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In This Edition

Norman Solomon says, "Progressives Must Fight With -- And In -- The Democratic Party."

Ralph Nader sends, "An Urgent Message To Congress: You Must Hold President Trump Accountable!"

Glen Ford considers, "Protest And Power."

Jim Hightower asks, "What's Behind A Mask?"

William Rivers Pitt reports, "New COVID Infections Surge In US As Trump Fixates On His Election Prospects."

John Nichols concludes, "The Next Politics Is All About Movements-And It's Winning."

James Donahue examines, "The Destruction of Journalism In America."

David Swanson warns of, "The Russian Menace And The Dangers Of Believing The New York Times."

David Suzuki says, "Multiple Crises Signal The Need To Change Course."

Charles P. Pierce says, "You Take What You Can Get From Chief Justice John Roberts."

Juan Cole finds, "Iran Seeks Interpol Red Notice On Trump For Soleimani Murder."

Catholic priest "Father" Theodore Rothrock wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich concludes, "America Is Exceptional In All The Wrong Ways."

Jane Stillwater explains, "America's Horror-Show Foreign Policy."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion, reports, "Congress Announces Willingness To Offer Black Lives Matter Protesters Holiday Or Statue," but first, Uncle Ernie dares to tell, "The Truth About The 4th Of July."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Jeff Koterba, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Warner Brothers, Mario Tama, Brendan Smialowski, John Minchillo, Scott Olson, Trinity Care Foundation, Tasnim News Agency, Robert Reich, Jane Stillwater, Jim Hightower, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

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

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

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The Truth About The 4th Of July
By Ernest Stewart

"Frustrated historians often claim that the average American knows almost nothing about the Revolutionary War--and that most of what they do know is wrong. There are so many misconceptions, inaccurate quotes, and downright lies told about the American Revolution that it is hard for those who study the period to share their knowledge with the average person. There's a fine line between sharing what you know and telling someone they are wrong. Funny thing, people don't like to be told they are wrong. During the last election and inauguration I kept finding my jaw on the floor as newscasters stated "facts" that I knew were wrong to millions of unsuspecting viewers. Not one of my helpful e-mails to various news departments got a response or a correction." ~~~ Dan Shippey

"Although the planet as a whole is warming, this isn't happening evenly." ~~~ Clare Nullis ~ WMO spokesperson

"The only lives that matter are their own and the only power they seek is their own. They are wolves in wolves clothing, masked thieves and bandits, seeking only to devour the life of the poor and profit from the fear of others. They are maggots and parasites at best, feeding off the isolation of addiction and broken families, and offering to replace any current frustration and anxiety with more misery and greater resentment." ~~~ "Father" Theodore Rothrock

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won't you please, please help me
Help ~~~ The Beatles

It's that time of the year again when politicians and pundits crawl out from under their rocks to feed you lies again about the "revolution." I'm not talking about the obvious ones like George Washington never told a lie; "lie" should have been his middle name. Like the lies he told the tribes trying to get them to help him fight the British, and then turned around after the war and became a genocidal maniac, wiping out those same tribes that came to our rescues during the war for their land. Something George learned about during the French and Indian Wars, where George became the richest man in the country by stealing Indian land and selling it to the newbies from Europe.

No, I'm talking about all the "Sons of Liberty" bullshit; you know, the Sons by their regular name: the Boston Chamber of Commerce. They tossed that tea not because of the penny tax the East India company put on it, but because of the East Indian Company -- not the Crown. The revolutions was about our Corporations fighting the British Corporations, just like today where our Corporations are fighting a war just to make a buck. Of course, none of them picked up a rifle and went off to war; they got the working men to fight their war, and just like Lying Donald spouted some song and dance about why we must go kill all those people to bring the few survivors democracy; it's not even a real democracy, but a capitalist democracy. You'll remember that the Constitution was set up as a guarantee that we'd never have a real democracy in this country! For example Hamilton's bright idea, the Electoral College and every time it's overthrown a winner, it has always done so for the 1%, ask Hilary who won by 3 million votes, how it worked out for her!

Nope, you get hit in the head with tales of Molly Pitcher -- while in the background there'll be strains of Yankee Doodle (Yankee Doodle came to terms, writing Martin Buber. Stuck a Fuhrer in our back, and called it "Schicklgruber!") while the rockets' red glare blinds you to the reality that the Revolutionary War had nothing to do with a real democracy. Don't believe me; just ask the blacks, the Indians, and women how that worked out for them; lay that democracy song and dance on Abigail Adams, and see how it works; go ahead, make my millennium!

No, by all means, drink a six pack of industrial sludge; follow that up with some GMO hot dogs and red slime burgers and a Roundup-coated apple pie. How yummy can it get, eh?

You deserve it all, America: the lies, the mythologies, the poison food and drink; it all goes rather well, hand-in-hand, if you like, with the songs and dances of our phony history. Just remember, America; "Abraham Lincoln didn't die in vain; he died in Washington D.C.," see?

In Other News

Last week I touched upon the fact that the small Russian town of Verkhoyansk in Siberia is one of the coldest on Earth. If verified, the temperature recorded there on June 20 could mark the hottest temperature ever registered north of the Arctic Circle.

Reports that temperatures in a Russian town 70 miles above the Arctic Circle likely reached a record 100.4F, last weekend, have been approved by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) pending final verification, the United Nations specialized agency said on Tuesday.

"The WMO is seeking to verify reports of a new temperature record north of the Arctic circle," WMO spokesperson Clare Nullis told journalists in Geneva. "It was reported in the Russian town of Verkhoyansk amid a prolonged Siberian heatwave and increase in wildfire activity," she said.

Earlier on June 5, WMO reported that May was the warmest on record and carbon dioxide levels also hit a new high despite the economic slowdown from COVID-19. It urgently appealed for renewed efforts to tackle climate threats.

"Our planet is sending us a clear warning. The need for immediate and ambitious #ClimateAction is more urgent than ever," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a post on Twitter on Monday. He was reacting to the record high temperature registered in the Arctic Circle.

According to WMO, the region of Eastern Siberia now in the spotlight is known for its weather extremes in winter and in summer, with temperatures above 86F not unusual in July.

The record Arctic temperature, more typical of the Tropics, comes a few months after the Argentine research base, Esperanza, on the northern tip of the Antarctic peninsula, registered a new record temperature of 65.3F on 6 February.

According to WMO, the Arctic is heating at roughly twice the global average. Nullis explained that the heat spike follows a prolonged Siberian heatwave and wildfire period after an unusually warm spring that was also characterised by a lack of snow.

Data from WMO show that May was about 18.5F above average in many parts of Siberia, "and it was this extraordinary heat which actually drove, made the warmest May on record for... the northern hemisphere, and also we think at a global level as well," Nullis said.

According to WMO, air temperatures in the Arctic from 2016 to 2019 were the highest on record.

Things look good for a longer season for the Northwest Passage as Arctic sea ice in September 2019 (after the melting season) which declined by more than 50 per cent, compared to the average from 1979 to 2019, but it has been hell on polar bears who need the sea ice to hunt.

On the positive side melting sea ice around Antartica is proving to be a bonus for Adelie penguins who appear to prefer reduced sea-ice conditions. Like I've said before, with global warming there are winners and losers.

And Finally

Father Theodore Rothrock said, "Black Lives Matter organizers are 'maggots and parasites,'" arguing that "they are serpents in the garden" and "their poison is more toxic than any pandemic we have endured."

Rothrock continued...

"Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and the other nefarious acolytes of their persuasion are not the friends or allies we have been led to believe. They are serpents in the garden, seeking only to uproot and replant a new species of human made in the likeness of man and not in the image of God."

Meanwhile the Supreme Court rules "Taxpayers Must Subsidize Religious Schools." Care to pay for that bigotry America? Me neither, that's why "Father" Theodore Rothrock wins this week's "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Keepin' On

If you think that what we do is important and would like to see us keep on, keeping on, please send us whatever you can, whenever you can, and we'll keep telling you the truth!


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Thanks for the laughs!

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

Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 2020 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, philosopher, 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.

Jamaal Bowman campaigning

Progressives Must Fight With -- And In -- The Democratic Party
By Norman Solomon

After defying the odds and defeating corporate opponents on Tuesday, the strong progressives Jamaal Bowman and Mondaire Jones are headed to Congress from New York -- and there's no way it would be happening if they hadn't been willing and able to put up a fight in Democratic primaries. The same was true in 2018 with the election of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley as they beat the party establishment.

After three decades of contributing mightily to the blight of congressional militarism, Rep. Eliot Engel couldn't be rescued by the high-profile endorsements of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Nor could Engel be saved by the eleventh-hour support of Hillary Clinton.

Other Democratic incumbents are being challenged by progressives in difficult and inspiring campaigns: intent on doing what, according to conventional political wisdom, can't be done.

While the Republican Party has given "faith" a bad name, Barack Obama did the same for "audacity" and "hope." Being an ally of the military-industrial complex and corporate power isn't audacious or particularly hopeful. But progressives need plenty of audacious hope and insistence that political organizing must include insurgent election campaigns.

The obstacles are enormous. That's usually true of social change worth fighting for.

In the electoral arena, the goal is not only about winning elections. It's also about replacing the top-down weight of entrenched politicians with the bottom-up power of grassroots activism. A current example is the effort by progressive activists in California to make Congressman Ro Khanna the chair of the state's delegation for the Democratic National Convention, instead of Gov. Gavin Newsom.

That would be appropriate. Khanna was a national co-chair for the 2020 campaign of Bernie Sanders, who won the state's presidential primary by a margin of 8 percent over Joe Biden.

If raw political power is the metric, Newsom has a clear advantage in the lead-up to a decisive statewide "virtual meeting" of national-convention delegates set for Sunday. But in recent days, 130 Sanders delegates (including me) from congressional districts across the state -- 90 percent of all such Sanders delegates -- have signed a statement calling for Khanna to be the delegation chair.

The statement pointed out that "Ro Khanna has been a national champion on issues supported by California Democrats -- health care for all, national budget priorities based on human needs and opposing Trump on huge increases in military spending and endless wars, criminal justice reform, and a path to citizenship for immigrants."

If Newsom allows a democratic process, Khanna could win. From all indications, Newsom doesn't want to take the chance.

California Democratic Party rules are vague, saying only that "the Delegation Chair will be selected by the National Convention Delegates" on June 28. There's plenty of room for top party officials to short-circuit actual democracy by refusing to allow a proper election process. The anticipated plan is to offer the delegates one big omnibus package that includes designating Newsom as chair.

Suspicion of the Democratic Party's power structure has run deep among Bernie supporters. If the Democratic governor of the largest state is perceived as blocking a democratic process in order to strong-arm his way into becoming delegation chair, the ripple effects could extend throughout the country -- including the dozen swing states, where a robust turnout from progressive voters will be vital this fall.

At the moment, national polls are rosy for Biden. We've been here before, with media depicting Trump on the ropes. Few political pundits saw the demagogue's prospects as anything but dim against Hillary Clinton in 2016. Four years later, razor-thin margins in swing states could tip the balance, notwithstanding the nationwide popular vote.

Politicians are not known for humility, and few are inclined to bypass a beckoning limelight. California's delegation chair is apt to draw appreciable media attention in mid-August when Democrats convene a virtual convention. Newsom could do his party and his country a greater service by yielding that particular spotlight rather than basking in it.

Especially after events of 2016, when facts emerged showing that the Democratic National Committee put anti-Sanders thumbs on the scales, many progressives have become acutely sensitive to shortages of fairness in party proceedings. The last thing we need are fresh examples of powerful politicians opting for self-serving actions over democratic principles.

(c) 2020 Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."

Executive Chairman of Ford William Clay Ford Jr. (L) tour with President
Donald Trump the Ford Rawsonville Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan on May 21, 2020

An Urgent Message To Congress: You Must Hold President Trump Accountable!
What your stewardship of the Constitution requires is manifest.
By Ralph Nader

Here is an abridged version of a letter sent on June 22, 2020, by me and two constitutional law experts Bruce Fein and Lou Fisher, to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerald Nadler, and the Committee's Vice Chairman, Jamie Raskin. It touches on where Congress has not exercised its constitutional authority to hold Trump accountable under the law.

Dear Madam Speaker, Mr. Chairman, and Mr. Vice Chairman:

Former national security adviser and ultra-hawk John Bolton's disparagement of the articles of impeachment voted against President Donald Trump as "impeachment malpractice" in The Room Where It Happened may be viewed as a rebuke to Congress for failing to discharge its duty and powers to enforce constitutional observance (e.g., impeachment, stiff fines for flouting congressional subpoenas) that has fortified limitless executive power which Mr. Trump recklessly brandishes daily. Impugning Mr. Bolton's motives does not impeach his impeachment facts or testimony revealing Mr. Trump's serial impeachable offenses.

We had urged a broader 12-count article of impeachment indicting the full spectrum of Mr. Trump's alarming extraconstitutional behavior which Congressman John Larson printed in the Congressional Record - H 12197 on December 18, 2018. Among other things, the proposed article assailed presidential violations of the Declare War Clause, the Treaty Clause, the Appointments Clause, the Take Care Clause, and the Appropriations Clause, in addition to crippling the plenary congressional power of oversight and investigation.

Book excerpts printed in The New York Times reveal credible evidence of several additional impeachable offenses requiring House subpoenas to Mr. Bolton and Mr. Trump to testify in public under oath to unearth the truth. According to Mr. Bolton, President Trump solicited illegal foreign assistance for his 2020 presidential campaign by asking the President of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping, to purchase billions of dollars of wheat and soybeans from American farmers to win their political favor (52 U.S.C. 30121). Mr. Trump asked for that foreign assistance from President Xi in exchange for Mr. Trump's desisting from sanctions against Chinese officials under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act because of China's persecution of Uighurs, which constitutes bribery under 18 U.S.C. 201.

Mr. Trump obstructed justice in interceding to lighten penalties against ZTE for flouting sanctions against North Korea, among other things. These impeachable offenses are probably only the tip of the iceberg.

In our capacity as citizens of the Republic, is it too much to expect the House to enforce constitutional observance though the powers of impeachment, subpoenas, contempt, or otherwise? At a minimum, the House should subpoena Mr. Bolton and Mr. Trump to testify about the foregoing new impeachable offenses and others if they surface in the interim. Mr. Bolton volunteered to testify before the Senate at Mr. Trump's impeachment trial but was not called. He did not agree to testify before the House during its impeachment investigation because of pending litigation. The House inexplicably neglected to subpoena him. The law and precedent are clear. In conducting an impeachment investigation, the House has a right to every person's evidence whether of the President, of the incumbent or former White House officials, or others.

In 1974, the House Judiciary Committee voted an article of impeachment against President Richard Nixon for flouting a subpoena. The article would have been approved by the full House absent Mr. Nixon's resignation precipitated by his anticipated certain conviction in the Senate. (The United States Supreme Court also held that presidential tapes were fair game for the judiciary in the United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683 (1974)). President Gerald Ford testified before the House Judiciary Committee about his pardon of Mr. Nixon to dispel suspicion of a quid pro quo for President Nixon's resignation.

What your stewardship of the Constitution requires is manifest. With dismay, we have witnessed too many Executive Branch and congressional defectors from the Constitution. You should lead them back. Regular constitutional order must be restored, including curing the multiple violations enumerated in our proposed 12-count impeachment article (H 12197).

"We the People of the United States" deserve leadership, not spectatorship. Our constitutional handiwork is in peril.

House hearings are urgent.

(c) 2020 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest book is The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future. Other recent books include, The Seventeen Traditions: Lessons from an American Childhood, Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism: Build It Together to Win, and "Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).

Protest And Power
By Glen Ford

Building People's Power is the vital arena of struggle under late stage capitalism, when the "system" is not only objectively failing, but the people know it is coming apart at the seams. The most widespread protests since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated - and by far the most ethnically diverse oppositional turnout in modern U.S. history - have crested, although demonstrations and occupations continue in many localities. If governmental response is the measure of effectiveness, then the George Floyd protests were remarkably potent. City councils across the country have claimed to accept the basic premise that police are afforded too many immunities and too large a share of the public budget. The city council in Minneapolis, whose cops choked the life out of George Floyd, will in November submit to voters a referendum to replace the current police force with a "department of community safety and violence prevention" that could include a "division of law enforcement services" staffed with "licensed peace officers."

At the federal level, Democrats in the U.S. House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 by a vote of 236 to 181, although the bill's prospects in the Senate are dim. The Act includes virtually every "reform" measure that has been under discussion by the corporate parties since Michael Brown was shot down by a Ferguson, Missouri, cop in 2014, sparking over a year of "Black Lives Matter" protests.

This year's protests made their most dramatic impact on public perceptions, with 61 percent of white people telling New York Times pollsters they now hold favorable views of "the Black Lives Matter Movement." Statistically, these pro-BLM whites must include a significant number of Trump supporters, who make up more than half of U.S. whites. As BAR reported last week, the Times poll shows 70 percent of whites under the age of 45 and 85 percent of Blacks of all ages agree that "the killing of George Floyd was part of a broader pattern of excessive police violence toward African-Americans rather than an isolated incident."

On the ground, the State response to the protests was far less friendly. Curfews were imposed on at least 200 cities and the National Guard was called out in 30 states and Washington, DC. More than 11,000 people were arrested. However, it does not appear that the cops or Guard troops killed anyone taking part in the protests, many of which were anything but peaceful.

Possibly one of the most phenomenal aspects of this year's protests is that the presidential election cycle has failed to banish the anti-police agenda from the public mind. As happens every four years, corporate media and the two-party monopolists insist that November's vote is the "most important in history." But this time the people have their own ideas about the nature of the crises that are roiling their lives - one of which, the Covid-19 pandemic, has become a born-again mass killer, with new cases hitting record highs. Americans know full well that the coronavirus resurgence will also extend and deepen the economic crisis that has already devoured tens of millions of jobs. But, remarkably, the public appears able to hold all three crises - Covid, cops and a collapsing economy - in the front of their minds, despite the two corporate parties' efforts to impose election year mass zombification.

Clearly, as the old song goes, "Something's happening here..." The public appears to internalize the killer cop crisis as part of a general disfunction of a U.S. state that has utterly failed to protect its population from contagious disease and has no plan to save the people from a second Great Depression. For the first time, (slim) majorities of whites finally seem able to wrap their minds around the fact that Blacks suffer disproportionately from all of these governmental failures - or intentional outcomes.

Which brings us to another marked difference between the current era and the aftermath of Black agitation and rebellions in 1967-68. When cities burned and Black Panthers called for community control of the police half a century ago, both corporate parties and the vast bulk of the white public supported the swift and brutal imposition of a mass Black incarceration regime that would increase the U.S. prison and jail population 12-fold over the next two generations. Yet, despite President Trump's efforts to whip up a racist fury over the "riots" that punctuated last month's Floyd George protests, there is not yet a discernable white backlash outside the confines of the White Man's (Republican) Party, whose organizing principle is white supremacy. If this trend holds, we are witnessing the first Black challenge to white supremacy that does not set off a general white backlash across the United States. It is a "crack in time" that I believe is the result of the general Crisis of Legitimacy afflicting the U.S. ruling order. Americans, including large numbers of whites, no longer see the government as either responsive or competent. Thus, many whites - specially the younger cohorts - don't trust anything anymore, including their own prejudices. World views come apart and the urgency of now becomes primary.

For young African Americans, the Black Radical Tradition is reinvigorated after a two-generations-long sleep. But that Tradition does not include any memories of sustained victory over the ruling corporate order, a significant sector of which was a tacit ally of the 1950s and 60s movement against official American apartheid because it impeded the free flow of capital and delayed creation of a truly global capitalist order. In place of Black power (self-determination), the rulers offer "diversity" and - when confronted by hundreds of thousands of George Floyd protesters in the streets -- a kinder, gentler system of property and privilege protection.

The last thing the Black Misleadership Class wants is a Black power-seeking movement. Wedded as they are to a token "place" in the capitalist spoils system, these misleaders have shown remarkable loyalty to their bosses in the Democratic Party and, until recently, to the police that kill their constituents at will. Despite decades of Black grassroots warnings against the growing militarization of the U.S. police, in 2014 the Congressional Black Caucus voted 32 to 8 to continue the infamous Pentagon 1033 program that funneled billions of dollars in weapons and gear to local police departments. (A program that increased 24-fold under the First Black President, Barack Obama.) The "Black Lives Matter" movement was born only months later, but had virtually no effect on the Black Caucus's slavish politics. Four years later, 75 percent of Black House members shamelessly supported the Protect and Serve Act of 2018, which elevated cops to a "protected class" and made assault on police - the offense you are charged with when the police kick your butt - a federal "hate" crime. It was as if Michael Brown had never died at police hands in Ferguson, and Baltimore and other cities had not exploded in revolt. The Black Misleadership Class was impervious to pressures from within the Black community, and responsive only to its handlers in the Democratic Party.

The sweeping scope, gargantuan size and multi-racial makeup of the George Floyd protests clearly rattled the Black Caucus's boss lady, Nancy Pelosi, who instructed her cop-loving Black lackies to break out the kente cloth and array themselves around her on the Capitol kneeling grounds. However, nothing they offered in the wake of the "Black Lives Matter" protests defunds the police or puts them on the path to abolition. None of the "reforms" change the essential nature of police as an occupation army in the Black community, as they were described half a century ago. There is no Black Power, or any kind of People Power, in the House Democrats' bill of concessions to mass protest. And, despite some initial panic among the local political guardians of the corporate oligarchy, city and county governments will not allow power to devolve to people's direct control -- over the police, schools, social services or anything else of importance - without a Demand based on a People's Power Plan.

Cuts in police budgets may rightly count as victories for the protesters that demanded cuts (or, it may actually be the result of across-the-board cutbacks due to collapse of tax revenues in the Great Depression Two). But diminished budgets do not make the police accountable to the people or allow the people to reinvent policing (or whatever folks choose to call the mechanisms of their security). Transfer of duties previously (mis)handled by cops to more competent agencies is a good thing, but will not result in People's Power unless those agencies are brought under community control, along with the police.

Building People's Power is hard work - more difficult, in many ways, than confronting the enemy's uniformed goons in the streets. But this is the vital arena of struggle under late stage capitalism, when the "system" is not only objectively failing, but the people know it is coming apart at the seams.

"Reforms" that leave power in the hands of the oppressor and his flunkies succeed mainly in making the enemy look good. It buys the oppressor more time to harm the people - which is what the Democrats were seeking when they adopted the vocabulary of protest and embraced "reforms" they had previously rejected in the face of a Black-led popular insurgency. Movement organizers must avoid providing opportunities for scoundrels, sell-out artists and Democratic Party operatives to pose as friends of "the community." The lasting victories are those that result in weakening the oppressor and empowering the people. Remember the words of Amilcar Cabral: "Tell no lies, claim no easy victories."

(c) 2019 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

What's Behind A Mask?
By Jim Hightower

The chief cultural emblem of our times is this: Wearing a mask. Or not.

These low-tech, high-impact, low-cost coverings are so simple and effective at helping reduce the COVID-19 infection rate that our top political leaders' failure to produce, distribute, and require them en masse when the pandemic first spread ranks somewhere between stupid and criminal. But while our "leaders" failed, the people themselves have led, rapidly turning homemade mask-making into a booming cottage industry and a charitable act.

Meanwhile, though, big corporations rushed out like masked thieves to exploit the crisis. Even as their lobbyists shoved to the front of the line to grab billions in public relief funds meant for small Main Street businesses, they churned out touchie-feelie PR campaigns portraying Amazon warehouses, Heafty trash bags, McDonald's fries, and Walmart's forced-to-work clerks as the epitome of all-in-this-together Americanism. Their message in this global pandemic is that what unites us as a people is crass commercialism - so buy something from us!

Then there are the billionaire-funded, right-wing political fronts that are protests against - wait for it - masks. Yes, the Koch brothers' network and others laissez-faire extremists are intentionally trying to divide Americans in this time of national crisis by demonizing, of all things, mask wearing! Confusing patriotism with nutballism, some self-proclaimed Patrick Henrys now feel entitled to trample on America's Common Good. Loudly proclaiming that being asked to make a minor, temporary, life-saving wardrobe adjustment is pure tyranny, they freely breathe their Covid infections into our public air, often while mocking and even assaulting retail employees, bus drivers, and others who're just trying to get everyone to live and let live.

In this strange time, the modest mask has become a complex social symbol of competing acts of generosity, greed, and goofiness. The good news is that generosity is prevailing over the other two.

(c) 2020 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

President Donald Trump speaks to guests during a visit to the Fincantieri
Marinette Marine shipyard on June 25, 2020, in Marinette, Wisconsin.

New COVID Infections Surge In US As Trump Fixates On His Election Prospects
By William Rivers Pitt

COVID-19 is surging across the United States, but the only thing this president seems to care about is the slow decay of his election prospects.

"Donald Trump knows he's losing," Politico reported on Sunday. Campaign advisers "have urged him to stop the public displays of self-pity," reports The Washington Post. "Republican Voters Against Trump expects to have a $10 million budget to target voters online," reports NBC News. "PRESIDENT TRUMP MAY LOSE THIS ELECTION" blared the opening chryon for Tucker Carlson's Thursday night show on Fox News.

Trump isn't the only one feeling bleak about his political future. "GOP operatives are for the first time raising the possibility that @realDonaldTrump could drop out of the race if his poll numbers don't rebound," Fox Business Network correspondent Charles Gasparino tweeted on Sunday. "Over the weekend I spoke to a sample of major players; one described Trump's current psyche as 'fragile.'"

Fragile, you say? Poor guy. What we really need to be talking about is the fragile state of this nation after Trump's calamitous COVID-19 response.

On Sunday, the United States saw more than 40,000 new infections amid this record surge, with the national total now surpassing 2.5 million. The death toll has surpassed 125,000 souls, a number the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says is almost certainly low.

Harris County, Texas, the densely populated home to most of Houston, is now experiencing more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases per day. Texas Medical Center, a vast collection of medical facilities in downtown Houston, has reached baseline ICU capacity under the wave of new cases, and that wave is not close to the crest point. Elective surgeries have been restricted to open up hospital beds, and NGR Stadium - home of the NFL's Houston Texans - is being prepped to take overflow COVID patients.

"The [Texas Medical Center] institutions - which together constitute the world's largest medical complex - reported Thursday that their base intensive care capacity had hit 100 percent for the first time during the pandemic," reports the Houston Chronicle, "and was on pace to exceed an 'unsustainable surge capacity' of intensive care beds by July 6."

From Friday to Sunday, Florida endured more than 8,000 new cases a day. There were 9,585 on Saturday, and 8,530 on Sunday. The median age of those newly infected with COVID is now 36. As with Houston, hospitals in parts of Florida most affected by this long continuation of the pandemic's first wave are reaching capacity. "Officials have done little so far to halt public interactions," reports The New York Times.

Texas and Florida led the way in the Trump-championed charge to "Reopen Now" several weeks ago, and now they, along with Arizona, have become COVID's newest epicenters. Trump won all three of these so-called "Sun Belt" states in 2016, and if he loses any one of them in November, his odds of winning re-election melt and bubble like butter on a hot skillet.

Trump's reaction to this latest iteration of the coronavirus pandemic? On Sunday, he had Vice President Mike Pence show up at a Dallas megachurch alongside the useless Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott, the bewildering Housing Secretary Ben Carson, and the perennially terrible GOP Texas Sen. John Cornyn.

Thousands of maskless devotees crowded the six-block megachurch campus to enjoy the maskless singing of a 100-person choir. On Friday, Abbott put the brakes on his state's reopening surge but exempted churches from the new orders. All across the country, churches have become epicenters for new COVID outbreaks, but Trump - leery of alienating one of the last loyal constituencies he has left - has thus far refused to curtail mass gatherings at houses of worship.

On his own, Trump continues to screech about his Fox News ratings as an antidote for the grim poll numbers crowding around his campaign. Saturday saw him retweet a video of some golf cart fascist in Florida chanting "white power!" On Thursday, he did a "town hall" with Sean Hannity that saw no questions about the COVID spike, the national COVID death toll, or his cratering poll numbers or the police murder of George Floyd. The hardest question he got was, "What do you think is your greatest accomplishment?"

I'd be hard-pressed to answer that, as well.

Fox and Hannity, of course, remain Trump's safe space during this ongoing calamity. This, too, has gotten people killed. "Those who relied on Fox or, say, radio personality Rush Limbaugh, came to believe that vitamin C was a possible remedy, that the Chinese government created the virus in a lab, and that government health agencies were exaggerating the dangers in the hopes of damaging Trump politically," reads a Washington Post report on a pandemic news viewership survey taken by the Harvard Kennedy School.

"The country is not 'reopening' because the pandemic is finished, or because scientists and medical professionals say it is safe," I wrote on May 21, on the doorstep of the Memorial Day holiday that lies at the root of this COVID surge. "We are 'reopening' because in these United States, the people have always come a distant second to profit."

It is abundantly clear that, for this president, the health and survival of the people also come a distant second to his electioneering.

Trump's re-election prospects seem fragile at present, but we will only know for sure about that if we actually have an election. Our democracy, as COVID has demonstrated, is pretty damn fragile, too.

(c) 2020 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.

Democratic congressional candidate (NY-16) Jamaal Bowman votes

The Next Politics Is All About Movements-And It's Winning
When AOC won in 2018, it was dismissed as a fluke. Now, she says, it's clear that "the people's movement...isn't an accident. It's a mandate."
By John Nichols

In June 2018, the results of a New York City congressional primary woke people up to the prospect that a new politics might upend the status quo within the Democratic Party and across the nation. A democratic socialist who had worked on the 2016 presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, and who ran a grassroots campaign that championed economic, social, and racial justice, defeated one of the top Democrats in the House of Representatives. And suddenly everyone was talking about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

But a lot of the talk was dismissive: She upset a 10-term incumbent who wasn't paying attention, we were told. It was a low-turnout election that drew fewer than 30,000 voters. The leader of the Democrats in the House, Nancy Pelosi, pointedly rejected the notion that AOC's win represented a seismic shift in the party's direction. It was a result of one race in one district; she warned, "It is not to be viewed as something that stands for everything else."

Then came June 2020. Against a well-funded challenge from a former CNBC anchor who tried to suggest that the new incumbent was out of touch with the Bronx and Queens, AOC was winning bigger. A lot bigger. In a multicandidate field, the incumbent was securing almost 73 percent of the vote in the initial count from Tuesday's primary. Indeed, with many absentee ballots yet to be tabulated, she already had more than 27,000 votes-close to the combined vote that she and former representative Joe Crowley accumulated two years ago.

"When I won in 2018, many dismissed our victory as a 'fluke.' Our win was treated as an aberration, or because my opponent 'didn't try,'" said Ocasio-Cortez as the magnitude of her win in the city's 14th congressional district was becoming clear on Tuesday night. "So from the start, tonight's race was important to me. Tonight we are proving that the people's movement in New York isn't an accident. It's a mandate."

That mandate challenges the Democratic Party to embrace Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, a federal jobs guarantee, an end to mass incarceration. It asks, as does AOC: "What if a better world is possible?" And it suggests that possibility can be turned to reality by recognizing that systemic problems can only be addressed by "fighting for systemic solutions."

This insurgent vision, which just two years ago was so frequently dismissed, was taking hold in Democratic primaries on Tuesday. Candidates, many of them newcomers challenging incumbents and the party establishment, many of them supported by activists with groups such as the Sunrise Movement, were opening up leads in critical New York races and stood a chance of winning contests as far away as Kentucky. This was about more than individuals, even individuals as prominent as AOC has become. This was about movements, and the political possibilities that are revealed when candidates embrace them.

In the Bronx and Westchester County, former middle school principal Jamaal Bowman was leading House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Eliot Engel by a 62-35 margin in 16th District Democratic primary. "I cannot wait to get to Congress and cause problems for the people in there that have been maintaining a status quo that has literally been killing our children," the outspoken supporter of #BlackLivesMatter protests told supporters on election night. "You know what Donald Trump is more afraid of than anything else? A black man with power. That is what Donald Trump is afraid of."

Supported by Ocasio-Cortez and prominent national progressives such as Sanders and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Bowman ran a values-based campaign that finished with the candidate telling supporters, "Our movement is designed to restore that faith, to restore that hope, to bring back the belief in what is possible, to root our values in everything we do." Such a movement, he said, must be prepared to take on leaders of both parties. "It will be our job to hold Donald Trump accountable and to hold every elected official accountable that continues to be beholden to corporate interests, that continues to be beholden to the wealthy, that is not fighting for the poor and is not fighting for the working class in our country."

In the suburban 17th district, Mondaire Jones, a 33-year-old lawyer who was also endorsed by Warren, Sanders, and AOC, was accepting congratulations for moving significantly ahead of a crowded field in the race for the Democratic nomination for the open seat of retiring House Appropriations Committee chair Nita Lowry. "I have talked about big structural changes," he told supporters Tuesday night, adding that "sometimes an idea is so powerful that it becomes an unstoppable force: a movement!" Jones, who could become the first openly gay African American member of Congress, told the crowd, "This is for [former Texas US representative] Barbara Jordan, that powerful voice in the United States House of Representatives who could not live an authentic life. This is for Bayard Rustin, the architect of the March on Washington, who could not publicly be associated with Martin Luther King because of the scandal of who he loved. This is for [former San Francisco Supervisor] Harvey Milk, who literally died as a pioneer for people like me. I am so grateful to the folks on whose shoulders I stand."

On a night that saw progressives pulling ahead in congressional and legislative primaries all over New York-some with support from AOC; some, like 32-year-old South Bronx congressional candidate Ritchie Torres, without it-these breakthrough bids by young contenders who have pushed the boundaries of traditional politics were confirming that what happened in 2018 was not a fluke. There is a change taking place in our politics. New ideas are being adopted. New coalitions are being built.

Nowhere was that more true than in Kentucky, where US Senate candidate Charles Booker was holding his own in a race for the Democratic nomination to take on Mitch McConnell. With days to go before the count is complete, the African American state legislator was just 4,000 votes behind Amy McGrath, the candidate tapped by Democratic leaders in Washington to take on the Senate majority leader. Booker's hopes rest on the fact that two of the counties where he is expected to run strongest, Jefferson (Louisville) and Fayette (Lexington), are not expected to release results until Tuesday, June 30, when all mail-in ballots are counted.

(c) 2020 John Nichols writes about politics for The Capitol Times. 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.

The Destruction of Journalism In America
By James Donahue

It has been no secret that the popularity of the Internet preceded by television news via cable networks has taken its toll on the newspaper and news magazine industry. That the largest examples of print journalism . . . the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Gannett Corporation papers and others have fallen under corporate ownership has helped put the coffin nail on the world of real journalism in America.

The newspapers have long found themselves in competition with the television news networks like CNN, FOX News and MSNBC which has helped change the structure of news coverage. The television networks have specialized in talking-head editorial presentations which has apparently had an appeal to the watching public. Few people care to take the time to read long detailed written news reports in the printed media. Gannett's USA Today has consequently had success in its daily package of tight-cropped stories covering the news highlights from all over the nation.

While not necessarily by design, the changing method of news delivery, the impact of the electronic media and the way in which the media has shifted its focus to meet public demands has played right into the hands of big corporate interests anxious to sway public opinion on popular products to buy, popular political candidates and popular political issues. Consequently, the description of the journalist has shifted from what it used to be to what it is today....creators of propaganda sought by the corporate bosses.

When this writer entered the field of journalism as a reporter for various daily Michigan newspapers, we were carefully trained to be watchdogs of government. The work of collecting the reporting the news involved getting the whole story, not just a slanted view of what appeared to have happened. We asked the standard line of questions: who, what where, why and sometimes how things occurred the way they did. I remember standing at the front door of a county official's office for hours waiting to get his side of a story involving allegations of wrongdoing leveled at him during a public meeting the previous night.

If there was controversy, we always found that there were two sides to every story, and went out of our way to find them out and report them. I remember standing at the front door of a county official's office for hours waiting to get his side of a story involving allegations of wrongdoing leveled at him during a public meeting the previous night. My editor literally "held the presses" that day just waiting for that quote.

This is why the late Helen Thomas was such an outstanding member of the Washington Press Corp right up until the day she was forced by a political "set-up" to resign. Helen was the last of the Press Corp members to ask the hard questions during those televised news briefings. She may have been among the last of the real practicing journalists still on the job in Washington.

Sadly, today's journalists are fighting an uphill battle to get their stories in print. Editors and publishers of the printed media, and producers of radio and television news are caught between the demands of the stockholders who have particular agendas, the political powers who "feed" only the information they want the public to know, and a public of couch potatoes who want their news spoon fed to them in snippets.....without having to read more than a paragraph or listen to more than a one-minute verbal report.

Consequently, most people do not know what is really going on. They are vulnerable to corporate and political lies and corruption. When President George W. Bush told the nation Saddam Hussein was harboring weapons of mass destruction, people supported his decision to launch a war against Iraq. Can we believe Syrian President Bashar Assad has launched chemical attacks against his people, are the rebels doing it in an attempt to get the United Nations involved in that bloody conflict, or is it a covert U.S. action designed to justify getting our military involved?

Indeed there are a few reporters in the field asking those questions, but we have to search for their stories. And guess where we find them.....mostly on the Internet news outlets.

It seems that informed citizens who really want to know as much as possible about world events are turning to electronic media outlets that include not only the Internet news from overseas, but are even utilizing social outlets like Facebook and Twitter to spread information. While admittedly, these sources are not always reliable, they have proven to be somewhat effective at times of national and world crisis.

Unfortunately, the social media outlets have evolved into political propaganda and false news outlets designed to purposely confuse readers into supporting or opposing specific candidates or controversial issues. Thus, the impact on American's freedom of information has become more damaging that most people realize.

(c) 2020 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

The Russian Menace And The Dangers Of Believing The New York Times
By David Swanson

The New York Times claims that Russia offered to pay Afghans to kill U.S. (and allied) troops. It does not claim that any payments were made. It does not claim that any troops were killed. It does not claim that any impact was had on anything. It does not name its sources. It does not offer any evidence other than the supposed assertions of nameless government officials. It does not offer any justification for not naming them. It does not provide the context of all the years the U.S. government spent arming and funding Afghans to kill Russians, nor all the more recent years during which the U.S. military has been both the enemy of the Taliban and its top funding source (or at least second to opium). It promotes the ridiculous and debunked Russiagate notion that Trump is too kind to Russia.

But is it true?

Well, anything's possible. Trump has denied millions of true statements. Russia has killed many people. But we do know that much of what's going on here is not true. One of the authors of the New York Times article, Charlie Savage, has been tweeting links to other media outlets that supposedly confirm his report. "Reports that a Russian intelligence unit paid Taliban fighters to kill coalition troops in Afghanistan are true," he claims.

But the links don't add much or do what Savage says they do. ABC News claims, without proof, that an unnamed person says Russia offered money, then adds: "'There is no way to really confirm if it actually worked,' the military official, who's not authorized to speak on the record about such matters, told ABC News." Sky News claims without any evidence that Russia paid (not offered, but actually paid) for killings.

As Caitlin Johnstone has noted, various sources cited by Savage (the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal) cite only unnamed people, so we have no way of knowing whether they are the same unnamed people or different ones, and the same articles actually preface their claims with the words "if confirmed," which hardly amounts to a confirmation.

The fact that Sky News cites unnamed British officials has generated claims on social media that all the countries of the world are confirming the New York Times story, a line familiar from the wars of the past 20 years, the first failing of which is the fact that there are more than 2 or 3 nations in the world.

There's a great volume of reporting on who supposedly told whom what when within the Trump White House, some of which could be true, but none of which is accompanied by any evidence, and all of which avoids the apparently hard-to-grasp fact that people can and have told Trump things that weren't actually true.

The U.S. government pays its own troops and mercenaries to kill people all the time, constantly, non-stop. The U.S. president brags about taking steps that ensure more U.S. people will die of COVID-19. The Russian government pays its troops and mercenaries to kill. Every nation with a military pays people to commit murder, and it's evil, always. Why did someone decide that they could make a big story in particular out of Russia supposedly paying Afghans to kill U.S. troops and their side-kicks? Clearly because the U.S. media has spent years demonizing and lying about Russia and ludicrously persuading the U.S. public that Donald Trump is a servant of Russia.

Who benefits? Democrats. Joe Biden. Weapons dealers. Media oligarchs.

Who suffers? The victims of military spending, which is so badly needed for better things, and the victims of possible future wars and continued endless wars. The war on Afghanistan is more likely to continue. The Congress is less likely to move money from militarism to human needs. Weapons corporations are more likely to dump even more money into Joe Biden. The world is more likely to suffer the horrific direct and indirect consequences of yet more wars. And we're all more likely to have our last thought in life be "So that's a nuclear explosion."

(c) 2020 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.

Microscopic view of the COVID-19 virusDestruction of natural spaces, intensification of
agriculture and livestock production and the unsustainable wildlife trade are
driving the spread of diseases from non-human animals to people.

Multiple Crises Signal The Need To Change Course
David Suzuki

The virus spreading COVID-19 worldwide jumped from non-human animals to people - as have most new diseases, from AIDS to SARS to Ebola. We may not know the precise origin of this particular coronavirus, but we understand the factors behind its spread to humans. And we've seen the devastation a tiny, mysterious, rapidly spreading virus can wreak on people in a globalized system.

This pandemic could be a trial run for how we respond to the almost-inevitable next pandemic. Or it could be the wake-up call that finally compels us to employ the many available and developing solutions to resolve this and other related emergencies, including the climate and biodiversity crises, as well as the severe inequality crisis.

Recent research confirms what we've known for some time: Destruction of natural spaces, intensification of agriculture and livestock production and the unsustainable wildlife trade are driving the spread of diseases from non-human animals to people - known as "zoonotic" transmission.

According to a WWF International report, "We do not know where the next new disease will emerge or how many people it will affect, but the risk of a new zoonotic disease emerging in the future is higher than ever."

The report is just the latest warning from health and biodiversity experts worldwide. WWF International director Marco Lambertini, UN Convention on Biological Diversity executive secretary Elizabeth Maruma Mrema and World Health Organization environment department director Maria Neira wrote in the Guardian that these new diseases "all illustrate that our destructive behaviour towards nature is endangering our own health - a stark reality we've been collectively ignoring for decades."

We're also endangering our health with pollution, climate change and biodiversity loss. This lack of respect for all that we're part of extends to a lack of respect for each other. Now many people have had enough. Those who would destroy the things that keep us alive and healthy for the sake of short-term profit and power, and who would oppress others and divide us against each other, are a minority, and they're being called out.

We're at a turning point. We can go back to a "normal" existence beset by pollution, climate chaos, disease, racism and massive inequality, or we can take this opportunity to reset. It's time for those who have enjoyed the privileges bestowed by skin colour and background to question their own inherent biases, to be part of the solution - or get out of the way. It's time to listen to the experts about health, climate and biodiversity, and also to those our societies' have marginalized and mistreated - and who are most affected by pollution, climate change and inequality. We all need to understand what Indigenous people and people of colour must endure in a "multicultural" country like Canada.

Marginalized people face greater risks from climate change and environmental damage, in part because industrial development is often situated near remote, vulnerable communities, and because they often don't have the resources to protect themselves. Research also shows COVID-19 is especially hard on Black, Indigenous and other people of colour, as well as the poor.

The world slowed during the pandemic. Many of us changed the way we work - and this far into the 21st century, it's past time to move beyond 1950s working hours and conditions. People have also been standing up for what's right, for equality.

Changing our ways is a challenge, but as we've seen with the pandemic response, the barriers are more political than technological or rational. We know why pathogens - from Lyme disease to COVID-19 - are moving from the wild to human societies. We know why our planet is heating toward levels beyond which human health and survival can be sustained. We also know many of the factors behind inequality.

All of these crises are grounded in outdated systems that prioritize profits and economic measures over human health, well-being and survival. We have no end of solutions to these crises, but ultimately, systemic change is required to overcome the short-sighted greed that has sent us speeding down this path.

The climate and biodiversity crises didn't go away with the pandemic. But the health crisis has further exposed the flaws in our outdated systems. People are calling for change. It's time.

(c) 2020 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

You Take What You Can Get From Chief Justice John Roberts
The Supreme Court upheld abortion rights in Louisiana, but defanged the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
By Charles P. Pierce

Ah, the conundrum that is Chief Justice John Roberts. On Monday, he joined with a 5-4 majority to throw out a transparently bogus "admitting privileges" anti-choice law out of Louisiana, and then, writing for another majority, he pretty much defanged the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau by tossing its directorship into the money-roiled sewer of our current politics. Granted, his support for the majority in June Medical Services vs. Russo was based purely in the realm of stare decisis. Roberts said that the Louisiana law was so close to a Texas statute that the Court had tossed in 2016 that the earlier decision (Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt) forced him to throw out the Louisiana statute.

Roberts explicitly said in his concurrence that he had disagreed with the majority in the Texas case but, hey, what can you do, right?

I joined the dissent in Whole Woman's Health and continue to believe that the case was wrongly decided. The question today however is not whether Whole Woman's Health was right or wrong, but whether to adhere to it in deciding the present case...Under principles of stare decisis, I agree with the plurality that the determination in Whole Woman's Health that Texas's law imposed a substantial obstacle requires the same determination about Louisiana's law. Under those same principles, I would adhere to the holding of Casey, requiring a substantial obstacle before striking down an abortion regulation. And there was much rejoicing.
Later on Monday, however, writing for the majority in Seila Law LLC v. Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, Roberts essentially gutted the CFPB's independence by ruling that its fundamental leadership structure violated the separation of powers and was, therefore, unconstitutional. According to its original mission, the CFPB's director could not be removed by the president except for cause. This, of course, was an attempt by the bureau's creators, most notably Senator Professor Warren, to keep the CFPB above the corrupt hurly-burly of politics, lest the country lose its mind and put a vulgar talking yam in the White House.

In his opinion, Roberts dismissed these concerns with a wave of his hand.

In addition to being a historical anomaly, the CFPB's single-Director configuration is incompatible with our constitutional structure. Aside from the sole exception of the Presidency, that structure scrupulously avoids concentrating power in the hands of any single individual.
The only obvious conclusion is that Roberts's devotion to the conservative gospel of deregulation-the destruction of both financial regulation and, god knows, any campaign-finance and voting-rights regulation-will remain inviolable while he exercises his "institutionalist" strain in other areas, including, for now, reproductive freedom. (Note to Senator Susan Collins: Justice Brett Kavanaugh voted to uphold the Louisiana law, and you are still god's own sucker.) You take what you can get.

(c) 2020 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote-

"You know, it really doesn't matter what the media write as long as you've got a young, and beautiful, piece of ass."
~~~ Donald Trump

Soleimani was certainly murdered.

Iran Seeks Interpol Red Notice On Trump For Soleimani Murder
Trump unilaterally whacked Soleimani on Iraqi soil without the permission of the Iraqi government, violating the terms under which US troops operate in Iraq as well as committing murder against Soleimani and those with him.
By Juan Cole

Mehr News Service reports that Tehran prosecutor Ali al-Qasi Mehr issued an arrest notice with Interpol on Monday for President Donald Trump and 35 other American officials. The request was for Interpol to issue a "red notice" for an act of murder and terrorism, to wit, the assassination on January 3 of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani at Baghdad International Airport. Soleimani headed the Jerusalem Brigade (external special ops.) of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, Iran's national guard.

AFP reports that Interpol cited article 3 of its constitution when asked about the Iranian request, which says, "it is strictly forbidden for the Organisation to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character."

The Interpol response highlights the subjective character of international law. Soleimani was certainly murdered. He had just arrived in Baghdad, Iraq, on a civilian airliner and checked through the Iraqi visa process with a diplomatic passport. Then Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdulmahdi told parliament that he had invited Soleimani to Baghdad in a mediation effort between Tehran and Riyadh to reduce Iran-Saudi tensions.

Trump announced that Soleimani had been coming to Iraq to kill Americans, an allegation that Abdulmahdi denied and for which there is no evidence at all. The Department of Defense account of the operation did not make that claim, demonstrating that it is a lie (one of Trump's 20,000).

CNN's Wolf Blitzer, who began his career as a flack for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, breathlessly announced in support of Trump's act of murder that Soleimani had "killed millions." I'd like to see him substantiate that allegation. When, where?

Which is not to say that Soleimani is not responsible for many deaths. These include Baathist Iraqi troops who invaded and occupied part of Iran in 1980 and who went on fighting Iran until 1988. Since Iraq invaded Iran and tried to steal its oil-rich province, I'm not sure you can hold those deaths against Soleimani.

He also played a role in the 1990s with Lebanon's Hizbullah in ending the Israeli occupation of 10% of Lebanese territory. Resistance against occupation is recognized in international law.

He coordinated Iraqi Shiite militias in their fight against al-Qaeda and then ISIL from 2003 through 2018. Some of them killed some US troops, though most such US service personnel in Iraq were killed by Sunni Arab groups. Others were killed by Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, which was one of the militias that disliked Iran and which Soleimani did not run. That is, the vast majority of those killed in Iraq whose deaths could in some way be laid at the feet of Soleimani were Sunni Arab Baathists or religious extremists.

Soleimani also coordinated efforts of Lebanon's Hizbullah and Iraqi militias in Syria, fighting rebels against the government of strongman Bashar al-Assad in coordination with the Syrian Arab Army and the Russian Aerospace forces. Some of these rebels were Muslim Brotherhood, others began as political liberals, but many were or became extremists.

Those Soleimani killed or over whose killing he presided were almost entirely engaged in warfare. He was a general in the Iranian military. In all these theaters- Lebanon and Syria and post-2003- Soleimani was operating with the express consent of the host government.

I take a dim view of Soleimani and his activities for the most part. His "Hizbullah" model has deeply injured democracy in Lebanon and Iraq, and his intervention in Syria propped up a criminal regime.

The US media, however, tagged him as a "terrorist." This is a misuse of the term. Terrorists, as recognized in the US Federal code, are non-state actors who deliberately kill civilians to achieve a change in political direction. Generals of rival states are not terrorists. If they do commit enormities, those would fall under the rubric of "war crimes," not terrorism.

So here's the thing. Trump unilaterally whacked Soleimani on Iraqi soil without the permission of the Iraqi government, violating the terms under which US troops operate in Iraq as well as committing murder against Soleimani and those with him. Interpol won't put out a red notice on Trump, because it codes his actions as political rather than criminal. But it has entertained many charges against individuals guilty of similar crimes.

Trump violated US law. Gerald Ford issued an executive order saying "No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination." It was reissued and strengthened by Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. The US has not declared war on Iran, so the assassination was conducted during peacetime.

Trump also violated international law: "Article 2(4) of the U.N. Charter requires states to 'refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.'"

The exception would be self-defense, but as we have seen, Trump's claims of self-defense are ridiculous and not supported by Pentagon documentation.

So, murder, pure and simple. But the US press and politicians for the most part would not use that word.

So why should Iran's complaint against Trump be so summarily dismissed by Interpol?

Because, as we all discovered in school when we read George Orwell's 'Animal Farm,' some animals are more equal than others.

(c) 2020 Juan R.I. Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia and has given numerous media interviews on the war on terrorism and the Iraq War. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years and continues to travel widely there. He speaks Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.

The Dead Letter Office-

Theodore doesn't like black folks but does like little white boys!

Heil Trump,

Dear Vater Rothrock,

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 Samuel (the con) Alito.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your calling Black Live Matter protestors "maggots and parasites," 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 "Rethuglican 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 08-07-2020. We salute you herr Rothrock, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

America Is Exceptional In All The Wrong Ways
By Robert Reich

As our incompetent president flounders in the face of crises - leading the worst coronavirus response in the industrialized world, and seeking to crush nationwide protests for black lives - the hard truth about this country comes into focus: America is not exceptional, but it is the exception.

No other industrialized nation was as woefully unprepared for the pandemic as was the United States. With 4.25% of the world population, America has the tragic distinction of accounting for about 30% of pandemic deaths so far.

Why are we so different from other nations facing the same coronavirus threat? Why has everything gone so tragically wrong in America?

Part of it is Donald Trump.

He and his corrupt administration repeatedly ignored warnings from public health experts and national security officials throughout January and February, only acting on March 16th after the stock market tanked. Researchers estimate that nearly 36,000 deaths could have been prevented if the United States had implemented social distancing policies just one week earlier.

No other industrialized nation has so drastically skirted responsibility by leaving it to subordinate units of government - states and cities - to buy ventilators and personal protective equipment.

In no other industrialized nation have experts in public health and emergency preparedness been muzzled and replaced by political cronies like Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who in turn has been advised by campaign donors and Fox News.

In no other industrialized nation has Covid-19 so swiftly eviscerated the incomes of the working class. Around the world, governments are providing generous income support to keep their unemployment rates low. Not in the U.S. Nearly 40 million Americans have lost their jobs so far, and more than 30% of American adults have been forced to cut back on buying food and risk going hungry.

At best, Americans have received one-time checks for $1,200, about a week's worth of rent, groceries and utilities. After a massive backlog, people finally started collecting their expanded unemployment benefits - just in time for the expansion to expire with little to no chance of being renewed.

In no other nation is there such chaos about reopening. While Europe is opening slowly and carefully, the U.S. is opening chaotically, each state on its own. Some are lifting restrictions overnight.

And not even a global pandemic can overshadow the racism embedded in this country's DNA. Even as black Americans are disproportionately dying from coronavirus, they have nonetheless been forced into the streets in an outpouring of grief and anger over decades of harsh policing and unjust killings.

As protests erupted across the country in response to more police killings of unarmed black Americans, the protesters have been met with even more police violence. Firing tear gas into crowds of predominantly black protesters, in the middle of a pandemic caused by a respiratory virus that is already disproportionately hurting black communities, is unconscionably cruel.

Indeed, a lot of the responsibility rests with Trump and his hapless and corrupt collection of grifters, buffoons, sycophants, lobbyists and relatives.

But the problems at the core of our broken system, laid bare by this pandemic, have been plaguing this country long before Trump came along.

America is the only industrialized nation without guaranteed, universal healthcare.

No other industrialized nation insists on tying health care to employment, resulting in tens of millions of U.S. citizens losing their health insurance at the very moment they need it most.

We're the only one out of 22 advanced nations that doesn't give all workers some form of paid sick leave.

Average wage growth in the United States has long lagged behind average wage growth in most other industrialized countries, even before the pandemic robbed Americans of their jobs and incomes. Since 1980, American workers' share of total national income has dropped more than in any other rich nation.

And America also has the largest CEO-to-worker pay gap on the planet. In 1965, American CEOs were paid 20 times the typical worker. Today, American CEOs are paid 278 times the typical worker.

Not surprisingly, American workers are far less unionized than workers in other industrialized economies. Only 10.2 percent of all workers in America belong to a union, compared with more than 26% in Canada, 65% in Sweden, and 23% in Britain. With less unionization, American workers are easily overpowered by corporations, and can't bargain for higher wages or better benefits.

So who and what's to blame for the largest preventable loss of life in American history?

It's not just Trump's malicious incompetence.

It's decades of America's failure to provide its people the basic support they need, decades of putting corporations' bottom lines ahead of workers' paychecks, decades of letting the rich and powerful pull the strings as the rest of us barely get by.

This pandemic has exposed what has long been true: On the global stage, America is the exception, but not in the way we would like to believe.

(c) 2020 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 web site is

America's Horror-Show Foreign Policy
Bomb'em, terrorize'em & starve'em to death
By Jane Stillwater

Exactly which part of America's weird Invasion of the Body Snatchers foreign policy don't you understand?

Exactly which part of America's Psycho approach to world domination has you mystified?

There are at least 13 Reasons Why so many Syrians, Yemenis, Afghans, Venezuelans, Libyans and Palestinians are dying like flies -- like in Lord of the Flies.

Most Americans seem to think that America's foreign policy is heroic and democratic and kind -- something like Batman Returns or The Avengers or Captain Marvel or Ant-Man & the Wasp. It is not. Quite the opposite. And, speaking of horrors, didn't most people in Nazi Germany used to think that Hitler's foreign policy was also heroic, democratic and kind?

America's foreign policy, starting with Hiroshima. more closely resembles The Texas Chainsaw Massacre combined with Halloween 2 and Child's Play than it does The Sound of Music or Mary Poppins. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Official Trailer #1 - (2003) HD.

Take Syria for example. Or Iraq. Or Honduras. Good grief, no wonder movie-goers there prefer watching From Russia With Love and Enter the Dragon rather than America's current blockbuster foreign policy designed by Chucky, Annabelle, the Joker and Carrie. "Happy Death Day" is definitely not the best way to greet our overseas neighbors.

Since 2001, Syria has been systematically bombed, burned, butchered, terrorized and starved by the USA and its allies. America' latest ploy was to swoop in with incendiary bombers and set fire to Syria's grain crops, causing over 17 million Syrians to face starvation, most of them under the age of 14 -- thus giving a whole new meaning to Children of the Corn. No wonder America's foreign policy is not a huge box office hit in the Middle East.

Sadly, America's current screen image around the world isn't like Seal Team or The Rookie or NCIS. It's more like Criminal Minds.

But the part that scares me the most about America's horror-show foreign policy is that since our leaders in Washington have been visualizing it as some kind of slasher flick for decades now, what's to stop them from making this abomination their domestic policy too? Sort of like a re-make of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. With us as the victims? Using their new plan for economic ruin in the Middle East as The Shining example of how to produce terror here at home too.

Oops. Too late. They've already created economic ruin in the USA as well as in Damascus and Gaza. Their BlackRock Witch Project has already created The House on Haunted Hill millions of times over here in America -- homes that none of us can afford to live in any more.

And Washington's next new domestic-terror films are already in the pipeline. In production right now are Plandemic on Elm Street and The Federalreserveville Horror. Plus I Know What You'll Do Next Summer will be coming out soon -- followed by George Floyd 2, The Sequel and Night of the Living Dead: New World Order.

After America's Flesh Eater foreign policy has played so well in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Palestine and Yemen, it will soon be playing at a theater near you as well.

(c) 2020 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Jeff Koterba ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Congress Announces Willingness To Offer Black Lives Matter Protesters Holiday Or Statue
By The Onion

Congress Announces Willingness To Offer Black Lives Matter Protesters Holiday Or Statue WASHINGTON-Emphasizing the importance of taking concrete steps to address systemic racism and police brutality in the United States, Congress reportedly announced Monday their willingness to offer Black Lives Matter protesters a holiday or statue.

"We have seen people around this nation calling for dramatic change, and I can assure you that we intend to meet this moment with the support it deserves-a nice memorial, say, or perhaps a national day of remembrance that individual states can decide to declare an official day off work if they want," said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), echoing a bipartisan group of representatives that if these solutions were not acceptable to leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement, Congress was also willing to consider painting a mural.

"Whether it's one fairly prominent statue of a black person and white person holding hands in D.C. or several smaller ones in cities nationwide, we in Congress are committed to acknowledging the validity and importance of the Black Lives Matter movement. We will make sure that your voices are heard in small script on the bottom of federal calendars or in a bronze statue in some D.C. park."

At press time, Congress announced that it was also open to sending all Black Lives Matter movement leaders cupcakes.

(c) 2020 The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 20 # 27 (c) 07/03/2020

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