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In This Edition

Matt Taibbi supports, "Free Lunch For Everyone."

Uri Avnery explores, "A Curious National Home."

Glen Ford examines, "Criminal Nation: Obama And Trump Both Should Be Jailed For War."

Robert Parry considers, "The 'Soft Coup' Of Russia-gate."

Jim Hightower wonders, "Why Did Trump Back Off From His Mexican Border Tax?"

Greg Palast reports, "Trump Picks The Al Capone Of Vote-Rigging To Investigate Federal Voter Fraud."

Chris Hedges concludes, "Trump Is The Symptom, Not The Disease."

John Nichols says, "The Donald Trump Impeachment Clock Is Ticking."

William Rivers Pitt with a must read, "Trump Nixes Nixon: Where Watergate Goes To Die."

David Suzuki declares, "Long Work Hours Don't Work For People Or The Planet."

Harvey Wasserman wonders, "Tunnel Collapse At Hanford Nuclear Dump-Harbinger Of The Collapse Of The Entire Industry?"

David Swanson finds, "Things Russians Can Teach Americans."

Michael Winship reports, "In A Time Of Madness, Sally Yates Is A Profile In Courage."

Ryan Zinke wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich wants to know, "Are There 22 Patriotic House Republicans?"

Joe Conason returns with, "Impeach Trump? Transcript Will Tell Whether President Blabbed Secrets To Russians."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst catches, "President Trump Stress Disorder," but first Uncle Ernie asks, "Who Do The Republicans Serve?"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of David Fitzsimmons, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, Chip Somodevilla, Thomanication, Al Drago, Ulrich Baumgarten, Pete Marovich, Bloomberg, Lufina, Wikimedia Commons, The New York Times, Reuters, Flickr, AP, The Washington Post, 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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Who Do The Republicans Serve?
The People or their puppetmasters?
By Ernest Stewart

"These reports, if true, are of the gravest possible concern. It could harm our national security by cutting off important sources of intelligence that protect Americans against terrorist acts." ~~~ Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

"Overfishing - it's not just that we're taking too many out, it's how we're doing it. We are wiping out their nurseries, ... [because some huge boats] ... bottom trawl ... [with] nets that 50 years ago you'd have to lift when you came to coral reefs or rocks or nooks and crannies. Now they're so sophisticated and so heavy, the equipment, and the boat's so powerful they can just drag right over the coral reefs and the rocks and the nooks and crannies, and turn them into a gravel pit. ... The trouble is those are the nurseries. That's where the little fish hide and get bigger and get big enough for us to eat." ~~~ Ted Danson

"Trump's situation is reaching the point where it's of Watergate size and scale." ~~~ Sen. John McCain

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the Cupboard
To give the poor Dog a bone
When she came there
The Cupboard was bare
And so the poor Dog had none.
Mother Hubbard ~~~ Sarah Catharine Martin

I see where herr Trump, by giving top secret information to the Russians, a day after firing the FBI director Comey, the chief investigator of Trump and his campaign ties with Russia before and during the election might raise some eye brows, especially on the left. Many are calling for impeachment on the left, while the right scrambles to cover up Trumps obvious, indiscrete, faux pas'.

Trouble is, you can't get Trump for passing top secret information to a potential enemy as the President can declassify any secret by the power the presidency. However, he can be impeached on several grounds, as the Constitution clearly states.

Article 2 section 4

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

I'm going to repeat that again for those of you on drugs:

For Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

I could at this point say "the Prosecution rests," but let's not forget what is written in the Constitution a little farther down the page:

Article 3, section 3, clause 1

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

And by giving Russia top secret information that will no doubt get the spy killed who gave us this information, and thus end the information flow. Not to mention the country that gave us the info in confidence will no doubt face reprisals for doing so, but everybody hates Israel anyway. Ergo, you can bet your bottom dollars that our friends don't like to be outed, and not only Israel, but many other countrys may keep their info to themselves in the future, making us a whole lot less safe! All so Trump could boost his ego with the Russians.

I wonder how long the Republican controlled House and Senate will let this go on without an article of impeachment? They can either serve their puppetmasters who pull their strings and make them dance and lie, or, the American people whom they swore an oath to serve. I wonder which one they'll serve, don't you?

In Other News

As I've been reporting for the last couple of years the coral reef will soon be going the way of the Dodo bird, dinosaurs and compassionate Republicans! Trouble is, most ocean life is dependent upon coral reefs to stay alive!

After being a highly successful life form for 250 million years, disruptions in the biological and communication systems of coral reefs have been found to be the underlying cause of the coral bleaching and collapse of reef ecosystems around the world.

Coral reefs form the world's biggest single structure made by living organisms, Australia's Great Barrier Reef, which is visible from outer space. The reef is composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 3,000 kilometers over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometers. Did I mention that 25% of it is dead another 25% is dying? The other 50%, like reefs all around the world is expected to be dead in another 50 years!

An explosion of knowledge is helping to explain why coral reefs around the world are collapsing and what it will take for them to survive. The problems facing coral reefs are still huge, and increasing. Most of the causes are man made, what a surprise, huh? The two biggest are caused by global warming and pollution! Others include, overfishing, sedimentation, acidification, oxidative stress and disease, and the synergistic effect of some of these problems may destroy reefs even when one cause by itself would not.

Corals, it appears, have a genetic complexity that rivals that of humans, according to research funded in part by the National Science Foundation. Their sophisticated systems of biological communication are being stressed by global change, and are only able to survive based on proper function of an intricate symbiotic relationship with algae that live within their bodies.

Virginia Weis, a professor of zoology at Oregon State University says, "We've known for some time the general functioning of corals and the problems they are facing from climate change, But until just recently, much less has been known about their fundamental biology, genome structure and internal communication. Only when we really understand how their physiology works will we know if they can adapt to climate changes, or ways that we might help."

Weis continues, "Some of these algae that live within corals are amazingly productive, and in some cases give 95 percent of the sugars they produce to the coral to use for energy. In return the algae gain nitrogen, a limiting nutrient in the ocean, by feeding off the waste from the coral. It's a finely developed symbiotic relationship." That now is shutting down!

Global warming is killing the algae which in turn destroys the reefs which begins a downwards spiral for the rest of the oceans creatures. With a couple of billion people relying on the sea for most or all of their protein it's going to get real nasty before too long. The climate deniers don't care, working for the 1% as they do, and the one percent have been trying to get rid of most of us so they can maintain and enjoy their lifestyle. If 7 billion of us go away what a fine world it would be, for them!

And Finally

Have you heard that 11 Democratic Senators have sent notice to Department of Justice inspector general Michael Horowitz; demanding a investigations of Jeff Sessions involvement in Trump's "Saturday Night Maasacre" of FBI Director James Comey. You may recall Sessions vowed to recuse himself from matters related to Russia's alleged 2016 election interference.

"It is clear that Attorney General Sessions had an active role in the termination of Comey," the Senators wrote. You may recall one of Trump's justifications for Comey's dismissal was a recommendation from Sessions, sent May 9, 2017. So much for his vow to recuse himself, huh? The Senators wrote:

"This seems to be in direct violation of Attorney General Sessions' recusal from 'any existing or future investigations of any matter relating in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States'. At the time of his termination, director Comey was actively leading the FBI's investigations into both the attempts by the Russian government to influence the 2016 presidential campaign, and the ties of members/employees/representatives of the Trump campaign had, or have, with the Russian government or Russian intelligence services.

"It is imperative that the American people have faith in the institutions that are investigating the influence a hostile foreign power may have had on our presidential campaign, election, and the current administration of President Trump. We believe the Attorney General's involvement in the termination of director Comey has injected the exact "partiality" in these investigations he claimed to wish to avoid. Further, the president's recent admission that Comey was fired, at least in part, due to the Russia investigation only raises further questions about the role of the Attorney General in the termination, his willingness to provide cover for a political decision, and both his and the Department of Justice's ability to perform an independent investigation."
Meanwhile over in the House...

A Texas Democrat by the name of Al Green took the floor to call for Trump's impeachment, imagine that. Who knows there maybe hope for us yet? Al said:
"Mr. Speaker, I rise today with a heavy heart. I rise today with a sense of responsibility and duty to the people who have elected me; a sense of duty to this country; a sense of duty to the Constitution of the United States of America.

"I rise today, Mr. Speaker, to call for the impeachment of the President of the United States of America, for the obstruction of justice. I do not do this for political purposes, Mr. Speaker. I do this because I believe in the great ideals that this country stands for: liberty and justice for all...I do it because, Mr. Speaker, there is a belief in this country that no one is above the law, and that includes the president of the United States of America.

"Mr. Speaker, our democracy is at risk. Mr. Speaker, it is time for the American people to weigh in. Mr. Speaker, the American people are a part of this democracy."
And then from the acting Attorney General...

Robert Mueller is named special counsel for FBI Russia probe.

The Justice Department announced Wednesday it has appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to oversee a federal investigation into the probe of alleged Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election.

"In my capacity as acting Attorney General, I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a Special Counsel to assume responsibility for this matter," Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a statement. "My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted."

The appointment gives Mueller, who led the FBI through the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and served under presidential administrations of both parties, sweeping powers to investigate whether Trump campaign associates colluded with the Kremlin to influence the outcome in his behalf, as well as the authority to prosecute any crimes uncovered during the probe.

"I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability,"
Mueller said in a statement.

These announcements are indeed a good first step, now it's time to take a second step, a third step, a fourth... Arise America, it's all up to you!

Keepin' On

I think I know how Old Mother Hubbard's dog must've felt when she came back from the cupboard bare-handed. I was hoping to find a bone in the p.o. box; but like Ma Hubbard, I found none! We did have a surprising flourish of support at year's end and then a nice start for the new year; but since then nada!

It's not for myself, you understand; it's for you and yours that we exist. No one, especially yours truly, makes a dime at this; we're all volunteers here, every dime raised goes to paying up our bills so that we may keep on keeping on for you.

If you'd like to help us in our cause, please send us what you can, whenever you can, and we'll keep up the good fight, until we the people win, or we're whisked off to a Happy Camp. Without your support, we'll end up like old Mother Hubbard's dog in the second verse of the poem, i.e.:

She went to the Baker's
To buy him some bread
But when she came back
The poor Dog was dead!


06-01-1948 ~ 05-14-2017
Thanks for the film!

06-03-1926 ~ 05-17-2017
Thanks for the fight!

07-20-1964 ~ 05-17-2017
Thanks for the music!

05-15-1940 ~ 05-18-2017
Burn Baby Burn!


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

'Utopia for Realists' author Rutger Bregman argues that if you give people a basic income with no strings attached,
they will make better decisions, work more, cost the state less in the areas of things like health care and incarceration, and be happier.

Free Lunch For Everyone
Months of palace intrigue have pitted the D.C. establishment against Steve Bannon - and made Trump more dangerous than ever
By Matt Taibbi

The first thing you notice about Utopia for Realists, the new book that argues that money should be free and a 15-hour work week sounds about right, is its tone. Writer Rutger Bregman is cheerful, optimistic, imaginative, welcoming, funny and economical - the opposite of most of our political books, which tend to be fulminating, accusatory, combative and narrow-minded, and all of these things across far too many pages.

Bregman is Dutch, which will be a strike against him on these shores, and then there is the matter of his politics, which seem designed to infuriate the entire spectrum of current American thought. He is for open borders, which will make him an Antichrist to the Trump right, and he speaks warmly of neoliberalism, which will make Sanders liberals cringe.

At the same time, the entire thesis of his book seems aimed at the tepid incrementalism of mainstream Democrats, who reflexively dismiss all big ideas as "politically unrealistic" and the work of "purity testers." He will have few natural allies on this side of the Atlantic, which may be one of the reasons his international bestseller hasn't been reviewed in very many of our major newspapers yet.

But Bregman's book is both a fun read and a breath of fresh air to anyone who lived through the ghastly experience of last year's presidential election season, which turned into an angry referendum on the relentless narrowness of American politics.

Utopia for Realists is a book that argues, with humor and sympathy, that we've all suffered from forgetting how to dream of a better world. "We inhabit a world of managers and technocrats," he writes. "Political decisions are presented as a matter of exigency - as neutral and objective events, as though there were no other choice."

American writers continually made the mistake of trying to understand the upheavals of last year in terms of the usual left-right explanations of the world, instead of looking at more basic criteria. People everywhere were depressed and bored out of their minds. They craved something new. Polls consistently showed that people in both parties were unhappy with their choices and wanted a new direction almost irrespective of what that direction was.

People wanted big ideas and big dreams, but Democrats and Republicans both have been trained to imagine the future not as a better place, but one filled with horror and destruction. On the right, the fantasy future is overrun by benefit-devouring immigrants with scabies, while for the left the next decades are a hellscape filled with toxic greenhouse gases and overfished oceans.

What I saw on the campaign trail last year was an electorate so desperate for big dreams that they turned to lost paradises of the past.

Donald Trump promised to build walls to reverse the onslaught of multiculturalism and send us back to a Fifties nirvana that never existed - he literally promised Happy Days and even had Scott Baio as an opening-day convention speaker.

For Democrats, meanwhile, the most exciting future was presented by a septuagenarian socialist reintroducing the New Deal to young voters. Even a mildly radical idea like free college aroused not just derision but anger among "responsible" thinkers in both of the major parties and in the punditocracy, ostensibly the place where we play with ideas in this country.

Bregman argues that we are where we are because a century of bummerific experiences with utopian ideas - fascism, communism, Nazism, to name a few - have left us imagining that "dreams have a way of turning into nightmares" and that "utopia is a dystopia." This has left us with a world where "politics has been watered down to problem management" and "radical ideas about a different world have become literally unthinkable."

Even liberalism, Bregman argues, has become pessimistic, an ideology that is "all but hollowed out," with young people trained to "just be yourself" and "do your thing." That's probably an overstatement and a cliche. But there's probably also some truth to the idea that a lot of the controversies about safe spaces are the end result of a new emphasis on trying to make the individual feel maximally safe and accepted within the larger context of a world we've unconsciously come to accept as essentially unchangeable.

Government, too, Bregman argues, has mostly given up trying to make a better world, and has instead focused on policing it better. "If you're not following the blueprint of a docile, content citizen," he writes, "the powers that be are happy to whip you into shape" - with control, surveillance, repression.

The welfare state is where Bregman sees the ultimate perversion of the utopian instinct. It's become "a grotesque pact between left and right," in which conservatives have spent a generation making sure people getting aid are punished and villainized as lazy and work-averse, while progressives have used public assistance as a way to lever more control over the lives of poor people who aren't trusted to make the right life choices. Anyone who has covered the way the remains of the welfare bureaucracy works knows this is true, that we have made receiving any kind of aid to keep yourself or your children alive a humiliating, intrusive experience, one that invites an army of inspectors into your home, who examine everything from how many toothbrushes you have in your bathroom to whether your Facebook page shows you're spending your time wisely.

Bregman thinks we should just give people money, no questions asked, and let them sort it out. His prescriptions are humorously simple. He quotes economist Charles Kenny, who notes "the reason poor people are poor is because they don't have enough money." And he tells the fascinating true story of that time that Richard Nixon - Richard Nixon! - tried to implement a law guaranteeing a basic family income for all Americans.

The story is one of those classic absurdist tales of history. Nixon's brain led him to this idea by means of some bizarre accident - he apparently thought "Tory men and liberal policies" are what "changed the world," and saw the plan as the ultimate marriage of conservative and progressive politics, something that would make his name ring out forever: Richard Nixon, guarantor of universal dignity.

But of course aides who hated the idea (including one who was an Ayn Rand fan) pushed him away from the plan, and it morphed into yet another plan to castigate the lazy poor by forcing them to work. Later in the Seventies, the idea vanished altogether thanks to another classic political reason - a typo, which mistakenly showed that experiments in this area revealed a 50 percent higher divorce rate, which naturally led men to worry that guaranteeing women a basic income would leave them with no reason to stay home. Years later it turned out that basic income experiments had shown no impact on the divorce rate.

One of the reasons the welfare state is so unpopular in America is because every aid program ends up being income-dependent. You can't qualify for aid here until you're poor enough, but we treat the poor as work-averse parasites with bad judgment who have to be monitored round-the-clock. But studies abroad show that the countries with the most universal programs are the most successful and engender the least hostility. "Basically," Bregman writes, "people are more open to solidarity if it benefits them personally."

Bregman's basic ideas are pretty simple. He thinks (and many scientists agree with him) that if you give people a basic income with no strings attached, they will make better decisions, work more, cost the state less in the areas of things like health care and incarceration, and be happier and feel less humiliated, scared, and insecure. He quotes Woody Allen, who pointed out that "money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons."

He also argues pretty forcefully that working longer hours makes us less productive and also more unhappy. At some point in the arc of industrialized countries, we end up working more and more hours just so we can acquire more and more stuff we don't need. More relaxing, less working and consuming - that's where we should be looking. So he proposes a 15-hour work week. I'm sure people here will hate the idea.

And who knows, maybe none of it works in practice. But what's so interesting about modern America is our hostility to the mere idea of trying to create an easier and happier life. We're a country that was once rich with social experimentation, from the Shaker colonies to Brook Farm to Oneida to New Harmony to the Fourierist experiments to the Octagon community of vegetarians to a long list of others, many of them amusingly crazy, who tried to use the accident of plenty as an excuse to build a better way to live.

Now we don't really even try, and mostly just scream at each other on the Internet. That doesn't seem like it will get us there. Maybe free money and a three-hour work day won't, either, but it sure seems like it would be more fun to try.
(c) 2017 Matt Taibbi is Rolling Stone's chief political reporter, Matt Taibbi's predecessors include the likes of journalistic giants Hunter S. Thompson and P.J. O'Rourke. Taibbi's 2004 campaign journal Spanking the Donkey cemented his status as an incisive, irreverent, zero-bullshit reporter. His books include Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History, The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion, Smells Like Dead Elephants: Dispatches from a Rotting Empire.

A Curious National Home
By Uri Avnery

THE PRESENT Israeli government coalition consists of 67 (out of 120) members of the Knesset.

Each member wants to be elected again (and again and again).

In order to be reelected, he or she must attract the attention of the public.

How? The simplest way is to propose a new law. A bill so outrageous, that the media cannot possible ignore it.

This sets up a natural competition. To draw attention, each new bill must be a bit more outrageous than the last. The sky is the limit. Perhaps.

THE LAST bill, concocted by a Member who is an ex-secret service chief, is called "Israel - the National State of the Jewish People."

In general parlance, the Jewish People consists of all the Jews in the world, more than half of whom live outside Israel and are citizens of other states. They are not asked if they want the State of Israel to represent them. Goes without asking.

Indeed, Israeli ambassadors everywhere are considered by many a kind of unofficial overlord of the local Jewish community.

What about the Arab citizens of Israel, who constitute slightly more than 20%? Well, they remain citizens, but the state does not belong to them.

SO WHAT does the proposed bill say?

First of all, it abolishes the status of Arabic as an "official language", a status it has enjoyed since Israel was founded. Hebrew will reign supreme - and alone.

Israel has no written constitution. The Supreme Court has created a kind of virtual constitution, resting on several "basic laws". A Knesset majority can overturn any of these at any time.

The basic legal assumption until now has been that Israel is a "Jewish and Democratic State", both attributes of equal status. The new law will change that. Both attributes will remain intact, but "Jewish" will become more important than "democratic" and trump it if there is a contradiction, as there frequently is.

This week Binyamin Netanyahu announced that he has adopted this bill and will push it through the Knesset in two months time. No problem.

WHY IS there no problem?

Because, basically, there is no ideological opposition.

There is, of course, an Arab faction (split into three sub-factions: nationalist, religious and communist). But most Jewish opposition members would rather be seen in the Knesset cafeteria in the company of a rabid fascist Jewish member than an Arab one.

So if Netanyahu wants to ram the bill through, it will indeed become the law of the land.

WHAT DOES "Jewish" mean? Is it a national or a religious designation?

The average Israeli will answer: both, of course. It can be used in the one sense or the other, as expedience demands.

Zionism was basically a process of attempting to transform an ancient ethno-religious community into a modern nation. When the bill says that Israel is the "nation-state of the Jewish people" it means all the Jews around the world. "Nation" and "people" (and religion) are considered synonyms. We are all Jews, aren't we?

What about the US Jew who feels he belongs to the American nation? What about the Canadian Jew who is a complete atheist and treats his Jewishness as a quaint reminder of his grandparents? Or a hypothetical black South-African whose parents have been converted to Judaism by their white Jewish master? Or a Russian Jew, whose parents have adopted the Orthodox Christian faith?

They are Jews, all of them. Jewish religious law says that "a Jew, even if he commits a sin, is still a Jew." Adopting the Christian - or any other - faith is certainly a sin, but the convert still remains a Jew, whether he wants it or not.

The Nation-State of the Jewish People belongs to all of them. Or, rather, they all belong to the Nation State of the Jewish People.

ALL THIS has very little to do with the original Zionist ideology.

Theodor Herzl, a thoroughly naive person, believed that all the Jews in the world would come to the Jewish State. Those who did not would cease to be Jews.

Even to David Ben-Gurion, an early Zionist, the idea that an American Zionist leader could continue to live in the USA was an abomination. His colleagues had a hard time convincing him that it was bad policy to tell that to the American Jews when you need their money.

Ben-Gurion would certainly not have agreed to a definition that would have turned Israel - his Israel! - into the state of these Jews, and turned them into quasi-citizens of the Jewish National State. God (in whom he did not believe) forbid.

WHAT ABOUT secular Jews in Israel?

Well the first question is whether there really are "secular" Jews in Israel.

All the Jews who grew up in Israel are products of the Jewish educational system, based on the Bible. This produces in their mind a set of ideological certitudes that cannot be eradicated.

The People of Israel was born in a conversation between God and Abraham in a place located in today's Iraq. This is of course a legend, like a large part of the Hebrew Bible, including the forefathers, the exodus and the kingdoms of David and Solomon. (Their existence is disproved, inter alia, by their total absence from the voluminous correspondence of Egyptian rulers and spies in the Land of Canaan.)

But historical evidence is unimportant here. The fact is that every Jewish child in Israel carries the Bible deep in their consciousness. Meaning: Jews are special. Jews are unique. It's "them" and "us". The whole world against us.

My friend Reuven Wimmer has sent me a list of the basic beliefs of the average "secular" Israeli. It goes a follows:

He does not observe the Shabbat. He uses his car, buys, travels and goes to the seashore on the Holy Day.
But he believes in God.
He does not eat kosher, but prefers kosher restaurants.
He goes at least once a year- on Yom Kippur - to synagogue
He marries and divorces at the Rabbinate.
He does not like Arabs very much.
He does not want to be identified as a Leftist, but does not vote for the Right.
He is not in favor of separation between state and religion.
He has served in the army, loves the army and is proud of the state.
He is for Two States for Two Peoples, provided this does not harm the settlements.
He does not take part in demonstrations or any other political activities.
Since that is so, no real protests against the bill can be expected. We will call ourselves the Nation State of the Jewish People. Halleluyah. (For those who do not know: Halleluyah is Hebrew for "Praise God".)

WHAT ABOUT the close to two million Arabs who are citizens of the National State of the Jewish People?

Up to now, no attention-hungry Member of the Knesset has yet concocted a bill to take away their citizenship.

So they will remain citizens of the state, which belongs to another people. For the time being.

We will have a National State for the Jewish people, in which the majority of the world's Jews are not citizens, and in which two million non-Jewish Arabs will be citizens, in whose "eternal capital", Jerusalem, there live some hundreds of thousands of Arab inhabitants who are not citizens, which militarily occupies the West Bank with some 22.5 million Arabs, and which indirectly controls the lives of another two million Arabs in the Gaza Strip.

Altogether, there live now in historical Palestine some 7 million Jews and some 7 million Arabs.

A curious National Home.
(c) 2017 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Criminal Nation: Obama And Trump Both Should Be Jailed For War Crimes
By Glen Ford

The corporate media feed us fake news and the lawyers provide us with fake legality. A group of former Obama White House lawyers -- the same guys that defended the U.S. bombing of Libya, drone wars, and the "proxy" war against Syria -- say Trump has not legally justified his attack on a Syrian airbase. The truth is, the U.S. has waged illegal wars with impunity for most of its existence. Obama's former lawyers want only to whitewash the crimes.

It is as if the Gambino and Genovese crime families were arguing their turf disputes in the courts and the news media. The Democrats are screaming bloody murder over President Trump's firing of FBI director James Comey, whom Hillary Clinton still blames for her defeat at the polls and who the bipartisan War Party has never forgiven for Comey's earlier hesitancy to blame the Russians for the same offense. Now that Trump has cut Comey loose -- ostensibly for his handling of the Clinton emails scandal, according to three letters sent by Trump and his two top Justice Department officials - the Democrats have stepped up calls for a special prosecutor to continue the evidence-less crusade against the Kremlin.

It's the Saturday Night Massacre all over again, cry the Democrats, harkening back to the weekend in 1973 when President Nixon fired Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox. But this is not about the rule of law -- quite the opposite: it's about continuing the momentum of the U.S. military offensive begun in 2011 under President Obama, a wholly illegal aggression that has destroyed Libya, killed half a million Syrians, delivered vast regions to the control of the two feuding factions of al-Qaida, and brought the world closer to nuclear annihilation than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis.

The War Party is determined to make the offensive permanent, to keep up the pressure on the ultimate targets, Russia and China, until they break or capitulate to U.S. domination of the world. The current, rabid anti-Russian hysteria adds another layer of fake news on top of the wholly fictional U.S. "War on Terror" scenario. But these mega-lies can no longer mask the great obscenity of the 21st century: that the U.S. is allied with al-Qaida, whose jihadists act as imperialism's foot soldiers in the Middle East. Donald Trump thought last month's attack on Syria had bought him immunity, or at least a respite, from the wrath of the War Party, which was determined to burn him at the political stake -- not for his raging racism and hostility to civil liberties, but for his previously stated opposition to "regime change" and never-ending tensions with Russia. Trump's 59-missile salvo against a Syrian airbase was supposed to wipe the slate clean and forgive his heresies against the extralegal rights of the "exceptional" U.S. empire. But apparently, there is no statute of limitations on even the suggestion of peaceful coexistence with targeted states. And now, in an almost laughable legalistic perversion, a group of lawyers from the Obama White House, of all places, is suing the Trump administration for failing to provide sufficient legal rationale for last month's Tomahawk hit on Syria. The lawyers at United to Protect Democracy claim their insider knowledge of "how the federal government works" gives them unique insights on "implementing and enforcing the norms that have constrained presidential power for decades" - although they never constrained Obama from his own lurch towards apocalypse, in 2011. Indeed, these legal hit-men for empire acknowledge as much, admitting (or bragging?) that "we defended past presidents against legitimate oversight and illegitimate attacks." The self-styled "watchdog" group does not list its board or members on its website, but their admission implicates them in Obama's legal defense of his regime change assault on Libya. The U.S.-NATO bombing campaign, which killed an estimated 50,000 people, destroyed the country's infrastructure, resulted in the murder of its chief of state, empowered jihadist militias, and unleashed a torrent of arms across Africa and the Middle East, nevertheless did not violate the War Powers Act because "U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve U.S. ground troops," wrote Obama's lawyers. When challenged by Congress, Obama maintained that the war on Libya was not a war at all, because no Americans were killed.

Like synchronized dancers, the U.S. and its allies pivoted immediately to Syria, where they attempted to use much the same formula -- jihadists + arms + financing + CIA training + political protection at the UN -- to overthrow the Bashar al-Assad government. This "proxy war," which involved U.S. military and intelligence personnel on the ground from the very start, was never a secret and was always a clear violation of the United Nations Charter, which the U.S. is legally obligated to uphold. Nations are forbidden to use force against other nations except in self-defense or with the authorization of the UN Security Council. Unlike in Libya, the U.S. did not have the fig leaf of enforcing a UN-authorized "no-fly zone" in Syria. Yet, there was hardly a peep from any but a handful of Democrats, and therefore no need for Obama's in-house lawyers to defend their Chief against charges of aggressive war, the most serious of international crimes.

In 2013, after Syria was falsely blamed for a chemical attack on civilians, Obama threatened to directly bomb Syrian forces. His lawyers were prepared to argue that an attack on Syria could be justified - like Bill Clinton's bombing of Kosovo in 1999 - on vague grounds of eliminating a threat to peace. But of course, the greatest threat to peace is aggressive war, of which the United States was already -- and chronically -- guilty. In the end, Obama decided to ask Congress for authorization to bomb, and then changed his mind when the Russians offered to broker destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles. But, like all U.S. presidents, and with no grounds under international law, Obama insisted that Commanders-in-Chief have the right to bomb other countries to defend U.S. "national security" based on their own judgment -- another legal nonsensicality.

So, the legal mercenaries of United to Protect Democracy, veterans of Obama's 2011 military offensive, have no problem with violating international law. Their beef with Trump appears to be that he did not provide sufficient legal rationale for his bombing Syria - which is different than actually obeying international law. Trump's people issued what are described as "talking points" to explain his actions against Syria. But former White House lawyer Justin Florence, the group's legal director, wrote that this is not enough: "The U.S. government must publicly articulate its legal theory in order to uphold the international legal framework we have relied on for so many years as a constraint on other states."

The UN Charter is clear on what constitutes aggression. Trump is an aggressor. So were Obama, and Bush (the UN Secretary General said so), and so was Clinton. Since the U.S. is a superpower and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the UN will never authorize the international community to punish the U.S. for its crimes. But, that does not absolve the U.S. of criminality -- and humanity's collective memory and conscience will never forgive the United States for the crushing of nations and the death of millions. The Democratic Party hacks with law degrees at United to Protect Democracy are concerned, not about peace, but that U.S. presidents go through the motions of rationalizing their imperial crimes. Say something that sounds good, they urge. Convince the American public that it's OK for the U.S. to claim life and death powers over the rest of humanity. Make an effort, why don't ya?

These "watchdogs'" real problem with Trump is that he has not bothered to commission creative lawyers like themselves to provide lofty wordage to justify the indefensible. He has not taken care to skillfully market U.S. imperial aggression to its home population. This may not be impeachable, but it is embarrassing and unbefitting of an "exceptional" empire.

Ajamu Baraka, the 2016 Green Party vice presidential candidate and an editor and columnist at Black Agenda Report, wrote in this issue of BAR:

"The absence of any real opposition to the reckless use of U.S. military force -- the attack on Syria, the macho demonstration bombing in Afghanistan, the provocations toward North Korea -- exposed once again the unanimity among the U.S. ruling class and the state on the use of military force as the main strategy to enforce its global interests."
The American public does not think of itself as bloodthirsty, but it has a huge tolerance for the spilling of other people's blood. Americans also have a peculiar sense of entitlement. "Imperial privilege is this strange ability on the part of the U.S. public to 'shrug off' the consequences experienced by people impacted by the direct and indirect result of U.S. militarism," Baraka writes.

Obama's former lawyers at United to Protect Democracy understand that Americans demand only that politicians use pretty words to justify the barbarities committed in their name. If you stick with the formula, the template, and make Americans feel exceptional, then you can bomb the hell out of the rest of the world, at will.
(c) 2017 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

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

The 'Soft Coup' Of Russia-gate
By Robert Parry

Where is Stanley Kubrick when we need him? If he hadn't died in 1999, he would be the perfect director to transform today's hysteria over Russia into a theater-of-the-absurd movie reprising his Cold War classic, "Dr. Strangelove," which savagely satirized the madness of nuclear brinksmanship and the crazed ideology behind it.

To prove my point, The Washington Post on Thursday published a lengthy story entitled in the print editions "Alarm at Russian in White House" about a Russian photographer who was allowed into the Oval Office to photograph President Trump's meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

The Post cited complaints from former U.S. intelligence officials who criticized the presence of the Russian photographer as "a potential security breach" because of "the danger that a listening device or other surveillance equipment could have been brought into the Oval Office while hidden in cameras or other electronics."

To bolster this alarm, the Post cited a Twitter comment from President Obama's last deputy CIA director, David S. Cohen, stating "No, it was not" a sound decision to admit the Russian photographer who also works for the Russian news agency, Tass, which published the photo.

Boris and Natasha, the evil spies from the Rocky and Bullwinkle shows.

One could picture Boris and Natasha, the evil spies in the Bullwinkle cartoons, disguised as photographers slipping listening devices between the cushions of the sofas.

Or we could hear how Russians are again threatening to "impurify all of our precious bodily fluids," as "Dr. Strangelove" character, Gen. Jack D. Ripper, warned us in the 1964 movie. Watching that brilliant dark comedy again might actually be a good idea to remind us how crazy Americans can get when they're pumped up with anti-Russian propaganda, as is happening again now.

Taking Down Trump

I realize that many Democrats, liberals and progressives hate Donald Trump so much that they believe that any pretext is justified in taking him down, even if that plays into the hands of the neoconservatives and other warmongers. Many people who detest Trump view Russia-gate as the most likely path to achieve Trump's impeachment, so this desirable end justifies whatever means.

Some people have told me that they even believe that it is the responsibility of the major news media, the law enforcement and intelligence communities, and members of Congress to engage in a "soft coup" against Trump - also known as a "constitutional coup" or "deep state coup" - for the "good of the country."

The argument is that it sometimes falls to these Establishment institutions to "correct" a mistake made by the American voters, in this case, the election of a largely unqualified individual as U.S. president. It is even viewed by some anti-Trump activists as a responsibility of "responsible" journalists, government officials and others to play this "guardian" role, to not simply "resist" Trump but to remove him.

There are obvious counter-arguments to this view, particularly that it makes something of a sham of American democracy. It also imposes on journalists a need to violate the ethical responsibility to provide objective reporting, not taking sides in political disputes.

But The New York Times and The Washington Post, in particular, have made it clear that they view Trump as a clear and present danger to the American system and thus have cast aside any pretense of neutrality.

The Times justifies its open hostility to the President as part of its duty to protect "the truth"; the Post has adopted a slogan aimed at Trump, "Democracy Dies in Darkness." In other words, America's two most influential political newspapers are effectively pushing for a "soft coup" under the guise of defending "democracy" and "truth."

But the obvious problem with a "soft coup" is that America's democratic process, as imperfect as it has been and still is, has held this diverse country together since 1788 with the notable exception of the Civil War.

If Americans believe that the Washington elites are removing an elected president - even one as buffoonish as Donald Trump - it could tear apart the fabric of national unity, which is already under extraordinary stress from intense partisanship.

That means that the "soft coup" would have to be carried out under the guise of a serious investigation into something grave enough to justify the President's removal, a removal that could be accomplished by congressional impeachment, his forced resignation, or the application of Twenty-fifth Amendment, which allows the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet to judge a President incapable of continuing in office (although that could require two-thirds votes by both houses of Congress if the President fights the maneuver).

A Big Enough 'Scandal'

That is where Russia-gate comes in. The gauzy allegation that Trump and/or his advisers somehow colluded with Russian intelligence officials to rig the 2016 election would probably clear the threshold for an extreme action like removing a President.

President Donald Trump being sworn in on Jan. 20, 2017.

And, given the determination of many key figures in the Establishment to get rid of Trump, it should come as no surprise that no one seems to care that no actual government-verified evidence has been revealed publicly to support any of the Russia-gate allegations.

There's not even any public evidence from U.S. government agencies that Russia did "meddle" in the 2016 election or - even if Russia did slip Democratic emails to WikiLeaks (which WikiLeaks denies) - there has been zero evidence that the scheme resulted from collusion with Trump's campaign.

The FBI has been investigating these suspicions for at least nine months, even reportedly securing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant against Carter Page, an American whom Trump briefly claimed as a foreign policy adviser when Trump was under fire for not having any foreign policy advisers.

One of Page's alleged offenses was that he gave a speech to an academic conference in Moscow in July 2016 that was mildly critical of how the U.S. treated countries from the former Soviet Union. He also once lived in Russia and met with a Russian diplomat who - apparently unbeknownst to Page - had been identified by the U.S. government as a Russian intelligence officer.

It appears that is enough, in these days of our New McCarthyism, to get an American put under a powerful counter-intelligence investigation.

The FBI and the Department of Justice also reportedly are including as part of the Russia-gate investigation Trump's stupid campaign joke calling on the Russians to help find the tens of thousands of emails that Hillary Clinton erased from the home server that she used while Secretary of State.

On July 27, 2016, Trump said, apparently in jest, "I will tell you this, Russia: if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing."

The comment fit with Trump's puckish, provocative and often tasteless sense of humor, but was seized on by Democrats as if it were a serious suggestion - as if anyone would use a press conference to seriously urge something like that. But it now appears that the FBI is grabbing at any straw that might support its investigation.

The (U.K.) Guardian reported this week that "Senior DoJ officials have declined to release the documents [about Trump's comment] on grounds that such disclosure could 'interfere with enforcement proceedings'. In a filing to a federal court in Washington DC, the DoJ states that 'because of the existence of an active, ongoing investigation, the FBI anticipates that it will ... withhold all records'.

"The statement suggests that Trump's provocative comment last July is being seen by the FBI as relevant to its own ongoing investigation."

The NYT's Accusations

On Friday, in the wake of Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey and the President's characterization of Russia-gate as "a total hoax," The New York Times reprised what it called "The Trump-Russia Nexus" in a lead editorial trying to make the case of some fire behind the smoke.

Former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page.

Though the Times acknowledges that there are "many unknowns" in Russia-gate and the Times can't seem to find any evidence of collusion, such as slipping a Russian data stick to WikiLeaks, the Times nevertheless treats a host of Trump advisers and family members as traitors because they've had some association with Russian officials, Russian businesses or Russian allies.

Regarding Carter Page, the Times wrote: "American officials believe that Mr. Page, a foreign policy adviser, had contacts with Russian intelligence officials during the campaign. He also gave a pro-Russia speech in Moscow in July 2016. Mr. Page was once employed by Merrill Lynch's Moscow office, where he worked with Gazprom, a government-owned giant."

You might want to let some of those words sink in, especially the part about Page giving "a pro-Russia speech in Moscow," which has been cited as one of the principal reasons for Page and his communications being targeted under a FISA warrant.

I've actually read Page's speech and to call it "pro-Russia" is a wild exaggeration. It was a largely academic treatise that faulted the West's post-Cold War treatment of the nations formed from the old Soviet Union, saying the rush to a free-market system led to some negative consequences, such as the spread of corruption.

But even if the speech were "pro-Russia," doesn't The New York Times respect the quaint American notion of free speech? Apparently not. If your carefully crafted words can be twisted into something called "pro-Russia," the Times seems to think it's okay to have the National Security Agency bug your phones and read your emails.

The Ukraine Case

Another Times' target was veteran political adviser Paul Manafort, who is accused of working as "a consultant for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine and for Ukraine's former president, Viktor Yanukovych, who was backed by the Kremlin."

Left out of that Times formulation is the fact that the Ukrainian political party, which had strong backing from ethnic Russian Ukrainians - not just Russia- competed in a democratic process and that Yanukovych won an election that was recognized by international observers as free and fair.

Yanukovych was then ousted in February 2014 in a violent putsch that was backed by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt. The putsch, which was spearheaded by right-wing nationalists and even neo-Nazis, touched off Ukraine's civil war and the secession of Crimea, the key events in the escalation of today's New Cold War between NATO and Russia.

Though I'm no fan of U.S. political hired-guns selling their services in foreign elections, there was nothing illegal or even unusual about Manafort advising a Ukrainian political party. What arguably was much more offensive was the U.S. support for an unconstitutional coup that removed Yanukovych even after he agreed to a European plan for early elections so he could be voted out of office peacefully.

But the Times, the Post and virtually the entire Western mainstream media sided with the Ukrainian coup-makers and hailed Yanukovych's overthrow. That attitude has become such a groupthink that the Times has banished the thought that there was a coup.

Still, the larger political problem confronting the United States is that the neoconservatives and their junior partners, the liberal interventionists, now control nearly all the levers of U.S. foreign policy. That means they can essentially dictate how events around the world will be perceived by most Americans.

The neocons and the liberal hawks also want to continue their open-ended wars in the Middle East by arranging the commitment of additional U.S. military forces to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria - and perhaps a new confrontation with Iran.

Early in Obama's second term, it became clear to the neocons that Russia was becoming the chief obstacles to their plans because President Barack Obama was working closely with President Vladimir Putin on a variety of projects that undermined neocon hopes for more war.

Particularly, Putin helped Obama secure an agreement from Syria to surrender its chemical weapons stockpiles in 2013 and to get Iran to accept tight constraints on its nuclear program in 2014. In both cases, the neocons and their liberal-hawk sidekicks were lusting for war.

Immediately after the Syria chemical-weapons deal in September 2013, key U.S. neocons began focusing on Ukraine as what National Endowment for Democracy president Carl Gershman called "the biggest prize" and a first step toward unseating Putin in Moscow.

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

Gershman's grant-giving NED stepped up its operations inside Ukraine while Assistant Secretary Nuland, the wife of arch-neocon Robert Kagan, began pushing for regime change in Kiev (along with other neocons, including Sen. John McCain).

The Ukraine coup in 2014 drove a geopolitical wedge between Obama and Putin, since the Russian president couldn't just stand by when a virulently anti-Russian regime took power violently in Ukraine, which was the well-worn route for invasions into Russia and housed Russia's Black Sea fleet at Sevastopol in Crimea.

Rather than defend the valuable cooperation provided by Putin, Obama went with the political flow and joined in the Russia-bashing as key neocons raised their sights and put Putin in the crosshairs.

An Unexpected Obstacle

For the neocons in 2016, there also was the excited expectation of a Hillary Clinton presidency to give more momentum to the expensive New Cold War. But then Trump, who had argued for a new detente with Russia, managed to eke out an Electoral College win.

Perhaps Trump could have diffused some of the hostility toward him but his narcissistic personality stopped him from extending an olive branch to the tens of millions of Americans who opposed him. He further demonstrated his political incompetence by wasting his first days in office making ridiculous claims about the size of his inaugural crowds and disputing the fact that he had lost the popular vote.

Widespread public disgust over his behavior contributed to the determination of many Americans to "resist" his presidency at all junctures and at all costs.

Peter Sellers playing Dr. Strangelove as he struggles
to control his right arm from making a Nazi salute.

Russia-gate, the hazy suggestion that Putin put Trump in the White House and that Trump is a Putin "puppet" (as Clinton claimed), became the principal weapon to use in destroying Trump's presidency.

However, besides the risks to U.S. stability that would come from an Establishment-driven "soft coup," there is the additional danger of ratcheting up tensions so high with nuclear-armed Russia that this extreme Russia-bashing takes on a life - or arguably many, many deaths - of its own.

Which is why America now might need a piercing satire of today's Russia-phobia or at least a revival of the Cold War classic, "Dr. Strangelove," subtitled "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb."
(c) 2017 Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America's Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and

Why Did Trump Back Off From His Mexican Border Tax?
By Jim Hightower

Often, when world powers pick fights with seemingly powerless countries, they learn that even small dogs have sharp teeth - as President Trump is finding out in his ill-fated war with Mexico.

His scheme to wall off Mexico is collapsing because most people here in the US think it's stupid - some two-thirds of the public say they just won't buy his $21 billion boondoggle. But Mexicans are the ones blunting Trump's other major attack on them - an attempt to slap a 20-percent border tax on products shipped into the US.

"Nobody knows more about trade than me," The Donald crowed during his presidential run. Narcissistic hyperbole aside, it turns out that Mexican farmers do know a lot more about corn than he does - and they know that a lot of US-Mexico trade consists of corn.

Until NAFTA, Mexico was a corn exporter. But such grain trading giants as Cargill wrote provisions into NAFTA to rig the rules to let them grab Mexico's corn market. This drove hundreds of thousands of Mexican producers out of business and made Mexico - where corn originated - dependent on imports from the US.

But now, Mexicans are turning that imported corn into a political weapon against Trump's trade bluster. Rather than buy from the US, they're negotiating to import corn from Brazil, and even more significant, they're planning to invest in their own farmers to make Mexico self-sufficient again in this important crop.

Their counter-offensive has caused apoplexy among congressional Republicans from the US corn belt. About 75 percent of Iowa's corn, for example, goes to Mexico, and losing that market would devastate Iowa's economy.

So the "little dog" bit Trump on the rump, and the Big Dog has now backed away from his border-tax idea - having learned that even farmers know more about trade than he does.
(c) 2017 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

Trump Picks The Al Capone Of Vote-Rigging To Investigate Federal Voter Fraud
Kris Kobach is the GOP mastermind behind a secretive system that purged 1.1 million Americans from the voter rolls.
By Greg Palast

Kris Kobach was spooning down vanilla ice cream when I showed him the thick pages of evidence documenting his detailed plan to rig the presidential election of 2016. The Kansas secretary of state, sucking up carbs at a Republican Party fundraiser, recognized the documents and ran for it while still trying to wolf down the last spoonful.

That was 2015 (yes, the ballot heist started way back). Today this same man, Kris Kobach, is Donald Trump's choice to head the new "Voter Integrity Commission."

It's like appointing Al Capone to investigate the mob.

How did Kobach mess with the 2016 vote? Let me count the ways-as I have over the past three years of hunting down Kobach's ballot-box gaming. Just two of Kobach's vote-bending tricks undoubtedly won Michigan for Trump and contributed to his "wins" in Ohio, North Carolina and Arizona.

First, Interstate Crosscheck.

Kobach is the GOP mastermind behind this secretive system, which purged 1.1 million Americans from the voter rolls.

When Trump said, "This election's rigged," the press ignored the second part of his statement: "People are voting many, many times." Trump cited three million votes illegally cast.

The White House said Trump got this information from Kobach. Indeed, it specifically comes from a list of 7 million names-or as Kobach describes it, a list of 3.5 million "potential double voters."

How did Kobach find these three million double voters? He matched their names, first and last. That's it.

Here's an unedited screenshot of a segment of his list

James Edward Harris Jr. of Richmond, Virginia, is supposed to be the same voter as James R. Harris (no Jr.) of Indianapolis, Indiana. Really? Note that not one middle name matches.

And here's the ugly part. Both James Harrises (in fact, hundreds of them) are subject to getting scrubbed off the voter rolls.

These are Kobach's lists, tens of thousands of names I showed Kobach, falsely accused of the crime of double voting.

That's why Kobach was stunned and almost dropped his vanilla, because he and his GOP colleagues kept the lists of the accused strictly confidential. (The first of the confidential lists was obtained by our investigative photojournalist, Zach D. Roberts, through legal methods-though howling voting officials want them back.)

In all, about 1.1 million voters on that list have been scrubbed already-and they don't know it. They show up to vote and their names have simply vanished. Or the voter is marked "inactive." "Crosscheck" is not marked on the victim voter's record. It's a stealth hit.

And it's deadly. Doubtless, Crosscheck delivered Michigan to Trump who supposedly "won" the state by 10,700 votes. The secretary of state's office proudly told me that they were "very aggressive" in removing listed voters before the 2016 election. Kobach, who created the lists for his fellow GOP officials, tagged a whopping 417,147 in Michigan as potential double voters.

And not just any voters. Mark Swedlund, a database expert who advises companies such as Amazon and eBay on how not to mis-match customers, was "flabbergasted" to discover in his team's technical analysis that the list was so racially biased that fully one in six registered African Americans were tagged in the Crosscheck states that include the swing states of Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina, Arizona and more.

The effect goes way beyond the Trump v. Clinton count. I spoke to several of the targeted voters on the list in Georgia's Sixth Congressional district where the Democratic candidate fell just short of the margin to win a special election. Especially hard hit in the northern Atlanta suburbs were Korean-Americans like Sung Park, who found he was tagged as voting in two states in 2012 simply because he had a name that is as common in Korea as James Brown.

Kobach, in fact, had tagged 288 men in Georgia named James Brown on his Crosscheck blacklist.

As Crosscheck spreads-and it was just signed into law in New Hampshire in the last days of a lame-duck Republican governorship-it will undoubtedly poison the count in the fight for Congress in 2018.

That's why Trump needs Kobach on his "Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity": To spread Crosscheck with an official federal endorsement, and likely, congressional legislation.

If Crosscheck isn't enough to scare you, Kobach is also pushing Trump to require voters to prove their citizenship.

At first blush, it seems right to demand people prove they are U.S. citizens to vote. But here's the rub: We are not Red China and don't carry citizenship cards. Resident aliens holding green cards have-indeed, are required to have-Social Security cards and drivers' licenses, if they drive or work.

The readiest proof of citizenship is a passport. And what is the color of the typical passport holder, his income and the color of his vote?

The other form of proof, besides naturalization papers, is one's original birth certificate.

And there's the rub: the poor, minorities and especially new young voters do not have easy access to passports or birth certificates. Kobach took his citizenship proof requirement out for a test drive in Kansas. The result: 36,000 young voters were barred from voting… that is, until a federal judge, citing the National Voter Registration Act, told Kobach that unless he could produce even one alien among those 36,000, she was ordering him to let them vote.

Kobach's response: a private meeting with Trump at Trump Tower where he proposed changing the Act.

All of this to eliminate a crime that does not occur. Besides Trump's claims of alien voters swimming the Rio Grande to vote for Hillary, I have found only two verified cases of votes cast by aliens in the U.S. in the last decade. (One was an Austrian who confessed to voting for Jeb Bush in Florida.)

Don't laugh. The threat of "alien voters"-long a staple claim by Kobach on his appearances on Fox TV-will be the Kobach Commission's hammer to smash the National Voter Registration Act's protections. Based on the numbers from Kansas, and its overwhelming effect on young (read: Democratic) voters, this shift alone could swing the election of 2018.

With Kobach's Crosscheck con together with his "alien" voter attack, the choice of the electorate in 2020 may already be trumped.
(c) 2017 Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic, named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC Newsnight Revie

Trump Is The Symptom, Not The Disease
By Chris Hedges

Forget the firing of James Comey. Forget the paralysis in Congress. Forget the idiocy of a press that covers our descent into tyranny as if it were a sports contest between corporate Republicans and corporate Democrats or a reality show starring our maniacal president and the idiots that surround him. Forget the noise. The crisis we face is not embodied in the public images of the politicians that run our dysfunctional government. The crisis we face is the result of a four-decade-long, slow-motion corporate coup that has rendered the citizen impotent, left us without any authentic democratic institutions and allowed corporate and military power to become omnipotent. This crisis has spawned a corrupt electoral system of legalized bribery and empowered those public figures that master the arts of entertainment and artifice. And if we do not overthrow the neoliberal, corporate forces that have destroyed our democracy we will continue to vomit up more monstrosities as dangerous as Donald Trump. Trump is the symptom, not the disease.

Our descent into despotism began with the pardoning of Richard Nixon, all of whose impeachable crimes are now legal, and the extrajudicial assault, including targeted assassinations and imprisonment, carried out on dissidents and radicals, especially black radicals. It began with the creation of corporate-funded foundations and organizations that took control of the press, the courts, the universities, scientific research and the two major political parties. It began with empowering militarized police to kill unarmed citizens and the spread of our horrendous system of mass incarceration and the death penalty. It began with the stripping away of our most basic constitutional rights-privacy, due process, habeas corpus, fair elections and dissent. It began when big money was employed by political operatives such as Roger Stone, a close Trump adviser, to create negative political advertisements and false narratives to deceive the public, turning political debate into burlesque. On all these fronts we have lost. We are trapped like rats in a cage. A narcissist and imbecile may be turning the electric shocks on and off, but the problem is the corporate state, and unless we dismantle that, we are doomed.

"What's necessary for the state is the illusion of normality, of regularity," America's best-known political prisoner, Mumia Abu-Jamal, told me last week by phone from the prison where he is incarcerated in Frackville, Pa. "... In Rome, what the emperors needed was bread and circuses. In America, what we need is 'Housewives of Atlanta.' We need sports. The moral stories of good cops and evil people. Because you have that .... there is no critical thinking in America during this period. You have emotion [only]. When I look at someone who is demonized, I can do anything [to him or her]. I can do anything. That's how the state works, by demonizing people and putting them in places where they're virtually invisible."

"Here's the reality," he went on. "America has never come to grips with what a lot of scholars and thinkers call the Original Sin. That's because it never stopped happening. This country brags about being founded on freedom. It was founded on slavery. It was founded on holocaust. It was founded on genocide. After slavery ended, after the Constitution was rewritten and amended, we have the Reconstruction amendments, the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments. But what did the South do? They ignored it for a century."

"It isn't until the '60s that you see this deep, rich emergence of people fighting for rights that were enshrined in the Constitution a century before [between 1865 and 1870]," he said. "That's because every state in the South and many states in the North were allowed to make exceptions to the Constitution when it came to black people. We learned that's not just a Southern reality. You can't talk about AEDPA, the so-called Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty [Act of 1996] unless you have the same mindset that makes the Constitution an exceptional document."

Racist, violent and despotic forces have always been part of the American landscape and have often been tolerated and empowered by the state to persecute poor people of color and dissidents. These forces are denied absolute power as long as a majority of citizens have a say in their own governance. The corporate elites, however, frightened by what the political scientist Samuel Huntington called an "excess of democracy" that originated in the 1960s, methodically destroyed the democratic edifice. They locked the citizens out of government. And by doing so they made sure that power shifted into the hands of the enemies of the open society. When democratic institutions cease to function, when the consent of the governed becomes a joke, despots, cranks, conspiracy theorists, con artists, generals, billionaires and proto-fascists fill the political void. They give vent to popular anger and frustration while arming the state to do to the majority what it has long done to the minority. This tale is as old as civilization. It was played out in ancient Greece and Rome, the Soviet Union, fascist Germany, fascist Italy and the former Yugoslavia.

Trump, an acute embarrassment to the corporate state and the organs of internal security, may be removed from the presidency, but such a palace coup would only further consolidate the power of the deep state and intensify internal measures of repression. Millions of people, including the undocumented, those who have felony convictions, those locked in cages and poor people of color, have already been stripped of their rights, and some have been indiscriminately murdered by police. These minorities' reality of daily state terror, unless this process of corporate pillage is halted, will spread and become normal with or without Trump.

In Abu-Jamal's book "Live From Death Row," he recounts his protest at a 1968 rally in Philadelphia held by the segregationist George Wallace during one of the Alabama governor's runs for the Democratic presidential nomination. It is a reminder that Trump's racism and lust for violence have long been part of the American character.

Abu-Jamal writes of attending the rally with three other black teenagers:

We must've been insane. We strolled into the stadium, four lanky dark string beans in a pot of white, steaming limas. The bank played "Dixie." We shouted, "Black Power, Ungowa, black power!" They shouted, "Wallace for president! White power!" and "Send those niggers back to Africa! We shouted, "Black power, Ungowa!" (Don't ask what "Ungowa" means. We didn't know. All we knew was that it had a helluva ring to it.) "Black power!" They hissed and booed. We stood up in our seats and proudly gave the black power salute. In answer, we received dubious gifts of spittle from those seated above. Patriots tore American flags from their standards and hurled the bare sticks at us. Wallace, wrapped in roars of approval, waxed eloquent. "When I become president, these dirty, unwashed radicals will have to move to the Sov-ee-yet Union! You know, all throughout this campaign these radicals have been demonstrating against George Corley Wallace. Well, I hope they have the guts to lay down in front of my car. I'll drive right over 'em!" The crowd went wild.

"Some police and other security came," Abu-Jamal told me about the incident. "They escorted us out. We thought hey, we had a little fun. Our voices were heard. We went to the bus stop. And two or three of us were on the bus. A young guy named Alvin and a young guy named Eddie. I was usually the slowest, so I was behind them. A guy walked up and hit me with a blackjack. Knocked me down. Pulled Eddie and Alvin off the bus. We were getting our asses kicked. It never dawned on us these were cops. They can't just walk up to us and beat us up [I thought]."

"I remember seeing a cop's leg walk by," he said. "I shouted help! Help, police! The guy looked at me. Looked down at me. He walked over and kicked me right in the face. Then it dawned on me all of these guys were cops. That was a little taste of [what would happen later in] Philadelphia. An introduction to trauma. We see it today. I can hear Trump saying, 'Beat the hell out of them.' It's like the old days. Those weren't good days. Those were ugly days. And the ugly day is today."

"I have been thankful to that faceless cop ever since," Abu-Jamal writes of the assault, "for he kicked me straight into the Black Panther Party."

Abu-Jamal's experience embodies the endemic racism and collapse of the American court system that railroad young black men and women into prison and onto death row. The Federal Bureau of Investigation placed him under surveillance when he was 15 years old. His FBI file swelled to 700 pages. His crime was to be a dissident. He was followed, hauled in for questioning at random and threatened.

"While walking to work one day," he writes, "I passed in front of an idling cop car. I glanced at the driver-white, with brown hair, and wearing dark shades. He 'smiled,' put his hand out the car window, and pointed a finger at me, his thumb cocked back like the hammer of a gun: bang-bang-bang-the finger jerked, as if from the recoil, and the cop gave it a cowboyish blast of breath before returning it to an imaginary holster. He and his pal laugh. Car rolls."

The 1960s and 1970s saw a war on black radicals, which included FBI assassinations of leaders such as Fred Hampton. This war against radicals, President Nixon's so-called battle for "law and order," put the police, the FBI and other organs of internal security beyond the reach of the law. This power has only expanded since. We are all under state surveillance. And we can all become victims if the state deems us to be a threat. The loss of civilian oversight, along with the lack of transparency, is ominous.

Abu-Jamal was convicted of the 1981 murder of Daniel Faulkner, a white Philadelphia police officer. His trial was a sham. It included tainted evidence, suppressed defense witnesses, prosecution witnesses that contradicted their earlier testimony, a court-appointed lawyer, like most within the system, who was allotted few resources and had little inclination to defend his client, and a series of unconstitutional legal rulings by a judge out to convict the defendant. Terri Maurer-Carter, the stenographer at the trial, later signed an affidavit stating that during the trial she overheard the judge, Albert F. Sabo, say of Abu-Jamal, "Yeah and I'm gonna help 'em fry the nigger." Sabo during his time on the bench sent 31 people to death row, more than any other judge in Pennsylvania. Abu-Jamal, who grew up in the housing projects of north Philadelphia, is imprisoned for our sins.

By 1977, Abu-Jamal, distressed by the internal feuding that tore apart the Black Panthers, had developed a close relationship with members of the Philadelphia MOVE organization. MOVE members lived communally, preached Third World radicalism, ate natural foods and denounced the established black leaders as puppets of the white, capitalist ruling elites.

The Philadelphia police, who constantly harassed the group, besieged the MOVE compound starting in late 1977. On Aug. 7, 1978, a gun battle erupted between people in the compound and police outside. A police officer was killed. Delbert Africa, a MOVE member, was savagely beaten in front of television cameras. Nine MOVE members would be charged with murder. The trial, like the one held four years later for Abu-Jamal, was a farce. It was clear, Abu-Jamal wrote of the legal lynching of the MOVE members, that "the law did not matter." Two of the nine, Merle and Phil Africa, have died in prison. The seven other MOVE members remain, like Abu-Jamal, locked away and denied freedom by parole boards. Abu-Jamal was given life without parole after being taken off death row by the courts.

The Philadelphia police and the FBI were determined to root what remained of MOVE out of the city and do so with enough brutality to discourage any other black radicals from organizing.

"On May 12 [the date the two-day-long attack began], Sunday, Mother's Day of 1985, our home was surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of cops who came out there to kill not because of any complaints from neighbors but because of our unrelenting fight for our MOVE sisters and brothers known as the MOVE 9," Ramona Africa told me in an interview last week. (Authorities, as one of their supposed justifications for acting against MOVE, cited neighborhood complaints about activities and conditions at the compound.) "We had been attacked and arrested in 1978. Thirty-nine years later, this August, they are still in prison. They became eligible for parole in 2008. The parole board just refuses to parole them." [Chris Hedges' interview with Ramona Africa begins at the 11-minute mark-click here for the video.]

"What people really need to understand is they did come out there [in 1985] to kill, not to arrest," she said. "They could have arrested at any time. They did not come out there for any complaint from neighbors. Those running this country, this entire worldwide system, have never cared about black people complaining about their neighbors. It's never been an issue. Obviously, it was something other than that. Which was our unrelenting fight for our family members who are still in prison. They shot over 10,000 rounds of bullets in on us within 90 minutes. They dropped a bomb."

The bomb ignited a fire that burned down a city block containing 61 homes.

"The fire department, who was out there from the very beginning, was immediately aware that there was a fire on our roof," she said. "A conscious decision was made to not fight the fire. To let it burn. When we realized our home was on fire, we immediately tried to get our children, our animals, and ourselves out of that blazing inferno. The instant we were visible to cops we were met with a barrage of police gunfire aimed at us so that we couldn't escape that fire. After several attempts to get out, I got out first. I was able to get one of our children, a little boy named Birdie, out. We were immediately snatched into custody. I'm looking for the rest of my family. Trying to see if I could see anyone else. It was a little later after they had taken us into custody that I found out nobody else [in the MOVE group] survived."

Eleven members of MOVE, including the founder of the group, John Africa, and five children, were killed in the police assault.

"The people who killed my family were never charged, never prosecuted, never imprisoned for anything," she said. "Meanwhile, my nine MOVE sisters and brothers [convicted in the 1978 shootout], Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier [a Native American activist imprisoned in a South Dakota murder case], all the way down to line, are in prison with the accusation of murder."

Abu-Jamal wrote, "May 13th, 1985, is more than a day of infamy, when a city waged war on its own alleged citizens, but also when the city committed massacre and did so with perfect impunity, when babies were shot and burned alive with their mothers and fathers, and the killers rewarded with honors and pensions, while politicians talked and the media mediated mass murder. On that day, the city, armed and assisted by the US government, dropped a bomb on a house and called it law. The fire department watched buildings ignite like matches in the desert and cut off water. The courts of the land turned a blind eye, daubed mud in their socket, and prosecuted Ramona Africa for having the nerve to survive an urban holocaust, jailing her for the crime of not burning to death. Eleven men, women and children died, and not one killer was even charged with a misdemeanor."

Ramona Africa, charged with "rioting," spent seven years in prison. [For a 69-second video showing the bomb exploding on the Philadelphia compound roof in 1985, click here. For a 56-minute documentary about the assault on the compound and the circumstances surrounding it, click here.]

Our failure to defend those who are demonized and persecuted leaves us all demonized and persecuted. Our failure to demand justice for everyone leaves us all without justice. Our failure to halt the crushing of popular movements that stand unequivocally with the oppressed leaves us all oppressed. Our failure to protect our democracy leaves us without a democracy. The persecution of Mumia Abu-Jamal, MOVE members and all the radicals of four decades ago is not ancient history. It is the genesis of the present. It spawned the corporate coup and the machinery of state terror. We will pay for our complacency.
(c) 2017 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

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) suggests that the president's firing of Comey has "moved us an hour closer to midnight."

The Donald Trump Impeachment Clock Is Ticking
Congressman Mark Pocan says it has "moved us an hour closer to midnight."
By John Nichols

The "Doomsday Clock," which members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' Science and Security Board have maintained since 1947 as a measure of "how close we are to destroying our civilization with dangerous technologies of our own making," moved 30 seconds closer to midnight in the week after Donald Trump was inaugurated as president. "It is two and a half minutes to midnight, the Clock is ticking, global danger looms," the scientists warned. "Wise public officials should act immediately, guiding humanity away from the brink. If they do not, wise citizens must step forward and lead the way."

Citizens of the United States cannot address all the threats posed by all the errant leaders of all the countries on a planet that has plenty of problems. But they do have a duty to be on alert to threats posed by elected and appointed officials who fail to recognize their responsibilities, who act irrationally, or who disregard the rule of law.

Mark Pocan: keep impeachment "on the table as an option, especially if, indeed, there was obstruction of justice."

That duty has Congressman Mark Pocan talking about an impeachment clock. President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, which led Wisconsin's Pocan to post a watch face with Trump's picture on his Twitter feed with the message: "Trump firing Comey reminds me of the doomsday clock, but maybe we should start an impeachment one." Pocan suggests that the president's firing of Comey has "moved us an hour closer to midnight."

This is not the first time that the first vice chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus has spoken about the importance of the impeachment power that is outlined in the Constitution. That power is both formal and informal. Explaining that the threat of impeachment could put pressure on the Trump White House to respect the rule of law, Pocan argued on a conference call organized by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee that constitutional remedies must be "on the table as an option, especially if, indeed, there was obstruction of justice."

If obstruction of justice is a genuine concern, however, the clock should not tick just for Trump. It should also tick for Attorney General Jeff Sessions. As Congressman John Conyers, the former House Judiciary Committee chairman, explained last week: "I am particularly concerned that President Trump fired Director Comey based in part on the recommendation of Attorney General Sessions-who was forced to recuse himself from the underlying investigation based on his own actions and misconduct. This shocking decision by the president is beyond the pale and itself warrants independent inquiry and hearings, and reinforces the need for the attorney general himself to step down given his own obvious and ongoing conflicts."

California Senator Kamala Harris, a former state attorney general, has joined in the calls for Trump's attorney general to step down, arguing that "There is good reason to believe that he was not truthful when he testified before Congress.... Then just in the last 48 hours that he would sign off on firing the person who is investigating the case he's recused from calls into question his objectivity and his ability to keep his word."

If Sessions will not hold himself to account, then members of the House, Democrats and Republicans, have a duty to consider moves to impeach the attorney general. Sessions cannot be allowed to remain in a position he obtained after deceiving the Senate Judiciary Committee and then dishonored by abandoning his own recusal.

There will be those who resist talk of impeachment. But Pocan is not among them. He is right to raise the prospect that an impeachment clock is ticking. (Indeed, for some groups, the alarm has already gone off: Last week Democracy for America called for impeachment, saying, "From his unconstitutional and un-American Muslim ban to his numerous business conflicts of interest that are generating personal profit for his family at taxpayer expense, Trump has proven over and over that he's unfit for office. On Tuesday night, Trump gave another powerful reason for his impeachment: In a repeat of Richard Nixon's most notorious actions during the Watergate scandal, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.")

There may ultimately be multiple impeachment clocks for multiple members of this lawless administration. They may tick at different speeds. But, after last week, the Jeff Sessions clock is not ticking. It's spinning.
(c) 2017 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

President Donald Trump at a news conference, at the White House in Washington, April 12, 2017.

Trump Nixes Nixon: Where Watergate Goes To Die

By William Rivers Pitt

Let's you and I take a moment to square a few dented circles before we get so far down the rabbit hole that we start seeing invisible cats smiling at us in the dark. The corporate "news" media loves to create false narratives if doing so allows them to avoid working for a living, and the current "This is just like Watergate!" milieu we are enduring after the firing of FBI Director James Comey is a perfect example of the phenomenon. This is nothing like Watergate; it is its own pan-dimensional thing and must be dealt with on its own very specific terms, lest we veer off into a gibberish festival where potato is Fred because a vest has no sleeves.

Nail this to your wall and festoon it with bunting: James Comey is no Archibald Cox. Archie Cox was a civil servant the likes of whom comes along perhaps once in a generation, a man of integrity who was never sick at sea, a true professional, patriot and role model for the ages. Richard Nixon's presidency ended the moment he had Cox fired. Biographer Ken Gormley, in Conscience of a Nation, his indispensable examination of Watergate from the perspective of the special prosecutor, wrote, "The explosion of public sentiment after the Saturday night firing of Archibald Cox was as fierce and instantaneous as the day Pearl Harbor had been attacked, or the day John F. Kennedy had been assassinated."

No such public upheaval greeted the abrupt removal of Mr. Comey from his high station, and for good cause. If Comey wants to dine with friends these days, he has to go to the shelter and adopt a clutch of dogs, and even that may prove to be a lonely estate if the kibble doesn't make the grade. Within the last year, he infuriated Republicans by refusing to criminally charge Hillary Clinton over her bottomless email scandal, and then infuriated Democrats by abruptly regurgitating that email scandal on the doorstep of the 2016 presidential election, a preposterous act that will corkscrew through history until the sun burns out. This is no Dreyfus, victim of vicious circumstance, promethian in his martyrdom. Obama should have fired Comey in October.

Pity the director of the FBI? Better to pity a pit viper for having only two fangs with which to strike.

Furthermore, Donald Trump is no Richard Nixon. For all his myriad faults and catastrophic actions, Nixon was a carbon-based lifeform born on Planet Earth, a denizen of the American political ecosystem that raised him up before laying him low. He was different, to be sure, but a leopard born without spots is still a leopard and, like a man, is ultimately predictable and entirely mortal. Donald Trump, on the other hand, is some kind of extraterrestrial bivalve with gills on his nipples whose home ecosystem is unrefined chaos. I'm not sure what it is he's breathing, but it ain't air. Trump, by his own hand and according to every known metric, has annihilated his own political career a thousand times over already, and yet he surges on, doomed and implacable, like Coleridge's painted ship upon a painted ocean.

And therein lies the rub: His doom is our own. Not only is the FBI director gone (paging Darth Vader, your table is ready), but all the US attorneys are gone. The attorney general is Jeff Sessions, who will gleefully rubber stamp every contra-constitutional edict that slithers from Trump's mouth. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is a Trump Man. House Speaker Paul Ryan is a Trump Man. Congressional Democrats and the press can rail on about independent counsels and special prosecutors until their toes turn blue. Until someone in a position of actual authority decides it must be so, it will not be so ... and folks, it will not be so in the near or distant future.

The federal government has been pruned of its independent prosecutorial powers by a president who duped everyone into thinking he is merely some rampaging buffoon with a Twitter fetish. The few remaining options are controlled by Trump hatchetmen who have little use for concepts like justice and the rule of law. Trump the fool? Don't believe it for a second. The man makes Richard Nixon look like some silly ham-fisted alderman by comparison. His road is eight lanes wide to a far horizon, and when he finally gets bored of seeing himself on television and decides to stomp the clutch, the only things in his way will be the bug corpses accumulating on his windshield.

I've been carrying around that Gormley book on Archie Cox for twenty years now. Wherever I was, there it sat on the shelf between David Herbert Donald's Lincoln and the collected poems of Langston Hughes. Somehow, I simply knew a day would come when I would be required to pull it down in a cloud of dust to provide context for a new darkness of days. Today was that day, and the context is clear: What we behold before us puts Watergate in deep shade, there is no Archie Cox coming to the rescue, and we are relegated to the role of mere witnesses for the next 18 months at least.

There is no light, there is no tunnel. This is happening in the big wide open under the brazen eyes of the sun. The sun doesn't blink. I strongly recommend you follow suit.
(c) 2017 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

Long Work Hours Don't Work For People Or The Planet
By David Suzuki

In 1926, U.S. automaker Henry Ford reduced his employees' workweek from six eight-hour days to five, with no pay cuts. It's something workers and labour unions had been calling for, and it followed previous reductions in work schedules that had been as high as 84 to 100 hours over seven days a week.

Ford wasn't responding to worker demands; he was being a businessman. He expected increased productivity and knew workers with more time and money would buy and use the products they were making. It was a way of spurring consumerism and productivity to increase profits - and it succeeded. Ford, then one of America's largest employers, was ahead of his time - most workers in North America and elsewhere didn't get a 40-hour workweek until after the Second World War.

Since standardization of the 40-hour workweek in the mid-20th century, everything has changed but the hours. If anything, many people are working even longer hours, especially in North America. This has severe repercussions for human health and well-being, as well as the environment.

Until the Second World War, it was common for one person in a household, usually the oldest male, to do wage work full time. Now women make up 42 per cent of Canada's full-time workforce. Technology has made a lot of work redundant, with computers and robots doing many tasks previously performed by humans. People get money from bank machines, scan groceries at automated checkouts and book travel online. Many people now spend most or all of their workdays in front of a computer.

Well into the 21st century, we continue to work the same long hours as 20th century labourers, depleting ever more of Earth's resources to produce more goods that we must keep working to buy, use and replace in a seemingly endless cycle of toil and consumerism.

It's time to pause and consider better ways to live.

Like shifting from fossil-fuelled lifestyles, with which our consumer-based workweeks are connected, it would have been easier to change had we done so gradually. In 1930, renowned economist John Maynard Keynes predicted people would be working 15-hour weeks within 100 years. We're clearly not on track to achieve that. As we reach the combined tipping points of overpopulation, resource overexploitation, environmental degradation and climate change, we may no longer have the luxury of taking our time to make necessary changes.

Rather than reducing work hours to spur consumerism, as Henry Ford did, we must reduce both. We have to get beyond outdated notions and habits like planned obsolescence, excessive packaging and production of too many unnecessary goods.

The U.K. think tank New Economics Foundation argues that a standard 21-hour workweek would address a number of interconnected problems: "overwork, unemployment, over-consumption, high carbon emissions, low well-being, entrenched inequalities, and the lack of time to live sustainably, to care for each other, and simply to enjoy life." It points out that "the logic of industrial time is out of step with today's conditions, where instant communications and mobile technologies bring new risks and pressures, as well as opportunities."

Economist David Rosnick, author of a 2013 Center for Economic and Policy Research study on work hours and climate change, argues that reducing average annual hours by just 0.5 per cent per year through shorter workweeks and increased vacation would "likely mitigate one-quarter to one-half, if not more, of any warming which is not yet locked-in."

Beyond helping break the cycle of constant consumption and allowing people to focus on things that matter - like friends, family and time in nature - a shorter workweek would also reduce rush-hour traffic and gridlock, which contribute to pollution and climate change. It could help reduce stress and the health problems that come from modern work practices, such as sitting for long hours at computers. And it would give people more options for family care. (David Suzuki Foundation employees enjoy a four-day workweek.)

A transition won't necessarily be easy, but it's time we stopped applying 20th century concepts and methods to 21st century life. Economic systems that require constant growth on a finite planet don't make sense. The fact that the world's richest 62 people now have more wealth than the poorest half of the world's population is absurd and tragic.
(c) 2017 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

Tunnel Collapse At Hanford Nuclear Dump-Harbinger Of The Collapse Of The Entire Industry?
By Harvey Wasserman

The collapse of a tunnel at the massive nuclear waste dump at Hanford, Washington, 200 miles east of Seattle, has sent shock waves through a nuclear power industry already in the process of a global collapse.

Hundreds of workers were told to "take cover," and to refrain from eating or drinking anything while in the area. Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry said, "everyone has been accounted for and there is no initial indication of any worker exposure or an airborne radiological release." But Edwin Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists emphasized that "collapse of the earth covering the tunnels could lead to a considerable radiological release....this a potentially serious event."

Robert Alvarez, a former DOE official, told the Post in an email that "the tunnels now store contaminated train cars and a considerable amount of highly radioactive, ignitable wastes including possible organic vapors." Inspection of the tunnels has not been possible, he said, because radiation levels are too high.

We may never know the full extent of the damage from this latest incident at Hanford, which has been plagued by serious problems for years. Many critical nuclear industry oversight positions remain unfilled by the Trump Administration.

The 580-square-mile Hanford facility dates back to the 1940s production of the first atomic bombs, and is the nation's major repository for high-level radioactive wastes from seven decades of nuclear weapons production. Since 1989, the Department of Energy has spent billions cleaning up nine reactors and other radioactive facilities there. One commercial reactor, the Columbia Generating Station, still operates at Hanford.

The tunnel collapse happens at a time when the nuclear power industry appears to be in an accelerating death spiral.

Two reactors under construction at Vogtle, Georgia, may be on the brink of cancellation. Some $13 billion in cost overruns sparked a Westinghouse bankruptcy, and primary owner Southern Company is looking for billions more to finish a project already years behind schedule and billions over budget. Huge rate increases within Georgia have seriously poisoned the climate for more state money.

Southern representatives recently asked the White House for help, (and termed the response "A-Plus"). But Vogtle was begun with some $8.35 billion in guaranteed federal loans from Barack Obama. Whether the feds will shell out another $4.3 billion is another story, as is the question of whether that would actually be enough to do the job, and how long it would really take.

In neighboring South Carolina, SCANA Corp. may pull the plug on its massive double-reactor V.C. Summer project, which is also billions over budget and a contributor to the Westinghouse bankruptcy. Should both Summer and Vogtle go down, there will be zero new reactors under construction in the U.S. for the first time since the 1950s. It would mark the definitive end of the "Peaceful Atom" as a source of future new large-scale power capacity in the United States.

Some atomic devotees are pushing small-scale "modular" reactors as a possible future energy source. But they're untested, underfinanced, uncompetitive and unlikely to come to fruition.

Ninety-nine reactors remain licensed to operate in the United States. They average well over thirty years of age. Most cannot compete with fracked gas or renewables, and would close rapidly in a free-market situation. Last year New York Governor Andrew Cuomo intervened to save four upstate reactors with $7.6 billion in subsidized rates. A similar bailout is underway in Illinois.

Are we seeing the definitive end of the "Peaceful Atom" as a source of future new large-scale power capacity in the United States?

Throughout the United States, reactor owners are now flooding state legislatures with bailout scams. In Ohio, FirstEnergy's pleadings for $4.5 billion for Davis-Besse near Toledo and Perry near Cleveland are meeting stiff resistance. How long the nation's operable reactors stay open will depend entirely on how much money their owners can gouge out of the public.

Meanwhile the Hanford tunnel collapse further challenges the industry's credibility on dealing with radioactive waste. Three years ago America's only major operable waste storage facility, at Carlsbad, New Mexico, exploded due to the use of inappropriate kitty litter (truly!). Some twenty-one workers were exposed and the facility was shut for three years. Fierce debate has erupted over the disposal of wastes left behind by the shutdown of California's San Onofre reactors, between Los Angeles and San Diego, with billions of dollars at stake. Other such fights are sure to escalate as more reactors close.

Industry advocates claim much of this could be solved by opening a national waste dump at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, a project nixed by the Obama Administration. The Trump budget proposes some $120 million to start a Yucca revival process. But $12 billion has already been spent on what amounts to a tunnel through a dormant volcano in the middle of the desert. Estimates to finish Yucca run to $96 billion and beyond. Finish times stretch to a decade or more.

Nuclear energy faces a seriously clouded future.
(c) 2017 Harvey Wasserman is co-founder of the global grassroots No Nukes movement and author or co-author of twenty books, including Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth (, and The Last Energy War (Seven Stories Press).

The Quotable Quote...

"The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing."
~~~ John Adams

Things Russians Can Teach Americans
By David Swanson

I suppose the list is lengthy and includes dancing, comedy, karaoke singing, vodka drinking, monument building, diplomacy, novel writing, and thousands of other fields of human endeavor, in some of which Americans can teach Russians as well. But what I

m struck by at the moment in Russia is the skill of honest political self-reflection, as found in Germany, Japan, and many other nations to a great degree as well. I think the unexamined political life is not worth sustaining, but it is all we have back home in the not so united states.

Here, as a tourist in Moscow, not only friends and random people will point out the good and the bad, but hired tour guides will do the same.

"Here on the left is the parliament where they make all of those laws. We disagree with many of them, you know."

"Here on your right is where they are building a 30-meter bronze wall for the victims of Stalin's purges." Moscow has a museum devoted exclusively to the history of the gulags as well. A tour guide in the shadow of the Kremlin points out to us the spot where a political opponent of Vladimir Putin was murdered, and goes on to lament the delays and failures of the justice system in pursuing the case.

When told about Lenin's mausoleum you are as likely as not to have him presented to you as a thug. Yeltsin is likely to be described as the guy who was too dimwitted to figure out a better approach to the parliament than shooting at it.

A great many sites are "glorious." Others elicit different adjectives. "The hideous buildings on your left were put up in the time of ...."

It may be that the length and diversity of history here helps. Jesus stares across a square at Lenin's grave. Soviet constructions are loved and hated, just like Soviet history. Across the street from our hotel, a huge park is left over from an exhibition of economic achievements put up in the 1930s. It still creates pride and optimism.

Back in Washington, D.C., a Native American Museum and an African American museum have joined the endless parade of war memorials and the museum about genocide in Germany - that committed by Nazis in camps, not by the U.S. bombs that still pose a danger to this day. But there is no slavery museum, no North American genocide museum, no McCarthyism museum, no crimes of the CIA museum, no museum recounting the horrors inflicted on Vietnam or Iraq or the Philippines. There's a news museum that criticises news from anywhere other than U.S. news corporations. Even a proposal to include a little fact-based commentary alongside the display of an airplane that dropped nuclear bombs on cities created an uproar.

Can you imagine a bus tour in Washington D.C. with a guide remarking over a sound system: "To your left are the monuments glorifying the destruction of Korea and Vietnam, with the giant temples and phallic symbols for the slave owners behind there, and up that street there's a tiny little memorial that promises not to lock up Japanese Americans again, but mostly it praises a war. Our next stop is the Watergate; who can name the band of crooks that got caught there sabotaging this so-called democracy?"

It's almost unimaginable.

When we Americans hear Russians tell us that Trump is right to fire anyone for disloyalty, we find such notions backward and uncivilized (even as Trump proudly announces them to the world). No, no, we think, there should be no following of illegal orders or of orders opposed by the people. Oaths are sworn to the Constitution, not to the executive charged with carrying out the laws of the Congress. Of course we're living in a dream world that exists only in elementary school text books and tour guides. But we're also denying recognition of the rigidly imposed demand for loyalty to the United States, its flag, its wars, and its foundational mythologies.

How many people did Stalin kill? A Russian can tell you an answer, even if it's a range.

How many people has the U.S. military killed in recent wars? Most Americans are off by orders of magnitude. Not only that, but most Americans feel they are acting immorally in allowing the question into their brains at all.

In the end, both Russians and Americans allow love of their country to dominate. But one group does so in a more complex and informed way. Both are, of course, utterly and catastrophically misguided.

These two countries are leaders in the dealing of weapons to the world, with horrible bloody results. They are leaders in the development and holding of nuclear weapons, and in the proliferation of nuclear technologies. They are major producers of fossil fuels. Moscow has recovered from the economic destruction that the United States helped inflict on it in the 1990s, but done so in part by selling oil, gas, and weapons.

Of course, the U.S. leads the way in its own military spending and its consumption of fossil fuels. But what we need from the U.S. and Russia is leadership on disarmament and on transition to sustainable economies. Neither nation's government seems particularly interested in the latter. And only the Russian government seems at all open to disarmament. This state of affairs is unsustainable. If the bombs don't kill us, the environmental destruction will.

Muscovites are calling this current month "Maynovember" and proposing fur swimsuits. They're used to warmth in May, not cold and snow. One hopes they are able to keep their sense of humor to the end.
(c) 2017 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

Former acting US Attorney General Sally Yates testifies before the Senate Judiciary
Committee's Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism on Capitol Hill May 8, 2017 in Washington, DC.

In A Time Of Madness, Sally Yates Is A Profile In Courage
The fired acting attorney general proved this week that there are still a few in Washington who believe in truth and the law.
By Michael Winship

Let us now praise a class act.

Amidst the turmoil of another chaotic week in Trump world, the Comey firing and a pandemic of Washington spinelessness, there was a certain righteous symmetry that occurred Sunday night and Monday afternoon. On Sunday, former President Barack Obama received the 2017 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award from the Kennedy Presidential Library Foundation.

In his acceptance speech, Obama reflected on those public servants who, in the face of opposition, hold onto their principles and somehow keep alive their resolve, he said:

"... To maintain a reputation for integrity that is stronger than a desire to maintain office, a conscience, personal standard of ethics, integrity, morality that is stronger than the pressures of public disapproval or party disapproval, a faith that the right course would ultimately be vindicated, a faith that overcame fear of public reprisal."

These are rare men and women indeed, and harder to find by the day, but here's the symmetrical part. On the very next day after Obama's speech we all got to meet one of them: Sally Yates, a 27-year Justice Department veteran and - briefly - acting US attorney general.

Yates is an American hero, and on Monday she and former director of national intelligence James Clapper told a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee what they knew about Donald Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn and his dalliance with Russia - or at least as much as they could without revealing confidential information.

You know the story: A prosecutor and deputy attorney general, Yates was made acting AG to keep the office up and running until Jefferson Beauregard Sessions was confirmed as Trump's choice for the job. On Jan. 26, less than a week after Donald Trump's swearing-in, she went to his White House counsel Donald McGahn and told him that national security adviser Michael Flynn had lied to Vice President Mike Pence and others about his contacts with Russian ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak. Contrary to what he told Pence, Flynn had spoken with Kislyak about lifting sanctions President Obama had imposed on Russia for interfering in our presidential election.

Yates explained to the senators at Monday's hearing that she had told McGahn that "the underlying conduct Gen. Flynn had engaged in was problematic in and of itself," but the fact that the Russians knew he was dissembling "created a compromise situation, a situation where the national security adviser essentially could be blackmailed by the Russians."

Yet McGahn, Trump and others in the White House did nothing for more than two weeks, until the story leaked to The Washington Post and they were forced to fire Flynn.

In the meantime, Yates had been let go, too, for telling Justice Department lawyers not to enforce Trump's executive order imposing a travel ban on visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries. She believed it was unlawful and unconstitutional, and at first was not even officially told by the White House about the ban - she had to find out from the media. Yates was fired for the courage of her convictions.

Since then, the Trump administration has tried to downplay Yates' warnings about Flynn, painted her as a partisan flunky and on the morning of the hearing, Trump himself aimed his goofy Twitter machine gun directly at her, trying to divert attention while casting doubt on her veracity and integrity. But his dum-dum bullets - not to mention the foolhardy attacks of Republican senators during their questioning of her - could neither intimidate nor shake Yates from her certainty and commitment to the truth.

Particularly egregious were freshman Sen. John Neely Kennedy from Louisiana and the Texas duo of John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, all of whom felt the need to mansplain the Constitution to Yates - a serious error on their parts. Cruz especially, whose oleaginous condescension has made him pals on both sides of the aisle, tried to run rings around her. After an unsuccessful attempt to turn the hearing into a rehash of Hillary Clinton's email problems, he asked if Yates was familiar with 8 USC Section 1182, part of the United States code of laws specifically related to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Yates said that off the top of her head she was not, which Cruz thought gave him a hunting license to go for the kill on her travel ban decision. Well, he sneered:

"It certainly is a relevant and not a terribly obscure statute. By the express text of the statute, it says, quote, 'Whenever the president finds that entry of any alien or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interest of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem appropriate.' Would you agree that is broad statutory authorization?"

"I would, and I am familiar with that," Yates replied, and then bent the barrel of Elmer Fudd Cruz's shotgun back in his face:

"And I'm also familiar with an additional provision of the INA that says no person shall receive preference or be discriminated against an issuance of a visa because of race, nationality or place of birth, that I believe was promulgated after the statute that you just quoted. And that's been part of the discussion with the courts, with respect to the INA, is whether this more specific statute trumps the first one that you just described. But my concern was not an INA concern here. It, rather, was a constitutional concern, whether or not this - the executive order here violated the Constitution, specifically with the establishment clause and equal protection and due process."

Bazinga, senator. Case closed.

Now contrast her behavior with that of Michael Flynn, who, after Obama dismissed him as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), started a consulting business specializing in intelligence and security, but seemed to come somewhat unglued. Increasingly paranoid when it came to Islamic extremism (especially about Iran) and given to dark conspiracy theories, he is under investigation for possible violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and payments received from Russia and agents of the Turkish government. He placed personal gain above country, and yet Trump kept giving him greater and greater responsibility, even considering him as a possible vice presidential running mate.

Just a couple of days after he won the election, Trump was warned by President Obama not to hire Flynn, but in typical fashion, the president-elect apparently rejected Obama's advice as sour grapes from a loser. But so concerned were Obama staff members about Flynn and other Trump staff who allegedly had been in contact with Russia that they withheld from them until the last minute news of the plan to expel 35 Russians believed to be spies and shut down two diplomatic enclaves near New York and Washington. Obama's people feared Trump's might tip the Russians off.

Even after Sally Yates had delivered the bad news about his lies, Flynn stayed in his job, making personnel and policy decisions at the National Security Council, even sitting in at the Oval Office as Trump spoke with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Once sacked, Trump still insisted that Flynn was "a wonderful man" who was treated "very, very unfairly by the media. As I call it, the fake media in many cases."

So what magical hold did - and maybe still does - Flynn have on Trump? Why was he kept on for those extra 18 days when rational people knew he was poison? And how much longer will it take to get to the truth, especially now that FBI Director James Comey has been fired and a complete honest investigation of the Russian scandal and the Trump team's association with it may be in jeopardy?

Sally Yates' steadfast grace under pressure and willingness to uphold the principles of democracy over discrimination and grandstanding especially stood out this week in the wake of the Comey dismissal. With few exceptions, Republicans ran for cover and continued to pretend that their standard bearer hasn't spent too much time on the Tilt-a-Whirl. No Profiles in Courage there.

Coincidentally, it was another woman - a Republican - Margaret Chase Smith, senator from Maine, who in 1950 dared speak out against the outrages of Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-WI) as he attempted to trash the country much the way that Trump desires now.

"I speak as an American," she said. "I don't want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the four horsemen of calumny - fear, ignorance, bigotry and smear."

By their silence, most of today's Republicans are trying to do just that. They will allow Trump to keep making outrageous statements and decisions, permit him to continue batting out his malicious tweets and project onto others the malevolent thoughts and deeds that really are his own. Together they will continue to malign upstanding Americans like Sally Yates.

For now, at least. Because as noted in the book after which the Profile in Courage award is named, a true democracy ultimately recognizes right. We live in hope.

Sally Q. Yates did what was right. So shines a good deed in a weary world. Maybe we should demand that she be made special prosecutor or put her in charge of that independent commission to investigate Trump and Russia. Talk about righteous symmetry.
(c) 2017 Michael Winship is senior writing fellow at Demos, president of the Writers Guild of America, East, and was senior writer for Moyers & Company and Bill Moyers' Journal and is senior writer of

The Dead Letter Office...

Ryan gives the Corporate Salute

Heil Trump,

Dear Deputy Fuhrer Zinke,

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 willingness to sell off the minerals rights to public lands for a song, Pakistan, 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 05-27-2017. We salute you Herr Zinke, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

President Trump addresses a joint session of Congress on Feb. 28.

Are There 22 Patriotic House Republicans?
By Robert Reich

Trump's warning to former FBI Director James Comey against leaking anything negative about him-tweeting "James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!"-is deeply troubling.

The core issue here is not whether Trump is secretly recording his meetings or telephone calls (Trump and his White House aides refuse to say whether he tapes his visitors, something he was suspected of doing when he was in business in New York).

The real issues are these:

(1) The illegality of a President of the United States seeking to intimidate a potential witness in a congressional investigation.

(2) The illegality of a President potentially intimidating current FBI personnel who are investigating that president or his aides, by firing the former FBI head who was leading such an investigation and now threatening retaliation against him.

These illegal acts cannot be ignored. We are facing a constitutional crisis potentially larger and more significant than Richard Nixon's "Watergate." As long as Donald Trump remains president, our governing institutions are threatened.

The question now is whether there exist 22 House Republicans whose loyalty to the United States exceeds their loyalty to the Republican Party, who would join with House Democrats in seeking a bill of impeachment.
(c) 2017 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His website is

President Donald Trump waves as he walks on the South Lawn toward the White House on Sunday, March 19, 2017.

Impeach Trump? Transcript Will Tell Whether President Blabbed Secrets To Russians
By Joe Conason

If Donald Trump disclosed highly classified state secrets to the Russian ambassador and foreign minister, he may be vulnerable to impeachment - not because he broke the law, which evidently he did not, but because he committed an act that would be considered criminal and perhaps treasonous if perpetrated willfully by any other government official.

"There is a simple way to see whether Trump disclosed classified information to the Russians: Check the official transcript of their meeting."

Trump is exempt from the criminal statutes governing disclosure of classified information because he can legally declassify anything at will. But whimsical and boastful misuse of that authority, in the presence of an adversary power, is an extremely serious offense that requires immediate Congressional investigation.

The president has put the nation at risk, not for the first time, and his apparent disdain for normal security and intelligence protocols represents an ongoing national emergency. It is an emergency that began within weeks of his inauguration, when he and his staff formulated their response to a February 12 North Korean missile test as diners at his Mar-a-Lago club watched agog from surrounding tables.

In the hours after the Washington Post revealed this latest breach - which involved information about a terrorist plot by the Islamic State - Trump's national security adviser H.R. McMaster publicly declared that "the story, as reported is false." McMaster went on to deny specifically that the president had discussed "intelligence sources or methods" or "any military operations that were not already publicly known."

But McMaster's statement is a non-denial denial, to recall a Watergate phrase, which doesn't respond to what the Post reported and other news outlets have since confirmed: Namely that the president told the Russians about the ISIS plot and the city in which it originated.

Undoubtedly the Russian intelligence services (and their allies in Tehran and Damascus) will seek to trace the identity of the US sources, using the data Trump allegedly disclosed. And the allied intelligence service and human assets who provided that vital information, which is essential to protect the United States, will either be compromised or reluctant to work with our services in the future - because the president of the United States endangered them to puff himself up.

There is a simple way to see whether Trump disclosed classified information to the Russians: Check the official transcript of their meeting. Every time an American president meets or speaks with a foreign official, their conversation is either recorded digitally or transcribed by a "rapporteur," usually an official on the National Security Council staff - every single word.

As a rule, those transcripts are closely held and likely protected by executive privilege. But there is also a clear precedent to provide such a transcript to Congress for investigative purposes. In 2001, while investigating President Bill Clinton's last-minute pardon of the indicted fugitive Marc Rich, the House Oversight Committee asked the Bush White House for transcripts of three telephone conversations about Rich between Clinton and Ehud Barak, then the prime minister of Israel. President Bush ordered those transcripts to be released immediately (and their content indicated an innocent explanation for the pardon, but that's a different story).

Now the House and Senate intelligence committees should request - or if necessary, subpoena - the transcripts of Trump's meeting with the Russians, to see who is telling the truth. To paraphrase Trump, that may be the only way to "find out what the hell is going on."

Until we find out what is going on in the White House, it is too soon say whether there are grounds to impeach the president over this reported betrayal of secret intelligence, his obvious unfitness for office, or his admitted effort to curtail a federal counter-intelligence investigation of his presidential campaign's alleged collusion with the Kremlin (by firing FBI director James Comey the day before his Oval Office meeting with the Russian diplomats). But bear in mind that Congress can impeach whether or not the president has committed a statutory felony. Many scholars agree that the definition of "high crimes and misdemeanors" is political rather than juridical, and that under the Constitution, impeachable offenses are determined solely by a majority vote of the House of Representatives. They also agree that the intent of the impeachment clause is to punish abuses of power and to remove officials who are unfit to serve. This is not a partisan issue. Only Congress, Republicans and Democrats acting together, can protect the nation from this incompetent, venal, and dangerous executive. They can no longer ignore the threat he poses to our security.
(c) 2017 Joe Conason is the editor-in-chief of The National Memo.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ David Fitzsimmons ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

President Trump Stress Disorder
By Will Durst

An epidemic is sweeping the nation, causing sufferers to experience feelings of hopeless doom, certain annihilation and cataclysmic collapse. It's an existential plague manifesting itself by enveloping the stricken in a black cloud of despairing suicidal thoughts. The malady that is striking down innocent citizens left and lefter is... the Presidency of Donald J. Trump. It is literally making people sick.

Many doctors have taken note of this disturbing trend and some are calling it PTSD2 - President Trump Stress Disorder. Definitely not to be confused with the much more serious Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. That is a condition afflicting those that have survived a past dire and/ or life- threatening experience. Not a single thing funny there. Don't even look. Nope. Not close to humorous. Keep moving. Nothing to see.

Rather, PTSD2 is a condition that afflicts people from mostly urban areas or anyplace with a museum or library, who are worrying about a future they may or may not survive. Many safe bubbles were shaken and popped by last year's election and the soapy fallout is being felt on psychiatric couches from here to Vienna. And you can bet nobody at any of the Big Pharmaceuticals is complaining either.

Victims of PTSD2 find themselves alternately shocked and alarmed and surprised and angry and scared and anxious and confused and amused and amazed and nervous and depressed and worried and tho close to eye-gouging panic. Both their own eyes and other peoples' eyes.

An equal almost opposite reaction is affecting an entirely different group of Americans, and that is unbridled joy and spontaneous dancing and the drinking of many frosty adult beverage toasts. Mostly Bud Light. Surprisingly, both these phenomena are being alternately heightened and exacerbated through copious self- administered treatments of medicinal cannabis.

In order to determine whether you are suffering from the debilitating effects of this harrowing disease known as PTSD2, please consult the following.


Inability to sleep or sleep disturbed by recurring nightmares. Most involve a second or third term.

Flashbacks to a simpler time when Trump was a goofy reality TV star.

When using any word that rhymes with Trump you become sick to your stomach.

Find yourself saying to no one in particular "Imagine if Obama had done that?"

Steadfast refusal to watch the news. Too much like enabling him.

For no apparent reason you will start screaming at your cat. Or Alex Trebek.

If and when somebody mentions Obama Care you start weeping and/or pulling hair from your head.

Constantly replay your movements on November 8, 2016, wondering what you could have done to change the course of events.

Inability to recall anything that happened during Donald J. Trump transition period.

Emotionally numb to the point of not caring about fluffy bunnies or baby ducklings.

Intense feelings of guilt for just not liking Hillary enough.

Laugh hysterically at Garfield cartoons.

Lately the term "moderation" means no tequila shooters before noon.

Hearing his name makes you put your hands over your ears and go "la-la-la-la-la."

Find yourself saying to no one in particular "Imagine if Hillary had said that?"

Confronted with difficult choices you respond, "Aaah, the hell with it. What difference does it make?"
(c) 2017 Will Durst is an award- winning, nationally acclaimed columnist, comedian and and former short haul truck diver of plaster molds. Go to for info about his new one-man show "BoomeRaging: From LSD to OMG," and the documentary "3 Still Standing." Follow Will Durst on Twitter:

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Issues & Alibis Vol 17 # 18 (c) 05/19/2017

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