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In This Edition

Jane Fonda tells, "Here's What Happened When I Knocked On Doors In Pennsylvania."

Ralph Nader goes, "From Trump Tower To Dictatorial Power."

Glen Ford finds, "Trump Bombs New Silk Road With Tariffs."

Jim Hightower reports, "Here's the Real Deal On 'Medicare for All.'"

Juan Cole concludes, "This Labor Day, US Workers One-Third Poorer Than In 2003-While Top 1% Now Two-Times Richer."

John Nichols finds, "Labor Rights Are Essential Human Rights."

James Donahue remembers, "Living In A Low-Cost Compact Home."

William Rivers Pitt reports, "Monsanto Emails Show Employees Wanted To "Beat The Shit" Out Of Concerned Moms."

David Suzuki wonders, "Let The Children Vote?"

Charles P. Pierce says, "The Cumberland Miners' Fight Is Political-Whether They Like It Or Not."

David Swanson orates, "10 Ways We Pretend War Is Not A Crime And How To Change Them."

Senator Tom Cotton R/AR wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich considers, "The 5 Biggest Corporate Lies About Unions."

Jane Stillwater considers, "American Morality."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst returns with, "Labor Day 19" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "I Warned You Back In 2016, Didn't I?"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Rick McKee, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Tom Tomorrow, Jane Fonda, Jim Watson, Newsbroke, Samuel Boivin, Scott Olson, 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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I Warned You Back In 2016, Didn't I?
By Ernest Stewart

"Trump's erratic behavior is not a surprise to me. I've known the president was showing signs of early-stage dementia back in 2016. I recognized the same symptoms in my mother. I've lived with my parents for about four years, and I've seen her mental health deteriorate. Eventually, she was diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer's and had to be placed in a nursing home because she needs round-the-clock care." ~~~ Manny Otiko

"Stalling hurricanes wreak much more havoc than those that blow through quickly. Dorian definitely fits the pattern that we found in our paper." ~~~ Tim Hall ~ a hurricane researcher with NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies

"Trump's allies like Cotton clearly understand how indefensible Trump's trade war really is. That's why Cotton took the cowardly route and used the men and women of the military to try to cover for Trump's poor decision-making." ~~~ Oliver Willis

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

Back before the 2016 elections I diagnosed Lying Donald with having both Dementia and Alzheimers. He was 8 out ot 10 for symptoms of Dementia but 10 out of 10 for Alzheimers. I did this with 45 year old Psych 101 memories and Web MD. It was very obvious to me that Lying Donald had gone over the edge. It's been so bad lately that even psychiatrists are beginning to sit up and take notice and saying that Lying Donald needs some tests!

For example psychiatrists David M. Reiss and Seth D. Norrholm have written a lengthy analysis of President Donald Trump's behavior over at Medium in which they conclude the president "should undergo a thorough psychiatric evaluation for the sake of American security."

Reiss, who has been a practicing psychiatrist for the past three decades, and Norrholm, who is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine, do not attempt to formally diagnose the president with any specific maladies even though some are quite obvious.

However, they think his behavior is concerning enough to note that the president exhibits symptoms that could be related to "multiple different disorders or syndromes."

"We doubt that few would disagree that, overall, Trump's presentation and the level of Trump's communicative abilities appear to be deteriorating,"
they write. "We definitely believe that based upon his observed behaviors, it is clinically indicated that Trump undergo a full and comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation." The hell you say!

In conclusion they warn that not giving Trump a thorough evaluation will leave America "in an ominous dark place as to Trump's prognosis." His prognosis, doctors, is Lying Donald is a looney-toon that should be locked inside a "rubber room," and not allowed anywhere near the "nuclear football." After he's pushed the button it's far too late for a trip to the "funny farm!"

In Other News

The Bahamas can thank global warming for hurricane Dorians stall overhead! Hurricane Dorian's slow, destructive track through the Bahamas fits a pattern scientists have been seeing over recent decades, and one they expect to continue as the planet warms: hurricanes stalling over coastal areas and bringing extreme rainfall.

Dorian made landfall in the northern Bahamas on Sept. 1 as one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record, then battered the islands for hours on end with heavy rain, a storm surge of up to 23 feet and sustained wind speeds reaching 185 miles per hour. The storm's slow forward motion-at times only 1 mile per hour-is one of the reasons forecasters were having a hard time pinpointing its exact future path toward the U.S. coast.

With the storm still over the islands on Sept. 2, the magnitude of the devastation and death toll was only beginning to become clear. "We are in the midst of a historic tragedy in parts of our northern Bahamas," Prime Minister Hubert Minnis told reporters.

Recent research shows that more North Atlantic hurricanes have been stalling as Dorian did, leading to more extreme rainfall. Their average forward speed has also decreased by 17 percent-from 11.5 mph, to 9.6 mph-from 1944 to 2017, according to a study published in June by federal scientists at NASA and NOAA.

The researchers don't understand exactly why tropical storms are stalling more, but they think it's caused by a general slowdown of atmospheric circulation (global winds), both in the tropics, where the systems form, and in the mid-latitudes, where they hit land and cause damage.

Hurricanes are steered and carried by large-scale wind flows, "like a cork in a stream," said Tim Hall, a hurricane researcher with NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and author of the study. So, if those winds slow down or shift direction, it affects how fast hurricanes move forward and where they end up.

He said scientists suspect the overall slowing of winds is at least partly due to rapid warming of the Arctic. The temperature contrast between the Arctic and the equator is a main driver of wind. Since the Arctic is warming faster than lower latitudes, the contrast is decreasing, and so are wind speeds.

"There is a lot of evidence to suggest this is more than just natural variability," Kossin said.

In a 2018 paper, Kossin showed that the increase in tropical cyclones stalling is a global trend. The magnitude varies by region but is "generally consistent with expected changes in atmospheric circulation forced by anthropogenic emissions," he wrote.

Rising global temperatures also influence storms in other ways: A warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, which means hurricanes can bring more rain, and warmer oceans provide additional energy that can make them stronger.

Hurricane Harvey dumped 60 inches of rain on parts of Texas in 2017 and stalled over the Houston area for days. Hurricane Florence stalled in 2018, flooding parts of coastal North Carolina. Kossin said Hurricane Sandy, in 2012, also took an unusual path that may have been affected by shifting global wind patterns, turning west and slamming into New Jersey instead of being carried eastward, out to sea and away from land, by prevailing westerly winds.

Lying Donald said, "I'm not sure that I've ever heard of a Category 5 hurricane." Even though Dorian is the fifth category 5 hurricane in in 5 years, the fourth since Lying Donald came into office! Gives you the "willies" doesn't it, America?

And Finally

An Arkansas reporter asked Arkansas US Senator Tom Cotton about all the farm bankruptcies in Arkansas because of Lying Donalds trade war with China "Is President Trump hurting the Americans he promised to help?"

"There will be some sacrifice on the part of Americans, I grant you that," Cotton said. (Just not any sacrifice's by Tom or Lying Donald) "But also I would say that sacrifice is pretty minimal compared to the sacrifices that our soldiers make overseas, that our fallen heroes who are laid to rest in Arlington make."
> "You can't compare those two sacrifices," news anchor Gayle King said, seeming taken aback that Cotton would try.

But Cotton doubled down. He claimed that farmers "look at the sacrifices soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines make around the world, and they're willing to bear some of the sacrifices in the short term, to hopefully in the long term ensure our long-term prosperity and security."I.e, the soliders and the farmers are making the same sacrifice (both having their lives ruin) so that our corpo-rat masters on Wall Street can make a killing!

So guess what boy and girls? That's right, Tom wins this week's "Vidkun Quisling Award"!

Keepin' On

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


08-22-1939 ~ 08-30-2019
Thanks for the film!

02-13-1942 ~ 09-03-2019
Thanks for the film!


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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) 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.

"I've learned over my long life as an activist that people can change. That
process starts with trust, best done through person-to-person organizing."

Here's What Happened When I Knocked On Doors In Pennsylvania
All working people, no matter their race, ethnicity, gender, faith, or sexual orientation, or gender identity, need a stake and a say in our society-and they all need to hear that they're part of "We the People."
By Jane Fonda

I'm scared. I'm scared for our democracy, for our ability to live together in community across lines of race, class and religion. I'm scared for my grandchildren and for the planet. The country is contorted and polarized, with the flames of hate fanned by leaders at the highest level. But I saw a path forward recently in Scranton, Pennsylvia, where I spent a hot, humid evening knocking on doors with Working America. (By the way, when I do this, I only give my first name and am rarely recognized.)

Steve, in his 40s, had a bad day at work but was willing to speak with me. He said there's no politician who will fight for him. He doesn't trust any of them. That's why he doesn't pay attention to any news. He voted for the Green Party last time as a protest, but he also doesn't like immigrants getting public benefits. We learned all of this because, like with every Working America conversation, we started the conversation by asking Steve what mattered to him, what was on his mind. At the end of our questions, Steve said, "Can I ask you something? Why do you do this?" He wanted to keep talking.

Edith is in her 50s. She likes what President Trump has done but doesn't like the way he talks sometimes. She thinks cutting government red tape is important, and she's concerned about outside interference in our elections. As we were leaving, she told us, and maybe herself, "I don't talk to anyone. Why did I just talk to you?"

Last year in San Diego, Sharon said she was 100 percent for Trump, but when I told her Trump's healthcare bill would allow her son's insurance company to stop covering him because he has a serious preexisting condition, she seemed to stop breathing for a moment. "I had no idea," she gasped. "I can't let that happen."

It's voters like these we need to talk with-those who are dispirited and confused like Steve ambivalent like Edith; and uninformed like Sharon. A respectful conversation that started with their concerns and opinions hooked each of them, so when Working America goes back, the door is open to information from a new trusted messenger, which can encourage them to take action on issues they care about and vote with that new information in mind. Last year in San Diego, Sharon said she was 100 percent for Trump, but when I told her Trump's health-care bill would allow her son's insurance company to stop covering him because he has a serious preexisting condition, she seemed to stop breathing for a moment. "I had no idea," she gasped. "I can't let that happen."

It's voters like these we need to talk with-those who are dispirited and confused like Steve ambivalent like Edith; and uninformed like Sharon. A respectful conversation that started with their concerns and opinions hooked each of them, so when Working America goes back, the door is open to information from a new trusted messenger, which can encourage them to take action on issues they care about and vote with that new information in mind.

I've seen the power of face-to-face contact since I became an activist five decades ago. In Modesto, California, I met some of the 800 volunteers who knocked on doors for more than a year before the 2018 election, and in Scranton I met the professional organizers, many of whom are working-class people of color. They talk with people year-round, reaching out to those hungry for information and a connection.

As tangled as things seem right now, the way we get out of this mess is straightforward. We outsmart the Facebook algorithms and digital foreign meddling by holding face-to-face conversations. I've seen it. The process builds trust, and it sends a message: You matter enough that I'm here on your doorstep.

Fear can be so powerful, but what overcomes fear is connection. We don't need to choose between Democratic base voters and swing voters. All working people, no matter their race, ethnicity, gender, faith, or sexual orientation, or gender identity, need a stake and a say in our society-and they all need to hear that they're part of "We the People." Talking with them, not at them, is the best way to do it. Working America and other organizations are helping volunteers spend time in working-class communities around the country to have those conversations.

I've learned over my long life as an activist that people can change. That process starts with trust, best done through person-to-person organizing. People such as Steve are looking for someone to help them sort things out and to dare to care again. We can start the process of healing and winning back our country one conversation at a time.

(c) 2019 Jane Fonda is an actress and activist.

President Donald Trump, has neutralized our country's checks and balances and separation
of powers, including judicial accountability. He adds to his monarchal presidency by
unleashing the Republican Party's suppression of the vote and other electoral shenanigans.

From Trump Tower To Dictatorial Power
If Trump wins, America loses. The outcome is up to you in November 2020.
By Ralph Nader

Donald Trump is "dumb as a rock" (to use his phrase) when it comes to the programs and the policies of the federal government agencies over which he is allegedly presiding. However, when it comes to defending and expanding his own political power, Trump is shameless and profoundly cunning.

Trump turns accurate appraisals of himself into accusations that he levies at others. Earlier this month, he questioned whether Joe Biden "is mentally fit to be president."

But Trump has found ways to spread his toxicity beyond his lying tweets. He has carefully developed formidable barricades to shield himself from the gathering storm regarding his countless impeachable offenses and other serious misbehaviors.

Trump's remarks, decisions, and asides reveal his plans to stay in office. Trump heaps praise and extra funding on the military. In his travels, Trump likewise incessantly praises the police regardless of the local situations. Trump has openly said these constituencies are the core foundation against his adversaries that will keep him in office. His White House will keep the military and the police very well endowed.

He also makes sure that big business is happy with him. Some of the bosses are getting anxious about the uncertainty associated with Trump's use of tariffs and his caustic remarks about leaders of the countries where U.S. companies do business. However, Trump knows that as long as he cuts corporate taxes; deregulates health, safety, and economic requirements on Wall Street; and continues the crony capitalism of subsidies, handouts, and bailouts; the corporate bosses will continue to pay obeisance to Trump.

Manipulating the mass media is child's play for Trump. He taunts them about how they have to give him top billing because of the profitable ratings his performances brings them. Some in the mass media, nonetheless, expose his wrongdoing with thorough features. Trump, though irritated, ignores these exposes and repels them like water off a duck's back. It's all "fake news," he shouts. His approval polls, though lower than previous presidents, stay firm. So far Trump has faced no real consequences from the revelations of his misdeeds.

The courts, meanwhile, are the president's trump card for endless delays. Who has been sued as president more than Trump? Over two and a half years into his term, litigation against Trump grinds on. Nobody knows how long these court actions will take, what with Trump's delay tactics and appeals. The top appeal is to the Supreme Court which he believes is 5 to 4 for him on just about everything relating to runaway presidential power and immunities. Trump has appointed 146 judges while in office, including two Supreme Court justices. Trump's chosen Supreme Court justices are partisan actors who will suit his purposes nicely-it is as if they came from "central casting" for him. Trump has declared unlimited presidential pardon powers, musing that he could even pardon himself.

Labor unions are another big joke to Trump. As they decline, Trump reminds the pro-Democratic Party union leaders that many of their rank and file members voted for him. A troublingly large minority of union workers-over a third-defected to Trump's camp in 2016, enough to make the union leaders skittish about seriously confronting him.

That leaves the Congress with which he toys. The Republicans are frightened chickens in a coop, peering out at the insatiable Fox. When they look back at their place in history, they'll have to squint. Sycophants all, except for the late Rep. Walter Jones and Rep. Justin Amash.

As for the Democrats, Trump is blocking subpoenas and orders for witnesses to testify. Trump is also turning down major demands for documents from several House Congressional Committees. Exercising their constitutional authority to oversee the executive branch, the Committee Chairs are filing one law suit after another. Trump laughs and tells his attorneys to keep stonewalling and appealing-which can mean years. That's how he operated during his sordid failed business career.

Donald Trump, selected by the Electoral College, is daring the Democrats to impeach him. He knows Democrats are divided and can use the Republican dominated Senate as an excuse for inaction. Of course impeachment is a constitutional duty for the House, not a simple political calculation. It is certainly warranted for the most impeachable president in American history.

Trump is thumbing his nose at Democrats daily, blocking oversight, allocating appropriated funds by executive dictate, brazenly freezing enforcement the laws or revoking regulations that protect the health, safety, and economic wellbeing of the American people, enriching himself through emoluments, and also casting aside the Constitution and the rule of law regarding his military and foreign policy aggressions.

Trump has neutralized our country's checks and balances and separation of powers, including judicial accountability. He adds to his monarchal presidency by unleashing the Republican Party's suppression of the vote and other electoral shenanigans.

If the law ever catches up to Trump, he has many toadies who are willing to engage in "wag the dog" distractions. They are his war-hawk on steroids, national security advisor lawless John Bolton and the militaristic Secretary of State Michael Pompeo who travels the world threatening half of it. The new Secretary of Defense, from the Raytheon Corporation, presents no restraint in contrast to his predecessor Jim Mattis, cashiered by Trump.

If Trump wins, America loses. The outcome is up to you in November 2020. Be alert and prepared for tumultuous upheavals should Trump lose by a narrow margin.

(c) 2019 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest book is The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future. Other recent books include, The Seventeen Traditions: Lessons from an American Childhood, Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism: Build It Together to Win, and "Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).

Trump Bombs New Silk Road With Tariffs
By Glen Ford

The real target of Trump's trade war is not, primarily, the Chinese, but the U.S.-based corporations that spent the last generation outsourcing manufacturing capacity (jobs) to China. Under dumbass cracker Donald Trump the United States is accelerating the process of its own decline even more quickly than had the warmongering Hillary Clinton won the White House in 2016. Trump has chosen to wage the worst war possible in terms of preserving what's left of U.S. economic supremacy: a trade war with China. It is a conflict that will inflict huge and permanent losses on U.S.-based corporations and on every nation that attempts to collaborate with Trump's anti-China trade schemes. The longer it lasts, the more the U.S. global trade posture will deteriorate, as China accelerates construction and deal-making on its world-shaking, historically unprecedented Russia-partnered project, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

While Washington continues to militarily encircle China and Russia and Trump flails away at Beijing with tariffs that inflict the most hurt on U.S. businesses and allies, the Belt and Road Initiative is tying the planet together, with China at the center. The U.S. will ultimately be consigned to a shrinking periphery, where its moribund, oligarch-bound, late-stage capitalist economy will fester and groan unless revived by domestic political forces that have not yet been unleashed.

U.S. manufacturing - the very sector that Trump's trade war is supposed to benefit - has slowed in the wake of the president's newest round of tariffs, with companies citing "shrinking export orders as a result of the trade dispute, as well as the challenge of moving supply chains out of China," according to the New York Times. The real target of Trump's trade war is not, primarily, the Chinese, but the U.S.-based corporations that spent the last generation outsourcing manufacturing capacity (jobs) to China and elsewhere in the south and east of the planet. Trump is demanding that these "supply chains" of cheaper-made goods be dismantled on his command - as if the U.S. has a "command economy," like China.

Don't try to wait me out, anticipating a new administration in January 2021, Trump warned, predicting that supply chains from China will soon "crumble" and that Beijing will be forced to "deal." Trump addressed his tweet to the Chinese, but the actual targets are the corporations that built the supply chains from what used to be called the "Third World" in order to escape higher wage labor in the U.S. and Europe. The aim of the corporate exodus was to set in motion a global "Race to the Bottom" in which western workers would be forced to compete with low-wage workers of the Global South and East. The outsourcing of jobs was accompanied by a domestic policy of endless austerity, in which government programs and income supports are drastically reduced so that workers in the corporate home countries are forced to accept any job that is offered. Austerity has been the watchword of Democratic and Republican administrations for more than 30 years, as corporate politicians of both parties sacrificed their working class constituents to a "gig" economy that - along with hyper-exploitation of labor in the Global South - has fueled the explosion of billionaires.

Now comes Trump, demanding that those fantastic fortune-making supply lines be dismantled, forthwith. Trump may truly believe he is dealing a crushing blow to China - who knows what facsimiles of thoughts infest his race-corroded brain? -- but it is far too late. China's economy is already 25 bigger than the U.S., based on purchasing power parity, the favored measuring standard of international economists, and is predicted to become twice as large as the U.S. economy in the next decade. China no longer needs U.S.-bound supply chains to continue the phenomenal growth that endured through the Great Recession of 2008, when the rest of the world caught "the American disease." And, thanks to the incessant armed aggressions, anti-China and Russia encirclements, and hyper-sanctions policies of Barack Obama and his banshee secretary of state Hillary Clinton, Beijing and Moscow forged an alliance that is the basis of the largest trade and transportation restructuring project since piratical Europeans embarked on their genocidal, colonial rampages half a millennium ago.

The Belt and Road Initiative is well underway, encompassing every inhabited continent on the planet - including North America, if that includes the Central American nations of El Salvador, Costa Rica and Panama, which have signed BRI Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with China. Jamaica, Cuba and much of the rest of the Caribbean are also eager to be part of the new world trading order. In South America,Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, Ecuador, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Chile have signed off on BRI. Africa already trades more with China than the U.S., and has found Beijing to be the go-to partner for infrastructure-building. Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Sudan have signed on. In Europe, Italy, Greece, Luxemburg, Switzerland and, of course, Russia, are BRI countries, and Hungary, run by a hard-right president and soul-mate of Trump, is leaning towards BRI. Except for India and Japan, Asia is virtually all-in. Altogether, the Chinese count 137 nations as at least tentative BRI partners.

As the emerging center of the world economy and the biggest market for automobiles -- where General Motors sells more cars than in the U.S. - China can literally do without exports to the United States, although it would prefer to trade with everyone. The U.S-based corporations that have over the years become more Chinese than American have been put most at-risk by Trump's bellicosity and tariffs. More fundamentally, U.S. corporations routinely mark foreign leaders for death that interfere with their trade, investment and labor policies. If U.S. corporations become convinced that Trump is determined to pursue policies that will lock them out of the mega-economy that buys more cars, airplanes and agricultural products than any other, they will kill him and ride out the rest of his term with President Mike Pence, who will doubtless be told by God to reverse course.

But Trump is not an ideologue like his former guru, Steve Bannon, who really does believe the white world, led by the U.S., is in a race-based fight to the death against the Yellow Hordes. Trump is just a spoiled, huckstering, not-too-bright brat who loves being on television and doesn't want to get cancelled in 2020. He will likely keep up his tariff-war against China just long enough to close a "deal" that he can sell to his Amerikaner followers as a victory. U.S. corporations can then continue, at their own pace, rerouting their low-wage supply lines to other parts of the Global South - most of the which will be way stations on China's Belt and Road Initiative.

Americans can save themselves from ruin in the backwaters of the new, multi-polar order, but only by defeating the corporate electoral duopoly that is wedded to endless austerity and war. Bernie Sander's Green New deal, although inferior to the Green Party's original version, introduces a kind of multi-trillion dollar command economy restructuring that could, if combined with Medicare for All and other measures to lessen the precarity of workers, mean the death of the austerity regime. But a President Sanders could not get a Green New Deal through a corporate-bought Congress. That would require a revival of mass movement politics that puts millions of people in the streets.

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

Don't despair, for a warm glow of hope beckons from the very midst of today's cold, often nightmarish system.

Here's the Real Deal On 'Medicare for All'
The power of the establishment's money and lies wilts in the face of the moral imperative that is at the heart of Medicare for All: Everyone deserves, as a human right, affordable access to quality health care.
By Jim Hightower

What do we want our health care system to do? Care for our health! Yours, mine, our families', our country's. But don't look for such straightforward logic or ethics in the labyrinthian industrial complex that now controls the "care" we get - or are denied. The structure itself must be changed if care and the Common Good are ever to be prized over profit.

The proof of that is made clear by the Affordable Care Act, the admirable attempt passed almost a decade ago to mitigate the effects of unrestrained corporate greed. Dubbed Obamacare, the ACA dramatically decreased the number of uninsured Americans. And yet - because its Democratic authors caved to corporate demands that the profiteering structure be kept intact - Obamacare cannot deliver the universal coverage and range that other (often less wealthy) countries provide.

Don't despair, for a warm glow of hope beckons from the very midst of today's cold, often nightmarish system. Millions of Americans are doing much, much better through an alternative structure that already delivers superior care for much less: Medicare.

This government program pays the health care bills of 44 million Americans - those over 65 and 9 million younger people with disabilities. For more than half a century, Medicare has comforted and benefited so many patients and families that it's now treasured and integral to our people's sense of the Common Good. Yes, the program needs more controls to prevent hospitals, drugmakers and others from overcharging taxpayers and doing unnecessary treatments, but such fixes are included in various bills to extend the successful program to all Americans: "Medicare for All."

As shown by other countries, a universal single-payer system eliminates insurance middlemen, dramatically cuts administrative waste, reins in price gouging and focuses care on the less-costly approach of improving long-term health. Thus, while Medicare for All would cover every American - from birth to death - it would actually reduce what we pay for the inefficient, insufficient, incomplete coverage provided by today's industrial health complex. Check the numbers:

U.S. health expenditures jumped 16.5% between 2009 and 2016 for corporate-insured patients, while the cost dropped 2% for Medicare patients - despite their having more complicated, chronic and expensive problems. The for-profit system eats up 12% of its of budget just on billing and paper shuffling, compared to Medicare's 2%. Even a 2019 Koch-funded analysis concluded that Medicare for All would cut U.S. health spending by $2 trillion over 10 years. Less ideologically biased studies estimate even higher savings from Medicare for All's administrative efficiencies.

Taxpayers already foot the bill for nearly two-thirds of America's health care spending-including Medicare, Medicaid and the subsidies that corporations get for their health plans, plus coverage for congressmembers, veterans and a few other groups. Medicare for All's big savings (as shown above) mean overall expenditures would drop while the quality and quantity of coverage would rise. And any additional funding needed for full universal coverage could come from progressive tax mechanisms (e.g., a transaction tax on Wall Street speculation) that don't cost middle-income families a penny.

America's Medicare patients are regularly able to get more timely appointments than privately insured people. In fact, delays in the corporate system are growing worse, as so much of doctor and staff time is consumed by insurance company red tape (plus, private insurers are increasingly limiting policyholders' choice of doctors). Also, among advanced countries, our corporate-run system produces by far the highest percentage of people who skip treatment because they can't afford it-making some wait times...eternal.

Every major Medicare for All bill in Congress includes several transitional years, with substantial funding for training, placement and other assistance for those whose jobs will not be part of the restructured system. Besides, some new administrative and fraud protection jobs will be created in the single-payer program, and universal provision of dental, mental health and other health services will create new jobs as well.

Health care giants already spend more than half a billion bucks a year on lobbying - the most of any industry - and that spending is mushrooming as they rush to maintain, by hook or crook, the status quo ethic of profits over care. But a growing majority of Americans see that we're being robbed of our money, health and rights, and they're demanding that politicians reject the entrenched interests and produce real change. (At least 48 of our newly elected congressmembers ran on pledges to support Medicare for All or similar health justice programs.) The power of the establishment's money and lies wilts in the face of the moral imperative that is at the heart of Medicare for All: Everyone deserves, as a human right, affordable access to quality health care.

(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

The oligarchy is doing just fine, explains historian Juan Cole.

This Labor Day, US Workers One-Third Poorer Than In 2003-While Top 1% Now Two-Times Richer
The poor got significantly poorer in the past two decades, and the rich got significantly richer
By Juan Cole

On Labor Day, American workers have little to celebrate. That's alright. The September Labor Day, while initially proposed by some workers in the 1880s, was backed by conservative President Grover Cleveland over May 1, which he associated with radicalism (i.e. with workers who would demand their rights). So it really isn't for the workers, it is for the bosses.

David Harrison at the Wall Street Journal reports that the lower 50% of US households by wealth have 32% less wealth than in 2003 in real numbers.

They have only now, in 2009, finally regained the wealth they lost in the Great Bush near-Depression of 2007-2009.

So they've gotten back to what they had in the way of assets (home value and other valuables; probably not stocks, since that half of Americans doesn't typically own securities) in 2007, but not what they had in 2003.

There are 129 million households in the United States, so this means about 64.5 million households are one-third worse off with regard to asset ownership than when Bush went to war in Iraq. (Is there a connection?)

In contrast, the top 1% of households, 1.29 million of them, have twice as many assets as they did in 2003.

Harrison says that the rate of increase in inequality in wealth holdings is even greater than that in income.

Speaking of income, the average wage of the average worker in real terms has been static for decades. Americans after WW II were used to getting better off each year. Those who aren't wealthy haven't, since about 1970.

The poor got significantly poorer in the past two decades, and the rich got significantly richer. This broad social trend helps to explain our politics, in which workers suffer from frequent wage theft (a technique Trump perfected), from wages on which most people can't actually live, and from downward mobility.

The other part of our politics is our plutocracy, in which a small number of billionaires runs the society for their own profit and benefit. Campaign finance laws have been gutted by the Republicans on the Supreme Court, so that a nonentity like Trump could use his ill-gotten gains to more or less just buy the election, along with his dark-money backers. Trump repaid the backers by cutting taxes massively on the top 1%, creating a $1 trillion a year Federal budget deficit. Since the government supplies services to people, and it can no longer afford to provide the same level of service, this "tax cut" is actually a tax on workers.

Last year I anticipated the WSJ story in some ways with a column surveying similar findings. I pointed out that joining the Democratic Socialists of America and a labor union were among the remedies for our bad case of plutocratitis.

(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.

A crowd rallies outside the Wisconsin State Capitol as the state
Assembly debates the right-to-work bill in March, 2015.

Labor Rights Are Essential Human Rights
By John Nichols

Democratic presidential contenders are renewing their acquaintance with Franklin Roosevelt's promise of Four Freedoms abroad and an Economic Bill of Rights at home. As they make this progressive turn, the candidates would do well to recall - as should we all on this Labor Day weekend - that FDR and his allies saw robust trade unionism as an essential underpinning of democracy.

In the immediate aftermath of World War II, Americans preached from a gospel that understood labor rights as human rights. During the post-war occupation of Japan, General Douglas MacArthur and his aides worked with Japanese citizens to draft a Constitution that would serve as a framework for democracy. Fully aware that strong independent unions provide a defense against authoritarianism, they included language that explicitly announced that "the right of workers to organize and to bargain and act collectively is guaranteed."

In Germany, General Dwight David Eisenhower and his aides worked with German citizens to write a Constitution that would serve as a bulwark against fascism. They knew that strong trade unions had to be a part of that bulwark, so they included a provision that explicitly declared: "The right to form associations to safeguard and improve working and economic conditions shall be guaranteed to every individual and to every occupation or profession. Agreements that restrict or seek to impair this right shall be null and void; measures directed to this end shall be unlawful."

When former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt chaired the International Commission on Human Rights, which drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that in 1948 would be adopted by the United Nations, Roosevelt and the drafters included a guarantee that: "Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests."

This is the history of American support for the premise that labor rights are human rights. When this country has counseled other countries and the international community on how to forge a civil and democratic society, it has long recognized that the right to organize a trade union and to have that trade union engage in collective bargaining as an equal partner with corporations and government agencies must be protected.

Unfortunately, the bipartisan embrace of this idea - MacArthur and Ike were Republicans, the Roosevelts were Democrats - is a thing of the past. Republican governors like Wisconsin's Scott Walker assaulted labor rights throughout the last decade, as did their GOP allies in Washington. For a time, Democrats were slow to respond. But, now, Democratic presidential contenders such as Bernie Sanders and Beto O'Rourke have taken up Service Employees Union International union president Mary Kay Henry's call for reforms that upend so-called right-to-work laws and make it dramatically easier to organize and maintain unions.

Reforms are necessary. But so, too, are concrete guarantees. For this reason, the Democrats who are seeking the presidency - along with progressives who are running here in Wisconsin - should start talking about amending state and federal constitution to proclaim as clearly as does the Japanese Constitution that: "the right of workers to organize and to bargain and act collectively is guaranteed."

(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.

Living In A Low-Cost Compact Home
By James Donahue

When the housing bubble burst in 2008 and people began losing their jobs and struggling against high-cost homes all across the nation, it was inevitable that something new and radical had to be done. Virtually every city is now dealing with homelessness. Even people that go to work every day come home nightly to tent cities on the outskirts of town.

The irony in all of this is that many of the bank-owned houses where the homeless families once lived now sit either empty with half-million dollar price tags on them, or they have been grabbed up by rich investors and are being rented out. To afford the extreme price landlords are charging, renters are sub-leasing portions of these houses to other families that squeeze into various rooms throughout the dwelling. Everybody shares the cost of rent and utilities, thus making housing somewhat affordable.

But the arrangements are not comfortable or convenient. The houses they occupy may be large and offer plenty of room, but they were never designed for apartment living. Thus the people who move into them become part of a manufactured family. Everybody shares the kitchens and bathrooms. Cars are parked all over the yard, making an unsightly problem within once fashionable neighborhoods. And when personalities clash, the rental situation can become problematic if not unbearable.

People always prefer living in their own private space. The solution to all of this is finding a way to move families back into low cost but acceptable housing that people earning today's limited wages can afford. Housing planners are busy engineering new compact and low-cost housing to fill this void.

But there is another problem here. While designers at Auburn University's Rural Studio program in West Alabama has come up with plans for lovely one and two-bedroom houses that can be built for less than $20,000, they have been slammed face-to-face with local building codes, bank rules and neighborhood rules that must be solved before such homes can be allowed.

As writer Adele Peters explained when reporting on the Auburn University project: "The biggest challenge is fitting a house that's completely different than normal into the existing system of zoning, and codes, how contractors do their jobs, and even mortgages."

Peters was describing a new contemporary style of construction, using improved building materials that exceed demands described in the old BOCA building code book that most community building departments used. The design had to take this route in order for the cost of the homes to fit both budget and construction demands.

As explained by Rusty Smith, the project director, the structures are "built more like airplanes than houses, which allows us to have them far exceed structural requirements . . . We're using materials much more efficiently. But the problem is your local code official doesn't understand that."

Consequently, each project home must be sold in graphic detail to the local building inspectors, to the banks that mortgage the property, and to every other legal enforcer that gets in the way before a new house can be placed on a vacant piece of city property. Under zoning ordinances, even the lot sizes are established in various neighborhoods, and the style of the house must fit the zoning code of that part of town. Thus the very problem of acquiring a lot on which to place a house might be a road block to building an inexpensive and compact house. Also there are the costs of water, sewer and electric hook-ups, sidewalk construction and neighborhood bond issues to be considered.

Just owning a house anywhere can be very costly.

Some years ago my wife and I took on the challenge of refurbishing an older and tiny two-room "mother-in-law" house, and succeeded in making it a home for the two of us to comfortably live in. We did it mostly as a challenge to see if it could be done, and also because living there would make our lives more efficient at the time. We were both commuting long distances, in different directions, to our jobs.

The little house was structurally sound but it had only a single front door, a single bedroom with a walk-in closet, and no heating system or water and sewer hook-up. It was in a rural area. The woman who had once lived there used an outdoor privy and walked to a neighbor's house for water every day. The house had a 15-amp. electric service with a few plug outlets so we assume she used an electric floor heater in the winter months. There were single ceiling lights.

We rewired the house, installed a wall propane gas-fired heater, a compact bathroom with toilet and walk-in shower and a plumbing system that was hooked up to the neighbor's well. We could do this because both houses were located on the same lot and both were family owned.

The installation of a septic tank was our biggest problem. To keep our costs down I bought a large plastic farm tank that was more than large enough for a septic service. Then we hired a contractor to dig a hole, drop in the tank, hook a drain to it from the house and lay out a drain field at the back of the lot. The work was done in a single day. Because we knew we were breaking code and we were located on a rural road we did not attempt to get a permit. We knew it would not be approved because of my plastic farm tank.

Even though the plastic tank we used was probably stronger and more suitable for use as a septic service than the standard concrete ones established by code, the fact that we used it was not accepted by the county building department. There was a red tag placed on our door while we tangled over that legal problem. It was eventually resolved (we had a friend who knew somebody, wink, wink!) and we were allowed to move into our little bungalow.

There was a crawl space under the roof that allowed us to roll insulation under the roof of the entire building. I also re-roofed and painted the exterior of the house.

Once we got adjusted to compact living we found that our little house was one of the most comfortable, most easy to care for and most efficient homes we have ever occupied. We had to sell all of our furniture and most of our personal things just to fit into it, but once the adjustments were made, we loved living there.

It was not a house designed for raising a family, but for single people and couples, it was a perfect house. We sold it some years ago and moved on. But every time we go through the area we notice that the little house is still occupied. It is comforting to know that other people are reaping the benefits of compact living. Our little experiment worked long before it was necessary for people to convert to this kind of housing because of changing times.

Best of all, my idea for a less costly and more effective septic system also has proved itself.

The problem now is getting local building and zoning laws up to speed to allow the changes needed for modern, compact and low-cost housing.

(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.

About twenty activists from the environmental associations RadiAction, Extinction
Rebellion, Attac and the Confederation Paysanne briefly occupied the headquarters
of the multinational Bayer Monsanto in Paris, producer of the pesticide Roundup,
on Wednesday, May 22, 2019.

Monsanto Emails Show Employees Wanted To "Beat The Shit" Out Of Concerned Moms
By William Rivers Pitt

At some point, all of us have bought something that we almost immediately came to regret. Maybe a car whose color was intriguing on the lot but looks like a four-wheeled cold sore in your driveway, or that last beer during the ballgame that turned what would have been a mild headache into a four-alarm hangover. We've all been there to one degree or another, but Bayer, by purchasing the genuinely despicable agrochemical giant Monsanto, transformed the practice into a vivid form of corporate self-immolation that is currently playing out in lawsuits and on front pages all over the country.

"Last year, Bayer completed the purchase of US agrochemicals group Monsanto for $63 billion," reported The Financial Times at the beginning of August. "Measured by the share price fall since the deal was first mooted three years ago, the deal ranks among the worst in corporate history. US courts have linked Roundup, a widely used herbicide made by Monsanto, to cancer. With more than 18,000 legal cases pending - three have already been heard - Bayer faces possibly paying billions in compensation." A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, thoughts of maybe becoming a lawyer someday led me into paralegal work at a number of law firms on both coasts. As a litigation paralegal, I worked on cases involving major automakers, pharmaceutical giants, international banks, large pipeline manufacturers and other sundry corporate monstrosities. The work, by and large, was a grueling paper chase involving long archaeological digs through massive post-subpoena document dumps. You rarely came across The Document that would turn the whole case on its ear, but it happened every so often, and when it did, the cheers from the cubicles would rattle the fluorescent lights: Plowing through all the boxes, dust bunnies, ink stains, paper cuts and miles of memos had finally paid off!

I didn't wind up going to law school, but I do know what the people suing Bayer-Monsanto over Roundup and cancer are dealing with in these litigations ... and boy oh boy, did they ever strike gold, if "gold" were redefined as being "corporate communications so crassly revealing that Enron looks tame by comparison."

The story of this document dump begins in June of 2013, when a grassroots advocacy group called Moms Across America published an open letter to then-Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant about the dangers involved in his company's wide distribution of genetically modified (GM) foods and the use of their pesticide, Roundup.

"We ask you to have the courage to acknowledge that GM practices and Roundup are hurting our world," read the letter. "We have seen the recent and new scientific studies on the impact of GMOs and Glyphosate with links to autism, Alzheimer's, food allergies, liver cancer, IBS, breast cancer in humans and possibly mental illness and we have witnessed the results firsthand in our kids."

As the resulting emails show, these accusations did not sit well with the folks at Monsanto. One conversation between Monsanto scientist Dr. Daniel Goldstein and two outside consultants - Bruce Chassy, a former professor at the University of Illinois and Wayne Parrot, a crop scientist at the University of Georgia - stand out in stark relief.

Dr. Goldstein stated that Moms Across America was making "a pretty nasty looking set of allegations," and he had been arguing for a week that the company should "beat the shit out of them" in return. Chassy was all for attacking the group, but Parrot was less sanguine. "You can't beat up mothers," he wrote, "even if they are dumb mothers but you can beat up the organic industry."

That conversation verged into a discussion of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which was at the time holding a public comment period regarding supermarket produce and glyphosate, the ingredient in Roundup that has been directly connected to incidents of cancer. "BTW," wrote Dr. Goldstein, "a minor tolerance increase petition for glyphosate on specialty crops got 10,821 negative public comments in the last 48 hours - NOT form letters - individually written comments. We're on our way to being corporate road kill."

The documents also reveal how the problems of Roundup, language and truth repeatedly dogged Monsanto over the years. "We cannot say [glyphosate] is 'safe,'" warned Monsanto toxicologist Donna Farmer in a May 2014 email, "we can say history of safe use, used safely etc." After the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans" in a 2015 report, Monsanto went into battle mode to knock down the IARC's conclusions. The company hired an outside consulting firm to prepare a competing report to refute those findings, which was tentatively titled, "An Expert Panel Concludes There Is No Evidence That Glyphosate Is Carcinogenic to Humans."

Tom Sorahan, a Monsanto consultant and epidemiologist at the University of Birmingham, took issue with that working title. "We can't say 'no evidence' because that means there is not a single scrap of evidence," he wrote in a November 2015 email, "and I don't see how we can go that far."

"Trial juries in three California lawsuits against Bayer-Monsanto have found in favor of the plaintiffs," reports the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, "all of whom have been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. There are now roughly 13,000 other cases against Bayer-Monsanto awaiting trial in the U.S. alone."

There is a jarring bit of historical symmetry to all this. Bayer, in the middle of the last century, was part of the IG Farben corporation, the company that served as the economic engine for Nazi Germany. Among IG Farben's many contributions to the Nazi war effort was Zyklon-B, the gas used to murder people imprisoned in concentration camps.

After the war, IG Farben was not destroyed outright, though many of its corporate officers were convicted of monstrous crimes at Nuremberg. The corporation itself, it seems, was deemed "too big to fail" before anyone in this century ever thought to coin the term.

Instead of eliminating it, IG Farben was broken up into smaller companies, one of which was Bayer. IG Farben executive Fritz ter Meer, convicted of mass murder and slavery after the war, became a top executive at Bayer in 1956.

Matters will not improve in the near term for Bayer-Monsanto. "Major food companies like General Mills continue to sell popular children's breakfast cereals and other foods contaminated with troubling levels of glyphosate, the cancer-causing ingredient in the herbicide Roundup," reports EWG. "The weedkiller, produced by Bayer-Monsanto, was detected in all 21 oat-based cereal and snack products sampled in a new round of testing commissioned by the Environmental Working Group."

Lead in the tap water, glyphosate in the Cheerios ... you get the definite sense that our national priorities are badly out of joint. One thing is certain: The paralegals will be busy, because more revelatory document dumps are coming as all the Roundup lawsuits march through the courts.

You can check out this one yourself right here, courtesy of the law firm of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman. Mind the paper cuts, and think twice the next time you go to buy something. Bayer surely wishes it had.

(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.

Kids understand that their well-being, safety and lives depend on a healthy planet, with clean air, good water, nutritious food and a stable climate.

Let The Children Vote?
By David Suzuki

Young people have been speaking out for their rights. Many are wise beyond their years. Without the blinkers of ideology, workaday priorities and ingrained values, they can see clearly what's happening. They've had to step up for their own futures because too few of their elders are willing to accept that rampant consumerism has been an illusory quest for happiness at the expense of the planet's life-support systems.

"We have learned that if we don't start acting for our future, nobody else will make the first move," a Guardian article signed by 46 young people, including 16-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg, said.

Kids understand that their well-being, safety and lives depend on a healthy planet, with clean air, good water, nutritious food and a stable climate. And many are skilled at distinguishing truth from lies.

But while tens of thousands are marching in streets worldwide - for the #FridaysForFuture youth climate strikes that Thunberg started and more - they don't always see much evidence that adults with the power to make change are listening.

"We're feeling the burden of it, so it makes sense that I would care the most," 15-year-old Lily Gardner of Lexington, Kentucky, told the Guardian. "But I think it's really difficult to get politicians and legislators to take our voices seriously, especially because they believe that we do not have any voting power."

What if we gave them that power?

A cheeky movement to lower Canada's voting age from 18 to eight might sound... out there. But I'm not seeing much evidence that adults are any better at making political decisions than young people. So many grown-ups are electing politicians who don't even accept climate science, let alone the need to treat climate disruption as an emergency. Many governments and politicians around the world seem more beholden to the fading fossil fuel industry than the people they're supposed to represent.

"Politicians have known about climate change for decades," Thunberg and her fellow youth wrote. "They have willingly handed over their responsibility for our future to profiteers whose search for quick cash threatens our very existence."

This is not hyperbole. Every reputable scientist in every climate-related discipline, from oceanography to atmospheric physics, is saying we have little time - not much more than a decade, if that - to turn things around, to keep from pumping so many greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that they can't be re-absorbed or broken down before Earth heats beyond its ability to support human life.

Every legitimate scientific academy and institution in the world agrees. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has worked with scientists and researchers worldwide to regularly compile and summarize the research and evidence to share with government leaders and policy-makers. There's no shortage of solutions. Many are being deployed and new ones are being developed all the time, but not quickly enough. The only thing holding us back is lack of political will.

Yet many grown-ups are willing to risk that all these scientists and their research are wrong - even though we'd still end up with cleaner air, water and soil and healthier people if we took their advice and it turned out they all somehow missed something. Those who are gambling away our youth's future often support politicians who are likewise willing to bet against impossible odds.

Young people may not always make the best or most informed decisions, but given that their futures are at stake and they understand that change is possible and necessary, I can't imagine they would make worse decisions than their elders.

As adults, we must do all we can to support our youngers.

The Friday youth walkouts are expanding to a Global Climate Strike on September 20, kick-starting a week of activities that people of all ages are invited to join, and culminating in another strike on September 27. We should encourage our kids and grandkids to take part and get out there ourselves. Let the children speak, and listen to them.

We should also make sure to take our election responsibilities seriously, asking candidates about their climate plans and voting for those who are committed to a cleaner, safer, brighter tomorrow.

Should we let the kids vote? As the 18to8 campaign says, "Let the future decide the future."

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

Kentucky Coal Miners Continue Blockade Protest In Harlan County

The Cumberland Miners' Fight Is Political-Whether They Like It Or Not
And eventually, it'll have a political solution.
By Charles P. Pierce

Damn, I leave the shebeen for a week and everything goes even more quickly straight to hell. Wind. Rain. Gunplay. Bloodshed. When did the United States of America turn into a Michael Bay movie? Don't events know that El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago has errant drives to kick back onto the fairway? Don't events know he has the Debra Messing crisis to handle? And Paul Krugman is selling The Economy to Somali pirates? How can life be so unfair to a fella? How can a fake rich guy stand such times and live?

"" Anyway, it's Labor Day, and there are some real old-school J.H. Blair shenanigans going on down in Harlan County in Kentucky. Near Cumberland, some miners have blocked a rail line, freezing a train loaded with coal for over a month. The company they worked for, Blackjewel, is the very model of a modern major company, at least in this country. It shut down operations and dove into bankruptcy at the beginning of July. Because it is a modern American corporation and, therefore, doesn't have the social conscience god gave a Gaboon viper, Blackjewel went out of business without "fulfilling its salary obligations," as the term of art puts it. More simply, the miners saw their paychecks bounce. From the Washington Post:

"We had just bought a washer, and then the bank pulled the money back out, and it made our account negative," said Stacy Rowe, Chris Rowe's wife. The effect of those missed paychecks has rippled through the county's economy. Many of the miners made $20 to $30 an hour, a middle-class salary in a county where the household median income is $24,000 a year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Interestingly, there is a law in Kentucky that requires a company that shuts down suddenly to post a bond ensuring that its employees get paid. More interestingly, according to an investigation by the Lexington Herald-Leader, no coal company founded in Kentucky over the last five years ever has met that obligation upon shutting down-including, obviously, Blackjewel
In the weeks after Blackjewel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the Herald-Leader reported the company appeared to be in violation of a law requiring it to post a performance bond to protect wages. The violation allowed the company to close its mines without paying employees for three weeks of work...KRS 337.200 requires "every employer engaged in construction work, or the severance, preparation, or transportation of minerals" that has continuously operated in Kentucky for less than five years to post a performance bond with the Labor Cabinet to cover its payroll for four weeks. If the company suddenly shuts down, the money could be used to pay employees.

Many Kentucky coal companies are exempt from the law because they've continuously operated in Kentucky longer than five years, but the Herald-Leader identified a handful that appear to meet the requirements for posting a bond. On Thursday afternoon, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear released a report identifying 30 companies that may be in violation of the law. Altogether, the 30 companies employ 932 people.

Unemployed Blackjewel coal miners man a blockade along the railroad tracks that lead to their old mine on August 23, 2019 in Cumberland, Kentucky.

Moreover, the Republicans in state government, led by Matt Bevin, the most unpopular governor in the country, tried recently to eliminate the requirement entirely. The attempt failed in the Kentucky House, but more than a few people suspect that the attempt was made at least partly to bail out Blackjewel. This, of course, is the classic marriage of the corporate class and a thoroughly sublet state government of a kind that's been mutating ever since organized labor lost its clout and there was nothing to stop the country's economy from transforming itself into a casino, a mere vehicle for financial speculation in which the profits were privatized and the losses socialized. However, on this Labor Day, there is a passage in the Washington Post story that shows how hard won hope is these days.
Cumberland is located in Harlan County, where Trump won 85 percent of the vote. But these miners say their fight isn't a political one. At the camp, there is an informal policy against speaking about Trump or partisan issues, underscoring the president's continued popularity in areas where the local economy has continued to suffer. "That is the main reason we have gotten as far as we've got now; it's because we have kept the nonsense down," Rowe said, referring to the nation's divisive political debate.
Whether the miners want to be or not, in the strictest sense of the world, they are engaged in a political fight that eventually is going to have to have a political solution. Keeping "politics" out of this situation makes as much sense as refusing to discuss the role played in it by coal. Ultimately, the job requirements of being a citizen include a full immersion into the politics of your time. We all have been living with the consequences of avoiding these responsibilities for so long that we now pride ourselves on our independence from "government," as though it were some sort of Andromeda Strain dropped from the sky instead of the constantly evolving act of political creation that it was designed to be.

It is going to take work to place that country back on the right track again, if it's even possible, and I am in no way sure that it is. That is the work to begin on this Labor Day.

(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-

"As a liberal, I am morally obligated to be pragmatic. What good do I do poor people, elderly people, people who are being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation if I'm not realistic about accomplishing something."
~~~ Barney Frank

10 Ways We Pretend War Is Not A Crime And How To Change Them
By David Swanson

Happy Kellogg-Briand Pact Day! As you all know, but most people do not, the Peace Pact was signed 91 years ago today. And, as you all probably know, but most people do not, the inspiration and vision and endless labor behind it came from a mass movement begun and led, not by Mr. Kellogg or Monsieur Briand but by a lawyer from Chicago named Salmon Oliver Levinson. You could point that out to Minnesotans from Frank Kellogg's Twin Cities if, of course, any of them had ever heard of Frank Kellogg.

A long time back I was asked for a title for this speech, which I hadn't yet written, and I replied "10 Ways We Pretend War Is Not a Crime and How to Change Them." More recently I sat down with the hope that I could think of 10 such ways. Unfortunately, far more than 10 items immediately occurred to me. So, the following are 10 greatest hits and broad categories of the ways in which we pretend that war is not a crime - plus how to change them. As a top 10 list, I will number the items in reverse order. I may also spend so much time on the first one that you forget it's a list. Nonetheless . . .

Number 10. Laws like the Kellogg-Briand Pact are ignored. The pact, which bans all war, is a treaty to which the U.S. government is a party. That makes it the supreme law of the land under the U.S. Constitution. It is a treaty that has not been ended or abolished or withdrawn from. The U.S. State Department website lists it as in effect and lists 66 nations as parties to it. The Pact is silent on any means of ending or withdrawing from it. However, the United Nations Charter states that "In the event of a conflict between the obligations of the Members of the United Nations under the present Charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present Charter shall prevail." This creates the possibility to argue plausibly that the U.N. Charter replaced the Peace Pact. But it is an argument that has to be made. It does not exist as specific written law.

It is useful to ask what obligations under the U.N. Charter might conflict with obligations under the Peace Pact of Paris. They cannot possibly be obligations of peace. The Peace Pact requires that all disputes among parties be settled by peaceful means. They also cannot be obligations to uphold the banning of war through legal processes. The Peace Pact was the basis for the trials in Nuremberg and Tokyo following World War II, and it conflicts with no imaginable peaceful means of upholding peace, many of which were envisioned and advocated for by the people behind the Pact's creation. The only conflict could be a U.N. Charter-based obligation to wage war. That would certainly conflict with the Kellogg-Briand Pact. But the U.N. Charter does not necessarily oblige any nations to wage war. It does permit them to wage war under certain limited circumstances, as so-called individual or collective self-defense after being attacked and until the United Nations takes action. It also stipulates that agreements will be negotiated with member states for the collective waging of war whenever decided on by the U.N. Security Council and to be overseen by the U.N. Security Council. Those agreements would certainly conflict with the Kellogg-Briand Pact, but this part of the U.N. Charter is not used and has next to nothing to do with anything we think of as wars. There have been wars approved by the United Nations in Korea and the Persian Gulf, but they have not been led by the United Nations, and the U.N. Charter has not obliged any government to take part in them. A more likely source of conflict is in the smaller operations that the U.N. calls "peacekeeping," but that doesn't get us to the elimination of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which the wording of the U.N. Charter appears to leave in place except where a conflict arises on a case-by-case basis.

When the Kellogg-Briand Pact is dismissed as no longer in place or relevant it is typically not with any legal argument or any mention of the U.N. Charter, but rather through the claim that the Kellogg-Briand Pact "failed." This is a truly bizarre understanding of how laws work. Murder exists, yet we don't declare all laws against murder to have "failed" and proceed to completely ignore them. We have prisons full of people who violated laws against murder but empty of anyone who violated laws against war. The U.N. Charter also bans war, albeit with exceptions, and we do not declare it gone because "failed."

I am not a lawyer, and I don't want to focus only on a legal argument for the Pact still being in place. I readily admit that most lawyers believe or assume that it is not still in place. I further readily admit that it is routinely violated, as is the U.N. Charter, and that an argument over whether one routinely violated law supersedes another routinely violated law is of limited value. But the problem with ignoring the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the history of its creation and its successes is largely the same whether we need to create compliance with the existing Pact or we need to recreate and then compel compliance with a new pact. The value lies in the goal of such compliance and in the lessons to be learned from the movement that won over people like Frank Kellogg in the 1920s.

The Outlawry Movement, the effort to outlaw war, was a principled movement that embraced rather than hid from moral arguments, and that thought big, as big as a Green New Deal or healthcare or education or an end to mass incarceration - in fact much bigger than that. Those are all things that lots of other countries already have. It's simply imagined to be a radical idea for the United States to have them too. Nobody had a global agreement to end war. Levinson saw such an agreement as one tool in the abolition of war, and he saw the abolition of war as one step in a chain of progress that had included ending such practices as duelling. The U.S. Senate ratified the Kellogg-Briand Pact and did not attach any reservations to it. However, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee separately declared that it believed the Pact allowed war as self-defense. Once again, I readily admit that a law only amounts to what people suppose it is and how they use it. However, there is a common understanding of law that says it should mean what it was supposed to mean by the people who created it. The reason for the separate interpretive statement by the committee was precisely to contradict the treaty itself, which had been drafted and lobbied for by people who wanted to ban all war, not just aggressive war, and who had successfully fended off every effort to limit the actual words of the treaty in that way. Levinson explained himself as follows:

"Suppose this same distinction had been urged when the institution of duelling [sic] was outlawed. . . . Suppose it had then been urged that only 'aggressive duelling' should be outlawed and that 'defensive duelling' be left intact. . . . Such a suggestion relative to duelling would have been silly, but the analogy is perfectly sound. What we did was to outlaw the institution of duelling, a method theretofore recognized by law for the settlement of disputes of so-called honor."
The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee of 1929 may have simply been stating the obvious and inevitable, as many people would say to this day. Outlawing defensive war is insanity and therefore sane people must point out that insanity isn't intended. Against this line of thought, however, we must ask why anything obvious should need pointing out. And we must observe that, just as the Outlawrists like Levinson predicted, the concept of defensive war has been used to excuse numerous aggressive wars. Further, we can recognize that recent scholarship finds nonviolent responses to tyranny and occupation to be more successful than violent ones. Preparations for defensive war have proven to be as counterproductive as preparations for defensive duelling, whereas diplomacy, cooperation, aid, respect, the rule of law, and disarmament have reduced war making and, in some parts of the world, ended it.

The Outlawrists fail to measure up to the cartoon version of them in which they imagined the Kellogg Briand Pact would immediately end all war. Among the many additional steps they wanted taken, was outlawing advocacy for war. Levinson drafted legislation to make advocating war a felony. That we have such a law today is another matter of an ignored treaty. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, signed and ratified by the United States, includes these words: "Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law." You'll be shocked to learn that war propaganda is not prohibited by domestic U.S. law. Such a law might conflict with the right to freedom of speech, but certainly for an even better reason than that for the prohibition on shouting "fire!" in a crowded theater. Such a law might conflict with the non-legal concept of too-big-to-fail since it would require major media outlets to radically reform or shut down. But, like the Kellogg-Briand Pact, the ban on war propaganda is a law written down in very clear language. When those in power favor something, like the Responsibility to Protect, or corporate personhood, or the right to torture, or the right to mass surveillance, or the executive order, or assassination, no law seems to be required at all. When something is not favored, like a ban on war or a ban on war propaganda, a law seems not to be sufficient. This is only to a degree, of course. Many worthwhile laws are upheld, which is why we bother trying to create and uphold laws.

I should add that the U.S. used to have a law banning propaganda for domestic media, meaning that the U.S. government could invent sheer fabrications for audiences outside the U.S. but not for audiences within. But it got rid of that law several years ago, and the nature of today's media renders the distinction very weak or meaningless. But war propaganda understood as advocacy for war, which is always biased and misleading and dishonest, has long been central to both the U.S. government and supposedly independent U.S. media and has never been banned. Included in domestic propaganda, before and since the repealing of that law, have been such complete fabrications as Iraqi nuclear weapons, Iranian nuclear weapons, Iraq's responsibility for 9/11, Iran's responsibility for 9/11. The Pentagon is very environmental-minded; it recycles all of its propaganda.

Even laws that are mocked when not ignored have often done a great deal of good. War was legal in 1927. Both sides of a war were legal. Atrocities committed during wars were almost always legal. The conquest of territory was legal. Burning and looting and pillaging were legal. War was, in fact, not just legal; it was itself understood to be law enforcement. War could be used to attempt to right any perceived injustice. The seizing of other nations as colonies was legal. The motivation for colonies to try to free themselves was weak because they were likely to be seized by some other nation if they broke free from their current oppressor. Economic sanctions by neutral nations were not legal, though joining in a war could be. And making trade agreements under the threat of war was perfectly legal and acceptable, as was starting another war if such a coerced agreement was violated. Raping a woman in war could be illegal, but killing her could be in perfect compliance with the law. Killing was, in fact, legal whenever deemed part of a war, and generally illegal otherwise.

The outlawing of war reduced the need for large nations, and smaller nations began to form by the dozens, exercising their right to self-determination. Colonies, likewise, sought their freedom. Conquests of territory after 1928 were undone. The year 1928 became the dividing line for determining which conquests were legal and which not. International trade has flourished in the absence of legal conquest. While it is not even true, much less a statement of causation, that nations with McDonalds do not attack each other, it may be true that a world with a reduced risk of attack, for better or worse, generates more McDonalds.

The very first prosecutions for the crime of war, at Nuremberg and Tokyo, have been followed by a reduction in wars that has most notably included the absence of any further wars waged directly between wealthy well-armed nations - at least so far. Sadly, the justice then and ever since has been one-sided. But war has been stigmatized and made understood as a crime in much of the world. Just as much of the world celebrates labor rights and a labor day in May with roots in Chicago, despite the United States' active erasure of that knowledge, much of the world understands war to have been outlawed - and the movement that did that has its roots in Chicago whether anyone remembers it or not.

The consequences of ignoring the Kellogg-Briand Pact in the United States are to be seen across the world. If war were not understood to be legal, the commission of murder by the U.S. military on small and large scales in numerous nations would be understood as the crime of murder. Just as in the pre-Kellogg-Briand times, war is understood by lawyers such as Rosa Brooks as legalizing its constituent parts. She testified to Congress that murders committed with missiles from drones were murder if not part of a war or legal if part of a war, and that she had no idea which they were because President Obama had written a memo on the topic and kept it secret. In contrast to this view, and in line with the view of lawyers who are not invited to testify before Congress, the judgment at Nuremberg upholding the Kellogg-Briand Pact, while limiting it to wars of aggression, declared that "To initiate a war of aggression . . . is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." In other words, a collection of murders and tortures and traumatizing horrors is not made legal by its size, but rather is rendered supremely illegal.

Without the notion that war is legal, and that lesser acts against so-called enemies are therefore also legal, crimes like sabotaging elections, and arming and training coup plotters would be understood as crimes under the laws of the countries where they take place.

With the world failing to uphold the Kellogg-Briand Pact, the government of Japan, under U.S. pressure, is able to advance its efforts to remove from its Constitution (or reinterpret to mean their opposite) words nearly identical to those of the Peace Pact, placed there by the United States, but kept there and upheld for many decades by the Japanese people against every U.S. demand to eliminate or violate them.

Number 9. Did you remember this is a list? Number 9. Laws like the U.N. Charter that are not ignored or forgotten are circumvented through the use of excuses, pretenses, and obfuscations. In common U.S. understanding, wars are legal if done properly, and properly means involving the United Nations in some vague way or involving NATO or rounding up a gang of co-conspirators, as well as being sure to only kill people, not torture them, only use cluster bombs and napalm and depleted uranium but not chemical weapons, declare all your killing to be precise and proportional, and so forth. But that's not what the U.N. Charter says. The U.N. Charter echoes the Kellogg-Briand Pact in banning war, but opens up two small loopholes. Because those loopholes exist, people imagine that wars must be legal or might be legal or that it's a matter for lawyers to debate and for everyone to simply choose their preferred opinion on whether a war should be deemed legal or not. In reality, however, what the words of the U.N. Charter say is, in part:

"All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered. All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations."
The purposes of the United Nations are all in line with the first one that begins the Charter: "To save succeeding generations from the scourge of war."

If the Kellogg-Briand Pact were completely erased from memory, the U.N. Charter would be the best thing left. None of the major wars of the past 75 years have been initiated in compliance with the self-defense loophole. None of them have been fought by the United Nations. And almost none have even been approved by the United Nations. When the U.N. refuses very clearly and publicly to approve of a war, such as Iraq 2003 (where it did not approve or attacking Iraq or of Iraq fighting back), the war is simply fought anyway, and the claims made, however implausibly, that attacking an unarmed nation halfway around the globe is self-defense, and/or that some U.N. resolution that didn't authorize any war actually did authorize a war, whether the U.N. thinks so or not.

Sometimes when the U.N. does not authorize a war, such as Afghanistan 2001, it is given a subsidiary role in the endless occupation that follows, and the implausible arguments for meeting one or both of the loopholes hardly need to be offered. When the U.N. does not authorize a war on Libya, it is maneuvered into authorizing measures to prevent a supposedly looming massacre, and then the pretense is made that either that prevention inevitably led to massive bombing and government overthrow and the creation of violent chaos, or the pretense is made that in fact the resolution authorized what it did not. And so on for Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, etc.

A U.N. Special Rapporteur named Ben Emmerson, also a law partner of Tony Blair's wife, wrote a big report some years back on drone murders in which he declared that they had simply made war the normal state of affairs instead of peace. Nothing criminal, mind you. Just a curious alteration in the state of affairs so that war is now the norm. Presumably the UN or some successor institution will have to establish the practice of authorizing peace in isolated locations.

Interestingly, Ben Emmerson is played by Ralph Fienne, known for Schindler's List and Harry Potter and other movies, in the forthcoming film Official Secrets, in which Keira Knightly plays Katharine Gun. Gun was the employee of the British government who risked prison to make public the fact that the U.S. government had recruited the British government to help blackmail other governments into voting for the 2003 war on Iraq. Emmerson defended Gun with the argument that she had acted out of the necessity of preventing the crime of war. And the British government backed down on prosecuting her because it would have been forced to reveal documentation that its own opinion was that the war would be a crime, a revelation that might have led to prosecutions of Tony Blair and members of his government. Yet all of that information has since been made public and not a single person has been prosecuted.

The U.N. Charter not only makes war a crime, but it makes the threat of war, including the long-standing White House mantra "All options are on the table" a crime. It does something else, though. It gives the U.N. the power to impose economic sanctions. This often brutal tool has led to massive death and suffering and laid the groundwork for wars. However, the Fourth Geneva Convention - which, for whatever it's worth, came after the U.N. Charter - bans the use of collective penalties. That law is apparently not hard to ignore, and the Geneva Conventions in general may be the most frequently ignored laws in the world.

Number 8. The U.S. Presidency has been given imperial powers. It is the opinion not only of the current president and Richard Nixon that anything a president does is legal. It is also the opinion of the U.S. Congress and of much of the U.S. public that a U.S. president is entitled to vastly more power than was ever held by King George III. This includes the power of nuclear holocaust. A couple of years ago, when Trump was threatening North Korea with "fire and fury" a Congressional committee held a hearing on the question of how Congress could prevent a president from launching a nuclear war. All members and witnesses were in agreement: they were utterly powerless to control the emperor. Of course, you and I might think, and some Congress Members might agree, that a president could be removed for incompetence under the Twenty Fifth Amendment, or might be impeached for numerous public and indisputable offenses including

Profiting from His Office
Incitement of Violence
Interference With Voting Rights
Discrimination Based On Religion
Illegal War
Illegal Threat of Nuclear War
Abuse of Pardon Power
Failure to Reasonably Prepare for or Respond to Hurricanes Harvey and Maria
Separating Children and Infants from Families
Refusal to Comply With Subpoenas
Declaration of Emergency Without Basis In Order to Violate the Will of Congress
Illegal Proliferation of Nuclear Technology
Illegally Removing the United States from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty
We might think Congress perfectly capable of banning first use of nuclear weapons, or banning presidential use of nuclear weapons, or banning the possession of nuclear weapons.
But that just proves we're not qualified to testify before Congress.

One way you're all very familiar with, I'm sure, to restrain presidential wars, is for Congress to ban particular wars or to insist that every particular war be authorized by Congress, as required by the U.S. Constitution. The House recently passed a ban on a war on Iran, an end to the U.S. role in the war on Yemen, and even an end to the Korean War. I'm in favor of all of those. I'm in favor of anything Congress or anybody else can do to prevent any war, including shouting "Presidents can't start wars!"

But here's what I'm not in favor of, and what amounts to a pretense that war is legal. It's become very common for peace advocates to oppose "unauthorized wars" or "wars not authorized by Congress." This is a little bit odd. Surely nobody is against the torture of kittens only if it's unauthorized by Congress. Since when does Congress get to authorize crimes? And what would make those crimes any less horrific if Congress did authorize them? If the U.S. government were to launch a war against Illinois, forgetting that the Indigenous people and the British are gone now (which sounds crazy unless you recall that Trump believes the American Revolutionaries took over all the airports), if that were to happen, would you really care whether you were being bombed by the president or by Congress? I have yet to hear a single victim of U.S. wars anywhere on earth complain that the wars were not properly authorized by Congress.

The demand that Congress vote on each war has to some extent replaced the demand that each war be ended. Congress Members and some of their constituents prefer to demand a proper vote than to express an opinion on which way that vote should go. The implication is that either way would be legal and acceptable. I once questioned Senator Tim Kaine on this point. He was going on about how Trump shouldn't bomb Syria without Congress, and I asked him how Congress could possibly make bombing Syria legal given the existence of the U.N. Charter. His response, which you can watch on my Youtube, was that Congress could do nothing to make some wars legal. But 30 seconds later, and ever since, he just went back to talking as he had before, denouncing Trump for not coming to Congress to legalize those wars.

Some in Britain want to require that the Parliament support any new war. The upside would be any successful prevention of a war by Parliament. The trouble, of course, is that the Parliament might then assume it has the legal right to commit the crime of war.

The U.S. Congress in 1973 created something called the War Powers Resolution which violates or weakens the Constitution by allowing presidents to launch wars for up to 60 days in the event of "a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces." Of course, that's not good enough for emperors. Harold Koh, lawyer for Obama, informed Congress that bombing Libya would not be a war or even hostilities, and so even the War Powers Resolution would not apply. I certainly hope that if I'm bombed it is with non-hostile bombs.

Number 7. Just War Theory. When Christianity became the religion of an empire instead of the religion persecuted by an empire, people like Ambrose and Augustine had to explain to everyone why Jesus would have wanted them to join in organized mass killing. Some sects of Christianity have never accepted violence to this day. But the theories of the ancient saints as to how war could be just have saturated western culture and made their way into the minds of us all. We're talking about the theories of people who in some cases believed that killing non-Christians was no concern at all, while killing Christians was a service because you were sending them to a better place. The theories concocted to justify war come out of assumptions and worldviews that most of us don't share. They also make no sense on their own terms. The criteria that a war must meet to be deemed just are either amoral, impossible, or immeasurable. No war victim cares whether a war was launched by a proper authority. No war has ever been launched as a last resort, as "last resort" simply means that one has stopped thinking or trying ideas. No claim of proportionality has ever been measured on any scale to determine whether it is correct or not, because every such claim is simply invented out of thin air. If you say that it's OK to bomb a location if no more than 49 civilians will die, and I say no more than 3, and somebody else says no more than 2,000,016, there is no way to determine who is right. But there is also no way to get governments and lawyers to stop claiming that murders should be "proportional." There is no way in a modern war to keep noncombatants immune from attack as required by just war theory; noncombatants are the majority of the victims in modern wars. There is no way to respect enemy soldiers while killing them, not in my worldview; I'm happy to be respected in many ways, but none coexist with killing me. No war can ever meet the criteria of these ancient theories, but any war that could would still fail dramatically to justify maintaining the institution of war which generates the risk of nuclear disaster (including complete apocalypse), imposes huge destruction on the natural environment, fuels hatred and bad government, and kills first and foremost through the diversion of resources away from human and environmental needs.

Yet, we have human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that as a matter of principle refuse to recognize laws against war and embrace the distinction between ad bellum and in bello, between why a war is begun and how it is conducted. The former is ignored as a matter of principle, while the latter is scrutinized. One of the most embarrassing sophistries of just war theory is the use of the concept of intentionality, and it survives to this day. If a military expects an action to kill a large number of civilians but also to accomplish some other purpose, it can choose to think of the action as intending the other purpose. In this way, the killings become unintended, or simply collateral damage. The Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques forbids major environmental damage, as could be expected from bombing fossil fuel or nuclear facilities, but if the intention is said to be some military purpose then the predictable environmental damage becomes legal because supposedly unintended.

Despite all these tricks, many people recognize most wars as unjust, yet hold out the possibility of some future war being just and of one particular past war about which they are badly misinformed (you all know which one) having been just. Just war thinking in our culture, in fact, focuses around a belief in the eventual second-coming of Hitler, who is of course not on his way.

Number 6. Treaties are not just ignored and violated but also torn up and rejected, generating enemies and avoiding disarmament. I mentioned the acceptance of presidential nuclear powers and what might be done about it, including the radical idea of getting rid of nukes. But that radical idea is a legal requirement. By joining the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1970, the then-nuclear-armed nations committed to not transferring nuclear weapons to other nations or in any way encouraging other nations to acquire nuclear weapons. The United States keeps nuclear weapons in other nations and has given nuclear technology to other nations. Also by joining that treaty, every member committed to undertaking "to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control."

How are those good-faith efforts to accomplish that at an early date looking a half-century later? The world has 14,000 nuclear bombs, some of them thousands of times the size of what destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The United States and Russia have 13,000 of those 14,000.

The United States has gone out of its way to avoid disarmament or any sort of cooperation with Russia. Russia - I wish it were needless to say - commits its own war crimes, not to mention other outrages. But it is the United States that has led the opposition to compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

When Gorbachev wanted to give up all nuclear weapons, Reagan refused to give up his Star Wars program. When Germany reunited, the United States and allies lied to the Russians that NATO would not expand. Then NATO quickly began expanding eastward. Meanwhile the United States openly bragged about imposing Boris Yeltsin and corrupt crony capitalism on Russia by interfering in a Russian election in collusion with Yeltsin. NATO developed into an aggressive global war maker and expanded right up to Russia's borders, where the United States began installing missiles. Russian requests to join NATO or Europe were dismissed out of hand. Russia was to remain a designated enemy, even without communism, and even without constituting any threat or engaging in any hostility. After Clinton bombed Kosovo, despite Russia's veto at the U.N., he refused Putin's offer to reduce each nation's arsenal to 1,000 bombs. George W. Bush withdrew (and Congress let him) from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Obama put new missile bases in Romania and Poland (Trump is completing the one in Poland). Bush and Obama and Trump rejected Russian and Chinese proposals to ban weapons in space. Obama rejected Russia's proposal to ban cyber attacks. The U.S. Congress has refused to join Russia and most of the world's governments in ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

When Russia gave the United States a memorial in sorrow for the victims of 9/11, the United States practically hid it, and reported on it so little that most people don't know it exists or believe it's a false story. Obama and Trump expelled Russian diplomats and Congress sanctioned them. Obama helped facilitate a coup in Ukraine, and Trump began shipping weapons to the coup government. Obama tried to overthrow the government of Syria, and Trump escalated the bombings, even hitting Russian troops. Russia is accused, and found guilty prior to convincing evidence, of shooting down an airplane, of "aggressively" flying near U.S. planes on Russia's borders, of "conquering" Crimea through a popular vote, of poisoning people in England, of torturing and murdering a man in prison, and of course of "hacking" an election - an accusation which, if evidence is ever produced for it, will amount to far less than Israel does in the United States or than the United States does in dozens of countries. Through all of these accusations it is not uncommon for the Russians to be referred to as "the commies," despite the demise of communism.

And now Trump has abandoned the INF Treaty - Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The INF Treaty was signed by President Reagan on December 8, 1987, and ratified by consent of the U.S. Senate on May 27, 1988, thereby becoming the supreme law of the land under Article VI, paragraph 2 of the U.S. Constitution. The INF Treaty allows withdrawal only if "extraordinary events related to the subject matter of this Treaty have jeopardized its supreme interests." The INF Treaty provides for intrusive on-site inspections, backed up by mutual verification by satellite and other monitoring mechanisms, and a Special Verification Commission to resolve any disputes about whether violations have occurred. Whether or not Russian development and deployment of its new 9M729 missile constitutes a "material breach" of the treaty is a matter to be dealt with by the provisions of the treaty itself and cannot satisfy the legal requirement for withdrawal. Trump has violated the treaty and the Constitution by withdrawing.

Two years ago, the majority of the world's nations supported the creation of a new treaty to ban all nuclear weapons. Seventy have signed and 25 ratified. The good faith efforts are being imposed on the nuclear nations from outside them. And not a moment too soon with the U.S. president reportedly wanting to use nuclear weapons against hurricanes.

Number 5. We allow secret agencies to plan and fight wars, and media outlets to ignore them. We don't see horrors that we would immediately denounce as crimes. Every government on earth, beginning with the United States, should shut down and be done with secret agencies, spy agencies, agencies used for murder, torture, bribery, election-manipulation, and coups. While these agencies prevent the public from knowing what is being done in its name, they do not acquire any knowledge that benefits the public and that couldn't have been acquired openly, lawfully, through simple research, diplomacy, and law-enforcement actions that respect human rights. While these agencies occasionally succeed in their criminal enterprises on their own terms, those successes always create blowback that does far more damage that the good - if any - accomplished. The CIA and all of its relatives in the U.S. government and around the world have normalized lying, spying, murdering, torturing, government secrecy, government lawlessness, distrust of foreign governments, distrust of one's own government, distrust of one's own qualifications to participate in self-government, and acceptance of perma-war. Labeling terrorism "counter-terrorism" doesn't make it something other than terrorism and doesn't change the fact that it increases rather than decreases terrorism by others. We should do something that Woodrow Wilson never did, and take seriously the first of his 14 points: "Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view." This is as critical a democratic reform as public financing of elections or public counting of paper ballots. Annie Jacobsen's latest book is called Surprise, Kill, Vanish: The Secret History of CIA Paramilitary Armies, Operators, and Assassins. It's based on interviews with former top members of the CIA who simply adore the CIA. The book simply adores the CIA. Yet it remains a chronicle of endless disastrous failure after failure after failure. This is a collection of pro-CIA voices leaking super-top-extra-special-secret information, much of it over 50 years old. And yet there's not a speck of justification for the CIA's existence to be found. We need to abolish the idea that secret government serves some useful purpose and is acceptable.

Number 4. The good war problem. The United States has a good war problem, a problem called "the good war." We don't believe in good slavery or good rape or humanitarian child abuse. There are some things that we believe must be ended, not mended. But we have not only a faith in the possibility of the good war, of bombing for peace and justice, but a requirement, a strong requirement to believe in the existence of good wars. When the war on Vietnam became very unpopular, it became necessary to find a way to oppose that particular war without opposing the institution of war. So, World War II was held up as the good war. When the war on Iraq became very unpopular, a man here in Chicago named Barack Obama declared that he was against it as a dumb war. He and many others quickly settled on their chosen candidate for smart and good war, namely the war on Afghanistan. While peace activists had denounced the war on Afghanistan from before it began, now it became common to hear that Afghanistan was in every way unlike Iraq. Wonderful heroic dedicated peace activists maintained that the United Nations had authorized the attack on Afghanistan, apparently based purely on the grounds that the United Nations had not authorized the attack on Iraq. If it didn't authorize the Iraq war it simply must have authorized the Afghanistan war. So, there is a novel way in which to legalize a war in the United States, and it is this: Start another war that's worse.

Number 3. The near total absence of consequences. While occasionally low-ranking members of the military are punished for particular atrocities, there is no accountability for those who launch wars or commit crimes within wars, unless they are African. The International Criminal Court has now said that it will prosecute the crime of aggressive war. Heretofore it has only prosecuted what are called "war crimes." The very concept of "war crimes" serves to falsely suggest the legality of war itself. We don't have lynching crimes for those occasions when some element of a lynching is carried out improperly. We don't have mass-shooting crimes for those moments when a mass-shooter somewhere within The Country That Matters conducts some part of his mass shooting incorrectly. Yet we have war crimes for the bits of wars that are done wrong. Yet even those are only prosecuted by the ICC when the accused is from Africa. Attempts in countries like Spain and Belgium to prosecute U.S. war crimes under universal jurisdiction have been quashed by pressure from the U.S. government. Attempts by the International Court of Justice to hold the United States responsible for war crimes in places like Nicaragua have simply been ignored by the U.S. government. The war crimes of recent decades, the spying without warrant, the imprisoning without trial, the torture, etc., are ceasing to be crimes. U.S. citizens are just as spied on as they once thought it would be OK to spy on so-called enemies. Imprisoning without trial has transitioned from Guantanamo to the main land, being proposed now for immigrants. Torture was always here. Just ask the Chicago police. But it's spread around the world and throughout our culture. In 2009 Michael Haas wrote a book with a foreword by Ben Ferencz, the only prosecutor at Nuremberg alive now, that listed 296 war crimes by George W. Bush. The first was the crime of aggressive war. Of the other 295 crimes, 253 of them were related to the treatment of prisoners and the treatment of an occupied population. This is why I said the Geneva Conventions may be the most ignored laws around. Of course what happens when crimes are not prosecuted or accounted for through truth and reconciliation or any such process, is that they continue, and they are continued with minor variations by emperors from both political parties, thereby rendering them acceptable to loyal members of those parties. Crimes become normalized. They're too big and widespread and even glorified and celebrated for us to see them as crimes and their architects as unindicted criminals.

Number 2. Exceptionalism. Who gets a license to violate laws that nobody else gets to violate? The police do. If you convince yourself that you are the police, then you can violate more laws, remain outside more treaties, invest in more war making, engage in more bombings and invasions than anybody else in the name of restraining and punishing rogue regimes. You have a government but they have regimes. They engage in aggression but you in preemption. Their crimes justify yours, but yours aren't crimes at all.

According to U.S. media outlets, the U.S. has not only a right to kill people anywhere, as "needed," but can suffer as the victim of "aggression" and respond with "defense" anywhere, so that Syrian attacks on U.S. troops in Syria have been generally referred to as Syrian aggression, as have interactions between U.S. and Russian planes near the border of Russia been referred to as Russian aggression. In 2015, a CNN presidential primary debate moderator asked this question: "We're talking about ruthless things tonight-carpet bombing, toughness, war. And people wonder, could you do that? Could you order air strikes that would kill innocent children by not the scores, but the hundreds and the thousands? Could you wage war as a commander-in-chief?"

If a recording were obtained of a North Korean or Venezuelan or Iranian leader declaring his willingness to kill thousands of children, that would be not only cause for great outrage, but also grounds for bombing the offending nation, thereby in fact killing thousands of children - which is not a crime when a U.S. president does it. In fact, it is a basic duty of every president according to CNN. Exceptionalism, of course, is a close sibling of racism and xenophobia and fuels and is fueled by them.

U.S. exceptionalism is adopted by other nations that become complicit in U.S. crimes. Ireland is a neutral nation. Under Hague Convention V in force since 1910, "Belligerents are forbidden to move troops or convoys of either munitions of war or supplies across the territory of a neutral Power." But the United States sends troops and weapons through Shannon Airport by the millions. I asked Ireland's ambassador to the United States how that could be legal, and she replied that she'd asked the U.S. government, and they'd told her it was.

And the Number 1 way in which we pretend that war is not a crime is . . . normalization. Our entertainment, our education, our mass media, and our politics treat violence, often extreme and sadistic violence, as normal and unremarkable, and participation in war as an admirable and praiseworthy "service" completely regardless of whether the war participated in is an evil murderous catastrophe. It's gotten so bad that many people can't imagine a world beyond war.

What do we do about this? One thing we can do is normalize a culture of peace. Once upon a time the Kellogg-Briand Pact was displayed in post offices and classrooms. Once upon a time Veterans Day was Armistice Day. At World BEYOND War we've just published a Peace Almanac with an important peace event for each day of the year. We need to celebrate the work of peace activists, including those who've written essays being honored here today, and including the Outlawrists of the 1920s. We need to see examples of principled, non-partisan, moral, fearless, strategic, and successful activism, like what created the Peace Pact.

We also need to educate people about the possibility and necessity of ending war. We need to work on projects that weaken the institution of war and strengthen structures of peace. At World BEYOND War we're successfully moving local governments to divest from weapons industries. And we're supporting campaigns to prevent and close military bases. We're also spreading the message of ending war and envisioning a world beyond it with books, videos, and events. Some of the best events that I recommend doing are friendly debates between supporters and opponents of war.

We need more people to use the books, articles, courses, and videos on and to sign the declaration of peace there.

We need to cure exceptionalism through changing our thinking, learning about and respecting the other 96 percent of humanity, where the other 50 percent of the guns and prisons are. We need to create standards of holding criminals accountable even when they are guilty of the supreme international crime. This may require democratizing the United Nations or empowering national governments to hold the United States to basic standards, but we can begin small. When Dick Cheney planned to come to my town I asked the local police to arrest him for torture. He never came.

We need to make open and public government and foreign relations a basic demand in our platform of reforms alongside clean elections and fair taxes and sustainable energy. We need to learn enough about war to reject the notion of a good one. We need to learn enough about the history of abolishing war so that the Kellogg-Briand Pact is known by everyone, this day is a global holiday, and we dedicate ourselves to completing the project that was advanced by the Outlawrists.

(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 Uberfuhrer Cotton

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 telling farmers to bite the big one for Lying Donalds mistakes and giant ego, 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 "Republican 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 Cotton, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

The 5 Biggest Corporate Lies About Unions
By Robert Reich

Wealthy corporations and their enablers have spread 5 big lies about unions in order to stop workers from organizing and to protect their own bottom-lines. Know the truth and spread the truth.

Lie #1: Labor unions are bad for workers. Wrong. Unions are good for all workers - even those who are not unionized. In the mid-1950s, when a third of all workers in the United States were unionized, wages grew in tandem with the economy. That's because workers across America - even those who were not unionized - had significant power to demand and get better wages, hours, benefits, and working conditions. Since then, as union membership has declined, the middle class has shrunk as well.

Lie #2: Unions hurt the economy. Wrong again. When workers are unionized they can negotiate better wages, which in turn spreads the economic gains more evenly and strengthens the middle class. This creates a virtuous cycle: Wages increase, workers have more to spend in their communities, businesses thrive, and the economy grows. Since the the 1970s, the decline in unionization accounts for one-third of the increase in income inequality. Without unions, wealth becomes concentrated at the top and the gains don't trickle down to workers.

Lie #3: Labor unions are as powerful as big business. Now way. Labor union membership in 2018 accounted for 10.5 percent of the American workforce, while large corporations account for almost three-quarters of the entire American economy. And when it comes to political power, it's big business and small labor. In the 2018 midterms, labor unions contributed less than 70 million dollars to parties and candidates, while big corporations and their political action committees contributed 1.6 billion dollars. This enormous gulf between business and labor is a huge problem. It explains why most economic gains have been going to executives and shareholders rather than workers. But this doesn't have to be the case.

Lie #4: Most unionized workers are in industries like steel and auto manufacturing. Untrue. Although industrial unions are still vitally important to workers, the largest part of the unionized workforce is workers in the professional and service sectors - retail, restaurant, hotel, hospital, teachers-which comprise 59% of all workers represented by a union. And these workers benefit from being in a union. In 2018, unionized service workers earned a median wage of 802 dollars a week. Non-unionized service workers made on average, $261 less. That's almost a third less.

Lie #5: Most unionized workers are white, male, and middle-aged. Some unionized workers are, of course, but most newly-unionized workers are not. They're women, they're young, and a growing portion are black and brown. In fact, it's through the power of unions that people who had been historically marginalized in the American economy because of their race, ethnicity, or gender are now gaining economic ground. In 2018, women who were in unions earned 21 percent more than non-unionized women. And African-Americans who were unionized earned nearly 20 percent more than African-Americans who were non-unionized.

Don't believe the corporate lies. Today's unions are growing, expanding, and boosting the wages and economic prospects of those who need them most. They're good for workers and good for America.

(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

American Morality
It's about more than just saving fetuses, guys
By Jane Stillwater

Books bring such pleasure into my life. While reading, I get to spend major time with some of the greatest human beings who ever lived -- hours and hours with them. I love books!

But sometimes what these great authors have to say isn't always so pleasant.

Currently I'm reading a book written back in 2005 -- but it could easily have been written today. What's the Matter with Kansas, by Thomas Frank. Absolutely nothing has changed in America since 2005. The average American is still trying to do the moral thing -- and Wall Street and War Street have still managed to convince him or her that the truly moral thing to do is to hand over all our power and all our money to the global super-elites. That's just weird. Are Americans still that gullible and masochistic? Apparently so.

The author says that the average voter in America in 2005 cared more about eliminating women's reproductive choices than about healthcare, jobs, education or even life itself -- just as long as there are no more safe abortions. And Americans still think that way. Would I myself vote for some guy who only promises to halt legal abortions -- even if it means that I would die tomorrow of starvation, homelessness or lack of healthcare? Hmmm. No-brainer! I love food and a comfortable bed far too much!

But what happens to a fetus after it's born? "Hey, that's someone else's problem."

I'm also reading another book that was just recently published. America is better than this: Trump's War Against Immigrant Families. Its author, U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, painstakingly details many of the horrors inflicted on kids kept in freezing-cold cages at our southern border. "Inflicting trauma on children has become a political strategy."

Americans are saving fetuses? And then imprisoning, raping, endangering, traumatizing and torturing children? Seriously? Where's the disconnect here, America? What is missing in America's morality?

It's like going to church twice a week but ignoring everything that Jesus teaches us.

It's like protecting embryos in their mothers' wombs but setting the Devil loose on them after they are born.

It's like turning morality on its head.

PS: I just heard Senator Merkley give a talk about his new book -- and he also signed my copy personally! Now here is a man who has his moral priorities straight. I highly recommend his book. And reading it is probably the only way that I'm going to be able to spend several hours with a U.S. Senator too.

I don't think I'll be reading Mitch McConnell's book any time soon, however. I can already imagine what it would be about. "I screwed the Senate. I screwed the American people. And I made a whole pile of money doing it too! God bless Jesus and amen."

At his book-signing event, Senator Merkley wrote in my copy, "Let's re-light Lady Liberty's torch!" Yeah, duh. And let's also re-light America's soul-crushing need for genuine morality. Let's stop buying the snake oil. Let's do whatever we can to stop America from kidnapping, imprisoning, torturing, raping and traumatizing little kids.

(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
~~~ Rick McKee ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Labor Day 19
By Will Durst

Are you kidding? Labor Day 2019? Already? How the hell did that happen? Didn't we just scrape down the Weber for the first summer barbecue on Memorial Day? Wasn't that like a week ago?

No matter. The kids are back in school. Every team in the NFL has legitimate playoff hopes. The trees are turning colors. Detroit is rolling out their new pieces of iron. Time to celebrate. Go out and party hearty everyone, like we're getting a day off of work to celebrate what it is we do for a living. Because that's what this day is really about.

Labor Day is also the seasonal marker between summer and autumn. The day that acts as barrier between coolers full of iced cans of PBR and icy winds swooping down from Manitoba. When we stow the swimsuits and flip-flops and pull out the parkas and galoshes. Storms go up, screens come down. The bright yin slowly changes into the dark yang.

When watermelons get carted off the floor of the grocery store behind those big black plastic flappy things and out comes the squash. Roll up the garden hose and check the exhaust hose on the snow blower. Verdant shades of green are replaced by the orange and black of Halloween.

It will never be mistaken for the king of holidays; more like a wandering minstrel on a discount donkey, blissfully unshackled to any official duties required of royalty. No proscribed traditions to uphold; pumpkins or fir trees to kill. No bunnies or turkeys or Cupid mascots to venerate. No flags or fireworks or dead presidents or foreign wars to remember. It's a feets up, shoes off, potato chip and dip kind of day.

And as a holiday, it gets little to no respect. Like a gym teacher substituting for an advanced honors biology class. Or an usher at a Saturday afternoon pre-school screening of a "Frozen" sing-along. An accountant in a biker bar. Artichokes at a cookout.

The name is definitely part of the problem - Labor Day. Kind of a bummer, when you think about it. After all, hard labor is a punishment and any woman who has gone through childbirth is not going to wax ecstatic either. So unsexy, it should be wearing support hose. The people at Hallmark will never make a penny off the first Monday in September.

But don't blow it off because this holiday is a gift for everyone: from the masters of the stock market to the stock clerks at the corner market. Equally to be enjoyed by the wizards of Wall Street and the folks who shovel blizzards off of Main Street. For the blue-collars and the white collars and the diamond collars and the no collars and the studded dog collars.

Just one day off to relax. To sleep late and maybe meet up with friends and family for one last warm weather blow out, and then again, maybe not. Do it up good or do nothing. Because this holiday is about the true American heroes. The ones who keep democracy alive and growing and stable. Who keep their heads down and continue to move forward trying to carve out a living in this crazy world. You know: you and me. Okay. Mostly you. Happy Labor Day everybody.

(c) 2019 Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed comedian, columnist, and former sod farmer in New Berlin, Wisconsin. For past columns, commentaries and a calendar of personal appearances, please, please visit:

The Gross National Debt

The Animal Rescue Site

Issues & Alibis Vol 19 # 34 (c) 09/06/2019

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

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