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In This Edition

Juan Cole reports, "Europe Is Acting Like Climate Change Is No Big Deal."

Ralph Nader says, "Only Civic Driven Voter Turnout Can Defeat Tweeter Trump."

Glen Ford sees, "Reparations Rising."

Michael Winship sings, "Everyone's Gone to the Moon...."

Robert C. Koehler joins us with, "The Inner Nixon."

John Nichols finds, "Mark Pocan And Gwen Moore Seek To Hold Racist President To Account."

James Donahue explores, "Vultures Flitting Through Our Criminal Courts."

William Rivers Pitt concludes, "CNN Tried To Derail Sanders And Warren Last Night. It Failed."

David Suzuki says, "It's Our Choice: Turn Down The Heat Or Cook The Planet."

Charles P. Pierce finds, "Sunday Was A Big Night For Unfortunate Exercises Of Our Second Amendment."

David Swanson with a must read, "Abolish Terrorist Agencies."

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich explains, "Where Your Tax Dollars Really Go."

Jane Stillwater goes to, "Philadelphia."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Republicans Defend Trump's Decision To Give Putin Office Space At White House" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Bernie And Elizabeth Kicked Ass And Took Names."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Martin Kozlowski, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Francois Mori, Alexei Nikolsky, Justin Sullivan, Timothy A. Clary, Fiona Paton, Robert Ariail, National Archives, Jane Stillwater, 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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Bernie And Elizabeth Kicked Ass And Took Names
Delaney, Hickenlooper and Ryan are no more
By Ernest Stewart

"Tuesday night's Democratic debate was a CNN-engineered center-right ambush of Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren that was so ham-fisted in its conception and execution, it could have been drawn up by Donald Trump himself." ~~~ William Rivers Pitt

"Donald Trump says climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese." ~~~ Hillary Clinton

"It's disgraceful that our Republican friends cower before this president when they know that the things he does severely damage democracy." ~~~ U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)

"Remember this. Hold on to this. This is the only perfection there is, the perfection of helping others. This is the only thing we can do that has any lasting meaning. This is why we're here. To make each other feel safe." ~~~ Andre Agassi

Sanders and Warren are the Democrats dream team, run them, and Lying Donald is no more! Like most corporate Democrats the DNC hates Bernie and Elizabeth as they are liberals and most of the DNC's power structure, are as bad as Lying Donald.

I knew what the results would be when they allowed the Corpo-rat News Network to host the debate. Almost every question was a Rethuglican talking point, that Bernie pointed out to Jake Tapper who as you may know is a little to the right of... well you know who! When Tapper called Bernie's Medicare plan a giant tax increase, when actually it will save tens of billions instead, Bernie said: "Jake, your question is a Republican talking point, and by the way, the health care industry will be advertising on this program with that talking point."

I have to admit Elizabeth Warren shot up in my estimation when she stood with Bernie to defend the progressive viewpoint against those right wing demoncrats i.e., Rep. John Delaney, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Tim Ryan and former governor John Hickenlooper. All last in the polls but still spouting their corporate masters viewpoints as did CNN. When Delaney attacked Medicare for all Elizabeth told him, "We are the Democrats. We are not about trying to take away health care from anyone. That's what the Republicans are trying to do, and we should stop using Republican talking points in order to talk with each other about how to best provide that healthcare."

I won't be watching tonight. No one I care to see and with CNN running the show I'd be tempted to throw a brick through my TV screen and I'm far to poor to buy another one. If the democrats want my vote it will be Bernie or Elizabeth or better yet both, or I will vote Green. I no longer will vote for the lesser of two evils even against Lying Donald!

Speaking of which, you may want to sing along with Joan Baez and her Nasty Man!

In Other News

I'm sure you're hip to the fact that pacific salmon that spawn in Western streams and rivers have been struggling for decades to survive water diversions, dams and logging. Now scientists warn in a new study, that global warming is pushing four important populations in California, Oregon and Idaho toward extinction.

The new research shows that several of the region's salmon populations are now bumping into temperature limits, with those that spawn far inland after lengthy summer stream migrations and those that spend a lot of time in coastal habitats like river estuaries among the most at risk.

This includes Chinook salmon in California's Central Valley and in the Columbia and Willamette River basins in Oregon; coho salmon in parts of Northern California and Oregon; and sockeye salmon that reach the Snake River Basin in Idaho, all of which are already on the federal endangered species list. Just another benefit of global warming!

Lisa Crozier, a salmon researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries program and lead author of the study says, "these populations will need help to survive the warmer waters, more acidic oceans and changed seasonal streamflow patterns caused by global warming and other human impacts.

"They are very resilient and opportunistic. That's why we have hope. We just have to give them half a chance."

The salmon live much of their lives in the ocean, but they swim far upstream to spawn. In the process, they're a key part of the food chain, including for bears and whales, and they are important to indigenous groups and fisheries along the U.S. West Coast.

Human infrastructure, including dams and water diversions, were already affecting their streams, reducing the flow and reducing access to the coldest habitats that can serve as a hiding place for salmon during heat waves or drought. Global warming is now intensifying those impacts.

"The salmon populations that have persisted in Western rivers since the dam-building era have adapted to some of that warming, and their sensitivity to climate factors has been incorporated in conservation plans. But beyond 2 degrees Celsius of warming (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to the pre-industrial era, all bets are off, because then the chances increase for significant changes in the ocean that could lead to a catastrophic failure of salmon populations," Crozier said.

Meanwhile, Lying Donald says that global warming is just a Chinese hoax. The only hoax is Lying Donald!

And Finally

I see where U.S. Sinator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) blocked an effort to pass a bill requiring political campaigns to report to the FBI any offers of foreign assistance.

After Lying Donald said he would welcome information from a foreign government about his opponents in the 2020 election, Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) tried to pass the bill on the Senate floor via unanimous consent. Blackburn prevented unanimous consent by raising an objection to the measure.

I wonder, does this mean that Sinator Blackburn's campaign excepts bribes from foreign governments? I mean, why else would she do such a thing?

You may recall when Trump was asked whether he would accept information offered by a foreign government like China or Russia about a political rival, or instead call the FBI, he said.

"I think you might want to listen. I think there's nothing wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said], 'We have information on your opponent.' Oh, I think I'd want to hear it." Hence the need for Senator Warner's bill.

Ergo, this week's winner of the Vidkun Quisling Award goes to Tennessee Sinator Marsha Blackburn! I bet the people of Tennessee are proud of her, don't you?

Keepin' On

As you may have noticed that six of our regulars are missing from this week's magazine, i.e., Heather Digby Parton and Chris Hedges to name just a few are gone. They are the first of many that will be leaving as time goes by.

The internet isn't free, some of your favorite authors will be missing as we have to pay for their publishing rights in order to publish them. You'll have to look them up yourselves and may have to pay to read them on their sites. The same goes for some cartoonists.

We'll still keep fighting the good fight like we always have, as we're in it to the end. 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!


05-04-1944 ~ 07-26-2019
Thanks for the voices!

01-30-1928 ~ 07-31-2019
Thanks for the plays!

07-18-1952 ~ 08-01-2019
Thanks for the music!


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

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

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


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

Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 2019 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.

A student holds up a placard as she demonstrates with others to draw more attention to fighting climate change, in Paris, France.

Europe Is Acting Like Climate Change Is No Big Deal
Even as It Melts
By Juan Cole

The heat wave that has swept Europe and given Paris the weather of Madras is certainly embroiled in human-caused climate change. The severity and frequency of such extreme weather is exacerbated by the 2.4 trillion metric tons of carbon dioxide human beings have spewed into the atmosphere since about 1750, by burning coal, petroleum and natural gas.

A certain amount of global heating is now already in the pipeline, since the full effects of the carbon dioxide, a powerful and dangerous heat-trapping gas, are not yet being felt. The oceans are very deep and very cold, and so will warm only over centuries, as the circulating water is exposed to the surface. But you have to think about global heating as a video game with 15 levels (each level being a degree Fahrenheit).

We can immediately stop burning fossil fuels, and we can play level one or level two, which have challenges but are not that difficult. But if we go on opening the CO2 fire hydrant and putting fountains of the stuff up there, then we'll have to play levels 3 or 4, which are really hard. If you and your friends are playing, some of them will be kicked out of the game, their avatars flashing "dead," only it won't be their avatars, it will really be them fleeing rising seas or extreme hurricanes and some of them ending up dead. And, well, if you still don't get the message you'll have to play levels 6 or 7, which almost nobody wins without incurring severe drawbacks. And if you decide you really, really want to play level 15, then you're talking billions displaced and hundreds of millions dead.

So here are the top 5 things Europe is doing (it is the US and lots of other places, as well, not just Europe) that are ka-RA-zy in the light of what we now know.

1. Poland, the Czech Republic and even Germany are actually still planning to build new coal plants. Coal when burned emits twice as much CO2 as natural gas, and a new coal plant is more expensive than a solar or wind installation in most places. New coal plants. Europe, are you crazy?

2. At a June 20 summit, European leaders could not agree on the goal of zero CO2 emissions by 2050. Actually, 2050 is way too late. May 2035 would keep us playing at level 3. But they can't even agree on 2050. Europe, are you crazy?

3. No European countries are meeting their Paris climate goals. Even relatively carbon-free Sweden is only achieving 77% of them. No wonder Paris has Madras's weather. Europe, are you crazy?

4. Only 3% of vehicles sold in Europe outside Norway (there it is 33%) are electric. But vehicle emissions account for about a fourth of the CO2 Europe is putting into the atmosphere. Norway got its high numbers with tariff abatements for buying an EV such as a Tesla. Tax policy works. But almost nobody has a pro-EV tax policy. Europe, are you crazy?

5. Wind farms are a proven and reliable source of electricity when combined with other sources. Iowa gets over a third of its electricity from wind. But last year no new wind farms were installed in 12 European countries, in part because of "permitting problems." Permitting problems while Europe melts? Are you crazy?

6. European publics still elect climate change denialists to high office. Europe, are you crazy?

(c) 2019 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.

Only Civic Driven Voter Turnout Can Defeat Tweeter Trump
By Ralph Nader

Does the Democratic Party know how to defeat the foul-mouthed, bigoted, self-enriching crony capitalist Donald Trump? Trump pretends to be a populist. In reality he does the bidding of Wall Street instead of Main Street and weakens or repeals governmental health and safety programs.

Defeating corrupt, disgraceful, disastrous Donald should be easy. He is, on many documented fronts, the worst and most indictable president in U.S. history. Moreover, Trump is personally obscene and is a walking tortfeasor against women. He is a politician who doesn't read and doesn't think. He doesn't know anything about government and doesn't care about the rule of law. All he seems to know how to do is stoke the war machine with taxpayer dollars and shut down law enforcement agencies designed to protect the health, safety, and economic well-being of citizens from today's Big Business robber barons.

Dumb as he is on the matters of public policies, Trump is a cunning schemer and a master of deflection. For Trump, every day is a reality show, in which he must dominate the news cycle with his destructive, personal politics of distraction. The mass media, looking for ratings and readers, can't get off its Trump high. He even taunts them with this conceit.

In our autocratic two-party duopoly, the country is left with the anemic, corporatized Democratic Party establishment to save the country. Every day the Democratic National Committee (DNC) feverishly calls big donors. Most candidates are addicted to the narcotic of campaign money and think their pathetic political consultants will solve their electoral problems.

Then there are the twenty or so Democratic presidential candidates exhausting themselves by trying to stand out from one another while fitting into the straightjacket of the DNC's rules and debate format. Some are advancing major changes and reforms, such as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. The DNC apparatchiks, however, would rather have Joe Biden. Even so, some party bosses worry that his age, gaffes, and past record could make him a Hillary redux, should his current makeover not stick.

None of the presidential candidates are taking on Trump directly. A few glancing ripostes, sure, but most Democratic candidates think attacking Trump is a distraction from their proposals for America. They don't seem to be listening to viewpoints such as those stated by Ana Maria Archila, of the Center for Popular Democracy: "Don't just condemn the racism and the language but use it as an opportunity to argue for a vision of the country in which we can all be included." In reality, the Democratic candidates all fear taking Trump on daily in this way, because of his intimidating personal smear tactics supinely reported by the mass media, which rarely allows rebuttals to Trump's trash talking.

Now comes the possible crucial third factor in the race. Well-funded, vigorous voter turnout drives in ten states that are driven exclusively by the civic community. Freed of the shackles of the serial loser DNC, this independent civic drive can easily turn the tide in these key electoral swing states. Based on past elections, there will be 120 million non-voters in 2020. Bringing out 10 million non-voters in states like Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri, Arizona, Colorado, and Montana could swamp Trump, who is stuck with greasing his minority base of frenzied supporters. Getting out the voters who stayed home four years ago is also a priority.

An independent civic initiative, funded by small and large donations, can also jettison the Republican control of the Senate and end the Republican stacking of the federal judiciary with corporate right-wing ideologues. The DNC can help ensure a Democratic Senate by convincing some tractionless presidential candidates to return to their states and run for the Senate. Governor Steve Bullock of Montana will be more valuable in the Senate than clinging to the debate stage.

Then there is the prospect of Trump defeating himself. He never recognizes any boundaries and is convinced that he can get away with anything because he always has. He is a repulsive loud-mouth and has been a serial fugitive from justice since his years as a shady businessman.

Trump knows that the Democrats don't want to get down in the mud with him. So he makes the mud their quicksand, with the media dittoheads replaying his reality TV show monologues. If there are any Democratic Party activists who know how to goad Trump regularly, they had better step forward. The sum of Trump's electoral strategy is lying by the hour, creating false scenarios, false achievements, and phony promises conveyed by relentless intimidation. His Achilles heel is being goaded by mockery and accusations symmetrical to what he is dishing out. That's the way overreaching bullies are brought down.

His vanities are the roadmap. He is sensitive to charges of having a "low-IQ," of his presidency being characterized as a "disaster," of being anything other than "a stable genius," of being nicknamed, of having a snarling visage with unattractive bulging body parts, of being a racist, a tool of Wall Street, wasteful of taxpayers' money, and of not creating infrastructures, jobs he promised. The Trump presidency has brought us the first ever reduction of life expectancy in the U.S., the stagnation of wages, and an avalanche of cancerous particulates into the water and air of our country. Including his coal country base!

He gives his crowds verbal "red meat," while giving Washington away to the big bankers and the "greed hounds" of big business. He is a flatterer and flummoxer of people who let their emotions displace what is best for the communities where they live, work, and raise their children. People are being battered by record-breaking intense heat, storms, floods, tornados, droughts, and Trump tells them the climate crisis is a hoax. All while his programs worsen the situation.

It is time to persuade a large majority of voters that Trump is the Fake President destroying the best in America and bringing out the worst. But he has to be directly confronted on all fronts. No more free rides for the Tweeter.

(c) 2019 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).

Reparations Rising
With permission from White Democrats
By Glen Ford

Black people's support for reparations has soared in sync with the concept's receptivity among white Democrats and establishment Black politicians.

A Gallup poll released on Monday shows 73 percent of African Americans support reparations in the form of cash payments to the descendants of slaves - the highest level of Black pro-reparations sentiment ever recorded in a national survey. CNN anchor Don Lemon, one of the moderators of Tuesday's half of this week's Democratic presidential debates, asked Sen. Bernie Sanders how he would respond to Black reparations-seekers.

The Vermont Senator, a determinedly class-first, "socialist" politician, responded with his usual, less than inspiring endorsement of Black South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn's "10/20/30 Formula Fight Persistent Poverty" - which is not a reparations program at all. But Sanders pretended it was, clumsily adding, "And what that understands is that as a result of slavery, and segregation, and the institutional racism we see now in health care, in education, in financial services, we are going to have to focus big time on rebuilding distressed communities in America, including African-American communities."

As if any proposal that takes note of "slavery," "segregation" and "institutional racism" is a reparations plan. Sanders applied the same formula to education. "It's called the Thurgood Marshall Plan. And it would focus on ending the growth of segregated schools in America. It would triple funding for Title I schools. It would make sure that teachers in this country earned at least $60,000 a year."

In the 2020 Democratic presidential season, it appears that all reforms that disproportionately affect Black people are to be called "reparations."

Beto O'Rourke had earlier thrown reparations into the racial issues mix. "The legacy of slavery and segregation and Jim Crow and suppression is alive and well in every aspect of the economy and in the country," said the triangulating former Texas congressman. "Today, as president, I will sign into law a new Voting Rights Act. I will focus on education, address health care disparities, but I will also sign into law Sheila Jackson Lee's reparations bill so that we can have the national conversation we've waited too long in this country to have."

Author Marianne Williamson, the only non-politician candidate, calls for between $200 and $500 in financial assistance to descendants of slaves. Don Lemon challenged her qualifications to make such a proposal.

"I'll tell you what makes me qualified," Williamson shot back. "If you did the math of the 40 acres and a mule, given that there was 4 million to 5 million slaves at the end of the Civil War, four to five -- and they were all promised 40 acres and a mule for every family of four, if you did the math today, it would be trillions of dollars. And I believe that anything less than $100 billion is an insult.

"And I believe that $200 billion to $500 billion is politically feasible today, because so many Americans realize there is an injustice that continues to form a toxicity underneath the surface, an emotional turbulence that only reparations will heal."

Williamson is right: her number is insulting. And Don Lemon, who is almost always wrong, was right this time: neither Williamson nor any other white person has moral or legal standing to formulate a proposal for Black reparations. As Frederick Douglass told us: "the man who has suffered the wrong is the man to demand redress-the man STRUCK is the man to CRY OUT."

Notwithstanding Douglass' admonitions, it is white Democratic presidential candidates - including Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Tulsi Gabbard -- along with Cory Booker and Kamala Harris and Mexican-American hopeful Julian Castro, all faithful corporate servants -- that have made reparations an election year issue. Among the top tier candidates, only Joe Biden refuses to endorse the H.R. 40 reparations study bill.

Black people's support for reparations has soared in sync with the concept's receptivity among white Democrats and establishment Black politicians. Although reparations has always been part of the Black political agenda, it has most often been endorsed by about half of Black respondents to scientific surveys. A poll conducted in May of 2016 showed 58 percent of Blacks favored reparations. By April of this year, as the Democratic campaign season got underway in earnest, the Rasmussen Report found 60 percent of Blacks in favor of reparations. Then came the deluge of candidate "reparations" endorsements, and Black support for financial redress of historical grievances shot up to 73 percent - almost three out four Black respondents - a near-consensus for reparations that had not previously been expressed in polls.

In effect, the thumbs-up from leading Democrats for the concept of reparations has given Black people permission to demand what most have privately supported all along -- redress for the crimes that the U.S. state and society have inflicted upon them. We observed a very similar phenomenon in 2008 when Barack Obama was attempting to become the First Black U.S. President. Most Black elected officials were sticking with Hillary Clinton, as were about half of Black voters. But all that changed when Obama won the lily-white Iowa primary, proving his viability among white voters. Almost overnight, Black Democrats switched their allegiance to Obama. White Iowa voters had given Black people permission to back one of their own for president. The same thing is happening with reparations.

But nothing useful to the Black struggle will result from all this reparations-like drama if it remains within the Democratic Party's corporate domain. The same survey that showed three out of four Blacks favoring reparations revealed that only about half - 49 percent - of Democrats of all ethnicities favor cash reparations, with 47 percent against. Overwhelming proportions of white people of both parties oppose reparations.The numbers decree that some Democrats will support programs that they choose to call "reparations" in the primary season in order to garner Black votes in selected states, but will avoid the word like Herpes when the general election season rolls around. Black elected officials will beat a quick retreat from the issue, resuming their "Me too, boss" postures -- what Ajamu Baraka calls subordination to the "dictates and agenda of the Democratic Party."

The surge in Black support for reparations is useful to the Black struggle only if African Americans, themselves, are willing to a) define the issue and formulate demands, accordingly, and b) mobilize our people around those demands. As I wrote in the June 25 issue of BAR, We are Already Late to the Great Black Reparations Debate

"Forty million Black people can't change a damn thing unless they argue collectively about what is to be done, and then organize to do it. The Great Black Reparations Debate can be the extended, independent forum for Black people to re-imagine themselves and their place in the nation and the world, and to act collectively to build a new society - one that is fit for our people's habitation. Once such a mobilization is underway, it really doesn't much matter what the corporate servants on Capitol Hill think reparations should look like - because Black people will have our own vision and plan."

The 73 percent pro-"reparations" statistic represents a shared aspiration and a near-consensus among the nation's Black population, who are a people with a specific history, not just a dependable Democratic voting bloc (or "progressive" constituency). The duty of those who claim to serve the people, is clear. Lots of meetings are in order.

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

Fifty years after the moon landing, Michael Winship reflects on five decades of American life.

Everyone's Gone to the Moon...
... And given what it's like here at home, the moon may be the best place to be.
By Michael Winship

The world has been marking the 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing. I've also been celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 astronauts getting safely back to Earth. After all, it's one thing to get all the way up there; it's another to return in one piece.

When they splashed down in the Pacific on July 24, 1969, the three men-Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins-were helicoptered from their capsule to the aircraft carrier USS Hornet, and immediately packed into a modified Airstream trailer placed on the ship's deck. Although eventually transferred to Houston, they sat in that trailer and were quarantined for weeks, just to make sure they hadn't brought back any space cooties.

They didn't. Or did they? A recent headline in The Onion blared, "Real Buzz Aldrin Spends 50th Straight Year On Moon Trying To Signal Earth To Warn Of Imposter."

Growing up, I was a total space geek. I read young adult novels about NASA ("Mike Mars and the Mystery Satellite"), built rocket models, watched the first manned space shots on a big black and white TV set rolled onto the stage of our elementary school auditorium and tracked each orbit of the missions as if I was keeping box scores at a Yankees game.

At the time, the astronauts indeed seemed like just the right stuff we needed, the perfect backup team to our young, sporty and charismatic President Kennedy, who'd taken office after eight grey years of Dwight D. Eisenhower. As the years went by, I enthusiastically followed the space program's progress, and when we landed on the moon and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the surface, like so many millions of others, I sat with my family enrapt, watching every single second.

By the time of the Apollo 14 moonshot in 1971, the public already was becoming inured to the mysteries of the moon. I was in a Washington drugstore where a monitor over the cash register showed astronauts Alan Shepard and Ed Mitchell on the lunar surface. The clerk expressed his boredom. At least this time it's in color, I offered. "Big deal," he replied. "So's 'Laugh-In.'"

The original group of astronauts-the Mercury 7, we called them-had their seemingly perfect family lives brought to us photographically just about every week via an exclusive contract with Life magazine. But now we know that like JFK, they were not perfect. As was recently examined in the excellent, three part "Chasing the Moon" series for public television's American Experience, despite all the glory there was racism and misogyny, booze and drugs, even suicide. Despite their climbs ever higher into the heavens, some of them were no angels.

Through tragedies like the Apollo 1 fire in 1967 and the two shuttle disasters in 1986 and 2003 we learned how mortal they and their families could be. And now Neil Armstrong, it turns out, died after an apparently botched heart bypass procedure in 2012 at Mercy Health-Fairfield Hospital in Cincinnati for which his family received an out-of-court settlement of $6 million. This came after threats from an attorney-married to one of his sons-that the Armstrong boys would blow the whistle on the hospital at an official NASA ceremony marking the moon flight if they didn't pay up. In a probate court filing another attorney involved wrote, "No institution wants to be remotely associated with the death of one of America's greatest heroes."

Armstrong's widow, by the way-his second wife and executor of his estate-signed off on the deal but refused to have anything to do with the money-"I wasn't part of it," she said. "I want that for the record."

Meanwhile, The New York Times reported on July 27 that Armstrong's sons have been auctioning off their father's memorabilia for millions. Items range from a gold medal he carried on the Apollo 11 mission and an old flight suit to a childhood teddy bear and subscription magazines. According to the Times, "Some relatives, friends and archivists find the sales unseemly, citing the astronaut's aversion to cashing in on his celebrity and flying career and the loss of historical objects to the public."

While alive, according to biographer James R. Hansen, Armstrong himself never auctioned any of the artifacts of his career and stopped giving autographs when he realized they were being sold. As per the Times, "His personal lawyer, Ross Wales, said his client resisted the idolatry focused on his signature and possessions in part because he considered himself only the frontman for a huge NASA enterprise." At one point the astronaut went after a barber who had sold clippings of his hair for $3000.

Whether you approve or not, the sons seem within their rights to sell off dad's legacy. And they claim that they're putting some of the proceeds into funding Vantage Earth, an environmental non-profit "to preserve and protect the earth from the damage done to it by its own population-a concern raised by Neil upon looking back at the earth from the moon."

If true, that would be a good thing. In fact, several of the astronauts became environmental advocates. The only one of them I ever met-John Glenn, the first American in orbit and later the oldest to fly aboard the space shuttle-made a lunchtime speech I attended during one of the Democratic National Conventions. I especially remember his description of our planet from space, how minute and thin the stratosphere that protects us from the sun's ultraviolent radiation seemed, and the dangers of our climate being fatally altered by fossil fuels and greenhouse gases.

The International Space Station still flies over us in low-Earth orbit but Apollo ended in 1972 and the space shuttle program ceased to be eight years ago. Nonetheless, thanks to NASA, robot probes continue to fly deeper into the cosmos and weather satellites keep watch on us from above. What we've learned should make us afraid.

Global analysis by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies indicates that last month was the warmest June on record and July might be the hottest on record, too-which would mean the hottest of any month ever measured. Tom Yulsman, director of Colorado University's Center for Environmental Journalism writes at the Discover magazine website, "One thing is for certain: the long-term rise in global temperatures resulting from our emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases continues, along with resulting climatic impacts like more extreme rainfall, catastrophic flooding, melting ice sheets, and rising sea levels."

This summer, we've seen blistering deadly heat across Europe and North America. Here in New York City, we've been experiencing withering temperatures and flash floods following those thunderstorms that however briefly break the heat. Jack Holmes at Esquire noted, "We've already seen the great Midwestern floods of 2019, and towns that lack New York's size and resources will face these conditions, too. The heat will break, but only at the cost of a flood. And then we'll do the whole thing again, over and over, and ask ourselves how we did not stand on the rooftops and scream for a stop to all this before it spiraled beyond our control."

The Trump White House (aka Space Force HQ), NASA and private interests are pushing for a return to the moon by 2024, this time with a project named Artemis-the twin sister of Apollo in Greek mythology. Both men and women will be at the helm, they say. For various reasons it's viewed as a logical way station along the path to a landing on Mars.

The young space geek that still dwells within me roots for their success. The realist in me says that for now at least the money could be better used elsewhere, to combat climate change and work on infrastructure that helps protect against the extremes of global warming. That would mean a safer, saner place for any astronaut to come home to, and yes, a small step for man and a giant leap for humankind.

(c) 2019 Michael Winship is the Schumann Senior Writing Fellow for Common Dreams. Previously, he was the Emmy Award-winning senior writer of Moyers & Company and, a past senior writing fellow at the policy and advocacy group Demos and former president of the Writers Guild of America East. Follow him on twitter:@MichaelWinship

What's on display is the spiritual laziness of incredibly powerful men.

The Inner Nixon
Donald Trump, it turns out, is merely the inner Richard Nixon, live and uncensored. He's also the inner Ronald Reagan-the inner voice, suddenly made public, of every white male racist who has ever occupied the Oval Office.
By Robert C. Koehler

The Nixon tapes are still in the news! My God, they're still spewing bile, still making America's eyeballs roll.

They're as relevant as ever.

Donald Trump, it turns out, is merely the inner Richard Nixon, live and uncensored. He's also the inner Ronald Reagan-the inner voice, suddenly made public, of every white male racist who has ever occupied the Oval Office (which is probably most of the occupants).

In an article that just came out in The Atlantic, Tim Naftali, history professor and first director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, shared a fragment of a telephone conversation between Nixon and Reagan from October 1971, in response to a vote the previous day in the United Nations that recognized the People's Republic of China as, well . . . China.

Reagan, then governor of California, was in a stew of fury over the vote, as was Nixon. And both of them ascribed particular blame to the African nations, spurred by the fact that Tanzanian delegates actually started dancing in the General Assembly after the vote.

"Last night, I tell you," Reagan said, "to watch that thing on television as I did."

"Yeah," said Nixon.

Reagan continued: "To see those, those monkeys from those African countries-damn them, they're still uncomfortable wearing shoes."

Nixon began laughing.

God bless America. What's on display is the spiritual laziness of incredibly powerful men. Is it even shocking? Not really. The relevance of this minute or so of American history, suddenly in the public spotlight after almost four decades, isn't that it allows us to single out the two former presidents as racists, shake our fingers at them and move on. Rather, it forces us to pause and examine the nature of racism itself in the post-civil-rights era and ask: How does it still manifest as public policy?

What has become obvious in the age of Trump is that this country has not transcended racism and moved on. America remains as much a paradox-in-progress as it was in 1776, when slave-owner Thomas Jefferson penned the phrase "all men are created equal." The national soul still regards itself as white; the nation is still wedded to a racially based sense of moral superiority. This was once overt and unquestioned.

For instance, a dozen U.S. presidents have owned slaves, eight of them while they were in office. Many if not all of them possessed an absolute certainty that slavery was morally legitimate. Andrew Jackson, who owned about 150 slaves, once, many years before he became president, advertised that he would pay $50 for the return of a runaway slave and $10 extra "for every hundred lashes any person will give him, to the amount of 300," as Russell Contreras notes in a recent AP story. Jackson, of course, was the president who signed the Indian Removal Act in 1830 and got the Trail of Tears underway, throwing tens of thousands of Native Americans off their homeland and, of course, costing many thousands their lives.

After the days of slavery, American racism had to take different forms. Contreras writes, for instance: "The Virginia-born Woodrow Wilson worked to keep blacks out of Princeton University while serving as that school's president. When he became president of the U.S., the Democrat refused to reverse the segregation of civil service, though he had won the White House with the support of some African American men."

The civil rights movement created another serious consciousness and policy shift, with racism slowly taking a moral nosedive, to the despair and anger of its many true believers. By 1971, you could say, the U.S. had learned how to pretend that racism was now history, but that was hardly the case.

The Republican "Southern Strategy," which began with Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential campaign, was initially a disaster. Goldwater, who ran proudly on his vote against the Civil Rights Act that year, may have won 87 percent of the Mississippi vote, but he was clobbered nationally, as Angie Maxwell pointed out recently in the Washington Post.

"Four years later," she wrote, "understanding the risks of such an overt campaign against civil rights, Nixon's team instead coded their racial appeals." Nixon campaigned on such racial "dog whistles" as the restoration of law and order and a war on drugs and "adopted a stance of 'benign neglect' on civil rights enforcement, a message that his advocates, such as Democrat-turned-Republican Sen. Strom Thurmond, bluntly conveyed to Southern whites on his behalf. As Thurmond put it, 'If Nixon becomes president, he has promised that he won't enforce either the Civil Rights or the Voting Rights Acts. Stick with him.'"

Maxwell also noted that, a dozen years later, "Reagan expanded Nixon's racial code to 'colorblind' appeals for economic justice. He encouraged Americans to move past race, but also invoked the image of the 'welfare queen'"-portraying African-Americans as "takers," manipulators of a public welfare system that perpetuated laziness and siphoned the incomes of white people.

In the Trump era, the racist code language is slipping away. Tearing immigrant families apart at the border is now dismissed with a shrug as necessary and justified, and U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings' congressional district in Baltimore is a "disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess."

Any questions?

(c) 2019 Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His new book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound is now available. Contact him at or visit his website at

Rep. Al Green, D-Texas introduced a resolution in the House on July 17 to impeach President Donald Trump.
Wisconsin's Mark Pocan and Gwen Moore were among the 95 members of Congress who voted in favor of the resolution.

Mark Pocan And Gwen Moore Seek To Hold Racist President To Account
By John Nichols

Congressman Mark Pocan is prepared to hold Donald Trump to account. So, too, is Congresswoman Gwen Moore. These Wisconsin Democrats were among the 95 members of the House who voted last Wednesday to consider a resolution from Congressman Al Green, D-Texas, to impeach Donald Trump for using racist language July 14 to attack four Democratic congresswomen of color.

Most House Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, argued for a slower process that would allow congressional inquiries to consider additional evidence of presidential wrongdoing - a process that this week that featured testimony from former special counsel Robert Mueller. The opponents of Green's proposal prevailed. But, make no mistake, the sense of urgency Pocan and Moore displayed with their votes last week put them on the right side of history.

Mueller's testimony, especially as it touches on issues such as obstruction of justice, is of consequence. Yet as Green explained, "The Mueller testimony has nothing to do with his bigotry. Nothing. Zero. Nada. We cannot wait. As we wait, we risk having the blood of somebody on our hands - and it could be a member of Congress."

Not long after the congressman uttered those words, the president doubled down on his attacks on Congresswomen Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib. At a rally July 17 in Greenville, North Carolina, Trump announced, "They are always telling us how to run it, how to do this. You know what? If they don't love it, tell them to leave it." At the mention of the name of Omar, who came to this country as a refugee from Somalia, wild chants of "send her back" erupted, as a gleeful Trump egged on the crowd.

Trump dismissed Green's proposal to impeach him as "ridiculous." In fact, it was a modern variation on a historic article of impeachment against one of the most vile presidents in American history: Andrew Johnson. Faced with objections to his undermining of the post-Civil War work of Reconstruction, his veto of civil rights legislation, and a litany of other concerns regarding his vile statements and obnoxious behavior, Johnson appeared at rallies across the country to rile up his supporters. His language was incendiary. As the University of Virginia's Miller Center recalls, "Johnson (denounced) the so-called 'Radical Republicans,' specifically Representative Thaddeus Stevens, Senator Charles Sumner, and reformer Wendell Phillips, as traitors."

Johnson accused his congressional rivals of "trying to break up the government." He appealed to soldiers to "stand by me" in his confrontation with his critics, so that, "God being willing, I will kick them out. I will kick them out just as fast as I can."

On Feb. 24, 1868, the House voted 126-47 for 11 articles of impeachment against Johnson - including Article 10, which charged him with attempting "to bring into disgrace, ridicule, hatred, contempt and reproach, the Congress of the United States." Johnson would, by a single vote, escape removal from office by the Senate. But the House had done its job. And history reflects far more charitably on the chamber that checked and balanced Johnson, as opposed to the one that allowed the foul pretender to remain in office.

Trump uses different language than Andrew Johnson, But his demonization of his critics, particularly women of color, is straight out of his predecessor's playbook. And so it was appropriate that Green's response was straight out of the playbook of the Radical Republicans who challenged Johnson on behalf of racial justice and the republic.

The articles of impeachment against the 17th president of the United States took him to task for "intemperate, inflammatory and scandalous harangues" against members of Congress. He deserved to be impeached for that. And he was.

Trump's go-back-where-you-came-from racism merits an equal response. The full House refused to provide it. But 95 members of Congress, all of them Democrats, answered the call of constitutional responsibility with their votes on July 17, 2019. It is important to record their choice to take up the issue of impeachment, and to do so for this reason. We know that they acted for different reasons: Some were ready to impeach immediately, some wanted to have the debate, some wanted to ensure that Green's proposal received proper consideration from the proper committee. What matters is that 95 members refused to go along with the tabling of Green's resolution.

House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler was among those who voted with Pocan and Moore to consider the prospect of impeaching the president on the grounds that he has "brought the high office of the president of the United States in contempt, ridicule, disgrace, and disrepute, has sown seeds of discord among the people of the United States, has demonstrated that he is unfit to be president, and has betrayed his trust as president of the United States to the manifest injury of the people of the United States, and has committed a high misdemeanor in office."

So did Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass, D-Calif. Tlaib, a stalwart champion of impeachment, was joined by Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley, and Omar in voting to have the impeachment debate. Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin, the constitutional scholar who has done so much to put the struggle to impeach Johnson in context, voted with them.

It is important to make note of these votes to take Donald Trump's racism as seriously as a previous Congress did Andrew Johnson's racism. Republicans and most Democrats may shirk their constitutional duty. But history will eventually look as favorably on Pocan, Moore and the rest of the courageous 95 who moved to hold Trump to account as it does on those who moved against Johnson 151 years ago.

(c) 2019 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.

Vultures Flitting Through Our Criminal Courts
By James Donahue

In my years covering criminal cases in county court houses as a reporter for various newspapers I have been keenly aware of a cluster of "lawyers" always flitting through the halls or just hanging out in the courtrooms during criminal arraignments.

As the defendants are brought in shackles by police officers from the local jail to stand before a judge, the first thing they are asked is if they have legal counsel. When they say no, the judge then asks if they wish to be represented by a lawyer.

When in a situation like this, and having no idea just how the court system works, just about every defendant will grasp at any straw he or she can find. The natural answer to this question is "yes." And there, as Shakespeare once proclaimed, lies the rub.

At this point the judge appoints one of the lawyers in the room to represent the accused. The lawyer then takes this person out into the hall or into a private little room, talks to them for usually no more than five minutes, then brings the defendant back before the judge where they usually plead innocent or stand mute. The lawyer then negotiates with a court for a plea bargain, or an agreement that the defendant will plead guilty to a reduced charge. For instance, if the defendant is charged with burglary of a store and theft of $1,000 in goods, the plea deal might be reduced to attempted breaking and entering and theft of less than $100 in merchandise. The case then gets quickly whisked through the court system, the high cost of a trial is avoided, and in the end, the defendant is slapped with a hefty jail sentence and fine that includes an estimated $600 more for the services of his court-appointed lawyer.

I watched this happen over and over again in courts throughout Michigan and Arizona where I worked. I suspect it is standard fare in the county courts throughout the United States. I always thought that if these accused defendants might have actually been innocent of the crime they were accused of, they literally gave away their right to a fair trial the moment they allow that court-appointed lawyer into their lives. His job was to frighten them into accepting the lesser charge or face the possibility of getting sentenced to time in prison if found guilty in a trial.

These people also might have saved themselves that $600 legal fee if they had simply understood the workings of the court and stood mute before the judge, then allowing the same process to occur.

I had a tendency to look upon those flittering lawyers as a band a vultures, all earning a good living by simply hanging around the courts and taking judicial appoints to give defendants those five minutes of private counsel. It is a malicious con by the lawyers that has been going on for decades.

So how did this get its start?

There was a case, Gideon Vs. Wainwright, that went before the U. S. Supreme Court in 1963 that brought about a ruling that the Sixth Amendment guarantees every criminal defendant the right to legal representation, even if they are too poor to hire one. A person cannot have a fair trial unless counsel is provided to him, the judges ruled.

That decision placed a heavy burden on the nation's criminal justice system. The mandate of the Gideon decision forced prosecutors to be fairer and more honest when dealing with criminal defendants.

The idea was sound, but there was a problem that remained unresolved here. Congress and the state governments failed to pay the cost of the public defenders or creating additional judicial positions to deal with the potential increase in public trials. Thus was born the concept of quick legal representation and recommendations for plea bargaining. This satisfied the Gideon ruling and helped push criminal cases speedily through the overcrowded court systems. As the high court has become more conservative since that 1963 ruling, the judges have failed to force state and federal legislatures to repair this vast financial gap. Thus they are leaving criminal defendants twisting in the wind.

(c) 2019 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.

Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren greet each other
at the start of the Democratic presidential debate at the Fox Theatre on July 30, 2019, in Detroit, Michigan.

CNN Tried To Derail Sanders And Warren Last Night. It Failed.
By William Rivers Pitt

Tuesday night's Democratic debate was a CNN-engineered center-right ambush of Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren that was so ham-fisted in its conception and execution, it could have been drawn up by Donald Trump himself.

"Is Bernie Sanders Too Extreme?" was an actual discussion topic. Zero-polling candidates like Rep. John Delaney and Sen. Amy Klobuchar were encouraged to take swipes at Medicare for All, student debt forgiveness, and other big-box ideas put forth by the two progressive frontrunners.

Many of the questions put forth by CNN were specifically engineered to allow the "moderate" low/no-polling candidates an opportunity to directly attack Warren and Sanders: "Senator Whoever, you once said that Bernie Sanders wants to roll into the future on rails lubricated with newborn kitten blood. Do you stand by that statement?" An exaggeration, but not by much.

CNN gave Delaney an inordinate amount of time because he was the loudest and pushiest of the anti-progressives clustered on the debate stage. Hoping to make his mark early, Delaney threw Walter Mondale and Mike Dukakis in Sanders and Warren's face with his opening statement. He was aggressively wrong from start to finish, the leader of the back of the pack for one night by dint of volume.

In the end, however, all he and the others did was bait the bear. Sens. Warren and Sanders rose up righteous before every challenge and batted the "moderate" also-rans around the room.

It did not take long for Sanders and Warren to figure out what they were up against. The prevailing "wisdom" among the pundits who populate networks like CNN is that these two will soon have to crawl into Thunderdome together and fight to the death. That was not last night. When Delaney went after Sanders by using right-wing arguments against Medicare for All, Warren came barreling to his defense.

"We are the Democrats," insisted Warren. "We are not about trying to take away health care from anyone. That's what the Republicans are trying to do, and we should stop using Republican talking points in order to talk with each other about how to best provide that healthcare."

Delaney's time in the butter churn did not end there. At one point, it was revealed that he is worth $65 million, putting him $15 million within the margin of Warren's two-cents wealth tax plan. When Warren heard this, she smiled and rubbed her hands together like a chef surveying a fine repast before laying out all the pro-people programs she could fund with a tiny slice of John Delaney's fortune.

The towering moment of the night also came at Delaney's expense. After he unspooled yet another ill-reasoned center-right argument, Warren gave it to him with hot mustard. "I don't understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can't do and shouldn't fight for," she proclaimed. The audience went wild as Delaney grinned sheepishly while blinking his unsettling eyes.

Senator Sanders had his own battles to wage with CNN's chosen trio of moderators, specifically Jake Tapper. When Tapper tried to frame Sanders's Medicare for All plan as a giant tax increase, Sanders landed on him with both feet. "Jake, your question is a Republican talking point," he clapped back. "And by the way, the health care industry will be advertising on this program with that talking point." Zing.

Sanders was not entirely sharp during the first debate in June, but last night, he gave one of his best performances out of both of his campaigns. After Rep. Tim Ryan, another member of last night's "moderate" chorus, tried to tell Sanders he didn't know what was in his own health care bill, Sanders delivered a line that will live on in Bernie lore right next to the bird that landed on his podium in 2016. "I do know it," Sanders thundered. "I wrote the damn bill!"

"When progressive ideas are cogently aired before millions of viewers," I wrote last month, "the 'centrist' establishment and their 'moderate' mainstream media allies will rally furiously to try and convince everyone how terrifying those ideas are."

This was never more evident than last night. CNN spent the hours before the debate seeding the clouds with anti-progressive arguments that all boiled down to "these lefty ideas can't win." During the debate, the moderators allowed the "centrists" to run wild with a blizzard of damaging and discredited conservative myths and proposals.

Over the course of the evening, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and several of his center-right cohorts came out against decriminalizing migration. Sen. Amy Klobuchar bragged about "bringing metro people with me," which was strange Minnesota code for Black voters. All of them were given many long minutes to try to trash the Green New Deal while paying dusty lip service to the dangers of climate disruption. Ryan praised Trump's ruinous China tariff policy. Delaney championed the ghastly Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal before offering kind words to Ronald Reagan. Gov. Steve Bullock managed to be smarmy even as he refused to take a first-strike nuclear attack by the U.S. "off the table."

Yet even with the deck stacked and the utterly atrocious debate format, frontrunners Sanders and Warren showed why they have earned their frontrunner status. CNN has not yet gotten the memo, but the senators from Massachusetts and Vermont clearly see how the failed "centrist" arguments of the past are a losing proposition in 2020.

They are not the only ones who see it. "Candidates who look like they are cautious, modulating, have their foot on the brake are missing the moment," advises veteran Democratic poll guru Stan Greenberg. "The country is so far away from where it was under Bill Clinton. People are desperate for government to show it can do big things." Greenberg made his bones in politics by practicing exactly this kind of tepid campaigning in Bill Clinton's election war rooms. The fact that even he is now making this argument is very worthy of note.

It was a surprisingly clarifying evening. CNN was looking to burn down the campaigns of frontrunners Warren and Sanders with a "Progressives v. Centrists" brawl, and tilted the table in favor of the "centrists" so severely it is a wonder the moderators' microphones didn't slide onto the floor. It did not work out the way they hoped.

(c) 2019 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.

Even elected officials who speak to the necessity of reining in global heating continue to promote further fossil
fuel development, ignoring alarming statistics about temperature rise and atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.

It's Our Choice: Turn Down The Heat Or Cook The Planet
By David Suzuki

No amount of evidence is ever enough to convince climate science deniers - including the politicians among them. But new studies and observations should at least persuade those who profess to understand global heating but appear not to grasp its severity that it's time to start deploying the many available solutions.

We've already pumped such huge volumes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and destroyed so many natural systems that sequester excess carbon that we're missing the window to shift gradually to renewable energy and lighten our impact on Earth's natural systems.

This year, Europe has reeled under the highest temperatures ever recorded, the Arctic is burning, cities in Africa and India are running out of water and more than half the U.S. has been under excessive heat warnings. Scientists say global average temperatures for June and July are the hottest on record. NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report that nine of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 2005, and the past five years were the hottest - mainly because of human activity.

Do these records simply reflect natural cycles, as the "skeptics" would have us believe? No. Three recent studies published in Nature and Nature Geoscience show temperatures have not risen this quickly and extensively for at least 2,000 years. By examining evidence from proxy records such as tree rings, pollen trapped in lake mud, cave formations, ice cores and sediment from all continents, researchers concluded that periods like the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period were not global phenomena but localized shifts that affected less than half the world and varied over time and geography.

Many previous climatic shifts were caused by volcanic eruptions, which triggered different changes - mostly cooling - over different regions, but those don't match the scale and speed of heating over the past few decades.

The research also confirms, along with many other studies, the 1998 "hockey stick" graph devised by scientists including Michael Mann at Penn State University, which showed a sharp spike in global temperatures starting in the 20th century.

"The familiar maxim that the climate is always changing is certainly true," University of Minnesota, Minneapolis paleoclimatologist Scott St. George wrote in a Nature article. "But even when we push our perspective back to the earliest days of the Roman Empire, we cannot discern any event that is remotely equivalent - either in degree or extent - to the warming over the past few decades." (St. George was not involved with the research.)

Despite the overwhelming evidence, many people we elect to represent our interests aren't acting quickly enough - and some not at all. Even those who speak to the necessity of reining in global heating continue to promote further fossil fuel development, ignoring alarming statistics about temperature rise and atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.

Youth climate activist Greta Thunberg recently told French politicians she never hears journalists, politicians or businessmen mention the dire numbers. "It's almost like you don't even know these numbers exist. As if you haven't even read the latest IPCC report, on which much of the future of our civilization is depending. Or perhaps you are simply not mature enough to tell it like it is. Because even that burden, you leave to us children," she said.

Rather than advocating for economic diversification and growing clean tech opportunities in the face of climate chaos and declining prospects for coal, oil and gas, many Canadian politicians continue to exaggerate the economic importance of dirty bitumen and fracked gas and downplay the negative consequences of processing, transporting and burning them. Even proven methods for slowing global heating, such as carbon pricing, have become contentious.

We no longer have time to piss around. There's room for discussion about the most effective ways to address the climate crisis, but ultimately we have to deploy every solution available and keep developing new ones - including energy conservation and efficiency, carbon pricing, public transit, vehicle and industrial electrification, clean energy technologies, education and family planning to empower women and slow population growth, reducing consumerism and more.

If we want Earth to remain habitable for humans and other life that makes ours possible, we must make tough choices, promote solutions and become more politically engaged.

(c) 2019 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co_founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

Gilroy Shooting

Sunday Was A Big Night For Unfortunate Exercises Of Our Second Amendment Rights
Three towns, three shootings. All of them deserve your attention.
By Charles P. Pierce

Gilroy, California.

Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Butcher's Bill: Nine dead, 17 injured.

The Gilroy shooting is the one getting all the attention because two of the murdered people were children, and because the shooter apparently was a deranged Dylann Roof wannabe, and because it conforms to the made-for-TV specifications of a mass shooting. But five people were shot to death in Chippewa Falls, in their homes. The shooter is one of them, so we may never know why. In Philadelphia, an aspiring rapper was shot in the head right before he was about to film a video. And, probably because the shooter was a bloodthirsty moron, five more people got shot there, too. From Channel 6 in Philadelphia:

"A .380 caliber handgun was discovered on his person. The firearm was loaded at the time of recovery," said Captain Smith.
Sunday night was a big night for the unfortunate exercise of Second Amendment rights in this country.

(c) 2019 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-

"A liberal is a man or woman or a child who looks forward to a better day, a more tranquil night, and a bright, infinite future."
~~~ Leonard Bernstein

Abolish Terrorist Agencies
By David Swanson

Every government on earth, beginning with the United States, should shut down and be done with secret agencies, spy agencies, agencies used for murder, torture, bribery, election-manipulation, and coups.

While these agencies prevent the public from knowing what is being done in its name, they do not acquire any knowledge that benefits the public and that couldn't have been acquired openly, lawfully, through simple research, diplomacy, and law-enforcement actions that respect human rights.

While these agencies occasionally succeed in their criminal enterprises on their own terms, those successes always create blowback that does far more damage that the good - if any - accomplished.

The CIA and all of its relatives in the U.S. government and around the world have normalized lying, spying, murdering, torturing, government secrecy, government lawlessness, distrust of foreign governments, distrust of one's own government, distrust of one's own qualifications to participate in self-government, and acceptance of perma-war.

Labeling terrorism "counter-terrorism" doesn't make it something other than terrorism and doesn't change the fact that it increases rather than decreases terrorism by others.

We should do something that Woodrow Wilson never did, and take seriously the first of his 14 points: "Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view." This is as critical a democratic reform as public financing of elections or public counting of paper ballots.

Annie Jacobsen's latest book is called Surprise, Kill, Vanish: The Secret History of CIA Paramilitary Armies, Operators, and Assassins. It's based on interviews with former top members of the CIA who simply adore the CIA. The book simply adores the CIA. Yet it remains a chronicle of endless disastrous failure after failure after failure. This is a collection of pro-CIA voices leaking super-top-extra-special-secret information, much of it over 50 years old. And yet there's not a speck of justification for the CIA's existence to be found.

Jacobsen's book on Operation Paperclip, which I reviewed here, told the story of how the U.S. military and CIA hired large numbers of former Nazis. The scandal that one is supposed to see in that story is, apparently, that people had been Nazis, not that they had participated in horrific atrocities, because participating in horrific atrocities is depicted as a courageous and noble service in Jacobsen's newer book.

There is, of course, a case to be made for the existence of Nazi influence on post-WWII U.S. atrocities. As I wrote at the link above,

"The U.S. military shifted in numerous ways when former Nazis were put into prominent positions. It was Nazi rocket scientists who proposed placing nuclear bombs on rockets and began developing the intercontinental ballistic missile. It was Nazi engineers who had designed Hitler's bunker beneath Berlin, who now designed underground fortresses for the U.S. government in the Catoctin and Blue Ridge Mountains. Known Nazi liars were employed by the U.S. military to draft classified intelligence briefs falsely hyping the Soviet menace. Nazi scientists developed U.S. chemical and biological weapons programs, bringing over their knowledge of tabun and sarin, not to mention thalidomide - and their eagerness for human experimentation, which the U.S. military and the newly created CIA readily engaged in on a major scale. Every bizarre and gruesome notion of how a person might be assassinated or an army immobilized was of interest to their research. New weapons were developed, including VX and Agent Orange. A new drive to visit and weaponize outerspace was created, and former Nazis were put in charge of a new agency called NASA.

"Permanent war thinking, limitless war thinking, and creative war thinking in which science and technology overshadowed death and suffering, all went mainstream. When a former Nazi spoke to a women's luncheon at the Rochester Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1953, the event's headline was 'Buzz Bomb Mastermind to Address Jaycees Today.' That doesn't sound terribly odd to us, but might have shocked anyone living in the United States anytime prior to World War II. Watch this Walt Disney television program featuring a former Nazi who worked slaves to death in a cave building rockets. Before long, President Dwight Eisenhower would be lamenting that 'the total influence - economic, political, even spiritual - is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government.' Eisenhower was not referring to Nazism but to the power of the military-industrial complex. Yet, when asked whom he had in mind in remarking in the same speech that 'public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite,' Eisenhower named two scientists, one of them the former Nazi in the Disney video linked above."

It may be worth noting that all five Democratic members of Congress who just voted for continuing the gravest human disaster currently underway, the war on Yemen, are former members of the CIA and/or military. Total influence means the end of awareness of the influence. While Jacobsen's book doesn't document any successes, it exhibits a certain kind of success through the familiar propaganda subtly built into it.

"Every operation reported in this book, however shocking, was legal," Jacobsen claims, despite acknowledging some 450 pages later the existence of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and despite noting the existence of the Geneva Conventions and the UN Charter, and despite no doubt being aware that the nations within which the CIA commits many of its crimes have laws forbidding them. Those nations don't count. They're made up of nothing but "indigs," the term used throughout the book for mere indigenous people. On page 164 Jacobsen writes: "The reason for SOG's [Studies and Observation Group] highly classified nature was that it violated the Geneva Agreement of 1962, the declaration on the neutrality of Laos, which forbade U.S. forces from operating inside the country." But don't be shocked or you'll forget that everything the United States (not just Richard Nixon) does is, by definition, legal.

Jacobsen opens and closes the book by claiming that the purpose of all the horrors recounted has always been to avoid WWIII, but never does she provide the slightest documentation or evidence or logic for that claim. She also claims that smaller-scale murders and sabotage are justified as a "third option" because sometimes war is a bad idea (when isn't it a bad idea? she never says) and sometimes diplomacy is "inadequate" or has "failed" (when? how? she never says). Wars go on failing on their own terms for decades but we're never told to resort to diplomacy. What counts as diplomacy failing and justifying a resort to war? The answer is not very little. The answer is: less than nothing.

Of course, Jacobsen also builds her case on the false and unargued claim that Pearl Harbor was a "surprise attack." In the same paragraph she suggests that Hitler invented the very idea of all-out war without proper rules and decency. She states in one sentence that Reinhard Heydrich was a main architect of the Final Solution, and in the next that he was at the top of a British kill list, as if to imply some connection between the two facts, playing into the propaganda that the allies fought the war to prevent murder. (She pulls the same trick with the nuclear bombings of Japan and the ending of the war, implying a causal connection to any indoctrinated reader.) Of course when the British killed Heydrich, the Nazis killed 4,000 people as revenge, and halted no other activities. Hurray!

From the beginning of the book to the end, the central character, Billy Waugh, is depicted as acting out a childish childhood fantasy about engaging in beneficial and dangerous violence. This is repeated so often that it's normalized. We're not supposed to despair that people acting out childish fantasies have been given the power to murder and wreak havoc. We're supposed to celebrate his good fortune in being able to act out his boyhood dream.

Two weeks after the killing of Heydrich, the U.S. government created the OSS and hauled the residents of what is now Prince William Forest Park outside of Washington, D.C., away from their homes and their land, kicking and screaming, in order to fence off an area in which to practice spying and murdering. What fun! (The area had contained a somewhat hopeful, somewhat integrated community that had prospered during reconstruction and suggested a better path forward, rather than something to brush aside so that grown men could make a game of murder.)

In Jacobsen's world, the Soviets started the Cold War when Stalin simply inexplicably ceased behaving as a friend. The Russians lost 20 million lives in WWII, by her count, rather than the 27 million more commonly reported (and the Vietnamese later lost 0.5 million rather than the 3.8 million a Harvard/University of Washington study found). But none of those lives had any impact on Soviet policy, in Jacobsen's telling, which was pure irrational aggression. So, in response to the commies, the CIA was created "to protect U.S. national security interests around the world" - all of which acts of protection somehow failed to make it into Jacobsen's book.

And then "the unthinkable happened," as North Korea invaded South Korea. South Korea was ruled by a U.S.-educated puppet who was actively provoking North Korea with his own invasions, but "unthinkable" here doesn't mean the people involved couldn't think it; it means that we must not think they thought it. A mentally ill Frank Wisner led CIA efforts in Korea to get thousands of people killed killing thousands of other people to no other effect, before killing himself. Jacobsen believes this left "a black mark" on the agency. Yet, even as white-supremacist an outfit as the CIA, cannot really make a discernable black mark on an edifice of infinite black marks. Jacobsen's book rolls on through black mark after black mark, unrelenting, yet somehow unaware that there isn't something there other than the black marks.

Jacobsen promotes as plausible the CIA-idea that Kim Il Sung was an imposter and a soviet puppet as controlled by Stalin in this story as Trump is by Putin in the fantasies of Russiagate. During the war against North Korea, everything that could be imagined done wrong was. Double agents were widely employed and informed. Fighters were trained and parachuted pointlessly into enemy territory by the thousands. No information of benefit to any human population was gathered. The CIA found its own conduct "morally reprehensible" but kept such reports secret for decades in order to do more of the same in other parts of the world. Meanwhile the military thought it could do a better job and created its own criminal groups of special forces and green berets.

"What choice was there?" Jacobsen asks, typically, of the CIA decision to develop guerilla warfare corps. This is in the context of the Cold War paranoia that held that every liberation struggle around the world was a Soviet plot to take over the United States. What choice was there? Would dropping the paranoia have been out of line? In January 1952 the CIA began keeping lists of people to murder around the world. "Murder is not morally justifiable," the CIA's own instruction manual admitted. But the point was that "Persons who are morally squeamish should not attempt it," not that it shouldn't be done or that moral persons shouldn't go along with it from their comfortable desks.

When the CIA overthrew the government of Guatemala in 1954 on behalf of exploitative corporations, and not in defense against any threat to the United States, it lied that only 1 fighter, rather than 48, had been killed. This somehow made it a success rather than a failure, and thus a basis for more such crimes. But the blowback, as with the earlier coup in Iran, and the one before that in Syria which Jacobsen doesn't mention, was extensive. Turning Che Guevara into a revolutionary was the least of it. The coup turned the United States into an enemy of the people of Latin America, whom it fought on behalf of dictatorships for decades to come, generating great suffering, resentment, crime, and refugee crises. After the CIA later murdered Guevara and cut of his hands and mailed them to Fidel Castro, they were brought out to inspire anti-U.S. fighters.

Jacobsen's telling of the 1953 coup in Iran seeks to justify it in the context of scary Islamic terrorism. She claims "Diplomacy wasn't working, and military intervention was unwise." Therefore, thou shalt "legally" overthrow the government. But what did "working" mean? Iran was not bothering the United States in any way. Iran was resisting exploitation by oil corporations. Diplomacy is said to not be "working" not because there isn't peace, but because some horrible agenda is not being accomplished. Out of this coup came horrendous suffering, militarization, Middle-Eastern hatred of the United States, the Iranian revolution, and the CIA's lovely (and oh-so-successful) strategy of encouraging religious fanatics as an alternative to atheist commies.

It's always a struggle to decide whether to interpret world affairs as evil or incompetent. "Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it," is a quote incompetently attributed to Mark Twain. Jacobsen recounts training exercises in which U.S. government employees acting in our name have parachuted with nuclear bombs strapped to them in pieces, landed, assembled, and pretended to set off or actually set off the nuclear bombs - something they seriously contemplated doing as part of the war on Vietnam and who knows where else. They also advertised such plans in the North of Vietnam as a way of supposedly motivating people to move south and befriend the monsters who were about to nuke the North.

Even when they were not to actually set off the nukes, they practiced using real nukes. Once they accidentally dropped one of these nukes into the sea on the coast of Okinawa. "These kinds of mishaps are always resolved," says Billy Waugh meaninglessly and falsely - as we know even from those that have not been hidden from us because they've happened in the United States. But not to worry, as Jacobsen refers to something comfortingly called a "precision nuclear strike."

Woodrow Wilson wouldn't meet with Ho Chi Minh publicly or privately, as the man wasn't even white. But the OSS trained Ho Chi Minh and Vo Nguyen Giap, who fought the U.S. with weapons the U.S. had left behind in Korea, after Eisenhower was compelled, in Jacobsen's telling, to stir up violence in Indochina because "diplomacy was out of the question."

Surprise, Kill, Vanish contains lengthy discussions of crimes committed by Russia and Cuba, presumably meant to somehow excuse crimes committed by the United States. Yet nowhere is there any discussion of turning in the other direction and supporting the rule of law. There are also lengthy discussions of the Secret Service protecting U.S. presidents, presumably meant to make us imagine that there is something defensive about the CIA. And there are very lengthy sections recounting various military actions in detail, apparently intended to make us appreciate bravery even when put to evil ends. Yet, for every Bay of Pigs disaster recounted, there are a dozen more similar disasters.

And each disaster meant well. "Kennedy lost the battle for a democratic Cuba," Jacobsen tells us, without citing any plan by Kennedy to support democracy in Cuba. Then she quotes Richard Helms suggesting that one or more foreign governments killed Kennedy. No evidence required.

Jacobsen recounts the U.S. murder of one of the many double-agents that U.S. fighters were using against themselves in Vietnam, and spends a great deal of time trying to justify it. Basically, insane ideas like making the guy a trustworthy triple-agent didn't pass the laugh test, and nothing else could be imagined. Even the existence of prisons had escaped their brains. The U.S. government was even going to prosecute this murder as murder until it understood that in the course of the prosecution it would be forced to reveal much larger crimes. So it dropped the case. But everything was "legal"!

Then, "[t]he cold-blooded, in-plain-sight assassinations of American diplomats inside another sovereign nation's embassy in Khartoum demanded a formidable response. Except most Americans had zero appetite for getting involved in terrorist disputes overseas." Those stupid "most Americans." Didn't they know that an event could anthropomorphize under the pen of a propagandist and make demands of human beings? What were they thinking? Jacobsen comes back many times to the suggestion that September 11th happened because of U.S. failure to act, rather than because of U.S. complicity in crimes against Palestinians, U.S. bases in Saudi Arabia and the region, U.S. bombings in Iraq, etc.

More so, Jacobsen is intent on making the ridiculous case that the CIA's many crimes and scandals are not the fault of the CIA because they are the fault of presidents whose orders the CIA was following. "CIA officers simply carry out the wishes of the American presidents they serve." Well that's generally true, and they are generally evil and criminal wishes. Blame, I hate to keep breaking it to U.S. culture, is not limited. There's plenty for the CIA *and* the presidents.

Jacobsen deems William Casey "prescient" for predicting international terrorism in 1981. I think a better word is "prescriptive." Decades of engaging in and provoking terrorism has results. It doesn't moronically excuse terrorism. Try to remember that blame is not limited. But it does predictably generate it.

Jacobsen claims that Ronald Reagan's thugs legalized assassination by renaming it "preemptive neutralization," thereby placing it under Article 51 of the UN Charter. But can you legalize taking the place and the office of your elected misrepresentative, and sending him or her on a publicly-funded 10-year world cruise, by using the same phrase? Of course not, because you are only you, and because only murder can be "legalized" through nonsense phrases.

But isn't murder a lesser evil? Jacobsen quotes a CIA employee: "Why is an expensive military raid with heavy collateral damage to our allies and to innocent children okay - more morally acceptable than a bullet to the head?" None of this evil is OK, and which bit is less evil is not a simple question that can be divorced from the full results including the normalization of practices that will be widely imitated.

The closest thing to a beneficial result in the whole book is probably the CIA-facilitated arrest by the French of terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez. But that arrest could be imagined without the use of a lawless agency, whereas the crimes that provoked the terrorism could not - except perhaps by Jacobsen who seems to believe that the Palestinians started each cycle of hostility.

As if the CIA's pre-2001 record were not catastrophic and reprehensible, there is also what followed. An agency that had no clue about the attacks of September 11th until moments after they happened, when it knew for certain who was behind them, was chosen to lead the way on the wars to come. The CIA gave itself, with a rubber stamp from Bush and Congress, the right to commit any crime. "There was no way to foresee where this would all go," claims John Rizzo, the lawyer who wrote that the CIA could use "lethal direct action" and could "capture, detain, interrogate." Rizzo had noooooooooooooo idea that this would mean that anybody would get killed or harmed, any more than Joe Biden had any reason to imagine that telling Bush he could start infinite wars would result in any wars.

The CIA has now led 18 years of catastrophe, including leading the creation of drone wars, fully normalizing small-scale murder. Jacobsen expends many words on the super high qualifications of the extra-elite experts who began the war on Afghanistan. The fact that their disaster has gotten worse for 18 predictable years seems not to make all their titles and qualifications as laughable to some people as they are to me. Many more words explain what a s-hole Afghanistan was, as if an invasion and occupation might have somehow gone well in a nicer place.

People who participated in the Bay of Pigs invasion may have failed too, but when they show up in later wars they are "freedom fighters." The Iraqis they are attacking are anything but "freedom fighters" of course. And the propaganda used to launch the war on Iraq is merely "the dark side of covert action" - the light side of which we have yet to discover.

In fact "the paradigm was the same" for plans for war on Afghanistan - the same as had been used to great failure in Vietnam. Afghanistan was now invaded by what Jacobsen bizarrely calls "American-led invaders, but invaders nonetheless." The implication seems to be that Americans cannot actually be invaders, even though they're - you know - invading, or at least not in a legal sense, because invasions are crimes and the United States doesn't commit crimes.

At the end of her book, Jacobsen visits Vietnam and walks through a garden where "General Giap and his commanders sat long ago plotting the demise of the United States," which they most certainly did not. This absurd claim immediately precedes a discussion of U.S. plans to nuke Vietnam. The CIA was advised against parachuting nukes into Vietnam and using them as part of the war by a group of scientists who warned that doing so would result in numerous groups of terrorists around the world seeking to acquire nukes and do the same. This recognition of the power of copy-catism in international criminal affairs is odd here, because it doesn't show up in all the discussions of the CIA's development of drone murders or death squads or coups. Why is it only certain crimes the imitation of which should bother us? Clearly it is because other crimes have already been so widely imitated and normalized that they are not questionable anymore, not even crimes anymore.

(c) 2019 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.

The Dead Letter Office-

Marsha gives the corporate salute

Heil Trump,

Dear Uberfuhrer Blackburn,

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 blocking a bill that would have required all campaigns to report foreign bribery attempts of the campaigns to the FBI, 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 09-28-2019. We salute you Frau Blackburn, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

Where Your Tax Dollars Really Go
By Robert Reich

Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress claim that America spends too much on things like food stamps, welfare, and foreign aid.

But let's look at how the government actually spends your federal tax dollars each year. We're going to look at what's known as the "discretionary budget," which has to be reappropriated by Congress each year.

Start with foreign aid, the conservatives' favorite boogeyman. It's $29 billion a year. That may sound like a lot but it's only 2 percent of all discretionary spending. Add all spending on international affairs, it's 4 percent.

What about science and technology, including NASA, the National Science Foundation, and research in clean energy, which conservatives love to hate? Just 3 percent.

The environment and natural resources - money for clean air, safe drinking water and protecting public lands? Another 3 percent.

Roads, bridges, highways, airports, all transportation funding: Another 3 percent.

Community and regional development: 2 percent.

Law enforcement, the Department of Justice, the entire federal court system: 5 percent.

The Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health, and rural health clinics: 5 percent.

Food stamps, energy assistance, child care, other income security: Just 6 percent.

Education and workforce training gets just 7 percent.

Veterans benefits account for 7 percent of the budget as well.

All other government services-including Energy, Agriculture, and Commerce-account for only 1 percent of the discretionary budget.

But that's only 46 percent. The remaining 54 percent of annual spending is on the military, which is more spent on the military than the next 7 nations combined. It's huge. It's about the only really big thing the federal government does.

You may be thinking, but what about Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act?

By law, these programs are mandatory spending, which don't require Congress to approve funding every year. Americans have paid into Social Security and Medicare over their entire working lives.

Yet they're still vulnerable. In fact, if Trump and Republicans in Congress aren't going to cut discretionary spending - especially on the military - the only places they can look to make way for more tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations are Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

That's been their goal all along.

Know where the money is really going. And know what they have in mind.

(c) 2019 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

Walking over the graves of American history
By Jane Stillwater

Recently 5,000 delegates from all over America attended a Netroots Nation convention in Philadelphia -- and one of those delegates was me. And the proudest moment of that entire convention was when all 5,000 of us took to the streets and marched on City Hall to protest the fact that Honduran babies and little kids were being kept in cages like criminals -- not only at our southern borders but also even right here at Philadelphia's Berks Detention Center -- right in the beating heart of the City of Brotherly Love.

Remember back several years ago when football player Michael Vick became a national villain when he was accused of being mean to dogs and keeping them in cages? Nation-wide outcry! "Vick is mean to dogs!"

But now, when our very own government goes about caging human children, where is the outcry? Vick is a villain -- and yet Trump is a hero? Vick cages 50 dogs and get punished for it -- but Trump cages thousands of children and gets completely away with it? Say what?

After the protest march, I trudged off through the streets of Philly, just soaking in the ambiance of all that historic "Cradle of Freedom" stuff. At Independence Hall, I met up with my guide for a walking tour of where Black history also took place back during Revolutionary times -- and right there in the very center of the Cradle of Liberty itself, our tour group stumbled upon a sweet, idealistic and hopeful group of young middle-school girls, standing next to the very place where John Hancock had signed the Declaration of Independence. And these girls were holding up signs protesting the caging of children in America today.


My first thought at seeing those signs was, "Geez Louise, America has really degenerated from fighting for Philadelphia Freedom in 1776 to behaving like Nazis in 2019."

But by the time the Black History tour ended, I sadly realized that America had always kept kids in cages. This current atrocity of keeping kids in cages was actually nothing new. Our heroic ancestors had caged Black children first.

Then our guide took us off to see a statue of Robert Morris, the man who almost single-handedly financed the American Revolution. "He got his wealth by kidnapping people from Africa, submitting them to the horrors of the Middle Passage and then selling them on the auction block here." And Morris treated Black children even worse than Michael Vick treated his dogs. Much worse.

So I wrote the word "Slaver!" on a Post-it note and pasted it onto the base of Morris's statue, telling the whole world the truth about him. But then someone told me that there were cameras all over that area, spying on us tourists -- so I went back and took the Post-it note down. So much for freedom of speech anywhere near Independence Hall.

Next our tour group moved off to Washington Park. "5,000 slaves died in Philadelphia during the infamous yellow fever epidemic of 1793. Many of them are buried right here. In unmarked graves. You are standing on them right now."

5,000 slaves. 5,000 Netroots Nation protestors. Maybe we have come a long way toward Freedom after all. Let us hope.

PS: I just read where one Honduran mother had been finally reunited with her 14-month-old baby after 85 days, only to discover that her infant was covered with -- wait for it -- lice! Yuck.

What kind of sick storm-trooper mentality allows those in charge of such hellholes as slave markets, Dachau, Abu Graib, Gaza and America's southern border to even begin to think that their behavior is acceptable?

It's the herd mentality.

"If the guy next to me is happily kidnapping babies, then it must be okay for me to also kidnap babies too." Just google the "Stanford Prison Experiment" to see how that works -- or never mind. I've googled it for you.

Let's get this straight. No matter what kind of weird shite the guy next to you is up to, it is never okay to be a mean sadistic bastard. History has proved this time and again. So. Let's stop all this criminal inhumane madness. Stop it now. Or else history will be walking over our graves as well.

(c) 2019 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
~~~ Martin Kozlowski ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Republicans Defend Trump's Decision To Give Putin Office Space At White House
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)-In a sign that Donald J. Trump's control over the Republican Party is now complete, congressional Republicans on Thursday defended his decision to give the Russian President Vladimir Putin office space at the White House.

A newly emboldened Trump told reporters that he had furnished Putin with a corner-office suite and secretarial staff to use whenever the Russian President is in town. "He says he plans to be here more and more," Trump said.

Putin, who moved file boxes into his new office on Thursday afternoon, said he looks forward to many productive hours at the White House with few, if any, interruptions.

"At the Kremlin, people are always sticking their heads in my office, asking me questions," he said. "President Trump just spends all day watching TV."

At the U.S. Senate, a visibly angry Senator Lindsey Graham called allegations that there was anything improper about Trump giving office space to Putin "totally unfair, disgusting, and vile."

"Vladimir Putin has worked harder to run the U.S. government than all of the Democrats in Congress put together," Graham said.

(c) 2019 Andy Borowitz

The Gross National Debt

The Animal Rescue Site

Issues & Alibis Vol 19 # 30 (c) 08/03/2019

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