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In This Edition

Greg Palast returns with, "Yes, We Can Bust The Ballot Burglary."

Ralph Nader gives, "Needed: Indicators For Measuring Injustice And Societal Decay."

Glen Ford exclaims, "Free All Political Prisoners - And Say Their Names!"

Jim Hightower explores, "The Deadly Economic Disease Behind COVID-19."

William Rivers Pitt says, "The 2020 Democratic Convention Could Be A Tech Debacle Or An Ambitious Feat."

John Nichols concludes, "Donald Trump And His Postmaster General Are Sabotaging Democracy In Plain Sight."

James Donahue confesses, "When I Was A Republican."

Michael Winship returns with, "Stamp Out The Trump Attacks On Our Postal Service!"

David Suzuki says, "Circular Economy Is Too Important To Be Co-opted By Industry."

Charles P. Pierce says, "This Is One Hell Of A Price To Pay To Ensure Stephen Miller Never Has To Look For A Real Job."

Juan Cole finds the US is, "No Longer Leader Of The Free World: Trump Admin. Humiliated At UN Over Iran Arms Embargo."

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich wonders, "Unlike Republicans, Democrats Can Govern. But Can They Fight?"

Thom Hartmann watches, "Republicans Struggle To Reboot Their 'Small Government, Personal Responsibility' Scam."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Waterford Whispers News tells, "Everything You Need To Know About Kamala Harris," but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Lying Donald, Lies Again!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Mr. Fish, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Erik McGregor, Max P, Spencer Platt, Olivier Doulier, Kamil Krzaczynski, Caroline Brehman, Lev Radin, Saul Loeb, Pacific Press, LightRocket, CQ-Roll Call, Robert Reich, Jim Hightower, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

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

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

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Lying Donald, Lies Again!
By Ernest Stewart

"She's very big into raising taxes, she wants to slash funds for our military at a level that nobody would ever believe, she's against fracking [...] extraordinarily nasty." ~~~ Lying Donald ~ on Kamala Harris

"We are measuring the pulse of the ice sheet-how much ice glaciers drain at the edges of the ice sheet-which increases in the summer. And what we see is that it was relatively steady until a big increase in ice discharging to the ocean during a short five- to six-year period" ~~~ Michalea King ~ a researcher at The Ohio State University's Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center

"Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Wednesday compared the difficulties of reopening public schools for the 2020-21 academic year during the coronavirus pandemic with obstacles faced by the U.S. Navy SEAL team that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011." ~~~ Valerie Strauss

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

Lying Donald lies again. Yes, I know, that's not news, is it? Well, how about this then? Trump's often-repeated claim that the Obama administration illegally spied on his campaign has been refuted by Lying Donald's own FBI in a detailed report. Lying Donald made the claim during a rally in Wisconsin this week. "We are going to win four more years," he told the crowd. "And then after that, we'll go for another four years because they spied on my campaign. We should get a redo of four years." According to the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, however, "No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice." Sure, I get it, when has Lying Donald ever obeyed the US Constitution? To my knowledge, never!

From our "I'm having a deja vu all over again" department comes Lying Donald questioning Kamala Harris' right to run for office as VP, as he did with Obama, because her parents were immigrants. "I heard it today that she doesn't meet the requirements - I have no idea if that's right." Of course, Lying Donald, you have no idea about anything. Harris was born in California and is eligible to serve. Trump appeared to be referring to a widely discredited op-ed that claims that the U.S. Constitution doesn't grant birthright citizenship. You may recall that the 14th Amendment grants citizenship to all people born in the U.S. And, Article II Section 1 of the Constitution says that to be eligible for the vice presidency and presidency, a candidate must be natural-born U.S. citizen, at least 35, and a resident of the United States for a minimum of 14 years. Sounds like she qualify's to me, how about you?

Then there was the White House correspondent who asked Trump "do you regret at all the lying you've done to the American people?" Trump responded with "All the what?" Lying Donald has told more than 20,000 "false or misleading claims" over the course of his presidency. according to The Guardian and Washington Post! I gave up counting after 2,000 lies in his first three months in office!

Lying Donald said that "mail-in voting would perpetuate one of the greatest frauds in history," saying "if they don't get those two items, that means you can't have universal mail-in voting because they're not equipped to have it." He then added: "They don't have the money to do the universal mail-in voting. So therefore, they can't do it, I guess. Are they going to do it even if they don't have the money?" Oh, and did I mention, that Lying Donald then voted by mail? And so it goes...

In Other News

I see where climate scientists sounded the alarm: warming Greenland ice sheet passes point of no return!

Even if the climate cools, study finds, glaciers will continue to shrink.

Nearly 40 years of satellite data from Greenland shows that glaciers on the island have shrunk so much that even if global warming were to stop today, the ice sheet would continue shrinking.

The finding, published in the journal Communications Earth and Environment, means that Greenland's glaciers have passed a tipping point of sorts, where the snowfall that replenishes the ice sheet each year cannot keep up with the ice that is flowing into the ocean from glaciers. Which begs the question, "How long can you tread water coastal America?"

"We've been looking at these remote sensing observations to study how ice discharge and accumulation have varied," said Michalea King, lead author of the study and a researcher at The Ohio State University's Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center. "And what we've found is that the ice that's discharging into the ocean is far surpassing the snow that's accumulating on the surface of the ice sheet."

King and other researchers analyzed monthly satellite data from more than 200 large glaciers draining into the ocean around Greenland. Their observations show how much ice breaks off into icebergs or melts from the glaciers into the ocean. They also show the amount of snowfall each year-the way these glaciers get replenished.

The researchers found that, throughout the 1980s and 90s, snow gained through accumulation and ice melted or calved from glaciers were mostly in balance, keeping the ice sheet intact. Through those decades, the researchers found, the ice sheets generally lost about 450 gigatons (about 450 billion tons) of ice each year from flowing outlet glaciers, which was replaced with snowfall.

Meanwhile, out west, it's burning hot with 3 digit temps all over Southern California, Arizona and Nevada, driving the fires breaking out due to 10,000 lightning strikes all over California creating some 350 fires from L.A. to Napa Valley. Over in Death Valley they had perhaps the hottest temperature ever recorded there of 130 degrees fahrenheit. When I crossed Death Valley in July of 1976 (See Uncle Ernie's Hollywood Daze) the temperature was 126 degree fahrenheit. I stoped at a gas station/diner as my engine was over heating and there was little I could do to fix my problem as I had a radiator full of summer coolant. Fortunately a truck driver told me to unlatch my hood one step so it was open but still connected. So I did and when I went back out on the freeway the temperature went down and after climbing out of Death Valley went back to normal. I think that was a record temperature for that time but soon it maybe par for the course! To put that in perspective, Lying Donald and Covid-19 are no big things when compared to global warming, which, unabated, may well kill us all!

And Finally

Florida Governor Ron DeSanis is comparing sending children back to school as easy as shopping at Home Depot and Walmart. Ron said, "I'm confident if you can do Home Depot, if you can do Walmart, if you can do these things, we absolutely can do the schools."

This was far less persuasive than he seemed to realize: when shoppers go to big-box stores, they tend to walk through spacious aisles and remain in the stores for relatively short periods. When kids go to schools, they tend to sit for many hours in classrooms and walk through crowded hallways. So Ron switched analogies to, "Martin County Superintendent Laurie Gaylord told me she viewed re-opening her schools as a mission akin to a Navy SEAL operation. Just as the SEALs surmounted obstacles to bring Osama bin Laden to justice, so too would the Martin County School system find a way."

Ron will follow Lying Donalds whim even if it kills both teachers and students. I should mention that 8,000 people caught Covid-19 in Florida yesterday and the number of COVID-19 cases among Florida children has more than doubled over the past month. So guess what? Why do I always see the same hands go up? That's right, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis wins this week's Vidkun Quisling Award!

Keepin' On

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


08-07-1951 ~ 08-14-2020
Thanks for the music!

12-16-1947 ~ 08-18-2020
Thanks for the film!

11-20-1962 ~ 08-19-2020
Thanks for the music!


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


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

Until the next time, Peace!

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

Yes, We Can Bust The Ballot Burglary
Keiser Report: How to protect your mail-in ballot and un-steal the election
By Greg Palast

22% of all mail-in ballots don't get counted - that's according to an MIT study conducted before Trump took office. And the Post Office has always been a problem, even before a Forever Trumper was appointed as Postmaster General.

Safest way to vote: Ask for an absentee ballot 2 months in advance. If it doesn't arrive by October 15, pick it up at your county Board of Elections (Google yours), fill it out, and return it right there - and demand validation of your signature.

In 2016, more than 141,000 ballots were rejected because someone challenged the signature. If you mail in your vote, make sure to follow your states insane rules - a witness for signatures is required in Wisconsin and many states. And most states require first time absentee voters to include a copy of their ID.

Don't go postal: drop your ballot off at the your County Clerk's office, early polling station, or drop box if you're in a state that has them. And protect your ballot with my special "Ballot Condom."

In this excerpt from his interview with Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert for the Keiser Report, Palast offers more tips for protecting your vote and cautions that if we don't overwhelm the steal, under the terms of the 12th Amendment, Trump could "constitutionally" cling on to power even if he doesn't win the election.


Max Keiser: It seems like America slipping into a situation where we're going to see an actual coup in 2016, when Trump took over, we now, now looking back, it appeared as though there was a coup attempt in the United States. There's been a couple in the past. FDR faced a coup attempt, in his administration, you've probably done some work on that. And I believe there was one going back even further than that. But, Greg, what you're describing here sounds like America is slipping into what we jokingly refer to in other countries as banana republics. Is that where we're heading Greg?

Greg Palast: Well, the banana has already been peeled. Because in 2016, as I point out in my book, Trump didn't win the Electoral College. As I say at the beginning of the book, you're not guilty America. You don't have to hide your hands in shame that you elected a kind of orange stained, porcine, bloviating bigot. No! Quickly, in Michigan, 75,000 ballots were not counted in Detroit, machines broke down. Trump supposedly worn by 10,000. How do you win the state if you don't count 75,000 ballots and you win by ten? Excuse me, who won that state?

Wisconsin, they knocked out over a hundred thousand students two weeks before the election by changing the ID rules, making using a student ID illegal to vote. So you lost a hundred thousand students and 50,000 African-Americans, according to University of Wisconsin.

So Trump didn't win 2016. And when you are ruled by someone you didn't pick, you're a slave. Okay. So we've had a coup d'etat and we're slaves now. Now I'm talking about how How Trump Stole 2020 is a warning. I'm hoping to kick off a slave revolt where we let the voters pick the president. How about that for a change?

And you're right, we've had this history [of coups] in America, and will it happen again? Now, do we have another chance that there will be something like an obvious coup d'etat in November? Here's how it could run, and it can be a "constitutional" coup d'etat. The way it goes is that there'll be complete mayhem over mail-in balloting, which is going to cause absolute chaos and an implosion at the Post Office. Counting those ballots is going to implode. And you add to that civil unrest fermented by the Trump vigilante force. You're going to have 50,000 guys in Hawaiian shirts creating mayhem. You've got federal police on the street, which are gonna provoke incidents.

So what happens... Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, where you have right wing legislatures, could well say there's too much chaos, we can't certify the vote. So veryone knows Biden's won by the exit polls, but they're not going to certify those states. When that happens. you don't have 270 votes for anyone in the Electoral College, then it goes under the 12th Amendment to the Constitution which says it goes to the house and every state gets one vote. California, Wyoming, get the same vote, Trump is reelected - constitutionally under the 12th amendment in that situation. Are you ready for it?

Keiser: I'm getting it. I'm feeling it. You're laying out the case here... you're bringing in the historical precedence. You're kind of spit balling how it might work, how it goes into the house, the constitution, and I'm seeing what's brewing here is that this election is a complete failure. Trump clings to power, he's in power, ostensibly, and the country is in a huge crisis.

Palast: It doesn't have to be that way, that's the point, Max. The point of How Trump Stole 2020 is you can steal it back. I wouldn't bother writing a book if I thought it was all over with. I'd just go to the beach and forget about it. Isolate somewhere on a top of a mountain. But, no, you can bust the burglary. We can steal it back. That's why at the back of the book, I have something called "Greg & Ted's New and Improved Ballot Condom."

No, you don't put around your ballot. What you do is you follow the rules. Number one, they wiped out literally millions of voters off the voter rolls. So reregister. Check if you're still registered. I did... I looked at my registration in California and it said no such voter.... So I reregistered online.

Go to either or even better, your Secretary of State or your county Board of Elections, make sure that you are listed, that you're listed as active. If you're listed as inactive, you contact them and say, here I am, I'm an active voter. Simply that, calling your voting office will turn you from inactive to active under the law.

So there's lots of things you can do to make sure you protect your vote, and your loved ones.

And make sure that you're mail-in ballot counts. Number one, you're not going to mail it in if you don't get it. So you have to be registered and you have to be active. Second, if you don't get it in time, you'd better call your office and say, where is my ballot? That's very, very important because you see all those people in those lines in Milwaukee and in Atlanta in those primaries? We talked to the people in those lines. Overwhelmingly, the vast majority are people who never got their mail-in ballot, so they were stuck waiting in lines, worrying that they're going to get a deadly virus. Don't let that happen to you. Make sure you're getting the ballot.

Then when you get it, fill it out like you're taking the SAT. Don't skip a line. Don't leave an extra mark. Don't use a red pen. When I was in Michigan looking at the ballot recount - which was stopped by Trump, by the way, by his lawyers - the Republicans were challenging every single Hillary ballot. If it was done in red pen, they said this is the wrong color pen or, oh, they used an X instead of filling in the bubble. I'm not making this up. They're going to challenge every vote. So be so careful with how you fill out your vote and make sure you sign on the outside of the envelope with your correct name. Make sure that you use proper postage. A hundred thousand people lost their right to vote for postage due on their mail-in ballot. And can you imagine what's coming up?

In six states you have to have a witness, in three states like you have to have a notary public sign off on your ballot, notarize your ballot. It's crazy stuff. Protect your vote so that they can't steal it from you.

(c) 2020 Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic, named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC Newsnight Review.

A demonstrator holding a "People Over Profit" sign at a protest in Brooklyn on June 5, 2020.

Needed: Indicators For Measuring Injustice And Societal Decay
Adequate housing, healthcare, food, public services, education, mass transit, health & safety standards, and environmental protections are the prerequisites for a humane democracy.
By Ralph Nader

Economic indicators - data points, trends, and micro-categories - are the widgets of the big information industry. By contrast, indicators for our society's democratic health are not similarly compiled, aggregated, and reported. Its up and down trends are presented piecemeal and lack quantitative precision.

We can get the process started and lay the basis for qualitative and quantitative refinement. Years ago, when we started "re-defining progress" and questioning the very superficial GDP and its empirical limitations, professional economists took notice. Unfortunately, with few exceptions, economists cling to the yardsticks that benefit and suit the plutocrats and CEOs of large corporations.

Here are my offerings in the expectation that readers will add their own measures:

1. A society is decaying when liars receive mass media attention while truth-tellers are largely ignored. Those who are chronically wrong with outrageous and baseless predictions are featured on news broadcasts, op-ed pages, and as convention and conference speakers. On the other hand, those who forewarn and are proven to be accurate are not regaled, but instead, they are excluded from the media spotlight and significant gatherings. Consider the treatment of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz post-Iraq invasion, compared to people like Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn who factually warned Washington not to attack illegally a country that didn't threaten us.

2. A society is decaying when rampant corruption is tolerated, and its perpetrators are rewarded with money, votes, and praise. When President Eisenhower's chief of staff, former New Hampshire Governor Sherman Adams, accepted a vicuña coat from a textile manufacturer, he was forced to resign. The daily corruption of Trump and the Trumpsters towers beyond measure over Adams' indiscretion. Yet calls for Trump and his cronies to resign are rare and anemic. Tragically, the law and the norms of decency have done little to curb the corrupt, criminogenic, and criminal excesses of Trump & company. Even government prosecutors and inspectors generals have been fired, chilled, and sidelined by Trump and his toady, Attorney General Barr.

3. A society is decaying when a growing number of people believe in fantasies instead of realities. Social media makes this an ever more serious estrangement from what is actually happening in the country and in the world. Believing in myths and falsehoods leads to political servitude, economic disruption, and social dysfunction. The corrupt concentration of power ensues.

4. An expanding economy focusing increasingly on 'wants and whims' while ignoring the meeting of basic 'needs and necessities' shatters societal cohesiveness and deepens miseries of many people. Adequate housing, healthcare, food, public services, education, mass transit, health & safety standards, and environmental protections are the prerequisites for a humane democracy. The economy is in shambles for tens of millions of Americans, including hungry children. Minimal economic security is beyond the reach of tens of millions of people in our country.

5. With few exceptions, the richer the wealthy become, the more selfish they behave, from severely diminished contributions to charities to the failure to exert leadership to reverse the breakdown of society. Take all the failures of the election machinery from obstructing voters to simply counting the votes honestly with paper records. The U.S. Senate won't vote to give the states the $4 billion needed for administering the coming elections despite the Covid-19-driven need for expanded voting by mail. The Silicon Valley, undertaxed, mega-billionaires could make a $4 billion patriotic donation to safeguard the voting process in November and not even feel it.

6. Rampant commercialism knowing no boundaries or restraints even to protect young children is running roughshod over civic values. Every major religion has warned about giving too much power to the merchant class going back over 2000 years. In our country, justice arrived after commercial greed was subordinated to humane priorities such as abolishing child labor and requiring crashworthy cars, cleaner air, water, and safer workplaces. Mercantile values produce predictable results, from excluding civic groups from congressional hearings and the mass media to letting corporations control what the people own such as the vast public lands and public airwaves.

7. Then there is the American Empire astride the globe, enabled by an AWOL Congress and propelled by the avaricious military-industrial complex. In his 1961 farewell address, President Dwight Eisenhower presciently forewarned that "[W]e must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist." All Empires devour themselves until they collapse on the countries of their origins. Over 55% of the federal government's operating spending goes to the Pentagon and its associated budgets. The military-industrial complex increasingly leads to quagmires and creates adversaries abroad, as it starves the social safety net budgets in our country. Our country's military spending with all its waste is surging and unaudited. The U.S. spent more than $732 billion on direct defense spending in 2019; this is more than the next ten countries with the largest military expenditures.

8. A society that requires its people to incur crushing debt to survive, while relying on casinos and other forms of gambling to produce jobs, is going backward into the future.

9. Public officials who repeatedly obstruct voters from having their votes received and counted accurately and in a timely fashion continue with impunity to try to steal elections. Then Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp (now governor of Georgia) "stole" the election in 2018 from gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. Abrams said Kemp was an "architect of voter suppression." And that because Kemp was the Georgia Secretary of State during the race, he was "the referee, the contestant and the scorekeeper" for the 2018 gubernatorial election. He escaped accountability. Democracy decays.

10, Access to justice is diminishing. Tort law - the law of wrongful injuries - has been weakened in many states with arbitrary caps on damages for the most serious injuries. It also is harder than ever for citizens to get through to real people in government agencies.

Time to conclude and look forward to your indicators of societal decay. Send them to or CSRL, P.O. Box 19367, Washington, DC 20036. The more Americans know where their country is heading, the more they may just want a better future and participating in or supporting the movements dedicated to turning our democracy around.

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

Free All Political Prisoners - And Say Their Names!
By Glen Ford

It is righteous and correct to say the names of victims of police violence, but we must also "Say the names!" of our living political prisoners. "They can't wait for 'Abolition.'" BAR executive editor Glen Ford made the following remarks on August 15 to the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations, which was holding a virtual national conference under the theme, "Fight for Black Power: Free All Political Prisoners."

Power to the People... and good morning.

We're going to talk about Political Prisoners, of which the United States has many -- despite the fact that the United States claims it does not, and never has, imprisoned people for political reasons.

Scores of these prisoners are listed by the Jericho Movement. They have been incarcerated for many decades, some for half a century.

Many more have died in prison, and others have been released after enduring years of torture and attempts to break and humiliate them.

That includes esteemed members of the Black Is Back Coalition, who continue their work in the struggle, as do the brothers and sisters that remain behind bars. They have never left the struggle.

Of course, some people and institutions are totally immune from imprisonment - like banking executives, who are considered too big to jail.

But that's because they are the state - or rather, the State works for people like them. They are part of the ruling class.

The ruling classes have shaped the State to protect their interests. The Capitalist State exists for the purpose of making the nation and the world safe for the Rule of Capital. These people will never be prisoners of any kind - until they are overthrown and removed from power, by the people

That's why we say, Power to the People.

But the rest of us are subject to become prisoners, whether our offenses are overtly political, or not. Lots of folks who were politically opposed to the laws and practices of the U.S. State have spent some time in jail.

Some of them are eventually exonerated in the eyes of the State, and even venerated - and held up as political icons and paragons of virtue. People like the late John Lewis, who bragged incessantly that he's been arrested 40 times, in addition to having his head bashed in by police on a bridge that will likely be named after him, now that he's dead.

But John Lewis's many periods of incarceration were brief, for a number of reasons. The most important reason, is that Lewis was part of a broad movement, the civil rights movement, that had actively engaged many tens of thousands of people and was supported by many millions more in the United States and around the World. However, it is very important to understand that this "civil rights" movement was supported - at least tacitly - by a segment of the U.S. ruling class, and by large sections of the U.S. State, in various regions of the country and in the federal government.

Northern Democrats and many Republicans were opposed to Jim Crow. These politicians opposed segregation laws because many of their bosses in the ruling class were against legal segregation.

Many Big Capitalists opposed segregation laws, because Jim Crow put limits on the uses of Capital. Legal Jim Crow prevented the southern states from becoming fully integrated into the national U.S. economy. Segregation limited how investment money could be spent in the South, and the kinds of projects that could be developed.

You can't have a project like Peachtree Plaza, in Atlanta, if you have to have two sets of escalators, one for whites and one for Blacks. And you can't make Atlanta or Charlotte or New Orleans an international city, and still keep Jim Crow segregation.

So, much of the U.S. ruling class wanted Jim Crow to go. And this created political space for the civil rights movement in the South - because powerful sectors of the ruling class saw their own interest in ending legal segregation and denial of Black voting rights.

That's why John Kennedy made that call to Coretta Scott King when her husband was serving time in a Georgia jail, in 1960. Martin Luther King was a political prisoner of the State of Georgia, but elements of the national ruling class intervened, to voice their disapproval.

So, during that period in history, in the early Sixties, Big Capital and many of their political servants were at times allies of the civil rights movement. And they fully expected that civil rights activists, and Black folks in general, would repay them by becoming allies of Big Capital and the U.S. imperial state.

John Lewis totally fulfilled those expectations. He became a loyal servant of the Democratic Party, and a beloved spokesman for U.S. exceptionalism and Washington's right to rule over the planet.

John Lewis was an imperialist, ruling class success story - and they're very glad that they didn't keep him in jail, and that those cops didn't kill him on the bridge.

Dr. King was a different story.

Even before he began to publicly oppose the Vietnam War and U.S. imperial policy, before he publicly indicted the U.S. state and society for, what he called, the Three Evils of racism, poverty, and war, Dr. King had become the most important Black leader in the country.

And although, in the first half of the Sixties, King had not yet begun denouncing American imperialism or the capitalist system, King was still made a target of the FBI's COINTELPRO program.

He was to be neutralized, along with communists and Black radicals, especially Black nationalists. Dr. King was on the same FBI list as the young Stokely Carmichael, later known as Kwame Ture.

J. Edgar Hoover feared that Dr. King might become a "Black Messiah" that could unify the Black Nationalist Movement. Hoover admitted that King was no Black nationalist, but Hoover feared that he might become a Messiah of the Black nationalists in the future. So King had to be neutralized, along with the actual Black radicals and revolutionary Black nationalists on the COINTELPRO list. And Dr. King did become more radical. He did break with U.S. imperialism. He did start speaking out more forcefully against capitalism.

But the U.S. Secret Police had a problem with eliminating Dr. King. King was famous for his Gandhian nonviolence. He had a Nobel Peace Prize.

So, how do you criminalize that kind of man, and make him a political prisoner? What kind of pretext could they use to discredit and incarcerate Reverend Dr. KIng, or run him out of the country - like they did Robert Williams, the former NAACP leader from North Carolina who found asylum in Cuba in 1961.

But Robert Williams advocated, and practiced, armed self-defense. Dr. King didn't mess with guns.

The Secret Police couldn't set King up, and King refused to commit suicide, as they strongly suggested. So, since they couldn't make him a prisoner, they made him a martyr.

Now, the reason I spent so much time on Dr. King, who was not a longtime political prisoner, is to point up the fact that the same forces that targeted Dr. King, in order to neutralize him, politically - those same forces put all of our surviving political prisoners behind bars.

Even if the U.S. Secret Police were NOT responsible for the death of Malcolm X in 1965, they would have killed or imprisoned Malcolm later on the decade.

If you threaten to lead Black people on an independent political path, the U.S. State will attempt to neutralize you, imprison you, or kill you.

If you exercise your right to defend yourself, and your people, from the oppressive arms of the State, they make you into an outlaw, and hunt you down.

And if you somehow escape from their clutches and find asylum in a comradely country, they will put a bounty on your head - as they have Assata Shakur.

When Malcolm's political children formed the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, in late 1966, they were exercising their right under California law to bear arms on the street.

In the beginning, the Party was a kind of armed cop-watch. The idea was that the cops would be less likely to casually kill people in the Black community if they knew they were being watched by armed Black people.

The Party was the White Settler State's worst nightmare: Black revolutionary nationalists with guns. Real Black revolutionaries, not figments of J. Edgar Hoover's imagination.

They didn't hide their socialism, and they actively sought fraternal relations with revolutionary movements and socialist governments around the world.

The Panthers characterized the police as an army of occupation in the Black community.

An occupation army. Those words were carefully chosen.

Malcolm X told us that we should stop talking about "civil rights" - which are the rights that the government chooses to give you - and instead demand our "human rights," as spelled out in United Nations documents.

Oppressed people should not have to appeal to their Oppressor for justice. They have the human right to resist oppression, by any means necessary. No matter what the oppressor says.

Brother Malcolm had done his homework. He knew that back in 1949 the Geneva Convention had declared that Occupied People have a human right to resist that occupation. The Black Panther Party put that right into practice, in response to the blue army of occupation in our communities.

When Dr. King was murdered in 1968, rebellions erupted in virtually every heavily Black city in the country. And thousands of sisters and brothers were soon knocking on the doors of Panther Party offices across the country, volunteering to join the resistance.

When Brother Yeshitela talks about revolution being "in the air" in 1968, that's no exaggeration. The numbers of Panther volunteers were, in fact, far too large for the Party to handle.

The State set COINTELPRO on War mode. Infiltration was even more pervasive than folks ever imagined. The SWAT TEAM was invented, and the Party was soon on the defensive, everywhere.

The bodies were piling up, and much of the Party was facing charges of one kind or another. Many were already in prison.

And then, in June of 1969, J. Edgar Hoover made the declaration of war official. He said the Black Panther Party was, "without question, the greatest threat to the internal national security of the United States." Hoover vowed to put the party out of existenceby the end of the year.

The U.S. State was handing down an ultimatum: Give up the struggle, or become a prisoner, or a corpse.

Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were among those killed before the year was out.

Many of the brothers and sisters who rejected Hoover's ultimatum became political prisoners -- and the survivors' pictures are on the Black Is Back Coalition poster that we prepared for this conference.

The latter part of the Black Liberation Movement was marked by calls to "Free Huey," "Free Bobby," and "Free Angela."

These particular prisoners were freed. But ultimately, the revolutionary Black movement was smashed by the raw, murderous power of the State.

However, the U.S. State had an even bigger plan.

COINTELPRO and related Secret Police programs are designed to target and neutralize the leadership of revolutionary movements. But Black people were feeling rebellious all over the country in the late Sixties. Federal troops were called in to occupy Detroit in 1967, and to occupy Washington DC and other cities in 1968, when over a hundred cities burned.

The U.S. State answered this resistance with the Mother of All Counterinsurgency programs: Mass Black Incarceration.

A mass Black Incarceration regime requires the criminalization of a whole people. Black neighborhoods were placed under the most intense surveillance.

It was in the last days of Lyndon Johnson's presidency that Congress created the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, which vastly increased federal spending on local police. Essentially, the federal government was massively reinforcing the Blue Occupation Army in Black America.

The mission was to create a vastly larger prison infrastructure: The Black Prison Gulag. In just over a generation, the U.S. prison population would swell from only 200,000, in 1970, to well over two million - half of them Black.

One out of every eight prison inmates in the world is a Black American. And one out of every three Black male children will go to prison sometime in their lives.

That was the U.S. State's answer to the Black Liberation Movement of the Sixties. It was as if the Rulers said: Since you Black folks won't stay in your place, we've got another place for you: prison.

But the advent of the Mass Black Incarceration Regime raises the question: If the State makes a political decision to criminalize Blackness, aren't all Black prisoners of the state political prisoners?

That's a question that is wrestled with, inside and outside the prison walls. But we do know for certain who went to prison in the service of our Movement in the struggle to free our people - whether they were armed or unarmed.

And we embrace our duty and our obligation to these political prisoners - not just during Black August, but in the totality of our political work.

The State had help in eradicating the threat of Black revolution.

The struggle against Jim Crow Apartheid engaged all classes of Black people. But not all Black people wanted a total transformation of society. Some just wanted to get rid of the impediments to their own ability to get rich, or to become a General in the Armed Forces, or to climb the corporate ladder.

They didn't want to Overthrow the ruling class - they wanted to join it.

For them, the Movement was about Black REPRESENTATION at all levels of the Capitalist structure - not self-determination for the mass of Black people.

It definitely was not about revolution. That would spoil everything for the aspiring Black bourgeoisie - the people we at Black Agenda Report call "The Black Misleadership Class."

They didn't hate the Democratic Party - even though it was the Democrats who created Jim Crow in the South. Instead, they wanted to join the Democratic Party, and to rise within the Party ranks.

And they opposed independent Black politics. They wanted to shut down the mass movement as soon as possible, so that it would not continue to disrupt the Rich White Man's Political Order - an order that they wanted to become a part of.

They had a slogan, back then: "Taking it from the streets, to the suites."

We saw early on what this Black Misleadership Class was up to - and it had nothing to do with Black Liberation.

The first Black big city mayor was Carl Stokes, of Cleveland. He was elected in 1967. Among his first acts was to appoint a Black general as the city's police commissioner. And the first thing his general did was issue dum-dum bullets to the cops, so that they could kill more Black people.

Atlanta's first Black mayor, Maynard Jackson, quickly moved to break the overwhelmingly Black sanitation workers union - the same union that Martin Luther King was supporting in Memphis when he was assassinated. Maynard Jackson said his main mission was to create a new class of Black millionaires.

Long before McFadden and Whitehead composed their hit record, "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now," the Black Liberation Movement was brought to a stop by the State, with the collaboration of this rising Black political class.

We would not see even a glimmer of a mass Black grassroots movement for two generations.

When we still had a Movement that demanded "Free Huey," "Free Bobby" and "Free Angela," those particular political prisoners were released. But after the Movement was shut down, scores of other political prisoners were left to die in the Gulag.

Meanwhile, the new class of Black Democratic leaders became the managers of the Mass Black Incarceration Regime. Instead of defending Black people's interests and Black human rights, this class defended the System that criminalized Black people as a group.

They were proud to serve the infernal machinery that condemned the best and brightest or our activists and thinkers to die in America's dungeons.

For two generations, there was no Black grassroots mass movement in the United States. But the Black street never stopped resisting, even without a radical political leadership.

The Los Angeles rebellion of 1992 - the "Rodney King" rebellion - registered a higher death toll and more property damage than any urban uprising of the Sixties.

And, a generation after Rodney King, our young people rebelled again in the wake of Michael Brown's murder in Ferguson.

And this year they scared the hell out of the State in cities across the country, in response to Covid 19 and economic depression. Unprecedented numbers of people were in the streets, with young Black folks in the leadership.

But in those protests, we don't hear demands for the release of our political prisoners. They call for "abolition" of prisons. But that's a long-term goal. But many of our political prisoners have already died, and the rest are old. They can't wait for Abolition.

The failure of Black Lives Matter demonstrations to demand freedom for all political prisoners is unacceptable and must be criticized.

The current Movement makes a ritual of saying the names of the recent dead -- the victims of police violence. And that is righteous, and correct: "Say their names!"

But also, we must "Say the names!" of our political prisoners who still live.

So, we're gonna say their names, from the list published by the Jericho Movement:

Abdul Azeez, Virgin Islands 5
Mumia Abu Jamal, Black Panther Party
Sundiata Acoli, Black Panther Party and Republic of New Africa
Imam Jamil Al-Amin, Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee
Jalil Muntaqim, Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army
Joseph Bowen, a US Political Prisoner
Veronza Bowers, Black Panther Party
Kojo Bomani Sababu, Black Liberation Army
Fred "Mohammad" Burton, a US Political Prisoner
Byron Shane Chubbuck, First Nation Political Prisoner
Bill Dunne, a Class War Prisoner
Romaine "Chip" Fitzgerald, a US Political Prisoner
David Gilbert, Anti-Imperialist Political Prisoner
Jeremy Hammond, Anarchist and Computer Hacker Political Prisoner
Hanif Shabazz Bey, Virgin Islands 5
Alvaro Lunes Hernandez, Chicano Political Prisoner
Kamau Sadiki, Black Panther Party

And that's only a partial listing. Political prisoners are being created all the time, because wherever there is political struggle, there will be political prisoners, and political casualties.

We must Say Their Names While they are still alive to hear us.

Say their names, while it can still do some good for the living.

Say their names, because we owe them a debt that can only be repaid by a lifetime of service to the people - as our political prisoners have already done.

Free them All!

Power to the People.

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

The Deadly Economic Disease Behind COVID-19
By Jim Hightower

In this horrible time of economic collapse, it is truly touching to see so many corporate chieftains reaching out in solidarity with the hard-hit working class.

We know theyre doing this because they keep telling us they are - practically every brand - name giant has been spending millions of dollars on PR campaigns in recent weeks asserting that they're standing with us, declaring over and over: "We're all in this together."

Except, of course, they're really not standing anywhere near us. While we're waiting in endless lines at food banks and unemployment offices, the elites are still getting fat paychecks and platinum-level health care. The severity and gross disparity of our country's present economic collapse is not simply caused by a sudden viral outbreak, but by a decades-long plutocratic policy of intentionally maximizing profits for the rich and minimizing everyone else's wellbeing. As the eminent economist Joseph Stiglitz rightly put it, "We built an economy with no shock absorbers."

Jobs, once the measure of a family's economic security, have steadily been shriveled to low-wage unreliable work, untethered to a fair share (or any share) of the new wealth that workers create. In a relentless push for exorbitant, short-term profits, today's executives have abandoned any pretense that a corporation is a community of interdependent interests striving to advance the common good. Instead, while the honchos are richly covered, they're washing their hands of any responsibility for the health, retirement, and other essential needs of their workforce. "Rely on food stamps, Obamacare, and other publicly-funded programs," they say, even as their lobbyists and for-sale lawmakers slash the public safety nets so rich shareholders and speculators can take evermore profit.

These forces of American greed have shoved millions of working families to the economic precipice - and all it takes is a virus to push them over.

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

A City of Milwaukee worker puts up a road closed sign outside the Wisconsin Center
ahead of the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on August 17, 2020.

The 2020 Democratic Convention Could Be A Tech Debacle Or An Ambitious Feat
And it's an invitation to organizers to keep pushing the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee on progressive priorities.
By William Rivers Pitt

What do you suppose the Democrats will be talking about at their "convention" this week?

The U.S. crossed the threshold of 170,000 COVID deaths last night; with more than 5.4 million infections, our country is the most virus-riddled nation on the face of the Earth. In response, the president of the United States has begun pushing "an extract from the oleander plant as a dietary supplement to cure COVID-19, despite lack of proof that it works," according to Axios.

Donald Trump apparently got the oleander idea from Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson, and from Mike Lindell, the guy who founded and who has a financial stake in the company that makes the supplement. Oleander in the wild is deadly; a single leaf can kill a child. In my mind's eye, I see Trump supporters plucking oleander plants to make tea, because I rememberall the calls to poison control centers that came in after Trump publicly mused about the possibility of using disinfectant inside of one's body to kill COVID.

On Saturday, scientists declared that the Greenland ice sheet has "passed the point of no return," meaning that if we stopped climate disruption on a dime tomorrow, that ice sheet will still disappear into the oceans, causing them to rise. Our planet is still very sick, and the fact that we got sick as well has not changed the dire ecological circumstances one bit.

When presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden tapped California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate last week, the eruption of racist "birther" nonsense from the White House was as immediate as it was predictable. The ongoing anti-racism uprising across the country has found no purchase in the overmind at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, to the astonishment of precisely none.

The COVID-19 calamity has not broken the United States. It has revealed what was broken already, and what has been broken for a long time. Our for-profit medical industry - amazing, that word, and where it appears in our system; the prison "industry," for example - has been deliberately stripped for parts and strains to contain a pandemic that may last or linger for years.

With more than 30 million people out of work, and with a Republican senate stalling aid to the people because they cannot reach a caucus consensus on ordering breakfast, mighty capitalism thrums like a crystal goblet on the sonic edge of shattering. That this is fundamentally a good thing in the long run does not mitigate the complexities that await when the Wall Street bull finally crumbles. Only leadership can mitigate that, and leadership has been in short supply for a very long time.

Speaking of leadership, Trump was asked during a Saturday press conference why he is not negotiating a new COVID stimulus/relief package with Speaker Pelosi and the House Democrats. "The country is doing very well right now," he replied. "We can live very happily with it or without it."

And there you have it.

There is no dearth of hugely important topics for Democratic political heavyweights to take on. If the words "United States Postal Service" are not on the lips of every speaker until the balloons drop in Biden's basement, however, the party will live to regret it on election night, and every night after. The postal service is being deliberately sabotaged from within by a Trump crony who is heavily invested in USPS competitors in the private sector. As the pandemic rages, the USPS is democracy's lifeline in November, and Trump is trashing it in broad daylight because he fears losing.

"The president's apparatchiks are now sealing up mailboxes and hauling others away," writes Jack Holmes for Esquire. "They're removing mail sorting machines from United States Postal Service facilities. They are destroying a core public service of this country - an agency pioneered by Benjamin Franklin and expressly laid out in the Constitution - in order to stop people from voting by mail. In the short term, they will cut some citizens off from a service they depend on, and deal serious damage to American companies. They will do this in order to attack the voting rights of American citizens."

I am confident that at least some of the convention speakers will address these towering issues with the vigor they require. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will speak tonight, as will New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose state was among the hardest hit by the pandemic last spring.

Sanders is expected to give his full-throated support to Biden, as he has done since his campaign ended. His progressive voice will be most welcome on a night that features a long slate of "centrist" and conservative Democratic speakers: Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, and John Kasich, the former Republican governor of Ohio.

Capping this evening's program will be an address by former First Lady Michelle Obama, and if her speech tonight is anything like the one she gave at the 2016 convention, it is likely to be well received by the many voters - including many Black women voters, who are the backbone of the Democratic party base - who are eager to hear her now endorse a ticket with the country's first Black woman vice presidential nominee.

The speakers for the rest of the week will likewise reflect the center-right tilt of the Biden/Harris ticket. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and former acting US Attorney General Sally Yates will speak Tuesday, but so will John Kerry, Chuck Schumer and Bill Clinton. Sen. Elizabeth Warren will speak Wednesday, but so will Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama. Andrew Yang and Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms will speak Thursday, but so will Pete Buttigieg, Chris Coons and, finally, Joe Biden.

Tilt or not, the Democrats better have their technological shit together for this thing, or it will be a national four-day humiliation that could let Trump back into the race at a moment when his numbers are cratering across the board. During this convention, according to The Washington Post, "a behind-the-scenes crew of about 400 with operation centers in New York, Milwaukee, Los Angeles and Wilmington, Del., plans to broadcast to the nation hundreds of live video feeds from living rooms, national monuments and stages around the country."

That is an enormous undertaking. If the Democrats have bitten off more tech than they can chew, if the feeds fail or slur due to bad connections, or if some outside agency lays siege to the process (which I am personally certain is thoroughly inevitable), folks watching at home will flip back to Netflix while pondering, again, how it is that the party manages to trip over itself at nearly every critical opportunity. If they get the tech right, this may be a finely tuned event. If they screw it up, it could become a race-altering debacle.

Historically, party conventions have been little more than television shows, gaudy infomercials to highlight party stars and stalwarts while reminding everyone how awful the other guys are. It's been a four-day party in the bars and hotels in the past, but that's all over for now.

This year, we will instead have a national Zoom meeting in a moment of massive and intersecting crises, a necessarily somber affair that hopefully reflects and acknowledges the fear, rage and dismay that is loose upon the land. As ever, we shall see.

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

A United States Postal Service (USPS) carrier in New York City in August 2020

Donald Trump And His Postmaster General Are Sabotaging Democracy In Plain Sight
The president blurted out his determination to undermine voting rights in a Fox Business Network interview.
By John Nichols

The post office has been, since before the founding of the United States, an essential service. So essential that when it came time to write a Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 gave Congress the power and the responsibility to "establish Post Offices and post Roads." Yet, at precisely the moment when the country has begun to recognize the vital role of essential workers, postal workers have been under attack and the United States Postal Service has been undermined at every turn. The coronavirus pandemic should have been the moment when the Postal Service was finally accorded the respect and support it deserves. Instead, it is threatened by a White House wrecking crew that has coalesced, for reasons of short-term political strategy and long-term financial interest, to exploit a crisis.

This is Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine with a brazen twist: Donald Trump is fessing up even as he commits the crime.

Desperate to secure a second term, the president now openly admits that he is messing with the Postal Service because mail handlers and letter carriers make it possible to hold elections that rely on absentee ballots and universal mail-in voting. Voting by mail produces high-turnout elections in normal circumstances, and it provides a vital assurance for democracy in extraordinary circumstances-such as a pandemic moment when voters are encouraged to shelter in place rather than stand in long lines to cast ballots in crowded polling places. Trump, an unpopular president even before he mangled the response to Covid-19, recognizes the threat high turnout poses to his reelection bid.

On Thursday, he removed all doubt about his determination to undermine voting rights when he blurted out in an interview that one of the reasons he is stalling coronavirus relief negotiations is because Democrats are trying to save the Postal Service. "They want 25 billion dollars-billion-for the Post Office," the president announced on the Fox Business Network. "Now they need that money in order to have the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots."

The USPS actually needs $75 billion to address current challenges posed by the pandemic and longer-term challenges created by a congressional mandate that the Postal Service fund pension costs decades into the future. But Trump is blocking even a down payment on that funding because, as he says, without those funds "that means you can't have universal mail-in voting."

Even by Trump standards, that's an astounding admission of why he's so determined to deny the Postal Service a lifeline. "Trump's brazen abuse of the post office to try and win an election is a shameful misuse of presidential power," said Campaign Legal Center President Trevor Potter, a Republican and former chairman of the Federal Election Commission. He continued:

Defunding the Postal Service and slowing its ability to deliver mail ballots to Americans will hurt Democratic and Republican voters alike. Congress needs to stand up to President Trump's attempt to make it harder for Americans to vote, and take action now to ensure that the Postal Service can perform at an optimal level, especially during the pandemic when vote-by-mail and absentee voting requests are at an all-time high. Lawmakers must work urgently to come to an agreement that will provide adequate funding for the Postal Service so that we have a successful election in November. Our democracy depends on it.
Congress had better act fast. The system is crumbling, not only because of pandemic pressures but mainly because the man Trump just put in charge of the largest postal system in the world is an extremely motivated dismantler. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump appointee who took charge in June, has imposed service cuts, personnel changes, an overtime ban, a hiring freeze, schedule shifts, and routing changes that American Postal Workers Union President Mark Dimondstein says have already slowed down and "degraded" mail delivery.

"Obviously if the postal management is putting in policies to slow down the mail, then that has an impact on everything, including ballots," explains Dimondstein. "The states run elections, not the Postal Service. But the Postal Service is here to move those ballots. And when mail gets slowed down, it becomes a concern everywhere."

Congressional Progressive Caucus cochair Mark Pocan says, "Undermining the USPS is voter suppression-and it's intentional." Former FBI agent Asha Rangappa is even blunter. The president, she tells us, is "sabotaging an election in broad daylight (and admitting it on camera)."

But Trump has an accomplice.

DeJoy assumed the postmaster general position as a man with no background of work within the Postal Service. Where he does have a background is as a major donor to the president's campaign-$1.2 million since 2016. In April 2017, he was named as a deputy finance chair for the Republican National Committee-serving with now-jailed Trump attorney Michael Cohen and venture capitalist Elliott Broidy. In May of last year, DeJoy took over as local finance chair for the 2020 Republican National Convention, which was then scheduled for Charlotte, N.C.

That's part of the motivation. The other part appears to extend from the new postmaster general's entanglement with Postal Service contractors and competitors. "Postmaster General Louis DeJoy continues to hold a multimillion-dollar stake in his former company XPO Logistics, a United States Postal Service contractor, likely creating a major conflict of interest, according to newly obtained financial disclosures and ethics experts,"? CNN reported on August 12. "Outside experts who spoke to CNN were shocked that ethics officials at the Postal Service approved this arrangement, which allows DeJoy to keep at least $30 million in XPO holdings.... Raising further alarms, on the same day in June that DeJoy divested large amounts of Amazon shares, he purchased stock options giving him the right to buy new shares of Amazon at a price much lower than their current market price, according to the disclosures." Concerns about DeJoy's alleged conflicts of interest, and about the influence on Trump and DeJoy of advocates for privatization of the USPS, should be enough to inspire a sense of urgency about the need to protect a vital service for Americans. As Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and a group of her colleagues warned in an August 7 letter calling for an inquiry by the inspector general of the USPS, DeJoy's slowdown "threatens the well-being of millions of Americans that rely on the Postal Service for delivery of Social Security checks, prescriptions, and everyday mail of all kinds."

The urgency only increases because, as Trump has now made clear, he is prepared to ruin the Postal Service in order to thwart democracy. The pattern is clear. The threat is real.

"First he wanted to delay the election-but even after push back from fellow Republicans Trump is again attempting a coup on our elections by making it even more difficult to vote by mail," observes Susan Harley of Public Citizen's Congress Watch Division. "Trump and his election saboteur aide Louis DeJoy must stop their demolition of the Postal Service. Mail-in voting is an absolute necessity to ensure Americans can exercise their right to vote amid the worst pandemic in a century-which Trump has also made dramatically worse-just like everything else he touches."

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

When I Was A Republican
By James Donahue

My father was a strict Republican. When he went into the poll booth I am sure he was one of those guys that just put an X on the party box at the top of the ballot. I never knew how my mother stood politically because in our house, if you didn't agree with Dad it was best to keep silent about such matters. Grandfather Andrews on my mother's side was a factory worker, a union member and consequently was a strict Democrat. When Grandpa and Dad got together the house timbers sometimes rattled when they yelled politics.

I grew up and worked in a strong Republican area in Michigan. I always considered myself an independent voter because I never liked some of the people the Republicans and Democrats put up as presidential candidates. For example, I loved Kennedy, liked Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford and didn't like Lyndon Johnson. I strongly disliked Nixon, was not happy with Reagan or Clinton and really disliked George W. Bush. One year I was so angry at the party candidates I voted for George Wallace.

Sanilac County, where I worked as a bureau reporter, was so strongly Republican that nobody dared to run for office as a Democrat and expect to win. At least until I was reporting the news. We had a woman that ran as a Democratic Party candidate for County Commissioner who was extremely bright and was so superior in the way she conducted her campaign, and maybe because I gave her fair and even coverage in our newspaper, she actually won the office. She turned out to be such a good and hard working commissioner I believe she won a second term.

By-and-large, the Republicans dominated the political scene in Sanilac County. They held county conventions that were heavily attended and politically charged. The Democrats held caucuses that drew perhaps 50 or 60 people. I covered them both, but rarely got much of a story from the Democratic meetings.

One very hot political year while present at the Republican county convention, there was a call for people to volunteer as delegates to the looming State Party convention in Cobo Hall, Detroit. Those were the days before delegates were elected for these jobs. The people showing up at the county conventions just picked the ones they wanted to attend from those present at the gathering. By that time I was so well known among all of the county elected people, Republicans all, and because I was present at the convention, they seemed to forget that I was there as a reporter and picked me as an alternate delegate for the state convention.

My first inclination was to refuse the appointment. But I was tempted to go just to find out what went on behind closed doors at state conventions. I called my editor the next day to talk it over. He was open-minded about the whole thing. We joked about the opportunity and he gave me his permission to go, but cautioned me about getting too involved in the politics. As an alternative, if I was lucky enough, I would get to be no more than a fly on the wall watching things that few news reporters ever get to see.

When it was time, we car-pooled our way to Detroit and shared rooms in some of the high-priced downtown hotels.

The convention was a grand experience. I saw state and national political figures giving rousing speeches, met with delegates from all over Michigan, listening to them hammer out resolutions declaring issues to be put before the entire body before the end of the week. Some of the issues involved small, local matters, while others involved such matters as dealing with housing, unemployment, and all of the other things that political figures use for platforms when seeking public office.

While I do not remember now what they were, the Sanilac County delegates had certain issues that they strongly wanted put on the table. But to get this done, they had to make back-room deals with delegates from other Michigan counties. We agreed to support their issue if they voted for ours. Sometimes compromise agreements were established in some of those cloak-room meetings. In the end, nobody got all that they wanted out of the convention, but everybody walked away with something they could take home with them.

Watching the inner workings of that convention gave me a very clear picture of all of the shenanigans that are constantly going on in state capitals and the U. S. Capital. The larger the level of government gets, the more complex the kind of deal making that goes on, I suspect. One thing we did not have to deal with at Cobo Hall was lobbyists trying to buy our votes. (I suspect they were among us but I did not notice them.)

On the final day of the convention, everybody gathered in one large meeting hall where we put the issues up for votes and drafted the party campaign platform for the next state and federal election. Then we voted to approve the final document. Finally we listened to a speech by the party's state chairman and then the governor. I believe it was James Blanchard. How soon we forget stuff like that.

I returned to my bureau office, wrote a broad personalized story of my experiences in Detroit, and that was that. For a while after that I actually thought of myself as a Republican. I did until the Republicans did something really lame. As I said I liked Gerald Ford, a Republican who replaced Nixon, and Jimmy Carter, a Democrat that followed Ford. I think it was Reagan who began converting me back to being an independent.

After Bush I swung to the extreme left and became a Democrat. Now with Trump in office, and after watching the chaotic goings on among the Democrats I am somewhat undecided as to where I will cast my vote in 2020. I am quite sure it won't be a vote for Trump.

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

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy arrives for a meeting in the Capitol on Wednesday, August 5, 2020.

Stamp Out The Trump Attacks On Our Postal Service!
The president and his obeisant postmaster general are out to destroy voting by mail-and democracy.
By Michael Winship

As one of our most august Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin would tell Donald Trump to go fly a kite. And hope for a major electrical storm. Then Ben would advise Trump to keep his mitts off our post office.

By all accounts, Franklin was a smart and charming fellow, the kind of 18th century raconteur with whom you'd like to sit around a tavern fire and quaff a hot buttered rum. But he knew a conniving narcissist when he saw one, writing, "He that falls in love with himself will have no rivals."

Among Franklin's many accomplishments-civic leader, sage, wit, inventor-he was a shrewd and successful businessman. So much so that Franklin semi-retired as a wealthy man at the age of 42, and spent his remaining four plus decades reading, writing, and experimenting. One of the best of those experiments-besides bifocals and his eponymous stove-was his role in the creation of the United States as a representative republic.

In 1775, the Second Continental Congress appointed him the first postmaster general of what would become the US Postal Service. He came by the job honestly-almost forty years before the Revolution, the British crown had appointed him postmaster of Philadelphia, and in 1753 he was named joint postmaster general for the American colonies, a job he held until his revolutionary fervor got him fired.

But while he held the position, Franklin completely revamped the mail system, improving postal roads, post offices and accounting systems, establishing proper rates and slashing the length of delivery. In 1760, the British Crown Post in America turned a profit for the first time ever.

Fast forward 260 years and our current postmaster general, the recently appointed Louis DeJoy. Like Ben Franklin, DeJoy is a successful businessman who claims that his recent efforts to streamline and cut costs at the US Postal Service also are just a way to make it more efficient and profitable. But that's where the comparisons end.

We know what's really going on here. All evidence points to DeJoy-a major Trump donor and GOP fundraiser-acting as a tool at the bidding of Donald J. Trump in a massive nationwide effort to help the president cheat: preventing people from easily and safely voting by mail during the pandemic, throwing our presidential election into complete chaos. All because Trump realizes that in an honest tally, there's an excellent chance he's going to lose.

Plus, as we all realize by now, given the choice between the straight and narrow high road and the lies and manipulation of the low, his personal history demonstrates that he'll always go for the latter, no matter what.

Louis DeJoy is performing this gross chicanery on his master's behalf through a number of different methods, some of which might at cursory glance seem to be a legitimate attempt to cut costs but which given the times and circumstances just don't hold water. In part because of the pandemic but not only (more than 60 postal employees have died and thousands have undergone quarantine), delivery delays of several days are widespread. Overtime has been eliminated-mail carriers are being told not to spend extra hours delivering excess mail but to leave it to the next day or beyond; letters and packages are piling up.

Hiring has been frozen (just when more bodies are needed), early retirements encouraged and DeJoy has perpetrated a major shakeup of top personnel, firing some, reassigning others and by all accounts working to throw over the system and erase the institutional memory of the USPS-the only government agency specifically mandated by our Constitution. It is, according to Virginia Democratic Congressman Gerald E. Connolly, chair of the House subcommittee in charge of postal oversight, "a deliberate sabotage."

Potentially as bad or worse than all of the above came word that the USPS was in the process of removing, disassembling and in some cases destroying high volume sorting machines-671 of them to be scrapped this year, ten percent of the total-as well as removing actual mailboxes themselves. Yes, those old, familiar blue deposit containers were being unbolted from the sidewalk and loaded onto trucks, with reports coming from Portland and Eugene, Oregon, Manhattan, several towns in Montana, Wisconsin and elsewhere. Coincidentally, Democratic Party strongholds seemed a particular target. And swing states.

After complaints by all three members of the Montana congressional delegation, led by Senator Jon Tester, on late Friday, the post office announced it was suspending its nationwide mailbox heist until after the election. And on Sunday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows announced the USPS would leave alone until after November 3 the remaining sorting machines. They handle tens of thousands of pieces of mail each day and save postal workers more time they can use to physically deliver letters, birthday cards, bills, checks, prescriptions (many to veterans and older citizens), magazines, circulars, packages-and ballots.

On Friday, The Washington Post reported that the postal service had sent letters to 46 states and the District of Columbia that "sketch a grim possibility for the tens of millions of Americans eligible for a mail-in ballot this fall: Even if people follow all of their state's election rules, the pace of Postal Service delivery may disqualify their votes..."

Some states anticipate 10 times the normal volume of election mail. Six states and D.C. received warnings that ballots could be delayed for a narrow set of voters. But the Postal Service gave 40 others -- including the key battleground states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida-more-serious warnings that their long-standing deadlines for requesting, returning or counting ballots were 'incongruous; with mail service and that voters who send ballots in close to those deadlines may become disenfranchised.
We've already seen frightening delays in the delivery of votes-by-mail throughout the primary season. Postmaster General DeJoy has denied that his new rules are meant to interfere with voting by mail and counters with arguments that the moves were made for practical budgetary reasons-the post office is, after all, in deep debt. In fact, some of these changes were in motion before DeJoy officially was in office. But then Donald Trump came right out and said it out loud-he was deliberately choking the postal service to death, denying the $25 billions of emergency funding requested by Democrats in the latest pandemic relief bill negotiations-all to quash voting by mail.

"If we don't make a deal, that means they don't get the money," he told Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo. "That means they can't have universal mail-in voting. They just can't have it." Later that Thursday, he backpedaled, sort of, saying he wouldn't veto a relief bill if it had postal and election protection money: "[T]he money they need for the mail-in ballots would be taken care [of]. If we agree to it. That doesn't mean we're going to agree to it." (On Saturday, Trump described the Post Office as "a catastrophe" and blamed the lack of emergency funding on the Democrats. Of course he did.)

But as Kristen Clarke of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law said in a statement, "The postal service lies at the heart of our democracy and is critical to the success of an unprecedented vote-by-mail system that is needed for a fair and effective 2020 election season. The postal service helps ensure that our nation's most vulnerable communities are receiving medications and resources during the pandemic. It is also critical to the efforts to achieve a full and accurate 2020 Census."

Especially in Trump World, of course, it always comes down not only to cheating but to money-what's in it for him and his buddies. Since 2016, Louis DeJoy has given more than $2.5 million to the GOP. This year he gave more than $360,000 to a pro-Trump Super PAC, served as finance chair for the 2020 Republican National Convention AND gave $$122,500 to the Republican National Committee legal fund that's bankrolling lawsuits around the country aimed at suppressing the vote-that includes fighting against mail-in ballots.

The Washington Post found that DeJoy and his wife, Aldnoan Wos, who's up to be our next ambassador to Canada, have holdings that include "between $30.1 million and $75.3 million in assets in USPS competitors or contractors, according to a financial disclosure Wos filed with the Office of Government Ethics when she was nominated. Postal Service mail processing contractor XPO Logistics-which acquired DeJoy's company New Breed Logistics in 2014-represents the vast majority of those holdings. Their combined stake in competitors UPS and trucking company J.B. Hunt is roughly $265,000."

And CNN adds that on the same day that the USPS ethics office allowed DeJoy to hang onto his $30 million stake in XPO-"likely creating a major conflict of interest"-he "divested large amounts of Amazon shares [but] purchased stock options giving him the right to buy new shares of Amazon at a price much lower than their current market price...

"This could lead to a separate conflict, given President Donald Trump's disdain for Amazon, and his reported effort in 2018 to pressure DeJoy's predecessor to raise prices on Amazon and other firms, while complaining about its founder Jeff Bezos," owner of The Washington Post, a paper, ahem, highly critical of Trump.

But wait, there's more. David Sirota and Matthew Cunningham Cook write that former Republican National Committee chairman Mike Duncan, now the chair of USPS' six-man board of governors-which rubberstamped DeJoy's appointment-is also "current chairman of the Senate Leadership Fund-a $100 million Senate-focused Republican super PAC whose 2020 electoral goals could hinge on vote-by-mail systems during the coronavirus pandemic."

Duncan also was president and CEO of the global-warming-is-a-hoax American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (now known as America's Power) and has "myriad links to companies with a direct interest in the postal service policy he oversees."

The tangled webs they weave. There is further history here that long predates Trump's obsession with suppressing voting by mail and the virtually non-existent fraud he insists will take place if it's allowed. Conservative Republicans have been trying to shut down the postal service, privatize it and eliminate universal service for decades now and have used all manner of fiscal skullduggery to make it happen, including legislation passed in 2006 during the George W. Bush administration that saddles the USPS with prefunding retiree health benefits 75 years out, something forced on no other government agency.

As per Fortune magazine, "The burden accounted for an estimated 80% to 90% of the agency's losses before the pandemic." Currently, the USPS is slated to run out of money between March and October of next year and that would suit many conservatives just fine.

More than two years ago the Trump White House's Office of Management and Budget released a report claiming privatization "would have a substantially lower cost structure, be able to adapt to changing customer needs and make business decisions free from political interference, and have access to private capital markets to fund operational improvements without burdening taxpayers."

You can trace a lot of this back to none other than libertarian industrialist, ideologue and billionaire Charles Koch. In a recent, deftly written and thorough investigative study for the policy group In the Public Interest, Lisa Graves of True North Research writes that for almost five decades, Koch, chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, has used his "connections, influence, and ideological push to weaken and ultimately privatize one of America's most essential public services-and, along with it, the jobs of hundreds of thousands of public servants."

Graves points to the popularity of the USPS, its rich diversity and record of public service. It is, she notes, the second largest civilian employer in the U.S., with nearly 500,000 workers. These are good 'middle class' jobs with good benefits-especially compared to the biggest civilian employer, Walmart, which is subsidized to the tune of more than $6 billion a year in public assistance...

The jobs provide economic stability for hundreds of thousands of Americans of all backgrounds, including nearly 100,000 military veterans. They, their families, and the entire American community depend on the public services they provide, come rain or come shine and despite the ubiquity of email.
To Koch and his right-wing buddies, "even though the Postal Service is vital to more than 300 million of his fellow Americans, helping the agency survive with $25 billion in aid should not be allowed. But tax cuts to benefit himself and his billionaire friends-which cost America more than $2.3 trillion-was a top priority for his political machine."

Dear Ben Franklin is shaking his head in astonishment and dismay. He was a successful businessman, yes, but there's a fundamental difference between Franklin and Louis DeJoy and Franklin and Donald Trump. He had nothing against making money, but first and foremost Franklin was a patriot who reportedly wished the motto of the fledgling United States to be, "Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God."

DeJoy and Trump actively seek to destroy the democratic system Franklin fought so hard to build. Remember that he knew better than anyone the importance of a public postal service in disseminating the information and services essential to keeping liberty alive and not turning the United States into a banana republic ruled by a foil hat dictator.

As the rest of the free world watches us, appalled, election boards across the country are scrambling to adjust rules to adapt to the postal crisis. There are calls for congressional investigations and legislation (the House will come back into session this week), state attorneys general are considering legal action, the postal service's inspector general Tammy Whitcomb is beginning a probe, and most important there is vast public pressure for Trump and DeJoy to back off, especially as a mighty 91% of Americans love the post office and favor major financial aid to save it as part of the next stimulus package. In fact, I've never seen my Twitter feed so consumed by a single subject.

(Note: On Tuesday morning, after it had been announced that DeJoy would testify before the Senate homeland security committee on Friday and the House oversight committee on Monday, the postmaster general issued a statement that when it came to his earlier directives, "To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described DeJoy's directive as "a necessary but insufficient first step."

Louis DeJoy's email is

Email addresses for the USPS board of governors are:

Robert "Mike" Duncan:

John M. Barger:

Ron A. Bloom:

Roman Martinez IV:

Donald L. Moak:

William D. Zollars:

Better yet, spend some cash on postage and mail each a letter or card via the US Postal Service, 475 L'Enfant Plaza SW, Washington, D.C. 20260.

As writer and analyst Robert Reich says, this is no longer about Republicans vs. Democrats. It's about fascism vs. democracy. Time to stamp it out with our voices and our votes.

(c) 2020 Michael Winship is the Schumann Senior Writing Fellow for Common Dreams. Previously, he was the Emmy Award-winning senior writer of Moyers & Company and, a past senior writing fellow at the policy and advocacy group Demos and former president of the Writers Guild of America East. Follow him on twitter:@MichaelWinship

What needs to change so that Canada's industrial resource extraction activities can truly be part of a circular economy?

Circular Economy Is Too Important To Be Co-opted By Industry
By David Suzuki

Many people are calling for a just, green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Investing in natural solutions to climate change, restoring damaged and fragmented ecosystems, strengthening the social safety net and rethinking flawed economic systems would make us more resilient to current and future crises.

One concept that could help us shift to ecologically sound economic systems is the "circular economy," in which the need to extract resources from undeveloped natural ecosystems is significantly reduced or even eliminated. It involves shifting from a take-make-waste society to one where repairing, reusing and repurposing become standard.

When a new phrase or concept is introduced to capture a vision of a better world, industrial interests often co-opt it, attempting to portray themselves as "green." That's what the Forestry Products Association of Canada is doing in its response to a report calling into question the vast amounts of boreal forest pulped for toilet paper. The industry group claims forestry in Canada is "part of the circular economy."

It's true that in modern mills most harvested trees are used for a variety of products. And it's true that forests are renewable, in the sense that trees can be cut down and new ones planted. But forests that have been logged and regenerated are vastly different from forests untouched by industrial management.

Roads and landings where timber is piled and collected can leave permanent, cumulative scars. Trees are harvested before reaching old growth stages, which disrupts provision of habitat and forest nutrient cycles. As industry favours economical tree species, natural forest composition is altered. These practices lead to forest degradation and diminished ecosystem functioning.

Industrial disturbance is also a main driver of the decline of boreal woodland caribou, which are threatened with extinction in Canada. Caribou are an umbrella species that depend on unfragmented forests.

In essence, a circular economy is about ensuring that we live within Earth's finite limits - the limits within which today's needs can be met without sacrificing the ability of future generations, including future generations of wildlife, to have their needs met.

Caribou decline is an indicator that ecological limits have been surpassed. In 2012, the federal government directed provinces to limit the amount of forest disturbance in boreal caribou ranges to a maximum of 35 per cent, which would give caribou a mere 60 per cent chance of survival. With few exceptions, forestry operators and provinces have ignored this directive, and caribou populations continue to drop in Canada's boreal forest.

What needs to change so that Canada's industrial resource extraction activities can truly be part of a circular economy?

First, limits must be set on the boundaries of industrial activities. Cutting down forests that have never been logged to produce more toilet paper, packaging and other paper products we barely recycle can never be circular, let alone sustainable. The ever-increasing expansion into unfragmented forests must be curtailed. Governments and industry must renew efforts to protect suitable habitat for imperilled wildlife, restore forests where levels of disturbance have driven wildlife decline and find innovative ways to harvest in areas that have already been cut.

Canada is the world's largest producer of newsprint and northern bleached softwood kraft pulp, a raw material for making paper products. A 2020 draft forest sector strategy for Ontario projects a 35 per cent increase in tissue production and a 25 per cent increase in packaging. The life cycle of forest-based products must be rethought, redesigned and transformed.

We must also redefine the core purpose of our forestry sector from one driven by how quickly it can cut down forests for profit to one that rewards operators for cutting less and producing better products. A true circular economy grows qualities (such as healthy, diverse forests) over time without the need to keep growing quantities (such as number of trees logged) - better, not more.

It doesn't make sense to destroy much-needed habitat for single-use products such as toilet paper when recycled toilet paper and other alternatives can meet our needs. Consumers and producers need to rethink products and packaging.

Canada's logging industry might use wood chips and circular saws, but it can't be considered part of a circular economy until it transforms itself with circular principles at its core.

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

This Is One Hell Of A Price To Pay To Ensure Stephen Miller Never Has To Look For A Real Job
ICE seems determined to tell the world that absolutely everything it may ever have believed about this country is wrong.
By Charles P. Pierce

Before the Democratic Party gets down to its improvised telethon over the next several days, we should note a terrific piece of reporting from the Texas Tribune about the horrors being done in our name and on our dime, and about why the virtual gathering in virtual Milwaukee is more important than just about any actual similar gathering of the past century. If the allegations in these filings are true, the casual acceptance of Duvalier-level atrocity has to be ended as thoroughly-and as roughly-as possible.

The allegations, detailed in a filing first obtained by ProPublica and The Texas Tribune, maintain that guards systematically assaulted at least three people in a facility overseen by Immigration and Customs Enforcement - often in areas of the detention center not visible to security cameras. The guards told victims that no one would believe them because footage did not exist and the harassment involved officers as high-ranking as a lieutenant.

According to the complaint filed with the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General and shared with prosecutors, several guards "forcibly" kissed and touched the intimate parts of at least one woman. She faces deportation next week - meaning investigators could lose a key witness. Her attorneys have requested that immigration officials pause her deportation pending a review of the matter.

If you've got law-enforcement personnel acting with impunity in committing sexual assault firmly in the knowledge that the victims can be shipped off to Honduras forever, you've deliberately decided to tell the world that absolutely everything it may ever have believed about this country is wrong. That's a helluva price to pay to make sure Stephen Miller never has to look for a real job. And speaking of prices...
The El Paso allegations are the latest instance of sexual abuse complaints related to detention centers run by ICE, which imprisons about 50,000 immigrants across the country each year - mostly through contractors at a taxpayer expense of almost $2.7 billion.

About 14,700 complaints alleging sexual and physical abuse were lodged against ICE between 2010 and 2016, according to federal data obtained by the advocacy group Freedom for Immigrants. The group found that only a small fraction were investigated by the Office of Inspector General. In 2018, the year with the most updated statistics available online, ICE reported 374 formal accusations of sexual assault, of which 48 were substantiated by the agency and 29 remained pending an investigation as of that year...

The Salvadoran woman told Corchado that she was detained in the El Paso facility for about three months where she was repeatedly harassed. A guard said that if she would "fool around" with him he would give her clean uniforms and soap. He told her that he would pay her "a lot of money" to meet him for sex in a spot not visible to cameras.

Maybe we should all do a Christo and drape the Statue of Liberty in black for a while.

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

The Quotable Quote-

"I know words. I have the best words."
~~~ Donald Trump

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attends Security Council meeting at U.N. Headquarters in New York on September 20, 2019.

No Longer Leader Of The Free World: Trump Admin. Humiliated At UN Over Iran Arms Embargo
The resolution, presented by the US ambassador to the UN and aimed at an indefinite extension of the UN arms embargo on Iran, failed 13-2.
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - Last week, I asked, "Will Trump's Maximum Pressure on UNSC against Lifting Iran Arms Embargo Backfire Big Time?"

As Iran's IRNA news service reports today, the answer was a resounding "Yes!"

On Friday, the United Nations Security Council took up a resolution presented by US ambassador to the UN, Kelly Craft, aimed at an indefinite extension of the UN arms embargo on Iran. Only one of the 15 members, the Dominican Republic, supported the US resolution. Eleven abstained. And two-Russia and China, voted against it. The resolution would have needed 8 to pass and would have needed to avoid a veto by one of the five permanent members. But it failed by 13 to 2. China and Russia did not even have to brandish a veto. It is hard to remember another vote on which the US was humiliated quite this badly, though if George W. Bush had actually pursued a UNSC authorization for his Iraq War in spring of 2003, he might have similarly gone down to epochal diplomatic defeat.

Let us underline this. The most powerful countries in the world and the current representatives of the main global blocs just sided with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei against Donald J. Trump.

The United States is no longer the leader of the free world.

The 2015 Iran nuclear deal signed between that country and the five permanent members of the UNSC stipulated that the arms embargo would lapse on October 18, 2020. The Trump administration, along with allies Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, wanted to avert the end of the ban on selling weapons to Iran.

The UN Security Council has five permanent members- Russia, China, France, the UK and the US. It has another ten rotating members. Right now they are Belgium, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, Germany, Indonesia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, Tunisia, and Viet Nam. I was a little surprised that South Africa and Viet Nam did not outright vote against, though I suppose they thought abstention made their point well enough and was less likely to anger the mercurial Trump. The US only finally lifted a longstanding arms embargo on Viet Nam a few years ago.

One of the functions of the secretary of state of the United States is to politick with other countries in such a way as to ensure the US gets its way. When that isn't possible, at the very least a public humiliation should be avoided. SecState Mike Pompeo accomplished neither one. He was so inept and so huge a failure at this diplomatic demarche that the US language went down to crushing defeat.

It was obvious to me that this would happen a week ago.

Just on Thursday, Russia's Tass reported That Russia's permanent representative to international organizations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, had tweeted out that the extension of an arms embargo against Iran is a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which provides for a resumption of the supply of arms and military equipment to Iran in the wake of the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2015. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov had already made it clear in June that this was the Russian position.

Russia and China clearly see Iran as a market for their arms industries, and won't let Washington get in the way.

IRNA quoted the new Belgian ambassador to the UN, Philippe Kridelka, as saying that his country abstained on the US initiative because Brussels strongly believes that Iran's nuclear program must remain within the framework of the JCPOA.

Belgium, Germany, Britain and France all abstained on these grounds. They are afraid that if the arms embargo is kept in place, in contravention of the 2015 nuclear accord, Iran will simply withdraw from it, as Trump already has, and will then be free to pursue any nuclear ambitions it has, unconstrained by inspections or the other severe restraints of the JCPOA.

Pompeo is now threatening to try to invoke a provision of the Iran nuclear deal that allows signatories to it to erase the gains Iran made in that treaty on the grounds that Iran has not strictly observed the provisions of the treaty.

Iran was in fact in complete compliance until May, 2018, when Trump breached the treaty and placed the most severe sanctions on Iran ever placed on any country by another in peace time. Since then Tehran has departed from compliance in minor ways, so as to put pressure on Europe to defy Trump's third-party economic sanctions, which have had the effect of devastating Iran's trade. Europe has not in fact defied Trump. Since Iran gave up 80% of its nuclear program to get sanctions relief, and has instead seen sanctions turbocharged, Tehran understandably feels betrayed.

The rest of the UNSC thinks Pompeo's idea is crazy, that he can trigger the snap back provision even though the US pulled out of the treaty, telling CNN, "You can't have your cake and eat it too."

Some observers are so puzzled by the Trump administration's Himalayan ineptitude that they expressed suspicions that it was trying to fail at the UNSC for some nefarious purpose. Me, I think ineptitude is the better explanation.

If a US snap back resolution is sent to the UNSC, it will receive a humiliating response, just as happened on Friday. And that will be more ineptitude, not signs of grand strategy.

Some fear that Trump will then try to sanction countries that sell arms to Iran, using its status as the world's sole superpower to overrule the UNSC and so irreparably damaging its effectiveness, beginning a process of destroying the United Nations Organization.

China has already made it clear that it will adopt Iran as its next big economic project, regardless of what Washington wants, and China's gross domestic product by purchasing power parity now rivals that of the US (since it is handing the coronavirus recession much better than Trump, its relative economic strength over the US could grow the rest of this year).

So I think it is more likely that Trump will dull the US sanctions blade than that he will be able to use it to decapitate the United Nations.

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

The Dead Letter Office-

Ron gives the corporate salute!

Heil Trump,

Dear Gouverneur DeSantis,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your lies comparing sending children back to school is as easy and shopping at Home Depot and Walmart, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 10-10-2020. We salute you Herr DeSantis, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

Unlike Republicans, Democrats Can Govern. But Can They Fight?
By Robert Reich

As America heads into its quadrennial circus of nominating conventions (this year's even more surreal because of the pandemic), it's important to understand the real difference between America's two political parties at this point in history.

Instead of "left" versus "right," think of two different core competences.

The Democratic Party is basically a governing party, organized around developing and implementing public policies. The Republican Party has become an attack party, organized around developing and implementing political vitriol. Democrats legislate. Republicans fulminate.

In theory, politics requires both capacities - to govern, but also to fight to attain and retain power. The dysfunction today is that Republicans can't govern and Democrats can't fight.

Donald Trump is the culmination of a half century of GOP belligerence. Richard Nixon's "dirty tricks" were followed by Republican operative Lee Atwater's smear tactics, Newt Gingrich's take-no-prisoners reign as House speaker, the "Swift-boating" of John Kerry, and the GOP's increasingly blatant uses of racism and xenophobia to build an overwhelmingly white, rural base.

Atwater, trained in the southern swamp of the modern Republican Party, once noted: "Republicans in the South could not win elections by talking about issues. You had to make the case that the other guy, the other candidate, is a bad guy." Over time, the GOP's core competence came to be vilification.

The stars of today's Republican Party, in addition to Trump, are all pugilists: Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio; Florida governor Ron DeSantis and Georgia's Brian Kemp; Fox News's Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson; and attack dogs like Rudolph Giuliani and Roger Stone.

But Republicans don't have a clue how to govern. They're hopeless at developing and implementing public policies or managing government. They can't even agree on basics like how to respond to the pandemic or what to replace Obamacare with.

Meanwhile, the central competence of the Democratic Party is running government - designing policies and managing the system. Once in office, Democrats spend countless hours cobbling together legislative and regulatory initiatives. They overflow with economic and policy advisers, programs, plans, and goals.

But Democrats are lousy at bare knuckles political fighting. Their campaigns proffer policies but are often devoid of passion. (Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential bid was little more than a long list of detailed proposals.) Democrats seem stunned when their GOP opponents pillory them with lies, rage, and ad hominem attacks.

This has put Democrats at a competitive disadvantage. Political campaigns might once have been about party platforms, but today's electorate is angrier and more cynical. Policy ideas rarely make headlines; conflict does. Social media favor explosive revelations, including bald lies. No one remembers Hillary Clinton's policy ideas from 2016; they only remember Trump's attacks on her emails.

As a result, the party that's mainly good at attacking has been winning elections - and pushed into governing, which it's bad at. In 2016, the GOP won the presidency, along with control over both chambers of Congress and most governorships. On the other hand, the party that's mainly good a governing has been losing elections - pushed into the role of opposition and attack, which it's bad at. (House speaker Nancy Pelosi, however, seems to have a natural gift for it.)

This dysfunction has become particularly obvious - and deadly - in the current national emergency. Trump and Senate Republicans have let the pandemic and economic downturn become catastrophes. They have no capacity to develop and implement strategies for dealing with them. Their knee-jerk response is to attack - China, Democrats, public health officials, protesters, "lazy" people who won't work.

Democrats know what to do - House Democrats passed a comprehensive coronavirus bill in May, and several Democratic governors have been enormously effective - but they've lacked power to put a national strategy into effect.

All this may change in a few months when Americans have an opportunity to replace the party that's bad at governing with the one that's good at it. After all, Joe Biden has been at it for most of the past half century.

Trump and the GOP will pull out all the stops, of course. They've already started mindless, smarmy attacks.

The big question hovering over the election is whether Democrats can summon enough fight to win against the predictable barrage. Biden's choice of running mate, Kamala Harris, bodes well in this regard. Quite apart from all her other attributes, she's a fierce fighter.

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

American conservatism has been a scam since the 1920s and continues to be a scam
that exclusively benefits the very White and the very wealthy in this country

Republicans Struggle To Reboot Their 'Small Government, Personal Responsibility' Scam
Will Americans Buy It Again?
By Thom Hartmann

Joe Scarborough, on his morning TV show, had a roundtable with George Will and David Frum in which these three old conservative war horses discussed the possibility of the Republican Party returning to its "conservative values."

Those values they identified included balanced budgets, personal responsibility, and small government. It's important for Americans to understand what conservatives mean when they use these words.

"Balanced Budgets": Back in the 1970s, Jude Wanniski, then a Republican strategist, wrote an OpEd for the Wall Street Journal in which he proposed the "Two Santa Clauses Theory."

Wanniski pointed out that the Democratic Party, since 1933, had been the Santa Claus party. They gave Americans Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, long-term unemployment insurance, food stamps, college loan and tuition support, federally guaranteed mortgage assistance, regulation of banks, food and drugs to protect consumers, etc. Republicans opposed every single one of these initiatives.

Wanniski said that Republicans had to figure out how to become Santa Claus, too, and suggested that Republicans should become the "tax-cut Santa Clauses."

When Republicans are in office, the strategy goes, they should run up the debt as hard and as fast as possible, principally using tax cuts for rich people to do it. When Democrats come into office, Republicans should yell and scream about the importance of having balanced budgets to force the Democrats to cut social program spending, thus forcing Democrats to shoot their own Santa Claus.

Reagan was the first Republican president to aggressively use this strategy, tripling the national debt from about $800 billion to over $2 trillion in just eight years. He ran up more debt in those eight years than every president of the United States all the way back to George Washington, combined. And, of course, when Bill Clinton came into office, Republicans started screaming about the budget deficit, and Clinton took the bait, "ending welfare as we know it" and cutting back on a variety of other social programs.

"Personal responsibility": This is an old trope that white supremacists have been using since the failure of Reconstruction.

They argue that African-Americans are less successful in America because they fail to take "personal responsibility" for their lives, a convenient slogan that lets them completely ignore the racism structurally built into America's political, economic, and cultural systems.

It also makes it convenient for them to ignore the plight of poor white people trapped in dying parts of America like Appalachia. Or struggling with issues of mental health or addiction.

After all, if people are always "personally responsible" for their own circumstances, why should we bother doing anything about homelessness, poverty, hunger, addiction, or the struggle that racial, religious and gender minorities face in achieving the American dream?

"Small government": Ever since Republican Warren Harding was elected president in 1920, the Republican Party has used the phrase "small government" as a euphemism for cutting taxes on rich people and big corporations. In every other regard, the phrase is complete gibberish.

Republicans have consistently and repeatedly exploded the size of government over the years, driving our military spending up to the point where it's greater than the next dozen countries combined, and throwing every kind of advanced weaponry imaginable at police forces all across the nation. They give no-bid contracts to their donors and sell off public lands at pennies on the dollar to miners and frackers, wasting hundreds of billions of dollars a year.

In reality, the only "size of government" consideration Republicans have is their obsession with cutting public education and programs like Social Security and Medicare while simultaneously reducing taxes on the very, very rich. <>P American conservatism has been a scam since the 1920s and continues to be a scam that exclusively benefits the very White and the very wealthy in this country.

No amount of hand wringing or sloganeering or "reinventing" will change that fact. The question is, "When will the vast majority of Americans figure this out?"

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

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
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To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Everything You Need To Know About Kamala Harris
By The Waterford Whispers News

Everything You Need To Know About Kamala Harris JOE BIDEN'S pick to be his Vice President in the event of a November election victory, the 55-year-old American of Jamaican and Indian heritage is the talk of America.

Here's everything you need to know about United States Senator and former Attorney General of California Kamala Harris:

As a woman and a person of colour, it's like she's going out of her way to antagonise America's racist misogynists. Daughter to high achieving immigrant parents, seriously, she's just so brazen about it.

Controversially, during her time as California's Attorney General she declined to prosecute OneWest Bank for over 1,000 home foreclosure violations during the US housing crisis. Trump could look to attack such blithe indifference to banking sector malfeasance, but it would probably require him to fire his Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who ran OneWest Bank at the time, first.

Harris has already been asked to produce Barack Obama's birth cert in a bid to prove she's really an American citizen.

Showed little appetite for regulating and reigning in Silicon Valley which will be of comfort to absolutely no one except Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook, Jeff Bezos and Sundar Pichai.

Criticised as a conservative tough-on-crime Attorney General who has received police endorsements throughout her political career, Harris has been labeled by Trump as an 'Antifa communist mastermind' hellbent on 'arming the radical left with vegan-friendly avocado flavoured grenades.'

First name can be purposely mispronounced a multitude of ways by racists looking to partake in a more low-key forms of racism and micro-aggressions.

Will maintain that Biden being 77-years-old is of no concern but she's thinking the same thing we're all thinking.

With a personal net worth in the millions, is expected to help Biden bridge the gap between his party and normal everyday Americans.

Harris' selection as Biden's VP could cause serious trouble for the televised vice president election debates, as it is against conservative Christian Mike Pence's religion to be debated into oblivion by a woman.

Has not yet responded to Pence's query wondering if she has her husband's written permission to run for VP.

Will be given Irish ancestry whether she likes it or not, and will have a petrol station and roundabout named after her by 2022.

America already thought it made its feelings clear on qualified women with strong track records in public office?

Remains unpopular among the tear-down-society-as-we-know-it-and-behead-billionaires-and-boil-them-in-a-soup wing of the Democrat party.

Is as open as any politician to embarrassing celebrity endorsements and viral videos attempts that make you want the world to swallow you up.

(c) 2020 The Waterford Whispers News

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Issues & Alibis Vol 20 # 34 (c) 08/21/2020

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