises by doing the same and added the Silent Signing Statement in which he refrained from announcing his criminal intent whenever he could rely on a previous signing statement, that was of course a flawed humanitarian act by a legal scholar who meant well in his heart of hearts. And when Trump does it, it's called normal and routine by the same New York Times reporter who was outraged by Bush. This in a nutshell is how violating a law, in this case the highest law, becomes the accepted interpretation of the law. Once both branches of the U.S. government - the Republican and the Democratic - have accepted a crime it's not a crime, or as Dick Nixon might have put it, if both parties do it then it's legal.

By a similar process, routine violation of the UN Charter's ban on war (and of course of the Kellogg-Briand Pact's stronger ban on war) has been made into the legal enforcement of the UN Charter's Responsibility to Protect. The fact that neither the UN Charter nor any other written law ever mentions the Responsibility to Protect should not distract you from the de facto law of the land - at least not if you've been to law school and have a successful career in mind. Not only is war legal in the view of most lawyers, but anything that is part of a war is legal. This is the inversion of the case brought against the Nazis at Nuremberg, which held that the violation of the Kellogg-Briand Pact rendered criminal any component parts of - any particular atrocities or complicity in - the war. Nowadays we have lawyers like Rosa Brooks testify before Congress that drone murders are murder if not part of a war and perfectly fine if part of a war - with the question of whether they are part of a war unknowable because the president determines that in secret memos.

In Yemen, in my naive view that treats written laws as, you know, laws, Saudi Arabia is violating the UN Charter and the Kellogg Briand Pact. So is the U.S. military in its active collaboration on the destruction of Yemen, which has been indispensible and has included troops on the ground including those admitted to today as reported in the Washington Post. But if famine creation or disease epidemic creation were a crime, then Saudi Arabia and the United States would be guilty of that crime as well. This massive, possibly world's greatest current, tragedy is without question largely the creation of this war and of Obama's so-called successful drone war on Yemen that helped get us here - a war which also violated the same laws. On top of this fundamental violation of what became understood at Nuremberg as the supreme international law, when the U.S. military collaborates with Saudi Arabia it also violates a U.S. law called the Leahy Law, which requires that the U.S. military only support mass murder by nations that do not violate human rights. Not being a lawyer, I cannot explain to you how to commit a mass-murder that respects human rights. But I am able to suggest how Saudi Arabia, even while holding a leadership position on the UN Human Rights Council, is a world leader in quintessential violations of human rights.

Reportedly Donald Trump decided to stop the U.S. arming of rebel fighters in Syria after watching a video of one such U.S.-backed group murdering a little child. Has Donald Trump not seen any videos of Saudi Arabia beheading or whipping men, women, or children? For that matter, does he believe that U.S. missiles kill without dismembering? Is there a law somewhere that I haven't heard of that sanctions murders that leave the head connected to the torso? Saudi Arabia is about to execute 14 people for protesting, including a student of the University of Michigan who was arrested at the airport as he tried to fly to the United States.

Now, there exists a legalisticalish defense I haven't mentioned of bombing Yemen, blockading Yemen, starving thousands of Yemenis to death, spreading cholera across the Yemeni population, and all such respectable attacks on Saudi Arabia's impoverished neighbor. And it is this: Yemen's deposed and exiled dictator has invited Saudi Arabia and the United States to bomb the people who failed to respect his tyrannical rule. On its face this seems reasonable enough. After all, if Donald Trump were to be impeached and removed from office, and he were to take up residence on some private island somewhere and invite China to produce his golf outfits with slave labor, oh and also to bomb various U.S. cities flat, we'd all recognize the legitimacy of that action, wouldn't we?

This is similar to the defense of Russian bombings in Syria. But where is the law that permits it? Where can I read that law? And how do dubious and certainly exaggerated claims that the Saudi war in Yemen is actually a war against Iran prop up this argument? Two crimes do not make a legality.

But how do we go after the weapons sales? Their authorization? Or the weapons dealers? The Pope tried telling Congress members they had blood on their hands. They gave him a standing ovation and escalated the weapons sales. As far as I know, we have to use the world court and the International Criminal Court to go after the war makers, thereby ending the related weapons usage. Then we have to ban the weapons sales and prosecute any violation of that ban going forward. But we can proceed immediately with public campaigns to divest from the weapons dealers and to shame the weapons dealers and their Congressional enablers.

The international courts are under the thumb of the permanent security council members, meaning that we need to reform them, structurally or through public pressure, and/or we need to persuade individual nations to prosecute under universal jurisdiction. Spain tried that with U.S. torturers, and the U.S. came down hard on Spain.

The one place where the ICC claims to be considering prosecuting a non-African is U.S. crimes - not the crime of war, but lesser crimes - in Afghanistan - which is an ICC member, thus providing jurisdiction even though the United States is not a member. This is Bush and Obama era crimes, so unacceptable to both branches of the U.S. government, but the war on Afghanistan is losing popularity among those who know it hasn't ended. We can now ask people: "If you couldn't oppose the Obama war on Afghanistan to benefit the people bombed, can you oppose Trump's war to steal their rocks?" Movement by the ICC on prosecuting U.S. crimes in Afghanistan might be just the final straw we need to put an end to that 16-year-long horror. And it would set a wonderful precedent, including for Yemen - albeit not in time to save many thousands of lives, unless perhaps we begin by ending the practice of lawyers billing by the hour.

Another approach we can take is to break apart the U.S.-Saudi relationship. We ought to be able to do that. Remember that another legalish excuse for all these wars is the Authorization for the Use of Military Force passed by Congress in response to the 9/11 crimes, which we now know were facilitated by the Saudi government. We also know that Saudi Arabia has been a top proponent of war and terrorism for years, not to mention a top producer of slow death by fossil fuels. Bernie Sanders ran for president on the position that Saudi Arabia should "get its hands dirty" and fund more of the wars the world depends on, so that the United States can stop funding so many of them. My view is that Saudi Arabia's more than sufficiently dirty hands should be kept out of my pockets.

One pseudo-legal way to do that would be to start impeaching and unelecting people for legitimate reasons rather than Russophobia or oral sex. Or, more realistically, we could work on finding Saudi ties to either Russia or sex in the White House. I believe the latter course is most in line with what our founding fathers intended.
(c) 2017 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.




When DNC Chair Tom Perez, right, speaks next to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders,
it's a stark contrast between establishment cliches and progressive populism.




DNC Fraud Lawsuit Exposes Anti-Democratic Views In Democratic Party
By Norman Solomon

Nine months after losing the presidency, the Democratic Party is in dire need of a course correction. Grass-roots enthusiasm for the party is far from robust. Despite incessant funding appeals and widespread revulsion for the Trump administration, the Democratic National Committee's fundraising is notably weak. And the latest DNC chair, Tom Perez, sounds no more inspiring than his recent predecessors. When Perez speaks next to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, it's a stark contrast between establishment cliches and progressive populism.

While a united front against the Trump regime would be ideal, mere unity behind timeworn Democratic leadership would hardly be auspicious. Breaking the Republican stranglehold at election time will require mobilizing the Democratic Party's base on behalf of authentic populism. But the power structure of the DNC has other priorities.

A comment from Sanders five months ago remains fully relevant: "Certainly, there are some people in the Democratic Party who want to maintain the status quo. They would rather go down with the Titanic so long as they have first-class seats."

Meanwhile, along with most Democrats in Congress, the DNC remains eager to heap blame on Russia for the defeat of Hillary Clinton. That's been a nifty way to deflect attention from what cried out for scrutiny after November's election-the reality that Clinton's close ties with Wall Street and big banks made it unconvincing to pitch her as an ally of working people.

All this is context for a lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee that has been slowly wending its way through a federal district court in Florida. The suit contends that the DNC engaged in fraud by reneging on a key commitment in its charter.

The DNC charter is fairly explicit. Article V, Section 4 says: "In the conduct and management of the affairs and procedures of the Democratic National Committee, particularly as they apply to the preparation and conduct of the Presidential nomination process, the Chairperson shall exercise impartiality and evenhandedness as between the Presidential candidates and campaigns."

The charter goes on to state: "The Chairperson shall be responsible for ensuring that the national officers and staff of the Democratic National Committee maintain impartiality and evenhandedness during the Democratic Party Presidential nominating process."

DNC emails that reached the public a year ago show direct and purposeful violations of those DNC rules. As The New York Times reported with understatement days before the national convention, "The emails appear to bolster Mr. Sanders's claims that the committee, and in particular [DNC Chair Debbie] Wasserman Schultz, did not treat him fairly."

A week after the release of those incriminating DNC emails in July 2016, a Miami-based law firm (Beck & Lee) filed a suit on behalf of plaintiffs who had donated to the DNC, alleging that the DNC committed "civil fraud."

The DNC emails show that top committee officials violated the DNC charter's "impartiality and evenhandedness" requirements. When compelled to respond at a hearing in U.S. District Court in southern Florida on April 25, the DNC's legal team came up with a revealing defense-claiming that the DNC has a right to be unfair during the presidential nominating process.

A lawyer for the DNC, Bruce Spiva, told the judge: "We could have voluntarily decided that, 'Look, we're gonna go into back rooms like they used to and smoke cigars and pick the candidate that way.' That's not the way it was done. But they could have. And that would have also been their right."

In other words, Spiva was saying that his clients atop the DNC didn't mug democracy in this case but could have if they'd wanted to-and they retain the right to do so in the future.

Later that day, Spiva tried to clean up a potential public relations snafu while reaffirming the DNC's legalistic stance: "In response to my hypothetical that the party could choose its nominees in a smoke-filled room, I want to just reiterate that the party ran the process fair and impartially, and does not do that and doesn't plan to do that. But these, again, are political choices that either party is free to make and are not enforceable in a court of law."

Lawyers often make "even if" arguments in court that might not look good elsewhere. But this one is unusually telling-telling us that the most powerful people at the DNC reserve the right to put their thumbs on the scales when the Democratic Party chooses its presidential nominee.

If DNC leaders really want to help build the kind of relationships with the grass roots that are needed for defeating the Trump-Pence forces, the DNC should be trying to climb out of its estrangement hole, not digging itself in deeper.

Alienation from the Democratic Party hierarchy last fall-especially among young people who turned out for Sanders during the primaries but not for Clinton in November-was a major factor in Trump's victory. (CIinton's youthful support sank to such a low level in national polling that I wrote for The Hill just five weeks before the November election, "If this country had a maximum voting age of 35, Hillary Clinton would now be in danger of losing the election to Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson.") Like the Clinton campaign itself, the DNC was complacent about the distrust that the party's hierarchy had earned.

Seven months into 2017, the DNC seems to be on the same basic track as last year. It is symbolic and substantive that one of the national Democratic Party's most prominent online fundraising spokespeople is still Donna Brazile, who filled in as acting DNC chair after Wasserman Schultz suddenly resigned in disrepute last summer when her on-the-job bias was exposed. The release of Clinton campaign emails showed that Brazile had used her position as a CNN commentator to obtain and secretly funnel debate questions to Clinton-via campaign chairman John Podesta and communications director Jennifer Palmieri-during the primary battle between Clinton and Sanders.

In a recent article, Salon columnist Sophia McClennen recalled: "In the months when she was interim DNC chair, Brazile went on totally lying about her transgressions until she finally admitted to doing it, but stated that she felt no remorse."

McClennen added: "The DNC is tone deaf to the fact that Brazile and Wasserman Schultz and the whole pack of insiders that didn't hold an ethical primary should be exiled from the party, they are tone deaf to the real reasons why Trump won, and they are tone deaf to the fact that Sanders is the most popular politician and the most popular Senator in the nation. ...The Trump administration's cronyism, elitism and disregard for any semblance of democratic values has voters calling for impeachment, but the DNC has its own credibility problems-exemplified by the fact that Donna Brazile is still a party insider."

The twin imperatives of taking government control away from Republicans and fighting for a genuinely progressive agenda will require an ongoing challenge to the entrenched national Democratic Party leadership. (Those who scoff at using the Democratic Party as an electoral tool to oust the Trump-Pence-Ryan-McConnell GOP have no other credible electoral tool to propose.) We can't afford to leave the Democratic Party to the corporatists and militarists who currently dominate it from the top.

Odds are that the fraud lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee won't get much further in legal proceedings. Yet the suit has already clarified and underscored a crucial reality. Progressive rhetoric notwithstanding, the DNC remains in sync with the same kind of anti-democratic arrogance that oversaw the party's disastrous 2016 election campaign. The progressive uprising for political revolution must continue.
(c) 2017 Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."





The Dead Letter Office...





Robert gives the corporate salute

Heil Trump,

Dear Seelsorger Jeffress,

Congratulations, you have just been awarded the "Vidkun Quisling Award!" Your name will now live throughout history with such past award winners as Marcus Junius Brutus, Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, George Stephanopoulos, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Prescott Bush, Sam Bush, Fredo Bush, Kate Bush, Kyle Busch, Anheuser Busch, Vidkun Quisling, and last year's winner Volksjudge John (the enforcer) Roberts.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your belief that god chose Trump to be president and in fact "God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong-un," Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Religious whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuehrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuehrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 09-23-2017. We salute you herr Jeffress, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump




Trump gives the corporate salute!


Night Thoughts On Trump And America
By Robert Reich

With Donald Trump away vacationing at one of his golf resorts, the rest of us may have a chance to relax. But in truth it's more like a short break in a continuing nightmare. Just enough time to turn on the light, look at the clock and ponder where we are, before the nightmare envelopes us again.

What can we ponder that will make all of this a bit less frightening? For one thing, it could be far worse. Trump could have fulfilled his campaign promises to repeal Obamacare, lock Hillary up, build a wall, and throw out all immigrants without papers.

By now he might have confused so many Americans about the truth that most of us would believe the words coming out of his mouth. Hell, by now he could have incited another civil war.

Actually very little has happened. He's huffed and puffed, threatened and fumed, yet almost none of it has found its way into concrete laws. And it may not: The typical "honeymoon" enjoyed by new presidents is over for him. His first hundred days came and left, almost without a trace.

Another thing is Trump's "favorables," as pollsters call them, continue to tumble into territory never before seen at this stage of a presidency. Only about a third of the country still supports him; the opinions of the rest range from bad to awful. And his credibility is shot.

Even Republicans in congress are now more willing to buck him (some are even talking about fixing what needs fixing in Obamacare). Meanwhile, special counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury with the power to subpoena Trump's financial records. Didn't Trump hint he'd fire Mueller if he did this? Wouldn't firing Mueller be the beginning of the end?

Trump has also ignited a prairie fire of grassroots activism, almost all of it against him. Across the country, people who were never politically active are rolling up their sleeves and getting involved - attending congressional town meetings, writing letters to the editors of their local papers, organizing for the 2018 midterms. Some are even running themselves.

This outburst of political effort resisting Trump has no parallel in recent history. John F. Kennedy asked Americans to ponder what they might do for America; Donald Trump is getting them to actually do it.

In the middle of the night one's thoughts also turn to where we are in life. Trump was born in 1946, the same year Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Robert Mueller and, coincidentally, Clinton's own special prosecutor, Ken Starr were born. And yours truly. We are all, shall we say, beyond our prime. There's only so much damage a septuagenarian can do from here on.

To put it another way, a few weeks from now I'll be returning to the classroom and a new crop of college freshmen. They were born in or around 1998. Chronologically, they're as far removed from Trump and the rest of us early boomers as we were, when we went to college, from Americans born in 1912. Which is to say, a very long way.

So unless Trump brings on a nuclear war that ends life as we know it on the planet, he is unlikely to have much influence on the lives of my upcoming freshmen. His first (and perhaps only) term in office will be over when they're just 22. Think of being 22 years old and having your whole life ahead of you, without Trump.

At the same time, Trump has been a boon to ethicists, moral philosophers, and the rest of us who tend to wake up in the night and think about big scary things. Trump has brought the nation back to first principles.

Most presidents spur debates over things like whether the economy needs a more stimulative fiscal policy, or whether America should support the expansion of NATO to the Baltic states. Trump has made us debate whether the U.S. economy can exist separate from the rest of the world, and whether we should even belong to NATO.

Some presidents get us talking about civil rights and civil liberties. Trump has got us talking about democracy versus tyranny.

I don't mean to minimize the damage he's already done. I don't remember America so angry and divided - not even through the battles over civil rights and Vietnam. Trump has also demeaned the office of the presidency, licensed bigotry, appointed absurdly incompetent people to his Cabinet, violated every ethics and conflict-of-interest rule imaginable, reduced America's influence and moral authority in the world, and may even have conspired with a foreign power to rig a presidential election.

That's a lot in just under seven months. He deserves a vacation.

But taking the slightly longer view, the nation is still functioning. Our democratic institutions have so far stood the test and remain strong, just as the founding fathers intended. Presidential power is checked and balanced so the current occupant of the Oval Office is hemmed in. Plus, our friends and allies around the world understand that our condition is temporary. America will be back.

It has been an incredibly stressful time, but most of us are okay. In fact, I'd venture to say most Americans remain optimistic - especially my upcoming college freshmen, who have their whole lives ahead of them.
(c) 2017 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His website is www.robertreich.org.




Like fruit flies, Trump aides are doomed to short, miserable lives.





There Is No Way To Survive The Trump White House
The tenures of Reince Priebus and Anthony Scaramucci represent two opposite, but equally ineffective, strategies for surviving the Trump White House
By Matt Taibbi

The body of former White House Director of Communications Anthony Scaramucci was discovered on the White House lawn Monday. Scaramucci's neatly-coiffed head, along with the mushier, more panicked capitulum of former chief of staff and freshly-resigned rival Reince Priebus, was found a short distance away, gored on the White House gates as a message to their replacements.

The heads - you're looking at the heads - are beginning to pile up in number. Donald Trump rose to fame as a TV star with his cruel punchline firings of hapless reality-show contestants. As chief executive of the world's mightiest nuclear superpower, he has now spent most of his first term sowing panic around the world with an ever-tightening pattern of purges and forced resignations.

Like Soviet Commissars promoted during the Great Terror, Trump appointees begin composing their last words from the moment they ascend to high office. The fallen include an FBI Director (James Comey), an NSC Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs (Craig Deare, escorted off the White House grounds for criticizing Trump in off-the-record comments at the Woodrow Wilson Center), the first female White House usher (Angella Reid), a top Middle East adviser (Derek Harvey, a longtime intelligence official quietly whacked last week in what was seen as a message to Steve Bannon), an Acting Attorney General (Sally Yates), and a host of others.

There have been many resignations, a few of them perhaps truly voluntary - like Disney CEO Bob Iger and Tesla chief Elon Musk deciding to bounce from a White House Advisory Council after his Orangeness pulled out of the Paris Accords - but a great many others seem to have been "resigned."

Michael Flynn, Priebus, and former Priebus Deputy Katie Walsh come to mind here. The most public posts are the most perilous. The next White House Director of Communications will already be Trump's fourth - you may have forgotten about Mike Dubke, who served for 85 days from February through the end of May. That doesn't even factor in assistant press secretaries like Michael Short, who ate the cyanide pill in the form of a hastily written resignation text last week.

Short rushed to quit after seeing a Politico report indicating that he was about to be fired. Anthony Scaramucci, who reportedly was about to do the firing, said he was terribly upset "as a human being and as a Roman Catholic" that the press somehow knew Short's fate before Short did. Scaramucci himself was out a few days later, and the week-plus on the job with Trump only cost him his marriage - his wife Deidre reportedly filed for divorce after "Mooch" elected to skip the birth of their child to be with his president.

In Mooch's defense, he texted after the birth - "Congratulations, I'll pray for the child" - but this surprisingly did little to mollify his soon-to-be ex-wife.

The maelstrom of firings speaks to the peculiar chaos of the Trump White House. Basically, there is no successful formula for bureaucratic survival in this administration.

The twin killings of Scaramucci and Priebus tell the whole story. The two men represented opposite strategies for surviving Castle Trumpsylvania, and both turned out to be equally ineffective.

Scaramucci committed the cardinal sin in the Trump White House, getting more press than the president. The kiss of death was probably a Breitbart article about his brief but colorful reign. "Move over President Donald Trump. You are yesterday's news," the piece said. "It seems like this is now The Anthony Scaramucci Show. And Trump better get used to it."

If this was return fire from Scaramucci-accused autofellator Steve Bannon, who after all used to run Breitbart, it hit its mark. The bestubbled Pope of the alt-right understands the "never outshine Trump" dynamic better than anyone. Bannon himself was nearly ousted (and was in fact removed from the National Security Council) after Time magazine ran a somber cover portrait of Trump's Svengali in full pseudo-intellectual chin-scratch over the headline, "THE GREAT MANIPULATOR." The piece asked if Bannon was the second-most powerful man in the world. This was actually was a mild take compared to the New York Times, which ran an editorial questioning, "President Bannon?"


US President Donald Trump (L) congratulates Senior Counselor to the President Stephen Bannon during the
swearing-in of senior staff in the East Room of the White House on January 22, 2017 in Washington, DC.

The wave of press depicting Trump as a brainless puppet with Bannon's manipulative hand thrust up his clacker prompted an avalanche of leaks from inside the Trump White House, apparently from the Jared Kushner side of the building, all targeting the ex-Breitbart chief. It also led to an abrupt policy reversal with a missile attack into Syria, a move that was widely seen as Trump wriggling free of Bannon's irresponsibly populist/isolationist tendencies.

The fact that Bannon was not fired at that time has led to occasional speculation that he remains the most powerful voice in the White House (GQ, in an admirably blatant attempt to get Bannon axed, has continued to call him the "shadow president"). In the recent context, the Breitbart piece telling Trump to "move over" and "get used" to the Scaramucci show sealed the hedge-funder's fate, as even the New York Times wondered if the Mooch era was "overshadowing" Trump.

The Scaramucci/Bannon rule seems to suggest that the best strategy for survival in the Trump White House is to lay low, keep your face off cable, and genuflect to His Highness as shamelessly and excessively as possible. No dice!

Priebus, a born bootlicker and capitulator whose spine was surgically removed years ago during his first term as RNC chairman, tried exactly this strategy, and ended up just as dead as Scaramucci.

There are countless stories attesting to Priebus' extreme unwillingness to confront the president. Granted the White House Chief of Staff job with sweeping assurances from Trump that he would have full autonomy and control in the White House, Priebus ultimately was reduced - this is according to the latest leaks - to listening at the door of the Oval Office in an attempt to guess who was meeting with the president.

Priebus put up with everything, including being groped on stage by Bannon, ripped in public by Trump pal Christopher Ruddy ("He's in way over his head," Ruddy said of Reince), and not-so-subtly blamed for a host of Trump administration failures (a February Breitbart piece blaming Reince for the botched immigration ban was a classic example).

Priebus took it all in a soldierly way - well, more like a groveling, frat pledge-y way - and yet in the most crucial moment, his lack of backbone was held against him. Scaramucci had done the opposite of Priebus, bragging about his new influence and insisting he had a direct line to the man with the funny hair. He ridiculed Priebus in an epic nighttime rant to New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza, calling him a "fucking paranoid schizophrenic" who had "cock-blocked" Scaramucci and systematically leaked Trumplandia secrets to the media.

From biblical murder analogies to denials of auto-fellatio, the Mooch's brief tenure will be, at the very least, memorable

To this Priebus did what he'd always done - nothing, eating the humiliation like a meat loaf. He told fellow self-flagellating yes man Wolf Blitzer he "wasn't going to get in the mud in those kind of things."

This was the high road, seemingly, but not to Trump, who hilariously was furious with Priebus for refusing to "fight back." According to the Wall Street Journal, Trump was "dismissive" of the fact that Priebus didn't stick up for himself. As the Huffington Post and others have pointed out, Trump likes competition among subordinates, and doesn't much go for turning the other cheek (or, in Priebus' case, "turning the other face").

"Get even with people," Trump told an audience in Australia, to cheers, many years ago. "If they screw you, you screw them back 10 times as hard."

This is a great strategy for creating reality show drama, and Trump has certainly done a fantastic job of that. The Trump White House of late has become a must-see drama combining multiple reality genres, with the fire-the-loser format of The Apprentice merged with geeks-trapped-in-a-house concepts like Real World or the more apropos Estate of Panic.

It's great television, but impossible politics. Trump, if he had any brains at all, would have kept Scaramucci at all costs. "Mooch" would have mesmerized the media with his ribald insanity and dragged the cameras away from Trump's impending indictment/impeachment, perhaps even giving Trump enough time to form a legal defense or an interstellar escape plan.

But even in a crisis, Trump cannot take not being the center of attention. Hiring a mulish Marine four-star general to take charge of the White House sounds like a good idea and will probably draw plaudits from the credential-obsessed corporate press (particularly if Kelly succeeds in convincing Trump to launch a war somewhere). But hiring a military taskmaster to impose message discipline is useless if the new general has no power to keep the loudest mouth of the lot - Trump's own - shut.

Some see in all these maneuverings an effort to purge GOP loyalists like Spicer and Priebus. Others see a Nixonian lunge to hire thugs in a crisis. This to me is all overthinking things. There is no strategy. This White House is just a succession of spasmodic Trump failures, with a growing line of people taking the fall for each of them. You can fall with honor, or without, entertainingly or not. But if you join this White House, fall you will. It's only a matter of time.
(c) 2017 Matt Taibbi is Rolling Stone's chief political reporter, Matt Taibbi's predecessors include the likes of journalistic giants Hunter S. Thompson and P.J. O'Rourke. Taibbi's 2004 campaign journal Spanking the Donkey cemented his status as an incisive, irreverent, zero-bullshit reporter. His books include Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History, The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion, Smells Like Dead Elephants: Dispatches from a Rotting Empire.




The Cartoon Corner...

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










To End On A Happy Note...





Have You Seen This...






Parting Shots...





Mike Pence Considering Running For President In 1820
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)-Vice-President Mike Pence is seriously considering running for President in 1820, various sources confirmed over the weekend.

According to several prominent Republican donors, Pence is already laying the groundwork for such a campaign, outlining what he believes are the most serious challenges facing 1820 America.

In a conference call with donors last week, Pence reportedly said that, as President, his No. 1 priority would be to repeal and replace the Bill of Rights.

He offered a sneak preview of a potential 1820 stump speech, in which he unleashed a brutal attack on the Bill of Rights' author, James Madison, and called for the development of the telegraph key.

According to Harland Dorrinson, a donor who was on the conference call, "Mike believes he's the right man to bring America into the nineteenth century, just like he did for Indiana."

But minutes after the rumors were reported, the Vice-President pushed back, putting quill to parchment to call the reports "bunkum and balderdash."

"America already has the perfect man to lead it in 1820, and that man is Donald J. Trump," Pence wrote.

In Washington, some political insiders also threw cold water on the Pence-in-1820 talk, arguing that the timing was not right. "Pence's best shot was 1620," one said.


(c) 2017 Andy Borowitz




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Issues & Alibis Vol 17 # 30 (c) 08/11/2017


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