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In This Edition

Naomi Klein reports, "The Amazon Is On Fire-Indigenous Rights Can Help Put It Out."

Jesse Jackson warns, "Violent White Supremacists Threaten Basic Civil Rights-And Our Lives."

Glen Ford wonders, "Is Warren Talented Enough To Betray The People As Masterfully As Obama?"

Jim Hightower asks, "Just Who Got Trump's Farm Bailouts?"

Juan Cole says, "France Upstages Trump At G7 By Inviting Iran To Salvage Nuclear Deal."

John Nichols says, "No Member Of Congress Should Visit Israel Until All Members Are Welcome."

James Donahue warns, "Trump: 'I am the Chosen One.'"

William Rivers Pitt says, "Insulin Prices Killed Josh Wilkerson. Now His Mother Is Taking On Big Pharma."

David Suzuki finds, "Captive Breeding Only Works When Animals Can Go Home."

Charles P. Pierce concludes, "Joe Biden Promises Not To Rock The Boat. It Might Make Him President."

David Swanson returns with, "Love It Or Leave It."

Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich returns with, "The 5-Step CEO Pay Scam."

Jane Stillwater explores, "Real Patriotism."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion considers, "Democrat Party: Moving Left Vs. Remaining Moderate," but first Uncle Ernie sez, "If Reelected Lying Donald Has Plans To Cut Medicare And Social Security."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of R.J. Matson, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Raul Arboleda, Stevan Baird, Jessie Opoien, SOPA Images, Joshua Lott, Lola Gomez, Library of Congress, Screenshot, Jane Stillwater, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

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

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

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If Reelected Lying Donald Has Plans To Cut Medicare And Social Security
By Ernest Stewart

"Mr. Trump, you are not going to have a second term." ~~~ Bernie Sanders

"The Democratic Party is making two huge mistakes right now - and they're related, both in terms of the muddled, backward-looking thinking and the cluelessness about how to communicate to the American people. Democratic leaders are still blocking impeachment in the House - based on a bevy of mistaken arguments rooted in a misremembered past - and blocking a debate on climate change in the 2020 presidential campaign. That too is based on a visionless miasma of misdirection that includes debate rules reformed to fight the last war, the continued influence of donations from the fossil fuel industry, and Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez's myopic claim that it's "just not practical." ~~~ Paul Rosenberg

"We believe that negative synergies between deforestation, climate change, and widespread use of fire indicate a tipping point for the Amazon system to flip to non-forest ecosystems in eastern, southern and central Amazonia at 20-25% deforestation." ~~~ Carlos Nobre

You may recall that during his 2016 campaign Lying Donald promised he wouldn't cut Medicare and Social Security. Remember? Well, guess what, he has plans to do so after his reelection. That's right, he plans to destroy Medicare and Social Security in order to pay for his tax cuts for the uber wealthy.

The New York Times reported this week that, "with the budget deficit set to surpass $1 trillion in 2020 thanks in large part to Trump's tax cuts and trade war, Republicans and right-wing groups are pressuring the president to take a sledgehammer to Social Security and Medicare, widely popular programs Trump vowed not to touch during his 2016 campaign."

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) told the Times that "his party has discussed cutting Medicare and Social Security with Trump and said the president has expressed openness to the idea. We've brought it up with President Trump, who has talked about it being a second-term project."

Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), chimed in to the Times, "It's going to take presidential leadership to cut Social Security and Medicare, and it's going to take courage by the Congress to make some hard votes. We can't keep kicking the can down the road."

Speaking of kicking things down the road, I suggest that we kick Lying Donald, Thune and Barrasso down the road and off of a high cliff!

At present the only thing standing in Lying Donald's way is the Democratically controlled house. Remind your Con-gress person about the consequences of grasping that "third rail."

In Other News

You may recall back around the turn of the century we were told that we had until 2100 until we reach no return on stopping global warming. 5 years later it dropped to 2075. Last year the United Nations said the new date was 2030. Of course, that was before Lying Donald and that moron down in Brazil Jair Messias Bolsonaro came along. President Bolsonaro who egged the farmers and ranchers to burn the Earths lungs to the ground releasing billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the sky. Now it seems, there's a growing consensus that the next 18 months will be critical in dealing with the global heating crisis, among other environmental challenges.

Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that to keep the rise in global temperatures below 1.5C this century, emissions of carbon dioxide would have to be cut by 45% by 2030.

But today, observers recognise that the decisive, political steps to enable the cuts in carbon to take place will have to happen before the end of next year.

The idea that 2020 is a firm deadline was eloquently addressed by one of the world's top climate scientists, speaking back in 2017.

"The climate math is brutally clear: While the world can't be healed within the next few years, it may be fatally wounded by negligence until 2020," said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founder and now director emeritus of the Potsdam Climate Institute.

The sense that the end of next year is the last chance saloon for climate change is becoming clearer all the time.

"I am firmly of the view that the next 18 months will decide our ability to keep climate change to survivable levels and to restore nature to the equilibrium we need for our survival," said Prince Charles, speaking at a reception for Commonwealth foreign ministers recently.

As the US is the biggest polluter on the planet and with Lying Donald ducking out of the G7 climate meeting I don't see healthy, happy times ahead, do you, America?

And Finally

Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez is continuing the work of the last two DNC chairpersons by going against the will and the needs of the people by denying a debate amongst the candidates for the greatest problem in the history of the mankind, and no, I don't mean Lying Donald but Global Warming. I knew when Barry appointed him over what the people wanted, Keith Maurice Ellison that the corpo-rat fix was in.

In a continuing line from Debbie Wasserman Schultz who over came the will of the people and instead of giving us Bernie, shoved Hilary down our throats, and didn't that work out well, to Donna Brazile (who now works for Fox News) who took over after Schultz and tried to cover up her complicity in electing Lying Donald. Tom, like Debbie and Donna carries on the Democrat tradition of serving their corpo-rat puppet masters instead of the people.

So guess who wins this week's Vidkun Quisling Award? That's right, the head of the DNC Tom Perez wins hands down!

Keepin' On

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


12-11-1932 ~ 08-28-2019
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So how do you like Trump so far?
And more importantly, what are you planning on doing about it?

Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 2019 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

Colombian natives and activists protested against the government of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro
over the fires in the Amazon rainforest, in front of the Brazilian consulate in Bogota, Colombia, on August 23, 2019

The Amazon Is On Fire-Indigenous Rights Can Help Put It Out
Colonialism is setting the world on fire. Taking leadership from the people who have been resisting its violence for centuries, while protecting non-extractive ways of life, is our best hope of putting out the flames.
By Naomi Klein

It was an epic case of projection. Lashing out at the attacks on his Amazon-incinerating policies, Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro accused French President Emmanuel Macron of having a "colonial mindset."

The not even vaguely funny joke is that it is Bolsonaro who has unleashed a wave of unmasked colonial violence inside his country. This is a politician who came to power railing against indigenous people, casting their land rights as an unacceptable barrier to development in the Amazon, where cultures intrinsically linked to the rainforest have consistently resisted mega projects and the expanding frontier of agribusiness. "If I become president there will not be a centimeter more of indigenous land," he said, while ominously declaring that "we're going to give a rifle and a carry permit to every farmer."

Much as Trump's relentless anti-immigrant rhetoric has emboldened white nationalists to commit real-world hate crimes, Christian Poirier of Amazon Watch explains that in Brazil, "Farmers and ranchers understand the president's message as a license to commit arson with wanton impunity, in order to aggressively expand their operations into the rainforest." According to Brazil's National Institute for Space Research, deforestation in the Amazon this July went up by a staggering 278 percent compared to the same month last year (the institute's director was promptly fired after sharing these and other inconvenient findings).

Such a powerful sense of impunity has permeated the region that ranchers have held "fire days," coordinating when they set land ablaze, and attacks on indigenous communities have seen an alarming escalation. This atmosphere of lawlessness, moreover, surrounds Bolsonaro's entire administration: Many Brazilians consider the 2018 presidential elections to have been stolen from Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, by far the most popular politician in the country. Da Silva couldn't run because he was locked up after a corruption trial that has since been revealed to have been rife with collusion and irregularities, a process presided over by the judge who went on to become Bolsonaro's own justice minister.

The arsonists of the Amazon are driven by many factors - chief among them the quest for profits from beef, soy, and lumber. But beneath them all is the very thing Bolsonaro accuses his critics of possessing: the "colonial mindset."

By no means unique to Brazil's landed oligarchy, this mindset is grounded in the belief that European-descended settlers have a manifest destiny to profit from an ever expanding frontier; when indigenous people stand in the way, they must be removed, by any means necessary. Bolsonaro summarized this brutal belief system in stark terms two decades ago: "It's a shame that the Brazilian cavalry hasn't been as efficient as the Americans, who exterminated the Indians."

This sense of divine entitlement to other people's land in the name of progress is driving the arson in the Amazon - and it is driving the planetary-scale arson that has created the global climate emergency as well.

Put simply, a great deal of the coal, oil, and gas that we must leave in the ground if we want a habitable climate lies under land to which indigenous people have an ancestral and legal claim. The willingness by governments around the globe to violate those international protected rights with impunity is a central reason why our planet is in a climate emergency.

This is not just about Bolsonaro. Recall that one of Trump's first acts as president was to sign executive orders pushing through the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, two fossil fuel projects fiercely opposed by indigenous people in their path. And now there's Trump's new obsession with purchasing Greenland, an indigenous-controlled territory alluring to his administration mainly because melting ice linked to climate breakdown is freeing up trade routes and newly accessible stores of fossil fuels. From within his own colonial mindset, Trump feels it's his right grab the island, much like everything else he feels entitled to grab.

The violation of indigenous rights, in other words, is central to the violation of our collective right to a liveable planet. The flip side of this is that a revolution in respect for indigenous rights and knowledge could be the key to ushering in a new age of ecological equilibrium. Not only would it mean that huge amounts of dangerous carbon would be kept in the ground, it would also vastly increase our chances of drawing down carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in well cared-for forests, wetlands, and other dense vegetation.

There is a growing body of scientific research showing that lands under indigenous control are far better protected (and therefore better at storing carbon) than those managed by settler governments and corporations. Of course, indigenous leaders have been telling us about this link between their rights and the planet's health for centuries, including the late Secwepemc intellectual and organizer Arthur Manuel (particularly in his posthumously published book, "The Reconciliation Manifesto"). Now we are hearing this message directly from the people who make their home in our planet's burning lungs. "We feel the climate changing and the world needs the forest," Handerch Wakana Mura, an Amazonian tribal leader, told a reporter.

Earlier this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change issued a Special Report on Climate Change and Land, which stressed the importance of strengthening indigenous and community land rights as a key climate change solution. A broad coalition of Indigenous organizations greeted the findings with a statement that began, "Finally, the world's top scientists recognize what we have always known . . . We have cared for our lands and forests - and the biodiversity they contain - for generations. With the right support we can continue to do so for generations to come."

As the various candidates vying to lead the Democratic Party prepare for CNN's climate crisis town hall on Sept. 4 - a first in any presidential electoral cycle - we are sure to hear about the need for a rebooted Civilian Conservation Corps to expand forested land and rehabilitate wetlands. It will be interesting to hear whether any of the candidates highlight the central role of indigenous rights in the success of that vast undertaking.

Because colonialism is setting the world on fire. Taking leadership from the people who have been resisting its violence for centuries, while protecting non-extractive ways of life, is our best hope of putting out the flames.

(c) 2019 Naomi Klein is an award"winning journalist and syndicated columnist. Naomi Klein's book "On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal" will be published in September by Simon & Schuster. On September 9, she will appear with Greta Thunberg at an event hosted by The Intercept. To read all her latest writing visit You can follow her on Twitter: @NaomiAKlein.

Karina Cardoso and Linda Nevarez hold their cellphone flashlights up
during an Aug. 4 vigil in El Paso for the victims of the Walmart shooting.

Violent White Supremacists Threaten Basic Civil Rights-And Our Lives
The federal government can largely stamp out domestic terrorism-or fan the flames.
By Jesse Jackson

Every right we have fought for and won since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his monumental "I Have a Dream" speech 56 years ago this Wednesday is under unrelenting attack and in grave peril - from the right to drink fresh water and breathe clear air, to the right of workers to organize for better wages and safer conditions to the right to vote without interference from "enemies foreign and domestic" to the rights of women, children, the LGBTQ community and immigrants.

But it's not just our rights that are in danger.

It is our very lives.

After the horrendous mass shooting in El Paso, Texas by a white supremacist - who drove more than 600 miles to the city with the explicit purpose of slaughtering Latinos in response to the mythical "invasion" President Donald Trump and the right ranted about - new attention has been paid to the growing violence of white supremacists.

In the few weeks since El Paso, six white supremacists have been arrested for plotting violent attacks. The Anti-Defamation League reports that white extremists killed 50 people last year - people of all races.

Some compare the threat posed by white supremacists here at home to the terrorist threat posed by ISIS or al-Qaida. What too often is overlooked, as MSNBC commentator Chris Hayes noted in his show last Friday, is that white terrorist violence has been part of the American experience from the beginning.

Hayes notes that the first real terrorist cells in the U.S. arose after the Civil War as a response by white southerners to the freeing of slaves. When slaves became free men, the power of the white establishment in the South was threatened.

The reaction was violent - with community leaders joining to create terrorist cells - most of which became known as the Ku Klux Klan. To preserve white dominance, the Klan launched a wave of terror against blacks and their white allies across the South, including lynching, murder, abduction and rape.

Hayes cites the 2,000 murders in the state of Kansas in the lead-up to the 1868 election, designed to terrorize potential black voters, with the explicit aim of sustaining white power.

When Ulysses S. Grant became president, Congress passed legislation in 1870 - the Enforcement Acts - that empowered the federal government to respond to the wave of terror.

For the first time, the newly created Department of Justice began prosecuting the Klan in federal courts, backed by federal troops on the ground in the South. They made great progress against the Klan until a political compromise that led to the withdrawal of federal troops and the reassertion of "states' rights."

That opened the floodgates to a wave of terrorist attacks launched by the Klan and others against blacks that enforced apartheid across the south.

White terrorism goes hand in hand with slavery.

White slave owners were in constant fear of slave revolts and on constant guard against slaves running away to seek their freedom. Slave patrol militias - made up of volunteers from the leading slave-owning families of the South - were created to police the plantations, to track down runaway slaves and to put down any insurrection.

Again, violence - from whipping to murder - was employed routinely by the slave patrols.

The Second Amendment - the right of people to join militias and bear arms - was added to the Constitution in large part to protect the right of slave owners to sustain the slave patrol militias.

In 1788, when Virginia met to consider ratification of the Constitution, slave owners attacked the Constitution for giving the federal government the right to organize militias.

At the time, slaves outnumbered the white population in much of eastern Virginia.

James Madison wrote the Second Amendment largely to protect the rights of slave owners to enforce the reign of terror against slaves in the South. It had nothing to do with the right of individuals to bear arms, because blacks - free or enslaved - were prohibited from owning and bearing arms across the South.

Today when demagogues like Trump fan the fears of an "invasion" of Latinos and blacks that he believes will erode white dominance, white supremacist violence is once more on the rise.

As Hayes argues, when the federal government acts to condemn and to prosecute this domestic terrorism, it can largely stamp it out. But when it fans the flames or turns its back or leaves it to the states that terrorism can easily get out of control.

Today, America is still wrestling with how and whether it will grow out of its racial divides.

By fanning the flames of those divides, Trump is dangerously choosing to feed an increasingly violent white supremacist reaction.

(c) 2019 Jesse Jackson is an African-American civil rights activist and Baptist minister. He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 and served as shadow senator for the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1997. He was the founder of both entities that merged to form Rainbow/PUSH.

Is Warren Talented Enough To Betray The People As Masterfully As Obama?
By Glen Ford

Elizabeth Warren is seen as a counter Bernie Sanders, but she will melt (like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris) if she stops raising Democrats' expectations to bust corporate power.

If BAR managing editor Bruce Dixon had not passed away in June, he would be having a field day with Monday's New York Times article describing Sen. Elizabeth Warren's assiduous "courting" of big-wig Democrats, assuring them of her rock-hard loyalty to the party, in supposed contrast to Bernie Sanders' call for "a mass movement, a political revolution in this country." The Times makes a convincing case that Warren - now in a three-way tie with Sanders and Joe Biden, according to a new Monmouth Poll - is craftily courting the super-delegates that will cast decisive votes on the second ballot of a brokered convention. Bruce would call it the barking of rival sheep dogs, both of whom are committed to keeping left-leaning voters safely within the Democratic herd.

If the Democratic contest were really about determining which candidate was best-suited to defeat Donald Trump and send a Democratic majority to the Senate, Sanders would be the nominee by acclamation. He and Biden are the only Democrats that polls show beating Trump - but Biden is melting like the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz, and will soon be nothing more than a puddle of gaffes, lies and smirks on the pavement of history. Warren wants to convince the party's gate-keepers that, despite her numerous "plans" to curb corporate power and her recent "I'm with Bernie on Medicare for All" declaration, she can be trusted to put the party's cohesion first.

I have little doubt that Warren, who was a Republican until middle-aged, is capable of jettisoning Sanders' and much of her own campaign promises to get party honchos' nod for the nomination. But, despite the Democratic Party's institutional interest in winning elections, it remains a bought-and-paid-for instrument of the corporate ruling class, whose pocketbooks are paramount. The Lords of Capital would rather the Democrats lose yet again to the unpredictable Trump, than win with Sanders or any other candidate that would seriously challenge the prevailing order: endless austerity and war. Not only do the rulers have no other vision for the future, but they have done fantastically well under perpetual austerity and global warfare, having added nearly 200 billionaires to the ranks just since 2012.

Capitalist economies are not doing well, mired in a "neollberal dead end," as described by John Bellamy Foster in a Monthly Review article, reprinted in this issue of BAR. But, stagnating growth, chronic unemployment and declining worker wages and living standards coexists under this stage of capitalism with the escalating enrichment of the top feeders in the system, as mega-corporations devour all the others in a frenzy of consolidation. Stagnating economies can, indeed, be very good for the rich, who feast off the carnage - but only as long as the populace is convinced that no other alternative is possible, and that they must accept whatever the system offers. Therefore, no break with the austerity regime is permitted, period.

That's why Bernie Sanders is unacceptable to the Lords of Capital - and so is Elizabeth Warren, unless she can convince the ruling oligarchs that she is the biggest fraud since Barack Obama (albeit not nearly as talented) who will renege on every implicit and explicit promise she has made to disrupt the capitalist equilibrium and ameliorate the suffering of the working classes. However, Warren will also begin to melt (like Kamala Harris) if she stops raising Democrats' expectations by joining Sanders in promising to bust corporate power and trash the austerity regime.

The Democrats cannot beat Trump, whose white supremacist bloc is the largest coherent electoral force in the nation, unless they run on a program of austerity-busting. But the capitalist order is too fragile to entertain, and then attempt to crush, popular expectations that have been excited by the nominee of a duopoly party - even if that nominee has sworn to betray her supporters (as Obama did) at the earliest opportunity. A Warren candidacy would only work for the oligarchs if she publicly jettisons her own multitudinous "plans" before the Democratic convention. Otherwise, the people's expectations that the super-majority-backed programs she and Sanders have endorsed could become reality, would soar out of control, creating an unquenchable political crisis for the austerity regime.

The corporate rulers want to run against Trump's racism -- and Russia. Trump wants to run against minority encroachments on white space and privilege - and China. Neither corporate party will tolerate threats to austerity, a stagnant stage capitalist kind of "equilibrium" in which billionaires multiply as a direct result of the Race to the Bottom that has been imposed on the rest of humanity.

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

The "great majority of farmers have gotten zilch from Donald the Dealmaker

Just Who Got Trump's Farm Bailouts?
Rich families cashed in on over half the bailout money set aside for farmers hurt by Trump's trade policies.
By Jim Hightower

Donald Trump loves farmers. We know this because he says so. "Farmers, I LOVE YOU!" he declared in December.

But he's been "loving" them to death, with policies that are causing farm prices to tumble, miring our ag economy in the ditch and creating a rising tsunami of farm bankruptcies.

Then came Trump's doofus of an ag secretary, Sonny Perdue, who publicly insulted farmers by branding them "whiners" for daring to complain about policies causing them to lose income and their farms.

So, as an "I love you" make-up gesture, Trump has been sending big bouquets of money to some of his beloved farmers. Our money. Lots of it - $28 billion so far in what he cynically (and comically) calls a "Market Facilitation Program," otherwise known as a taxpayer bailout.

But Trump Love turns out to be highly selective, with more than half of the government payments going to the biggest farm owners.

The Agriculture Department initially announced a $125,000 limit on the amount any one farm could get, but every Trump deal seems to have a gimmick in it to give a special break to the slickest operators.

The slickum in this deal is that assorted members of a family are allowed to claim that they're owners of the same farm and thus get bailout bucks - even if they do no actual farming and live in New York City!

One Missouri farm family, for example, got $2.8 million worth of subsidy love from Trump, and more than 80 families topped half-a-million in payments.

Meanwhile, the great majority of farmers have gotten zilch from Donald the Dealmaker - and 80 percent of eligible grain farmers (the smaller producers most endangered by his bad policies) have received less than $5,000.

So Trump's "market facilitation" is squeezing the many who are most in need, while helping a few of the largest get even bigger.

(c) 2019 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

Trump breached the Iran deal in 2017, slapped severe sanctions on Iran and
then went around the world strong-arming countries not to buy Iran's petroleum.

France Upstages Trump At G7 By Inviting Iran To Salvage Nuclear Deal
He is the only one who seeks to punish Iran, to increase sanctions. All the others are searching for a solution.
By Juan Cole

In a surprise development, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif suddenly flew to Biarritz on Sunday for meetings on the sidelines of the G7 summit. He clearly was invited at the instance of French President Emannuel Macron, who is still attempting to salvage what he can of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which restricted Iran's enrichment activities.

Zarif held talks with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian.

The treaty was signed between Iran and the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. Trump breached the Iran deal in 2017, slapped severe sanctions on Iran and then went around the world strong-arming countries not to buy Iran's petroleum. All this, even though Iran faithfully lived up to every provision of the treaty. The sanctions have indirectly provoked a crisis in the availability of medicines in Iran.

Le Journal de Dimanche reports that Macron, representing France, Germany, Britain and Japan, said, "One must have a discussion at the summit on how to deal with the Iran dossier; there are real disagreements at the core of G7, with three European powers and Japan having a quite clear position, entirely assuming a rapport with Iran, and the American - who decided to completely change the line."

The paper says the group of four will attempt to convince Iran to backtack on its decision to begin violating, at least in minor ways, some terms of the nuclear deal. In return, they will then press Trump to back away from his current policy of maximum pressure in Iran, which has resulted in a de facto blockade on Iranian petroleum sales.

Franceinfo quotes former French ambassador to Iran, Francois Nicoullaudas saying that something big must be up.

"Zarif is a man of compromise, closely monitored by the radical conservatives," he said. "He is taking a big gamble in even coming to Biarritz. If he came, it must be because he has something waiting for him there."

Nicoullaud continued, "It is unthinkable that France did not forewarn the US, even though that would certainly have provoked a crisis. Trump did not approve of the notion of such a contact, but he left the French free to intervene. It must be said that Trump is isolated at the G7 on this subject. He is the only one who seeks to punish Iran, to increase sanctions. All the others are searching for a solution. The US seems to be saying to France, Go on, then-we'll see. They are very skeptical, but don't block the others from acting."

(c) 2019 Juan R.I. Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia and has given numerous media interviews on the war on terrorism and the Iraq War. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years and continues to travel widely there. He speaks Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.

Congressman Mark Pocan is deeply concerned about the ability of members of Congress to engage in oversight of foreign policy. Jessie Opoien

No Member Of Congress Should Visit Israel Until All Members Are Welcome
By John Nichols

The Israeli government blocked Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., from visiting Israel and the West Bank, Congressman Mark Pocan was one of the loudest objectors. Declaring that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was wrong to deny entry to the first two Muslim women ever elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, the Town of Vermont Democrat argued that "no member of Congress should visit Israel until all members of Congress are welcome."

The co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus also suggested that the travel ban "could (lead to) far more scrutiny" with regard to U.S. financial aid to Israel.

The controversy that has arisen since President Trump pressured Netanyahu into restricting travel by Tlaib and Omar hits close to home for Pocan. "This region is not unfamiliar to me, as I have been there twice, in both Israel and Palestine," noted the congressman, an advocate for a shift in Israeli policies regarding the circumstance of Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Pocan has wrangled in the past with the Israelis over travel restrictions. For several years now, he has been calling for the opening of the Gaza Strip to congressional delegations. In order to advance the cause of diplomacy, and to ensure that there is proper oversight of federal spending in the Middle East, the lawmaker wants members of Congress to be allowed to visit Gaza.

Pocan and Congressmen Hank Johnson, D-Ga., and Dan Kildee, D-Mich., traveled to Israel in 2016 but were denied the opportunity to cross into Gaza by the Israeli Coordination and Liaison Administration. Last year, they wrote a letter to Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, in which they called on the Israeli government to permit them to enter the Palestinian region. The congressmen expressed concern that "the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza territory is quickly worsening, with nearly 1 million Gaza residents now dependent on emergency food assistance, in large part due to a decade-old land, sea and air blockade."

Expressing concern about past "obstruction" of their requests to visit Gaza, the congressmen described their "obligation to exercise oversight over U.S. tax dollars" and concluded the letter with an explicit request. "Given the current situation in Gaza, our attention is required now more than ever," they explained. "We can think of no reason to deny us access to Gaza again, short of making sure that outside officials not see the worsening conditions. With that, we respectfully request that the Israeli government expedite and approve our request to enter the Gaza Strip for the purpose of observing and evaluating the U.S.-financed humanitarian work."

Pocan and his colleagues were addressing a very real issue: the ability of members of Congress to engage in oversight of foreign policy.

This is what makes the Israeli decision to bar Tlaib and Omar so concerning. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz: "Assessments in the United States indicate that Israel was inspired to reconsider its decision due to pressure from the White House." Barak Ravid, the senior diplomatic correspondent for Israel's Channel 13 News, tweeted Thursday morning, "There is only one reason for Netanyahu's backtracking today - the pressure from Donald Trump."

Trump's hectoring on this issue has been shameful, and by all evidence it extends from his crude (and constantly restated) bias against the first two Muslim American women elected to the Congress: Tlaib, whose parents were Palestinian immigrants, and Omar, who came to the United States as a refugee from Somalia. (Israel said that it would permit Tlaib to visit her 90-year-old grandmother, who lives in the West Bank, if the congresswoman would accept restrictions on political statements made during the trip. Tlaib rejected the limits, saying: "Silencing me and treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me. It would kill a piece of me. I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in - fighting against racism, oppression and injustice.")

Tlaib and Omar have criticized Israeli policies and expressed support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which seeks to pressure Israel to change its policies. But even those who disagree with the positions taken by Tlaib and Omar - including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which criticized the travel ban - recognize that elected members of the United States Congress have a right and a responsibility to visit regions of the world where U.S. policies are felt.

A particular concern involves Omar's role as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who serves on its subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations and also on its subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. An outspoken human rights advocate, Omar has been critical of the policies of many countries, including Saudi Arabia. Setting a precedent that she can be banned from traveling because of her criticism of a country's policies is atrocious. And that the president of the United States would promote such a ban represents a doubly atrocious assault on the basic premises of our system of checks and balances.

(c) 2019 John Nichols writes about politics for The Capitol Times. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Trump: "I am the Chosen One"
By James Donahue

America's controversial president Donald Trump has itched his way into nearly declaring himself to be God's Messiah returned to Earth, and it is alarming a lot of people.

Mr. Trump on August 21 tweeted a quote by Newsmax television personality Wayne Allyn Root as saying "President Trump is the greatest President for Jews and for Israel in the history of the world . . . Jewish people in Israel love him . . . like he's the King of Israel."

" In their bid for the sensational news edge, some news reports have rephrased the Root quote to read: "he is beloved by Israeli Jews 'like a king' or 'the second coming of God.'" It was probably inevitable that an evangelical group of Trump supporters would jump on the quote, claiming that the Israelis may be considering Trump as "a precondition for the Second Coming of Christ." But Mark Sumner, a writer for Daily Kos, wrote the following day that Trump himself took it that final step. Sumner wrote: "Standing on the South Lawn of the White House on Wednesday afternoon, Trump set out to explain why he, and only he, can solve the trade war with China. And no. The answer was not "because I created this trade war out of my own fundamental misunderstandings of economics and finally recognize that the American consumer is shelling out billions to defend my fragile ego." Instead Trump looked to the sky and declared: "I am the chosen one."

For reference, Sumner quoted White House reporter Andrew Feinberg who was apparently present to hear Trump say it and posted the quote on his webpage.

It may seem difficult to believe that anyone would blatantly stand before the nation's top news staff and declare himself to be "the chosen one." But this man, Trump, appears to have started to consider himself an impenetrable servant of God now that he has had a taste of presiding over the government of one of the most powerful nations on Earth. He seems to have even forgotten that he is on this job only because he was elected to serve and that elections come around every four years. This week he also declared his interest in remaining in the presidency for another six years and called for the removal of the Fourteenth Amendment that guarantees citizenship to all children born in the United States.

It is true that a lot of religious organizations, including the evangelical Christians, are seriously looking for a Second Coming of Christ and consequently are anxious for a final world war to insure His arrival in what appears to be the final hours before our heating planet brings the end of all life.

But Trump now becomes the latest in a long recorded list of at least 71 men who have claimed to have been the risen messiah since Jesus allegedly promised he was coming back some 2,000 years ago. They came from not only the Christian faith but also the Moslem and Hebrew religions as well. All have been living on some kind of promise by a past Messiah that they would return to set things right. King Ben of the House of David in Benton Harbor is yet another alleged messiah who claimed to be coming back although his name is not listed among the 71. The Christians are leaning on a promise in the Book of Revelation that they also would be getting "a new Heaven and a new Earth" out of the deal.

Even more disturbing has been the admission by current Bible scholars that their intense research has failed to find evidence that Jesus ever declared himself to be the Son of God, that he was killed by the Romans and rose from the dead, or that he was any more than an itinerant Hebrew minister who attempted to turn the people of Israel away from false religious doctrine of his day. Some scholars question whether Jesus ever lived at all.

Mr. Trump appears to be setting the stage for a fierce religious following that may lead this nation down a very dark path in the months to come. And what is worse, now that it has been put in his head, Trump may actually believe he is a deity.

(c) 2019 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

"My son died at 27 because his income was insufficient for him to purchase insulin," says Erin Weaver.

Insulin Prices Killed Josh Wilkerson. Now His Mother Is Taking On Big Pharma
By William Rivers Pitt

When Josh Wilkerson was a boy, he would page through his family's church directory to find people celebrating birthdays that day so he could call and wish them, "Happy Birthday!" He played Little League baseball and loved pro wrestling, often pantomiming the faux violence he saw on TV with his three brothers. One time, he peed on his brother's bed after they'd fought and blamed it on spilled apple juice.

He was, in other words, a vibrant, lighthearted kid. "He was normally easygoing and liked to laugh," his mother, Erin Weaver said. "I was always able to tell when his blood sugar would go above average because he would become angry and combative. That wasn't his normal behavior. I'd tell him that I'd like him to test his sugar. He would, and sure enough, his sugar would be high."

Diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), affects more than 100 million people in the U.S. The disease is broken down into three main categories: Type 1, Type 2 and gestational. In January of 2000, Josh was diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes, the rarer form of the disease, which affects 5 percent of people with diabetes. He was 8 years old and lived with the illness for the next 19 years.

On June 10 of this year, Josh began vomiting repeatedly. When he failed to answer repeated phone calls, his fiancee Rose went looking for him. She found him unresponsive in the shower and called paramedics immediately. Josh was suffering from severe diabetic ketoacidosis, a serious complication that arises when there is not sufficient insulin in the body.

His blood sugar, when tested, stood at a lethal 1,700, and his brain was swelling. He was placed in the intensive care unit, where a brain scan revealed he had suffered a series of profoundly damaging strokes. On Friday, June 14, after realizing there was no hope, his family made the excruciating decision to remove him from life support, and he died the next day. He was 27 years old.

Josh Wilkerson had been rationing his insulin because he couldn't afford the $1,200 per month cost of proper care, and it killed him.

The Price of Pain and the Pain of Price

The rationing of needed health care due to high cost is not rare in the U.S., and is growing rapidly within the diabetic community. "Among adults with diagnosed diabetes who were prescribed medication in the past 12 months," reported the CDC this month, "13.2 percent did not take their medication as prescribed, and 24.4 percent asked their doctor for a lower-cost medication. The burden associated with high prescription drug costs remains a public health concern for adults with diagnosed diabetes."

Until he turned 18, Josh was "spoiled" - his mother's word, and a remarkable one when used in the context of vital health care - by his endocrinologist, receiving excellent care in the 10 years after his initial diagnosis. "When he turned 18," his mother said, "he aged out of Pediatric Endocrinology and was put on a long waiting list for a regular endocrinologist. He turned 18 before Obamacare went into effect, and struggled in getting his own insurance."

It was during this time that Josh first began rationing insulin due to cost. After the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Josh's stepfather was able to place him on his insurance, the cost for his health care needs plummeted, and his life improved dramatically.

Josh and Rose, who he met online in a group for people with Type 1 diabetes, were able to save money for an apartment, went to baseball games and enjoyed hiking trips. One evening, by the light of a Virginia Beach sunset, Josh proposed to Rose with a ring he had hidden in a conch shell, and she accepted. He was not rationing his insulin anymore, and his future was as wide open as the horizon beyond that beach.

The better times ended when Josh aged out of his parental insurance coverage under the ACA, and money again became a crisis. Josh "hated asking for money," said his mother. "He told me that he was rationing his insulin only after he made the switch from his prescribed insulin to Walmart ReliOn insulin, which was only $25 a vial. He assured me that he was doing fine, and that he was going to earn some extra money by doing some apartment sitting for his manager." This switch, too, was rationing: A move to a less effective, over-the-counter product due entirely to cost.

"Finances really stressed Josh out," his mother said, "and when Josh got stressed, his sugar level would go up. Josh had real bills. He was still struggling to pay back his student loan. His rent was $1,000 a month. His hourly rate of pay was around $16." In other words, Josh lived the same paycheck-to-paycheck existence endured by millions of people in this "booming" economy. The additional $1,200-per-month burden of medical expenses became too much to bear, and the shame of being unable to financially support himself drove Josh back to the insulin rationing that ultimately ended his life. Inflicted humiliation over money is another common malady these days and does not spare those who are sick.

The Profit Motive

Insulin and its high cost have been much in the news of late, as the price of doses has exploded in recent years to the detriment of millions. Some who are able have been crossing the border into Mexico to buy the life-saving medication. Many of those who are not able to make that trip have fallen into deep financial distress, have rationed their supply or have gone without entirely. Sometimes, like Josh, they die.

"The price of insulin - once modest - has skyrocketed in recent years," reported The Washington Post in January, "making the lifesaving medication a significant, even burdensome, expense, especially for the uninsured and underinsured. The costs are so heavy that they have driven some patients to ration their supplies of the drug in a dangerous gamble with life-threatening consequences."

Insulin was discovered in 1921 by Canadian researchers and patented for the sale price of $3. But the production and sale of the drug have become a profoundly profitable enterprise for Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi-Aventis, three of the largest insulin manufacturers in the world.

The price of insulin has tripled in the last 10 years alone; a 10-millimeter vial of Eli Lilly's Humalog brand of insulin cost $21 in 1996, but costs $275 today. Put in starker financial terms, according to Truthout reporter Mike Ludwig, the price of Eli Lilly's Humalog went "from $2,657 per year to $9,172 from 2009 to 2017: a 345 percent increase."

The other two insulin-producing pharmaceutical giants charge similarly steep prices for their products. People with diabetes often need multiple vials of insulin per month to survive, and costs can mount exponentially at astonishing speed. Blame for these crushing increases in price can be spread between the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries, as well as to middlemen known as pharmacy benefit managers - each of which, predictably, blame the others for increasingly high costs.

"Drug costs in the U.S. are higher than in many European countries," reports Ludwig, "and manufacturers are under increasing public scrutiny for raising the price of specialty medicines like insulin year after year. However, the backroom negotiations that determine the prices insurance plans actually pay for prescription drugs are as confidential as the prices themselves, allowing both sides to accuse the other of gouging customers."

For the moment, there is little recourse to be found for those struggling to manage the cost of living compounded by the ongoing price-gouging practices of these pharmaceutical corporations. A class-action lawsuit against Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi-Aventis over the price of insulin is slowly wending its way through the legal system. President Trump campaigned in 2016 on the need to lower prescription drug prices, but the still-unratified trade deal he negotiated with Canada and Mexico promises to do the opposite.

"The new NAFTA also grants marketing exclusivity for new uses and forms of medicines that already exist on the market," reports Ludwig. "This means pharmaceutical companies can enjoy monopolies on drugs that have existed for years by developing new ways to use or administer them. For example, patents on insulin products have sent health care prices for diabetics through the roof, even though insulin has been around for decades."

A Reckoning of Sorts

Not long after last year's midterm elections, Nicole Holt-Smith carried the ashes of her son, Alec, to the research headquarters of Sanofi Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Like Josh Wilkerson, Alec Smith suffered from Type 1 diabetes. Like Josh, he lost health insurance coverage under the ACA when he turned 26. Like Josh, he rationed his insulin because he could not afford the cost of Sanofi's product. Like Josh, Alec died.

Nicole Holt-Smith was flanked that day by the parents of other young people who had also died because they rationed their insulin due to its cost. "Police blocked protesters from approaching the Sanofi office," reports Ludwig, "but organizers negotiated with them to allow the parents to deliver the ashes of Alec and Antavia Lee-Worsham, who also died while rationing insulin last year. Security guards then turned the parents away at the front door, threatening them with arrest."

Health care activists are not through protesting the pharmaceutical industry over the too-high cost of insulin. T1 International is a nonprofit organization run by people with and impacted by Type 1 diabetes, which aims to advocate for and support others with the disease. Their vision statement reads, "We believe in a world where everyone with Type 1 diabetes - no matter where they live - has everything they need to survive and achieve their dreams."

On September 14, T1 International and its allies will hold a vigil outside the headquarters of Eli Lilly in Indianapolis, Indiana, "to honor those who have died due to the high cost of insulin and to call for pharmaceutical companies to lower the cost of life-sustaining insulin," according to a press release by the organization.

Among the attendees and speakers at the vigil will be family members of those who died from rationing insulin, including Nicole Smith-Holt, mother of Alec Smith. Erin Weaver, mother of Josh Wilkerson, will be there as well.

When asked what she would say to Eli Lilly's board members should she be afforded the chance, Erin replied:

"When the Lilly company was founded in 1876, Col. Eli Lilly was committed to integrity in medicine and care toward the people who need it. According to your own website, you claim to follow '3 Core Values: 1. Integrity, 2. Excellence, 3. Respect for people.' I challenge you to re-examine those core values in light of your recent price gouging of Type 1 diabetics.

Eli Lilly is overcharging people for the sole purpose of making themselves more money. The consumers are the means for Eli Lilly to make large profits, and there is no way out. Insulin is a necessary medicine that Eli Lilly is manipulating to benefit themselves while causing IMMENSE harm and even death to the very people you claim to respect.

My son died at 27 because his income was insufficient for him to purchase all the appropriate, life-saving insulin and supplies he needed and still pay his everyday bills. YOU as a company are directly responsible for his death. Let that sink in. In your goal toward a higher profit margin, you have allowed yourselves to become MURDERERS!! Does that fit into ANY of your three core values?

Your website claims to offer hope. Please re-examine how your core values stated are not being met. You can bring that hope. You can bring integrity back to your company. We live in the United States of America. We can always decide to do better. Your company can decide to do better. My son, Joshua Andrew Wilkerson 1991-2019, wants you to live up to the core values you claim."

Erin Weaver and the family of Josh Wilkerson remain in deepest mourning. For Erin, life has a new and furious focus: Her son's death must be made to count for something beyond another insulin-related square on the obituary pages. She will be in Indianapolis next month to call the wealthy pharmaceutical arbiters of life and death to account for the untimely and utterly unnecessary loss of her beloved son.

"It has to be made to mean something," she tearfully said. "It just has to."

(c) 2019 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co_written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

Burrowing Owls from The Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of B.C.The Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of B.C.

Captive Breeding Only Works When Animals Can Go Home
By David Suzuki

B.C. is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a captive breeding program to protect spotted owls. With an estimated six of the owls left in the wild in Canada, all in B.C., that seems like good news. But while the program includes some habitat protection, the province is also approving logging in habitat the owl needs to survive.

It's a major flaw in government-led conservation efforts. Stories of captive breeding programs that lead to successful animal re-introduction are happy, but they're often born out of sad stories about the animals' plight.

Captive breeding programs are last-ditch efforts to save animals after humans have degraded or destroyed their habitat to the point where it's difficult for them to survive. In almost every case, experts and regulators are aware of the species' decline and the reasons behind it, but calls for habitat conservation go unheeded, or efforts are inadequate to ensure the animals can continue.

Species don't disappear overnight. Activities that degrade and destroy habitat are allowed to continue until a species is driven to point where it can no longer function in the wild and needs human help.

Conservation would work better if land-use management regimes focused on maintaining habitat wildlife needs to survive before it's too late. Instead, we wait until tipping points have been passed and then scramble to capture animals for breeding.

Captive breeding itself is often controversial, riddled with risks. When humans handle wildlife over generations, animals can become semi-domesticated and lose intergenerational knowledge about survival in nature. Once they're re-introduced into the wild, many don't make it.

The odds of captured predators such as tigers and wolves surviving freedom are only 33 per cent, according to recent research, and studies show captive-bred animals are more likely to interact and mate with other captive-bred animals and lose their ability to communicate with wild peers. Another study concluded captive-bred animals may develop behavioural changes such as "decrease in predator avoidance, decrease in foraging abilities, increase in sleeping patterns, decrease in overall activity, and some problems in social behaviors."

The intergenerational effects are biological as well as cultural. One study showed captive breeding can result in genetic changes between captive and wild lineages, and confinement can make animals more susceptible to disease outbreaks. (A tragic lion-breeding program resulted in the deaths of nearly two dozen "struck by a mysterious disease aggravated by inbreeding and a weakened gene pool.")

The main issue is the risk of releasing captive-bred wildlife into degraded habitat that couldn't support it in the first place. Most examples of successful endangered species recovery involve animals facing threats other than habitat loss. Eagles were declining because of DDT contamination until it was banned. Condors were being poisoned by lead in the bodies of the carrion they ate until lead shot was limited.

Some programs pair captive breeding with habitat restoration, such as one run by the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of B.C., which takes an active approach to protecting and enhancing burrowing owl habitat through stewardship programs with landowners and First Nations. The burrowing owl is listed as endangered by the federal government, which says populations in Canada declined by 90 per cent from 1990 to 2000 and a further 643 per cent between 2005 and 2015. The grasslands it and many other species depend on have been all but wiped out by agriculture and development.

As with the spotted owl case and others, most captive breeding programs omit or fail to adequately address the crucial habitat part of the recovery equation. Boreal woodland caribou are being penned in Alberta and British Columbia while status quo oil and gas and logging operations continue to fragment their forest habitat. The provinces are also killing predators such as wolves and competitors such as barred owls as part of recovery initiatives for caribou and spotted owls - a stopgap solution.

Unless captive breeding programs are combined with meaningful habitat protection and restoration initiatives, efforts will be more about show than success.

For the sake of animals taken from the wild, and for staff and volunteers who spend countless hours nurturing wildlife from birth to releasable ages, we must demand that governments work to repair destroyed and fragmented habitat driving many species to the brink.

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

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign

Joe Biden Promises Not To Rock The Boat. It Might Make Him President
"A return to normalcy" has worked before, and it could work again.
By Charles P. Pierce

In the second week of August, the people running Joe Biden's campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination found themselves with a problem that had plagued Biden campaign aides the previous several times he had run for president. The candidate didn't know when to shut up and, the longer he rambled, the more likely he was to do an enthusiastic tarantella on his own dick. Over the previous several days, speaking in public, he had a) mixed up Theresa May and Margaret Thatcher; b) claimed to have spoken to the survivors of the Parkland school shooting as vice president despite it having taken place after he left the vice presidency, and c) said that "poor kids" were just as smart as "white kids," the latter a masterpiece of tone deafness on a par with his memorable 2008 assessment of Barack Obama as "articulate, bright and clean, and a nice guy."

So, with Biden still leading in all the polls, but with Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and (to an extent) Kamala Harris making up ground on him, they took Biden off the campaign trail for a break. This unnerved some of his more lukewarm supporters who already were wondering about Biden's age and his ability to stand up to the rigors of a presidential campaign. But it seems to have worked. After the break, Biden's poll numbers had risen again to where they'd been before the debates began, and before the gaffe gremlin once again had tampered with his wiring. Of course, then he talked about how Bobby Kennedy and Dr. King had been killed in the late 1970s, so there was that.

Joe Biden won't scare the horses.

That is going to be what you get from Biden, because that's what you always get from Biden. The big smile. The blue-collar palaver about Scranton and about how he takes the train every day. And an absolute artist's gift for constructing the almost perfect malaprop. I expect that we will see a number of these short hiatus periods over the primary campaign, especially if he comes out of the early primaries with a solid lead. Eventually, if he wins, they will be seen as a shrewd campaign strategy. The reason for that will be that the short breaks will play into the most compelling reason for Joe Biden to be president: He will bring us back to something resembling a normal functioning government.

Consider. The most glowing line on Biden's political CV is the eight years he spent as Obama's vice president. (It is his previous career as a senator, marked by draconian crime bills, a bank-friendly bankruptcy bill, and the Anita Hill hearings, that have gotten him in trouble.) And the image of the Obama presidency is being transformed with every second that El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago remains in office. The Obama presidency can now be seen as an oasis of blessed calm between two Category 5 political tempests. Obama came in after the disastrous presidency of George W. Bush and before the catastrophic presidency* that we are now enjoying. The further we get from it, the better this image of the Obama years is going to look, and all the better for Joe Biden as it does.

For all the racetrack touts and analytics, Biden has one very strong political advantage going for him. People just want things to get back to normal again. They want a president who isn't manifestly unqualified and clearly half-mad. They want their Twitter accounts to go back to featuring dogs and cute pictures of the grandkids. They want a Congress that can work smoothly enough so that they can go back to ignoring it again. In fact, they'd like a government that can work smoothly enough so that they can go back to ignoring it again. I am not one of these people and, very likely, you're not, either. But there are a helluva lot of them out there, and I suspect Joe Biden appeals to them more than any of his rivals do. He is a president you can forget about, at least for a moment.

The Republican Party had a similar problem back in 1920. A bloodbath of a convention had produced a nominee named Warren Gamaliel Harding, a former newspaper publisher and a senator from Ohio most notable for his taste for whiskey, gambling, and any woman who came within shouting distance. But those weren't the problems. The press in those days let that kind of thing slide. They'd gossip about it, and laugh about it over bourbon in railroad hotels, but nobody would think to print it. These men were, after all, professionals.

No, the problem that the Republicans had was that, for all his many vices, Harding was as dull as dishwater and as dumb as a post. He looked like a president, and he had taken no position on the two most inflammatory issues of the day-Prohibition and women's suffrage-possibly out of conscience. But once he opened his mouth, his audiences were immediately struck down with Dutch Elm Disease. Journalist H. L. Mencken, then at the height of his powers, described Harding as a man "with the face of a moving-picture actor ... and the intelligence of a respectable agricultural implement dealer." And it was on the choice in 1920 between Harding and Democratic candidate James Cox that Mencken wrote his most memorable assessment of electoral democracy.

On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of this land will reach their heart's content at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."
So, what were the Republicans to do with this dead fish of a candidate they'd picked? They looked around and they saw a country still staggering out from under World War I. They saw lynchings and persecutions all over the Jim Crow South, although these they could ignore. They saw Woodrow Wilson's grandiose dream of the League of Nations crumble in the Senate while Wilson himself lay immobile in the White House after a stroke. Wilson's ambitions and the war that had come with him had worn the country out. The Republicans gambled-correctly-that the country was ready for a president who was as dull as dishwater and as dumb as a post, as long as he didn't frighten the horses too much.

Warren G. Harding promised "a return to normalcy." It worked.

They stuck Harding back in Ohio, running the kind of "front-porch" campaign that earlier had worked for Harding's fellow Ohioan, William McKinley. But, in May of 1920, they sent him to Boston to give a speech to the Home Market Club of that city. In that speech, Harding defined himself and his campaign forever.
My countrymen, there isn't anything the matter with world civilization, except that humanity is viewing it through a vision impaired in a cataclysmal war. Poise has been disturbed, and nerves have been racked, and fever has rendered men irrational; sometimes there have been draughts upon the dangerous cup of barbarity, and men have wandered far from safe paths, but the human procession still marches in the right direction. ...

America's present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration; not agitation, but adjustment; not surgery, but serenity; not the dramatic, but the dispassionate; not experiment, but equipoise; not submergence in internationality, but sustainment in triumphant nationality. It is one thing to battle successfully against world domination by military autocracy, because the infinite God never intended such a program, but it is quite another thing to revise human nature and suspend the fundamental laws of life and all of life's acquirements.

My best judgment of America's need is to steady down, to get squarely on our feet, to make sure of the right path. Let's get out of the fevered delirium of war, with the hallucination that all the money in the world is to be made in the madness of war and the wildness of its aftermath. Let us stop to consider that tranquility at home is more precious than peace abroad, and that both our good fortune and our eminence are dependent on the normal forward stride of all the American people. We want to go on, secure and unafraid, holding fast to the American inheritance, and confident of the supreme American fulfillment.

What Harding pitched to the country was what he called "a return to normalcy." (There was some controversy at the time over whether "normalcy" was an actual word, but Harding won that battle, at least in history.) And the country bought it in a huge way. Harding won 37 states and piled up 404 electoral votes. America wanted a president it could rely on and ignore. And that's what it got, until Teapot Dome broke and the administration was exposed as a massive tangle of corruption.

Nevertheless, when Harding died of a heart attack in San Francisco in 1923, he was richly mourned by the entire country. (Rumors of how he died, and with whom, abound to this day, of course.) The lesson here is that, in times of recent peril and strife, being the candidate who is perceived to be least likely to rock the boat has a powerful advantage that should not be dismissed. Gaffes or not, Joe Biden will not scare the horses.

(c) 2019 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote-

"The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced."
~~~ Frank Zappa

Love It Or Leave It
By David Swanson

Imagine a dystopian future in which every person in the United States is given free and total and preventative heath care from whatever doctors and nurses they want, but CNN talking heads pine sorrowfully for their beloved insurance companies.

Imagine that top-quality education from preschool through college is available free to anyone who wants it, but your elderly neighbor is furious because he had to pay for his education, and your local military recruiter is outraged because business is bad.

Imagine full employment with a universal living wage and the right to organize, including for all immigrants, but a billionaire on TV is spitting mad because workers are being "coddled."

Imagine an economy converted to peaceful industries, with every worker aided in the transition, and no more of these catastrophic wars, but a weapons company CEO is on NPR describing the suffering involved in selling off a beloved yacht.

Imagine life becoming easier, less anxious, more enjoyable -- as you un-plug your Tesla from your free solar power and three seconds later pass a gas-burning sports car with a bumper sticker that reads "Socialism sucks!"

Of course, it wouldn't actually suck, and that fact might penetrate the awareness of many people whose televisions go on telling them it sucks. But there would be opponents, no matter what. No matter how well something worked, there would be opponents. And nothing is going to work as well in the age of climate collapse as it would have earlier.

How would you respond to opponents of improvements? What would your bumper stickers read?

"If you don't want healthcare, don't go to the doctor."

"If you hate free school, pay me for it."

"Don't like living wages, donate them."

"Love it or leave it."

Would you tell people to love it or leave it? Would you tell them that good healthcare and schools and clean energy and a high standard of living are what we wave flags and bomb distant families for, just as crappy healthcare and schools and a dirty environment and a low standard of living were what we used to wave flags and bomb distant families for?

Remember when they used to tell you that if you didn't like everything generally sucking you should get up and leave? If they don't like everything being better, should they get up and leave?

Of course not. Because you're not a jerk, and cruelty and nationalism are not compatible with keeping things getting better. Plus, most wealthy countries already have and have long had the supposedly radical innovations that the United States would have just acquired. The only place for your angry Washington Post columnist to decamp to would be an impoverished area of the globe - and unfortunately a major project of a decent wealthy country is going to have to be helping those areas of the globe with actual aid instead of weapons and coups and debts and exploitations. Actual aid does not include shipping them our most deranged inhabitants.

The only place left to run to might be a moon colony, but sadly, a human species that survives will survive on earth, and a human species that survives on earth will have very soon abandoned all fascination with the lunatic idea of moving on to other places.

So, I , for one, if anything good ever happens, will not be telling people to love it or leave it. I'll be telling them to love it or improve it.

Funny. That's just what I'd have wanted them to be telling me all these years.

(c) 2019 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

The Dead Letter Office-

Tom gives the corporate salute

Heil Trump,

Dear Vorsitzender des Democratic National Committee Perez

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and for killing the global warming debate, 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 "Corporate Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 09-28-2019. We salute you Herr Perez, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

The 5-Step CEO Pay Scam
By Robert Reich

Average CEO pay at big corporations topped 14.5 million dollars in 2018. That's after an increase of 5.2 million dollars per CEO over the past decade, while the average worker's pay has increased just 7,858 dollars over the decade.

Just to catch up to what their CEO made in 2018 alone, it would take the typical worker 158 years.

This explosion in CEO pay relative to the pay of average workers isn't because CEOs have become so much more valuable than before. It's not due to the so-called "free market."

It's due to CEOs gaming the stock market and playing politics.

How did CEOs pull this off? They followed these five steps:

First: They made sure their companies began paying their executives in shares of stock.

Second: They directed their companies to lobby Congress for giant corporate tax cuts and regulatory rollbacks.

Third: They used most of the savings from these tax cuts and rollbacks not to raise worker pay or to invest in the future, but to buy back the corporation's outstanding shares of stock.

Fourth: This automatically drove up the price of the remaining shares of stock.

Fifth and finally: Since CEOs are paid mainly in shares of stock, CEO pay soared while typical workers were left in the dust.

How to stop this scandal? Five ways:

1. Ban stock buybacks. They were banned before 1982 when the Securities and Exchange Commission viewed them as vehicles for stock manipulation and fraud. Then Ronald Reagan's SEC removed the restrictions. We should ban buybacks again.

2. Stop corporations from deducting executive pay in excess of 1 million dollars from their taxable income - even if the pay is tied to so-called company performance. There's no reason other taxpayers ought to be subsidizing humongous CEO pay.

3. Stop corporations from receiving any tax deduction for executive pay unless the percent raise received by top executives matches the percent raise received by average employees.

4. Increase taxes on corporations whose CEOs make more than 100 times their average employees.

5. Finally, and most basically: Stop CEOs from corrupting American politics with big money. Get big money out of our democracy. Fight for campaign finance reform.

Grossly widening inequalities of income and wealth cannot be separated from grossly widening inequalities of political power in America. This corruption must end.

(c) 2019 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is

Real Patriotism
Taking a knee at the ABA convention
By Jane Stillwater

While commuting back and forth to the recent American Bar Association convention in San Francisco, I dragged along Seth Rosenfeld's 600-page tome, Subversives, so that I would have something to read on BART during the commute.

Rosenfeld spent years and years in court trying to force the FBI to surrender more than 250,000 pages of documents chronicling J. Edgar Hoover's personal and highly illegal war on everyone in America who dared to think differently than him. What Hoover did back then was totally un-American and disgusting. And yet even today most of us are still brainwashed enough to allow the FBI building in Washington DC to continue to be named after this abdominal man.

Sidebar: Please sign my petition to rename the FBI building. Rename it for who? I don't care. Just pick a name. Any honest and moral person in Washington will do -- if you can find one! Here's the link to my petition. America continues to honor that crook J. Edgar Hoover -- yet no one will give a job to Colin Kaepernick? That's just fracked up!

So when an honor guard presented the colors at the ABA's final assembly of delegates and Robert Simms sang the national anthem, I too took a knee. Hey, you should try it sometime. Nothing I have done in this world makes me feel more patriotic -- than when I am humbly down on one knee expressing my god-given right to dissent.

J. Edgar Hoover would have hated me.

ABA members, however, seemed to think I was doing the right thing -- even if no one else joined me. It was that kind of convention. Lots of diversity.

More highlights from the convention: Did you know that cannabinoids are being legalized federally through a farm bill? Seems that farmers all want to grow hemp now that soy products can no longer be profitably sold to China. Even though Trump is eliminating tariffs on Apple products made in China, he's still willing to screw both America's farmers and the fan club who voted for him.

I also learned that the concept of judicial review is not written into the Constitution. And also that "If we want true justice, we need to make sure that everyone receives equal justice." So true. And we were also reminded of what Justice Sotomayor said about being diplomatic. At the end of the day, she still has to work with the other eight justices at least 40 hours a week -- so they all do need to be polite to each other. Americans also need to learn not to [poop] in their own nests as well. And, like it or not, in these intense times of horrific war-mongering and terrifying climate-change escalation, the entire world is now our nest.

The Chief Justice for our heroic Ninth Circuit federal court also spoke. The Ninth Circuit is famous for holding out in favor of justice over politics. No judge on the court dares to retire for fear that he or she will be replaced by one of the Koch brothers' flying monkeys. "Justice is not a spectator sport."

At another panel, attorneys talked bout Trump v. Hawaii. "The courts must hold the government's feet to the fire -- even with regard to national security." The Nazis were held accountable at Nuremberg. Americans should be held accountable too. "In times of crisis people may say, 'Oh this is different' -- but it is not."

Tell that to J. Edgar Hoover's evil ghost! And take his damn name off the FBI building in DC while you're at it too.

PS: The ABA President's Reception was held at the Contemporary Jewish Museum -- which had an exhibit called "Dark Matter," extolling the virtues of Black America's street culture. Ha! Tell that to the Palestinians whose "Street Culture" is being systematically murdered back in ZionistLand. But the rest of the museum was nice. And it would be unjust of me to equate Jews with Zionists. Jews honor justice. Zionists honor...not sure if they honor anything at all. No wonder Trump and Netanyahu get along so well. They both take a knee to self-aggrandizement.

PPS: Many people compare Donald Trump to Adolph Hitler. Same rhetorical style, same appeal to his minions' base immorality. But I myself compare Trump to Herbert Hoover (as well as J. Edgar) because of Trump's arse-kissing attitude toward the rapacious global elite and also because of his "Let them eat cake" attitude toward America's salt of the earth in the face of America's upcoming Great Depression II.

"So what can we do in the face of this oncoming juggernaut of war, famine, death and pestilence?" you might ask. Our small, individual acts of defiance against injustice really do matter. Whenever you see injustice, for Christ's sake take a knee. Be patriotic!

(c) 2019 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ R.J. Matson ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

As the Democratic presidential primaries heat up and the party hopes to defeat President Trump in 2020, fierce debate has raged about whether it
should stake out more left-wing political positions or remain moderate. The Onion breaks down what's at stake in the debate over the Democratic Party's future.

Democrat Party: Moving Left Vs. Remaining Moderate
The Onion


Moving Left: Replace with Medicare for all

Remaining Moderate: It's unrealistic to believe we can fight death

Foreign Policy:

Moving Left: Respect other nations' right to self-determination

Remaining Moderate: 10% less than whatever Dick Cheney would do

Donor Rewards:

Moving Left: "I Donated" bumper sticker

Remaining Moderate: Ambassadorship to Andorra

Favorite Van Halen Album:

Moving Left: Diver Down

Remaining Moderate: 1984

Climate Change:

Moving Left: The free market shows no signs of solving this problem

Remaining Moderate: Yeah, but it still might


Moving Left: Reform-based

Remaining Moderate: Resume-based

Trade War With China:

Moving Left: When the brazen, uncontrollable Trump administration tosses bricks into the windows of international business, it can't expect tangible results

Remaining Moderate: We should be doing this to Russia instead


Moving Left: Rich individuals pay more

Remaining Moderate: I am rich


Moving Left: Pro

Remaining Moderate: Pro

Chance Of Beating Trump:

Moving Left: Does everyone think he's just going to leave if a Democrat wins?

Remaining Moderate: Seriously, these people really think he's just going to say, "Oh, okay, time to leave," and just waltz out of there? Get real.

(c) 2019 The Onion

The Gross National Debt

The Animal Rescue Site

Issues & Alibis Vol 19 # 33 (c) 08/30/2019

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