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In This Edition

Chris Hedges returns with a must read, "The Corruption Of The Law."

Uri Avnery eyes, "The Egg Of Columbus."

Glen Ford examines, "Trump And America's Fascist Forefathers."

Steven Rosenfeld wonders, "Will The Nightmare Of President Donald Trump Become The Nightmare Of President Mike Pence?"

Jim Hightower asks, "Who's Left For Trump To Tweet-Bomb?"

John Nichols says, "The Stain Steve Bannon Put On Donald Trump's Presidency Cannot Be Washed Away."

James Donahue returns with, "A Better Government For All."

Heather Digby Parton reports, "Trump Has A Secret Plan To "Win" In Afghanistan, And Wants Us To Trust Him. Let's Not!"

Bernie Sanders explains, "Why Medicare-For-All Is Good For Business."

David Suzuki warns, "Wildfires Are A Climate Change Wake-Up Call."

Charles P. Pierce decides, "A Congressional Censure Of Trump Won't Help. We Need Mueller."

David Swanson tells, "Why And How To Bring Environmental And Peace Movements Together."

Ralph Nader wonders, "Barack Obama: What's He Waiting For?"

Charlottesville chief of police Al Thomas wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich demands we, "Remove Him Now."

Eugene Robinson concludes, "It's Time to Talk About Trump's Mental Health."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz returns with, "Trump Says Sun Equally To Blame For Blocking Moon" but first, Uncle Ernie sez, "Trump's 'Bund Rally' Turns Into A Police Riot!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Jimmy Margulies, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, Keith J. Smith, Mark Dixon, Carolyn Kaster, Joe Raedle, Chris Hondros, Gage Skidmore, National Nurses United,, Alamy, B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, HBO, 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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Trump's 'Bund Rally' Turns Into A Police Riot
By Ernest Stewart

"Believe me." ~~~ Donald J. Trump

I'd rather fight 100 structure fires than a wildfire. With a structure fire you know where your flames are, but in the woods it can move anywhere; it can come right up behind you. ~~~ Tom Watson

Hurray I awake from yesterday
Alive but the war is here to stay!
1983 ~ Jimi Hendrix

If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day, go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody!
~~~ Old Chinese proverb ~~~

Trump, ever the showman, ended his rambling, psychotic rant in Phoenix with a full blow police riot, where the men in blue went berserk against peaceful protestors, giving his Nazi and Klan pals a day off from the violence.

Without any warning the police opened up on the peaceful protesters with a hail of rubber bullets, pepper balls and gas genades into a surrounded crowd of men, women and children. This happened after a couple of undercover cops in the crowd lobbed two bottles at their brothers, which of couse, fell way short, yet giving the Gestapo reason enough to open fire on the innocents. True one protestor lobbed a gas grenade back at the cops who immediately shot him down with a fuselage of rubber bullets.

You may recall that Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton asked Trump not to hold the rally as he feared this type of police reaction. It will be interesting to see what Greg will do about it. My guess is he'll do nothing!

Next stop for the Simian Collective was Reno, where Trump addressed the anual meeting of American Legion. Imagine draft dodging Trump addressing veterans. As an old army vet, I'd like to have been a fly on that wall, with a microphone! Of course, he changed from Tuesday's Mr. Hyde mode and became Dr. Jekyll to address the vets!

First a Nazi riot where the cops stood down, next a police riot, I wonder what's next, don't you? As Bob Seger sang, "When the war comes the cops will be on their side, lord!" On the plus side AG Sessions is threatening to withhold federal funds to California cops, sounds like a plan to me!

In Other News

In addition to 22 wildfires burning in California, there are major wildfires in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, Arizona and New Mexico.

On Tuesday Cal Fire, the statewide firefighting agency, said it has responded to more than 4,200 wildfires so far this year, 1,500 more than the average for this time period. There are more than 10,000 firefighters at work in California alone.

Nearly a third of them, 3,000 are are fighting the "Rocky" fire, Cal Fire said.

The Associated Press reported 13,000 people have been forced or warned to leave the area of the Rocky fire since it began last week.

So far this year, wildfires have burned more than 100,000 acres in California, a Cal Fire spokesman said. CNN put that number as high as 134,000, nearly three times what is to be expected in an average year.

The Rocky fire is currently at more than 60,000 acres, having grown dramatically in size overnight Monday.

Friends of mine in Washington had to run for their lives the other night, as a large fire topped a nearby ridge. Fortunately the fire shifted its direction but this is the third time in three years that they've had to "bug out." The trouble is, they live in a rain-forest! Seattle known for its rain just went a record-breaking 55 days without any. So much for being a rain forest, huh?

Oh, and a way up north the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center, is currently tracking 43 fires. And since Trump is doing his best to make things much worse, this season maybe soon remembered as, the good old days!

And Finally

I see where Trump thinks we haven't spent enough treasure and American lives and caused enough horror in Afghanistan to suit him and his war machines masters, so were going to up the ante once again!

Coping Barry's bright idea of a surge, (Didn't that work out well) Trump had to copy Barry as he's hasn't a clue about war. Barry threw an extra 47,000 troops into the malestrom and got back nothing but lost treasure and dead Americans for his effort. Trump wants to do much of the same. Difference is, Barry had a plan, Trump doesn't, except for more of the same. If nothing else convinces you that Trump is crazy, this should do it. Remember what Einstein was alleged to have said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results?"

Many pundits keep reminding us that after 16 years this is America's longest war. It's not by a long shot. We've been at war with the native Americans since 1588. Still, we've been fighting in Afghan longer than the Revolutionary war, the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Spanish American War and WWI combined! We took on and took out the Germans, Japanese and the Italians in a little over 3 1/2 years. In fact the Afghanistan War has lasted longer than WWII, Korea and Viet Nam wars combined, Get the picture, America?

Can you imagine the grin on Putins face? The Kremlin must be rolling in laughter. You may remember we chumped the Soviet Union into invading Afghanistan and that caused their break up and destruction. The British empire was destroyed by their three wars in Afghanistan. Even Alexander the Great understood the folly of attacking Afghanistan and on his attempt to conquer the known world he avoided Afghanistan like the plague that it is, so naturally Trump wants in. As I've said countless times before, "America, we are soooooo screwed!"

Keepin' On

I get these all the time, not only from Truthout but about a dozen other groups, as well, I'd bet you do to:

Half way to $50 G's I could run this magazine on that for 4 years. I have a year to raise slightly more than $6,000 and it's all that I can do, to raise it. On what they want for a quarter I could get by for almost 9 years, talk about more bang for your buck, America! And this is only typical, with most asking for twice that amount. This also speaks volumes of why they're doing what they're doing. Compare and contrast!

Be that as it may, I'm still $1,600 short of making our goal to keep publishing, which is mere "chump change" for some of you! So, if you think what we do is important, and to your family's advantage, please send us whatever you can, whenever you can; and in return we'll be here for you when it hits the fan while keeping you informed and entertained in the meantime!


10-12-1932 ~ 08-19-2017
Thanks for the laughs and the good fight!

03-16-1926 ~ 08-20-2017
Thanks for the laughs and the good fight!

08-14-1929 ~ 08-21-2017
Thanks for writing those great shows!

07-12-1948 ~ 08-24-2017
Thanks for the laughs!


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

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


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

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2017 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

Harlan Fiske Stone's conservatism was grounded in the belief that the law is designed to protect the weak from the powerful.

The Corruption Of The Law
By By Chris Hedges

ISLE AU HAUT, Maine-I drink coffee in the morning on a round, ornate oak table that once belonged to Harlan Fiske Stone, a U.S. Supreme Court justice from 1925 to 1946 and the chief justice for the last five of those years. Stone and his family spent their summers on this windswept, remote island six miles off the coast of Maine.

Stone, a Republican and close friend of Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover, embodied a lost era in American politics. His brand of conservatism, grounded in the belief that the law is designed to protect the weak from the powerful, bears no resemblance to the self-proclaimed "strict constitutionalists" in the Federalist Society who have accumulated tremendous power in the judiciary. The Federalist Society, at the behest of President Trump, is in charge of vetting the 108 candidates for the federal judgeships that will be filled by the administration. The newest justice, Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch, comes out of the Federalist Society, as did Justices Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and Samuel Alito. The self-identified "liberals" in the judiciary, while progressive on social issues such as abortion and affirmative action, serve corporate power as assiduously as the right-wing ideologues of the Federalist Society. The Alliance for Justice points out that 85 percent of President Barack Obama's judicial nominees-280, or a third of the federal judiciary-had either been corporate attorneys or government prosecutors. Those who came out of corporate law firms accounted for 71 percent of the nominees, with only 4 percent coming from public interest groups and the same percentage having been attorneys who represented workers in labor disputes.

Stone repeatedly warned that unchecked corporate power would mean corporate tyranny and the death of democracy. He was joined in that thinking by Louis D. Brandeis, his fellow justice and ally on the court, who stated, "We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."

The supposed clash between liberal and conservative judges is largely a fiction. The judiciary, despite the high-blown rhetoric about the sanctity of individual freedom by the Federalist Society, is a naked tool of corporate oppression. Our most basic constitutional rights-privacy, fair trials and elections, habeas corpus, probable-cause requirements, due process and freedom from exploitation-have been erased for many, especially the 2.3 million people railroaded into our prisons, most without ever going to trial. Constitutionally protected statements, beliefs and associations are criminalized. Our judicial system, as Ralph Nader has pointed out, has legalized secret law, secret courts, secret evidence, secret budgets and secret prisons in the name of national security.

Our constitutional rights have steadily been stripped from us by judicial fiat. The Fourth Amendment, for example, reads: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." Yet our telephone calls and texts, emails and financial, judicial and medical records, along with every website we visit and our physical travels, can be and commonly are tracked, recorded, photographed and stored in government computer banks.

The executive branch can order the assassination of U.S. citizens without trial. It can deploy the military into the streets to quell civil unrest under Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), seize citizens-seizures that are in essence acts of extraordinary rendition-and hold them indefinitely in military detention centers while denying them due process.

Corporate campaign contributions, which largely determine who gets elected, are viewed by the courts as protected forms of free speech under the First Amendment. Corporate lobbying, which determines most of our legislation, is interpreted as the people's right to petition the government. Corporations are legally treated as persons except when they carry out fraud and other crimes; the heads of corporations routinely avoid being charged and going to prison by paying fines, usually symbolic and pulled from corporate accounts, while not being forced to admit wrongdoing. And corporations have rewritten the law to orchestrate a massive tax boycott.

Many among the 1 million lawyers in the United States, the deans of our law schools and the judges in our courts, whether self-identified liberals or Federalist Society members or supporters, refuse to hold corporate power accountable to the law. They have failed us. They alone have the education and skill to apply the law on behalf of the citizens. They alone know how to use the courts for justice rather than injustice. When this period of American history is written, the legal profession will be found to have borne much of the responsibility for our descent into corporate tyranny. Lawyers are supposed to be "officers of the court." They are supposed to be sentinels and guardians of the law. They are supposed to enlarge our access to justice. They are supposed to defend the law, not subvert it. This moral failure by the legal profession has obliterated our rights.

The radical libertarians in the Federalist Society, now ascendant within the legal system, champion a legal doctrine that is essentially preindustrial. It is centered exclusively on the rights of the individual and restricting the power of government. This can at times lead to rulings that protect personal liberty. The followers of this doctrine on the Supreme Court, for example, voted to overturn Connecticut's eminent-domain rape of a New London working-class neighborhood to make way for a pharmaceutical plant. The liberals, who formed the court majority, endorsed the taking of the neighborhood.

Another example of radical libertarianism on the bench occurred when attorneys Bruce Afran and Carl Mayer and I sued President Obama over Section 1021 of the NDAA, which overturned the 1878 act that prohibited the government from using the military as a domestic police force. We garnered support from some charter members of the Federalist Society. This proclivity by the Federalist Society to hold up the primacy of individual rights became especially important when, after the temporary injunction of Section 1021 issued by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York was overturned by the higher appellate court, we had to file a cert, or petition, to request that the case, Hedges v. Obama, be heard before the Supreme Court.

"As obnoxious as [Antonin] Scalia was on cultural issues, he was the strongest modern justice in terms of protecting First Amendment speech, press and assembly rights-no liberal came anywhere near him in these areas," Afran told me about the late justice. "In fact, Scalia was the justice who sympathized with our cert petition in the NDAA case. [Justice Ruth Bader] Ginsburg denied our petition without circulating it among the other justices. When we went to Scalia, he immediately asked for additional briefs to circulate. It was his dissents in the Guantanamo cases that we relied on in our cert petition. He issued strong dissents holding that the Guantanamo inmates and others taken by the military in Afghanistan should have complete civil rights in criminal prosecutions. He went much further than the majority did in these cases and condemned any holding of civilians by the military."

But although the Federalist Society purports to be against curtailment of civil liberties, leading some members to embrace traditional liberal positions on issues such as drug laws and sexual freedom, the organization also supports the judicial system's position that corporations hold the rights of individuals. It is hostile to nearly all government regulations and regulatory agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Securities and Exchange Commission. It opposes the rights of labor unions, voting rights laws, gender equality laws and the separation of church and state. It seeks to outlaw abortion and overturn Roe v. Wade. The self-proclaimed "originalism" or "textualism" philosophy of the Federalist Society has crippled the ability of the legal system to act en masse in class action suits against corrupt corporate entities. And for all the rhetoric about championing individual liberty, as Mayer pointed out, "they never did a thing about any First Amendment intrusions that all of the legislation passed after 9/11 involved." The Supreme Court did not accept our cert, leaving Section 1021 as law.

The Federalist Society says it seeks legal interpretations that are faithful to those that would have been made at the time the Constitution was written in the late 18th century. This fossilization of the law is a clever rhetorical subterfuge to advance the interests of the corporations and the oligarchs who have bankrolled the Federalist Society-the Mercer Foundation, the late John Olin, the late Richard Scaife, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Koch brothers and the fossil fuel industry. The Federalist Society has close ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), whose lobbyists draft and push corporate-sponsored bills through state legislatures and Congress.

Stone knew that the law would become moribund if it was frozen in time. It was a living entity, one that had to forever adapt to changing economic, social and political reality. He embraced what Oliver Wendell Holmes called "legal realism." The law was not only about logic but also about the experience of a lived human society. If judges could not read and interpret that society, if they clung to rigid dogma or a self-imposed legal fundamentalism, then the law would be transformed into a sterile constitutionalism. Stone called on judges to "have less reverence for the way in which an old doctrine was applied to an old situation." The law had to be "flexible." Judges, to carry out astute rulings, had to make a close study of contemporary politics, economics, domestic and global business practices and culture, not attempt to intuit what the Founding Fathers intended.

Stone was wary of radicals and socialists. He could be skeptical of New Deal programs, although he believed the court had no right to reverse New Deal legislation. But he understood that the law was the primary institution tasked with protecting the public from predatory capitalism and the abuses of power. He voted consistently with Holmes and Brandeis, two of the court's most innovative and brilliant jurists. The three were so often in dissent to the conservative majority they were nicknamed "The Three Musketeers."

The law, Stone said, must never "become the monopoly of any social or economic class." He condemned his fellow conservatives for reading their economic preferences into the law and "into the Constitution as well." By doing so, he said, they "placed in jeopardy a great and useful institution of government."

Stone embraced the doctrine of "preferred freedoms"-the position that First Amendment freedoms are preeminent in the hierarchy of constitutional rights and permit justices to override any legislation that curbs these freedoms. This became the basis for court decisions to overturn state laws that persecuted and silenced African-Americans, radicals-including communists, anarchists and socialists-and labor and religious activists.

Stone, as the dean of Columbia Law School before being named U.S. attorney general in 1924 and joining the Supreme Court the year after that, said the school's mission was "devoted to teaching its students how to live rather than how to make a living." He denounced the Palmer Raids and mass deportations of radicals that ended in 1920. He defended five Socialist members of the New York State Assembly who were stripped of their elected seats by their legislative colleagues in 1920 because of their political views. And he said that everyone, including aliens-meaning those who were not citizens but who lived in the United States-deserved due process.

"[A]ny system which confers upon administrative officers power to restrain the liberty of individuals, without safeguards substantially like those which exist in criminal cases and without adequate authority for judicial review of the action of such administrative officers will result in abuse of power and in intolerable injustice and cruelty to individuals," he wrote of laws that stripped aliens of constitutional rights.

As attorney general he weeded out corrupt officials and zealously enforced antitrust laws, swiftly making enemies of many leading industrialists, including Andrew Mellon. He also, ominously, appointed J. Edgar Hoover to run the FBI. His aggressive antitrust campaigns led to calls by the business community for his removal as attorney general, and he was elevated to the Supreme Court in 1925, a move that, as the New York Globe and Commercial Advertiser newspaper observed, "protected business from disturbing litigation or the threat of such litigation [and] has saved the [Coolidge] administration from the charge that it has betrayed business. ..."

The 1920s were, as Alpheus Thomas Mason wrote in his 1956 biography, "Harlan Fiske Stone: Pillar of the Law," "a decade pre-eminent for the exploitative large-scale business; its leaders preached the 'Gospel of Goods.' 'Canonization of the salesman' was seen 'as the brightest hope of America.' The absorbing ambition was to make two dollars grow where one had grown before, to engineer, as utilities magnate Samuel Insull put it, 'all I could out of a dollar'-that is, get something for nothing."

Organized labor, which before World War I had been a potent social and political force, had been crushed through government repression, including the use of the Espionage and Sedition acts. Government regulations and controls had been weakened or abolished. It was a time when, as Sinclair Lewis said of Babbittry-referring to the philistine behavior of the lead character in his 1922 novel "Babbitt," about the vacuity of American culture-the goal in life was to be "rich, fat, arrogant, and superior." Inequality had reached appalling levels, with 60 percent of American families existing barely above subsistence level by the time of the 1929 crash. The American god was profit. Those not blessed to be rich and powerful were sacrificed on the altar of the marketplace.

The New Hampshire-born Stone, grounded in rural New England conservatism and Yankee thrift, was appalled by the orgy of greed and inequality engineered by his fellow elites. He denounced a hedonistic culture dominated by unethical oligarchs and corporations very similar to those that exist today.

"Wealth, power, the struggle for ephemeral social and political prestige, which so absorb our attention and energy, are but the passing phase of every age; ninety-day wonders which pass from man's recollection almost before the actors who have striven from them have passed from the stage," he wrote. "What is significant in the record of man's development is none of these. It is rather those forces in society and the lives of those individuals, who have, in each generation, added something to man's intellectual and moral attainment, that lay hold on the imagination and compel admiration and reverence in each succeeding generation."

Wall Street's crash in 1929 and the widespread suffering caused by the Depression confirmed Stone's fears about unfettered capitalism. Victorian-era writer Herbert Spencer, who coined the term "survival of the fittest" and whose libertarian philosophy was widely embraced in the 1920s, argued that liberty was measured by the "relative paucity of restraint" that government places on the individual. Stone saw this belief, replicated in the ideology of neoliberalism, as a recipe for corporate oppression and exploitation.

If the law remained trapped in the agrarian, white male, slave-holding society in which the authors of the Constitution lived, if it was used to exclusively defend "individualism," there would be no legal mechanisms to halt the abuse of corporate power. The rise of modern markets, industrialization, technology, imperial expansion and global capitalism necessitated a legal system that understood and responded to modernity. Stone bitterly attacked the concept of natural law and natural rights, used to justify the greed of the ruling elites by attempting to place economic transactions beyond the scope of the courts. Laissez faire economics was not, he said, a harbinger of progress. The purpose of the law was not to maximize corporate profit. In Stone's reasoning, a clash between the courts and the lords of commerce was inevitable.

Stone excoriated the legal profession for its failure to curb the avarice of the "giant economic forces which our industrial and financial world have created." Lawyers, he went on, were not supposed to be guardians of corporate power. He asked why "a bar which has done so much to develop and refine the technique of business organization, to provide skillfully devised methods for financing industry, which has guided a world-wide commercial expansion, has done relatively so little to remedy the evils of the investment market; so little to adapt the fiduciary principle of nineteenth-century equity to twentieth-century business practices; so little to improve the functioning of the administrative mechanisms which modern government sets up to prevent abuses; so little to make law more readily available as an instrument of justice to the common man." The law, he said, was about "the advancement of the public interest." He castigated the educated elites, especially lawyers and judges, who used their skills to become "the obsequious servant of business" and in the process were "tainted with the moral and manners of the marketplace in its most anti-social manifestations." And he warned law schools that their exclusive focus on "proficiency" overlooked "the grave danger to the public if this proficiency be directed wholly to private ends without thought of the social consequences." He lambasted "the cramped mind of the clever lawyer, for whom intellectual dignity and freedom had been forbidden by the interests which he served." He called the legal profession's service to corporation power a "sad spectacle" and attorneys who sold their souls to corporations "lawyer criminals."

He was viciously attacked. The Wall Street lawyer William D. Guthrie responded in the Fordham Law Review, warning readers that Stone was peddling "subversive doctrines" championed by "false prophets" that had as their goal "national socialism, the repudiation of standards and obligation heretofore upheld, the leveling of classes, the destruction of property, and the overthrow of our federal system designed to be composed of sovereign and indestructible states."

But Stone understood a seminal fact that eludes our day's Federalist Society and the Republican and Democratic party leaderships: Corporations cannot be trusted with social and political power. Stone knew that the law must be the barrier that curbed the insatiable corporate lust for profit. If the law failed in this task, then corporate despotism was certain.

He wrote of the excesses of capitalism that led to the Depression:

I venture to assert that when the history of the financial era which has just drawn to a close comes to be written, most of its mistakes and its major faults will be ascribed to the failure to observe the fiduciary principle, the precept as old as the holy writ, that "a man cannot serve two masters." More than a century ago equity gave a hospitable reception to that principle, and the common law was not slow to follow in giving it recognition. No thinking man can believe that an economy built upon a business foundation can long endure without some loyalty to that principle. The separation of ownership from management, the development of the corporate structure so as to vest in small groups control over the resources of great numbers of small and uniformed investors, make imperative a fresh and active devotion to that principle if the modern world of business is to perform its proper function. Yet those who serve nominally as trustees, but relieved, by clever legal devices, from the obligation to protect those whose interests they purport to represent, corporate officers and directors who award themselves huge bonuses from corporate funds without the assent or even the knowledge of their stockholders, reorganization committees created to serve interests other than those whose securities they control, financial institutions which, in the infinite variety of their operations, consider only last, if at all, the interests of those who funds they command, suggest how far we have ignored the necessary implications of that principle. The loss and suffering inflicted on individuals, the harm done to a social order founded upon business and dependent upon its integrity, are incalculable.
The corporate coup d'etat Stone attempted to thwart is complete. His worst fears are our nightmare.

Stone had his flaws. After he refused to grant a stay of execution for Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, the two anarchists were hanged in August 1927. (A courtier took a fishing boat to retrieve the fateful decision that Stone made while he was at his vacation home here on Isle au Haut. He probably signed off on their execution orders on the table where I sit each morning.) He sometimes ruled against the rights of unions. He endorsed the internment of Japanese-American citizens during World War II. He was not sympathetic to conscientious objectors unless on religious grounds. He did not always protect the constitutional rights of communists. He could use the law to curb what he saw as Franklin Roosevelt's consolidation of power within the executive branch.

But Stone had the integrity and courage to throw bombs at the establishment. He attacked, for example, the Nuremberg trials of the Nazi leadership after World War II, calling it a "high-grade lynching party." "I don't mind what he [the chief Nuremberg prosecutor, Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson] does to the Nazis, but I hate to see the pretense that he is running a court and proceeding according to common law," he wrote. "This is a little too sanctimonious a fraud to meet my old-fashioned ideas." He noted acidly that the Nuremberg Trials were being used to justify the proposition that "the leaders of the vanquished are to be executed by the victors."

Stone spent his summers in a gray-shingled cottage with blue-green trim overlooking a small island harbor. He and his wife built the cottage, which still stands, in 1916. He tramped about the island in old clothes. One day at the dock a woman mistook the Supreme Court justice for a porter. She asked him to carry her bags. Stone, a burly man who had played football in college, lifted the suitcases and followed her without a word.

Stone did not possess the Emersonian brilliance and rhetorical flourishes of a Holmes or the trenchant social analysis of a Brandeis, but he was an astute legal scholar. There would be no place for him in today's Republican or Democratic parties or judiciary, seized by the corporate interests he fought. The Federalist Society, along with corporate lobbyists, would have mounted a fierce campaign to block him from becoming attorney general and a Supreme Court justice. His iron fidelity to the rule of law would have seen him, like Ralph Nader, tossed into the political and judicial wilderness.

Stone opposed socialism because, as he told his friend Harold Laski, the British political philosopher and socialist, he believed the judicial system could be reformed and empowered to protect the public from the tyranny of corporate elites. If the judicial system failed in its task to safeguard democracy, he conceded to Laski, socialism was the only alternative.
(c) 2017 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

The Egg Of Columbus
By Uri Avnery

I DON'T know when the wheel was invented, or who invented it.

However, I have no doubt that it was invented again and again, with many happy inventors sharing the glory.

The same is true for the Israeli-Palestinian Confederation. From time to time it appears in public as a brand-new idea, with another group of inventors proudly presenting it to the public.

This just shows that you cannot suppress a good idea. It appears again and again. During the last few weeks, it has appeared in several articles, presented by new inventors.

Every time it happens, I would take off my hat, if I had one. As Europeans used to do when they met a lady or an old acquaintance.

ACTUALLY, the United Nations Partition Plan adopted by the General Assembly on November 29, 1947 (Resolution 181) already proposed a kind of confederation, though without using the term. It said that the two new states that it created - one Arab, one Jewish, with Jerusalem as a separate unit - would be united in an "economic union".

A few days later, the "war of 1948" broke out. It was a bitter and cruel war, and when it ended in early 1949, nothing of the UN resolution remained. There were still some desultory negotiations, but they petered out.

The war had created "facts on the ground" - Israel controlled vastly more territory than was allotted to it, Jordan and Egypt had taken over what was left. Palestine had ceased to exist, the very name erased from the map, with half the Palestinian people evicted from their homes.

Immediately after the war, I tried to set up a group of young Jews, Muslims and Druze to propagate the setting up of a Palestinian state next to the new State of Israel. This initiative led nowhere. In 1954, when some Palestinians in the West Bank revolted against their Jordanian masters, I published a call for the Israeli government to support the creation of a Palestinian state. It was ignored.

It was three years later that the idea of an Israeli-Palestinian federation first took on a serious form. The 1956 Israeli attack on Egypt, in collusion with France and the UK, aroused the disgust of many Israelis. In the middle of the war, I got a phone call from Nathan Yellin-Mor. He proposed that we do something about it.

Yellin-Mor had been the political leader of Lehi (alias the Stern Gang) the most extreme of the three underground organizations that fought against British rule. I was the owner and editor-in-chief of a popular news magazine.

We set up a group called Semitic Action. As a first step, we decided to compose a document. Not one of those flimsy political programs that are published today and forgotten tomorrow, but a serious plan for the total overhaul of the State of Israel. It took us more than a year.

We were some 20 people, most of them prominent in their field, and met at least once a week for our deliberations. We divided the subjects among us. The subject of peace with the Arabs fell to me.

THE BASIS of the new creed was that we Israelis are a new nation - not outside the Jewish people but a part of it, much like Australia was a new nation within the Anglo-Saxon community. A new nation created by its geo-political situation, climate, culture and traditions.

(This idea itself was not quite new. In the early 1940s, a handful of poets and writers, nicknamed the Canaanites, had proposed something similar, but denied any connection with the world Jewish people and also denied the existence of the Arab nation or nations.)

In our view, the new "Hebrew" nation was a part of the "Semitic Region" and therefore a natural ally of the Arab nations. (We categorically refused to call it "Middle East", an Eurocentric, imperialist term.)

In a dozen detailed paragraphs we outlined the structure of a federation that would consist of the two sovereign states of Israel and Palestine and be in charge of their joint economic and other interests. Citizens of either of the two states would travel freely in the other one, but not be allowed to settle there.

We foresaw that this federation would in due course become part of a wider confederation of all the countries of the Semitic region in Asia and Africa.

Other chapters dealt with the total separation between state and religion, free immigration, relations with the Jewish communities around the world and a social-democratic economy.

The document, called "The Hebrew Manifesto", was published before the State of Israel was ten years old.

CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, the man who "discovered" America, was asked how to make an egg stand up. He knocked the end of the egg on the table and lo and behold - it stood.

Since then, the "Egg of Columbus" has become proverbial in many languages, including Hebrew. The idea of a federation in Palestine is such an egg. It combines two principles: that there would be one country between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and that both Israelis and Palestinians would live in their own independent state.

The "Whole of Eretz Israel" and the "Whole of Palestine" are right-wing slogans. The "Two-state Solution" belongs to the Left.

In this debate, "federation" and "confederation" are often used interchangeably. And indeed, no one quite knows the difference.

It is generally agreed that in a federation, the central authority has more powers, while in a "confederation" more powers are vested in the component units. But that is a vague distinction.

The American civil war was fought between the Southern "confederacy" which wanted to retain the rights of the component states in many fields, (with the fields tended by slaves), and the federation of the North, which wanted the central government to retain most of the important powers.

The world is full of federations and confederations. The United States, the Russian Federation, the Confederation Suisse, the United Kingdom, the Bundesrepublik Deutschland (official translation: Federal Republic of Germany) and so on.

There are no two among them which resemble each other completely. States are as different from each other as human beings. Each state is the product of its geography, the special character of its peoples, its history, its wars, loves and hatreds.

Members of a federation do not have to love each other. Last week, in a bizarre way, the American civil war was fought again in a Southern city, at the foot of the statue of a Southern general. Bavarians have no great love for the "Prussians" of the north, Many Scots would love to get rid of the bloody English, as would many Quebecois from Canada. But common interests are strong, and very often they prevail.

When it is not a marriage of love, it is at least a marriage of convenience.

Technical advances and the demands of the modern economy drive the world together into larger and larger units. The much-maligned "globalization" is a global necessity. People who today wave the "Bonnie Blue Flag" or the Swastika are ridiculous.

One day in the future people will pity them as people today pity the Luddites, who smashed the machines at the beginning of the industrial era.


The idea of a federation or confederation of Israel/Palestine may sound simple, but it is not. There are many obstacles.

First of all, there is the vast difference in the living standards of the two peoples. It would necessitate massive help from the rich world for the Palestinians.

The historical hate between the two peoples, not since 1967, not since 1948, but right from the beginning in 1882, must be overcome. This is not the job of politicians, but of writers and poets, historians and philosophers, musicians and dancers.

This looks like a daunting mission, but I am deeply convinced that it is easier than it looks. In Israeli hospitals (doctors and nurses), in universities (professors and students), and, naturally, in joint peace demonstrations, bridges between the two peoples are already in place.

The very fact that the federation idea crops up again and again shows its necessity. The groups of activists who are bringing it up now were not yet born when we first proposed the idea - yet their message sounds new and fresh.

May their cause prosper.
(c) 2017 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Trump And America's Fascist Forefathers
By Glen Ford

Donald Trump was even more agitated and combative than usual at Tuesday's press conference. How could he draw a line to separate the "neo-Nazis" and assorted "white supremacists" that had descended on Charlottesville, Virginia -- one of whom used his car to crush the life out of a young woman -- and the "very fine people" that favored keeping Robert E. Lee's statue on its pedestal in (recently renamed) Emancipation Park? And, where would the racist-removal project end?

The answer, as somebody once said, was blowing in the wind. "So this week, it is Robert E. Lee," warned Trump. "I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?"

There is nothing wrong with Trump's logic. If the legacy of slavery is to be excised root and branch, then nothing less than the most profound social transformation is in order. Why stop with statues of long dead men? If you rightly condemn Washington and Jefferson as loathsome oppressors of humanity, you are then obligated to purge the nation and world of the poisoned fruit of their racist perversion.

What these forefathers "brought forth on this continent" was "a new nation, conceived" NOT in liberty, nor was it dedicated to the proposition that all men were created equal. According to Chief Justice Roger B. Taney's Dred Scott decision, the United States was founded as a white man's country in which "neither the class of persons who had been imported as slaves nor their descendants, whether they had become free or not, were then acknowledged as a part of the people, nor intended to be included in the general words used in that memorable instrument" (the Declaration of Independence).

In 1857, when Taney made his ruling, the value of U.S. slaves was greater than every other national asset except the land within its borders -- land that was itself stolen from the indigenous peoples, and much of which would be valueless without slave labor. The super-profits of the slave production system had made the United States a global economic power, the second great industrial power on Earth -- right behind Britain, where U.S. slave-produced cotton was the engine of its globalizing juggernaut. Through ruthless exploitation of captive Black bodies, writes Edward Baptist in The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, "the United States seized control of the world market for cotton, the key raw material of the Industrial Revolution, and became a wealthy nation of global influence."

U.S. imperialism is rooted in the rapacious expansionism of the slave system. George Washington envisioned the new nation as a "rising empire." Jefferson spoke of an "empire of liberty" -- meaning, the liberties he enjoyed from the labor (and sexual exploitation) of the slaves. White supremacy legitimized every avarice of the new nation. The Monroe Doctrine staked the exclusive U.S. claim to dominate the Western Hemisphere -- regarded as populated by inferior and "mongrel" races -- an "exceptionalism" Washington now insists extends to the entire planet.

Fascism, including the Nazi variety, is not some strange European social disease. After crushing Black Reconstruction, the southern states invented, from the bottom up, the world's first totally racially regimented society. U.S. "Jim Crow" inspired Adolph Hitler's vision for nation-building under Aryan supremacy, as documented in James Q. Whitman's recent book, Hitler's American Model. American fascism predated -- and has long outlived -- the European variety. It is generally accepted that fascist states are characterized, to one degree or another, by:

Extreme nationalism
Frequent resort to mob rule
Oppression of an internal "Other" as an organizing principle
The political dominance of the most reactionary elements of the bourgeoisie
All of these characteristics describe the southern states of the U.S. during the nearly century-long period between the death of Reconstruction and the triumph of the Civil Rights Movement. Moreover, the post-Reconstruction reconciliation between North and South guaranteed that the southern fascism model would leave its imprint on the larger American political economy. In the aftermath of the Sixties, the Republican section of the corporate electoral duopoly assumed the role of the White Man's Party -- the purer party of indigenous American fascism.

The Democratic Party, which founded this homegrown fascism, was now popularly identified as a haven for the nation's racial and ethnic "Others." However, the Democrats continued to pursue national reconciliation, as did the Republicans during the old Jim Crow. Even as the two parties were switching racial constituencies, they found common cause in imposing a "New" Jim Crow -- the mass Black incarceration regime that spread to all parts of the country with astounding speed at the close of the Sixties, and which is the most dramatic domestic expression of American fascism. The Democrats and Republicans are as close as "lips and teeth," as the Chinese say, when it comes to U.S. imperialism. They both belong to the War Party, committed to unfettered U.S. expansion and endless warfare against the darker peoples of the world -- a national mission that began with Washington and Jefferson, and must be undone.

Donald Trump warned that, by knocking the icons off their pedestals, "You are changing history, you're changing culture."

Not quite - but it's a small start.
(c) 2017 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

Will The Nightmare Of President Donald Trump Become The Nightmare Of President Mike Pence?
A right-wing ideologue may end up replacing a sociopath.
By Steven Rosenfeld

Will this time be different? Has Trump finally crossed a line that's the beginning of the unraveling of his presidency?

Last week he threatened nuclear war with North Korea. This week he doubled down on defending white supremacists even as his allies, corporate executives and military and intelligence chiefs, backed away.

Trump keeps spinning out. After a few cities removed monuments of Confederate Civil War heroes, he tweeted Thursday, "The beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!"

The idea of replacing Trump is now edging back into the public's mind. The Washington Post's famed 1970s Watergate scandal reporter, Carl Bernstein, is urging the press to dig into sentiment for replacing Trump inside the GOP.

Petitions are circulating. A national PRRI poll released Thursday found 40 percent favor impeaching Trump. That's 72 percent of Democrats, compared to 58 percent six months ago, and 38 percent of independents, compared to 27 percent in February. Only 7 percent of Republicans, however, want to see him ousted, a figure holding firm from February.

With Congress firmly in GOP hands, the question becomes when would the House, which initiates the impeachment process, realize that it's in the GOP's benefit to do so. Of course, Trump could step down, as unlikely as that sounds. All of this is uncharted territory. But the latest Trump chaos is on par with last fall's grabbing-pussy boasts that at the time prompted some Republicans to consider their options for replacing candidate Trump.

All of these machinations lead to taking a closer look at Vice President Mike Pence, who would become history's latest accidental president-even if he, too, is under the cloud of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian collusion in the campaign. (In January, Pence told CBS News the campaign had no contacts with Russia, a claim that has been disproven.)

What would Pence bring to the presidency that's not already in Trump's White House, besides self-control and a lack of drama, threats of nuclear war and overt embraces of neo-Nazis and slavery-defenders? The answer appears to be even more doctrinaire right-wing positions than those taken by Trump. Pence would shepherd the agenda repeatedly rubber-stamped by the House and Senate GOP and vetoed by President Obama. As noted after his selection, he's the most far-right veep nominee in 40 years.

Pence was a smooth-talking radio host before being elected to the House, where he served in the leadership with current Speaker Paul Ryan. He was elected Indiana governor in 2012, but his backing of a "religious freedom" bill allowing businesses to refuse service to LGBT individuals caused such an economic backlash that his career seemed over until Trump rescued him.

Virtually all of his policy positions are in sync with the GOP's draconian 2016 platform, adopted at the convention soon after he introduced himself as "a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order." While it might be a relief for virtually everyone left of the political center should Trump be fired, Pence actually knows how Washington works and could deeply damage government and many public policies.

A quick survey of Pence's stances is revealing-beyond his habit of never meeting alone with a woman other than his wife because he believes such interactions are implicitly sexual. As the Washington Post put it, "There's little distance between that perspective and that of the ultra-Orthodox Jews who refuse to sit next to a woman on an airplane, or the fundamentalist Muslims who demand that women be covered head to toe to contain the unstoppable sexual allure that renders men unable to control their urges."

Pence's Record

Here are snapshots from a biography of his career: After he was elected to the House in 2000, he opposed President George W. Bush's expansion of Medicare prescription drug benefits. During his 12 years in Congress, he introduced 90 bills and resolutions. None became law. He opposed Obama's Affordable Care Act, needless to say.

After becoming governor in 2013, he faced a state fiscal crisis. He cut tens of millions from the budget for higher education, social agencies and human services. Although Indiana's economy had the nation's worst job growth, he signed bills blocking local governments from raising the minimum wage or requiring businesses to offer better benefits. He pushed cutting income and business taxes, but would not sign laws reversing other regressive taxes.

Pence was a big booster of privatizing government services, whether new highways or traditional public schools. He repeatedly acted to boost charter schools and vouchers and undermine the teachers' unions, including making the state Board of Education an arm of the executive branch. From there, he clashed with educators over treatment of transgender students.

On energy and the environment, he rolled back energy efficiency standards, denounced and fought with the federal Environmental Protection Agency and declared Indiana was a pro-coal state. On guns, he signed a bill to let people keep guns in their cars parked on school grounds, recruited the NRA to train the Indiana National Guard and pre-empted the city of Gary from suing gun manufacturers whose weapons were sold illegally.

On health, he and the state GOP defunded Planned Parenthood, even with southern Indiana experiencing an HIV epidemic. He opposed needle exchanges for drug addiction treatment. While he did accept Obamacare funds to expand state-run Medicaid, he added bigger co-payments for recipients.

Pence received national attention after signing a so-called religious freedom bill in 2015, prompting some big state employers-notably Angie's List-to cancel a state-based expansion in Indianapolis, costing the state 1,000 jobs. The backlash forced him to rescind parts of the law. On women's health and reproductive rights, Pence has been a fundamentalist, signing into law a bill banning abortion procedures and penalizing providers. A federal court overruled the law, saying it was unconstitutional.

Pence also tried to create a state-run news service, to circumvent local media. He's repeatedly stonewalled reporters seeking public documents. He is known for using private emails to conduct official business-the same thing he criticized Hillary Clinton for. And he tried but failed to prevent Syrian refugees from resettling in the state. A court stopped him.

In the fall 2016 campaign, Pence said his role model for the vice presidency, if elected, would be Dick Cheney, George W. Bush's powerful surrogate.

"I frankly hold Dick Cheney in really high regard in his role as vice president and as an American," he told ABC-TV. "Vice President Cheney had experience in Congress as I do, and he was very active in working with members of the House and the Senate."

While tens of millions of Americans want the nightmare of Trump to end, a different right-wing takeover looms should Pence inherit the Oval Office. One can ask, as Carl Bernstein has, whether Republicans and careerists in military and intelligence circles have completely lost faith in Trump. It's anybody's guess when congressional Republicans will decide whether they would be better off with a President Pence-notwithstanding Mueller's probe.

The country's last accidental president was Gerald Ford, who took office after Richard Nixon resigned, and wasn't re-elected in 1976 after issuing a full pardon for Nixon two years before. Ford did not get much done in his time in office. But the mid-1970s was another era.

Should Pence inherit the job, and should the GOP maintain its control in Congress, the far right could have even more power than it does today. The sociopath-in-chief might be gone. But other dangers lurk around the Republican Party's fringes.
(c) 2017 Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America's democracy and voting rights. He is the author of several books on elections and the co-author of Who Controls Our Schools: How Billionaire-Sponsored Privatization Is Destroying Democracy and the Charter School Industry (AlterNet eBook, 2016).

Who's Left For Trump To Tweet-Bomb?
By Jim Hightower

I hate to say this, but I'm starting to feel sorry for Donald Trump. He's only been in office for half a year, and already he's running out of Americans to attack.

Of course, he came into office already having notched his AK-47 Twitter rifle with hundreds of hits on the American citizenry, including such entire groups as "nasty women," Mexican-Americans who have Latin-sounding names, and Muslim-Americans who're, you know... Muslims. Since then, he's repeatedly used the presidential bully-pulpit for mass-bullying assaults on every reporter who refuses to be a Sean Hannity-suck-up to The Donald.

The trigger-happy tweeter-in-chief also relishes gunning down his own political kin: (1) He blasted all House Republicans who voted for a "mean" healthcare bill, after he had personally pushed them to pass it; (2) he called for Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell to commit political hara-kiri for failing to pass his abominable Trumpcare bill, which was meaner than mean; and (3) he publicly shoots down his own top appointees, from Attorney General Jeff Sessions to his short-lived mouthpiece Anthony Scaramucci. Even White House chief Strategist Stephen Bannon has taken a hit.

Then came "The Great Donald Debacle" - his bumbling, shameful response to the racist, anti-Semitic rampage in Charlottesville by a menagerie of neo-Nazis, KKK thugs, and swastika-clad white supremacists. His empathy with these far-right extremists was so appalling that even his multimillionaire allies in Fortune 500 corporations gagged. Led by Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, Trump's two big corporate advisory panels abolished themselves in protest. The petulant president, clueless as usual about political symbolism, tweeted an angry potshot at Frazier - who happened to be one of only two African-Americans on Trump's 47-member corporate committees.

But our foam-at-the-mouth president still has one loyal friend by his side - Ku Klux Klan poohbah David Duke. Perfect - they deserve each other.
(c) 2017 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

Former chief White House strategist Steve Bannon accompanying Trump on a trip to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on April, 29, 2017.

The Stain Steve Bannon Put On Donald Trump's Presidency Cannot Be Washed Away
The White House chief strategist has had a profound influence on Trump and, tragically for America, that influence will linger.
By John Nichols

An embattled Donald Trump mounted a sketchy defense of Steve Bannon at the start of the week, when reporters asked whether the president's "chief strategist" had a part in the tone-deaf decision to suggest that there is some kind of moral equivalency between white supremacists, white nationalists, and neo-Nazis and those who oppose racism, xenophobia, and inequality.

When asked if his highest-profile adviser had a hand in shaping the president's claim that the blame for violence following a "Unite the Right" march by torch-carrying racists through Charlottesville, Virginia, should be assigned "on many sides," Trump said, "I never spoke to Mr. Bannon about it."

Pressed on the broader question of whether he was still comfortable with the man who played a pivotal role in aligning the alt-right with his campaign and his presidency, Trump said: "Well, we'll see. And look, look, I like Mr. Bannon. He is a friend of mine, but Mr. Bannon came on very late. You know that. I went through 17 senators, governors, and I won all the primaries. Mr. Bannon came on very much later than that, and I like him. He is a good man. He is not a racist-I can tell you that. He is a good person, he actually gets very unfair press in that regard. We'll see what happens with Mr. Bannon. He's a good person, and I think the press treats him frankly very unfairly."

Three days later, the press featured headlines that announced: "Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon fired."

So let's recap. According to Trump, he never spoke with Bannon about recent statements that positioned the administration on the wrong side of history and brought a firestorm of criticism down on a president who critics now openly decry as a racist. According to Trump, Bannon is "not a racist" and is, in fact, "a good person." And, most notably, according to the president, Bannon did not shape a bombastic 2016 campaign strategy that was decried as racist and xenophobic; indeed, says Trump, "Mr. Bannon came on very late...very much later."

That's a bit unfair to Bannon, who clearly influenced the Trump campaign from the outside during the billionaire's run for the Republican nomination, and who played an defining role in keeping populist themes at the forefront of the fall campaign for which he served as the essential strategist. But if Trump wants to say that Bannon did not make Trump any worse than Trump already was, so be it.

Then getting rid of Bannon means very little, aside from the fact that the man who made the conservative Breitbart website "the platform for the alt-right" will now be "unleashed" to pressure the administration from outside a White House where Bannon acolytes-especially senior adviser Stephen Miller and deputy assistant to the president Sebastian Gorka-appear to retain a good deal of influence. Bannon will also be able to defend another longtime associate of his, Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The reality, of course, is that Bannon has influenced Trump's worldview. It would be difficult to overestimate the role the chief strategist played in making a New York billionaire into a crude economic populist who was able to appeal to disenfranchised and disenchanted voters in a number of battleground states. Bannon's crude cynicism had a profound influence on Trump, giving the candidate the confidence to make appeals that were designed to inflame racial, ethnic, and religious differences.

Trump entered politics as a reckless and irresponsible child of privilege who had a flair for the theatrical based on his experience with New York tabloids and his second career as a reality-TV star. He was unprepared to be the Republican nominee for the presidency, just as he was unprepared to be president. But Bannon recognized a shamelessness in Trump that could be exploited politically, and, with a handful of other associates of wealthy political financiers Robert and Rebekah Mercer (including Kellyanne Conway), engaged in that exploitation.

Where does Bannon end and Trump begin? That's a tough question. If what Trump says is true-that he needed no encouragement from his chief strategist to reach the conclusions that "very fine people" march with white supremacists-then the answer is inconsequential. Whatever Bannon taught, Trump learned. Case closed.

But with Bannon gone from the inner circle-at least for now-there will be efforts by the Trump allies that the strategist identified as "globalists" to steer the administration in the more traditional direction favored by the many Wall Street insiders who populate another wing of the West Wing. So how should we measure the lingering influence of Bannon on the man he made president?

The answer will not be hard to discern.

Trump knows nothing of American history. In fact, he is so unfamiliar with the basic premises of the republic and its trajectory that he has relied heavily on Bannon and Stephen Miller to provide him with touchstones to reference. That's how Andrew Jackson-a brutal and lawless president who preached a narrow populism while constantly abusing his authority to extend the slave power, violently displace Native Americans, and inflame regional divisions in the young United States-became the former president Trump most respects.

Bannon, a history buff who reads obsessively, has long revered Jackson. After Trump delivered an incendiary inaugural address, Bannon hailed the speech he had helped to frame as "Jacksonian."

"I don't think we've had a speech like that since Andrew Jackson came to the White House," the strategist told The Wall Street Journal. "It's got a deep, deep root of patriotism."

Trump told Tucker Carlson some weeks later that he was trying to read a book on Jackson. Yet in the Oval Office a portrait of Jackson hung on the wall and a Jackson biography was often displayed on the president's desk. Trump traveled to Nashville to salute Jackson's legacy and later bragged, "They said my campaign is most like, my campaign and win, was most like Andrew Jackson with his campaign." He even claimed that "Had Andrew Jackson been a little later you wouldn't have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart. And he was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War, [and] he said, 'There's no reason for this.' People don't realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it-why? People don't ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?"

As noted, Trump is a historical ignoramus. He needed a presidential reference point, and he took it from Bannon. For so long as this president keeps the Jackson portrait on the wall, and for so long as he keeps comparing himself with one of the worst presidents in American history, the voice of Steve Bannon will echo through this White House.
(c) 2017 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

A Better Government For All
By James Donahue

As the Trump disaster slams home to all but the die-hard conservative thinking voters there is a growing movement among the nation's working class that there must be a major change in not only the failed election process, but also in the way our government does its business. The words Republican and Democrat have both become symbols of sold-out leadership. The people are calling for change . . . but to what?

Some are going so far as to think complete anarchy might be better than what we have . . . which has been well described as oligarchy. While they are extreme opposites in terms of governance, anarchy is not a good idea for a world as populated as ours. Anarchy means absence of government. Even in the United States history has proven there must be a rule of law just to maintain order.

The problem in the United States has been that the Capitalistic system we have lived under for so long has been so skillfully manipulated by the power brokers that it is now out of control. It has developed into a feudal system much resembling what existed in Europe when people were driven to the New World to seek a better way of life. Under that old system the monarchy owned everything and ruled the land, and the people were identified as serfs . . . or slaves that worked long grueling hours for minimal sustenance.

Because big corporations control the media and now even the Internet, the people are being carefully programmed to believe that the American Dream still exists. This concept, that anyone can get a college education, land a good job, work hard and advance up the ranks to have a nice home and a good life, is no longer true. The growing number of homeless people and empty homes, rusting infrastructure and crumbling roads dotting the nation are a bitter example of a failed system that desperately needs to be fixed.

The voters had a chance to make an important change when Independent Senator Bernie Sanders sought the presidency under the Democratic flag in 2016. Bernie proposed a Democratic Socialist agenda that promised jobs and health care for all. But his campaign was skillfully undermined by the Clinton machine and Democratic Party that was loathe to swing that far into a socialist system. It is obvious that because of the big money pouring into the Clinton campaign from corporate interests, the entire party no longer represented the working class like it once did.

Sanders offered a very good idea . . . a platform that would have benefited a majority of Americans. But they were so turned away by the campaign that year that most registered voters were too disgusted to even show up at the polls. The result was Trump, which has turned out to be good for big business, but very bad for the poor and working class. The Trump Administration immediately went to work tearing down the fabric of socialism that has been slowly creeping into the American system since the days of the Great Depression. Thus instead of making things better, voters put a program in place that is turning to the extreme opposite.

There is even talk now of "delaying" the 2020 presidential election because Trump says he does not trust the true registration of voters throughout the nation. If he gets away with that, the people may be robbed of any chance to boot this terrible man out of office. He will have in one term, turned a democratic government into a dictatorship.

Without a vote, the options left to the public are dark and possibly very bloody. They would be faced with a need for total revolution or submit to whatever is dealt them by "big Donald" and his daily tweets.

In the meantime women all across the United States and around the world are banding together in a collective movement to demand fair treatment involving pregnancies, abortions and medical care. They also want equal pay as their male counterparts on the jobs they hold. Their banner has been easy to spot. They wear pink hats when they march.

And writer Jefferson Morley in a recent article for AlterNet noted that the Democratic Socialists for America has been gathering strength. Their ranks grew from 800 delegates expected for last weekend's annual convention at University of Illinois campus, Chicago, to more than four times that many. The party has grown from 6,500 members to 24,000 just since Trump won the presidency. The group boasts 150 chapters in 48 states and is growing fast.

And not to be overlooked is the newly created Pirate Party, which was founded in Sweden in 2006 and has been growing with new chapters established in the United States and Germany, plus numerous other nations throughout the world. In 2010 Pirate Party International was founded in Belgium. At last count its statues have been adopted by 22 national pirate parties.

There also has emerged an international association of pirates calling itself Pirates Without Borders. This group is seeking a global cooperation in pressing for world-wide democratic governments, international trade agreements and what appears to be a movement toward a one-world democratic system of human governing that is building from the ground-up.

With a name like Pirate Party, the organization sounds somewhat ominous. It is comprised mostly of young voters who are upset about the Socialistic system operating under the hands of older elected officials in tired governmental cavities, unwilling to change with the times. The party is a resistance to big corporate and big bank enforcement of controls on the Internet, copyright and patent laws, freedom of expression, communication, education and a respect of citizen civil rights and privacy.

Other common goals include an acceptance of ethnicity, racial origin, gender and religious beliefs, direct democracy without financial controls, and economic freedom from the control of special banking interests.

And that just about sums up the interests of the U.S. working class and retired elderly citizens. We might suggest that the Democratic Socialists get in partnership with the U.S. Pirate Party and stand in strength against the tired old political platforms that have remained in power too long. It may be too early for such a union to make a big difference in the 2018 mid-term elections, but by 2020 there is a potential here for a powerful enough vote to make a big difference.

And for the record, the propaganda has been working hard to make people believe the world is running out of resources and that a socialist system, designed to share the wealth equally, would be doomed to failure. This has been a huge lie designed to help maintain the Capitalist system. Statistically it is proven there is more than enough for everyone.
(c) 2017 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.

Trump Has A Secret Plan To "Win" In Afghanistan, And Wants Us To Trust Him. Let's Not!
Since he knows nothing about Afghanistan or the war, his only strategy is more bombs and stealing resources
By Heather Digby Parton

According to NBC News, last month President Donald Trump met with his generals and angrily demanded to know why we haven't "won" the war in Afghanistan since he became president. He wanted to fire the commander there and find someone who could get the job done.

Over nearly two hours in the situation room, according to the officials, Trump complained about NATO allies, inquired about the United States getting a piece of Afghan's mineral wealth [sic] and repeatedly said the top U.S. general there should be fired. He also startled the room with a story that seemed to compare their advice to that of a paid consultant who cost a tony New York restaurateur profits by offering bad advice.

As with everything else on earth, Trump is clueless about the history of Afghanistan, the conditions on the ground or the war's ostensible objectives. To call it complicated is to understate it by a factor of a thousand.

Trump had been talking to some veterans who complained, as soldiers have been doing since time immemorial, about the generals not knowing their top brass from a foxhole in the ground. He believed them. But since his only frame of reference in life is that of an heir to a fortune who lives between Manhattan and Palm Beach, he explained his position by recounting a story about how the 21 Club had hired an expensive consultant to come up with a renovation plan when they should have just consulted with the waiters.

Trump's complaining about NATO was more of the usual ill-informed crankiness about U.S. allies, and the questions about why we aren't stealing minerals from Afghanistan (which would be a war crime) are par for the course. He's always said that his military strategy is to "bomb the shit out of 'em and take the oil," so one assumes that after dropping the MOAB, the biggest bomb short of nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal, he logically felt the next step was to take whatever he wanted.

In any case, the Pentagon's plan to have Trump sign off on a plan didn't happen that day. It took military brass until this past week to finalize one and get the president to approve a new "surge," which will probably do the same thing as the last surge: Not much. Politico reported that National Security adviser H.R. McMaster and Vice President Mike Pence actually rehearsed their pitch to Trump last Friday to get him to agree to the consensus. One imagines that it consisted of lots of pictures, small words and flattery. Apparently it worked.

Thank goodness for small favors. As useless as another surge in Afghanistan might turn out to be, it could have been a whole lot worse. A few weeks ago I wrote about the plan Steve Bannon and Eric Prince had reportedly cooked up, which Bannon and Jared Kushner were reported to have delivered personally to Defense Secretary Mattis. That plan was to privatize the war by hiring a mercenary army under the auspices of an American "viceroy" modeled on the old colonial British East India Company. They would then "take the minerals" as payment to finance the war, ostensibly on behalf of the locals.

Mattis told Bannon and Kushner that he wasn't looking for any "outside" plans at this time. Although the president was said to have been intrigued, this idea lost favor in the end for unknown reasons. Perhaps the fact that the Trump Organization wouldn't be allowed a piece of the spoils soured the president on the scheme.

In any case, after some final deliberation over the weekend, on Monday night Trump took to the airwaves to announce his new strategy. He spoke stiffly from the teleprompter in flowery words that sounded nothing like his own and omitted the magic words "radical Islamic terrorism," which, according to his own campaign rhetoric means he supports the terrorists.

He cranked up the temperature on Pakistan and asked India to "help" more, which may very well have serious repercussions down the road. Apparently the Trump administration has decided that the nuclear standoff with North Korea and destabilizing the nuclear deal with Iran isn't enough of a challenge. Now it wants to get into the middle of that ongoing mess between two nuclear powers as well.

Trump also made some vague references to "defraying the costs" of the war, which may very well translate into grabbing Afghanistan by the minerals. And somebody definitely needs to answer for letting him say that the country has a prime minister when it has a president. Overall the whole thing was very light on details, which he once again explained away as his secret, special, super-duper surprise attack strategy.

Essentially Trump told us, "We have a plan, we won't tell you the plan and the plan will cost a lot of money." In other words: "Trust me."

Trust him? Let's review why those might be the scariest words in the English language right now. Two weeks ago, Trump inexplicably escalated the war of words with North Korea to the point at which Guam was issuing warnings to residents not to look up at incoming missiles in case Kim Jong-un came through with his threat to launch bombs in their direction. The possibility that one of the unstable men in charge of either the U.S. or North Korea might miscalculate and start World War III was one of the most nerve-wracking moments in recent memory. This was particularly true since Trump clearly didn't understand the nature of the nuclear threat during the campaign and obviously hasn't learned anything since becoming president.

But Trump's campaign promises were full of chilling messages that seem designed to make our allies frightened of us and our enemies hate us even more. As I mentioned above, he's threatened to bomb, raze, torture, execute and pillage any country and any people he deems to be an enemy or a friend of an enemy. He routinely endorsed war crimes, even repeating one of the most lurid of them all just five days ago when he tweeted his oft-repeated apocryphal tale about Gen. "Black Jack" Pershing dipping bullets in pig's blood and staging a mass execution of Muslims in the Philippines. Doing this just days after pronouncing that Nazis marching in the streets was no worse than your average protest march undoubtedly reinforced the message that the U.S. military answers to a bloodthirsty thug no better than the worst banana-republic tyrant.

Trump is impulsive and lies constantly without remorse. He often behaves like a child. He looked up at the eclipse without glasses, and acted proud of his juvenile rebelliousness Trusting him, ever, about anything, is suicidal.
(c) Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

The ongoing failure of our health care system is directly attributable to the fact that it is
largely designed not to provide quality care in a cost-effective way, but to make maximum profits
for health insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry, and medical equipment suppliers. That has got to change.

Why Medicare-For-All Is Good For Business
By Bernie Sanders

Despite major improvements made by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), our health care system remains in crisis. Today, we have the most expensive, inefficient, and bureaucratic health care system in the world. We spend almost $10,000 per capita each year on health care, while the Canadians spend $4,644, the Germans $5,551, the French $4,600, and the British $4,192. Meanwhile, our life expectancy is lower than most other industrialized countries and our infant mortality rates are much higher.

Further, as of September 2016, 28 million Americans were uninsured and millions more underinsured with premiums, deductibles, and copayments that are too high. We also pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.

The ongoing failure of our health care system is directly attributable to the fact that it is largely designed not to provide quality care in a cost-effective way, but to make maximum profits for health insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry, and medical equipment suppliers. That has got to change. We need to guarantee health care for all. We need to do it in a cost-effective way. We need a Medicare-for-all health care system in the U.S.

Let's be clear. Not only is our dysfunctional health care system causing unnecessary suffering and financial stress for millions of low- and middle-income families, it is also having a very negative impact on our economy and the business community-especially small- and medium-sized companies. Private businesses spent $637 billion on private health insurance in 2015 and are projected to spend $1.059 trillion in 2025.

But it's not just the heavy financial cost of health care that the business community is forced to bear. It is time and energy. Instead of focusing on their core business goals, small- and medium-sized businesses are forced to spend an inordinate amount of time, energy, and resources trying to navigate an incredibly complex system in order to get the most cost-effective coverage possible for their employees. It is not uncommon for employers to spend weeks every year negotiating with private insurance companies, filling out reams of paperwork, and switching carriers to get the best deal they can.

And more and more business people are getting tired of it and are asking the simple questions that need to be addressed.

Why as a nation are we spending more than 17% of our GDP on health care, while nations that we compete with provide health care for all of their people at 9, 10, or 11% of their GDP? Is that sustainable? What impact does that have on our overall economy?

Why are employers who do the right thing and provide strong health care benefits for their employees at a competitive disadvantage with those who don't? Why are some of the largest and most profitable corporations in America, like Walmart, receiving massive subsidies from the federal government because their inadequate benefits force many of their employees to go on Medicaid? Why are most labor disputes in this country centered on health care coverage? Is it good for a company to have employees on the payroll not because they enjoy the work, but because their families need the health insurance the company provides?

Richard Master is the owner and CEO of MCS Industries Inc., the nation's leading supplier of wall and poster frames-a $200 million a year company based in Easton, Pa. "My company now pays $1.5 million a year to provide access to health care for our workers and their dependents," Master told Common Dreams. "When I investigated where all the money goes, I was shocked."

What he found was that fully 33 cents of every health care premium dollar "has nothing to do with the delivery of health care." Thirty-three percent of his health care budget was being spent on administrative costs.

"I came to realize that insurers comprise a completely unnecessary middleman that not only adds little if any value to our health care system, it adds enormous costs to it," Master said.

It doesn't have to be this way. Every other major country on earth has a national health care program that guarantees health care to all of their people at a much lower cost. In our country, Medicare, a government-run single-payer health care system for seniors, is a popular, cost-effective health insurance program. When the Senate gets back into session in September, I will be introducing legislation to expand Medicare to cover all Americans.

This is not a radical idea. I live in Burlington, Vt., 50 miles south of the Canadian border. For decades, every man, woman, and child in Canada has been guaranteed health care through a single-payer, publicly funded health care program. Not only has this system improved the lives of the Canadian people, it has saved businesses many billions of dollars.

The American Sustainable Business Council, a business advocacy organization, started a campaign in April in support of single-payer health care. To date, more than 170 business leaders have signed on to this initiative in more than 30 states. Here is what these business leaders have written:

"All supporters of the campaign believe that a single-payer health care system, which is what the vast majority of the industrialized world embraces, will deliver significant cost-savings, in large part by eliminating the wasteful practices of the insurance industry that are designed for financial advantage."
In my view, health care for all is a moral issue. No American should die or suffer because they lack the funds to get adequate health care. But it is more than that. A Medicare-for-all single-payer system will be good for the economy and the business community.
(c) 2017 Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 after serving 16 years in the House of Representatives. He is the longest serving independent member of Congress in American history. Elected Mayor of Burlington, Vt., by 10 votes in 1981, he served four terms. Before his 1990 election as Vermont's at-large member in Congress, Sanders lectured at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and at Hamilton College in upstate New York. Read more at his website. Follow him on Twitter: @SenSanders or @BernieSanders

Wildfires Are A Climate Change Wake-Up Call
By David Suzuki

Wildfires are sweeping B.C. Close to 900 have burned through 600,000 hectares so far this year, blanketing western North America with smoke. Fighting them has cost more than $230 million - and the season is far from over. It's not just B.C. Thousands of people from B.C. to California have fled homes as fires rage. Greenland is experiencing the largest blaze ever recorded, one that Prof. Stef Lhermitte of Delft University in the Netherlands called "a rare and unusual event." Fires have spread throughout Europe, North America and elsewhere. In June, dozens of people died in what's being called Portugal's worst fire ever. Meanwhile, from Saskatchewan to Vietnam to New Zealand, floods have brought landslides, death and destruction.

What will it take to wake us up to the need to address climate change? Fires and floods have always been here, and are often nature's way of renewing ecosystems - but as the world warms, they're increasing in frequency, size and severity. Experts warn wildfires could double in number in the near future, with the Pacific Northwest seeing five or six times as many.

In the western U.S., annual average temperatures have increased by 2 C and the fire season has grown by three months since the 1970s, leading to "new era of western wildfires," according to a recent study led by University of Colorado Boulder wildfire experts, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Climate change doesn't necessarily start the fires - lightning, unattended campfires, carelessly tossed cigarette butts and sparks from machinery are major causes - but it creates conditions for more and larger fires. Lightning, which causes up to 35 per cent of Canada's wildfires and is responsible for 85 per cent of the area burned annually, increases as temperatures rise, with studies showing 12 per cent more lightning strikes for each degree Celsius of warming.

Drier, shorter winters and earlier snowmelt extend fire seasons. As the atmosphere warms, it holds more moisture, some of which it draws from forests and wetlands, and increasing precipitation is not enough to offset the drying. This means fuel sources ignite more easily and fires spread faster over greater areas. Outbreaks of pests such as mountain pine beetles - previously kept in check by longer, colder winters - have also killed and dried forests, adding fuel to the fires. Because trees and soils hold moisture on slopes, fires can also increase the risk of flash floods when rains finally arrive.

The human and economic impacts are staggering - from property destruction to firefighting and prevention to loss of valuable resources and ecosystems. As human populations expand further into wild areas, damages and costs are increasing.

Health impacts from smoke put people - especially children and the elderly - at risk and drive health care costs up. Wildfires now kill more than 340,000 people a year, mainly from smoke inhalation.

Fires also emit CO2, creating feedback loops and exacerbating climate change. Boreal forests in Canada and Russia store large amounts of carbon and help regulate the climate, but they're especially vulnerable to wildfires.

Suggested solutions are wide-ranging. The authors of the PNAS study recommend letting some wildfires burn in areas uninhabited by people, setting more "controlled" fires to reduce undergrowth fuels and create barriers, thinning dense forests, discouraging development in fire-prone areas and strengthening building codes.

These adaptive measures are important, as are methods to prevent people from sparking fires, but our primary focus should be on doing all we can to slow global warming.

According to NASA, Earth's average surface temperature has risen by 1.1 C since the late 19th century, with most warming occurring over the past 35 years, and 16 of the 17 warmest years occurring since 2001. Eight months of 2016 were the warmest on record. Oceans have also been warming and acidifying quickly, Arctic ice has rapidly decreased in extent and thickness, glaciers are retreating worldwide, and sea levels have been rising at an accelerating pace. Record high temperature events have been increasing while low temperature events have decreased, and extreme weather events are becoming more common in many areas.

Today's wildfires are a wake-up call. If we are serious about our Paris Agreement commitments, we can't build more pipelines, expand oil sands, continue fracking or exploit extreme Arctic and deep-sea oil.
(c) 2017 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

A Congressional Censure Of Trump Won't Help. We Need Mueller.
By Charles P. Pierce

There seems to be some stirring in the Congress concerning a possible censure bill aimed at the president*. They can do it. They refuse to do it. I really don't care. Outside of putting people on the record yet again as supporting Camp Runamuck, it strikes me as little more than a legislative marshmallow. A congressional censure is meaningless even if the president cares about his job and about the institution he has been elected to serve. (That's why Andrew Jackson, the only president ever censured by Congress, got it quietly expunged by a later Congress.) The current president* clearly doesn't care about either the job or the institution, so my guess is that the censure resolution will pass, and he'll tweet about it all morning the next day, and schedule a rally in Ohio or some place a week later, where he'll say something vicious and/or stupid about the whole business, and that will be the end of it.

Moreover, censure gives nervous Republicans a perfect out. That the president* is worthy of at least a preliminary impeachment inquiry in the House seems beyond question by now. The violation of his oath as regards the Emoluments Clause in Washington alone is worth poking around at with a sharp stick. But the Republican House is led by Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin, and he doesn't have the belly for something like that, not when there's more of the nation's wealth to shove upwards. A censure, though, especially one that everybody in the Congress knows is toothless, is the legislative equivalent of all that mealymouthed swill we've heard since last Saturday, by which people deplore what the president* said about Nazis, but can't seem to remember who the president* actually is. Of course, Robert Mueller is still howling ominously in the distance, so there's that. But censure will be a decent TV show and little more than that. I'm worried about the sighs of relief that will come after it, and what comes out of the Congress after that.

One thing that we all can take for granted is that, whether it's aimed at the White House or not, and I suspect it won't be, Breitbart's Mausoleum For The Otherwise Unemployable is going to go completely to the zoo when Bannon gets back there. You're going to see Crazy like somebody struck the Comstock Lode of the stuff. It's going to make Ancient Aliens look like Great Performances.

Now that we're relitigating the great arguments of the 1850s and 1860s, we should check back with this Mother Jones piece about white supremacist goon Richard Spencer, and the money he makes from Louisiana cotton-and from your pockets, too.

He is in a position to know. Spencer, along with his mother and sister, are absentee landlords of 5,200 acres of cotton and corn fields in an impoverished, largely African American region of Louisiana, according to records examined by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting. The farms, controlled by multiple family-owned businesses, are worth millions: A 1,600-acre parcel sold for $4.3 million in 2012. The Spencer family's farms are also subsidized by the federal government. From 2008 through 2015, the Spencers received $2 million in US farm subsidy payments, according to federal data.

Clio, Muse of History, also known by her Marvel Superhero name, The Proclaimer (!), certainly does have a weird sense of humor.
(c) 2017 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote...

"We have come out of the time when obedience, the acceptance of discipline, intelligent courage and resolution, were most important, into that more difficult time when it is a person's duty to understand the world rather than simply fight for it."
~~~ Ernest Hemingway

Why And How To Bring Environmental And Peace Movements Together
By David Swanson

If war were moral, legal, defensive, beneficial to the spread of freedom, and inexpensive, we would be obliged to make abolishing it our top priority solely because of the destruction that war and preparations for war do as the leading polluters of our natural environment.

I happened to read a report this week from a U.S. environmental think tank that advocates for the U.S. military to blow up trucks full of oil and gas. The trucks belong to ISIS, and the argument is that bombing trucks does less damage than bombing oil wells, and that - if you add in vague social and economic factors rather ludicrously quantified with numerical pseudo-precision - bombing trucks does less damage than doing nothing. The option of working nonviolently for peace, disarmament, aid, and environmental protection is not considered.

If we don't start considering new options, we're going to run out of options entirely. The roughly $1 trillion that the United States puts into militarism each year is the number one way in which war kills and the source of an infinity of not-yet-considered options. Tiny fractions of U.S. military spending could end hunger, the lack of clean water, and various diseases globally. While converting to clean energy could pay for itself in healthcare savings, the funds with which to do it are there, many times over, in the U.S. military budget. One airplane program, the F-35, could be canceled and the funds used to convert every home in the United States to clean energy.

We're not going to save our earth's climate only as individuals. We need organized global efforts. The only place where the resources can be found is in the military. The wealth of the billionaires does not even begin to rival it. And taking it away from the military, even without doing anything else with it, is the single best thing that we could do for the earth. The U.S. military is the leading consumer of petroleum around, the third-greatest polluter of U.S. waterways, the top creator of superfund environmental disaster sites.

Pre-presidential campaign Donald Trump signed a letter published on December 6, 2009, on page 8 of the New York Times, a letter to President Obama that called climate change an immediate challenge. "Please don't postpone the earth," it said. "If we fail to act now, it is scientifically irrefutable that there will be catastrophic and irreversible consequences for humanity and our planet."

Among societies that accept or promote war making, those consequences of environmental destruction will likely include yet more war making. It is of course false and self-defeating to suggest that climate change simply causes war in the absence of any human agency. There is no correlation between resource scarcity and war or environmental destruction and war. There is, however, a correlation between cultural acceptance of war and war. But this world - and especially certain parts of it, including the United States - is very accepting of war, as reflected in the belief in war's inevitability.

Wars generating environmental destruction and mass-migration, generating more wars, generating further destruction is a vicious cycle we have to break out of by protecting the environment and abolishing war.

Toward that end, many of us are planning an event in Washington, D.C., in late September that will bring together leading environmental and peace activists. You are encouraged to sign up and participate in #NoWar2017: War and the Environment.

We're also taking a flotilla for peace and the environment to the edge of the Pentagon in the lagoon off the Potomac River. If you don't have a kayak we'll get you one. Sign up here. Peace and planet! No more oil for wars!
(c) 2017 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

The reality is that Barack Obama is a big draw. No one comes close to playing such a role.
He can get big media, attract large audiences, and raise large sums of money for the civic groups.

Barack Obama: What's He Waiting For?
By Ralph Nader

The most popular Democratic leader by far is still former President Barack Obama. Despite this popularity, many of the signature accomplishments of his modest legacy are being brutishly unraveled - being repealed, suspended or slated for extinction - by the Trumpsters. Donald Trump seems to revel in the destruction of consumer, investor, environmental, work and public land protections and standards. Whether at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration or the Securities and Exchange Commission, Trump's big-business friends are running the very agencies tasked with regulating them.

Trump vehemently supports breaking the Iran nuclear accord - one of Obama's highpoints that cooled off what could have been a rush to military conflict in that turbulent region. Abysmally ignorant about its contents, Trump is nonetheless impulsively determined to do just that in last year's presidential campaign, alarming leading military experts.

What should Barack Obama be doing about the unfolding Trumpian nightmares dangerously enveloping so many defenseless and anxious Americans? Tradition has it that outgoing presidents go quietly, do not assail their successor in office, if only because the latter is in a position to strike back. Already, Trump has been actively waging war against his predecessor's legacy.

But there are many other ways in which Obama can respond without getting into a messy Twitter war with the unstable Tweeter-in-Chief. Granted, Obama is spending time laying the groundwork for his presidential library to preserve his past. It is the future of this country that needs his high profile attention. Word has it that he is working with his former Attorney General, Eric Holder, to get candidates and voters ready for next year's crucial Congressional elections. If so, he needs to be more media-visible to get the attention of millions of people.

Here are some ways Obama can strengthen the people's resistance to many of Trump's destructive efforts which harm his own voters as well as those citizens who opposed his candidacy.

He can raise funds to expand the staffs and programs of existing citizen organizations straining to preserve and defend conditions that help people from all backgrounds. Obama, as president, went to nearly five hundred major fundraisers outside Washington to court campaign donors. By contrast, fundraising for civic action groups, ranging from civil rights/liberties to consumer, environmental and health initiatives, will not be dissipated on gouging political consultants, empty television ads and cowardly candidates unwilling to speak truth to power.

He can elevate already declared positions to block Trump and his Wall Street collaborators from words to action. For example, earlier this year over 100 outdoor-recreation companies - led by Patagonia and REI - paid for full-page advertisements telling Trump in no uncertain terms to lay off the public lands. Obama can nudge them to hire some full-time lobbyists on Capitol Hill to provide them with early alerts and guidance as the looming assault on national forests, wilderness areas and national parks gets underway. Big majorities of Americans agree with these companies, but they are not organized to focus on a handful of Senators and Representatives who need some firm education.

Obama can help start new civic advocacy groups. He has close contacts with people who are very rich and share his views. For example, there needs to be new organizations filling important vacuums on such important matters as what the Trump FCC wants to do to the Internet (end net neutrality), to increase concentration of ownership in the mass media - which is already in a few giant corporate hands - and to deliberately ignore the 1934 Communications Act which conditions licenses on providing public interest programming.

There needs to be additional civic groups to propose good directions and to oppose Trump's forthcoming reduction of taxes for the rich, and, very importantly, to organize prominent retired military, national security and diplomatic officials who are against aggressive wars and seek dynamic diplomacy to wage peace, and to move toward full Medicare for all with free choice of doctor and hospital - with more efficient and better outcomes.

The reality is that Barack Obama is a big draw. No one comes close to playing such a role. He can get big media, attract large audiences, and raise large sums of money for the civic groups. The civil society has built and protected our democracy throughout history. Moreover, he can surely elevate public morale in an era of Trumpian gloom, flakery and attract new leadership to invigorate a leaderless Democratic Party down to the local levels.

If you agree, start petitions with your own ideas for Obama getting with America's future and not just chronicling his eight year presidency's past. His silent withdrawal has been astonishing and disturbing. He doesn't yet realize what a historically crucial role he can play in the next few years.
(c) 2017 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book is Unstoppable, and "Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).

The Dead Letter Office...

Al gives the corporate salute

Heil Trump,

Dear Chef der Polizei Thomas,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your orders to stand the police down while the Nazis went berserk, 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 "Police 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 Fuehrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuehrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 09-23-2017. We salute you herr Thomas, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

There is already enough evidence to impeach Trump on grounds of abuse of power, obstruction of justice, and violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution

Remove Him Now
Donald Trump "has given encouragement and legitimacy to the ugliest in America."
By Robert Reich

We have endured Donald Trump for 7 months. Although he has had few legislative victories, he has almost single-handedly destroyed the moral authority of the presidency of the United States at home and abroad, brought us to the brink of a nuclear war without consulting anyone, and sown division and hatred.

He has given encouragement and legitimacy to the ugliest in America.

How can this nation endure another 41 months of this man?

We can't wait for Robert Mueller's evidence of Russian collusion. Even if Mueller finds that some of Trump's aides colluded, Mueller might well find that Trump had "plausible deniability." Top guns often arrange wrongdoing so the they can plausibly deny they knew it was occurring. That's the art of the deal.

Let's be clear. There is already enough evidence to impeach Trump on grounds of abuse of power, obstruction of justice, and violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution.

There is already enough evidence of mental impairment to invoke the 25th amendment.

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy.

I know, Republicans are in control of Congress. But this is no license for Trump to destroy the nation we love.

I know, removing Trump would mean having Mike Pence as president. But a principled right-winger is better for America and the world than an unhinged sociopath.

Republican as well as Democratic members of the House and Senate must commit themselves to removing this president.

Those of you represented by Democrats in the House or Senate must get their commitment to remove him, as soon as possible.

Those of you represented by Republicans in the House or Senate must let them know that you will campaign vigorously against them in 2018 unless they commit to removing Trump as well.

It is time to end this disgrace.
(c) 2017 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 website is

California Rep. Jackie Speier tweeted last week that Trump "is showing signs of erratic behavior and mental instability that place the country in grave danger."

It's Time to Talk About Trump's Mental Health
By Eugene Robinson

How unstable and divorced from reality is President Trump? We've reached the point where the nation has the right and the need to know.

We're not accustomed to asking such questions about our presidents. We don't know how to even begin inquiring into a president's mental health, so we rationalize aberrant behavior as being part of some subtle strategy. We say that Trump is cleverly playing to his base, or employing the "madman theory" of foreign relations, or simply being unpredictable to gain an advantage by keeping everyone off balance.

But if Trump were really playing three-dimensional chess, presumably he'd be getting things done. His approval ratings would be rising rather than falling. Allies in Congress would be expressing admiration rather than increasing dismay.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) hit a nerve Thursday when he said that Trump "has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence" needed in a president. That indictment was significant because Corker, who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, is a respected Capitol Hill veteran who chooses his words carefully - and who thus far has been willing to give Trump a chance. Corker said he feared that "our nation is going to go through great peril" and called for "radical change" at the White House.

Democrats have been slightly more plain-spoken. Rep. Adam B. Schiff told CNN on Sunday that "I certainly think that there's an issue with the president's capability." And fellow California Rep. Jackie Speier tweeted last week that Trump "is showing signs of erratic behavior and mental instability that place the country in grave danger."

Speier went so far as to call for action under the 25th Amendment, which allows the vice president and the Cabinet to relieve the president of his "powers and duties" if he is unable to discharge them.

Trump's performance last week following the Charlottesville incident was indeed alarming, the problem being not just what he said but how he said it. After initially blaming the violence - which led to the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer - on "many sides," Trump reversed course and specifically condemned neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan - but looked like the reluctant star of a hostage video. Then the next day, Trump went back to blaming "both sides" in what can only be called an angry, red-faced rant.

We should assume that the ugliness we heard from Trump about Charlottesville reflects his true feelings. And we can conclude that he failed to grasp how jarring those sentiments would sound to most Americans' ears.

Anyone can have a bad day. But according to many published reports, Trump often erupts into rage - especially when he sees something he doesn't like on the cable news shows he is said to watch compulsively.

In his Twitter postings, he increasingly lashes out in ways that are counterproductive. I can see some method behind his incessant ranting about "fake news," which may actually help him with his political base. But why attack Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) whose help the president needs if he is to get legislation passed or nominees approved? Why campaign against Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who has been a frequent critic but ended up supporting Trump on health care? Is Trump unable to imagine how other GOP senators - whose votes he needs if he is to get anything done - are going to react?

I have spoken with people who have known Trump for decades and who say he has changed. He exhibits less self-awareness, these longtime acquaintances say, and less capacity for sustained focus. Indeed, it is instructive to compare television interviews of Trump recorded years ago with those conducted now. To this layman's eyes and ears, there seems to have been deterioration.

I am not professionally qualified to assess the president's mental health; psychiatrists and psychologists who have the proper credentials and experience to do so are silenced by ethical rules. The stakes are so high, however, that the officials who work alongside Trump and observe him closely bear a tremendous responsibility. There is a huge difference between sounding as unhinged as North Korea's Kim Jong Un and actually being that unstable.

It is of some comfort that Trump is surrounded by levelheaded military men - Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and Chief of Staff John Kelly - who are unlikely to do anything rash. But no one elected them.

It is uncomfortable to talk about the president's mental health. But at this point it is irresponsible not to.
(c) 2017 Eugene Robinson writes a regular column for The Washington Post.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Jimmy Margulies ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Trump Says Sun Equally To Blame For Blocking Moon
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)-Attacking the media for its "very unfair" coverage of Monday's solar eclipse, Donald J. Trump said on Saturday that the sun was equally to blame for blocking the moon.

"The fake news is covering the eclipse from the sun's side instead of the moon's side, but if you look at it from the moon's side the sun is blocking the moon's side," he said. "There are so many sides you can't count all the sides." Additionally, Trump tore into the sun itself, calling it a "showboat" for its role in the solar eclipse.

"The sun thinks the world revolves around it," Trump said. "Sad."

Trump said the sun was a "big problem" that his predecessor, Barack Obama, did nothing to solve, but that that situation was about to change.

"It will be handled-we handle everything," Trump said, adding that a preemptive military strike on the sun was "very much on the table."
(c) 2017 Andy Borowitz

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Issues & Alibis Vol 17 # 32 (c) 08/25/2017

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