Please visit our sponsor!

Bookmark and Share
In This Edition

Matt Taibbi says, "Censorship Does Not End Well."

Dahr Jamail with a must read, "Is There A Cult Of Trump?"

Glen Ford finds, "New Study Reveals Old Fact: Black Male Youth Feel Threatened."

Eugene Robinson reports, "Of Course Omarosa Has Tapes."

Jim Hightower considers, "America's War."

John Nichols reports, "Christine Hallquist Isn't Just The First Transgender Candidate For Governor-She's Also A Visionary Progressive."

James Donahue explains, "Why We Aren't Using Safe Thorium Nuclear Energy."

William Rivers Pitt hears, "The Coming Thunder Of The Climate Change Voter."

Heather Digby Parton finds, "For Republicans, The Mueller Probe Isn't Watergate: It's Ken Starr In Reverse."

David Suzuki asks, "Will Energy Efficiency Stall Climate Disruption?"

Charles P. Pierce concludes, "Omarosa Is Just Another Clown Leaping Out Of The Car."

David Swanson says, "Charlottesville Still Has Statues, Still Won't Ban Guns."

Jane Stillwater explains, "Why Sanctioning Iran is A Stupid Idea..."

DNC Chairman Tom Perez wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich explores, "Trump And The Art Of The No Deal."

Pepe Escobar says, "Economic War On Iran Is War On Eurasia Integration."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Sessions Vows To Protect All Deeply Held Religious Bigotry" but first Uncle Ernie exclaims, "Hogwash!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Milt Priggee, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Rick Loomis, Seb Zurcher, Raymond Hall, Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Caleb Kenna, Allie Caren, Brooks Kraft, Erik McGregor, 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."

Bookmark and Share

Visit me on Face Book

By Ernest Stewart

"Mr. Trump's claims of no collusion are, in a word, hogwash." ~~~ John O. Brennan

"Since civilization emerged, 10,000 years ago, we haven't had this kind of heat condition, and it's going to continue getting worse and that's the way it is." ~~~ Gov. Jerry Brown

The timing of this is interesting. Tuesday was supposed to be a referendum on grassroots-financed Democrats and on Friday #DNC is strategizing ways to get MORE corporate funding. Maybe they didn't like Tuesdays' results as much as they let on? ~~~ Scott Wooledge

"All for one, one for all, that is our device." ~~~ Alexandre Dumas

I'm sure you've heard by now that tRump revoked John O. Brennan; the CIA diretor under Obama, security clearance. Trump said:
"I have a unique constitutional responsibility to protect the nation's classified information, including by controlling access to it. Today, in fulfilling that responsibility, I have decided to revoke the security clearance of John Brennan, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Mr. Brennan's lying and recent conduct characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary is wholly inconsistent with access to the nation's most closely held secrets."
In return Brennan tweeted:
After the tweet Brennan then wrote an op-ed piece for the NY Times. Here's a bit of it:
Before, during and after its now infamous meddling in our last presidential election, Russia practiced the art of shaping political events abroad through its well-honed active measures program, which employs an array of technical capabilities, information operations and old-fashioned human intelligence spycraft. Electoral politics in Western democracies presents an especially inviting target, as a variety of politicians, political parties, media outlets, think tanks and influencers are readily manipulated, wittingly and unwittingly, or even bought outright by Russian intelligence operatives. The very freedoms and liberties that liberal Western democracies cherish and that autocracies fear have been exploited by Russian intelligence services not only to collect sensitive information but also to distribute propaganda and disinformation, increasingly via the growing number of social media platforms.

Having worked closely with the F.B.I. over many years on counterintelligence investigations, I was well aware of Russia's ability to work surreptitiously within the United States, cultivating relationships with individuals who wield actual or potential power. Like Mr. Bortnikov, these Russian operatives and agents are well trained in the art of deception. They troll political, business and cultural waters in search of gullible or unprincipled individuals who become pliant in the hands of their Russian puppet masters. Too often, those puppets are found.

The only questions that remain are whether the collusion that took place constituted criminally liable conspiracy, whether obstruction of justice occurred to cover up any collusion or conspiracy, and how many members of "Trump Incorporated" attempted to defraud the government by laundering and concealing the movement of money into their pockets. A jury is about to deliberate bank and tax fraud charges against one of those people, Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump's former campaign chairman. And the campaign's former deputy chairman, Rick Gates, has pleaded guilty to financial fraud and lying to investigators.

Mr. Trump clearly has become more desperate to protect himself and those close to him, which is why he made the politically motivated decision to revoke my security clearance in an attempt to scare into silence others who might dare to challenge him. Now more than ever, it is critically important that the special counsel, Robert Mueller, and his team of investigators be allowed to complete their work without interference - from Mr. Trump or anyone else - so that all Americans can get the answers they so rightly deserve.

Every day Robert Mueller comes a little bit closer to charging tRump with treason and with Brennans total cooperation that day may soon arrive. We can but hope America!

In Other News

I see where at least 14 major fires in California are currently burning out of control with anther 30 fires either contained or finally out. In addition some 40 other fires are burning throughout the west.

The Ranch fire in northern California is the largest fire in California's history when it combined with the "River fire." Upward of 400,000 acres have or will have burned before they can stop it.

Of course, tRump had to put his illiterate 2 cents worth in:

Someone should school tRump that rivers always flow into the sea, they don't need any help. Of course, so much water is being diverted from the Colorado river by cities and farms along it route that it no longer flows into the sea.

On a happy note seven Californian Rethuglicans are up to losing their seats for voting against common sense bills to help stop global warming and help to fight the wild fires which now, thanks to global warming have a fire season that lasts all year long instead of just the summer months.

Wild fires are currently burning from Mexico to Alaska, with smoke settling all along the East coast, where constant raining if causing floods from Florida to Maine. Yep, Mother Nature can be a real bitch if you cross her, and we have!

And Finally

Back when Barry imposed his will on the DNC and stuck us with Tom Perez over Democratic favorite Keith Ellison I knew that nothing had changed at the DNC. The party that cut it's own throat by holding back Bernie Sanders and pushing Hilary on us, thereby giving the presidency to tRump wouldn't change a lick. The latest scandal was after 900 top Democrats vowed to not a take a nickel from big oil less than two months ago had that over turned by greedy Tom Perez. As Jamie Henn put it in a tweet:

Or as Bill Mckibben said:

It's almost like the Democrats don't want to win as long as they can take bribe money to fill their personal coffers. ErgoTom Perez wins this weeks's Vidkun Quisling Award!

Keepin' On

We don't sell our readers new cars, fancy homes or designer clothes. We don't advocate consumerism nor do we offer facile solutions to serious problems. We do, however, bring together every week writers and activists who are not afraid to speak the truth about our country and our world. The articles we print are not for the faint of heart.

As access to accurate information becomes more difficult and free speech and the exchange of ideas becomes more restricted and controlled, small publications and alternative presses disappear. Issues and Alibis may soon join that list.

We aren't asking for much-not thousands of dollars a month, not tens of thousands a year. What we need is simply enough money to cover expenses for the magazine. A few thousand dollars a year. A few hundred dollars a month. We cannot continue to go into debt to publish Issues and Alibis but at the same time we cannot, in good conscience, go quietly about our daily lives, remaining silent in face of the injustices perpetrated by our leaders and our government. So we need your help. Please send us whatever you can as often as you can, and we'll stand with you, and fight the good fight!


03-22-1951 ~ 08-12-2018
Thanks for the read!

03-25-1942 ~ 08-16-2018
Thanks for the music!


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

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

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


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

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2018 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

Infowars' Alex Jones and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Censorship Does Not End Well
How America learned to stop worrying and put Mark Zuckerberg in charge of everything
By Matt Taibbi

Silicon Valley is changing its mind about censorship.

Two weeks ago, we learned about a new campaign against "inauthentic" content, conducted by Facebook in consultation with Congress and the secretive think tank Atlantic Council - whose board includes an array of ex-CIA and Homeland Security officials - in the name of cracking down on alleged Russian disinformation efforts.- As part of the bizarre alliance of Internet news distributors and quasi-government censors, the social network zapped 32 accounts and pages, including an ad for a real "No Unite the Right 2" anti-racist counter-rally in D.C. this past weekend.

"This is a real protest in Washington, D.C. It is not George Soros. It is not Russia. It is just us," said the event's organizers, a coalition of easily located Americans, in a statement.

Last week, we saw another flurry of censorship news. Facebook apparently suspended, a site critical of U.S. policy toward Venezuela. (It was reinstated Thursday.) Twitter suspended a pair of libertarians, including @DanielLMcAdams of the Ron Paul Institute and @ScottHortonShow of, for using the word "bitch" (directed toward a man) in a silly political argument. They, too, were later re-instated. More significantly: Google's former head of free expression issues in Asia, Lokman Tsui, blasted the tech giant's plan to develop a search engine that would help the Chinese government censor content.

First reported by The Intercept, the plan was called "a stupid, stupid move" by Tsui, who added: "I can't see a way to operate Google search in China without violating widely held international human rights standards." This came on the heels of news that the Israeli Knesset passed a second reading of a "Facebook bill," authorizing courts to delete content on security grounds.

Few Americans heard these stories, because the big "censorship" news last week surrounded the widely hated Alex Jones. After surviving halting actions by Facebook and YouTube the week before, the screeching InfoWars lunatic was hit decisively, removed from Apple, Facebook, Google and Spotify.

Jones is the media equivalent of a trench-coated stalker who jumps out from from behind a mailbox and starts whacking it in an intersection. His "speech" is on that level: less an idea than a gross physical provocation. InfoWars defines everything reporters are taught not to do.

Were I Alex Jones, I would think Alex Jones was a false-flag operation, cooked up to discredit the idea of a free press.

Moreover, Jones probably does violate all of those platforms' Terms of Service. I personally don't believe his Sandy Hook rants - in which he accused grieving parents of being actors in an anti-gun conspiracy - are protected speech, at least not according to current libel and defamation law. Even some conservative speech activists seem to agree.

And yet: I didn't celebrate when Jones was banned. Collectively, all these stories represent a revolutionary moment in media. Jones is an incidental player in a much larger narrative.

Both the Jones situation and the Facebook-Atlantic Council deletions seem an effort to fulfill a request made last year by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Last October, Facebook, Google and Twitter were asked by Hawaii Senator Mazie Hizono to draw up a "mission statement" to "prevent the foment of discord."

Companies like Facebook might have balked before. They have long taken a position that's very Star Trek, very Prime-Directive: We do not interfere. Mark Zuckerberg, as late as 2016, was saying, "editing content... that's not us."

Part of this reluctance was probably ideological, but the main thing was the sheer logistical quandary of monitoring published content on the scale of a firm like Facebook. The company now has 2.23 billion users, and experts estimate that's more than a billion new entries to monitor daily.

Although it might have seemed minor, undertaking what Facebook did prior to 2016 - keeping porn and beheading videos out of your news feed - was an extraordinarily involved technical process.

This was underscored by fiascoes like the "Napalm Girl" incident in 2016, when the firm deleted a picture of Kim Phúc, the nine-year-old Vietnamese girl photographed running from napalm in 1972. The iconic picture helped reverse global opinion about the Vietnam War.

Facebook ultimately put the photo back up after being ripped for "abusing its power." This was absurd: The photo had been flagged by mostly automated processes, designed to keep naked pictures of pre-teens off the site.

As a former Facebook exec tells Rolling Stone: "Knowing that 'Napalm Girl' is one of the icons of international journalism isn't part of the fucking algo."

It would seem like madness to ask companies to expand that vast automated process to make far more difficult intellectual distinctions about journalistic quality. But that has happened.

Taken by Huynh Cong "Nick" Ut, South Vietnamese forces follow behind terrified children, including 9-year-old Kim Phuc, center, as they run down Route 1 near Trang Bang after an aerial napalm attack on suspected Viet Cong hiding places. On, precisely 43 years later, Nick Ut returned to the same place to capture his memories with a tool from an entirely different era, a 4-ounce iPhone 5 equipped with the ability to send photos to the world in the blink of a digital eyeVietnam Photographer's Return, Trang Bang, Vietnam South Vietnamese forces follow behind terrified children, including 9-year-old Kim Phuc, center, as they run down Route 1 near Trang Bang after an aerial napalm attack on suspected Viet Cong hiding places.

After Trump's shocking win in 2016, everyone turned to Facebook and Google to fix "fake news." But nobody had a coherent definition of what constitutes it.

Many on the left lamented the Wikileaks releases of Democratic Party emails, but those documents were real news, and the complaint there was more about the motives of sources, and editorial emphasis, rather than accuracy.

When Google announced it was tightening its algorithm to push "more authoritative content" last April, it defined "fake news" as "...blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive or downright false information."

Soviet-era author Isaac Babel once said the only right Stalin had taken away was "writing badly." He was joking. Google was apparently serious about targeting "low quality." What exactly does that mean?

It isn't clear, but within short order, a whole range of alternative sites (from Alternet to Truthdig to the World Socialist Website) started complaining about significant drops in traffic, apparently thanks to changed search processes.

Within a year, Google bragged that it had deleted 8 million videos from YouTube. A full 6.7 million videos were caught by machines, 1.1 million by YouTube's own "trusted flaggers" (we're pre-writing the lexicon of the next dystopian novels), and 400,000 by "normal users."

Subsequently, we heard that Facebook was partnering with the Atlantic Council - which, incidentally, accepts donations from at least 25 different foreign countries, including United Arab Emirates and the king of Bahrain, in addition to firms like weapons manufacturer Raytheon and my old pals at HSBC - to identify "potential abuse."

Now that we've opened the door for ordinary users, politicians, ex-security-state creeps, foreign governments and companies like Raytheon to influence the removal of content, the future is obvious: an endless merry-go-round of political tattling, in which each tribe will push for bans of political enemies.

In about 10 minutes, someone will start arguing that Alex Jones is not so different from, say, millennial conservative Ben Shapiro, and demand his removal. That will be followed by calls from furious conservatives to wipe out the Torch Network or Anti-Fascist News, with Jacobin on the way.

We've already seen Facebook overcompensate when faced with complaints of anti-conservative bias. Assuming this continues, "community standards" will turn into a ceaseless parody of Cold War spy trades: one of ours for one of yours.

This is the nuance people are missing. It's not that people like Jones shouldn't be punished; it's the means of punishment that has changed radically.

For more than half a century, we had an effective, if slow, litigation-based remedy for speech violations. The standards laid out in cases like New York Times v. Sullivan were designed to protect legitimate reporting while directly remunerating people harmed by bad speech. Sooner or later, people like Alex Jones would always crash under crippling settlements. Meanwhile, young reporters learned to steer clear of libel and defamation. Knowing exactly what we could and could not get away with empowered us to do our jobs, confident that the law had our backs.

If the line of defense had not been a judge and jury but a giant transnational corporation working with the state, journalists taking on banks or tech companies or the wrong politicians would have been playing intellectual Russian roulette. In my own career, I'd have thought twice before taking on a company like Goldman Sachs. Any reporter would.

Now the line is gone. Depending on the platform, one can be banned for "glorifying violence," "sowing division," "hateful conduct" or even "low quality," with those terms defined by nameless, unaccountable executives, working with God Knows Whom.

The platforms will win popular support for removals by deleting jackasses like Jones. Meanwhile, the more dangerous censorship will go on in the margins with fringe opposition sites - and in the minds of reporters and editors, who will unconsciously start retreating from wherever their idea of the line is.

The most ominous development involves countries asking for direct cleansing of opposition movements, a la China's search engine, or Tel Aviv's demands that Facebook and Google delete pages belonging to Palestinian activists. (This happened: Israel's justice minister said last year that Facebook granted 95 percent of such requests.)

Google and Facebook have long wrestled with the question of how to operate in politically repressive markets - Google launched a censored Chinese search engine in 2006, before changing its mind in 2010 - but it seems we're seeing a kind of mass surrender on that front.

The apparent efforts to comply with government requests to help "prevent the foment of discord" suggest the platforms are moving toward a similar surrender even in the United States. The duopolistic firms seem anxious to stay out of headlines, protect share prices and placate people like Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, who just said deleting Jones was only a "good first step."

Americans are not freaking out about this because most of us have lost the ability to distinguish between general principles and political outcomes. So long as the "right" people are being zapped, no one cares.

But we should care. Censorship is one of modern man's great temptations. Giving in to it hasn't provided many happy stories.
(c) 2018 Matt Taibbi is Rolling Stone's chief political reporter, Matt Taibbi's predecessors include the likes of journalistic giants Hunter S. Thompson and P.J. O'Rourke. Taibbi's 2004 campaign journal Spanking the Donkey cemented his status as an incisive, irreverent, zero-bullshit reporter. His books include Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History, The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion, Smells Like Dead Elephants: Dispatches from a Rotting Empire.

President Donald Trump speaks on August 2, 2018, at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.

Is There A Cult Of Trump?
By Dahr Jamail

Foreign Interests Have Spent Over $530 Million Influencing US Policy Since 2017 During a recent rally in Pennsylvania, President Donald Trump chose to attack the media, calling us "horrible, horrendous people" and "disgusting."

Trump went on to tweet that the media "is the enemy of the American People," a deeply troubling use of a phrase used by authoritarians throughout history, like Nero, Stalin and Mao. Stalin, for example, took politicians and artists whom he deemed as unsupportive and had them sent to hard labor camps, or killed. Despite the fact that the corporate media is certainly culpable for cheerleading war and the military in general, among countless other grievances, when the press is assailed en masse like this by a powerful leader, it creates a very dangerous situation for all journalists.

When questioned directly about this tweet, Trump's Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders would not dispute his claim. These moves were egregious and troubling enough that, being acutely aware of history, UN experts then warned how Trump's assaults on the press "increase the risk of journalists being targeted with violence" and were "designed to undermine confidence in reporting."

Regarding the "enemy of the people" allegations, Trump appears to be following the Goebbels playbook of attacking the media with an oft-repeated"big lie."

This is the conclusion of Professor Milton J. Bennett, the director of the Intercultural Development Research Institute, and an adjunct professor of sociology at the University of Milano Bicocca in Italy. He holds a Ph.D. in intercultural communication and sociology and a Masters in psycholinguistics.

Bennett told Truthout he sees Trump's recent demonization of the media as serving the immediate purpose of "impugning the source of criticism of him - the institutional parallel to an ad hominem attack on one's critic. But it also illustrates the culting power of redefining terms like 'fake news' for insiders to justify indefensible attacks on outsiders."

Bennett, the author most recently of "Group Indoctrination: Techniques of Depersonalization and Domination of Individual Consciousness" in the forthcoming book, Indoctrination to Hate: Pathways into Gay Bashing, Jihadism, and Groups of Hate, is an expert on culting groups and their indoctrination processes.

Bennett provided expert analysis for the media during the Rajneesh cult crisis in Oregon, and after the FBI and ATF botched the negotiations with the Branch Davidian Cult in Waco, Texas, that ended in 75 deaths, he wrote a chapter for a book intended for the FBI about how communicating with cult groups is different from communicating with hostage takers.

"Culting groups are also examples of extreme ethno-centrism," Bennett told Truthout. "People in them think reality is absolutely only what they think it is, and everybody else is absolutely deluded." Bennett uses the term "culting" in reference to the process of controlling consciousness - a process that can be employed by any kind of group. He explained how the noun "cult" is frequently used to refer to particular kinds of groups, such as new religions that people don't like for some reason. The gerund (with the "-ing") is descriptive of a group process and not evaluative of the beliefs of a group.

So, is Trump really a cult leader, and his followers acting as the truly converted who are willing to go to any lengths to support their leader?

Truthout interviewed Bennett, who describes how culting groups come to dominate individual consciousness, and explains the control, coercion and conversion capabilities of cults. He draws multiple disturbing parallels between what happens in culting groups and what we are witnessing with Trump and his followers.

How does a cult leader come to so effectively dominate an individual's consciousness?

What a cult leader does, whether intentionally or simply intuitively, is to manipulate three variables to generate a sequence of events that has a predictable outcome of this true believer group. The three variables are control, coercion and conversion.

Control includes specifically controlling the boundaries of the group. So the person who leads one of these groups is particularly good at defining who is the insider and who is the outsider, strengthening the boundary of the group. They may do things like tell people they should cut off contacts with their previous life ... in other words, making it extremely clear if you are in the group or out of the group.

Part of that control is control of meaning, so a leader who is effective in these kinds of groups uses the strong boundary to create special definitions of things, or a special philosophy ... words mean special things inside the group that are unknown to people outside the group. So, the group has secrets. Part of that is to accentuate the boundary of the group, "We know it and they don't." But the other part of it is that it moderates the form of communication with the outsiders so that when the outsider uses one of these terms that is not the insider's definition, they become subject to ridicule and they lose all credibility. If there are enough of those types of events, there is no way an outsider can be credible in an insider's terms. And vice versa, since the outsiders are deluded and naïve, according to the insider's special definitions of these words, it's ok to lie to them. By exercising an Orwellian control of word meaning, cult leaders can always deride outsiders for failing to "get the joke."

The second variable is coercion. Coercion means the cult leader always uses the limitation of alternatives as a strategy. The contrast here is that information is the increase of options, so when you get information, it increases your options about how you think about things or what you can do. Persuasion would be somebody's attempt to say, "Given these options, you should do this and not that one." So, trying to argue one being better than the other. But coercion is the attempt to limit your options by saying there is really only one viable choice. Everything else is unviable, and of course, the ultimate coercion, "Do this, or I'll kill you." Assuming that being killed is not a viable option, you only have one other alternative, which is "Do what I say." Most cult leaders are good at manipulating that kind of coercion. It's not that the leader himself or herself is trying to kill you, but that something bad will happen to you if you don't do this, including other people will kill you.

For example, Trump routinely suggests that immigrants are associated with violent crime.... While Trump himself is probably unaware of the research supporting his technique, the prospect of random violence is a strong motivator of fear, especially when violent images are reported by media to groups of people not immediately involved. For instance, it has been shown that fear of immigrant violence is much greater in communities with lower immigrant populations that happen to be nearby communities with higher populations. A national form of this phenomenon occurs when Trump falsely claims that German innocents are being slaughtered by Muslim immigrants. Germans are unlikely to be much affected by this false image, but many people in other developed countries, such as the US, are more likely to be disturbed, apparently by the possibility that "it could happen here unless we do something." This becomes the basis of the kind of coercive manipulation routinely used by Trump. After establishing the false images of nearby violence, he claims that only he can stop the rampant immigration that fuels such violence. In other words, follow me and support my nationalistic xenophobia or "they" will kill you.

Then the third variable is conversion. In all cases, the culting groups aim toward a conversion, which is a fast, transformative experience, not a long-term development. It is like the scales fall from your eyes, where one minute you feel this way, and the next minute you feel that way. That transformation creates a very strong physiological response in human beings. We feel it as an epiphany, as a joyful reception, and there are all kinds of things we've learned to associate with the truthfulness of something, the authenticity of something, and associate these feelings with it. And what a cult leader does is say that the reason you're feeling that way is because of how good this idea is, or about how good I am. It is important to set up the conversion experience to create the self-fulfilling idea that "It must be true - otherwise why would I be feeling this good about everything?" Usually, that is associated with some systematic disorientation, or what used to be called brainwashing. In it, there is the intentional use of lack of sleep or change of diet or getting your haircut or other things. Kind of like boot camp, where things are regimented in a way different from what you are used to, which generates an altered state of consciousness which leaves you more malleable ... but in a culting group, it makes you more susceptible to the experience that is set up for you.

Talk about the four criteria culting groups must meet to be identified as such.

With control of those variables, the cult leader sets up a process that moves through seduction, disorientation, snapping and group maintenance. Seduction is the appeal of the group. In Maslow hierarchy of needs terms, here is the need that will be satisfied by this group. It might be a basic safety or security need, or in the case of gangs, the issue might be safety and security: Join this group or you're going to get killed by the other people. More often though, it's social needs, and in many cases, transcendent needs.

Then in all of these cases, once the seduction occurs, there needs to be control of the boundary. So there needs to be a way that as the result of you being seduced, you are moved into a bounded situation, or some place where there is control over the boundaries where you feel physically or socially reluctant to leave the environment. Physically, you could be put some place where it is hard to get away. But more frequently, it is social control, where to leave the group means that you lose access to the leader, or lose access to the seduction that you were given in the first place for satisfaction of those needs. You're subject to ridicule, or subject to being excommunicated, and since most of us are social animals, that is a strong phenomenon.

Then in that controlled situation comes the disorientation. The disorientation basically means an alteration in your routines that creates the altered state of consciousness, but not just that. Otherwise, every boot camp would be a cult, and I think that is extending the definition too far. Because the next thing that comes is the specific conversion experience. And some people who wrote about this back in the 1970s called it "snapping." I've adopted that term because it happens very quickly. And it is the feelings that go along with the snapping. No matter what you snap from, and what you snap to ... it's the snapping that generates the physiological condition, which is then claimed by the leader as being evidence of the power of belief of he or she as a guru.

Then comes the group maintenance, which for this to become a cult, all this needs to be an ongoing group experience where people are now a community, and they share this experience, and have these secrets and are differentiated by the outsiders by having had this experience.

Once these are established, the group moves into the second stage of this process, where these people think they are superior by virtue of having had this experience, whereas those poor people and schmucks out there haven't had it. Which then evolves into a "they" [the outsiders] are trying to get us. Because the insiders believe they are superior, they move into a kind of paranoid state, where the outsider becomes the enemy and that moves finally into a condition usually of armed preparation for conflict.

When you look at what is occurring with Trumpism, as it were, today in the US, through the culting group lens, tell us what you are seeing that gives you concern and pause.

I must say that I reluctantly have come to this conclusion that he is, knowingly or not, a really good cult leader. I didn't start out thinking that. I thought he was just a buffoon. I was surprised by his election, like many people were who didn't see that as the idea of a US president. But the evolution of this condition that you just described has surprised me, and it's only recently that I have started looking seriously at this in the terms of this being a culting phenomenon. This was partially because Ed Dunbar, who is writing a series of books on domestic terrorism and the psychology of hate, asked me to write an article about group indoctrination largely around when people are given to groups of hate that I started analyzing this, and when I did it and went back to that model I described earlier, I realized this is pretty much what is happening on a national scale.

It does look like Trump is meeting the criterion [for] controlling the boundaries; he has certainly set up a strong "us and them" distinction against the immigrants, and now against the Europeans and some of our other allies. Of course, this works with his base, including the currently privileged but not well-off white people who are afraid of losing their white privilege. This core group certainly has a strong boundary around it, but he seems to be pretty good at expanding the group by generating, for instance, a strong distinction against the Europeans, and that may pull other people in who are not part of that core group. He is also extremely good at controlling meaning. So, he is doing all kinds of things - I think more than we are generally familiar with, unless you look at Fox News often - about generating unique meaning for things inside the group, which allow insiders, when outsiders criticize him for saying something, to say, "No, no, you don't know what he meant. What he meant is this thing that is defined within the group that you don't understand outside the group." Consequently, for people outside the group, it looks like he is getting a pass for all kinds of things. But for insiders, he is within the meaning system of the group. It appears that is what is happening as well.

The primary example of Trump manipulating meaning is the idea of "fake news." By changing the meaning of "critical" to "fake," Trump has provided his followers with a convenient way to dismiss any report of him that is unflattering or contrary to his narrative. A nice example of this process in action is the changing treatment of "collusion." Initially, the charge of collusion was treated as "fake news." Then, collusion became "not illegal." It would not surprise me to see him next give the term a positive spin, such as, "Collusion is one technique I am using to make a great deal with the Russians. You should thank me for colluding." For insiders, such definitional play is not inconsistent - it is justifiable and laudable maneuvering necessary to counteract spurious attacks by the outsiders.

There is lots of coercion. Lots of, "If you don't trust me, they are going to kill you." Pretty strong. I'm surprised at how strong the coercion is, and it appears to be tolerated.

The conversion experience ... I've started looking at his rallies in terms of setting up conversion experiences. I listen to people reporting how they felt at these rallies, and it seems that there is a significant amount of that kind of epiphanous joyfulness associated with conversion. Remember, it doesn't matter who you believed in before and who you believe in now, it's the shift, the snapping, from one to the other that generates the feeling of truth. So that appears to be a strong reason for him to continue doing those rallies that ... generate the conditions for those ongoing epiphanies that people have. That in turn is being woven into the ongoing group support. So, we are in at least phase two of the group support, which is the superiority of the "in" group, as opposed to the sort of deluded condition of the "out" group - that they don't see how great this person is.

The next stage in the development should be one in which increasing numbers of insiders are seen as enemies, which will eventually include everybody. And the boundary of America will become more and more nonporous.

The Trump culting group really appears to already be in phase three, and it appears as though there is already a significant percentage of people in it already in phase four, meaning they are prepared to use violence at the drop of a hat.

You may be right. I was giving it the benefit of the doubt. We may still have a little ways to go in the process, but aside from an almost unbelievable level of self-servingness, there seems to be no other way to explain why the entirety of the Republican Party would be willing to support this person, other than it being something like this cult phenomenon where suddenly people have become true believers.

So, basically what you are saying is that it is possible that the majority of the GOP, because Trump has such incredibly high presidential approval ratings within the GOP right now, that they are essentially part of the culting group?

Yes. And understand that when I say people belong to a cult, I'm not saying that in a negative way about them, because I think any of us could become members of cults. There is some seduction out there about which you or I would say, "Well in this case, it is ok," and we would be going down that road and it would be questionable whether we could pull ourselves out of it. So, I have some humility about the power of culting. It is not a pathological condition. I think it is the result of somebody, knowingly or not, who is skillful at evoking in us some pretty primitive species' instincts. And those instincts include a desire for authority, basically a desire to be controlled. I think Trump is playing those strings pretty well with a lot of people, maybe people who are more inclined toward authoritarianism in the first place. In terms of George Lakoff's explanation of the right/left paradigm in the US as an authoritarian parent on the conservative side and a more nurturing parent on the left side, you could say the right is already inclined toward an authoritarian worldview. Again, I'm not saying that as a criticism, but as a description of a normal distribution in which some people would be more inclined to flow into the exaggeration of authoritarianism that we see in culting groups.

Once someone is already solidly in the culting group, why is it that they are unable to point out anything negative about the group?

One of the criteria of a culting group is that members of the group cannot see anything wrong with it. I think it's probably because they are invested in the newly acquired worldview, and criticism represents a threat to the existence of that worldview. All of us avoid threats to our basic beliefs because they threaten our existence, by definition. So, what seems to us to be a normal amount of criticism seems to someone already in one of those groups to be an existential threat, and every small piece of criticism needs to be pushed away in the name of preserving the existence of the group.

Once you are invested in the idea that a group owes its existence to a particular set of beliefs, then any threat to that worldview becomes an existential threat and is heavily reacted to.

Talk about how it is virtually impossible to speak with someone once they are in the third phase of a cult.

By this point, the outsider is the enemy. They are not just inferior, but they are the enemy. Then speaking to [the insider] becomes both fruitless and dangerous. Fruitless because outsiders just don't get it, but also because other insiders are creating social pressure that discourages conversations with outsiders. Dangerous because insiders could become infected by the poison of whatever the outsider view is. So as insurance, most cult leaders discourage communication between the insiders and outsiders. That may occur by saying only appointed representatives are capable of speaking to outsiders, including the press, of course. And in this case, all of the press outside of Fox News is an outsider. So, only appointed representatives would communicate with the outside world, and leaks become not just annoyances, but existential threats that need to be stamped out for survival of the group.

How is Trump the right person at the right time in this culting group process?

Because we are in a time of crisis beyond the normal level of crisis we've lived in recently, and someone like Trump has traditionally been the salvation we sought under those conditions. The exponential rise of population and contact with foreigners, inequity and environmental degradation are throwing us into unprecedented levels of stressful contact with others in a context of economic and environmental insecurity. These factors, along with catapulting technology, and so many, many others, are creating a major crisis point for us as a species.

According to Julian Jaynes, who wrote a book about the origin of consciousness back in the 1970s, the last time this level of stress occurred was about 3,000 years ago, where similar factors played out in Mesopotamia and other places on the planet. Jaynes suggests that prior to that time, we human beings dealt with crises by hearing voices of the gods who told us what to do - usually kill everyone in another threatening group. But that strategy didn't work on a scale of increasing population, so we adapted by developing self-consciousness and the ability to choose alternative actions. Still, we have not lost our more ancient desire for authority, particularly in times of crisis. It could be that Trump is the right person at the right time because he unabashedly takes the position of being a voice of the gods. He says, "Listen to me, I will solve your problems, I can do no wrong, whatever I do is good because it's me doing it," and all kinds of things that evoke a kind of Greek god image. Normally, I think people would look at that and say, "Come on." But at this particular time, we as a species, never mind as Americans, are sufficiently disoriented by the crisis that is upon us, that we may in fact be looking for the voices of the gods again. And I think Trump fulfills that expectation, either knowingly or unknowingly.

But I don't think the outsider label is the important factor here. Of course, Trump is a political outsider and he touts that status, but his supporters appear to be unfazed by his immediate enactment of political insider actions, such as appointing his friends and family to high positions and catering to lobbying interests. Rather, I think it is Trump's enactment of authoritarianism that makes him relatively popular at this time. The implication of Jayne's hypothesis about our species' heritage in times of crisis is not that we want change, but that we want clear direction and safety. The "political outsider" argument appeals to change, but I think that is just a cover for the real message, which is: "Follow me, and I will make you safe from the nearby violence." It is also possible that liberal commentators have mistakenly interpreted Trump's appeal in terms of his being an outsider because they are unwilling or unable to understand the appeal of authoritarianism to large numbers of voters. This may explain why there is no good alternative to this kind of appeal coming from the left. The problem is not that someone like Bernie Sanders is too much of a political insider - it is that he is not sufficiently authoritarian to appeal to swing voters.

There is a sort of perfect storm of elements that have propelled Trump into this position of power, and he seemingly is becoming increasingly powerful with his base and within the GOP.

It is a perfect storm. Looking at this from an intercultural perspective, the more contact people have with others who are different from them in uncontrolled circumstances, the more likely they are to polarize into an "us-and-them" mentality. That is indeed what is happening by virtue of mobility ... the large-scale movements of immigrants and refugees, notably in Europe, but really, throughout the world.

In terms of the developmental model of intercultural sensitivity (DMIS) that I use in my intercultural work, we are seeing a regression from the unstable position of minimization, where difference is suppressed in favor of common humanity and tolerance. In the face of too much difference too fast, tolerance deteriorates into the "us/them" position of defense. At the same time, the contact with difference is bringing people from denial, where difference is not important enough to notice, into more active defense against differences. And the final blow is that the position of acceptance of difference has been co-opted by the culting group members with statements like, "You call it terrorism, I call it patriotism!"

Where do you see this going in the US now?

It looks like this is paralleling the run-up to National Socialism in Germany in the 1930s. I would recommend to your readers that they go visit the top floor of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, where the newspaper articles in translation are all lined up and they can read them and compare them to what is going on right now.

I think that where we are immediately going is into the dismantling of the electoral process. That is what the National Socialists did under Hitler. They got themselves elected by normal means, more or less, then they dismantled the process so that they couldn't be unelected. I'm pretty sure, if you look at what is going on with the Supreme Court and other things like the gerrymandering issue and voter suppression, that we don't have much time before voting is a more unreliable process.

If that occurs, then how does this play out, from a culting group perspective entering the violence phase?

Very probably. I hate to say "inevitable" because I like to maintain some optimism.

As I started to say earlier, isolated and over-controlled culting groups end in one of two ways. The milder ending is splitting, where a dissenting part of the group breaks off to form its own group. This is the process whereby myriad religious sects have been created. The other ending is violence - internal, external or both. For instance, Peoples Temple [Jonestown] in Guyana mostly ended in the internal violence of suicide, although there was the precursor external violence of killing a US Congressman. The Branch Davidians probably also engaged in mass suicide, but only after considerably more external violence.

Although I am not a political scientist, I speculate that when a national government becomes a culting organization led by a charismatic cult leader, it might end more easily by splitting if it were a parliamentary system. In the US presidential system, the alternative to some kind of violent end may only be possible through political control and ouster. This, of course, assumes that the democratic voting process remains intact long enough for that to happen.
(c) 2018 Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last 10 years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.

New Study Reveals Old Fact: Black Male Youth Feel Threatened
Corporate Strangulation of Dissent By Glen Ford

"Every study that measures the enhanced anxiety of Black tweens that find themselves on a strange corner, is an indictment of the white men at the top of the capitalist pyramid." A new study has rediscovered -- or scientifically verified -- a very old fact of Black life in the USA: Black boys don't feel safe in white neighborhoods, or in Black neighborhoods that they perceive as poorer than their own Black section of town -- in this case, Columbus, Ohio.

Researchers from the Department of Sociology at Ohio State University gave smartphones with GPS tracking to 506 Black youngsters, aged 11 to 17, about evenly divided between the sexes. Five times a day, the kids were asked to report if they felt safe or not in the location they were in. The study found that, the whiter the neighborhood they entered, the less safe Black boys felt, while Black girls registered no decreased sense of safety in whiter surroundings.

Black boys didn't report feeling unsafe in their own neighborhoods, but that doesn't mean they are unaware of the dangers closer to home, according to Christopher Browning, the study's lead author and a professor of sociology researcher at Ohio State."We are not arguing that growing up in a poor, segregated neighborhood doesn't present challenges," said Browning. "One of the challenges are that those neighborhoods tend to have higher violence."

The story produced the usual commentary about Black parents' practice of schooling their children on how to navigate the geography of racism. The New York Times reminded readers that "the study came at a time of widely publicized incidents in which black children were reported by white people to the police for selling water, mowing the lawn and playing in the yard, selling hot dogs, playing at a pool, and other ordinary activities."

The overarching truth documented by the survey is that young Black males know they are targeted for harm by whites, and that Black people in other neighborhoods need watching, too.

The sociologists' report said nothing about how the police factor into young Black male's fears, although this cohort is well aware that they are the special prey of the boys and girls in blue, of all races. The researchers think Black youth anxieties about traveling in whiter places could have consequences for their health -- a logical conclusion.

A July 28 article in CityLab," titled "Police Killings and Violence are Driving Black People Crazy," calls attention to two recent studies. The first, on Police Killings and their Spillover Effects on the Mental Health of Black Americans," by researchers for Harvard and Boston University, found that Black Americans reported experiencing poor mental health days in the months after hearing about police killings of unarmed Blacks. Whites reported no similar reactions to such killings.

The other study, "Neighborhood Violence, Peer-Effects, and Academic Achievement in Chicago," by Johns Hopkins University researchers, found that students in areas of intensive policing do badly on tests, whether they have witnessed violent crimes or not. Researcher Julia Burdick-Will concluded: "Trauma is not necessarily directly related to having witnessed a crime, but it's also related to living in a neighborhood where there is intense policing."

The long arm of white supremacist law enforcement mangles even those young Black lives that it does not physically pummel, imprison and kill -- just as it did their parents, grandparents and ancestors through the centuries on this continent.

No more studies are necessary to prove that Black folks need to get FREE. The permutations of oppression are endless. White hostility is as intractable as ever. The system that made things that way -- born half a millennium ago with European colonialism, whose pillage of the planet spawned capitalism -- has no further use for the Black ghetto, except to disperse and imprison it, a reality sensed by the young people tracked by researchers in Columbus, Ohio.

The Lords of Capital that run the system - or rather, who claim most of the wealth that chaotic capitalism drains from human labor -- want to push young Black males, and their less anxious sisters, and the very fearful mothers that bore them, out of the city, to who-knows-where. The communications mouthpieces of capital, like the New York Times, preach "diversity" while their owners unleash a fury of ethic cleansing. "Diversity" is apparently waiting at the Black family's next destination, somewhere in the amenity-less inner suburbs. SWAT teams have prepared a welcome.

Police violence is the capitalist's blunt weapon of social control. Against Black people, it is deployed with near-ceremonial cruelty, as a political statement -- one that is welcomed by many whites. It is intended as a daily reminder to Blacks, especially the young males, that they are not free. Since the Harlem rebellion of 1935, Black youth, and many older folks of both sexes, have answered police insults to their humanity with counter-violence. In the Sixties, this Black response to oppression developed an exquisite vocabulary that spoke to liberation, which still echoes. It was heard again in Los Angeles in 1992, and in Ferguson in 2014, and in Baltimore just a few months later. Yearning to be free of oppression is not a psychological problem: it is a human condition.

The oppressor is the problem, and his very existence is maddening to the oppressed. Every study that measures the enhanced anxiety of Black tweens that find themselves on a strange corner, or that shows Black mothers die after birth at three times the rate of whites, is an indictment of the white men at the top of the capitalist pyramid - as both racial and economic (class) oppressors.

But, to get to Jeff Bezos and his ilk, you've got to go through the police -- who have been coming for you, if you're Black, since you were smaller than Tamir Rice.
(c) 2018 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

Of Course Omarosa Has Tapes
By Eugene Robinson

It's hard to take Omarosa Manigault Newman's word for anything. But Lordy, she has tapes, and they offer vivid proof that Donald Trump's White House is part clown show, part nest of vipers.

Omarosa achieved single-name fame as a contestant on Trump's show "The Apprentice," where she performed with Shakespearean villainy - lying, cheating, backstabbing, viciously advancing her own interests and sabotaging her rivals. Trump evidently found all of this admirable, because he insisted on bringing her into his administration as a top-level adviser despite her utter lack of experience and qualifications. They deserve each other.

It is no surprise that she wrote a after being fired. It's shocking, however, that she managed to secretly record her dismissal by White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly - an encounter that took place in the Situation Room, meant to be a super-secure bunker where the nation's most closely guarded secrets can safely be discussed.

Omarosa's recording of part of that meeting was aired Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." In it, Kelly is heard making what sounds very much like a threat:

"I think it's important to understand that if we make this a friendly departure, we can all be, you know, we can look at your time here in the White House as a year of service to the nation. And then you can go on without any type of difficulty in the future relative to your reputation."
If that wasn't clear enough, Omarosa subsequently received a generous offer. She could receive $15,000 a month to perform vaguely defined duties for Trump's reelection campaign. But she would have to sign a nondisclosure and nondisparagement agreement pledging not to say detrimental things about President Trump, Vice President Pence or their family members.

Omarosa Manigault Newman.

She declined the offer but kept the documents she was asked to sign - and showed them to The Post last week.

On Monday, appearing on the "Today" show, she revealed a recording of a phone call she said she received from Trump the day after she was fired. "Omarosa, what's going on?" Trump is heard to ask. "I just saw on the news that you're thinking about leaving. What happened?"

When she tells him she was axed, Trump claims ignorance. "Nobody even told me about it," he says. "You know they run a big operation, but I didn't know it. I didn't know that. Goddammit. I don't love you leaving at all."

Shortly after that tape was aired, Trump lashed out on Twitter:

"Wacky Omarosa, who got fired 3 times on the Apprentice, now got fired for the last time. She never made it, never will. She begged me for a job, tears in her eyes, I said Ok. People in the White House hated her. She was vicious, but not smart. I would rarely see her but heard really bad things. Nasty to people & would constantly miss meetings & work. When Gen. Kelly came on board he told me she was a loser & nothing but problems. I told him to try working it out, if possible, because she only said GREAT things about me - until she got fired!"
Trump went on to complain that "the Fake News Media will be working overtime" to make Omarosa seem credible now that she is one of his critics. But that's certainly not my intent. She strikes me as a rank opportunist whose only allegiance is to herself.

She claims to have realized only recently that Trump is a "racist, misogynist and bigot." Yet she heard his bigoted attacks against Latino immigrants and still went to work for his campaign. She heard his misogynistic rant about how he sexually assaulted women and still took a job in his administration. She heard his many appeals to white racial grievance and still vigorously defended him, even after Charlottesville.

So no, I'm not inclined to believe anything she claims without documentary evidence to back it up. But the tapes and the documents have not been disputed. Omarosa may not have obtained them honorably, but the old saying is true: There is no honor among thieves.

We don't know what else might be in the conversations with Trump that lawyer Michael Cohen taped. We don't know how many other recordings Omarosa might have made. We don't know who else in the White House might have been keeping their own unauthorized records of conversations and events.

What we do know is why people in Trump's orbit feel they need such insurance: Dishonor and disloyalty start at the top.
(c) 2018 Eugene Robinson writes a regular column for The Washington Post.

America's War
By Jim Hightower

America's political history has been written in the fierce narrative of war. Not our country's many military clashes with foreign nations - but our own unending war for democracy in the USA.

Generation after generation of moneyed elites have persisted in trying to take wealth and power from the workaday majority and concentrate both in their own hands to establish a de facto American aristocracy. Every time, the people have rebelled in organized mass struggles against the monopolists and financial royalists, literally battling for a little more economic fairness, social justice, and equal opportunity. And now, the time of rebellion is upon us again, for We the People are suddenly in the grip of a brutish level of monopolistic power.

Corporate concentration of markets, profits, workplace decision-making, political influence, and our nation's total wealth is surpassing that of the infamous era of robber barons. Apple, which just became the first US corporation to reach a stock value of a trillion dollar, is now larger than Bank of America, Boeing, Disney, Ford, Volkswagon, and 20 other brand-name giants combined. And the powerful tech industry is now controlled by just five superpowers - Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Netflix - which raked in half of this year's stock price gains by the 500 largest corporations. Indeed, the recent gold rush of corporate mergers has created mega-firms, shriveling competition in most industries - airlines, banks, drug companies, food, hospitals, hotels, law firms, media, oil, etc.

The result of fewer and bigger corporations is that those few attain overwhelming power over the rest of us. They are able to control workers' pay, crush unions, jack up prices, squeeze out smaller businesses, dominate elections, weaken environmental projections... and become even fewer, bigger and more powerful.

This is Jim Hightower saying... They are waging all out corporate class war on the American people and on our democratic ideals - and they're winning.
(c) 2018 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

Christine Hallquist attends her election night party in Burlington, August 14, 2018

Christine Hallquist Isn't Just The First Transgender Candidate For Governor-She's Also A Visionary Progressive
The history-making candidate says that Vermonters will elect her because of her platform.
By John Nichols

Christine Hallquist made history on Tuesday night, when she won the Democratic nomination for governor of Vermont, a victory that made her the first transgender candidate selected by a major party to bid for an American governorship. Hallquist also won as a visionary progressive who sees Vermont as >"a beacon of hope for the rest of the country" that can serve as an innovative laboratory of democracy for a country that needs a new politics.

To that end, along with other high-profile primary winners on Tuesday such as congressional candidates Randy Bryce in Wisconsin and Ilhan Omar in Minnesota, Hallquist ran as a Justice Democrat, committed to health care for all, a $15-an-hour minimum wage, investing in tuition-free college, and a making renewable-energy investments to address climate change.

"I'm a proud and out transgendered leader," says Hallquist, who swept to victory in a four-way primary with almost 50 percent of the vote. That win positioned her as a serious contender to be the nation's first transgender governor. Before the primary, Hallquist acknowledged that: "For some Vermonters, I think my being transgender may be an issue. I think it's going to be a small minority. I think Vermonters are going to vote for me because of what I'm going to do for Vermont."

The primary results signaled that Hallquist was right to be confident. She carried urban and rural regions of the state and earned high praise from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who tweeted:

A veteran of the cooperative movement who served for many years as CEO of the Vermont Electric Coop, which she helped transform into a leader in using renewable sources of electricity production to combat climate change, Hallquist was not active in partisan politics until after the 2016 election.

"November 9, 2016, changed everything for me. America elected Trump and Vermont elected a Republican governor because he was a ‘nice guy,'" Hallquist told the New England LGBTQ newspaper Rainbow Times after launching her bid earlier this year.

"I knew right away Donald Trump would attack the LGBT community as he simply does not like anyone who is different than him. I was depressed for a few months and then joined 650,000 for the Women's March in DC the day after Trump's inauguration. I then went to DC for the climate march. I did a lot of marching over the next year. However, things have only gone from bad to worse. In January of this year, I made a decision. It was similar to decisions made by generations before me. I would give up everything for our future."

Now, Hallquist will face Governor Phil Scott, a Republican who has tried to position himself as a somewhat more moderate figure than many national Republicans. Though Vermont sends an old-school liberal Democrat, Patrick Leahy, and a democratic socialist, Sanders, to the Senate, the state has a long history of competitive races for the governorship, many of which have been won by Republicans. So Hallquist faces a serious race, with no guarantees but lots of possibilities.

A recent Morning Consult "Governor Approval Rankings" survey reported on "bad news for one of those governors: Phil Scott of Vermont."

"The first-term governor, who was elected in 2016 and is facing a primary challenge, saw his stock plummet between the first and second quarters of the year. His approval among Vermonters fell 18 points to 47 percent while his disapproval doubled to 42 percent," explained a review of the survey results, which noted that (this) net 38 point drop is the biggest quarterly shift since Morning Consult began polling the subject in May 2016.

Scott's dwindling numbers will help to draw national media attention to the Vermont race. There will much discussion of Hallquist's history-making bid. "Obviously, nationwide it's significant, the first transgender governor," she says, "It is pioneering." But the Democratic nominee suggests that: "Vermonters are going to elect me on the platform."

The platform is strikingly progressive in its focus on specifics, with proposals to "address racial disparities in Vermont's criminal justice system," "protect collective bargaining and worker rights," [finishing] progress made on marijuana legalization by taxing and regulating" and "[connecting] every home and business in Vermont with fiber optic cable utilizing proven rural cooperative models." Hallquist is also determined to resist "the negative headwinds from Washington through bold leadership and vision."

Like many of the savviest progressives who are running this year, Hallquist recognizes that the point is not merely to oppose Donald Trump-though that's important-but also to present an alternative vision. So it is that this proud Town Meeting Day Moderator from Hyde Park (population: 2,954, according to the 2000 Census) offers a vision for assuring that-no matter what happens in Washington-Vermont will be "the little state that can show the rest of the country how well democracy can work."
(c) 2018 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Why We Aren't Using Safe Thorium Nuclear Energy
By James Donahue

Back when nuclear researchers were learning how to capture and utilize the newly discovered source of energy developed for the first atomic bombs after World War II, there was a much (but unpublished) consternation among scientists over the use of thorium instead of plutonium for use in early energy breeder reactors.

They recognized even then that there was extreme danger in working with uranium, the by-product of plutonium used in the manufacture of nuclear energy. But Glenn Seaborg, the man who discovered plutonium, revealed to the Atomic Energy Commission as early as 1968 that a thorium-based reactor had been successfully developed and tested, and would be a much safer way to go in building commercial power plants.

Seaborg and his colleagues argued that a thorium fuel cycle offered superior physical and safer nuclear fuel properties, reduced nuclear waste and that thorium was found in much greater abundance on Earth.

The problems: the development of thorium power was much more expensive and . . . you couldn't use it to make bombs.

Research on thorium nuclear energy went on at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the process was proven. But in 1973, while Richard Nixon was in office, the U.S. government shut down all thorium related nuclear research. The reasoning was that Uranium breeder reactors were more efficient, the research was proven and the byproducts could be used to make nuclear weapons.

Since then nuclear power plants have appeared all over the world. Some like the disasters at Fukushima, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island have made shocking headlines, and all of the operating plants have been spewing radioactive clouds of isotopes into the atmosphere on a daily basis since they began operating.

We didn't just built nuclear electric generating plants. We put nuclear reactors in submarines so they could remain at sea and underwater for months without coming to the surface. We put them in naval vessels. Medical institutions found ways of utilizing radioactive tools to help study and heal the human body. Now with the Fukushima plants in total meltdown and no known way to stop what is happening there, some scientists worry that the entire Northern Hemisphere of the world is being affected by radioactive waste that is in the seas and the air. It is affecting the animals, the human population and the food we eat.

That single disaster, caused by short sided developers who chose to build a row of nuclear generating plants on top of a known fault line, and the violent earthquake and tsunami that eventually destroyed them, is now threatening the entire world as we know it.

Could all of this have been avoided? You bet it could have if military strategists had not forced the nation's hand in the early days of developing nuclear energy.

Back in the 1960's and 70's when thorium reactors were under serious consideration, Oak Ridge director Alvin Weinberg lost his job because he disagreed with higher powers over the development of plutonium based energy systems. Weinberg fought the sacrifice of potentially safe nuclear power for the benefit of military uses. He fought hard for making thorium the heart of the nation's atomic power system and because of it, he was forced out in 1973.

Now that it may be too late to stop an ongoing disaster in Japan, and with potential melt-downs and toxic discharges occurring in aging nuke plants all over the world, researchers are again considering thorium-based power systems.

Nuclear scientist Ralph W. Moir and Edward Teller at Georgia Institute of Technology are suggesting that thorium nuclear research should be restarted and that a small prototype plant should be built. Indeed, liquid fluoride thorium reactors are already being studied and planned in India, China, Norway, Israel and Russia.

And while this is going on, world leaders are in a quandary over what to do about giant arsenals of atomic bombs now stockpiled at military facilities all over the world. The worry is that any attempt to use this weaponry in warfare has the potential of destroying all life on the planet overnight.

To make this story even more scary, newly elected President Donald Trump is already advocating advanced development of the nation's nuclear stockpile of weapons as part of his plan to pour even more U.S. tax dollars into the military.
(c) 2018 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

More than 1,500 people took the streets of Albany as part of the "Cuomo Walk The Talk" day of action, demanding
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo stop all fracking infrastructure, move to 100 percent renewable energy and make polluters pay, on April 23, 2018.

The Coming Thunder Of The Climate Change Voter
By William Rivers Pitt

As an Investor in Biotech Stock, Republican Chris Collins May Have Overshared I believe human-caused climate change is real and presents a direct and deepening threat to life on Earth as we know it. I believe the air, the food and the water are all in grave peril. I can't believe saying that remains controversial, because the evidence of it is literally on fire in front of us. The images are broadcast into our homes each night by the nightly news shows, whose anchors are at long last uttering the words, now that it might be too late.

Moses had the burning bush to show him the way; we have, among other things, the Mendocino Complex fire - the largest conflagration in California's recorded history. Fires in Europe are 43 percent above the norm, and Greece along with much of the Mediterranean region is projected to transform into a desert within decades.

Japan and Korea are suffering unprecedented heat waves. Laos, Algeria, Greenland, Oman... there are bad records being set virtually everywhere on the map. Smoke from wildfires in Siberia made it all the way to my front porch in New Hampshire, and Sweden recently called for help because there are more massive wildfires burning out of control to the north of the Arctic Circle.

It is beyond dispute: The severity of these events is due to anthropogenic climate change... but don't try telling that to Donald Trump. The undisputed world heavyweight champion of nonsense statements, the president of the United States himself, finally got around to noticing that one of those states is burning to ash and made a predictably perfect hash of things.

Trump did not have any words of kindness for those killed and displaced by the California wildfires, nor did he have words of encouragement for those facing terrifying threats like "fire tornadoes" as they work desperately to beat back the blaze. He didn't even bother to summon a boilerplate "Thoughts and prayers" for the moment.

Instead, Trump blamed the state's environmental laws - easily the strongest in the nation - for the fires, claiming those regulations are "diverting" water into the Pacific Ocean (an action others chalked up to natural phenomena like "gravity" and "rivers"). Not to be outdone even by himself, Trump then blamed the trees for the conflagration. The Lorax weeps.

There is a terrible desperation to the increasingly pathetic rationalizations from the climate denial camp. This comes as no surprise if you take the long view; every single undone paradigm in history has died kicking and screaming, and our current petroleum paradigm is no different. The trick here is trying to figure out how we all make it to the new paradigm without dying right along with the old one, kicking, screaming or otherwise.

There will be a political price paid for these filthy paroxysms of deceit, and perhaps much sooner than one might think.

I've been on the planet for almost five decades now, barely an eyeblink in the context of climate, I know. I've spent virtually all those years in the Atlantic northeast, a region not easily confused with the tropics, and I have paid close attention over the years to both weather and climate ever since the words "ozone layer" insinuated themselves into my consciousness when I was a boy.

In all those years, I have never, ever experienced as many pounding, vicious tropical downpours as I have this summer, and it's barely August. I watched shingles getting blasted off my neighbor's roof the other day by a microburst that came roaring out of the maelstrom during maybe the 25th thunderdump flood-bomb we've seen in the last few weeks alone. This past March, we got cracked with three howling Nor'easters in the span of 11 days, with a fourth that followed soon after. Again, unprecedented in my experience.

We're not on fire here - these wildly uncharacteristic monsoon rains put that possibility snugly to bed - but there's nothing at all normal about this. This isn't the Amazon rainforest. It's not even North Alabama. It's not the North Pole, either. This is New England, and I have never seen the like. There is too much water in the atmosphere, and it is coming down hard. Tack on the extraordinary heat and saturating humidity, and these are strange days indeed.

I am not alone in my perceptions. Far from it, in fact.

According to recent studies, a full 71 percent of Americans believe climate change is real and happening; 47 percent are "very" or "extremely" certain of it. Some 44 percent believe, like me, that they have already experienced the effects of climate change. Most telling, 54 percent believe their families will suffer harm due to climate change, 67 percent believe the US will suffer harm, 71 percent believe people in developing nations will suffer harm and a full 75 percent believe our children, and their children, will suffer harm because of climate change.

In other words, there is more happening here than voters simply caring about the environment. A large and growing group of people see with their own eyes what is unfolding here at home and around the world. Many of those have already been personally affected or expect to be personally affected. Most of them believe their children will be affected. It is hard to see how blaming the trees for climate-caused wildfires can do anything other than offend and motivate this climate change voter bloc.

"Large numbers of latent climate voters have always existed," writes Nathaniel Stinnett, executive director of the Environmental Voter Project, "with as many as 20 million registered voters listing environmental issues as one of their top priorities - but historically, few of them turn out on Election Day. Ironically, with the Trump administration explicitly denying the scientific consensus around climate change, the president may be accomplishing something the environmental movement has struggled to do for years - convincing environmentalists of the importance of voting."

"Polling shows that US voters not only understand climate science, but more and more are increasingly worried about it," writes Anna Fahey for the Sightline Institute, "including hefty shares of moderate Republicans and Independents. A Pew Research Center study confirms that millennial generation voters - ages 22 to 37 this election season - are considerably more liberal than older Americans. What's more, that group now represents 28 percent of the US adult population. These voters are considerably more likely to support climate action and the Congressional candidates who talk them up."

With the last of the special elections now behind us, the midterm election season begins in earnest. The political prediction machine will find its fifth gear and speed its guesswork way to November, lobbing presumptions and suppositions as it goes. How much weight the prognosticators give to climate change voters will likely depend on how much time they spend watching their own networks or reading their own newspapers. The climate voters are out there, and their time has come.

I rolled the recycling to the curb this past Monday morning and was struck by the silence. It was just before 9 am, and my little town should have been a bustling hive of new-week activity. Not so, not after yet another grim weather report. They were talking about the temperature reaching 95 degrees, a 70+ dew point level and an overall heat index of 100-110, again.

The sun was barely over the tree line and I could already sense the invisible steel plate of the day's looming heat pressing down. Even the sky was the wrong color. The only relief would come with another muscular band of thunderstorms, flooded streets and toppled trees. It felt as if the town itself was like some tiny, crouched woodland animal who just felt the shadow of a hawk flit by.

If the silence was any clue, I wasn't alone in my sense of foreboding. Something has gone badly wrong, and all that quiet felt like a clue. Call it the sound of the climate change voter, waiting out the hawks and the heat and the flames and the floods for November. Every election from now on will bear our mark. That is the future, too.
(c) 2018 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.

For Republicans, The Mueller Probe Isn't Watergate: It's Ken Starr In Reverse
Republicans assume that all scandal investigations are political weapons: And seriously, they ought to know
By Heather Digby Parton

Virtually every day now we have former Watergate prosecutors and historians weighing in on the parallels between that seminal scandal and the Russia investigation, and for good reason. President Trump, like Richard Nixon before him, is suspected of obstructing justice. With Nixon, the ultimate downfall came from the revelation that he had taped conversations in the Oval Office that would back up the testimony of former White House counsel John Dean that he had personally ordered a cover-up.

With Trump it's much more straightforward. He has admitted to obstruction of justice on national television and has been obviously engaged in a cover-up on his public Twitter feed. What they have in common is hubris and an inordinate amount of faith that they are too clever to ever be caught.

In the course of the Watergate investigations and because of superb journalism it was also revealed that Nixon ran the presidency like a personal fiefdom, from which to exact revenge on his enemies and reward his henchmen. From what we've seen so far, Trump is doing the same thing. He's just doing it out in the open. So it makes good sense to examine the legal precedents and look for parallels as we try to understand where this is going.

But if we are to understand the nature of the scandal and how the Republicans are dealing with it, we don't have to go back 44 years to do it. The Whitewater scandals are much more recent and provide a better window into the current behavior of the Republican Party.

When you see Republicans on Fox and on the floor of the Congress accusing prosecutors on Mueller's team of being partisan hacks and the media of being in the tank for the opposition it's because ever since Bill Clinton scandal investigations have become political weapons, at least for the right.

Recall the famous words of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who foolishly admitted it in public:

Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi Special Committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she's untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought.
Benghazi was child's play compared to Whitewater, the catch-all name for the 1990s Clinton scandals.

Right-wing operatives had been pushing a baroque Arkansas tale of a failed land deal and Bill Clinton's relationship with a partner in a failed '80s savings and loan since the 1992 presidential campaign and various strands of investigation were launched almost immediately after Clinton took office in 1993.

From the firing of people in the White House travel office, which incensed their friends in the press corps, to accusations that someone in the White House had inappropriately looked at FBI files to a ghoulish obsession with the suicide of deputy White House counsel Vince Foster, the scandal-mongering was relentless.

By January 1994, Attorney General Janet Reno had no choice but to appoint a special prosecutor, Robert Fiske, a Republican former U.S. attorney. That summer the House and Senate Banking committees called 29 Clinton administration officials to testify at public hearings, none of whom were ever found guilty of any wrongdoing. And that was just the beginning.

When Fiske ultimately found that nothing criminal had happened, a partisan panel of judges refused to reappoint him under the independent counsel statute and named Judge Ken Starr to succeed him. He started all over again with a multi-pronged investigation going back years from Washington to Little Rock. Meanwhile there were activist lawyers (including one George Conway, future husband of Trump adviser Kellyanne) trolling for clients to sue the president for sexual harassment, and a nonstop media campaign to hammer away at all of this. There were campaign finance scandals and Buddhist nun scandals and Chinese donor scandals and billing records scandals none of which ultimately implicated Bill or Hillary Clinton in anything illegal but left a trail of carnage in their wake.

Throughout, Republicans in Congress were relentless in their pursuit. (If the recent Peter Strzok hearing shocked you, you didn't watch any of the dozens of Whitewater hearings.) Starr's office leaked like a sieve, making it clear that his mission had strayed far beyond normal law enforcement into being a political operation intended to bring down the president. The media ate it all up like little baby birds with their beaks open, eager to take whatever was fed to them. The atmosphere was febrile and intense.

Starr had finally decided to close up shop after years and years of chasing his tail had come up with no evidence of a crime. But that was when the Paula Jones civil suit opened the door for Linda Tripp to stab her friend Monica Lewinsky in the back, and right-wing lawyers set a perjury trap for the president. Clinton walked into it, lying under oath when asked if he'd engaged in an extramarital affair with Lewinsky. The rest is history.

Of course this kind of devious machination is what Republicans see happening with Robert Mueller's investigation into Trump's campaign dealings with Russians. Why wouldn't they perceive it that way? After all, that's what they did. They assume everyone behaves as they do. Clinton was caught in a perjury trap so Mueller must be setting one for Trump. The press eagerly aided an abetted an independent counsel's partisan political crusade so it must be doing the same thing now.

There are important differences. In the 1990s, a Democratic president was investigated by a team of Republican prosecutors and harassed by a ruthless GOP Congress. Robert Mueller and the leadership of the Justice Department are all Republicans and the Congress is behaving like a band of accomplices rather than performing oversight. But they're portraying this as a partisan witch hunt anyway because, in their minds, that's just how these things work.

We can certainly draw parallels between the Trump scandals and those of Nixon and Clinton. There are elements of both in their behaviors, from abuse of office to corruption and extramarital affairs. But neither of those presidents, as personally flawed as they may have been, were ever suspected of being dupes or agents of a foreign adversary in a plot to win their election, in a scandal so serious that one would think even the most partisan of players would sober up and take their duty seriously.

Instead, the Republicans are partying like it's 1998 again, lost in the past, unable to adjust to new circumstances, assuming everyone is as vengeful and petty as they are. Now that I think about it, that describes the Republican Party of 2018 in more ways than one.
(c) 2018 Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

Making buildings more energy efficient could play a major role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Will Energy Efficiency Stall Climate Disruption?
By David Suzuki

In the race against the increasingly widespread and devastating consequences of climate change, solutions tend to focus on products and technologies. Renewable energy, electric vehicles, biofuels, carbon capture and storage and geoengineering get much of the attention, in part because they lead us to believe we can continue acting as usual. Those technologies must be part of the solution, but we must also consider our wasteful behaviours.

Conserving energy means consuming less, which isn't a hallmark of our consumption-based economic system. Technology also comes into play with cutting energy use. Many experts argue that energy efficiency could play a major role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, especially in industrial nations like Canada and the U.S., where we tend to waste a lot. Others point to a paradox whereby climate gains from efficiency are offset by reduced costs that increase energy demand.

One third of the world's energy is consumed by buildings, but most are inefficient. According to Jennifer Layke, global director of World Resources Institute's Energy Program, "Just implementing today's best practices could cut global energy demand by one-third by 2050."

A study in Nature Energy concluded that energy efficiency without expensive (and so far commercially unproven) technologies like carbon capture and storage could help the world limit global average temperature rise to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels.

It seems simple. So, what's holding us back? The desire of people to go on consuming as we've been encouraged to do since at least the end of the Second World War is one factor. Layke argues we also need to boost energy efficiency's "cool factor."

She and the scientists behind the Nature Energy study outline the many benefits of energy efficiency beyond reducing climate impacts. They also offer examples of technologies that will boost energy efficiency, including multi-use smart phones, programmable thermostats and electric autonomous vehicles.

"Improving the energy efficiency of buildings is a fast, cost-effective way to manage carbon pollution, spur economic development and enhance local air quality," Layke wrote. It's also a way for individuals and businesses to save money by reducing energy costs.

The authors of the Nature Energy study say a global push to energy efficiency would have the side benefit of helping the world meet sustainable development goals, including reducing hunger, increasing good health and well-being and providing affordable clean energy for everyone.

Not everyone is convinced. Energy writer Andrew Nikiforuk argues in the Tyee that efficiency often spurs increased demand and does little to cut overall energy use. It's known as the Jevons Paradox, after English economist William Stanley Jevons, who noticed in the mid-1800s that as coal-fired steam engines became more efficient and inexpensive, their use became more widespread, leading to increased coal burning.

"Oil-fired and electrical driven technologies have honoured the paradox with panache," Nikiforuk writes, noting that efficiency caused aircraft fuel costs to drop, which led to cheaper fares and more passengers, and thus more flights. As boilers in Britain became more efficient, people started increasing temperatures in their homes.

According to Nikiforuk, "The only way to reduce total energy consumption levels, say in the aviation industry or any other sector, is to limit the number of planes, travellers and airports. Higher energy prices and higher taxes will do that. But that means a shrinking economy and a radical rethink about the dominant role of technology in our decision-making."

Carbon pricing, through carbon taxes or cap-and-trade systems, can create disincentives for using fossil fuel energy while encouraging clean energy, and regulations can also help with the shift from dirty to clean energy and energy conservation and efficiency. But energy efficiency must be coupled with reduced consumption to be effective.

What's really needed is a radical shift in our way of thinking. Making buildings more energy efficient is good, but people in those buildings still have to use energy wisely. Consuming, flying and driving less doesn't necessarily mean living a poorer life. Focusing on relationships with family, friends and community and spending time in nature rather than accumulating stuff and constantly being on the move bring greater well-being and happiness.

Addressing climate change means heeding scientists' warnings that climate change threatens civilization, and confronting the crisis with every tool available, from renewable energy to efficiency to wasting less food, energy and other goods.
(c) 2018 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co_founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

Omarosa Is Just Another Clown Leaping Out Of The Car
This is someone who shouldn't ever have been in the White House except as part of a tour.
By Charles P. Pierce

Personally, I blame The West Wing.

As the series ground on, more and more of the action took place in the White House Situation Room. Because of this, I contend, in the public mind, the place has taken on the aura of a mystical realm halfway between Rivendell and U.N.C.L.E headquarters. And given how "national security" has been sacralized beyond most other functions of the national government, there is something of the reek of incense to the place, too.

Consequently, the revelation by Omarosa Manigault Newman that she had recorded her firing by White House chief of staff John Kelly In The Situation Room! has caused an eruption of horror, mock and otherwise, from assorted quarters. Reliably, the most disingenuous of these came from Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House Chief Of Prevarication and Secretary of Mendacity. From Business Insider:

"The very idea a staff member would sneak a recording device into the White House Situation Room shows a blatant disregard for our national security - and then to brag about it on national television further proves the lack of character and integrity of this disgruntled former White House employee."
Shocked, shocked! I tell you.

First of all, this is a person who shouldn't ever have been in the White House except as part of a tour. But since this administration* has all the vetting procedures of the average turnpike rest facility, there she was, in and out of the West Wing offices until, finally, she got canned in the mother of all secure areas. For those of us who still are amazed that Ryan Zinke is running the Interior Department, Omarosa is simply another clown leaping out of the car. This whole administration* is a farce. This was just a particularly well-written sketch. (If there is any modern parallel, it's probably the strange case of Jeff Gannon, a former escort who scarfed some dubious press credentials back during the administration of C-Plus Augustus. This is probably worse.)

Various conservative suckfish are in high dudgeon, demanding that the former director of communications for the Office of Public Liaisons be prosecuted and sent up the river. (I'm confused. I thought control of public liaisons was part of Michael Cohen's portfolio.) The crack White House legal team is "exploring options" in this area. Except, of course, there probably aren't any. Everybody else is cowering in fear of the imminent descent of a vengeful harpy. From ABC News:

Many within the White House fear Manigault Newman will release their private conversations. "She's on a different level," a senior White House official said. "She terrified me."
Good guess.
"People now understand that she has a lot," a former White House official said. "It's stopping people from punching back." While many say they guarded themselves from Manigault Newman, some fear their tangles with her will be broadcast, and they're unsure of just how many tapes she has in possession. "If you pissed off Omarosa, buckle up -- it's going to be a tough couple of weeks," said one former official. Another senior White House official described Newman as unprofessional, and recalled that she would shop online during meetings. The staffer said she witnessed Manigault Newman being verbally abusive to junior level staffers several times.
Only last Friday, I swore I wouldn't write about this episode. This president* makes liars of us all.
(c) 2018 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote-

"We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office."
~~~ Aesop

American traitor Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson in Charlottesville

Charlottesville Still Has Statues, Still Won't Ban Guns
By David Swanson

Charlottesville FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY saying they'll ban sticks and other potential weapons, just as if this were a nonviolent leftist rally for peace or justice is the right move. If advocates for love and kindness can't have posters on wooden poles, why should fascists who've made their violent intent known get to bring actual weaponry? This should have been done before last year's event, and only took 362 days after it.

Filling the city with militarized cops and soldiers isn't the right move. It shows nothing has been learned. Busloads of heavily armed fighters, and possibly-soon-to-crash helicopters, keep good people away, encourage violence, play into the hands of those seeking violence, and reduce the possibility of serious nonviolent action.

At the root of the reliance on violence is the refusal to ban guns. The brave Charlottesville "Resistance" bows before the sociopathic claims of the state legislature that guns cannot be banned from anywhere even if it kills people, even if it fuels violence and hostility that ends up killing people by other means, such as with an automobile.

Similarly, the city has spent the past year bowing before the state decree that no war statue may ever be taken down. As on guns, there are legal experts who say this is not legal. It is, however, easier to go along with. Prior to last year's event, only two of Charlottesville's five city council members at the time were willing to take down racist statues. The mayor, one of the three votes for keeping the statues, flipped on the day of the fascist rally. But since then, and with a new mayor, the city has let the statues stand. And none of the advocates for taking them down have been willing to utter one word against the warmongering culture that forbids removing war monuments. The silence is so complete that most people have no idea that the statues remain because of support for warmongering and not because of support for racism.

Charlottesville has also failed to demand the impeachment and removal from office of Donald Trump, whose criminal incitement of violence before and since last year's tragedy is one of many obvious and non-Russophobic grounds for that urgently needed action. Trump was understood by the mostly-yet-to-be-indicted criminals last year as encouraging them. Similar, smaller scale incidents have increased in number across the United States.

Beyond those particular failures are the general failures in Charlottesville and almost everywhere else to seriously address systemic racism, poverty, environmental destruction, and militarism. This follows from the almost complete failure to build any sort of understanding or reconciliation between those struggling and suffering people who resort to racism and those struggling and suffering people who recognize racism as a major part of the problem.

The racists made themselves look bad, flipped the former mayor's worthless vote, and fueled efforts to take down racist statues in lots of other cities, and even wise measures to ban weapons from events in many other cities. But a great deal of work remains to be done.
(c) 2018 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

Why Sanctioning Iran is A Stupid Idea...
By Jane Stillwater

Every weekend I trudge down to the Berkeley flea market to get a deep-tissue massage from Dr. Zhu and his staff. Just 20 bucks. Best deal in the whole Bay Area. And while I was wandering around other stalls at the flea market afterward, I got to chit-chatting with some older guy regarding my latest favorite hot topic -- cut-throat world banking and cold-hearted central banks.

"It's not what you think," said the old man. It isn't? "No. There aren't a whole bunch of huge central banks in the world. There is really only one -- the hegemon super-bank. That's the only central bank that really counts." What? My wonderful Berkeley co-op credit union doesn't count any more? Humph.

"Hundreds of years ago, top banksters met in Antwerp and decided that the most powerful country in the world should also be the site of the most powerful bank in the world -- because said hegemon bank would be safest that way. And thus, after World War II, this super-bank was moved to the United States because everyone in the bankster mafia back then agreed that America was [literally] da bomb. Breton Woods and all that shite sealed the deal.

"But now, by mutual agreement, the world's main hegemon super-bank has been moved again. It is now located in China." Okay. If you say so.

Does that mean that, because it is no longer located here in America, that America no longer runs the world? Apparently China now runs the world? "Bingo!" And even American banksters are aware of this too?

"Absolutely. Top banksters here used to send their kids to Exetor or Andover and then on Harvard. Now they just hire Mandarin-speaking nannies, send their children to the University of Beijing and buy them fancy condos in Shanghai -- hoping to catch some crumbs from the table of Rothchilds gone Asian." Who knew?

"But in order for China to truly and completely run the world, two other things need to happen," continued the old man. "Billions of other people need to recognize China's new power -- and billions of other people need to start dissing on America so that it will lose even more of its power." Suppose I agree with you? Just suppose?

"The king is dead, long live the king, as the old saying goes. But that will only happen when America's banking power is completely diminished." And so? The guy was starting to lose me here -- but only because the BBQ chicken three stalls over smelled really good.

"And so here is where the Trump administration comes in." Hmmm.... "Think about it. Trump has systematically done everything he possibly can in the past two years to make the world hate America. He's kidnapped (and/or murdered) babies, moved the American embassy to Jerusalem, slept with hookers, screwed the environment, nominated Bret Kavanaugh, advocated coat-hanger abortions, denounced the Paris climate accord and given racists and fanatics a cozy new home. But Trump was actually hired to do just that -- and I gotta say that he's doing a hecka good job at it too."

But what about the nuclear deal with North Korea that Trump brokered? Didn't the whole world love that? "China orchestrated that one completely. All Trump had to do was show up. They coulda just sent over a cardboard cut-out of Trump. Same effect. China wins."

But what about Russia? "The whole world loves Russia right now because Russia does things that make sense. Putin is a hero. So by dissing Putin and constantly screaming their lungs out about this crazy RussiaGate fantasy, Americans just look like fools. Mission accomplished. Again." Seriously? "Yep."

So how does all this current bankster- born hype now apply to the Middle East? "Piece of cake. China finally stepped in regarding Syria and so sent a clear message to Israel, Britain and America that China was in charge of Syria now -- and if America and friends didn't like it, they would very soon be without any banks at all." China can do that? "You bet your boots that it can."

But what about all of America's military might and nuclear arsenal? Does that not count for nothing? "That illusion would last about two seconds if China's hegemon bank crossed the USA off its financial dance card. We Americans would be far too busy trying to get roofs over our heads and searching dumpsters for wilted lettuce to even think about funding a military complex." But what about Israel? "China's interference in Syria has also sent a clear message to the Israelis too. Netanyahu and friends can either choose to get with the program or else keep their star hitched to the sinking American ship. I bet you anything that the Israelis will soon see the light. They are total opportunists, have no loyalties at all. They will kiss China's butt in a nano-second now that they've seen the handwriting on the (wailing) wall. They don't care about religion. They care only about being bitch to the current top dog."

The same holds true for the Saudis, I bet. No matter how much oil they produce, they'd still better watch their backs. They think that they are Allah's gift to the world? Not. Nobody likes them either and they are definitely not in either Allah's or China's good graces right now. Or mine.

But what about Palestine? "Just you watch. Suddenly Israelis will start calling Palestinians their BFFs -- if that's what it takes to make China happy. Israelis will even start sucking up to Hamas and even start welcoming Freedom Flotillas to Gaza with open arms, serving their crews tea and bagels on deck."

But what about all those sanctions on Iran? "That's just a joke -- a joke on America. Iran will simply turn to China for everything that it needs, leaving Europe bereft of cheap oil and America sucking its thumb. Just that one simple act by China in Syria has showed us all that."

But what about all those Giants T-shirts that are being sold over there at the flea market stall next to the chicken? "Ha! Bad example. They too are all made in China!"

PS: Speaking of kidnapped babies, I recently picketed a humongous ICE "processing center" in Aurora, Colorado, where dozens of the parents of those 700-odd kidnapped babies are being concentrated into internment "camps" there -- a thousand miles away from their precious little ones.

And wanna know where so many of our income tax dollars are being kidnapped off to as well? At least the ones that haven't already been kidnapped by banksters and war profiteers that is? Look no further. Our dollars are serving as ransom to pay for all those freaking ICE facilities all over America. Millions and millions of our very own income tax dollars went into building that gigantic monstrosity in Aurora. And I made this video to prove it too.
(c) 2018 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!

The Dead Letter Office-

Greedy Tom gives the corporate salute

Heil Trump,

Dear Vorsitzende Perez,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your over turning the DNC law that said Democrats wouldn't take bribes from big oil, 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 "DNC Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 09-28-2018. We salute you Herr Perez, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

Trump And The Art Of The No Deal
By Robert Reich

Donald Trump promised to be America's dealmaker-in-chief, touting his "extraordinary" ability to negotiate. But so far, Trump has shown he can't make a deal. Here's the list of biggest no-deals:

1. No deal with North Korea. Following his summit with Kim Jong Un, Trump declared on Twitter that "there is no longer a nuclear threat" from North Korea. But in fact, there's no deal. Kim conceded nothing on weapons and missile programs. Recent satellite imagery shows North Korea is actually improving its nuclear capability.

2. No deal with Russia. At the Helsinki summit, Russia agreed to nothing. But Trump gave away the store, even casting doubt on Russia's collusion in the 2016 election in the face of the conclusions of America's own intelligence agencies.

3. No deal with China on trade. Instead, we're on the brink of a trade war with China, which is retaliating against U.S. tariffs.

4. No deal with Europe on trade. Instead, Europe has merely agreed to negotiate towards a resolution of the trade war Trump provoked in the first place.

5. No deal on Iran. Trump announced America's exit from the Iran nuclear deal. Since then, no negotiations.

6. No deal on climate change. Trump simply pulled out of the Paris accords. There have been no negotiations since.

7. No deal with the Group of 7 leading economic powers. Instead, Trump just pulled out of the joint communique.

8. No deal on immigration or the DREAMers. Trump promised a new immigration bill, and a new deal from the young people brought to America as children. But since then, nothing.

9. No budget deal with Congress. The government is still operating under a "continuing resolution."

10. No deal on replacing the Affordable Care Act. Trump promised to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act. But there's been no repeal, and no replacement. He and the Republican Congress never agreed to a new plan.

11. No deal on gun control. After the Parkland shooting, Trump promised to tighten background checks for gun buyers and said he'd consider raising the age for buying certain types of guns. Instead, he bowed to the NRA.

Bottom line: Trump can't make deals. He can only pull out of deals already made, or pretend he's made deals that soon evaporate, or give away the store.

He's perfected the art of the no deal.
(c) 2018 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is

Economic War On Iran Is War On Eurasia Integration
US sanctions on Iran should be interpreted as a piece in a much larger chessboard
By Pepe Escobar

Hysteria reigned supreme after the first round of US sanctions were reinstated against Iran over the past week. War scenarios abound, and yet the key aspect of the economic war unleashed by the Trump administration has been overlooked: Iran is a major piece in a much larger chessboard.

The US sanctions offensive, launched after Washington's unilateral pullout from the Iran nuclear deal, should be interpreted as an advance gambit in the New Great Game at whose center lies China's New Silk Road -arguably the most important infrastructure project of the 21st century - and overall Eurasia integration.

The Trump administration's maneuvers are a testament to how China's New Silk Road, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), threaten the US establishment.

Eurasian integration on the rise

Eurasian integration is on display in Astana, where Russia, Iran and Turkey are deciding the fate of Syria, in coordination with Damascus.

Iran's strategic depth in post-war Syria simply won't vanish. The challenge of Syrian reconstruction will be met largely by Bashar al-Assad's allies: China, Russia and Iran.

Echoing the Ancient Silk Road, Syria will be configured as an important BRI node, key to Eurasia integration.

In parallel, the Russia-China strategic partnership -from the intersection between the BRI and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) to the expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the solidifying of BRICS Plus - has immense economic stakes in the stability of Iran.

The complex interconnection of Iran with both Russia (via the EAEU and the International North-South Transportation Corridor) and China (via BRI and oil/gas supplies) is even tighter than in the case of Syria in the past seven years of civil war.

Iran is absolutely essential for Russia-China for the partnership to allow any "surgical strike" - as floated in Syria - or worse, hot war initiated by Washington.

A case could be made that with his recent overture to President Putin, President Trump is trying to negotiate some sort of freeze in the current configuration - a remixed Sykes-Picot for the 21st century.

But that assumes Trump's decision-making is not being dictated or co-opted by the US neocon cabal that pressed for the 2003 war in Iraq.

North Korea two?

If the situation turns volcanic when the US oil sanctions on Iran kick in by early November, an actual remix of the recent North Korea scenario would be in the cards. Washington simultaneously sent three carrier battle groups to terrify North Korea. That failed -and Trump ended up having to chat with Kim Jong-un.

Despite the US record around the world - endless threats of a Venezuela invasion with the only tangible result an amateurish, failed drone attack; 17 years of endless war in Afghanistan, with the Taliban still as immovable as the Hindu Kush peaks; the "4+1" -Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, plus Hezbollah -winning the vicious proxy war in Syria - US neocons scream and shout about striking Iran.

As with North Korea, Russia and China will send unmistakable signs that Iran is in their closely coordinated Eurasian sphere of influence, and any attack on Iran will be considered an attack on the whole Eurasian sphere.

Stranger things have happened, but it's hard to see any rational actors in Washington, Tel Aviv and Riyadh wishing to have Beijing and Moscow - simultaneously - as lethal enemies.

All across Southwest Asia, there are no doubts the official Trump administration -and in fact, the whole Beltway -policy on Iran is regime change. So from now on, short of hot war, the new rules of the game spell out stepped-up cyber-warfare.

From Washington's point of view, in terms of return on investment that's a relative bargain; cyber-warfare keeps the Russia-China partnership away from direct involvement while in theory digging deeper into the economic collapse of Iran, heavily advertised as imminent by Trump administration officials.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry could not be more explicit on the US effort to reimpose global sanctions on Iran. "China's commercial cooperation with Iran is open and transparent, reasonable, fair and lawful, not violating any United Nations Security Council resolutions," it said.

That echoes the Russian Foreign Ministry on the US sanctions: "This is a graphic example of Washington's continued violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231 and trampling upon the norms of international law."

President Trump for his part has also been explicit: any nation that violates the sanctions against Iran will not do business with the US.

Good luck with having support from Turkey or Qatar -completely dependent on Iran for food, use of civilian airspace and sharing gas exploration in South Pars. Not to mention Russia-China assuring Tehran's back on all fronts.

How not to do business with China?

The die is cast. China not only will continue but also will increase its purchase of Iranian oil and gas.

The Chinese auto industry -currently with 10% of the Iranian market -will simply take over as the French leave. Chinese companies are already responsible for 50% of auto parts imported into Iran.

Russia for its part has pledged to invest as much as $50 billion in Iranian oil and natural gas. Moscow is very much aware of the Trump administration's next possible step; imposing sanctions on Russian companies investing in Iran.

Washington simply can't "not do business" with China. The entire US defense industry is dependent on China for rare earth materials. Since the 1980s, US multinationals set up their export supply chains in China with direct encouragement of the US government.

The EU for its part has enforced a Blocking Statute -never used before, although in existence for already two decades - to protect European companies, even coming to the point of imposing fines on businesses that pull out of Iran because of plain fear.

In theory, that shows some balls. And yet, as EU diplomats in Brussels told Asia Times, there's a major conditional: US satrapies/vassals abound across the EU, so quite a few EU-based companies, as in the case of Total and Renault, in the end, will simply roll over.

Meanwhile, what Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said about US unilateralism -the world "is sick and tired" of it -keeps echoing all across the Global South.

The Mother of All Financial Hurricanes

Those clamoring for war with Iran cannot possibly understand that the nightmare scenario of a Strait of Hormuz/Persian Gulf energy transit closure -the choke point for 22 million barrels of oil a day -would represent, ultimately, the death of the petrodollar.

The Strait of Hormuz can be configured as the Achilles heel of the entire West/US economic power; a closure would detonate the mother of all hurricanes in the quadrillion-dollar derivatives market.

Unless China does not buy Iranian energy, US sanctions - as a geo-economic tool - are essentially meaningless.

Certainly not, of course, for the "Iranian people" so dear to the Beltway, as more day-to-day financial grief is already setting in, side by side with a sense of national cohesiveness in the face, once again, of an external threat.

China and Russia have already pledged to continue to implement the JCPOA, alongside the EU-3; after all, this is an UN-endorsed multilateral treaty.

Beijing has already informed Washington in no uncertain terms that it will continue to do business with Iran. So the ball is now in Washington's court. It will be up to the Trump administration to decide whether to sanction China for its unwillingness to stop trading with Iran.

It's not exactly a wise move to threaten China -especially with Beijing on an irresistible historical ascendancy. Nehru threatened China and lost a big chunk of Arunachal Pradesh to Chairman Mao. Brezhnev threatened China and faced the wrath of the PLA on the banks of the Ussuri River.

China is able to cut the US off in a minute from its rare earth exports, creating a US national security catastrophe. Now that's when a trade war will enter real incandescent territory.
(c) 2018 Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times. His latest book is "Obama Does Globalistan." He may be reached at

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Milt Priggee ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Sessions Vows To Protect All Deeply Held Religious Bigotry
By The Onion

WASHINGTON-Standing firm in his commitment to one of the nation's guiding principles, Attorney General Jeff Sessions went on record Wednesday vowing to protect the deeply held religious bigotry of all Americans.

"Dating back to colonial times, America has been a place where individuals are free to live in accordance with their own personal prejudices, and I'm dedicated to ensuring our people retain the right to discriminate against others based upon their religion," said Sessions, condemning what he described as secular trends within society that threaten the freedom to treat people as second-class citizens if they adhere to a different faith or no faith at all.

"I was raised in a devoutly intolerant household, so I understand the importance of being allowed to hate in whatever way one sees fit. To me, that's what being an American is all about."

In his closing remarks, Sessions warned that surrendering the right to discriminate according to religion could be the start of a slippery slope that ends with Americans losing their sacred right to discriminate according to gender, sexual orientation, or even race.
(c) 2018 The Onion

The Gross National Debt

Iraq Deaths Estimator

The Animal Rescue Site

Issues & Alibis Vol 18 # 32 (c) 08/17/2018

Issues & Alibis is published in America every Friday. We are not affiliated with, nor do we accept funds from any political party. We are a non_profit group that is dedicated to the restoration of the American Republic. All views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily the views of Issues & Alibis.Org.

In regards to copying anything from this site remember that everything here is copyrighted. Issues & Alibis has been given permission to publish everything on this site. When this isn't possible we rely on the "Fair Use" copyright law provisions. If you copy anything from this site to reprint make sure that you do too. We ask that you get our permission to reprint anything from this site and that you provide a link back to us. Here is the "Fair Use" provision.

"Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors."