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In This Edition

Nick Turse foresees, "The Coming Year in U.S. Special Operations Failures."

Uri Avnery explains, "Why I Am Angry."

Margaret Kimberley reminds us that, "Trump Love Endures."

Matt Taibbi explains, "Why Michael Wolff's Book Is Good News."

Jim Hightower tells, "How America's Middle Class Rose... And Fell."

John Nichols demands, "A President Who Attempts To Ban Books That Expose Him Should Be Impeached."

James Donahue is, "Converting CO2 Into Clean Air & Energy."

Norman Solomon exposes, "Social Media Madness: The Russia Canard."

Heather Digby Parton reports, "Trump Is No Reagan."

Bernie Sanders says, "It's On Republicans To Stop A Shutdown."

Charles P. Pierce explains, "Why Cliven Bundy Is Free."

Ralph Nader sends, "Working On Empathy And Other Concerns: An Open Letter To Donald Trump."

Bill McKibben returns with, "Applaud Mayor de Blasio And NYC For Climate Courage: Righteous Pension Divestment, Legal Fight Against Fossil-Fuel Companies."

Joe Arpaio wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich wonders, "Seriously, How Dumb Is Trump?"

Chris Hedges considers, "Corpses Of Souls."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst says, "Santa Should Have Left These Gifts" but first Uncle Ernie studies, "A Very Stable Genius."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Pat Bagley, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, Victor Juhasz, Carlos Barria, Burton, J. Scott Applewhite, Joshua Roberts, Nara Garber, Christopher Gregory, Mark Wilson, Joe Brusky, Brendan Smialowski, Maria Da Conceicao Araujo, Bill O'Leary, USASOC News Service, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, 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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A Very Stable Genius
By Ernest Stewart

"I was elected to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius....and a very stable genius at that!" ~~~ Donald Trump

Heatwave update: world No.11 Kristina Mladenovic retired midway through her Sydney Tennis match due to heat stress. 3 courtside photographers' cameras shut down, takes 55 degree temps to do that. ~~~ Jamie Pandaram ~ reporter

"Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a great guy. He endorsed me because I'm the best in immigration. And I think by his definition of the best, it's the best and the toughest." ~~~ Donald Trump

You know, the landlord rang my front door bell
I let it ring for a long, long spell
I went to the window,
I peeped through the blind,
And asked him to tell me what's on his mind
He said,
Money, honey, uh uh
Money, honey
Money, honey, if you want to get along with me.
Money Honey ~~~ Elvis Presley

Isn't it good to know that a "very stable genius" is in control of your future, America?

Whenever Trump comes into view do you hear the haunting theme of the Twilight Zone in the back of your mind? Do do do do. Do do do do. Can you see a man in a black suit smoking a cigarette saying, "Submitted for your approval. A woefully inadequate man, thrust upon the stage just before the final curtain in the third act of a bad tragedy. The sum of all mans deepest fears now rest in this man's tiny hands. We have just crossed over into The Twilight Zone!" Does that ring any bells?

It certainly would be a reassuring thought considering the reality of the Trumpster, would it not? Our fearless leader who is obviously suffering from a host of diseases from Alzheimers to Dementia not to mention being an insufferable ego maniac who acts like a spoiled brat child who is equipped with a 4th grade vocabulary and the manners of a pig. A racist, bigoted know-it-all who'd rather watch Fox News then attend important briefings and won't even look at one page reports, is the most power man on Earth with an itchy nuclear trigger finger, is our Fearless Leader or Furchtlos Fuhrer. Does that send a chill up your spine, America? I must admit, it scares the hell out of me!

Beyond all that it's obvious the Trump suffers from being a psychopath and has a narcissistic personality disorder. You might add sociopathy and being a hedonistic bully and mayhaps a sexual pervert, wouldn't be too far off the mark either. Whether or not he conspired with Putin to rig the election which would be a hanging offense, i.e., treason and sedition; which most former presidents are guilty of and have never been charged with, doesn't for the moment enter into it. His mental state is killing people, ask the folks in Puerto Rico how things are working our for them because of Trump's mental health. It's just a matter of time before America suffers big time over Trump. Oh and let's not forget the the Rethuglicans in the House and Senate are quite aware of these facts and are doing absolutely nothing to stop this. They have the power to impeach him or to use the 25th amendment but choose instead to cover up his faux pas'. Remember that, come election day, America!

In Other News

It's always something when it comes to global warming. Last Tuesday it was warmer in Anchorage Alaska than it was in Jacksonville Florida. Even though it was noon in Florida it was 8am in Anchorage it was warmer in Alaska. In fact it was warmer in Alaska than it was in the eastern and midwestern states. At the same time this was happening it was at toasty 7 degrees above zero in my neighborhood!

Of course, climate denier Trump had this to say:

"In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year's Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!"

Our polar vortex this weeks differs from the one in December of 2013 and January of 2014 as that one was sent off by a late Tsunami running up to Alaska and sending those frigid temperatures south as it also did in November of 2013.

As Noah Diffenbaugh, a climate scientist at Stanford University, explained that the particularly warm weather in the west of the country and the cold weather in the east is known as the North American winter temperature dipole, and it's becoming more common.

"We have peer-reviewed scientific evidence that, No. 1, this situation that's happening this week with the temperature in the U.S. is happening more frequently in recent years. No. 2, that is completely consistent with our understanding of global warming and we have peer-reviewed scientific evidence that this increase that we've identified is more likely with global warming." Ergo the heat goes up, the cold comes down, simple one would think?

The same goes for winter snowfall, global warming puts more water in the air, therefore, you have bigger rain or snow storms. Folks the temperature has only gone up 2 degrees fahrenheit so there will still be winters for some time to come. They'll just be worse, is all!

Meanwhile, in a "land down under" they're having a heat wave. In Sydney the temp was 117 degrees fahrenheit, the hottest day on record since 1939. I guess it could all be a coinencedensce all these heat waves, fires, hurricanes, tornados, droughts, blizzards and such, or all those tens of thousands of climate scientists are right and global warming is for real! What do you think? Who knows more about the weather, the climate scientists or Trump?

Oh, and did I mention that California now is one big mud slide? As I've said on many occasions once the fires out and the rain comes there is nothing left to hold back the hill sides in place and what's left standing on the top and sides, slides down to the folks below and buries everything that's in it's way. It's always something!

And Finally

There may have some good news from Arizona this week? I see where former Maricopa County Sherriff Joe Arpaio, the one that Trump pardoned, is going to run for Jeff Flakes Senate seat. Can you imagine a worse candidate for the Rethuglicans than Joe?

You may recall that Arpaio is not only a bigot and a racist but a vicious sadist as well. A man who sanctioned the abuse of Mexicans, leaving inmates at Maricopa County jails to die on the floor, and faking clearance reports for serious crimes, while abusing the power of his office to arrest and intimidate journalists, judges, and county officials. Oh, and let's not forget Joe's pink underware fetishes!

So I'm hoping that Joe will win the Rethuglican nomination as I'm having a deja vu about Roy Moore and old Jefferson Beauregard's Alabama Senate seat. As bad as Sessions is, and he is a very bad, evil, stupid person, Joe is ten times worse, and would give the Democrats Flakes Senate seat! Yippy tie one on! Therefore, Joe Is this week's Vidkun Quisling Award winner!

Keepin' On

We just made it into 2018 by the skin of our teeth. We need your help now more than ever. I don't spend 50 hour a week, every week, since December 12, 2000 because I lack things to do, I do it because we need to fight back lest we all becomes slaves again and that is exactly where this is leading!

I don't need to tell you what dire straights this country is in. I'm sure, that for many, that's the reason that they come here in the first pace. The truth is something that you need to know in this day and age. All the old bets are off, and this is, in so many ways, quickly turning into a Brave New World. Might it not be handy, to have folks that you can trust, and know exactly what's going down and will tell the unvarnished truth to help us all through those dangerous daze to come. I think it might come in handy!

Ergo, if you can could give us a hand, by paying your fair share to help us keep fighting the good fight for you and yours! We make no money out of this, not a dime in 17 years; but the Internet is not free; and I have no money, as, maybe like you, I just have my head above water. But if you can please send us whatever you can, as often as you can, to help keep us, keeping on, for you!


07-27-1931 ~ 01-05-2018
Thanks for the film!

09-24-1930 ~ 01-05-2018
Thanks for the adventure!

12-04-1937 ~ 01-08-2018
Thanks for the film!

10-05-1950 ~ 01-10-2018
Thanks for the music!


We get by with a little help from our friends!
So please help us if you can...?

****** We've Moved The Forum Back *******

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.


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) 2018 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.

"There is no persuasive security rationale for having U.S. Special Operations forces
involved in an astonishing 149 countries, given that the results of these missions are
just as likely to provoke greater conflict as they are to reduce it, in large part because
a U.S. military presence is too often used as a recruiting tool by local terrorist organizations."


The Coming Year in U.S. Special Operations Failures
From Afghanistan to Somalia, Special Ops Achieves Less With More.
By Nick Turse

At around 11 o'clock that night, four Lockheed MC-130 Combat Talons, turboprop Special Operations aircraft, were flying through a moonless sky from Pakistani into Afghan airspace. On board were 199 Army Rangers with orders to seize an airstrip. One hundred miles to the northeast, Chinook and Black Hawk helicopters cruised through the darkness toward Kandahar, carrying Army Delta Force operators and yet more Rangers, heading for a second site. It was October 19, 2001. The war in Afghanistan had just begun and U.S. Special Operations forces (SOF) were the tip of the American spear.

Those Rangers parachuted into and then swarmed the airfield, engaging the enemy -- a single armed fighter, as it turned out -- and killing him. At that second site, the residence of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, the special operators apparently encountered no resistance at all, even though several Americans were wounded due to friendly fire and a helicopter crash.

In 2001, U.S. special operators were targeting just two enemy forces: al-Qaeda and the Taliban. In 2010, his first full year in office, President Barack Obama informed Congress that U.S. forces were still "actively pursuing and engaging remaining al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan." According to a recent Pentagon report to Congress, American troops are battling more than 10 times that number of militant groups, including the still-undefeated Taliban, the Haqqani network, an Islamic State affiliate known as ISIS-Khorasan, and various "other insurgent networks."

After more than 16 years of combat, U.S. Special Operations forces remain the tip of the spear in Afghanistan, where they continue to carry out counterterrorism missions. In fact, from June 1st to November 24th last year, according to that Pentagon report, members of Special Operations Joint Task Force-Afghanistan conducted 2,175 ground operations "in which they enabled or advised" Afghan commandos.

"During the Obama administration the use of Special Operations forces increased dramatically, as if their use was a sort of magical, all-purpose solution for fighting terrorism," William Hartung, the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, pointed out. "The ensuing years have proven this assumption to be false. There are many impressive, highly skilled personnel involved in special operations on behalf of the United States, but the problems they are being asked to solve often do not have military solutions. Despite this fact, the Trump administration is doubling down on this approach in Afghanistan, even though the strategy has not prevented the spread of terrorist organizations and may in fact be counterproductive."

Global Commandos

Since U.S. commandos went to war in 2001, the size of Special Operations Command has doubled from about 33,000 personnel to 70,000 today. As their numbers have grown, so has their global reach. As TomDispatch revealed last month, they were deployed to 149 nations in 2017, or about 75% of the countries on the planet, a record-setting year. It topped 2016's 138 nations under the Obama administration and dwarfed the numbers from the final years of the Bush administration. As the scope of deployments has expanded, special operators also came to be spread ever more equally across the planet.

In October 2001, Afghanistan was the sole focus of commando combat missions. On March 19, 2003, special operators fired the first shots in the invasion of Iraq as their helicopter teams attacked Iraqi border posts near Jordan and Saudi Arabia. By 2006, as the war in Afghanistan ground on and the conflict in Iraq continued to morph into a raging set of insurgencies, 85% of U.S. commandos were being deployed to the Greater Middle East.

As this decade dawned in 2010, the numbers hadn't changed appreciably: 81% of all special operators abroad were still in that region. Eight years later, however, the situation is markedly different, according to figures provided to TomDispatch by U.S. Special Operations Command. Despite claims that the Islamic State has been defeated, the U.S. remains embroiled in wars in Iraq and Syria, as well as in Afghanistan and Yemen, yet only 54% of special operators deployed overseas were sent to the Greater Middle East in 2017. In fact, since 2006, deployments have been on the rise across the rest of the world. In Latin America, the figure crept up from 3% to 4.39%. In the Pacific region, from 7% to 7.99%. But the striking increases have been in Europe and Africa.

In 2006, just 3% of all commandos deployed overseas were operating in Europe. Last year, that number was just north of 16%. "Outside of Russia and Belarus we train with virtually every country in Europe either bilaterally or through various multinational events," Major Michael Weisman, a spokesman for U.S. Special Operations Command Europe, told TomDispatch. "The persistent presence of U.S. SOF alongside our allies sends a clear message of U.S. commitment to our allies and the defense of our NATO alliance." For the past two years, in fact, the U.S. has maintained a Special Operations contingent in almost every nation on Russia's western border. As Special Operations Command chief General Raymond Thomas put it last year, "[W]e've had persistent presence in every country -- every NATO country and others on the border with Russia doing phenomenal things with our allies, helping them prepare for their threats."

Africa, however, has seen the most significant increase in special ops deployments. In 2006, the figure for that continent was just 1%; as 2017 ended, it stood at 16.61%. In other words, more commandos are operating there than in any region except the Middle East. As I recently reported at Vice News, Special Operations forces were active in at least 33 nations across that continent last year.

The situation in one of those nations, Somalia, in many ways mirrors in microcosm the 16-plus years of U.S. operations in Afghanistan. Not long after the 9/11 attacks, a senior Pentagon official suggested that the Afghan invasion might drive militants out of that country and into African nations. "Terrorists associated with al-Qaeda and indigenous terrorist groups have been and continue to be a presence in this region," he said. "These terrorists will, of course, threaten U.S. personnel and facilities."

When pressed about actual transnational dangers, that official pointed to Somali militants, only to eventually admit that even the most extreme Islamists there "really have not engaged in acts of terrorism outside Somalia." Similarly, when questioned about connections between Osama bin Laden's core al-Qaeda group and African extremists, he offered only the most tenuous links, like bin Laden's "salute" to Somali militants who killed U.S. troops during the infamous 1993 Black Hawk Down incident.

Nonetheless, U.S. commandos reportedly began operating in Somalia in 2001, air attacks by AC-130 gunships followed in 2007, and 2011 saw the beginning of U.S. drone strikes aimed at militants from al-Shabaab, a terror group that didn't even exist until 2006. According to figures compiled by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the U.S. carried out between 32 and 36 drone strikes and at least 9 to 13 ground attacks in Somalia between 2001 and 2016.

Last spring, President Donald Trump loosened Obama-era restrictions on offensive operations in that country. Allowing U.S. forces more discretion in conducting missions there, he opened up the possibility of more frequent airstrikes and commando raids. The 2017 numbers reflect just that. The U.S. carried out 34 drone strikes, at least equaling if not exceeding the cumulative number of attacks over the previous 15 years. (And it took the United States only a day to resume such strikes this year.)

"President Trump's decision to make parts of southern Somalia an 'area of active hostilities' gave [U.S. Africa Command or AFRICOM] the leeway to carry out strikes at an increased rate because it no longer had to run their proposed operations through the White House national security bureaucratic process," said Jack Serle, an expert on U.S. counterterrorism operations in Somalia. He was quick to point out that AFRICOM claims the uptick in operations is due to more targets presenting themselves, but he suspects that AFRICOM may be attempting to cripple al-Shabaab before an African Union peacekeeping force is withdrawn and Somalia's untested military is left to fight the militants without thousands of additional African troops.

In addition to the 30-plus airstrikes in 2017, there were at least three U.S. ground attacks. In one of the latter, described by AFRICOM as "an advise-and-assist operation alongside members of the Somali National Army," Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken was killed and two U.S. personnel were injured during a firefight with al-Shabaab militants. In another ground operation in August, according to an investigation by the Daily Beast,Special Operations forces took part in a massacre of 10 Somali civilians. (The U.S. military is now investigating.)

As in Afghanistan, the U.S. has been militarily engaged in Somalia since 2001 and, as in Afghanistan, despite more than a decade and a half of operations, the number of militant groups being targeted has only increased. U.S. commandos are now battling at least two terror groups -- al-Shabaab and a local Islamic State affiliate -- as drone strikes spiked in the last year and Somalia became an ever-hotter war zone. Today, according to AFRICOM, militants operate "training camps" and possess "safe havens throughout Somalia [and] the region."

"The under-reported, 16-year U.S. intervention in Somalia has followed a similar pattern to the larger U.S. war in Afghanistan: an influx of special forces and a steady increase in air strikes has not only failed to stop terrorism, but both al-Shabaab and a local affiliate of ISIS have grown during this time period," said William Hartung of the Center for International Policy. "It's another case of failing to learn the lessons of the United States' policy of endless war: that military action is as likely or more likely to spark terrorist action as to reduce or prevent it."

Somalia is no anomaly. Across the continent, despite escalating operations by commandos as well as conventional American forces and their local allies and proxies, Washington's enemies continue to proliferate. As Vice News reported, a 2012 Special Operations Command strategic planning document listed five prime terror groups on the continent. An October 2016 update counted seven by name -- the Islamic State, Ansar al-Sharia, al-Qaida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb, al-Murabitun, Boko Haram, the Lord's Resistance Army, and al-Shabaab -- in addition to "other violent extremist organizations." The Pentagon's Africa Center for Strategic Studies now offers a tally of 21 "active militant Islamist groups" on the continent. In fact, as reported at The Intercept, the full number of terrorist organizations and other "illicit groups" may already have been closer to 50 by 2015.

Saving SOF through Proxy War?

As wars and interventions have multiplied, as U.S. commandos have spread across the planet, and as terror groups have proliferated, the tempo of operations has jumped dramatically. This, in turn, has raised fears among think-tank experts, special ops supporters, and members of Congress about the effects on those elite troops of such constant deployments and growing pressure for more of them. "Most SOF units are employed to their sustainable limit," General Thomas told members of Congress last spring. "Despite growing demand for SOF, we must prioritize the sourcing of these demands as we face a rapidly changing security environment." Yet the number of countries with special ops deployments hit a new record last year.

At a November 2017 conference on special operations held in Washington, influential members of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees acknowledged growing strains on the force. For Jack Reed, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, the solution is, as he put it, "to increase numbers and resources."

While Republican Senator Joni Ernst did not foreclose the possibility of adding to already war-swollen levels of commandos, she much prefers to farm out some operations to other forces: "A lot of the missions we see, especially if you... look at Afghanistan, where we have the train, advise, and assist missions, if we can move some of those into conventional forces and away from SOF, I think that's what we need to do." Secretary of Defense James Mattis has already indicated that such moves are planned. Leigh Claffey, Ernst's press secretary, told TomDispatch that the senator also favors "turning over operations to capable indigenous forces."

Ernst's proxies approach has, in fact, already been applied across the planet, perhaps nowhere more explicitly than in Syria in 2017. There, SOCOM's Thomas noted, U.S. proxies, including both Syrian Arabs and Kurds, "a surrogate force of 50,000 people... are working for us and doing our bidding." They were indeed the ones who carried out the bulk of the fighting and dying during the campaign against the Islamic State and the capture of its capital, Raqqa.

However, that campaign, which took back almost all the territory ISIS held in Syria, was exceptional. U.S. proxies elsewhere have fared far worse in recent years. That 50,000-strong Syrian surrogate army had to be raised, in fact, after the U.S.-trained Iraqi army, built during the 2003-2011 American occupation of that country, collapsed in the face of relatively small numbers of Islamic State militants in 2014. In Mali, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Honduras, and elsewhere, U.S.-trained officers have carried out coups, overthrowing their respective governments. Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, where special ops forces have been working with local allies for more than 15 years, even elite security forces are still largely incapable of operating on their own. According to the Pentagon's 2017 semi-annual report to Congress, Afghan commandos needed U.S. support for an overwhelming number of their missions, independently carrying out only 17% of their 2,628 operations between June 1, 2017, and November 24, 2017.

Indeed, with Special Operations forces acting, in the words of SOCOM's Thomas, as "the main effort, or major supporting effort for U.S. [violent extremist organization]-focused operations in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, across the Sahel of Africa, the Philippines, and Central/South America," it's unlikely that foreign proxies or conventional American forces will shoulder enough of the load to relieve the strain on the commandos.

Bulking up Special Operations Command is not, however, a solution, according to the Center for International Policy's Hartung. "There is no persuasive security rationale for having U.S. Special Operations forces involved in an astonishing 149 countries, given that the results of these missions are just as likely to provoke greater conflict as they are to reduce it, in large part because a U.S. military presence is too often used as a recruiting tool by local terrorist organizations," he told TomDispatch. "The solution to the problem of the high operational tempo of U.S. Special Operations forces is not to recruit and train more Special Operations forces. It is to rethink why they are being used so intensively in the first place."
(c) 2018 Nick Turse is the managing editor of TomDispatch and a fellow at the Nation Institute. An award-winning investigative journalist, he has written for The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Nation, and is a contributing writer for The Intercept. His latest book is Next Time They'll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan. His website is

Why I Am Angry
By Uri Avnery

I AM angry with the Mizrahi elite. Very angry indeed.

Mizrah is the Hebrew word for East. Eastern Jews are those who lived for many centuries in the Islamic world. Western Jews are those who lived in Christian Europe.

The words are, of course, misnomers. Russian Jews are "Westerners", Moroccan Jews are "Easterners". A look at the map shows that Russia is far to the East of Morocco. It would be more accurate to call them "Northerners" and "Southerners". Too late, now.

Westerners are generally called "Ashkenazim", from the old Hebrew term for Germany. Easterners were usually called "Sephardim", from the old Hebrew term for Spain. But only a small part of the Easterners are actually descended from the flourishing Jewish community in medieval Spain.

IN TODAY'S Israel, the antagonism between Mizrahim and Ashkenazim is growing stronger from year to year, with vast political and social repercussions. It is no exaggeration to see this as the determining phenomenon of current Israeli society.

Before I continue, allow me to state (once again, I am afraid) my personal part in this.

My last few years in Germany, before we fled, were spent in the shadow of the ascent of the Swastika, the last half year already under Nazi rule. I came to hate Germany and everything German. So when our ship reached the port of Jaffa, I was enthusiastic. I was just ten years old, and the Jaffa of 1933 was in every respect the exact opposite of Germany - noisy, full of exotic smells, human. I loved it.

As I learned later, most of the early Zionist "pioneers" who arrived in Arab Jaffa hated it on sight, because they identified themselves as Europeans. Among them was the founder of Zionism, Theodor Herzl himself, who did not want to go to Palestine in the first place. On his only visit here, he hated its Oriental character. He vastly preferred Patagonia (in the Argentine).

Fifteen years later, during Israel's war of independence, I was promoted to the lofty rank of squad-leader and had the choice between new immigrant recruits from Poland or Morocco. I chose the Moroccans and was rewarded by them with my life: when I was lying wounded under fire, four of "my Moroccans" risked their lives to get me out.

It was then that I got a foretaste of things to come. Once, when we got a few precious hours of leave, some of my soldiers refused to go. "The girls in Tel Aviv don't go out with us," they complained, "for them we are blacks." Their skin was just a little bit darker than ours.

I became very sensitive to this problem, when everybody else still denied its very existence. In 1954, when I was already the editor-in-chief of a news-magazine, I published a series of articles that caused a huge stir: "They (expletive) the Blacks." Those Ashkenazim who did not hate me before, started to hate me then.

Then came the riots of "Wadi Salib", a neighborhood in Haifa, where a policeman shot a Mizrahi. My paper was the only one in the country to defend the protesters.

A few years later the small group of Mizrahim started an unruly protest movement, expropriating the American term "Black Panthers". I helped them. Golda Meir famously exclaimed: "They are not nice people."

Now, many years later, a new generation has taken over. The Internal conflict dominates many aspects of our life. The Mizrahim make up about half the Jewish population of Israel, the Ashkenazim form the other half. The division has many manifestations, but people don't like to talk about them openly.

For example, the great majority of Likud voters are Mizrahim, though the party leadership is predominantly Ashkenazi. The opposition Labor Party is almost completely Ashkenazi, though they just elected a Mizrahi leader, in the vain hope that this will help them to overcome the profound alienation of the Mizrahim.

MY OPPOSITION to the treatment of the Mizrahim was primarily a moral one. It sprang from the desire for justice. It also sprang from my dream that all of us, Ashkenazim and Mizrahim, would eventually be submerged in a common Hebrew nation. But I must confess that there was another motive, too.

I have always believed - as I believe now - that there is no future for Israel as a foreign island in the Oriental sea. My hopes go much further than just peace. I hope for Israel's becoming an integral part of the "Semitic region" (an expression I invented long ago).

How? I have always entertained a monumental hope: that the second or third generation of Mizrahim will remember its heritage, the times when Jews were an integral part of the Muslim world. Thus they would become the bridge between the new Hebrew nation in Israel and its Palestinian neighbors, and indeed the entire Muslim world.

Being despised by the Ashkenazim as "Asiatic" and inferior, would it not have been natural for the Mizrahim to reclaim their glorious heritage, when the Jews in Iraq, Spain, Egypt and many other Muslim countries were fully integrated partners in a flourishing civilization, at a time when Europeans were mainly barbarians?

Jewish philosophers, mathematicians, poets and medical doctors were partners of that civilization, side by side with their Muslim counterparts. When the persecution and expulsion of Jews and the inquisition were facts of life in Europe, Jews (and Christians) enjoyed full rights in the Muslim world. They were accorded the status of "Peoples of the Book" (the Hebrew Bible) and fully equal, except for being exempted from army service and paying a tax instead. Anti-Jewish incidents were rare.

When all the Jews were expelled from Christian Spain, only a small minority immigrated to Amsterdam, London and Hamburg. The vast majority went to Muslim countries, from Morocco to Istanbul. Curiously enough, only a handful settled in Palestine.

HOWEVER, WHEN masses of Oriental Jews arrived in Israel, my hopes were dashed. Instead of becoming the bridge between Israel and the Arab world, they became the most ardent Arab-haters. The centuries of Muslim-Jewish culture were erased, as if they had never existed.

Why? Being despised by the "superior" Ashkenazim, the Mizrahim started to despise their own culture. They tried to become Europeans, more anti-Arab, more super-patriot, more right-wing.

(Though one Mizrahi friend once told me: We don't want to be a bridge. A bridge is something people trample on.)

Yet no one can escape from himself. Most Mizrahim in Israel speak with an Arab accent. They love Arab music (presented as "Mediterranean" music), and have no love for Mozart and Beethoven. Their features are different from European ones. All the more reason to hate the Arabs.

The erasing of the Eastern-Jewish culture is all-encompassing. Israeli children of Eastern descent have no idea of the great writers and philosophers of their heritage. They don't know that the Christian Crusaders who conquered the Holy Land butchered Muslims and Jews alike, and that Jews defended Jerusalem and Haifa shoulder to shoulder with their Muslim neighbors.

Rabbi Moses Maimonides - the great Rambam - is well known, but only as an important rabbi, not as the friend and personal physician of Saladin, the greatest of Muslim heroes. The many other medieval Sephardic intellectuals are hardly known at all. None of them appears on our paper money.

YET I am an optimist, in this respect also.

I believe that a new Mizrahi intelligentsia will search for its roots. That with the rise of its social status, social complexes will give way to a normal patriotism. That a fourth or fifth generation will come forward and struggle not only for equality, but also for peace and integration in the region.

As our Arab friends would say: Inshallah.
(c) 2018 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Trump Love Endures
By Margaret Kimberley

The recently published book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House is an inside account of the Donald Trump campaign and presidency. One of its more stunning revelations confirms what informed people said about Donald Trump in 2016. He did not think he would win, indeed he had not intended to win. His campaign was a self-promotion extravaganza gone wrong. He went to bed early on election night because he thought the night would belong to Hillary Clinton.

If Trump was shocked he wasn't alone. The democratic party establishment were certain they would prevail. The corporate media and the wealthy donors who backed Hillary Clinton did so in the belief that her victory was inevitable.

But apparently none of them, Trump included, had a finger on the pulse of white Americans. They knew they wanted this man, the reality show buffoon and huckster. While rich republicans decided whether to support Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, or Chris Christie, the white masses had made their choice, irrespective of elite machinations or the musings of pundits. They chose the man who said he would represent them and their interests and they never took a serious look at anyone else. Even the man who created his own persona of the white, every man president didn't see how much his campaign resonated with millions of people.

Trump famously said that he could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and not lose any support. He certainly proved himself correct. He got away with first person accounts of sexual harassment and assault, crude language, ableist jokes, the open backing of white supremacists, and racist remarks. "Make America Great Again" was a shrewd campaign theme, not overtly racist yet appealing to the white desire for a time when their rule was complete and unquestioned.

While Trump and everyone else may have been gob smacked his supporters were not. They kept their desire for supremacy to themselves. They didn't let on with pollsters as they went about the business of wishing for a white president. They knew what few others did. They didn't care about republican party orthodoxy very much. Tax cuts, deregulation, and interventionist wars were all side issues they went along with in order to support the white people's party. Whiteness itself was their priority.

From the time that their allegiance switched to the republicans their racism was used to cement voter support. In decades past the plea for "neighborhood schools" was used to mask opposition to desegregation plans. Terms such as "small government" were understood to mean that no money would be allowed to slip into the hands of black people. The panoply of republican orthodoxy was always meant to convey the goal of keeping white people on top and black people under foot.

But Trump didn't bother with code words. He said Mexican immigrants were rapists and murderers and that keeping them out would be a high priority. He threw a Latino reporter out of a press briefing and claimed that the judge who presided over his Trump University fraud case couldn't be impartial because he was of Mexican ancestry.

Hillary Clinton and the democrats thought that his awfulness would repel the public. So much so that they neglected get out the vote efforts in key states. They believed that exploiting what would ordinarily be problematic would guarantee an Electoral College win. Yet more than 60 million people witnessed the open racism and vulgarity and fell in love. That must not be forgotten even when Trump may seem to be on the ropes.

It is unwise to think of Trump as being vulnerable at this juncture. Supposed low approval ratings should be taken with high degrees of skepticism. The same people who silently loved him during the campaign haven't changed. Now he benefits from his legislative successes with the right wing of the ruling classes. The recent tax bill was long sought by republicans. He is delivering for his party and they are unlikely to pursue the impeachment which is presented as the answer to every anti-Trump prayer.

The democrats have failed to formulate a coherent message that would defeat Trump. They are stuck where they started out because they are bought off themselves. So they refuse to make even tepid reforms that would gain them voter support. They hope that people will reject the man who tweets messages against foreign governments, lets his son-in-law run foreign policy, and believes himself to be smarter than he is. It is easy to make fun of someone who calls himself a "stable genius" but that same man won before when expert opinion said that he would not.

The book Fire and Fury won't sink Donald Trump. Neither will revelations that would damage others. The very thing that makes him so repugnant to half of the country gives him an appeal with the other half. That is the fire and fury that everyone must acknowledge.
(c) 2018 Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e"Mail at Margaret.Kimberley@BlackAgendaReport.Com.

Why Michael Wolff's Book Is Good News
The blistering new insider account of the White House offers hope that Trump's is just a worse version of a species of presidency we've survived before
By Matt Taibbi

Most of the world seems to have concluded that the lunatic chaos described in Fire and Fury, the "bombshell" new book about the Trump White House by Michael Wolff, foretells the end of civilization.

The book certainly doesn't seem like good news. Wolff tells us our president is probably a neurotic illiterate, incapable of focus beyond a few seconds, and thought of as a deranged simpleton by even his most trusted advisors.

The excerpt in New York Magazine describes an idiot who didn't expect to win and spends his evenings locked in the White House bedroom wolfing down cheeseburgers - Trump reportedly has a Woody Allen-esque phobia about being poisoned and therefore loves the wholesome safety of premade McDonald's - while watching news about himself and descending into fugue states of rage and self-pity.

Pretty much any hack novelist writing an imagined account of what Trump's daily routine is like could have penned that exact same scene. (I might have put the cheeseburger in one hand and a hyper-smudged mobile device, for counter-tweeting purposes, in the other.)

The eerie literary accuracy of such accounts is probably why journalists spent much of Thursday debating the provenance of Wolff's information. Was it all true? Exaggerated? Stuff whispered in confidence?

Others questioned the validity of the account on the basis that the representation of Trump was so horrifically moronic, it couldn't possibly be real.

Donald Jr. objected to Wolff's claim that Trump, when pushed by Roger Ailes to name former House Speaker John Boehner Chief of Staff, replied, "Who's that?"

"Just another pathetic attempt to smear Donald Trump with fake news," Trump's large adult son tweeted.

And it's true: Boehner and Trump went golfing together in 2013. Trump even said then, out loud, "I like John Boehner a lot." He also reportedly donated $100,000 to a Boehner-linked PAC. So, many say, it is impossible that Trump wouldn't remember who Boehner was.

Absurd! As anyone who covered Trump in the 2016 race knows, the man's brain is an ooze of fast-disintegrating neurons. Moreover, he has a long and storied history of forgetting stuff he only just said, and people he only just met.

The weirdest case came when Trump appeared to genuinely forget he'd spent much of the home stretch of the Republican primary campaign promising not to let the Indiana-based HVAC company Carrier move jobs to Mexico. He spent four months on the trail babbling promises about Carrier.

After the election, he balked at the idea he'd ever made such promises.

"I made it for everybody else. I didn't make it really for Carrier," he said.

This could easily have just been Trump cynically backtracking on a campaign promise, but it's hard to say. He often appears genuinely befuddled when challenged with earlier statements.

A much-decried incident in which Trump spoke about his wife Melania's feelings about Hurricane Irma as though she were not, in fact, standing right next to him, has usually been interpreted as Trump just being an insensitive goon treating his wife like a mannequin.

Trump with First Lady Melania Trump on September 14th.

But the explanation of him genuinely forgetting she was two feet away also fits, if you watch the man enough. He is completely capable of just mistaking her for a thin person in a hat.

Trump often stares out at crowds like he has no idea where he is or how he got there, or like he's looking at a room full of scary aliens, a la Rowdy Roddy Piper in They Live.

So I completely buy the idea that Trump could not only have forgotten who John Boehner is, but forgotten golfing with him, and doing whatever else they did after - whipping each other with towels in the club room, etc.

This also could easily be a Far Out Space Nuts situation where Trump heard Ailes say "Boehner," when Trump thought the name was pronounced "Boner."

A detail I hope is true involves a purported insider description of Trump's scalp by Ivanka:

"[It is] an absolutely clean pate - a contained island after scalp-reduction ­surgery - surrounded by a furry circle of hair around the sides and front, from which all ends are drawn up to meet in the center and then swept back and secured by a stiffening spray. The color, she would point out to comical effect, was from a product called Just for Men - the longer it was left on, the darker it got. Impatience resulted in Trump's orange-blond hair color."

If the NSA is worth its budget, it ought to be able to produce a satellite photo of that "furry circle of hair," then use it to frighten spies into giving up their handlers. Humorously, in this telling, even Trump's hair color testifies to his debilitating lack of attention span.

The depiction of Trump as a mental incompetent who couldn't sit through even the beginning of a lesson on the Constitution ("I got as far as the Fourth Amendment... before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back," Wolff quotes Sam Nunberg as saying) rings painfully true.

So, too, does the description aides in the book use to describe the worst of Trump's moods, a thing called his "golf face." According to Wolff, he wore this expression the whole day of his inauguration, fuming over the absence of A-listers and other outrages: he was "angry and pissed off, shoulders hunched, arms swinging, brow furled, lips pursed."

Wolff basically describes Trump as a deficient buffoon who, when it comes to politics anyway, is totally out of his element, mistaking fake ardor for the real thing, constantly demanding fealty from Congress, the business world and staff:

"He was like an instinctive, pampered, and hugely successful actor. Everybody was either a lackey who did his bidding or a high-ranking film functionary trying to coax out his performance - without making him angry or petulant."
Wolff writes Team Trump was really hoping to "almost win" the presidency as part of a PR-driven business move, only to be horrified by the reality of securing a hugely demanding government job:
"Once he lost, Trump would be both insanely famous and a martyr to Crooked Hillary... Melania Trump, who had been assured by her husband that he wouldn't become president, could return to inconspicuously lunching. Losing would work out for everybody. Losing was winning.

"On Election Night, when the unexpected trend - Trump might actually win - seemed confirmed, Don Jr. told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he calls him, looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania was in tears - and not of joy."

When Trump first announced his run, the consensus in the press corps was that the last thing he wanted was to actually be president. This was a man who spent his life golfing, pigging out and skeeving his way backstage in beauty contests. No one could imagine him volunteering for a life where he couldn't skip meetings with the Joint Chiefs, or the head of OPIC.

Trump rides an escalator to announce his candidacy for the U.S. presidency at Trump Tower on June 16th, 2015.

Now he is president, though, and, this being a new year, it's worth looking at the possible bright side of Wolff's account. Trump appears to be so far gone as to have no attention span at all, and to be totally consumed with press coverage of himself, almost to the exclusion of all else. This perhaps caps the irreversibly destructive consequences of his presidency.

That is not to say that horrible things haven't and won't continue to emanate from the Trump White House. (Just look at the recent heightened use of drone strikes, for example.)

But it's hard to imagine Trump focusing long enough to enact a plan as destructive as, say, the invasion of Iraq. Moreover, his confederates - especially now that Steve Bannon is out - seem mostly concerned with keeping the boss away from the real power of his office, almost like parents trying to steer a two-year-old away from the gas range.

America has been here before, piloted by mentally adrift presidents. Bob Woodward's Veil described how the CIA had to produce movies about foreign leaders because Ronald Reagan couldn't take in information (like who the heck Hosni Mubarak was) any other way:

"Since Reagan did not read many novels but watched movies, the CIA began to produce profiles of leaders that could be shown to the President... One was of the new Egyptian President. 'SECRET NOFORN' flashed on the screen as the narrator began, 'This is Hosni Mubarak...'"
George W. Bush was a similar figure. He spent much of his first presidential campaign lugging around a biography of Dean Acheson in a widely derided effort to convince the press corps he read books.

Bush in office openly admitted to not reading newspapers, relaying with surfer-dude insouciance that instead he got briefings from people who did. He was genuinely proud of knowing nothing.

We survived episodes like that, and a few others. (There is a story, perhaps apocryphal, that James Buchanan bought a ten-gallon jug of whiskey every week.)

Trump by most accounts is worst of all, and the horror effect is enhanced by the seemingly total absence of redeeming qualities in his personality. But a guy who fell backwards into the presidency and has been too brain-hampered upon arrival to do much with the office - there are worse narratives.

Just remember, Trump could be cunning, focused and bursting with willpower, in addition to being a gross, ignorant pig. We can only hope that Wolff is right that he isn't both.
(c) 2018 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.

How America's Middle Class Rose... And Fell
By Jim Hightower

From 1776 forward, the "common yeoman" - America's middle class - has been hailed as the virtuous heart and backbone of our nation.

How ironic, since it took 150 years before we actually created a broad middle class. Before the 1930s, most Americans were poor, or near poor. And, yes, "created" is the correct term for how our middle class came to be, pushed by two historic forces of social transformation.

First, the devastation of the Great Depression created a grassroots rebellion of labor, farmers, and others against the careless moneyed class that caused the 1929 crash. These forces produced FDR and his New Deal of union rights, Social Security, and other tools that empowered ordinary Americans to begin rising up from poverty.

Second, the government's national mobilization for World War II created an explosion of new jobs and opportunities for millions, opening people's eyes, boosting confidence, and raising expectations. A post-war rise in unionism, passage of the GI Bill, a housing program, and other progressive actions led to a doubling of the median family income in only 30 years, creating a middle class that included nearly 60 percent of Americans by the late 1970s.

Then - phfffft - Washington's commitment to a middle class suddenly fizzled in the 1980s as Republicans and many Democrats switched from supporting egalitarianism to backing the elitism of their corporate donors. Ever since, they've steadily disempowered workers and enthroned the rich, thus imposing today's abominable, un-American culture of inequality across our land.

Just as progressives deliberately pushed public policies to create the middle class, so are today's economic royalists deliberately pushing plutocratic policies to destroy it. That is the momentous struggle that calls us to action in this political year.
(c) 2018 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

President Donald Trump delivers a message during the daily briefing
hosted by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on January 4, 2018.

A President Who Attempts To Ban Books That Expose Him Should Be Impeached
Trump's legal threats represent an assault not just on Michael Wolff's book but on the basic premise of the US Constitution.
By John Nichols

The most jarring development of a startling week in American politics was not the publication Friday of Michael Wolff's tell-all book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, which ably confirms everything we knew, or should have known, about Donald Trump's presidency.

The most jarring development was the authorization by the president of the United States of a move by his lawyers to block the publication of the book that details his dangerous duplicity and scorching incompetence. After an initial excerpt from the book was published, and additional excerpts began to circulate in Washington, Trump's legal team moved on Thursday to block its publication.

"(He's) helping me prove the point of the book," Wolff said of the president's legal threat. "This is extraordinary that a President of the United States would try to stop the publication of a book. This doesn't happen-has not happened from other presidents, would not even happen from a CEO of a mid-size company."

Wolff is right. This is not what presidents do. But this is what Trump did.

In an 11-page letter to Wolff and the president of publisher Henry Holt & Co.-and cc'd to the president-a lawyer with the firm that serves as litigation counsel for Trump wrote: "Mr. Trump hereby demands that you immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination of the book, the article, or any excerpts or summaries of either of them, to any person or entity, and that you issue a full and complete retraction and apology to my client as to all statements made about him in the book and article that lack competent evidentiary support."

Wolff stands by his book, telling NBC, "My credibility is being questioned by a man who has less credibility than perhaps anyone who has ever walked on earth at this point."

The response from Holt & Co. was to move up the publication date for a book that is already topping best-seller lists.

The failure of the attempt by the president and his lawyers to censor this particular book will, in the eyes of some, make the "cease and desist" demand a footnote to the story of the worst week-so far-of Donald Trump's presidency. But the book-banning demand is a serious matter.

The Authors Guild immediately recognized what was-and is-at stake. In a statement issued Thursday, the Guild decried "the unprecedented attempt by President Trump to block publication of a book" and declared, "We believe that the attempt to quash a book before publication is flagrantly unconstitutional."

Noting that the letter from Trump's law firm "fails to name a single instance of any specific statement in the book that is false and would rise to libel or invasion of privacy," the Guild cut through the legal legerdemain and explained, "It is one thing for a private citizen to use libel laws to quash speech. It is unheard of for a sitting President to do so."

The Guild's president, James Gleick, argued Thursday that "This isn't a country where we quash books that the leader finds unpleasant. That's what tyrants do, not American presidents."

The founders of the American experiment, fresh from fighting a revolutionary war against colonial oppression and the abuses that extend from "the divine right of kings," wrote a constitution to guard against tyranny. The primary tool for preventing presidential tyranny-the instinct of the executive to imagine himself as "a king for four years"-was the power of impeachment. Arguing that "no point is of more importance than that the right of impeachment should be continued," George Mason asked the Constitutional Convention in 1787: "Shall any man be above justice?"

The answer established by the framers of the US Constitution was Article II, section 4, of that document, which authorizes the House of Representatives to impeach and the Senate to try and remove a president who commits what were broadly defined as "high crimes and misdemeanors." There is no high crime, no misdemeanor, more worthy of impeachment than the abandonment of the most basic premises of the Constitution by a president who has sworn an oath to defend it.

The House Judiciary Committee that in 1974 wrote articles of impeachment holding Richard Nixon to account gave its strongest support to the article that began: "Using the powers of the office of President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in disregard of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has repeatedly engaged in conduct violating the constitutional rights of citizens..."

The parallels between the Nixon impeachment and a potential Trump impeachment are many-especially when it comes to concerns about what the Watergate-era Judiciary Committee identified as "impairing the due and proper administration of justice and the conduct of lawful inquiries, or contravening the laws governing agencies of the executive branch and the purposed of these agencies."

But Trump's attempt to ban the publication of a book that reveals just how unfit he is to occupy the Oval Office appears to be unprecedented. "To the Guild's knowledge, no prior President has sued a writer for libel, and for good reason," explains the nation's oldest and largest professional organization for writers. "The ability to criticize the government and its leaders lies at the essence of the First Amendment's protection of free speech; and threats of libel lawsuits are one of the de facto primary means of curtailing free speech in this country today."

With his attempt to cause an author and a publisher to "immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination" of a book that does not meet with his approval, Donald Trump has shown a callous disregard for the First Amendment to the Constitution. The Authors Guild is right: This is what tyrants do, not American presidents. And the proper response to American tyranny is the prompt application of the power of impeachment to a president who has abandoned the duty that extends from his oath of office.
(c) 2018 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.

Dr. Fernando Uribe-Romo

Converting CO2 Into Clean Air & Energy
By James Donahue

There is some amazing news coming from University of Central Florida this winter. A researcher employed there has just discovered a way to use the process of photosynthesis to convert carbon dioxide into clean air and produce a new form of energy in the process.

Dr. Fernando Uribe-Romo, assistant professor of chemistry at the Orlando based school has just published his findings in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A. The science community views the process as a potential new technology that may significantly reduce greenhouse gases linked to climate change and offer a clean source of energy as a bonus. Uribe-Romo's work appears to be offering the world a possible way out of the global warming dilemma just as researchers are warming of looming extinction.

Uribe-Romo and his team of students have created a way of triggering a chemical reaction in metal-organic frameworks, a synthetic material, that breaks down carbon dioxide into harmless organic materials. They say it is an artificial process of photosynthesis similar to the way plants convert CO2 and sunlight into food. But instead of plant food, Urbe-Romio's discovery produces solar fuel.

While the process works in the laboratory, Uribe-Romo said the next task will be to "fine-tune" it so synthetic photosynthesis can be used on a larger scale and possibly be a boon to humanity. He describes the process as "tailoring materials that will absorb a specific color of light" to make the process work. He said that from a scientific point of view the process is extremely difficult. Thus the achievement is regarded as an important break-through in developing a technology that may help reduce greenhouse gases.

The team is now testing other wavelengths of visible light to see if they also will cause changes in synthetic materials. If successful, Uribe-Romo perceives a day when special energy stations can be established to recycle greenhouse gases while producing clean energy to run electric power plants. The process may also be refined to a point where people can buy rooftop shingles that heat the home while cleaning the air in the neighborhood.

Imagine that if enough people buy into this process, the day might come when carbon dioxide will become a premium commodity.

So who is Dr. Fernando Uribe-Romo?

Born and raised in Ensenada, on the Baja Peninsula, Uribe-Romo did his undergraduate studies at Monterrey Tech. and was an international exchange student at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Later he received his doctorate in inorganic chemistry at University of California, Los Angeles. He was a visiting scholar at Newcastle University in the UK and later did postdoctoral work at Cornell University before coming to Central Florida University in 2013.
(c) 2018 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

Social Media Madness: The Russia Canard
By Norman Solomon

For several months we've been hearing a crescendo of outcries that Russia used social media to sway the 2016 presidential election. The claim has now been debunked by an unlikely source -- one of the most Russiagate-frenzied big media outlets in the United States, the Washington Post. Far away from the media echo chamber, the Post news story is headlined: "There's Still Little Evidence That Russia's 2016 Social Media Efforts Did Much of Anything."

The article focuses on "what we actually know about the Russian activity on Facebook and Twitter: It was often modest, heavily dissociated from the campaign itself and minute in the context of election social media efforts."

In fact, the ballyhooed Facebook ads were notably not targeted to be seen in swing states, the piece by Post journalist Philip Bump reports. As for the much-hyped tweets, they were smaller than miniscule in quantity compared to overall election-related tweets.

But don't expect the fervent canard about Russian manipulation of social media to fade away anytime soon. At this point, the Russiagate atmosphere has become so toxic -- with incessant propaganda, credulity, fear-laced conformity and partisan opportunism -- that basic logic often disintegrates.

One of the weirdest aspects of claims that Russia undermined the election with social media has involved explaining away the fact that few of the ads and posts in question actually referred to Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump or the election. Instead, we're told, the wily Russians tried to help Trump by inflaming social divisions such as racial tensions. It's a rampant storyline (rendered here by NBC News political director Chuck Todd) that's reminiscent of the common claim during the civil rights movement that "outside agitators," such as Russian-directed reds, were inflaming and exploiting racial tensions in the South.

From there, it's just a hop skip and jump to smearing Americans who dissent from U.S. orthodoxies as useful idiots who serve the interests of plotters in the Kremlin.

Of course history is not exactly repeating itself, but it's rhyming an awful lot. There are real parallels between the McCarthy Era and today's anti-Russia fervor in the United States.

Despite all the information and analysis that have strengthened progressive understanding in this country during the last few decades, fixating on Russia as culpable for the election of Trump has been widely irresistible. Perhaps that fixation is less upsetting than deeper realization of just how rotten the U.S. corporate system of injustice has become -- and how the forces that brought us the horrors of the Trump presidency are distinctly homegrown.

Narratives scapegoating Russia now have an extremely powerful grip on the USA. The consequences include heightened U.S.-Russia tensions that absolutely mean heightened risks of nuclear war -- and worsening threats to democratic discourse at home.

The conditioned reflex to label as somehow "pro-Putin" any opinion that overlaps with a Kremlin outlook is becoming part of the muscle memory of much of the American body politic. Countless journalists, pundits, activists and politicians have fallen under the Russiagate spell. They include the liberal primetime lineup on MSNBC, where -- as the media watchdog group FAIR pointed out last month -- Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes routinely bypass stories of great importance in order "to lead with minutiae from the ongoing Russia investigation that has consumed MSNBC's coverage like no other news event since the beginning of the Trump presidency."

Across most of the media landscape, the meme that Russians attacked American democracy with social-media posts has been treated as self-evident.

In a typical exercise of the conformity that afflicts the national press corps, the Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones magazine, David Corn, wrote this fall that the House intelligence committee needed more staff to investigate, in his words, "how" -- not whether -- "a foreign adversary attacked American democracy." His piece breathlessly declared that "the Trump-Russia scandal" was "expanding -- it now includes new revelations regarding Moscow's use of social media in the United States to influence the 2016 campaign."

That kind of stenography for powerful spin may snag cable TV appearances and lucrative book contracts, but it's a notable disservice to journalism and democracy.

Meanwhile, most Democrats on Capitol Hill are eager to engage in such rhetoric. So, it was just another routine appearance when Senator Richard Blumenthal went on CNN a week before Christmas and declared "there is increasing evidence that the Russians are continuing their attack on our democracy." He said: "The Russian attack on our elections in 2016 was endlessly ingenious and inventive, using all kinds of social media, all kinds of intermediaries, sources of information for them."

To put it mildly, that sort of bombast gains vastly more airtime than discussing the urgent need for detente between the world's two nuclear superpowers.

On MSNBC, Rachel Maddow has climbed with her ratings to great mass-media acclaim, while advancing herself from the outset of the Trump presidency as one of the most prominent and irresponsible Russia baiters in U.S. media. At this rate, when Maddow retires -- if she and the rest of us are lucky enough to avoid a nuclear holocaust -- she can look back on a career that deteriorated into an obsessive crusade against Russia that increased the chances of World War III.

In the poisonous media environment that keeps boosting her fame and fortune, it's grotesquely fitting that Maddow -- time after time after time -- has devoted so much of her program to the illusory Russian assault on democracy via social media.

That's the way it goes in the propaganda-polluted land of Russiagate.
(c) 2018 Norman Solomon is co-founder of 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 GOP considered invoking the 25th Amendment when Reagan's Alzheimer's became apparent.
As 'Fire and Fury' reveals, Trump is more dangerous, and so is the party enabling him.

Trump Is No Reagan
By Heather Digby Parton

Michael Wolff's new book about the Trump administration Fire and Fury has been the talk of the nation for days now. And there's a good reason for it beyond the colorful gossip and palace intrigue. It is the first long-form look at the Trump White House to confirm that the crude, inept, unqualified president we see with our own eyes and ears is even worse behind the scenes. It's not that we ever really doubted his persona is authentic, but it was always possible that the administration was functioning on some basic level of professional competence simply because well ... it's the presidency of the United States. By pulling back the curtain, this book leaves no doubt that there is something very wrong with Donald Trump. What Wolff does not do is give us any clue about what might be done about it.

The book makes clear that the people who work closest with Trump believe he is incompetent and temperamentally unfit. He is routinely referred to by people who work in the West Wing and know him well as a "crazy," "idiot," "moron" who has the attention span of a small child and is totally incapable of processing information or conducting a serious conversation.

And according to this piece in Politico by Susan Glasser, foreign leaders are equally scathing in their assessment of the capabilities of the American president. The words they use to describe him are slightly different than those used by the people close to Trump, but only because for them the stakes are so high: "catastrophic," "terrifying," "incompetent," and "dangerous."

Over their year of living dangerously with Trump, foreign leaders and diplomats have learned this much: The U.S. president is ignorant, at times massively so, about the rudiments of the international system and America's place in it, and in general about other countries. He seems to respond well to flattery and the lavish laying out of red carpets; he's averse to conflict in person but more or less immovable from strongly held preconceptions. And given the chance, he responds well to anything that seems to offer him the opportunity to flout or overturn the policies endorsed by his predecessors Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

Or, as his close associates in the United States would put it, "He's like a child."

Whether Trump's behavior is attributable to intellectual, personality, and character defects or is a sign of a serious clinical illness is unknown. But we do know that just since the first of the year he has taunted North Korea's unstable leader and called for his defeated political opponents to be jailed. He threatened to use a "military option" in Venezuela. He has picked a Twitter fight with nuclear-armed Pakistan for reasons that are completely obscure. He gave an interview to The New York Times just before the first of the year that was so unhinged it sounded as though he might be drunk and he does not drink. He is getting worse.

He is also implicated in a very serious crime. The office of the Special Prosecutor is investigating evidence that this incompetent and corrupt narcissist may have been compromised by the Russian government and conspired with them to interfere with our electoral system. His former campaign manager and his top aide have already been indicted for financial crimes related to their work with allies of Vladimir Putin and two others have pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in exchange for cooperating with the Special Counsel. Trump's response to the investigation was to order members of the Department of Justice, including the FBI director, to end any investigation into his campaign. He was very angry to learn that the office of Attorney General was not there to "protect" the president and reportedly lamented, "Where's my Roy Cohn?," his former personal attorney and counsel to the grotesque communist witch hunter Senator Joseph McCarthy.

He is, quite simply, a danger to the republic.

There are political remedies available. Impeachment was the course the framers expected Congress to use to remove a president who had committed high crimes and misdemeanors. What constituted such behaviors? The old Gerald Ford trope "an impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers to be at a given moment in history" is, for all practical purposes, correct.

From what we can see of this current House of Representatives they are prepared to launch impeachment hearings tomorrow-of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton who has not held office for five years and is no longer active in electoral politics. As for Trump, they are doing everything in their power to protect him, including stonewalling any inquiries and attacking the intelligence community and the Department of Justice.

This is in marked contrast to the two recent comparable political scandals, Watergate and Whitewater/Lewinsky. In those scandals, there was plenty of defensive partisan posturing and attacks on the integrity of the independent investigators by both the White House and their defenders. That's to be expected. But in both of those cases, Congress was in the hands of the opposition which meant that the president's supporters might conduct PR campaigns and try to affect public opinion, but they could not control the course of the investigations.

Today, despite the fact that the current occupant of the presidency is being investigated for the most serious crime any president has ever been suspected of committing-conspiring with a foreign adversary to tilt the election in his favor and then committing obstruction of justice to cover it up-his party has made Congress an impotent tool of the executive branch. The only public testimony we've heard are from two fired Justice Department employees, former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and former FBI Director James Comey. We have seen no Kushner, no Trump Jr, no Priebus or Spicer. Would Watergate have come unraveled without John Dean and Alexander Butterfield testifying before Congress in front of the whole world?

That leaves the 25th Amendment, which provides for the president to be removed if he is found by the VP and a majority of the cabinet to be unable to discharge his duties. This provision was presumed to have been enacted in the case of a physically disabled president, although it includes a process of appeal so one presumes that there was some concern this could be a usurpation of the office by the VP and a group of cronies.

According to Michael Wolff, the 25th Amendment is being discussed on a regular basis by insiders and the press has begun to take the topic seriously as various professional observers and White House intimates express concerns about the president's mental health and possible disability.

We know that Trump has a serious personality disorder. His narcissism and pathological dishonesty are right out in the open. He came into the presidency saying that he reaches decisions "with very little knowledge other than the knowledge I already had." He doesn't read. He is temperamentally unstable, angry, hostile, mercurial, and juvenile. All of these characteristics make him unfit and dangerous as a leader of a nuclear superpower. But shocking as that may be, he was elected with all of that right out in the open. Indeed, it's what his supporters like about him.

However, Wolff describes some worrisome memory glitches, moments in which Trump repeats himself constantly word for word within a very short time span, which would indicate he may not remember that he just said something. Senators are meeting with psychiatrists for insights into his behavior. Neurologists are weighing in with deep concern about what seems to be his deteriorating mental acuity and, at times, even his motor skills.

The president isn't taking it well. He is very insecure about his intelligence, feeling it necessary to proclaim himself a genius and brag to the world that he's "like, smart" and "has a good brain" over and over again as recently as last week. But he seems less attuned to the criticism that he might be "losing it" as Wolff quoted Bannon proclaiming in the book. He tweeted this out after the book came out:

"Now that Russian collusion, after one year of intense study, has proven to be a total hoax on the American public, the Democrats and their lapdogs, the Fake News Mainstream Media, are taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook and screaming mental stability and intelligence..... - Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2018

"I've had to put up with the Fake News from the first day I announced that I would be running for President. Now I have to put up with a Fake Book, written by a totally discredited author. Ronald Reagan had the same problem and handled it well. So will I!"

- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 7, 2018

It would seem he doesn't "remember" that Reagan had Alzheimer's and that he showed obvious signs of it in his last years. In 1988, Jane Mayer and Doyle McManus published Landslide: The Unmaking of the President, 1984-88, which covered Reagan's second term. The book reported that in 1987, Howard Baker, who had been called in as the new chief of staff after Don Regan abruptly resigned, sent a couple of his long-time aides into the White House to assess what was being said about extreme internal disorder in the wake of the Iran-Contra scandal.

The two aides reported that what they found was "chaos ... there was no order in the place. The staff system had just broken down. It had just evaporated."

The LA Times reported that according to Mayer and McManus: "They told stories about how inattentive and inept the president was. He was lazy; he wasn't interested in the job. They said he wouldn't read the papers they gave him-even short position papers and documents. They said he wouldn't come over to work-all he wanted to do was to watch movies and television at the residence."

They interviewed 15 to 20 officials, including senior aides, and "the overwhelming majority" agreed that this was an accurate description of the president. They were so disturbed that they recommended that Baker consider applying the 25th Amendment.

Baker protected the president and the party. He pretended to be concerned, gathered his aides together to observe Reagan and it happened that he was having a good day so the matter was dropped. He knew it was true, of course. Everyone in the White House knew. Reagan carried on for another year and the Republican Party immediately set about covering it all up and making plans to put him on Mt. Rushmore.

That description of Reagan's White House in 1987 sounds a lot like the Trump White House in 2018. Donald Trump has no attention span. He refuses to read briefing papers. He's lazy-he's golfed and vacationed more than any president in history in his first year and they've recently reduced his schedule to a bare minimum. He's not interested in the job, he's interested in himself.

Trump and Reagan both became famous as performers and had a strong connection to their supporters.The difference between them is in the temperament of the two presidents. Reagan may not have been anyone's idea of an intellectual but he was an affable man with considerable political experience and a strong set of political principles and goals that guided his professional staff. And it still fell apart when Reagan started to fade.

Trump, on the other hand, has serious intellectual deficits and is a mean, vengeful narcissist without even the slightest idea of the job description much less the experience or capability to fulfill the duties of the office. He is immoral and corrupt and he hired an astonishing group of misfits to staff his campaign and White House, many of which have already resigned in disgrace and four of which are under criminal indictment. The president himself has been under a counter-intelligence and corruption investigation since before he was inaugurated.

More alarming is that where Reagan withdrew into his own world in the twilight of his presidency, Trump wants to bring the world into his unstable and dangerous one. He's wild and unruly and looking for a fight. But once again, the Republican Party has circled the wagons around yet another corrupt and incapacitated president. This time that president won't be controlled and they are all complicit in the fallout.
(c) 2018 Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

"We must pass a budget agreement that addresses the needs of Americans and not just billionaire campaign contributors."

It's On Republicans To Stop A Shutdown
This is not just my viewpoint. It's what the American people want. 
By Bernie Sanders

I do not know why President Trump and the Republican Party - which controls the White House, the Senate and the House - are so willing to shut down the government. Maybe they think it will be good for them politically. Maybe they believe the chaos created by a government shutdown would be a welcome distraction from the ongoing Russia investigation being conducted by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Whatever the motives of the Republican leadership, one thing is clear: A government shutdown would be disastrous for the American people.

A shutdown would harm tens of millions of working-class families who would be unable to access vital services. It would disrupt the lives of hundreds of thousands of federal employees who would not receive the paychecks they expected. It would endanger members of the U.S. military who are putting their lives on the line defending our nation.

Congress has a responsibility to the American people to prevent a shutdown and work in a bipartisan manner to reach a fair budget agreement that addresses the very serious problems facing the working people of our country.

Unfortunately, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) ratcheted up threats of a government shutdown last week by insisting on ending the long-standing, bipartisan agreement over parity for defense and non-defense spending. This principle of parity is enormously important for working families and is something that cannot be terminated. If we do not act, funding for education, child care, health care, nutrition assistance, affordable housing and other important domestic programs will be at a 40-year low as a percentage of our economy.

As the middle class continues to shrink, cuts to non-defense spending would cause even worse economic pain to working families, the elderly, children, the sick and the most vulnerable. Meanwhile, as Trump and the Republicans demand an unbelievable $100 billion increase in military spending over the next two years, the Defense Department has been inoculated from budget cuts over the past several years because of the Overseas Contingency Operations loophole - a special account not subject to spending caps established by Congress in 2011.

Providing parity in these budget negotiations means, among other things, fully funding - without offsets - the Children's Health Insurance Program for 9 million kids and community health centers for 27 million Americans. It means increased funding for the Social Security Administration and the Veterans Administration so they can provide guaranteed benefits to seniors and veterans who have earned them. It means keeping our obligations to more than 1.5 million workers and retirees who are about to lose a large part of the pensions they were promised. It means addressing the crisis of student debt, expanding child care, improving our crumbling infrastructure in rural America and protecting our national parks. It means providing help in the national struggle against opioid and heroin addiction.

Furthermore, as part of the budget negotiations, we must also provide adequate disaster relief to Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, as well as assistance to the Western states recovering from terrible wildfires.

Finally, Trump added even more fuel to the fire when he decided to use 800,000 "dreamers" as a bargaining chip for an $18 billion wall that the overwhelming majority of Americans do not want. These dreamers are young people who have lived in this country for almost their entire lives. They go to school. They work. They serve in the U.S. military. The United States is their home; they know no other. For Trump and the Republican leadership to allow their legal status to expire, and to subject them to deportation, would be one of the cruelest acts in modern American history. It must not be allowed to happen.

This is not just my viewpoint. It's what the American people want. A recent Quinnipiac University poll showed that 77 percent of the American people, including a large majority of Republicans, support providing legal protections for the dreamers. The Republican Congress must act. A clean Dream Act must be signed into law as part of any budget agreement.

The American people are increasingly disgusted with a government that protects the interests of the wealthy and the powerful, while ignoring the needs of the vulnerable. The U.S. government must do more than provide huge tax breaks to billionaires, callously deport young people, greatly expand military spending, end net neutrality, deny the reality of climate change and threaten to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education and nutrition programs. We must pass a budget agreement that addresses the needs of Americans and not just billionaire campaign contributors.
(c) 2017 Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 after serving 16 years in the House of Representatives. He is the longest serving independent member of Congress in American history. Elected Mayor of Burlington, Vt., by 10 votes in 1981, he served four terms. Before his 1990 election as Vermont's at-large member in Congress, Sanders lectured at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and at Hamilton College in upstate New York. Read more at his website. Follow him on Twitter: @SenSanders or @BernieSanders

Why Cliven Bundy Is Free
Not that it will matter in the end.
By Charles P. Pierce

The American criminal justice system can be a place of miracles and wonders, as The Arizona Republic illustrates.

Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, his two sons and a militia member will not face a retrial on charges that they led an armed rebellion against federal agents in 2014. A federal judge on Monday said the federal prosecutors' conduct was "outrageous" and "violated due process rights" of the defendants. U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro dismissed the charges against the four men "with prejudice," meaning they cannot face trial again. She said a new trial would not be sufficient to address the problems in the case and would provide the prosecution with an unfair advantage going forward. The judge criticized both the prosecution and the FBI for not providing evidence to the defense as required under court rules. "The court finds that the universal sense of justice has been violated," Navarro said. Navarro said it was clear the FBI was involved in the prosecution of the case, and that it was not a coincidence that most of the withheld evidence came from the FBI.
So, if you're going to defy lawful authority and gather some folks to draw down on federal officials, apparently, it helps to be old and white. It also helps when the prosecution botches the rules of evidence beyond all recall.
Navarro on Dec. 20 cited six pieces of evidence the Nevada U.S. Attorney's Office failed to disclose that was favorable to the defense and could have changed the outcome of the trial. The evidence included: records about surveillance at the Bundy ranch; Maps about government surveillance; records about the presence of government snipers; FBI logs about activity at the ranch in the days leading up to the standoff; law-enforcement assessments dating to 2012 that found the Bundys posed no threat, [and]internal affairs reports about misconduct by Bureau of Land Management agents. "Failure to turn over such evidence violates due process," Navarro said last month. "A fair trial at this point is impossible."
There's no point in worrying what "message" this sends to the various sympathetic (and well-armed) extremist groups in the country. There's also no point in any thought experiments about what would have happened if Bundy were a black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, or a black child on a playground in Cleveland.

The prosecution apparently let its loyalty to the FBI override its obligations to due process, and it got caught. From the L.A. Times:

Despite the mistrial, federal prosecutors argued in a legal brief filed Dec. 29 that they didn't willfully withhold evidence from the defense and they still planned to press ahead with another trial. Assistant U.S. Atty. Steven Myhre wrote in his brief that the government shared 1.5 terabytes of information and noted it was "by far, the largest review and disclosure operation in this [U.S. attorney's office] history." Myrhe also argued the government needed to protect some witnesses from leaks that might lead to threats, so it "culled the database with witness protection in mind." "Unprecedented database volume and witness concerns aside, the government never let these obstacles stand in the way of diligently working to fulfill its discovery obligations," he wrote. But defense lawyers for Payne - Renee Valadares, Brenda Weksler and Ryan Norwood - argued in their Dec. 29 briefing seeking to dismiss the case that government "failed to accept responsibility for any of its failure to disclose evidence" and the withholding of evidence was "flagrant prosecutorial misconduct."
There is one king irony to this whole thing: Cliven Bundy and his family and his spavined cattle are all free now because the system he was so hell-bent on defying actually works. I think the cattle will understand this before he does.
(c) 2018 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 propaganda system allows the U.S. Ieadership to commit crimes without limit and with no suggestion of misbehavior or criminality; in fact, major war criminals like Henry Kissinger appear regularly on TV to comment on the crimes of the derivative butchers."
~~~ Edward S. Herman

It would help if you are seen working on your empathy for the tens of millions of deprived
and innocent people, including children, exposed to various forms of risk and
exploitation in their daily lives here and abroad whom you are adversely affecting.

Working On Empathy And Other Concerns: An Open Letter To Donald Trump
Please release your full medical records with the necessary technical details and explanations to give the public confidence in your health.
By Ralph Nader

Let us all wish and work for a peaceful and just New Year.

The American people are spending a significant amount of time observing and thinking about your presidency and its robust tweeting operation as President. Three areas of interest and concern comprise this letter's purpose:

1. With news of the forthcoming medical examination by your physicians there will be renewed interest in your medical records and medical condition. This is true of all Presidents, but more so with you, because you have not been as forthcoming or anywhere near as complete in your disclosures about the state of your health during the campaign and since you became President last January.
The other concern relates to your diets and habits. You have what some nutritionists colloquially call a "cardiac diet" - full of foods containing fat, salt and sugar. A recent report said you drink about 12 cans of artificially sweetened diet coke a day! With artificial sweeteners. You have said you sleep less than normal people. You are overweight. Not a good combination, say physicians and health scientists, that is conductive to good health. And then there is the added stress of just being President and constantly being viscerally angry at critics here and abroad. People just doing things with their constitutional freedom, to which you strenuously object, seems to aggravate you.

Please release your full medical records with the necessary technical details and explanations to give the public confidence in your health

2. There is much writing and litigation about how you are enriching yourself from many private and public sources. The emoluments clause of the Constitution is much in the news as recurrent reports bring to public attention all the spenders going to your properties and those of your family hoping to ingratiate themselves with your favors, including diplomatic officials of foreign countries in Washington, DC and New York City, and other public officials patronizing your properties abroad.
Since you have not fully divested from your properties, there is all the more reason for you to release several years of your tax returns, including the most recent return. Even your supporters have wondered, "Why not, what has he got to hide?" Or more benignly, "Why not, he's got nothing to hide, everyone knows he is rich and has done lots of deals with lots of businesses and partnerships."

Will you recognize that you are a public official and owe the people the full tax information, most importantly, your assets, debts and other business dealings and partnerships?

3. There has been a vast conflict between your public statements assuring the people that "we want to protect our workers, their safety our health and we want to protect our air and our country's natural beauty." Moreover, last year you asserted that no one would go without healthcare.
By contrast, you have selected men and women to run your health and safety regulatory agencies and departments who were and are openly hostile to these agencies' official statutory missions. Like you, those you have appointed are boastful about their intention to dismantle limits on lethal or injurious impacts and actions that have been saving the lives, health and safety of the American people and protecting consumer dollars. You are aware of their sworn oath of office to uphold the laws under their jurisdiction - an oath preceded by similar assurances in their sworn congressional testimony at their Senate confirmation hearings.

The destruction of these federal agencies' missions, the degrading and marginalizing of their scientists, engineers, ecologists, economists and other professional public servants are without precedent. What is also unique is that your heads of EPA, the Departments of Interior, Agriculture, Education, Labor and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are contemptuous of the missions of their agencies. The neglect, reversals or replacements are letting more Americans, including children, die, get sick or be injured - on your Presidential watch! And the enablers of unprosecuted corporate crime and wrongdoing that are just getting underway -revoking or suspending rules and even brazenly pulling back on enforcement actions which are nearing settlements, sanctions or prohibitions. This abdication also creates a climate than can increase corporate abuses of workers and consumers.

Of course, there is prosecutorial or enforcement discretion, with priorities for action. That is not the situation here. This is a wholesale wrecking crew of non-enforcement of laws, taking the federal cops off the corporate crime, fraud and abuse beat. This is a demolition death dance cutting enforcement budgets, pushing conscientious enforcement officials out the door or leaving them with nothing to do, thereby wasting taxpayer money. Such zealotry keeps pushing the envelope until preventable disasters occur or serious scandals emerge. That's when it reaches your desk.

Pay attention to what those you have appointed are undoing, if only because they will be doing in your congressional supporters in November. You should start with the Rogue's gallery of Mick Mulvaney, grinding down the CFPB, Alex Acosta, the Secretary Against Labor, Scott Pruitt, Chief Toxifier at the EPA, Ryan Zinke, Oil-Driller-in-Chief on the federal lands and offshore, Sonny Perdue, the anti-nutritionist at USDA, Scott Gottlieb, the drug industry's man at the FDA, and Betsy DeVos, the corporatist, jeopardizing students at the Department of Education.

It would help if you are seen working on your empathy for the tens of millions of deprived and innocent people, including children, exposed to various forms of risk and exploitation in their daily lives here and abroad whom you are adversely affecting.

Sincerely yours,

Ralph Nader
(c) 2018 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book is Unstoppable, and "Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).

They should light up the Empire State Building in green tonight -
for the money the city is going to save, and for the planet it will help protect in the process

Applaud Mayor de Blasio And NYC For Climate Courage: Righteous Pension Divestment, Legal Fight Against Fossil-Fuel Companies
Earth's mightiest city is now in full-on battle with the planet's richest, most irresponsible industry.
By Bill McKibben

When I was a young man living in the city, back in the early 1980s, there were always small knots of three-card Monte players ripping people off in Midtown. But none of those mugs were New Yorkers, who would walk by shaking their heads; it was just tourists who fell for the patter. You can get away with calling New Yorkers many things, but "chump" is a real insult.

That's what I thought of this morning, when word came that New York City had overnight vaulted into leadership in the world's fight against climate change. Five years after Superstorm Sandy, Mayor de Blasio said that the city would follow through on earlier promises to divest its giant pension fund from coal, oil and gas companies - and that it would take the biggest of those corporations to court to sue for damages. In other words: Earth's mightiest city is now in full-on battle with the planet's richest, most irresponsible industry.

The city, said Controller Scott Stringer, is taking steps to protect the value of pensions (fossil-fuel stocks have underperformed the rest of the economy), but, as with most things the city does, it will also send a message that resonates far beyond the five boroughs. Above all, it says to other investors and other big cities: Grow up and stop pretending the fossil-fuel industry is anything but predatory.

Many pension fund administrators over the years have refused to divest, saying instead that they would "engage" with the industry to seek change. If they sold their stock, they rationalized, they would "lose a seat at the table." But this never made sense; the fossil fuel industry isn't going to make fundamental change, because they can't change their basic business model. They dig stuff up, burn it and then go look for more.

The industry has agreed to token and cosmetic changes: tiny investments in renewable industry, new "climate risk disclosure statements," and so on. But nothing actually shifted. In the last few weeks, they've used their political power to ram through Washington a new series of tax breaks, a permit to drill in a wildlife refuge in the Arctic, and the okay to set up drill rigs off virtually the entire American coastline, Long Island included (the Republican governor of Florida just got a convenient carveout).

Like those three-card-monte players, the oil industry has run a con, and too many public officials have fallen for it, probably because it made life easier for them. Divestment means rocking the boat, offending the powerful. Easier just to keep doing what you're doing and make soothing noises.

It took great organizing from thousands of New Yorkers to get the city focused on this task, and leaders like public Advocate Tish James helped push and prod.

But now that New York is fully engaged (and in court), it will make a massive difference. Everyone knows that New York is the center of world finance, that this is literally where the smart money lives and works.

The signal is clear. The oil industry is not the future, it's the past. And indeed it will be held responsible for what it's done in the past: namely, push climate denial when it knew the truth. They should light up the Empire State Building in green tonight - for the money the city is going to save, and for the planet it will help protect in the process.
(c) 2018 Bill McKibben is Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College, co-founder of His most recent book is Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.

The Dead Letter Office...

Joe shows off his fetish.

Heil Trump,

Dear Sheriff Arpaio,

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 war against the poor and Mexicans, 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 "Republican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 03-17-2017. We salute you Herr Arpaio, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

Seriously, How Dumb Is Trump?
By Robert Reich

For more than a year now, I've been hearing from people in the inner circles of official Washington - GOP lobbyists, Republican pundits, even a few Republican members of Congress - that Donald Trump is remarkably stupid.

I figured they couldn't be right because really stupid people don't become presidents of the United States. Even George W. Bush was smart enough to hire smart people to run his campaign and then his White House.

Several months back when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump a "f-king moron," I discounted it. I know firsthand how frustrating it can be to serve in a president's cabinet, and I've heard members of other president's cabinets describe their bosses in similar terms.

Now comes "Fire and Fury," a book by journalist Michael Wolff, who interviewed more than 200 people who dealt with Trump as a candidate and president, including senior White House staff members.

In it, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster calls Trump a "dope." Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus both refer to him as an "idiot." Rupert Murdoch says Trump is a "f-king idiot."

Trump's chief economic adviser Gary Cohn describes Trump as "dumb as sh-t," explaining that "Trump won't read anything - not one-page memos, not the brief policy papers; nothing. He gets up halfway through meetings with world leaders because he is bored."

When one of Trump's campaign aides tried to educate him about the Constitution, Trump couldn't focus. "I got as far as the Fourth Amendment," the aide recalled, "before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head."

Trump doesn't think he's stupid, of course. As he recounted, "I went to an Ivy League college ... I did very well. I'm a very intelligent person."

Yet Trump wasn't exactly an academic star. One of his professors at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business and Finance purportedly said that he was "the dumbest goddamn student I ever had."

Trump biographer Gwenda Blair wrote in 2001 that Trump was admitted to Wharton on a special favor from a "friendly" admissions officer who had known Trump's older brother.

But hold on. It would be dangerous to underestimate this man.

Even if Trump doesn't read, can't follow a logical argument, and has the attention span of a fruit fly, it still doesn't follow that he's stupid.

There's another form of intelligence, called "emotional intelligence."

Emotional intelligence is a concept developed by two psychologists, John Mayer of the University of New Hampshire, and Yale's Peter Salovey, and it was popularized by Dan Goleman in his 1996 book of the same name.

Mayer and Salovey define emotional intelligence as the ability to do two things - "understand and manage our own emotions," and "recognize and influence the emotions of others."

Granted, Trump hasn't displayed much capacity for the first. He's thin-skinned, narcissistic, and vindictive.

As dozens of Republican foreign policy experts put it, "he is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood. He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate criticism."

Okay, but what about Mayer and Salovey's second aspect of emotional intelligence - influencing the emotions of others?

This is where Trump shines. He knows how to manipulate people. He has an uncanny ability to discover their emotional vulnerabilities - their fears, anxieties, prejudices, and darkest desires - and use them for his own purposes.

To put it another way, Trump is an extraordinarily talented conman.

He's always been a conman. He conned hundreds of young people and their parents into paying to attend his near worthless Trump University. He conned banks into lending him more money even after he repeatedly failed to pay them. He conned contractors to work for them and then stiffed them.

Granted, during he hasn't always been a great conman. Had he been, his cons would have paid off.

By his own account, in 1976, when Trump was starting his career, he was worth about $200 million, much of it from his father. Today he says he's worth some $8 billion. If he'd just put the original $200 million into an index fund and reinvested the dividends, he'd be worth $12 billion today.

But he's been a great political conman. He conned 62,979,879 Americans to vote for him in November 2016 by getting them to believe his lies about Mexicans, Muslims, African-Americans, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and all the "wonderful," "beautiful" things he'd do for the people who'd support him.

And he's still conning most of them.

Political conning is Trump's genius. It's this genius - when combined with his utter stupidity in every other dimension of his being - that poses the greatest danger to America and the world.
(c) 2018 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

Corpses Of Souls
By Chris Hedges

Walker Percy in his 1971 dystopian novel "Love in the Ruins" paints a picture of a morally degenerate America consumed by hedonism, wallowing in ignorance, led by kleptocrats and fools, fragmented into warring and often violent cultural extremes and on the cusp of a nuclear war. It is a country cursed by its failure to address or atone for its original sins of genocide and slavery. The ethos of ceaseless capitalist expansion, white supremacy and American exceptionalism, perpetuated overseas in the country's imperial wars, eventually consumes the nation itself. The accomplices, who once benefited from this evil, become its victims. How, Percy asks, does one live a life of meaning in such a predatory society? Is it even possible? And can a culture ever regain its equilibrium when it sinks into such depravity?

The novel's main character, a doctor named Tom More, is a suicidal alcoholic and a womanizer. He has invented the "Ontological Lapsometer" to measure human souls. He notes that "the dread chasm that has rent the soul of Western man" has worsened "ever since the famous philosopher Descartes ripped body loose from mind and turned the very soul into a ghost that haunts its own house."

Percy, echoing the Christian existentialist Soren Kierkegaard, argues that the capitalist, rationalist ethic that crushed empathy and understanding and replaced it with the primacy of personal gain, cruelty and profit doomed Western civilization. The basest lusts are celebrated by capitalism. Success is defined by material advancement, power and the attainment of celebrity. Those, like Donald Trump, who amass enormous wealth, often by cheating, abusing and defrauding their employees and associates, are treated like pagan idols.

Percy, who like the Russian playwright Anton Chekhov was a medical school graduate, was steeped in the classics, theology, philosophy, literature and history. He knew the common denominators of decaying societies. The elevation of the morally degenerate in the last days was never accidental. These corrupt elites embodied the warped values of a dying culture. They reflected back to the society, as does Trump, its spiritual emptiness. The feckless Romanovs in Russia, the megalomaniacal Kaiser Wilhelm II in Germany and the doddering head of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Franz Joseph I, in the last days of the European monarchies exhibited the same stupidity, self-delusion and self-destructiveness seen in the late American Empire. The moment of terminal decline is always marked by an inability to acknowledge reality and by monstrous, ill-fated schemes, often expressed in wars, to restore a supposed golden age.

"In every civilization its most impressive period seems to precede death by only a moment," the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr wrote. "Like the woods of autumn, life defies death in a glorious pageantry of color. But the riot of this color has been distilled by an alchemy in which life has already been touched by death. Thus man claims immortality for his spiritual achievements just when their mortal fate becomes apparent; and death and mortality are strangely mixed into, and potent in, the very pretention of immortality."

Our capitalist elites have used propaganda, money and the marginalizing of their critics to erase the first three of philosopher John Locke's elements of the perfect state: liberty, equality and freedom. They exclusively empower the fourth, property. Liberty and freedom in the corporate state mean the liberty and freedom of corporations and the rich to exploit and pillage without government interference or regulatory oversight. And the single most important characteristic of government is its willingness to use force, at home and abroad, to protect the interests of the property classes. This abject surrender of the state to the rich is expressed at this moment in the United States in the new tax code and the dismantling of environmental regulations. This degradation of basic democratic ideals-evidenced when the Supreme Court refuses to curb wholesale government surveillance of the public or defines pouring unlimited dark money into political campaigns as a form of free speech and the right to petition the government-means the society defines itself by virtues that are dead. The longer this illusion is perpetuated, the more an enraged public turns to demagogues who promise a new utopia and then, once in power, accelerate the assault.

All of our institutions are corrupted by a neoliberal ideology. It has contaminated the press, the academy, the arts, the courts and religious institutions. Christian theology has ingested the toxic brew of American exceptionalism, the myth of American virtues and the conflation of freedom with unfettered capitalism. The liberal church, like the bankrupt liberal class, holds up multiculturalism and identity politics as an ethical imperative and ignores the primacy of economic justice. It tolerates the intolerant, giving credibility to those who peddle the heretical creed of the "prosperity gospel," a creed that says God showers divine favors in the form of wealth and power on the Christian elect. This idea makes Trump one of God's favorites. It is also an idea that is a complete inversion of the core message of the Christian Gospels.

In Percy's novel, the Roman Catholic Church has rebranded itself as the American Catholic Church, based in Cicero, Ill. It celebrates Property Rights Sunday. The priest raises the Eucharistic host in the Mass, conducted in Latin, to the tune of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Sermons focus on how the rich in the Bible-Joseph of Arimathea and Lazarus-were specially blessed by God. Evangelical Christians stage ever more elaborate spectacles and entertainment, including nighttime golf-the Moonlight Tour of the Champs-advertised with the slogan "Jesus Christ, the Greatest Pro of Them All."

Today's secularists have their own forms of hedonism, self-worship and idolatry. Spirituality is framed by puerile questions: How is it with me? Am I in touch with myself? Have I achieved happiness and inner peace? Have I, along with my life coach, ensured that I have reached my full career potential? Am I still young-looking? What does my therapist say? It is a culture based on self-absorption, a vain quest for eternal youth, and narcissism. Any form of suffering, which is always part of self-sacrifice, is to be avoided. The plight of our neighbor is irrelevant. Sexual degeneracy-narcissists are incapable of love-abounds in a society entranced by casual hook-ups and pornography. In the Percy novel's "Love Clinic," "volunteers perform sexual acts singly, in couples, and in groups, behind viewing mirrors in order that man might learn more about the human sexual response."

"I believe in God and the whole business but I love women best, music and science next, whiskey next, God fourth, and my fellowman hardly at all," More says. "Generally I do as I please."

The single-minded pursuit of happiness, with happiness equated with wealth and power, creates a population consumed by anxiety and self-loathing. Few achieve the imagined pinnacle of success, and those who do are often psychopaths. Building a society around these goals is masochistic. It shuts down any desire for self-knowledge because the truth of our lives is unpleasant. We fill the spiritual vacuum with endless activities, entertainment and nonstop electronic hallucinations. We flee from silence and contemplation. We are determined to avoid facing what we have become.

Renegades in the novel have formed armed guerrilla bands in the swamps. These "castoffs" and "disaffected" rebels include "dropouts from Tulane and Vanderbilt, M.I.T. and Loyola; draft dodgers, deserters from the Swedish army, psychopaths and pederasts from Memphis and New Orleans whose practices were not even to be tolerated in New Orleans; antipapal Catholics, malcontented Methodists, ESPers, UFOers, Aquarians, ex-Ayn Randers, Choctaw Zionists who have returned to their ancestral hunting grounds, and even a few old graybeard Kerouac beats. ..."

The United States in Percy's book has been fighting a war in Ecuador for 15 years. The old and infirm, like the poor and disabled, are abandoned by the society. The elderly are shipped off to a euthanasia facility called Happy Isles Separation Center where they are finished off with the "Euphoric Switch." All those pushed aside by the corporate state live in misery and poverty and are treated as a criminal caste.

More-whose ancestor was St. Thomas More, the writer of "Utopia"- and his three paramours escape to the abandoned ruins of the local Howard Johnson's. The faded Rotary banner still adorns the banquet room. It reads: "Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships?" More and one of his lovers, Moira, sit on a moldering bed and read "above the Gideon Bible" scrawled on the wall the words "For a free suck call room 208."

"I am surrounded by the corpses of souls," says Father Rinaldo Smith, the pastor of the tiny remnant of Catholics who refuse to join the American Catholic Church. "We live in a city of the dead."

"There are Left states and Knothead states," Percy writes-Knothead being the new name of the Republican Party-"Left towns and Knothead towns but no center towns. ... Left networks and Knothead networks, Left movies and Knothead movies. The most popular Left films are dirty movies from Sweden [one depicted fellatio being performed in mid-air by two skydivers in free fall on an outdoor two-hundred-foot screen.] All-time Knothead favorites, on the other hand, include The Sound of Music, Flubber, and Ice Capades 1981, clean movies all."

The Democratic Party is now the Left Party. The political agenda is captured in the acronym LEFTPAPASANE, which stands for "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, The Pill, Atheism, Pot, Anti-Pollution, Sex, Abortion Now, Euthanasia."

The elites, who live in well-protected gated communities, all get along with each other whether they are members of the Left Party or the Knothead Party. They are, like the Clintons and the Trumps, members of the same exclusive club.

"The scientists, who are mostly liberals and unbelievers, and the businessmen, who are mostly conservative and Christian, live side by side in Paradise Estates," he writes of the gated community in the novel. "Though the two make much of their differences-one speaking of 'outworn dogmas and creeds,' the other of 'atheism and immorality,' etcetera-to tell the truth, I do not notice a great deal of difference between the two."

"Paradise Estates, where I live, is a paradise indeed, an oasis of concord in a troubled land," More says. "For our beloved old U.S.A. is in a bad way. Americans have turned against each other; race against race; right against left, believer against heathen, San Francisco against Los Angeles, Chicago against Cicero. Vines sprout in sections of New York where not even Negros will live. Wolves have been seen in downtown Cleveland, like Rome during the Black Plague. Some southern states have established diplomatic ties with Rhodesia. Minnesota and Oregon have their own consulates in Sweden (where so many deserters from these states dwell)."

"People look and talk and smile and are nice and the abyss yawns," he writes. "The niceness is terrifying."

In the novel's raging culture wars, the political triumphs of the left include removing the words "In God We Trust" from pennies. The Knotheads enacted a law that required "compulsory prayers in the black public schools and made funds available for birth control in Africa, Asia, and Alabama." An exclusive private school, Valley Forge Academy-like the privatized education being implemented by Trump appointee Betsy DeVos-is "founded on religious and patriotic principles and to keep Negroes out."

Students in the universities, radical multiculturalists and moral purists "are a shaky dogmatic lot," Percy writes. "And the 'freer' they are, the more dogmatic. At heart they're totalitarians: they want either total dogmatic freedom or total dogmatic unfreedom, and the one thing that makes them unhappy is something in between."

Percy is describing what Kierkegaard called "sickness unto death"-the numbing of the soul by despair that leads to moral and physical death.

"Even now, late as it is, nobody can really believe that it didn't work after all," Percy writes.

The old U.S.A. didn't work! Is it even possible that from the beginning it never did work? That the thing always had a flaw in it, a place where it would shear, and that all this time we were not really different from Ecuador and Bosnia-Herzegovina, just richer. Moon Mullins blames it on the niggers. Hm. Was it the nigger business from the beginning? What a bad joke: God saying, here it is, the new Eden, and it is yours because you're the apple of my eye; because you the lordly Westerners, the fierce Caucasian-Gentile-Visigoths, believed in me and in the outlandish Jewish Event even though you were nowhere near it and had to hear the news of it from strangers. But you believed and so I gave it all to you, gave you Israel and Greece and science and art and the lordship of the earth, and finally even gave you the new world that I blessed for you. And all you had to do was pass one little test, which was surely child's play for you because you already had passed the big one. One little test: here's a helpless man in Africa, all you have to do is not violate him. That's all.
One little test: you flunk!

God, was it always the nigger business, now, just as in 1883, 1783, 1683, and hasn't it always been that ever since the first tough God-believing Christ-haunted cunning violent rapacious Visigoth-Western-Gentile first set foot here with the first black man, the one willing to risk everything, take all or lose all, the other willing just to wait and outlast because once he was violated all he had to do was wait because sooner or later the first would wake up and know that he had flunked, been proved a liar where he lived, and no man can live with that. And sooner or later the lordly Visigoth-Western-Gentile-Christian-Americans would have to falter, fall out, turn upon themselves like scorpions in a bottle.
(c) 2018 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Pat Bagley ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Santa Should Have Left These Gifts
By Will Durst

Hey!!! Sorry. Just trying to rouse everyone from their tranquil basking in the afterglow of the most wonderful time of the year. You know, the one where the retail industry celebrates swimming in black ink while the rest of us pray the frigid temps delay the bills a mite longer.

During this post-sacred season of super sell-a-thons, many remember sharing our blessings with the less fortunate. But what about the more fortunate? For they truly are the forgotten men and women of the holidays. Fortunately, the Republican Congress took care of them with a huge Christmas gift tax reform.

So, to continue our representatives' thoughtful good works, let us take a few brief belated moments to offer up our much anticipated wish list that endeavors to fill the gaps left by Santa's sack and detail what folks should have found under their tree in a very special episode of Will Durst's Xma$ Gift Wi$h Li$t. With many items conveniently now on sale.

For Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III: A research sabbatical to Vostok Station in Antarctica.

For Melania Trump: A Nobel Peace Prize for not slapping her husband's hand away every time they're in public.

For Roy Moore: A return to the bench adjudicating the daily shenanigans at the Gadsden Mall food court.

For Speaker of the House Paul Ryan: One gift certificate for a surgical procedure to remove that unsightly lump of Freedom Caucus hampering his stride.

For Kim Jong Un: If Trump's approval rating falls any further, a bunker near hell.

For Donald Trump: Noise canceling headphones so he can drown out the cacophony of negativity surrounding him.

For Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK, Charley Rose, Matt Lauer, Dustin Hoffman, Brett Ratner and Jeremy Piven: Lunch with Roman Polanski in Paris but no return ticket.

For CNN: More Russian investigation revelations. Either that or another summer of shark attacks. Or best of all ... Russian sharks.

For Sarah Huckabee Sanders: A stainless steel muzzle along with detailed instructions on how to self-install.

For Fox News: More Benghazi investigation revelations. Either that or another winter of the War on Christmas. Or best of all ... Happy Holidays from Benghazi.

For Dennis Rodman: An all expenses paid trip to the Winter Olympics so he can take a side trip to North Korea to save the world.

For former Minnesota Sen. Al Franken: A job opening at Saturday Night Live.

For Vladimir Putin: A year's supply of treats for his lapdog.

For Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto: A tremendous wall to keep United States citizens from overrunning his country.

For Republican congresspersons facing midterm elections: Retroactive Snapchat technology that allows any photo of them with President Donald Trump to instantly disappear.

For VP Mike Pence: A strobe light to use at press conferences to give the appearance of movement.

For the CEO of Equifax: A new password that is not his wife's birthday.

For Medical Science to study: Donald Trump's brain. Sean Spicer's mouth. Steve Bannon's heart. And Chuck Schumer's spine.

For Anthony Scaramucci: A big bag of coal.

For Colin Kaepernick: A job in the Canadian Football League.

For California Sen. Dianne Feinstein: At least two more terms. Because you can't have an effective government without one nonagenarian to remind us when history starts repeating itself.
(c) 2018 Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed columnist, comedian and former sod farmer in New Berlin, Wisconsin. For a calendar of personal appearances, including his new one-man show, "Durst Case Scenario," please visit:

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Issues & Alibis Vol 18 # 02 (c) 01/12/2018

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