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In This Edition

Norman Solomon explains, "Why The Left Must Reject And Elect Biden At The Same Time."

Ralph Nader is, "Ranking The Infinite Greed, Power And Controls Of Giant Corporations."

Glen Ford observes, "Backtracking On George Floyd Promises: The Minneapolis Police Name-Change Con."

Jim Hightower explores, "The Virus That's Killing America."

William Rivers Pitt says, "Trump's Social Security Sleight Of Hand Is Another Scam. Don't Fall For It."

John Nichols interviews, "Representative Barbara Lee: 'The Public Is With Us.'"

James Donahue wonders, "Is Corruption In Washington Beyond Repair?"

Chris Hedges returns with a must read, "America's Death March."

David Suzuki thinks a, "Four-Day Workweek Can Spur Necessary Transformation."

Charles P. Pierce predicts, "Belarus And Its Contested Election Might Be A Preview Of Our November."

Juan Cole asks, "How Did Americans Become Such Wimps?"

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich gives, "Betsy DeVos' Deadly Plan To Reopen Schools."

Thom Hartmann wonders, "Will Enough Americans Show Up To Stop Trump From Using the Dictator's Playbook?"

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Self-Loathing GOP Congressman Can't Believe He's Been Reduced To Defending Necessity Of Public Schools," but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Lying Donald's Has Come Out Of The Closet On Social Security And Medicare."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Rick Mckee, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, DSK, Burst via Pexels, Jim Watson, Samuel Boivin, Arnold Jerocki, Karl Mondon, Siarhei Leskie, Gabriele Holtermann-Gorden, Pacific Press, The Mercury News, Robert Reich, Jim Hightower, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

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

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

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Lying Donald's Has Come Out Of The Closet On Social Security And Medicare
By Ernest Stewart

"We just heard it straight from Trump's own mouth: If reelected, he will destroy Social Security." ~~~ Social Security Works

"They filled it in over the years to try and preserve it. It wasn't feasible to restore it so we're going to (demolish) the entire building to the ground. The new building will require steel pilings that reach 100 feet deep to keep it from becoming unstable and unsafe once again." ~~~ Jason Stormont ~ project manager

"I wouldn't trust you to care for a house plant, let alone my child" ~~~ Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley ~ to Betsy Devos

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

Well Lying Donald finally came out and said it. On Saturday afternoon he openly vowed to permanently "terminate" the funding mechanism for both Social Security and Medicare if reelected in November. Lying Donald said, "If I'm victorious on November third I plan to forgive these taxes and make permanent cuts to the payroll tax I'm going to make them all permanent." I'm guessing that Lying Donald doesn't want to be reelected?

A little over 63 million Americans are current drawing benefits from Social Security. Medicare is used currently by 44 million Americans and that will rise to 77 million in ten years time! I wonder how many of those Americans will vote for Lying Donald when word of this gets out? Yes, I know, Rethuglican Americans are incredibly stupid people so perhaps he won't lose all their votes?

Lying Donald signed his illegal "executive order" for a payroll tax "holiday" which experts noted would later have to be paid back, however he can't do that as Congress holds the "purse strings." And for all intents and purposes it's a dead deal as he needs the House to approve it and unless the Rethuglicans take the House this isn't going to happen. Which is why Lying Donald has pulled out all stops to keep liberal people from voting come November.

In Other News

I see where a 4,000-year-old ice shelf in the Canadian Arctic has collapsed into the sea, leaving Canada without any fully intact ice shelves. The Milne Ice Shelf lost more than 40 percent of its area in just two days at the end of July, said researchers who monitored its collapse.

Unlike glaciers, ice shelves are part of the ocean.

The Milne Ice Shelf on Ellesmere Island in Canada's Nunavut territory fell into the Arctic Sea and started to drift before breaking into two large chunks. The Copernicus Sentinel satellite captured the entire event.

Time-lapse photos on Twitter show the satellite animation between July 30 and August 4, as the ice shelf lost approximately 43 percent of its area. When the fallen pieces split in two, the larger one formed an iceberg roughly the size of Manhattan.

Meanwhile over in Alaska at Eielson Air Force Base the warming temperatures melted the frozen ground under the munitions repair facility years ago, the foundation shifted, causing deep cracks to spread across the thick concrete walls.

Over time, the repair bay for missiles and other explosives began to separate from the floor, forcing the 12-foot blast-proof doors out of alignment so they could not be properly closed, according to Defense Department documents and interviews with base construction officials.

Then the entire facility, built on a sloping hillside and hidden in a patch of dense trees, started slowly sliding toward the base of 10,000 people working and living below.

The detrimental effect of global warming is pushing up the cost of ongoing operations at three of Alaska's four major U.S. military bases: Eielson, Fort Wainwright and Clear Air Force Base. All are located in the warming south-central swath of Alaska where patchwork or "discontinuous" permafrost exists and is prone to melting.

In the last three years, new construction and repairs to existing buildings on or around the permafrost under Eielson's 63,000-acre base cost $164 million, according to Air Force budget documents. Much of the new construction is associated with the arrival of two squadrons of F-35s.

It seems that not only "drunken" forests but "drunken" Air Force bases are being destroyed by global warming.

And Finally

The madness continues in education because of Betsy Devos' greed. She demands that all of the schools reopen and all students attend them. So you're guessing that Betsy has some plan to keep the students and faulty safe from Covid-19? Well, guess again, as Betsy hasn't a clue! In fact Betsy says she'll withhold federal dollars ment to fund them if they don't obey her mandate. Of course, the trouble is, neither she nor Lying Donald (her personal savior) have the power or authority to do so. Like all of the federal puse strings they're held by Con-gress, and not the Executive! Con-gress mandates the money for public education and it must go there, period. No ifs, ands, or buts no matter what your god or devil says about it!

Betty has plans to take all of this money from public school systems and give them to private schools. Defunding the public for the benefit of the private. Would it surprise you any to find out that Betsy has most of her fortune invested in stocks in these private schools and colleges? Would it? I thought not!

Can there be any doubt why Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wins this week's Vidkun Quisling Award?

Keepin' On

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


12-27-1948 ~ 08-09-2020
Thanks for the music!

09-28-1939 ~ 08-09-2020
Thanks for the films!

03-05-1929 ~ 08-10-2020
Thanks for the laughs!

05-13-1937 ~ 08-11-2020
Thanks for the film and music!


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So please help us if you can?


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

Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 2020 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, philosopher, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

Why The Left Must Reject And Elect Biden At The Same Time
By Norman Solomon

In the next three months, a dozen states will determine whether Donald Trump wins another four years as president. Those swing states should be central to the work of progressives who are determined to prevent that outcome.

With so much at stake, we can't afford the luxury of devoting time and energy to endless arguments about whether progressives should vote for Joe Biden if they live in California or New York, or Alabama or Alaska, or other states where the electoral votes are sure to all go to Biden or Trump.

What will matter are the swing states, generally understood this time around to include Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin. (Also in play are "swing districts" in two states where the statewide winning candidate doesn't automatically get all of the state's electoral votes: Maine's second congressional district and Nebraska's second congressional district.)

There's no point -- or honesty -- in pretending that Biden is a decent guy whose public service has overflowed with compassion. Whether provided by the New York Times days ago or The Nation last year, the grim evidence of Biden's callous political career is profuse.

During the primary campaign, the organization where I'm national director,, supported Bernie Sanders and widely distributed documentation of Biden's decades-long record of serving corporate greed, racial injustice and the military-industrial complex. I've denounced Biden's political record in one article after another after another after another after another after another after another.

But the choice ahead, Trump or Biden, is painfully real. Magical thinking has its literary value, but in politics it's delusional and dangerous to evade the realities of binary choices when they arise. All too often, discussion of voting can fall into a kind of self-absorption that focuses on a voter's emotions about voting rather than on the impacts of election results on other people.

"It doesn't matter whether you like Biden or not, that's your personal feelings, irrelevant, nobody cares about that," Noam Chomsky said in a just-released video. "What they care about is what happens to the world. We have to get rid of Trump, keep pressure on Biden, just as Sanders and associates have been doing."

Chomsky added: "Politics is activism, not taking five minutes to push a button. Look what's happening in the streets of the country. One of the greatest social movements that has ever developed, led by Black Lives Matter. Take Sunrise Movement, managed to put the Green New Deal on the legislative agenda. This generation is going to decide whether organized human society can survive. And the crucial part of this decision is to get rid of the major barrier to survival, which happens to be in the White House. Get rid of Trump, then we have opportunities." My colleague Jeff Cohen, who co-founded RootsAction, told Common Dreams that the "Vote Trump Out" initiative that RootsAction launched with the Chomsky video is "a two-step campaign: First, vote Trump out. Then challenge Biden from day one. . . It's easier to persuade 'swing voters on the left' who live in swing states to vote for Biden despite their hesitancy if they know we're serious about step two."

Like it or not, the imperative of defeating Trump is directly in front of us. To make a progressive future possible, beating Trump is absolutely necessary while very far from sufficient. To organize against a government headed by Trump is to push against a thick stone wall. To organize against a government headed by Biden holds out the real potential of progressive breakthroughs.

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

This combination of file photos shows Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Ranking The Infinite Greed, Power And Controls Of Giant Corporations
People have the right to know how CEOs and major corporations do on the "Hedonistic Index" of greed and power.
By Ralph Nader

The combination of greed and power often spin out of control and challenge the enforceable rule of law and the countervailing force of the organized civic community.

When greed and power are exercised by giant multinational corporations that escape the discipline of the nation-state, the potential for evil becomes infinite in nature. Enough is never enough.

Global giant companies, aided and abetted by their corporate attorneys and accountants, can literally decide how little taxes they are going to pay by shifting profits and expenses among different tax haven countries such as Ireland, Luxembourg, and Panama.

These same companies then proceed to lobby any nation, including most prominently the United States. Congress and the White House are pushed to cut formal tax rates, pack the tax laws with loopholes, and lower further the effective tax rate. The formal top tax rate for billions of company profits is now 21%, while the actual tax rate is lower -much lower for banks, insurance companies, drug companies, and behemoth tech companies like Apple that master tax avoidance.

"Generous" is not a word one can associate either with Apple or it's avaricious, CEO Tim Cook. One of the first moves Tim Cook made, after replacing legendary Apple Founder, the cancer-stricken innovator Steve Jobs, was to arrange a $378 million, 2011 compensation package for himself and launch the biggest stock buyback in corporate history. Apple, which is worth $1.5 trillion has spent $327 billion since 2013 to buy back 2.5 billion shares of stock. Yet Apple has done little to produce productive investments, remediation of used and very toxic Apple products when discarded, or increase pay for the 350,000 serf-labor workers in China toiling under its merciless contractor Foxconn.

Apple made $104 billion in the last 12 months, puffed up by tax-avoidance, tax cuts and a no tariff deal with Trump on its Chinese imports, yet Tim Cook has rejected pleas to spend a little over $2 billion (deductible) to award a full year's pay bonus to the 350,000 Foxconn workers who build Apple's iPhones and iPads.

Apple's massive stock buybacks have, however, increased the metrics to set compensation levels for Tim Cook and his executive sidekicks. Unfortunately, stock buybacks do little to tamp down excessive prices for Apple products. The massive stock buybacks also send a message that Apple's management has no other uses for its corporate cash -not for R&D, not for improving the nature and security of its workers' pensions, not for investing in curtailing the damaging side effects of Apple products on the environment and not for reducing other offloaded damage to society.

Tim Cook and Apple are also stingy, given their vast wealth, with charitable contributions. So stingy that Apple's bosses do not even come close with the company's charitable deduction limit of five percent of adjusted gross income. In 2018 Apple gave $125 million to charities. Apple's net income for 2018 was $59.53 billion -a tiny fraction of one percent!

Recently, the New York Times published articles showing how tiny the executive pay cuts were by the very few executives who announced and declared sympathy for their laid-off and impoverished workers. The media has also been reporting illicit maneuvers developed by corporate attorneys to help chain stores get relief payments that should have gone to legitimate small businesses. (Why isn't the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) speaking out against this abuse and avarice?)

Replacing some of their greed with generosity could be directed to the estimated $6 billion to $11 billion needed this coming school year to give low-income students full equipment and connectivity to the internet for remote learning during the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions. States and localities need $4 billion to assure the voting process will be fair and that all votes be counted and on time. The Republicans in the Senate are blocking the money needed to guarantee free and fair elections. Four billion dollars for the profit-glutted Silicon Valley giants Facebook, Google, Apple plus Amazon, and Microsoft, is peanuts. These high-tech digital giants could easily contribute the money needed to avert a widely predicted election time disaster and weeks of understaffed counting after November 3rd. Imagine such a show of patriotism from these companies.

Then there are the matters of woefully inadequate supplies, facilities, and training programs to counter the spreading Covid-19 pandemic that is crumbling the economy. These record-setting profitable companies, with soaring stock prices due to their monopolistic powers or consumer-gouging, should return some of Trump's giveaway tax cuts of 2017 and the burgeoning corporate welfare payments from crony-capitalistic Washington, D.C. to help their afflicted or vulnerable fellow Americans. Many of these people are their own workers, friends, and relatives.

Economists should develop a "Hedonistic Index," to rank the "greed-with-power" status of the 500 largest U.S. corporations.

People have the right to know how CEOs and major corporations do on the "Hedonistic Index" of greed and power. After all, at the end of the day, we are all paying the price of the full measure of the infinite avarice spiraling from these corporate supremacists and their private governments of controls.

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

Backtracking On George Floyd Promises: The Minneapolis Police Name-Change Con
By Glen Ford

When Black Lives Matter chapters demand "abolition" and "defunding" of the police, rather than community control of the cops, they play into the hands of charlatans and misleaders on city councils and in the halls of Congress.

At the height of the Minneapolis rebellion a majority of the city council announced they would move towards "disbanding" their police force, in response to Black Lives Matter "abolition" demands. It turned out that what the councilpersons were actually proposing was a name change, retaining a force of armed cops in a new "Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention" with a "holistic, public health-oriented" mission. But even this palliative was too much for the Minneapolis Charter Commission, which voted to delay putting the police reorganization question on the November ballot, effectively killing the measure. The city is currently required to maintain a set ratio in the number of cops per resident.

The Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar (TCC4J), which was formed in the wake of the police killing of Jamar Clark in 2015, never bought into the city council's name-change game. "The proposed charter amendment was at best a symbolic gesture and at worst lessened police accountability for past and future crimes," the TCC4J's Jae Yates told a press conference. "In opposition to the charter amendment, TCC4J instead demands community control of police [CPAC], which will meaningfully curtail the as of yet unchecked power of the MPD to terrorize Black, brown and low income communities. The CPAC legislation puts all oversight of police misconduct back into the hands of the communities that are being policed and provides continuous engagement for community members to address grievances. CPAC consists of a directly-elected all-civilian council, and has final authority over discipline, up to and including subpoena power and the convening of grand juries. In short, the CPAC legislation has all of the details that the city council's proposal lacked."

The Minneapolis coalition was among the 800 activists that gathered in Chicago last year to organize a nationwide campaign for community control of the police, under the umbrella of a relaunched National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. Nineteen of Chicago's 50-member board of aldermen have endorsed legislation to create a Civilian Police Accountability Commission (CPAC). "Nothing short of CPAC is what we need and demand," said Minneapolis organizer Daphne Brown at last week's press conference. "We don't want no Community Safety and Violence Prevention Department! Council members, mayor and government in city hall, we don't want that piece of shit y'all trying to give us. We do not want it. We want what we demand, which is CPAC. That's the only thing that's gonna give us the power back to protect our community, protect our families and protect ourselves."

Brown has been organizing against killer cops since 2013. She doesn't hesitate to name the Black misleaders that are in on the con. "To the council members that came up with this, you went behind our backs! Andrea Jenkins, Jeremiah Ellison, y'all know that's not gonna help us." Brown continued, "We still got killer cops out here y'all. How can we accept anything from these people, knowing we still got killer cops on our streets?""

Jamal Clark's sister, Danielle Burns, sees through the "good Council-bad Commission" con game that's being played to keep the blue army of occupation on the streets of Minneapolis. "it's these same folks putting forward a fake fix with their city charter amendment. Changing the police department's name, that's not justice," she said.

The same hustle-and-jive plays out across the nation, as mainly Democratic city officials attempt to reconcile protesters' demands with their obligations to the Lords of Capital, the architects of the US police state. When Black Lives Matter chapters demand "abolition" and "defunding" of the police, rather than community control of the cops, they play into the hands of the charlatans and misleaders on city councils and in the halls of Congress, for the simple reason that no legislative body will totally abolish local armed security forces. Nor would Black communities support measures that would remove the cops without replacing them with some other security force. Since "abolition" of the police is not immediately possible, elected officials are free to "interpret" the intent of protesters' demands. The result will always be "that piece of shit y'all trying to give us as," as Daphne Brown put it.

The Minneapolis Charter Commission is taking it upon itself to fill in the blanks that were left by the city council, and before that by protesters' simple demands for "abolition" and "defunding" of the cops. As the Washington Post reported on August 5:

"The council says, 'Trust us. We'll figure it out after this is approved. Trust us,' ' Barry Clegg, a Minneapolis attorney who chairs the commission, said ahead of Wednesday's vote. 'Well, I don't. ... We need more time to fill in these blanks so voters can make a decision based on an actual specific plan and not the promise of one.'"
Unless Black community activists spell out precisely how security for communities will be maintained, and to whom those forces will be accountable, the demand to "defund" the police -- like "abolition" -- is an invitation for officials to engage in word games, obfuscation and lies. As we wrote in the July 1 issue of BAR:
"Cuts in police budgets may rightly count as victories for the protesters that demanded cuts (or, it may actually be the result of across-the-board cutbacks due to collapse of tax revenues in the Great Depression Two). But diminished budgets do not make the police accountable to the people or allow the people to reinvent policing (or whatever folks choose to call the mechanisms of their security). Transfer of duties previously (mis)handled by cops to more competent agencies is a good thing, but will not result in People's Power unless those agencies are brought under community control, along with the police."
Thus, not only must we demand community control of the police, but also community control of those social service agencies that purport to serve the community, and to whom police funds would supposedly be transferred under a "defund the police" policy.

As Frederik Douglass famously said: "Power concedes nothing without a demand." Power will also use every opportunity to reshape people's "demands" that are vague or open-ended - such as "abolition" and "defunding" of the police. Angela Davis, the prison and police abolition scholar most often cited by Black Lives Matter activists, was on hand for the relaunching of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression last year in Chicago, and is 100 percent behind its community control of police campaign.

Although some of the 14 Black Lives Matter chapters in the U.S. have refused to endorse community control, the Chicago chapter is active in the campaign for CPAC and the Los Angeles Black Lives Matter chapter favors community control of social services, land and all other community resources, including the police.

The same democratic and self-determinationist imperatives that require black community control of police are applicable to a broad range of other services and resources - most especially schools. Community control is not a reformist demand, because it calls for real transfers of power from the oligarchs and their politicians, to the people. General demands for "abolition" and "defunding," however, invite a reformist and trickster response from Power - as we see unfolding in Minneapolis.

As we wrote on July 1:

"'Reforms' that leave power in the hands of the oppressor and his flunkies succeed mainly in making the enemy look good. It buys the oppressor more time to harm the people - which is what the Democrats were seeking when they adopted the vocabulary of protest and embraced 'reforms' they had previously rejected in the face of a Black-led popular insurgency. Movement organizers must avoid providing opportunities for scoundrels, sell-out artists and Democratic Party operatives to pose as friends of 'the community.'

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

The Virus That's Killing America
By Jim Hightower

The holy mantra of health professionals was coined about 2,500 years ago by the Greek physician, Hippocrates: "Do no harm."

Of course, that was before corporate healthcare took charge and asserted a new guiding ethic: "Jack up profits." Putting this in practice, America's largest and richest hospital chains rushed to the front of the COVID-19 bailout line this spring to pull $15 billion from the government's emergency fund. They pocketed the taxpayers' money despite sitting on tens of billions of dollars of their own cash reserves.

But hold your nose, for it gets much stinkier. The bailout was intended to keep hospital workers on the job, yet the wealthiest chains have hit nurses, janitors, and other crucial, frontline staffers with layoffs, pay cuts, and deadly shortages of protective gear. For example, HCA, the $36-billion a-year behemoth that's wallowing in profits, snatched a billion-dollar taxpayer bailout for itself, then demanded hospital staffers accept wage freezes, elimination of company pension payments, and other cuts... or have thousands of jobs eliminated.

However, in a public show of compassion, HCA's chief exec Samuel Hazen donated two months of his $1.4 million salary to an employee support fund. How magnanimous! Uh, no -his generosity is a deception, not a sacrifice. The trick is that a CEO's "salary" is a miniscule part of total pay. Hazen's annual bonus, stock payouts, and other compensation will raise his actual pay to $26 million this year! So his donation is less than one percent of his pay, and he almost certainly will write that off his income taxes -so we taxpayers (including the nurses and others he's knocking down) not only underwrite his fat take-home, but we also subsidize his face-saving philanthropic gimmick.

What we have here is a raging virus of executive suite greed doing deeper damage to our society than COVID-19 ever could.

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

President Trump signs executive orders extending coronavirus economic relief,
during a news conference in Bedminster, New Jersey, on August 8, 2020.

Trump's Social Security Sleight Of Hand Is Another Scam. Don't Fall For It.
And it's an invitation to organizers to keep pushing the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee on progressive priorities.
By William Rivers Pitt

We begin with a foundational premise, a stone-bound axiom learned the hardest of hard ways after three long years: Donald Trump does not care about you, or me, or anyone on this planet. Donald Trump cares only about Donald Trump, full stop, end of file. Do not let the triumphant-sounding weekend headlines about his executive orders fool you; those orders are made of soap bubbles. Yes, friends, it's yet another scam.

House Democrats passed the HEROES Act back in May. A $3 trillion relief and stimulus package, the HEROES Act provides everything from a (finally!) robust national testing regimen to desperately needed funds for municipalities that are trying to make schools safe enough to reopen someday. Because this bill, and that money, have been left to rot like a dead fish on the dock of Mitch McConnell's bay for three long months, reopening schools safely today is a practical impossibility with potentially catastrophic consequences.

Thanks, Mitch.

McConnell and his cohort of Senate Republican wreckers have not been able to get out of their own way long enough to pass a compromise version of the HEROES Act; half the GOP caucus won't vote for any new money to be spent, a quarter desperately need a deal to stave off defeat this fall, and the last quarter got lost on the way to the restroom trying to plot how to take McConnell's job after November.

The resulting chaos had caused a dozen weeks to go by without a new relief package from Congress, even as COVID-19 spreads its wings across the entire nation, the emergency unemployment benefit ran out, and millions face eviction as their last lingering funds run out.

In swooped Trump on Saturday for a "press conference" at his Bedminster country club. In a room filled with maskless golf-shirted partisans, Trump announced a series of executive orders he claimed would accomplish what Congress has failed to do. "Trump announced he was postponing payroll taxes through the end of the year, extending the unemployment 'bonus' at $400 a week (down from $600), helping people 'stay in their homes' and waiving student debt payments through the end of 2020," reported The Washington Post.

The thing is, these orders appear to have been conceived primarily to help one person: Trump.

Let's take these one at a time, starting with the crown jewel: Social Security. The payroll tax exists to fund that fundamental program, among others. Elimination of the payroll tax won't help anyone affected by the pandemic, nor will it affect those currently receiving Social Security benefits for the most part, but it will defund those vital programs just in time for Generation X to retire.

The thing is, Trump can't rewrite tax laws by fiat from his golf cart, no matter how loudly his Izod-bros cheer him on. The profoundly Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska immediately threw a bucket of ice water on this nonsense move.

"The pen-and-phone theory of executive lawmaking is unconstitutional slop," Sasse said in a stinging statement, concluding, "President Trump does not have the power to unilaterally rewrite the payroll tax law. Under the Constitution, that power belongs to the American people acting through their members of Congress."

Boom. Other GOP senators like Lindsey Graham were more obsequious in their pushback, but they pushed back all the same. "I appreciate the President taking this decisive action but would much prefer a congressional agreement," cooed Graham. "I believe President Trump would prefer the same."

This was an uncommon display of fortitude in our dim and degraded age; these fellows have been reliably docile sheep for Trump to shear at his pleasure. When Trump attempted to put the sword to the payroll tax, however, they located some enlightened self-interest at long last.

Most Senate Republicans are interested in keeping the nation's purse strings firmly in the hands of Congress, and there isn't a single Republican senator who thinks it's a good idea to eviscerate Social Security less than three months before a national election. Trump may as well have announced an executive order renaming all the avenues in the U.S. "Bigly Way," and mandate that each of them come with a fat orange stripe down the middle of the road. He can sign it, but the ink is worth more than the order.

By Sunday, the outraged screams of Democrats and the mewling of petrified Republicans had managed to penetrate the steel-reinforced thought bubble encasing the White House. "White House advisors on Sunday walked back President Trump's statement that he would make 'permanent cuts' to the payroll tax if reelected," reported Forbes, "insisting that the president would preserve the primary funding source for Social Security, an entitlement program with overwhelming bipartisan support."

This thing was dead as Dillinger before the word-noises passed Trump's puckered lips. So why do it? Because a year ago, the White House reportedly reached out to South Dakota's Republican Governor, Kristi Noem, to inquire with a straight face about the process of getting Trump's likeness carved onto Mt. Rushmore (a claim Trump is now disputing). Because hubris of that density has enough gravity to bend the light, so why not make a run at Social Security in the depths of a pandemic crisis he has resolutely failed to contain. It certainly changed the subject for a few days, which was the whole point of the exercise.

As for the other three orders, well, they're mostly what you'd expect from a lifelong grifter looking to win some weekend headlines. The $400 emergency unemployment benefit is actually a benefit cut that will adversely affect municipalities all across the country. Trump wants $100 of that $400 to come from CARES Act funding that has already been disbursed to and spent by said municipalities. Sucking $100 per claim back out of that COVID relief money will further harm already overburdened local governments everywhere.

Trump is not "helping people stay in their homes," as another order claims. "Trump has said many times in recent days he wants to prevent evictions, but his latest executive order does not ban evictions," reports the Post. "Instead, Trump calls for Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield to 'consider' whether an eviction ban is needed." Consider, eh? That's mighty landlord of ya, Don. (emphasis added)

The fourth executive order Trump signed does have a drop of human kindness in it, but only temporarily. The order waives interest on all federal government-backed student loans and lets people delay payments on those loans until Dec. 31. This will certainly be helpful. However, all principal payments owed will be due on that final day of the year, full payments will begin again on New Year's Day, and there is little promise the financial situation will have improved by then. Plus, legally speaking, no one is quite sure if Trump has the power to do this in the first place.

Larry Kudlow, Trump's director of the National Economic Council and guy who formerly screamed about the stock market on television for a living, went on CNN with Dana Bash to "explain" how these executive orders are the heroic measures America needs in this hour of deepest need... except he couldn't explain it, like, at all, and Bash basically had to limp him through the interview. "Okay, we'll move on because I think this is not what the president said and it's a bit confusing," said Bash, "and I think the fact that it's not entirely known is very telling."

Actually, it is not confusing at all. Trump has a long track record of unfurling legally laughable nonsense orders whenever the political heat is on, and right now, that heat could melt the sun. This weekend eruption of orders is more sleight-of-hand from a president whose COVID response has contributed to the deaths of tens of thousands of people, in a country that is facing tens of thousands of additional deaths as winter inexorably approaches. Meanwhile, schools are recklessly reopening at his urging, and his own supporters steadfastly refuse to listen to those they dismiss as egghead scientists from the "deep state" about the lethal severity of COVID-19.

Put plainly, Saturday's press conference and executive order spectacle was nothing more or less than a splash of the amniotic fluid from which Trump first emerged into national politics: an episode of reality TV. The papers took the headline bait over the weekend. Don't be those guys.

(c) 2020 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co_written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

Representative Barbara Lee in front of Oakland City Hall in June 2020.

Representative Barbara Lee: 'The Public Is With Us'
In an exclusive interview the representative talks about cutting the defense budget, what Covid-19 has revealed about systemic racism, and her mentor Shirley Chisholm.
By John Nichols

Representative Barbara Lee of California cast the sole vote in 2001 against the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) that George W. Bush and ensuing presidents have employed as their excuse to wage what have come to be known as "forever wars." Political and media elites decried her vote. But millions of Americans embraced the slogan, "Barbara Lee Speaks For Me." Since 2001, Lee has kept speaking for peace and for economic, social, and racial justice. And she's gained allies in Congress. In July of this year, 93 House members and 23 senators supported a proposal by Lee and Representative Mark Pocan of Wisconsin to cut the Pentagon budget by 10 percent-so that money could be freed up to battle Covid-19, mass unemployment, and other domestic challenges.

I spoke with Lee after the vote about how the politics of 2020 have shifted, and how they must keep shifting. She took the long view, recalling the work of two of her mentors, Representative Ron Dellums of California and Representative Shirley Chisholm of New York, and suggested that ideas that movements have been raising for decades-about budget priorities, police brutality, structural racism, and taking down Confederate statues-are finally gaining traction because young people are demanding fundamental change. We also talked about how and why the Democratic Party-which will meet in convention next week-must respond to that demand. What follows is a condensed version of our conversation.

-John Nichols

JOHN NICHOLS: You've worked for five decades to reorder priorities away from bloated Pentagon spending and toward domestic needs. Suddenly, you've got a lot of allies. What happened?

BARBARA LEE: I think you have a convergence, or a confluence, that represents the intersectional nature of where people are in terms of economic security, racial justice, and social justice. And I have to give a lot of credit to our groups, our outside organizations, and our grassroots movements that have taken place over the years. There have been a lot of them working on a variety of military budget issues, police issues, justice issues. Now, I think they're all coming together, which is one thing Ron [Dellums] always wanted to see.

We always talked about how the peace movement needed to involve more people of color and African Americans. The justice movement hasn't had as many white people in it as it should.... The environmental movement has been mainly a movement of white middle-income individuals. Now, we see environmental justice, and we see the intersectionality of all these movements coming together....

Then of course, bringing it up to Covid, it's clear that people are hurting very badly. And, yet, they are told that "Well, the resources just aren't there." And of course we know that Republicans got their tax cuts, but the resources are really also within the Pentagon in terms of their wasteful spending.

So I think connecting the two is what is taking place now, as people are suffering and living on the edge in such a profound way. That's everyone, regardless of race and background, although, of course, it is hitting Black and brown people harder because of historic and systemic racism.

I think that this is the moment when all of this is coming together, where the movement is really pushing the Congress and saying, "We need resources for our domestic priorities and investments in our domestic priorities, and we need to have-yes-a strong national security." That's why, in the cuts I've proposed-including my own proposal for a $350 billion cut in Pentagon spending-we talk about making sure the troops have what they need, because so many troops are living on the edge.... You can cut up to 40 or 50 percent out of the Pentagon budget and still have strong national security.

So 10 percent is for starters, but it's great, and I'm so glad we got there-because this $73 or $74 billion is badly needed today in our communities, and that doesn't even scratch the surface.

JN: How important is it for Democrats to make this new set of budget priorities a part of what they talk about in 2020?

BL: Well, it's absolutely important, because young people are not going to tolerate [status quo politics]. They're not going to vote if we don't make it a part of our new priorities.

When you look at polling data, when you look at where people are on military policy and domestic policy-when it comes to making sure that these unauthorized wars, these forever wars, stop-the public is with us.

JN: Just as you have been talking about Pentagon budgets for a long time, you've been talking about structural racism for decades. Do you see something happening on these issues, as well, with the protests against police violence and systemic racism?

BL: I'm cautiously optimistic, and it took the unfortunate and horrific murder of Mr. Floyd for people to really seriously begin to focus on the systemic racist nature of the criminal justice system and our policing.

I've been involved in police issues since the '70s. I was going into San Quentin, into prisons then, counseling and working with inmates. I started drilling down more, well, even before that with the Black Panther Party. You know, the Black Panther Party stood down the police because they were killing people and they were brutalizing our communities in Oakland and throughout the country. I was a community worker with the Black Panther Party, so I got it then and understood we had to have some systemic change in the criminal justice system.

Fast forward to when I was in the [California] Legislature. I served on the Public Safety Committee, where we would authorize bills such as "three strikes" or "sentence enhancement" or some really terrible, draconian public policy relating to the criminal justice system. Of course I was one of the few "no" votes on "three strikes" and many of the other issues. I had to actually ask for security, I had so many death threats when I voted "no" on "three strikes." It wasn't quite as bad as after 9/11, but it was awful how people came after me then.

So to see where we are now, we've come full circle, and to see members of Congress recognizing the injustice in the system really is hopeful.

I keep going back to the notion that this is a marathon for justice. It's been a marathon for me. You have to keep fighting, you have to run this lap of the race. Ron Dellums passed me the baton, we passed younger people the batons. We see Black Lives Matter and Dreamers. We see our Movement for Black Lives, everyone coming together now, taking these batons and running with it!

JN: We're also starting to have a discussion about systemic racism in healthcare and in so many of our necessary services. In a sense, Covid-19 has caused, I think, an opening up of a discussion about the injustice of a for-profit healthcare system.

BL: Yes, it has. Let me tell you one thing on the disparities in the healthcare system: They have been with us since the first enslaved Africans were brought to America 401 years ago. This is nothing new. We've been fighting for universal, accessible, affordable healthcare; I mean, Black people have been fighting for this forever.

When you look at Covid-19 and the disproportionate impact on African Americans and Latinx communities, I have, in my constituency [Oakland and other communities in the San Francisco Bay Area] my progressive white friends calling me saying, "What is going on? What is happening? Why is this?" They could not understand. And I've been talking about healthcare disparities and ethnic disparities in healthcare forever! And so was Ron! But it never sunk in until they saw what was taking place. So that shocked, I think, the conscience of a lot of people who claim to be progressive-and who are progressive on a lot of issues, but not on every issue as it relates to racial justice.

It's so horrible because it's taken the disproportionate deaths-and virus transmission rates-to get others to wake up to what we've been talking about, why we want to fund the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities when Trump tries to zero out all of the budgets in healthcare.

So, yes, I think now hopefully the rest of the country sees what African Americans have known and felt. People are recognizing that this [racism] is part of the issue as it relates to why there's such a difference in death rates and mortality rates.

You look at these underlying conditions, such as hypertension-I mean, you know, racism is stressful! Racism is a horrible way to live, live under, and that creates a heck of a lot of stress for African Americans, and historically we see how racism has impacted the health that creates in many ways these underlying conditions.

JN: You make a point that these are not new issues. These are issues that your mentor, Shirley Chisholm, talked about long ago. You were a Shirley Chisholm delegate at the 1972 Democratic convention. Do you think that the kind of politics Shirley Chisholm talked about-"unbossed and unbought," "catalyst for change"-is finally taking hold?

BL: Absolutely, and I know Shirley is smiling right now. She would be so proud of women in Congress, especially the women of color, saying, "Enough is enough." Can you imagine?

[In the early 1970s], when I was here working for Ron after his election to Congress, I got to see Shirley Chisholm [who was elected in 1968], and she mentored me. Let me tell you, John, she was the only Black woman dealing with this entire power structure within the Congress! It was amazing! And she never backed down.

Now, she had her moments. I was with her a lot when she broke down. But she was a brilliant, progressive-thinking, smart, politically strategic Black woman! And she took it all on.

I mean, she was actually-and a lot of people don't know this-one of the first board members of NARAL, you know, when there was all this tension between white women and women of color as it relates to the pro-choice movement. She took on the movement, the feminist movement, and said, "You've got to understand race is a factor for Black women."

Shirley did, when she was in Congress, fight hard for gender equality. She fought hard for domestic workers...fought hard for low-wage workers.

She was an educator by profession. She supported public school districts. And Shirley was an immigrant. Her family was. She was very, very vocal about immigrant rights. She was very vocal against the Vietnam War. She was pro-choice when very few others were pro-choice.

I mean, yeah! She would be happy, I think. She would be pleased, and I think she would be proud of the seeds that she had sown, especially with women of color and specifically with Black women.

JN: She got you engaged with electoral politics.

BL: I wouldn't have registered to vote had it not been for Shirley Chisholm, trust me!

[In the early 1970s] the Democrats didn't bring anything to what I thought they should in terms of an agenda for everyone, for the people, and neither did the Republicans, so I said, "Forget it, I'll be Black Student Union president and a community worker with the Black Panther Party." That was my political work.

And here comes Shirley Chisholm, and she convinced me that she thought I had something that I could contribute to the political system, and the rest is history!

JN: The Democratic Party is at a critical juncture right now, obviously, with a vital presidential race and vital races for Congress. What would you tell Democrats running at every level that they should learn from the Shirley Chisholm/Ron Dellums/Barbara Lee ethic? What does the Democratic Party need to learn at this point?

BL: I think the Democratic Party needs to learn that it's got to be inclusive and democratic, which means listening to different points of view from young people, from the Movement for Black Lives, from our Dreamers, from all of our young people throughout the country-and to know that even though their proposals may be bold and different and visionary, hey, you've got to embrace visionary and bold ideas now if you really want systemic change.

The Republicans have their bold and visionary ideas, which are so far to the right. Ron used to always tell me that if you start in the center with an extreme-right-wing party, where do you have to go? You have nowhere to negotiate but to the right. Whereas if you come out progressive with bold and brilliant and visionary ideas, then you have a way to accomplish your goals because you have that kind of wiggle room, and you have that space to negotiate maybe, you know, center-left. But you don't start in the center because then we'll never get to where we need to go.

I will tell the party, and I do tell the party-you know, I was on the drafting committee for the party platform-that you've got to be bold in this platform. You can't start in the center. You can't go back to 2016 and go backwards. You've got to go forward. It's got to be something that really reflects where the country is, where young people are, what it means to have a society that's just for everyone and lives up to this country's ideals-which it still hasn't done! I mean, that's what I told the party. I tell them that all the time.

JN: Bernie Sanders delegates to this year's Democratic National Convention recently suggested that Joe Biden should consider you for vice president. I wonder what you thought about that.

BL: I was very humbled. It just made me think, on a very personal level, "Well, maybe our progressive work and movement, maybe people see us and hear us and understand what I'm doing or trying to do."

JN: How important is this 2020 election, the presidential election?

BL: Well, it's a matter of life and death. What can I say? That's how important it is. It truly is life and death.

JN: Let's finish off by talking about an issue that you have worked on for some time and where we have begun to see a significant shift in attitudes. This fight over the removal of Confederate statues is not a new one for you.

BL: Oh boy. You know, I did the legislation to remove the Confederate statues from the Capitol. I introduced it initially in 2017 and got a few [cosponsors], but not enough. Now, in 2020, people were clamoring! We combined it with several other statues and busts and pictures and what-have-you that other members had of total racists, and these men who committed treason. So we got it passed off the floor!


What was an aspiration in 2017 became possible in 2020.

BL: That's the point I'm making! We've got to step out there when we know it's the right thing to do. Even if nobody's with you, if you're the only one and if you really have a vision for what you think would break through some of these barriers, you've got to do it. You wait, you work, you organize. It'll happen, sooner or later!

You can't be impatient, although you know I'm impatient. I always have been. But I have to kind of temper my impatience so I can educate and explain and organize and study and get the arguments down.

It's hard work, but it's honorable work.... On progressive issues and on issues that I've historically been working on, you can put the marker down early. That's why you have to have a vision. You have to have an agenda. You have to know where you want to go. Otherwise, you're just reacting.

JN: If you had a chance to put up a few statues, who would you like to see honored?

BL: Congressman John Robert Lewis, Congressman Ronald V. Dellums, and Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm.

JN: That's a good trio!

BL: It is. Those three should be together, really.

(c) 2020 John Nichols writes about politics for The Capitol Times. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Is Corruption In Washington Beyond Repair?
By James Donahue

Today we offer a lesson in political science for those who may have forgotten what they should have learned in high school. Our nation's founders established three branches of government. They are Administrative, Legislative and Judicial. Written within the Constitution was a system of checks and balances within these three governmental branches designed to assure fairness and equality for everybody.

It is no secret that something has gone seriously wrong.

The way the Legislative Branch was supposed to work was that people divided the territory in which they lived into voting districts. They elected someone from each district to go to Washington and represent their interests. This way, everybody had an interest in the way an article of legislation was written before it became law. Just to keep everything on an even keel, there were two parts to the legislative branch; the House of Representatives and the Senate. Both the House and Senate had to agree on the language of every bill before it went to the President's desk, or the Executive Branch, for final approval.

The President has the power to either sign the bill into law or veto it. If the President vetoes the bill, it isn't necessarily lost. The document can be sent back to the Congress for reconsideration and possible change. Congress can also override a veto if members can muster a two-thirds majority vote.

A lot of that original framework remains in place. But over the years, new rules of operating have been added by legislators that have removed the simplicity of the way thing are done. They have created committees and sub-committees where proposed bills sometimes become buried, never to see the light of day. Rule changes are designed to give members of one party an advantage over another so that constituents at home are no longer getting fair representation. Senate rules give individual members the power to block action on important legislation without having to explain why. The invention of the filibuster . . . the monopoly of the floor of the house by a single member that can continue for days . . .just for the purpose of stalling action on a proposed bill, is among the many tricks used in internal battles.

Then there are the lobbyists. These are slick professional salesmen representing big corporations, big banking interests, and powerful political groups like the American Medical Association and the American Rifle Association. Lobbyists are constantly active in the halls of the Capital. Their original job was to try to persuade elected legislators to vote on behalf of their employer. More recently they have resorted to paying elected legislators to vote in ways that favor their interests and not necessarily in the interests of the constituents.

The advent of cash payoffs or expensive gifts that include paid vacation trips and other favors that sometimes go to the extreme have helped corrupt the way our system of government works.

The workings of the Executive Branch appear to remain mostly intact, except for the fact that the President's appointed staff of advisers appears to be getting so large and cumbersome that some of the departments are falling over themselves. New presidents spend most of their first year in office just filling all of the appointments to the many agencies that have been created over the years. Also we notice that many of the President's top advisors are former lobbyists or former top executives with some of the most powerful corporations and banking systems operating in the nation.

The top tier of the Judicial Branch is the Supreme Court. It consists of the Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices. All are appointed by the President and confirmed by the majority vote of the Senate. Once seated, these Justices have life tenure. Their terms terminate upon death, resignation, retirement or impeachment.

It has always been impossible to keep politics out of this high court, since members are appointed by presidents and approved by senators with political viewpoints. Yet the court's position as the final legal authority in the nation gives this judicial panel a significant amount of power. The court's purpose has always been to examine and interpret the laws as drafted by the Legislative and Executive Branches of government. The court also examines the constitutionality of each law that comes before it.

Most legal cases are handled by Federal District Courts or the Federal Court of Appeals before they ever reach the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court must agree to hear a case before it goes before the bench. Decisions made by this court are final, and based on interpretation of law. The only way to change a Supreme Court decision is to get legislators to agree to rewrite the law.

If we go by the textbooks, all of this was the way the high court was supposed to operate. In recent years, however, something troublesome has been happening. The court has been handing down opinions that have had a dramatic impact on the way governments and police function all over the country. Under Chief Justice William Rehnquist the court by a 5-4 vote intervened in the close vote count between presidential candidates George W. Bush and Al Gore, interrupted a Florida vote count, and gave the presidency to Bush. That one ruling had an impact on America that changed the nation forever.

Bush's appointment of conservatives John Roberts to the office of Chief Justice and Samuel Alito to a position of Associate Justice helped sway the court in a 5-4 landmark decision that opened the door for private corporations to finance political campaigns. This had a major impact on every election since. Millions of dollars in secret money (some believe it came from foreign sources and moved through the Chamber of Commerce) were used to promote many of the candidates for legislative and even state gubernatorial campaigns.

Because of that Supreme Court decision people in local legislative districts no longer have true representation in Washington. To win office, candidates must be heavily backed by major corporations with big money if they have any chance of getting elected. This means their loyalty is to the corporations and big money interests, not the electorate.

It is clear that something has gone terribly wrong with the government system now operating in the United States. Many of the people we once trusted to go to Washington and our state capitals to make important decisions on our behalf have become victims of a need to gain heavy financial support to pay for the high cost of running a successful campaign. They have consequently been bought by a shadow government that exists behind the walls of the Federal Reserve, big world banking systems and corporate interests.

When we stand back and look at the slow progression of change that has occurred since America was founded over 200 years ago, and the way the Constitution and Bill of Rights has been distorted by the courts and legislative action, we find ourselves looking at a system of greed and corruption that runs so deep we wonder if it can ever be repaired.

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

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in Bedminster, New Jersey, on August 7, 2020

America's Death March
Regardless of the outcome, the election will not stop the rise of hypernationalism, crisis cults and other signs of an empire's terminal decline.
By Chris Hedges

The terminal decline of the United States will not be solved by elections. The political rot and depravity will continue to eat away at the soul of the nation, spawning what anthropologists call crisis cults - movements led by demagogues that prey on an unbearable psychological and financial distress. These crisis cults, already well established among followers of the Christian Right and Donald Trump, peddle magical thinking and an infantilism that promises - in exchange for all autonomy - prosperity, a return to a mythical past, order and security. The dark yearnings among the white working class for vengeance and moral renewal through violence, the unchecked greed and corruption of the corporate oligarchs and billionaires who manage our failed democracy, which has already instituted wholesale government surveillance and revoked most civil liberties, are part of the twisted pathologies that infect all civilizations sputtering towards oblivion. I witnessed the deaths of other nations during the collapse of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe and later in the former Yugoslavia. I have smelled this stench before.

The removal of Trump from office will only exacerbate the lust for racist violence he incites and the intoxicating elixir of white nationalism. The ruling elites, who first built a mafia economy and then built a mafia state, will continue under Biden, as they did under Trump, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, to wantonly pillage and loot. The militarized police will not stop their lethal rampages in poor neighborhoods. The endless wars will not end. The bloated military budget will not be reduced. The world's largest prison population will remain a stain upon the country. The manufacturing jobs shipped overseas will not return and the social inequality will grow. The for-profit health care system will gouge the public and price millions more out of the health care system. The language of hate and bigotry will be normalized as the primary form of communication. Internal enemies, including Muslims, immigrants and dissidents, will be defamed and attacked. The hypermasculinity that compensates for feelings of impotence will intensify. It will direct its venom towards women and all who fail to conform to rigid male stereotypes, especially artists, LGBTQ people and intellectuals. Lies, conspiracy theories, trivia and fake news - what Hannah Arendt called "nihilistic relativism" - will still dominate the airwaves and social media, mocking verifiable fact and truth. The ecocide, which presages the extinction of the human species and most other life forms, will barrel unabated towards its apocalyptic conclusion.

"We run heedlessly into the abyss after putting something in front of us to stop us seeing it," Pascal wrote.

The worse it gets - and it will get worse as the pandemic hits us in wave after deadly wave with an estimated 300,000 Americans dead by December and possibly 400,000 by January - the more desperate the nation will become. Tens of millions of people will be thrown into destitution, evicted from their homes and abandoned. Social collapse, as Peter Drucker observed in Weimar Germany in the 1930s, brings with it a loss of faith in ruling institutions and ruling ideologies. With no apparent answers or solutions to mounting chaos and catastrophe - and Biden and the Democratic Party have already precluded the kind of New Deal programs and assault on oligarchic power that saved us during the Great Depression - demagogues and charlatans need only denounce all institutions, all politicians, and all political and social conventions while conjuring up hosts of phantom enemies. Drucker saw that Nazism succeeded not because people believed in its fantastic promises, but in spite of them. Nazi absurdities, he pointed out, had been "witnessed by a hostile press, a hostile radio, a hostile cinema, a hostile church, and a hostile government which untiringly pointed out the Nazi lies, the Nazi inconsistency, the unattainability of their promises, and the dangers and folly of their course." Nobody, he noted, "would have been a Nazi if rational belief in the Nazi promises had been a prerequisite." The poet, playwright and socialist revolutionary Ernst Toller, who was forced into exile and stripped of his citizenship when the Nazis took power in 1933, wrote much the same in his autobiography: "The people are tired of reason, tired of thought and reflection. They ask, what has reason done in the last few years, what good have insights and knowledge done us." After Toller committed suicide in 1939, W.H. Auden in his poem "In Memory of Ernst Toller" wrote:

We are lived by powers we pretend to understand:
They arrange our loves; it is they who direct at the end
The enemy bullet, the sickness, or even our hand.
The poor, the vulnerable, those who are not white or not Christian, those who are undocumented or who do not mindlessly repeat the cant of a perverted Christian nationalism, will be offered up in a crisis to the god of death, a familiar form of human sacrifice that plagues sick societies. Once these enemies are purged from the nation, we are promised, America will recover its lost glory, except that once one enemy is obliterated another takes its place. Crisis cults require a steady escalation of conflict. This is what made the war in the former Yugoslavia inevitable. Once one stage of conflict reaches a crescendo it loses its efficacy. It must be replaced by ever more brutal and deadly confrontations. The intoxication and addiction to greater and greater levels of violence to purge the society of evil led to genocide in Germany and the former Yugoslavia. We are not immune. It is what Ernst Junger called a "feast of death."

These crisis cults are, as Drucker understood, irrational and schizophrenic. They have no coherent ideology. They turn morality upside down. They appeal exclusively to emotions. Burlesque and celebrity culture become politics. Depravity becomes morality. Atrocities and murder become heroism. Crime and fraud become justice. Greed and nepotism become civic virtues. What these cults stand for today, they condemn tomorrow. At the height of the reign of terror on May 6, 1794 during the French Revolution, Maximilien Robespierre announced that the Committee for Public Safety now recognized the existence of God. The French revolutionaries, fanatical atheists who had desecrated churches and confiscated church property, murdered hundreds of priests and forced another 30,000 into exile, instantly reversed themselves to send to the guillotine those who disparaged religion. In the end, exhausted by the moral confusion and internal contradictions, these crisis cults yearn for self-annihilation.

The French sociologist Emile Durkheim in his classic book "On Suicide" found that when social bonds are shattered, when a population no longer feels it has a place or meaning in a society, personal and collective acts of self-destruction proliferate. Societies are held together by a web of social bonds that give individuals a sense of being part of a collective and engaged in a project larger than the self. This collective expresses itself through rituals, such as elections and democratic participation or an appeal to patriotism, and shared national beliefs. The bonds provide meaning, a sense of purpose, status and dignity. They offer psychological protection from impending mortality and the meaninglessness that comes with being isolated and alone. The breaking of these bonds plunges individuals into deep psychological distress. Durkheim called this state of hopelessness and despair anomie, which he defined as "ruleless-ness."

Ruleless-ness means the norms that govern a society and create a sense of organic solidarity no longer function. The belief, for example, that if we work hard, obey the law and get a good education we can achieve stable employment, social status and mobility along with financial security becomes a lie. The old rules, imperfect and often untrue for poor people of color, nevertheless were not a complete fiction in the United States. They offered some Americans - especially those from the white working and middle class - modest social and economic advancement. The disintegration of these bonds has unleashed a widespread malaise Durkheim would have recognized. The self-destructive pathologies that plague the United States - opioid addiction, gambling, suicide, sexual sadism, hate groups and mass shootings - are products of this anomie. So is our political dysfunction. My book, "America: The Farewell Tour," is an examination of these pathologies and the widespread anomie that defines American society.

The economic structures, even before the pandemic, were reconfigured to mock faith in a meritocracy and the belief that hard work leads to a productive and valued role in society. American productivity, as The New York Times pointed out, has increased 77 percent since 1973 but hourly pay has grown only 12 percent. If the federal minimum wage was attached to productivity, the newspaper wrote, it would be more than $20 an hour now, not $7.25. Some 41.7 million workers, a third of the workforce, earn less than $12 an hour, and most of them do not have access to employer-sponsored health insurance. A decade after the 2008 financial meltdown, the Times wrote, the average middle class family's net worth is more than $40,000 below what it was in 2007. The net worth of black families is down 40 percent, and for Latino families the figure has dropped 46 percent. Some four million evictions are filed each year. One in four tenant households spends about half its pretax income on rent. Each night some 200,000 people sleep in their cars, on streets or under bridges. And these stark figures represent the good times Biden and the Democratic Party leaders promise to restore. Now, with real unemployment probably close to 20 percent - the official figure of 10 percent excludes those furloughed or those who have stopped looking for work - some 40 million people are at risk of being evicted by the end of the year. An estimated 27 million people are expected to lose their health insurance. Banks are stockpiling reserves of cash to cope with the expected wave of bankruptcies and defaults on mortgages, student loans, car loans, personal loans and credit card debt. The ruleless-ness and anomie that defines the lives of tens of millions of Americans was orchestrated by the two ruling parties in the service of a corporate oligarchy. If we do not address this anomie, if we do not restore the social bonds shattered by predatory corporate capitalism, the decay will accelerate.

This dark human pathology is as old as civilization itself, repeated in varying forms in the twilight of ancient Greece and Rome, the finale of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires, revolutionary France, the Weimar Republic and the former Yugoslavia.

The social inequality that characterizes all states and civilizations seized by a tiny and corrupt cabal - in our case corporate - leads to an inchoate desire by huge segments of the population to destroy. The ethnic nationalists Slobodan Milosevic, Franjo Tudjman, Radovan Karadzic and Alija Izetbegovic in the former Yugoslavia assumed power in a similar period of economic chaos and political stagnation. Yugoslavs by 1991 were suffering from widespread unemployment and had seen their real incomes reduced by half from what they had been a generation before. These nationalist demagogues sanctified their followers as righteous victims stalked by an array of elusive enemies. They spoke in the language of vengeance and violence, leading, as it always does, to actual violence. They trafficked in historical myth, deifying the past exploits of their race or ethnicity in a perverse kind of ancestor worship, a mechanism to give to those who suffered from anomie, who had lost their identity, dignity and self-worth, a new, glorious identity as part of a master race. When I walked through Montgomery, Alabama, a city where half of the population is African-American, with the civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson a few years ago, he pointed out the numerous Confederate memorials, noting that most had been put up in the last decade. "This," I told him, "is exactly what happened in Yugoslavia."

A hyper-nationalism always infects a dying civilization. It feeds the collective self-worship. This hyper-nationalism celebrates the supposedly unique virtues of the race or the national group. It strips all who are outside the closed circle of worth and humanity. The world instantly becomes understandable, a black and white tableau of them and us. These tragic moments in history see people fall into collective insanity. They suspend thought, especially self-critical thought. None of this is going away in November, in fact it will get worse.

Joe Biden, a shallow, political hack devoid of fixed beliefs or intellectual depth, is an expression of the nostalgia of a ruling class that yearns to return to the pantomime of democracy. They want to restore the decorum and civic religion that makes the presidency a form of monarchy and sacralizes the organs of state power. Donald Trump's vulgarity and ineptitude is an embarrassment to the architects of empire. He has ripped back the veil that covered our failed democracy. But no matter how hard the elites try this veil cannot be restored. The mask is off. The facade is gone. Biden cannot bring it back.

Political, economic and social dysfunction define the American empire. Our staggering inability to contain the pandemic, which now infects over 5 million Americans, and the failure to cope with the economic fallout the pandemic has caused, has exposed the American capitalist model as bankrupt. It has freed the world, dominated by the United States for seven decades, to look at other social and political systems that serve the common good rather than corporate greed. The diminished stature of the United States, even among our European allies, brings with it the hope for new forms of government and new forms of power.

It is up to us to abolish the American kleptocracy. It is up to us to mount sustained acts of mass civil disobedience to bring down the empire. It poisons the world as it poisons us. If we mobilize to build an open society, we hold out the possibility of beating back these crisis cults as well as slowing and disrupting the march towards ecocide. This requires us to acknowledge, like those protesting in the streets of Beirut, that our kleptocracy, like Lebanon's, is incapable of being salvaged. The American system of inverted totalitarianism, as the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin called it, must be eradicated if we are to wrest back our democracy and save ourselves from mass extinction. We need to echo the chants by the crowds in Lebanon calling for the wholesale removal of its ruling class - kulyan-yani-kulyan - everyone means everyone.

(c) 2020 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

We need to start thinking about what an economy can do for us, not what we must do for it.

Four-Day Workweek Can Spur Necessary Transformation
By David Suzuki

When we started the David Suzuki Foundation in 1990, we implemented a four-day, 34-hour workweek. Staff consistently say it's made their lives better, giving them time to rest, pursue other interests, explore nature, volunteer, enjoy the company of family and friends, and so much more.

Life isn't about making more money so we can keep buying more stuff; it's about having time to do things that enrich our lives. In the face of multiple crises -pandemic, climate and biodiversity -we need to consider new societal and economic ideas that promote human well-being and help us live within Earth's limits, rather than endlessly chasing a consumerist dream based on the illusory premise that a finite planet can support endless growth.

A four-day workweek won't cure society's woes. In fact, you'd think we' be down to three days by now, as rapid technological advancement and global trade have upended everything about the way we work since the standard five-day workweek was implemented after the Second World War!

Evidence confirms the Foundation's experience: four-day workweeks are good for employers and employees, boosting employment levels and increasing performance and motivation. They're also beneficial to health and well-being, resulting in cost savings from reduced sick time. Reduced work hours, flexible schedules and telecommuting can also cut pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Many people have altered their work practices during the pandemic -working from home, often with flexible schedules, using technology for meetings and communication. Not everyone can or should work from home or alter schedules, but many can.

The pandemic has exposed flaws in our systems, but it's provided opportunities to find better ways. Its shown change is possible. We need to start thinking about what an economy can do for us, not what we must do for it (which apparently includes sacrificing your life, if you consider the rush in some jurisdictions to "open up the economy" in the midst of a pandemic that still isn't well understood by scientists and medical experts).

Is the purpose of work to continuously extract and consume resources so we can keep replacing our products as they become obsolete -at the expense of all those who will come after us? Or is it to ensure that we meet our needs for sustenance, shelter and well-being as individuals and societies so that we can contribute to the common good?

Transforming work-life balance through a well-being lens can lead to significant health benefits, contribute to gender equality, improve work redistribution and have important environmental benefits. Rethinking how we work is crucial, and a four-day workweek, guaranteed sick days, minimum vacation time and greater flexibility are good steps toward making work better for people and the planet.

Thefour-day week is becoming especially popular as people consider a post-pandemic world. That's because it works. Utah gave its government workers a four-day workweek from 2007 to 2011 (it ended with a change in government), and concluded it saved $1.8 million in energy costs within the first 10 months and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by about 10,900 tonnes a year.

A University of Liverpool brief on how the city can respond to the COVID-19 crisis confirmed the benefits of working four days, in part by looking at European nations that have reduced work hours. The researchers caution that governments and unions must help ensure that overall wages and living standards aren't reduced, and that "productivity gains from advances in fields like automation are distributed amongst the workforce rather than amassed by the owners of machines."

It's in part up to the federal government to facilitate this shift in the private sector, as change in the federal public sector is often slow. Municipal governments can also signal the change. Vancouver city workers once had a four-day workweek.

Over the years, it's taken a lot of sacrifice and hardship to change work practices -from slavery and child labour to 12-hour, seven-day workweeks with few benefits to our current system, another relic of the previous century. It shouldn't be that difficult this time, as advantages to business and industry are as great as those to individuals and society. And the need for change has never been more evident.

Let's take the first step to new ways of working by adopting a four-day workweek now!

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

Belarus And Its Contested Election Might Be A Preview Of Our November
I honestly don't know what this country is going to look like by Christmas.
By Charles P. Pierce

At this moment, the country of Belarus is in convulsions over a disputed election. From the BBC:

Police used stun grenades, rubber bullets and water cannon. A human rights group said one protester was killed and about 120 arrested. Mr Lukashenko won 80% of the vote, according to a preliminary count. But the main opposition leader has refused to recognise the results. "We have already won, because we have overcome our fear, our apathy and our indifference," Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said. The preliminary results give her 9.9% of the vote, but her campaign said she had been polling 70-80% in some areas...

Sometimes referred to as Europe's last dictator, President Lukashenko was first elected in 1994. In the last vote in 2015, he was declared winner with 83.5% of the vote. There were no serious challengers and election observers reported problems in the counting and tabulation of votes. This year's election is being held amid growing signs of frustration at his leadership. The campaign saw the rise of Ms Tikhanovskaya, 37, a former teacher who became a stay-at-home mother until she was thrust into the political spotlight. After her husband was arrested and blocked from registering for the vote, she stepped in to take his place. In the lead-up to the election she told the BBC that people in Belarus did not believe the election would be run fairly. "But I still believe that our president will understand that his time is over. People don't want him any more," she said. Lukashenko has had an up-and-down relationship with Vladimir Putin, although Putin did call Lukashenko and congratulate him on his great victory. More than a few people are wondering if Putin will take advantage of the current unrest to grab a chunk of Belarus the way he grabbed Crimea from Ukraine. From Bloomberg:

Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Lukashenko on his victory in a telegram and urged the "expansion of integration processes" between their countries, the Kremlin said in a statement Monday. Chinese President Xi Jinping also sent congratulations, Belta reported. Poland expressed deep concern about the crushing of the protests and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called on European Union leaders to hold a snap summit on the crisis.
I mention all of this because, as we get closer and closer to our own elections, which are gearing up to be one of the chewiest clusters of fck ever seen anyway-and that's just because of the pandemic, and not the obvious ratfcking from the administration* and its enablers-I think it's safe to say that the results in November already are in "dispute," and that the infrastructure of crazy through which the dispute will be conducted is already in place. From the Weatherford Democrat:
Weatherford resident Curtis, who asked that his last name be withheld, was wearing full camouflage clothing and carrying a semi-automatic rifle. He served 10 years in the U.S. Marines and wanted to make sure his hometown was safe. "I've seen what's going on around the world, like Minneapolis," he said. "I don't want that to come here to Texas. This is where we live and where we raise our families. We don't want to see any of that violence and chaos. We're not out here to incite any violence, we're just here to let them know that the citizens don't want them busting in from other places telling us how our city should run. it's pretty much that simple."
Something like 200 people showed up, many from out of town, and many of them armed to the teeth, to protect Weatherford from...something.
Curtis said he had seen a social media post that showed 15 charter buses that were parked at the Hudson Oaks Walmart that were departing and on the way, along with possibly others. "You can call it rumors all you want, but there's people circulating pictures of it on a Facebook group," he said. Which group? "I don't know who it is, but they're saying this is a KKK rally, which is probably the last thing it would be," Curtis said. "I don't think anyone here would condone that behavior."

Sitting alone under a shade tree was Larry, who held a semi-automatic rifle and asked that his last name be withheld. He didn't want his photo taken. "I heard the NFAC Militia was coming here," he said, referring to a black militia group. "They haven't been to Fort Worth yet. I thought if they were going to come here, the community here needed a show of force against another militia. That's the Not [expletive deleted] Around Militia. They threaten law enforcement and all the people, and they carry guns." Where had he seen the rumors that the group was coming? "Just coming across it on several pages I belong to," he said.

Expect more of this, and in a hundred different places, as November beckons. I honestly don't know what this country is going to look like by Christmas.

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

The Quotable Quote-

"I have a great relationship with the blacks."
~~~ Donald Trump

A procession of demonstrators marched in front of the statue of the Republic with trade union
flags and banners calling for struggle on December 19, 2019, the fifteenth day of a national strike.

How Did Americans Become Such Wimps?
Silence as Trump kills tens of thousands, destroys Social Security and post office, and plots election fraud.
By Juan Cole

Nicole Winfield and Lisa Marie Pane at the Associated Press write at the unbelief with which Europeans are staring at the United States, as we head for 300,000 dead from the coronavirus and our economy shranks 33% on an annualized basis last quarter, and we just appear to be all right with that.

Not only are we perfectly willing to toss grandma in an early grave on Trump's say-so, but we are supine as he openly engineers the destruction of social security and medicare, and of the post office, on behalf of himself and the billionaire class he represents. That is after we sat by while he completely gutted all environmental regulations that got in the way of corporations making money off poisoning us. I don't think the neutering of the EPA has even been reported on daytime cable news, though the prime time magazine shows on MSNBC have at least brought it up.

Americans imagine themselves rugged individualists. A cartoonist did a satire on us showing brawny guys, shirts off, with the logo "Rugged individualism works best when we obey."

In fact, Americans are masochistic sheeple who let the rich and powerful walk all over them and thank them for the privilege.

We have become wimps. The word wimp may come from "whimper." It was used in a newspaper 1920, and then not again until 1960. Since then it may have been influenced by the character of "Wimpy" in the Popeye cartoons, who did not have much gumption. He was only good at mooching off people in search of a hamburger.

I always thought Americans were the plucky Popeye, who knew how to get iron in their diets and show some spunk.

Turns out we have been reduced to begging for our meals.

The rich figured out in the 1980s that Americans are all form over substance, and if you put up for president a Hollywood actor like Ronald Reagan who used to play cowboys, they would swoon over him. In 1984 when Reagan ran against Walter Mondale, I saw a middle aged white Detroit auto worker interviewed who said he woudn't vote for Mondale because he was a "panty-waist." Reagan took away their right to strike and took away government services by running up the deficit and cutting taxes on the rich simultaneously, then claiming the government couldn't provide the services the people had paid for because it is broke.

Reagan raised the retirement age from 65 to 67. Why? Most young people don't realize that their health will decline in their late 60s and they often won't actually get any golden years.

What did Americans do in response? They just bent over and took it.

Actually, it is the French who are much more like Americans imagine themselves to be. President Emmanuel Macron last December tried to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. I can't understand why. France has persistently high unemployment as it is.

In response, all hell broke loose. Some 30 unions went on strike, and they supported each other. Trains were interrupted. Trucking was interrupted. Life was interrupted. A million people came out into the streets. But one poll had 61% of the French approving of the strikes. They went on for months, and were very inconvenient.

MARSEILLE, FRANCE - DECEMBER 5: Public and private workers demonstrate and shout slogans during a mass strike against pension reforms on December 5, 2019 in Marseille, France. France has drawn up emergency plans for a major strike against pension reforms, which is one of the biggest challenges in President Macron's far-reaching reform.
Macron backed down on raising the retirement age.

The French working and middle classes know how to throw a first class fit when the servants of the rich in government come after their lifestyles. They don't always get their way (Macron used a parliamentary maneuver to make some changes in pensions, in late February), but they make damn sure the government knows it can't get away with encroaching on them without a fight.

I actually think that one reason Europe has done much better in tamping down the coronavirus than Trump's America is that the governments and corporations were afraid of a public backlash if the death toll went on rising. So they did their effing jobs.

In mid-April the Financial Times reported that the CGT workers union (which it darkly observed is under Communist influences) had filed a criminal complaint against the Carrefour supermarket chain and its CEO for not protecting its workers from the coronavirus. The unions also went to court to force Amazon to step back and only ship essential items until the courts could review the company's safety procedures.

The only thing I know of like that in the US is the UCFW's lawsuit against the Department of Agriculture's waivers to poultry plants allowing them to speed up the assembly lines. During a pandemic! Workers breathing harder is undesirable with a respiratory disease floating about.

But in France, it wouldn't have been one union filing a lawsuit (which one of Mitch McConnell's unqualified Republican judges/ideologues will likely slap down). It would have been a massive set of mutually reinforcing strikes.

By feeding us decades of propaganda against unions and "socialism," the American rich have broken the legs of the people, and left them to twitch helplessly as more and more indignities are heaped on them. They've divided us by race (Trump is not alone in this tactic, only the least subtle), they've convinced us to give the super-rich power because they will make us rich too. (How is that working out for you?).

There is now no mainstream political party in Western Europe that is anywhere near as far right as the GOP. The closest analogues to today's Republican Party in Europe are the far right white supremacist parties, like Marie LePen's National Front in France or the AfD in Germany.

It appears that a plutocracy produces fascism, since appeals to racialist superiority and playing on fears of a brown and black Other are the only things that can convince people to give up their basic human rights (like a comfortable life in retirement, which they have paid for, or the right to cast a mail in ballot during a pandemic).

But despite all the military parades and brave talk of master races, fascism is just the ultimate humiliation of the sheeple. Mussolini drove enormous numbers of Italians into poverty. The Axis used them for cannon fodder at the front. If the increasingly wimpy Americans don't watch out, they will find that it is too late to fight back, since they have surrendered all their means to do so. So as to avoid being panty-waists and all. They will be left with a borrowed greasy cheeseburger they can't even pay for.

Bonus Video: President Donald Trump Is Praised - By The Cabinet He Appointed | The New York Times

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

The Dead Letter Office-

Betsy gives the corporate salute!

Heil Trump,

Dear Bildungsminister Devos,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your idea to take all the money from public schools and give it to private schools that you own stock in, 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 10-10-2020. We salute you frau Devos, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

Betsy DeVos' Deadly Plan To Reopen Schools
By Robert Reich

Trump education secretary Betsy DeVos is heading the administration's effort to force schools to reopen in the fall for in-person instruction. What's her plan to reopen safely? She doesn't have one.

Rather than seeking additional federal funds, she's using this pandemic to further her ploy to privatize education - threatening to withhold federal funds from public schools that don't reopen.

Repeatedly pressed by journalists during TV appearances, DeVos can't come up with a single mechanism or guideline for reopening schools safely. She can't even articulate what authority the federal government has to unilaterally withhold funds from school districts - a decision that's made at the state and local level, or by Congress. But when has the Constitution stopped the Trump administration from trying to do whatever it wants?

DeVos is following Trump's lead - prematurely reopening the economy, which he sees as key to his re-election but is causing a resurgence of the virus.

Let's get something straight: Every single parent, teacher, and student wants to be able to return to in-person instruction in the fall - but only if no one's life is put at risk.

Districts need more funding, not less, to implement the CDC's guidelines. Given that state and local governments are already cash-strapped, it's estimated that K-12 schools need at least $245 billion in additional funding to put safety precautions in place - funding that Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration refuse to give.

One might think an education secretary would be studying what kind of safety precautions would work best, and seeking emergency funding for those safeguards. Not DeVos. Just like her boss in the Oval Office, she's been hard at work shafting working families to advance her personal agenda.

In late April, she issued rules for how states should use the $13 billion allocated in the CARES Act for schools. Her rules would divert millions of dollars away from low-income schools into the coffers of wealthy private schools. It's such a blatant violation of federal law that several states are suing her and her department.

DeVos' entire tenure has centered on shafting low-income students and their families - the very people she's supposed to protect.

She has repeatedly empowered the predatory for-profit college industry at the expense of the students they prey upon. Why? She has considerable financial stakes that are rife with conflicts of interest. Her financial investments are a web of holdings in for-profit colleges and student loan collectors.

When DeVos took office, she repealed an Obama-era rule imposing stricter regulations and higher standards on for-profit colleges. She also stopped canceling the debts of students defrauded by these institutions - a move that has prompted 23 states to bring a lawsuit against her. In the process, she was even held in contempt of court for violating a federal court order.

Now, in the middle of the worst public health crisis in more than a century, she's jeopardizing the safety of our students, teachers, parents, bus drivers, and custodians, while rerouting desperately needed public school funds towards the private schools she's always championed.

Remember, when you vote against Trump this November - you're voting against her, too. It's a win-win.

(c) 2020 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is

Hundreds of activists attend a rally in New York City on October 13, 2019 demanding
that Congress fulfill its constitutional duty and impeach President Donald Trump.

Will Enough Americans Show Up To Stop Trump From Using the Dictator's Playbook?
The question we will see answered over the next six months is whether Trump has taken America so far down the road to oligarchy and fascism that we can't recover.
By Thom Hartmann

The single most consistent defining characteristic of an emerging dictatorship in a country that started as a democracy is that the dictator regularly holds elections and always wins, because he uses the instruments of government to make sure he wins.

Trump has now done this with the Justice Department, the Post Office, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Reserve, and our intelligence agencies.

Over at Justice, Attorney General Bill Barr has already said that he intends to investigate Joe Biden and his son's activities in Ukraine and may report on that just before the election.

Trump has seized control of the Post Office, decapitated it's senior management, and has already begun slowing down the mail and more than doubling the cost to states for mailing ballots just before we conduct an election that'll probably be more than half mail-in.

Trump has gotten the Department of Homeland Security and various factions within their immigration police to challenge protesters for a test run in Portland, and plans to bring this crew to other cities just in time for a massive display of police power during the elections.

Trump has redirected all reporting on coronavirus statistics away from the Centers for Disease Control to HHS, run by his toady, Alex Azar. Now hospitals and public health officials, as well as news agencies, can no longer get accurate data on the severity of the pandemic in the United States.

Over at the Fed, Trump has installed Jerome Powell, a multimillionaire bankster who is not an economist and was on the board of the Carlyle Group. Powell has created about $7 trillion out of thin air, and is using it to buy corporate stocks and bonds to maintain the stock market, making it appear that the economy is not as bad as it is.

And when our intelligence agencies first reported that Russia, the source of much of Trump's wealth cording to his own children, was already actively interfering in the 2020 election, Trump got them to change their assessment to downplay Russia and highlight that China and Iran had a "preference" for Biden. He got the intelligence agencies to omit the fact that China and Iran are not engaged in active measures, creating the false impression that there was some kind of balance among foreign actors messing with our elections.

Meanwhile, in a further tip of the hat to his racist white supporters, Trump wants to declare his candidacy while simultaneously symbolically declaring victory for the white supremacist Confederacy at Gettysburg.

As the federal government's website for Gettysburg proclaims, "Often referred to as the 'High Water Mark of the Rebellion,' Gettysburg was the Civil War's bloodiest battle..." By proclaiming his candidacy at Gettysburg, Trump would essentially be reversing the Confederacy's 1863 loss at that site.

All of these actions make it clear that Donald Trump doesn't think of himself as a President of United States, but rather as a tinpot dictator who has seized control of a country that can be turned into a Third World autocracy.>{? } The question we will see answered over the next six months is whether Trump has taken America so far down the road to oligarchy and fascism that we can't recover.

It will take tens of millions of us showing up, speaking out, and making sure that our votes are counted to stop this train-wreck before it utterly destroys the American experiment.

(c) 2020 Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program The Thom Hartmann Show.

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Rick Mckee ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Self-Loathing GOP Congressman Can't Believe He's Been Reduced To Defending Necessity Of Public Schools
By The Onion

WASHINGTON-As the nation falls deeper into the grip of a pandemic that has forced compromises upon his most cherished principles, a self-loathing Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) acknowledged Friday he could not believe he had been reduced to defending the necessity of public schools in a civil society.

"I hear these words coming out of my mouth, these requests for more federal dollars so public schools can reopen, and I wonder, 'My God, what have I become?'" said Alexander, who wondered aloud whether he might still be able to console himself by diverting money from lunch programs and using it to build more charter schools.

"I can barely recognize myself anymore, this man who goes on television and talks about how a return to normalcy in American life depends upon increasing funds to public schools and ensuring they have everything they need to succeed. Ugh, how has it come to this? Has the half century I've spent in politics been a complete waste?"

At press time, Alexander had reportedly cheered himself up by thinking about all the public school teachers and staff whose health would be threatened by reopening too soon.

(c) 2020 The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 20 # 33 (c) 08/14/2020

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