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In This Edition

Chris Hedges considers, "Diseases Of Despair."

Uri Avnery compares, "Crusaders And Zionists."

Glen Ford explores, "Trump, Joe Arpaio And The Black Codes."

William Rivers Pitt returns singing, "If I Had A Hammer ...."

Jim Hightower points out, "The Gaping Hole In Trump's Border Wall."

John Nichols reports, "Scandal-Plagued Sheriff David Clarke Would Make A Bad Trump Administration Even Worse."

James Donahue wonders, "Have We Got Another Planet Or Two In Our Solar System?"

Randall Amster explores, "Floods And Fires."

Max Elbaum examines, "Left Strategy After Charlottesville."

David Suzuki reports, "Study Finds Exxon Misled The Public By Withholding Climate Knowledge."

Charles P. Pierce finds, "The Chemical Plant Explosion In Texas Is Not An Accident. It's The Result Of Specific Choices."

David Swanson looks into, "Charlottesville's Past That Isn't Even."

Amy Goodman exclaims, "Hell Hath No Fury Like Mother Earth Scorned!"

Texas Con-gressman Sam Johnson wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich explains, "Why CEOs Are Turning On Trump."

Bernie Sanders reminds us, "This Labor Day The Struggle Continues."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst considers, "Fake Sons" but first, Uncle Ernie sez, "The Dream Is Over, For Now."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Rick McKee, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, David McNew, Gage Skidmore, Jared Rodriguez, Mike Mozart, Mark Humphrey, Gerald Herbert,, Reuters, Austin American Statesman, Shutterstock, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, HBO, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org. Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

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The Dream Is Over, For Now
By Ernest Stewart

"To target these young people is wrong -- because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating -- because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel." ~~~ Barrack Obama

"They were just happy. We saw a lot of happiness. It's been really nice. It's been a wonderful thing. As tough as this was, it's been a wonderful thing, I think even for the country to watch it and for the world to watch. It's been beautiful." ~~~ Donald Trump on Hurricane Harvey

"It's Always Something!" ~~~ Roseanne Roseannadanna

Apparently nothing upsets House Republicans like the idea of hard-working people getting to enjoy a secure and dignified retirement. While Speaker Ryan sharpens his knives for Medicare, Chairman Johnson's bill is an alarming sign that Republicans are greedily eying devastating cuts to Americans' Social Security benefits as well. ~~~ Nancy Pelosi

This coming and going
Is driving me nuts
This to-ing and fro-ing
Is hurting my guts
So get off the fence
Its creasing your butt
Life is a party
Let's get out and strut

Mixed Emotions ~~~ The Rolling Stones

You know how I felt about Obama; he did a few good things and many bad things, but I find myself agreeing with him whole heartedly on DACA. What the Donald did, like so many other things he wants to do, and has already done, is both "cruel, self-defeating," and racist.

Yes I've heard Sessions explain that he is only following ze orders and obeying the Constitution. I might consider his words if it weren't for the fact he got caught lying to Congress on more than one occasion. I wonder what they'd do to you or me if we went up before Con-gress and proceeded to lie our asses off! What Happy Camp we'd get sent off to and never be heard from again. But Sessions isn't in a camp nor will he ever be.

Sorry, Jeff, but the real reason DACA doesn't work is because most of the kids are brown or black and Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is a racist from Selma, Alabama. You'll remember the kindly white folks down in Selma with their fire hoses, attack dogs and shot guns? Something I'll never forget!

The kids who came here as babes in arms and such know no other way of life but that of being an American. Many of these kids have brothers and sister who were born here and hence are citizens. Now Trump wants to send them back to a foreign country, up root and destroy their lives and the lives of their families, when all they want to do is achieve the American dream by getting a good education and contributing to their country. The only country that they have ever known.

Then there is, Trump who has only married foreigners (apparently all the American girls were hip to his jive) and whose mother Mary Anne MacLeod was an illegal alien from Scotland who overstayed her visa. Imagine that! He's what Tweety Bird called a hypo-twit!

In Other News

While folks in Houston are still treading water, the folks out west are fighting another element, fire! The global warming deniers are starting to feel like a Christian Scientist with appendicitis!

The heat wave that has shattered records and exacerbated wildfires across the western United States will continue into midweek, but relief is on the way for parts of the region.

The latest burst of heat brought the hottest conditions ever recorded in downtown San Francisco as the mercury soared to 106 degrees Fahrenheit on Friday, Sept. 1. The previous record of 103 was set on June 14, 2000.

Dozens more all-time and daily record highs were set from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon, and Missoula, Montana, over the weekend.

The hot, dry conditions fanned the La Tuna Fire north of Los Angeles, which has charred over 7,000 acres and burned three homes since Friday, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. This is the city's largest wildfire in terms of acreage, their mayor, Eric Garcetti said.

California Gov. Jerry Brown issued a state of emergency declaration for Los Angeles County on Sunday due to the severity of the blaze.

There are currently 74 wild fires that are raging across the west, which by a strange coincidence is the numer of aftershocks in Idaho's earthquake which can be felt all the way to southern Utah! Oops my bad, since I wrote this there's been another 30 or so after shocks.

In Oregon, crews rescued about 140 hikers forced to spend the night in the woods after fire broke out along the popular Columbia River Gorge Trail.

Oregon State Police say the Eagle Creek Fire was caused by a person who possibly misused a firework. The suspect has been identified by police, CBS affiliate KOIN-TV reports.

Search and rescue crews airdropped supplies on Saturday as flames prevented the hikers' escape. Wildfires also burned in a 2,700-year-old grove of giant sequoia trees near Yosemite National Park, forced evacuations in Glacier National Park and drove people from homes in parts of the West struggling with blazing temperatures. As Roseanne Roseannadanna might have said about global warming, "It's Always Something!"

And Finally

I see where Con-gressman Sam Johnson a Rethuglican from Texas wants to steal our social security and give it to the rich even though cutting Social Security would have devastating consequences for Americans' retirement security. It used to be political suicide to try and steal from entitlement programs but with a lock in The House, The Senate, The White House and The Extreme Court Con-gressmen Johnson crawled out from under his rock to do his masters bidding without fear of grabbing that 3rd rail.

As Nancy Pelosi said, "At a time when Americans are more anxious about their retirement than ever, the top Republican on the Social Security Subcommittee is rolling out legislation that cuts benefits by more than a third, raises the retirement age from 67 to 69, cuts seniors' cost of living adjustments, and targets benefits for the families of disabled and retired workers."

Sam who is a little to the right of Darth Vaders is working hand-and-hand with the "enemy of the people" House Speaker Paul Ryan who is doing his best to get rid of Medicare. They're the dynamic duo of Koch puppets that are out to kill the elderly, sick and poor so they can take that much needed money and give it to their 1% puppet masters.

Paul, who has already won the Vidkun Quisling Award on several occasions will get a by this time so that Sam can win the well earned award for his many acts of treason!

Keepin' On

Got those ole mixed emotions again. Time is all but up; but I've heard from a couple of folks that say that help is on the way so I can only wait and anticipate. There was nothing but spam in the PO Box again last Saturday; but this Saturday looks to be promising. We'll have to wait and see.

All I can say is, where are "The Usual Suspects;" these last few years would have been impossible without them -- not only for the magazine, but also in my personal life. Ya'll know who you are. Some are common names around here, but some give, wishing to remain anonymous, knowing that whether or not folks know who you are, and what you did, instant Karma is still going to find you, and give you its blessings. That's right folks, Karma is a two-way street; and it has been my observation that you reap what you sow! Either way, I'm going to be here if I have to sell my blood to keep going. Honest information is that important in this age of Trump.

If you think what we do is important, and would like to help us keep spreading the word, then please send us whatever you can, whenever you can; and we'll keep on keeping on for all of you. We've all got to fight the good fight, not just once in a while, but every minute of every day. This is not only important for your own self, but for your kids and grandkids too. It truly is about to hit the fan, if you don't! Hope to hear from more of you very soon!


02-03-1925 ~ 09-01-2017
Thanks for the laughs!

12-17-1939 ~ 09-01-2017
Thanks for the film!

02-20-1950 ~ 09-03-2017
Thanks for the music!

09-28-1951 ~ 09-03-2017
Thanks for the music!

06-08-1929 ~ 09-04-2017
Thanks for the film!


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

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

Diseases Of Despair
By By Chris Hedges

The opioid crisis, the frequent mass shootings, the rising rates of suicide, especially among middle-aged white males, the morbid obesity, the obsession with gambling, the investment of our emotional and intellectual life in tawdry spectacles and the allure of magical thinking, from the absurd promises of the Christian right to the belief that reality is never an impediment to our desires, are the pathologies of a diseased culture. They have risen from a decayed world where opportunity, which confers status, self-esteem and dignity, has dried up for most Americans. They are expressions of acute desperation and morbidity.

A loss of income causes more than financial distress. It severs, as the sociologist Emile Durkheim pointed out, the vital social bonds that give us meaning. A decline in status and power, an inability to advance, a lack of education and health care and a loss of hope are crippling forms of humiliation. This humiliation fuels loneliness, frustration, anger and feelings of worthlessness. In short, when you are marginalized and rejected by society, life often has little meaning.

"When life is not worth living, everything becomes a pretext for ridding ourselves of it ... ," Durkheim wrote. "There is a collective mood, as there is an individual mood, that inclines nations to sadness. ... For individuals are too closely involved in the life of society for it to be sick without their being affected. Its suffering inevitably becomes theirs."

White men, more easily seduced by the myth of the American dream than people of color who understand how the capitalist system is rigged against them, often suffer feelings of failure and betrayal, in many cases when they are in their middle years. They expect, because of notions of white supremacy and capitalist platitudes about hard work leading to advancement, to be ascendant. They believe in success. When the American dream becomes a nightmare they are vulnerable to psychological collapse. This collapse, more than any political agenda, propelled Donald Trump into power. Trump embodies the decayed soul of America. He, like many of those who support him, has a childish yearning to be as omnipotent as the gods. This impossibility, as the cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker wrote, leads to a dark alternative: destroying like the gods.

In "Hitler and the Germans" the political philosopher Eric Voegelin dismissed the myth that Hitler-an uneducated mediocrity whose only strength was an ability to exploit political opportunities-mesmerized and seduced the German people. The Germans, he wrote, voted for Hitler and the "grotesque, marginal figures" surrounding him because he embodied the pathologies of a diseased society, one beset by economic collapse, hopelessness and violence. This sickness found its expression in the Nazis, as it has found its expression in the United States in Trump.

Hannah Arendt said the rise of radical evil is caused by collective "thoughtlessness." Desperate to escape from the prison of a failed society, willing to do anything and abuse anyone to advance, those who feel trapped see the people around them as objects to be exploited for self-advancement. This exploitation mirrors that carried out by corrupt ruling elites. Turning people into objects to be used to achieve wealth, power or sexual gratification is the core practice espoused by popular culture, from reality television to casino capitalism. Trump personifies this practice.

Plato wrote that the moral character of a society is determined by its members. When the society abandons the common good it unleashes amoral lusts-violence, greed and sexual exploitation-and fosters magical thinking. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus called those who severed themselves from the moral and reality-based universe idiotes. When these idiotes, whose worldview is often the product of relentless indoctrination, form a majority or a powerful minority, the demagogue rises from the morass.

The demagogue is the public face of collective stupidity. Voegelin defined stupidity as a "loss of reality." This loss of reality meant people could not "rightly orient his [or her] action in the world, in which he [or she] lives." The demagogue, who is always an idiote, is not a freak or a social mutation. The demagogue expresses the society's demented zeitgeist. This was true in Nazi Germany. It is true in the United States.

"The fool in Hebrew, the nabal, who because of his folly, nebala, creates disorder in the society, is the man who is not a believer, in the Israelite terms of revelation," Voegelin wrote. "The amathes, the irrationally ignorant man, is for Plato the man who just does not have the authority of reason or who cannot bow to it. The stultus for Thomas [Aquinas] is the fool, in the same sense as the amathia of Plato and the nebala of the Israelite prophets. This stultus now has suffered loss of reality and acts on the basis of a defective image of reality and thereby creates disorder. ... If I have lost certain sectors of reality from my range of experience, I will also be lacking the language for appropriately characterizing them. That means that parallel to the loss of reality and to stupidity there is always the phenomenon of illiteracy."

A society convulsed by disorder and chaos, as Voegelin pointed out, elevates and even celebrates the morally degenerate, those who are cunning, manipulative, deceitful and violent. In an open society these attributes are despised and criminalized. Those who exhibit them are condemned as stupid-"a man [or woman] who behaves in this way," Voegelin notes, "will be socially boycotted." But the social, cultural and moral norms in a diseased society are inverted. The attributes that sustain an open society-a concern for the common good, honesty, trust and self-sacrifice-are detrimental to existence in a diseased society. Today, those who exhibit these attributes are targeted and silenced.

The deep alienation experienced by most Americans, the loss of self-esteem and hope, has engendered what Durkheim referred to as a collective state of anomie. Anomie is a psychological imbalance that leads to prolonged despair, lethargy and yearnings for self-annihilation. It is caused by a collapse of societal norms, ideals, values and standards. It is, in short, a loss of faith in the structures and beliefs that define a functioning democracy. The result is an obliteration of purpose and direction. It leads to what Friedrich Nietzsche called an aggressive despiritualized nihilism. As Durkheim wrote in his book "On Suicide":

It is sometimes said that, by virtue of his psychological make-up, man cannot live unless he attaches himself to an object that is greater than himself and outlives him, and this necessity has been attributed to a supposedly common need not to perish entirely. Life, they say, is only tolerable if one can see some purpose in it, if it has a goal and one that is worth pursuing. But the individual in himself is not sufficient as an end for himself. He is too small a thing. Not only is he confined in space, he is also narrowly limited in time. So when we have no other objective than ourselves, we cannot escape from the feeling our efforts are finally destined to vanish into nothing, since that is where we must return. But we recoil from the idea of annihilation. In such a state, we should not have the strength to live, that is to say to act and struggle, since nothing is to remain of all the trouble that we take. In a word, the state of egoism is in contradiction with human nature and hence too precarious to endure.
Pope John Paul II in 1981 issued an encyclical titled "Laborem exercens," or "Through Work." He attacked the idea, fundamental to capitalism, that work was merely an exchange of money for labor. Work, he wrote, should not be reduced to the commodification of human beings through wages. Workers were not impersonal instruments to be manipulated like inanimate objects to increase profit. Work was essential to human dignity and self-fulfillment. It gave us a sense of empowerment and identity. It allowed us to build a relationship with society in which we could feel we contributed to social harmony and social cohesion, a relationship in which we had purpose.

The pope castigated unemployment, underemployment, inadequate wages, automation and a lack of job security as violations of human dignity. These conditions, he wrote, were forces that negated self-esteem, personal satisfaction, responsibility and creativity. The exaltation of the machine, he warned, reduced human beings to the status of slaves. He called for full employment, a minimum wage large enough to support a family, the right of a parent to stay home with children, and jobs and a living wage for the disabled. He advocated, in order to sustain strong families, universal health insurance, pensions, accident insurance and work schedules that permitted free time and vacations. He wrote that all workers should have the right to form unions with the ability to strike.

The encyclical said:

[In spite of toil]-perhaps, in a sense, because of it-work is a good thing for man. Even though it bears the mark of a bonum arduum, in the terminology of Saint Thomas, this does not take away the fact that, as such, it is a good thing for man. It is not only good in the sense that it is useful or something to enjoy; it is also good as being something worthy, that is to say, something that corresponds to man's dignity, that expresses this dignity and increases it. If one wishes to define more clearly the ethical meaning of work, it is this truth that one must particularly keep in mind. Work is a good thing for man-a good thing for his humanity-because through work man not only transforms nature, adapting it to his own needs, but he also achieves fulfillment as a human being and indeed, in a sense, becomes "more a human being."
Work, the pope pointed out, "constitutes a foundation for the formation of family life, which is a natural right and something that man is called to. These two spheres of values-one linked to work and the other consequent on the family nature of human life-must be properly united and must properly permeate each other. In a way, work is a condition for making it possible to found a family, since the family requires the means of subsistence which man normally gains through work. Work and industriousness also influence the whole process of education in the family, for the very reason that everyone 'becomes a human being' through, among other things, work, and becoming a human being is precisely the main purpose of the whole process of education. Obviously, two aspects of work in a sense come into play here: the one making family life and its upkeep possible, and the other making possible the achievement of the purposes of the family, especially education. Nevertheless, these two aspects of work are linked to one another and are mutually complementary in various points."

"It must be remembered and affirmed that the family constitutes one of the most important terms of reference for shaping the social and ethical order of human work," the encyclical continued. "The teaching of the Church has always devoted special attention to this question, and in the present document we shall have to return to it. In fact, the family is simultaneously a community made possible by work and the first school of work, within the home, for every person."

We will not bring those who have fled a reality-based world back into our fold through argument. We will not coerce them into submission. We will not find salvation for them or ourselves by supporting the Democratic Party. Whole segments of American society are bent on self-immolation. They despise this world and what it has done to them. Their personal and political behavior is willfully suicidal. They seek to destroy, even if destruction leads to death. We must organize our communities to create a new socialist order and overthrow the corporate state through sustained acts of mass civil disobedience. We must achieve full employment, guaranteed minimum incomes, health insurance, free education at all levels, robust protection of the natural world and an end to militarism and imperialism. We must create the possibility for a life of dignity, purpose and self-esteem. If we do not, the idiotes will ensure our obliteration.
(c) 2017 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

Crusaders And Zionists
By Uri Avnery

A FEW days ago I found myself in Caesarea, sitting in a restaurant and looking out over the sea. The sunbeams were dancing on the little waves, the mysterious ruins of the ancient town arrayed behind me . It was hot, but not too hot, and I was thinking about the crusaders.

Caesarea was built by King Herod some 2000 years ago and named after his Roman master, Augustus Caesar. It once again became an important town under the Crusaders, who fortified it. These fortifications are what now makes the place a tourist attraction.

For some years in my life I was obsessed with the Crusaders. It started during the 1948 "War of Independence", when I chanced to read a book about the crusaders and found that they had occupied the same locations opposite the Gaza strip which my battalion was occupying. It took the crusaders several decades to conquer the strip, which at the time extended to Ashkelon. Today it is still there in Muslim hands.

After the war, I read everything I could about these Crusaders. The more I read, the more fascinated I became. So much so, that I did something I have never done before or after: I wrote a letter to the author of the most authoritative book about the period, the British historian Steven Runciman.

To my surprise, I received a hand-written reply by return of post, inviting me to come and see him when I happened to be in London. I happened to be in London a few weeks later and called him up. He insisted I come over immediately.

Like almost everyone who fought against the British in Palestine, I was an anglophile. Runciman, a typical British aristocrat with all the quaint idiosyncracies that go with it, was very likeable.

We talked for hours, and continued the conversation when my wife and I visited him later in an ancient Scottish fortress on the border with England. Rachel, who was even more anglophile than I, almost fell in love with him.

WHAT WE talked about was a subject I brought up at the very start of our first meeting: "When you were writing your book, did you ever think about the similarities between the Crusaders and the modern Zionists?" Runciman answered: "Actually, I hardly thought about anything else. I wanted to subtitle the book A Guidebook For the Zionist About How Not To Do It." And after a short laugh: "But my Jewish friends advised me to abstain from doing so."

Indeed, it is almost taboo in Israel to talk about the crusades. We do have some experts, but on the whole, the subject is avoided. I don't remember ever having heard about the Crusades during the few years I spent at school. Thus is not as astonishing as it may sound. Jewish history is ethnocentric, not geographical. It starts with our (legendary) forefather, Abraham, and his chats with God, and continues until the defeat of the Bar Kochba rebellion against the Romans in 136 AD.

From then on our history takes leave from Palestine and dances around the world, concentrating on Jewish events, until the year 1882, when the first pre-Zionists set up some settlements in Ottoman Palestine. During all the time in between, Palestine was empty, nothing happened there.

That is what Israeli children learn today, too.

ACTUALLY, LOTS of things did happen during those 1746 years, more than in most other countries. The Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Ottoman and British empires followed each other until 1948. The crusaders' kingdoms were an important chapter by themselves.

Most Israelis would be surprised to learn that the Crusaders resided in Palestine for almost 200 years - much longer than Zionist history until now. It was not a short, passing episode.

The similarity between the Crusaders and the Zionists strikes one at first glance. Both movements moved a large number of people from Europe to the Holy Land. (During the first half century of its existence, Zionism brought almost only European Jews to Palestine.) Since both of them came from the west, they were perceived by the local Muslim population as Western invaders.

Neither the Crusaders nor the Zionists had one day of peace during their entire existence. The perpetual sense of military danger shaped their entire history, their culture and their character.

The crusaders had some temporary armistices, especially with Syria, but we, too, now have two "peace agreements" in place - with Egypt and Jordan. Without any real feelings of peace and friendship with these peoples, our agreements do also resemble armistices rather than peace.

Then as now, the Crusaders' lot was made easier by the fact that the Arabs were constantly quarreling among themselves. Until the great Salah-a-Din ("Saladin"), a Kurd, appeared on the scene, united the Arabs and vanquished the Crusaders in the battle at the Horns of Hattin, near Tiberias. After that, the Crusaders regrouped and hung on in Palestine for another four generations.

Both the Crusaders and the Zionists saw themselves, quite consciously, as "bridgeheads" of the West in a foreign and hostile region. The Crusaders, of course, came here as the army of the West, to regain the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, wrote in his book Der Judenstaat, the bible of Zionism, that in Palestine we shall serve as the outpost of (Western) culture against (Muslim) barbarism.

The Holy City, by the way, remains the focus of a daily battle. Just this week, two extreme-right Members of the Knesset were allowed by the Israeli authorities to enter the Temple Mount area, fortunately without inciting Jewish-Muslim riots as on previous such occasions.

Also last week, our Minister of Justice, (whom I have called "the devil in the guise of a beautiful woman"), accused the Israeli Supreme Court of putting human rights above the "values of Zionism" (whatever these are). She has already introduced a bill which makes it clear that those "Zionist values" are legally superior to "democratic values" and come first.

THE SIMILARITY is most apparent when it comes to peace.

For the crusaders, of course, peace was unthinkable. Their whole enterprise was based on the aim of liberating Jerusalem and the entire Holy Land ("God Wills It!") from Islam, the deadly enemy. This excludes a priori any peace with God's enemies.

Zionists talk endlessly about peace. No week passes without Binyamin Netanyahu releasing some touching declaration about his craving for peace. But by now it is absolutely clear that he does not dream of giving up one inch of land west of the Jordan. Just a few days ago he again publicly confirmed that he will not "uproot" one single Jewish settlement in the West Bank. Under international law every one of these settlements is illegal.

THERE ARE, of course, huge differences between the two historical movements, as huge as the differences between the 11th and 21st centuries.

Can one imagine the Templar knights with atom bombs? Saladin with tanks? The journey of Hospitalers from Clermont to Jaffa by airplane?

At the time of the crusades, the idea of the modern "nation" was not yet born. The knights were French, English or German, but foremost they were Christian. Zionism was born of the will to turn the Jews of the world into a nation in the modern sense of the term.

Who were these Jews? In 19th century Europe, a continent of new nations, they were an unnatural exception, and therefore hated and feared. But they were really an unreformed relic of the Byzantine Empire, where the very identity of all communities was based on religion. Ethnic-religious communities were autonomous and legally under the jurisdiction of their religious leaders.

A Jewish man in Alexandria could marry a Jewish girl Antioch, but not the Christian woman next door. A Latin woman in Damascus could marry a Latin man in Constantinople, but not the Greek-orthodox man across the street. This legal structure still exists in many ex-Byzantine countries, including - you'll never guess - Israel.

But given all the differences of time, the comparison is still valid, and provides much food for thought - especially if you sit on the shore of Caesaria, the imposing Crusaders' wall just behind you, a few kilometers from the port of Atlit, where the last Crusaders were literally thrown into the sea when it all came to an end, just 726 years ago.

To paraphrase Runciman, I hope we learn not to be like them in time.
(c) 2017 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

President Trump's pardon of arch-racist Joe Arpaio was made possible by a previous president's pardoning of ex-Confederates.

Trump, Joe Arpaio And The Black Codes
By Glen Ford

Donald Trump identifies most closely with America's hyper-aggressive "outlaw" presidents, especially Andrew Jackson, arguably the most hands-on violent and law-defying chief executive in U.S. history. As a general, Jackson repeatedly violated Spanish sovereignty in Florida in his expeditions against Native American and Black resistance to the ever-expanding U.S. slavocracy. As the 7th president, Jackson ignored a U.S. Supreme Court decision that recognized the sovereignty of the Cherokee Nation. "[Chief Justice] John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it," said Jackson, mocking the judiciary's lack of an army.

Trump admires Jackson's savage racism and ruthlessness -- as did majorities of U.S. voters of the era. The Orange Oligarch doubtless thinks of Jackson as a "winner," which is all that counts in Trump's cutthroat capitalist world. However, Trump himself is looking more like a "loser" president with every passing day -more like the other "A.J." in the White House, Andrew Johnson, who escaped impeachment by only one vote, in 1868.

Although most analysts believe Trump is on safe legal ground in his pardoning of arch-racist former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, impeachment is ultimately a political act. The Republican Party does control both Houses of Congress, but it's not Donald Trump's party. Rather, it's the same GOP whose entire pantheon of top politicians Trump defeated in the 2016 primaries (with extraordinary assistance from corporate media and the Democratic National Committee, as revealed by Wikileaks). These Republicans detest Trump, who continues to harangue and bully them with tweets and ad-lib outbursts that will someday soon come home to roost.

The Arpaio pardon has further eroded Trump's support among the majority party on Capitol Hill. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who boarded the Trump train during the primaries when he discovered that the billionaire was even better than him at riling up racists, has distanced himself from Trump's latest gambit. House Speaker Paul Ryan said he opposed the pardon, as did both of Arizona's Republican senators.

Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell let it be known, last week, that he despairs of Trump's ability to salvage his presidency -- which is another way of saying that McConnell will not be the one to throw Trump a life jacket when the crisis comes. McConnell reportedly "expressed horror" at Trump's moral equation of white supremacists and anti-racist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.

White supremacy was the Daddy Trump's guiding business principle and the spoiled son's trampoline to fame in New York City politics, and it will likely be the agent of The Donald's presidential demise. He inherited the broad -- near absolute -- powers of pardon from President Andrew "The Loser" Johnson, the vice president and Tennessee Democrat who succeeded the assassinated Lincoln and immediately set about the wholesale pardoning of Confederates. Augustus Hill Garland, a former Arkansas senator in the Confederate States of America, and once a supporter of the "Know Nothing" party, immediately re-entered politics, but was prohibited by federal legislation from practicing law. In 1866, the U.S. Supreme -- which until only two years before had been presided over by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, of Dred Scott decision infamy -- ruled that Johnson and all U.S. presidents had almost unlimited powers to pardon; a gift to ex-Confederates throughout the South.

Johnson's mass rehabilitation of rebels allowed them to almost instantaneously form ex-Confederate governments all over Dixie, legislating Black Codes that negated Emancipation and prompted the Radical Republican Congress to pass amendments to the Constitution and impose a Reconstruction regime on the South to protect the freedmen and women. Johnson fought the Radical Republicans every step of the way, repeatedly vetoing civil rights legislation and economic aid for the ex-slaves. The issue came to a head in 1868, when Johnson escaped impeachment by one vote.

Reconstruction ended early in Arkansas, where Garland was elected as Governor in 1872. He became a U.S. Senator in 1876, the year of the Hayes-Tilden Compromise that resulted in the withdrawal of federal troops from the South, ushering in Jim Crow, the world's most regimented racial regime. In 1885, Garland became attorney general of the United States under Democratic President Grover Cleveland, of Illinois, who ruled in concert with a Republican-dominated Congress. Garland's story personifies the reconciliation of white people, North and South, around the principle of Negro subordination.

Garland may now have played a role, through the Supreme Court decision on pardons that bears his name, in the dissolution of Donald Trump's regime -- through excess of Confederateness. The international corporate elite of both parties have no use for the symbolism and crude language of the Confederacy and Jim Crow. This tiny, overwhelmingly white fraction of one percent rules through the hegemony of capital, the corporate ownership of the means of communication, the world's biggest police and prisons state, and a war machine that can destroy the planet many times over. The day approaches when Trump will be more useful to the Lords of Capital as a foil and ritual sacrifice.

When that day arrives, the still-unfree Black and brown masses will, of course, celebrate Trump's demise, in the woefully mistaken belief that the Deep State is finally on their side.
(c) 2017 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

If I Had A Hammer ...
By William Rivers Pitt

Probably it's my age showing, but my taste in music is completely stuck in the mud. I see these new singers being promoted on TV, and I've never heard of a single one of them. Even my refuge radio station is getting weird on me. I was in the car the other day listening to WZLX, the classic rock station out of Boston, and they played "Jane Says" by Jane's Addiction. I almost drove off the road. That's not classic rock! That's my music! I was annoyed, until I remembered that "Jane Says" came out 29 years ago, and then I was annoyed and a little sad.

Know what else is stuck in the mud, and has been for about the same amount of time? Wages. Your wages, mine, and just about everyone else's -- 70 percent of workers in the US -- haven't changed much at all for decades. Adjusted for inflation, your upward mobility and ability to save for the future are pretty much right where they were when Jane first said what she had to say.

They say time flies. When it comes to the so-called American Dream, however, time has been standing still.

The fact that wages in this country have not improved for two generations running has a whole lot to do with the ongoing and highly successful campaign fought against labor unions by the bosses of the world, including the one who's currently running the country. Today, only about 13 percent of US households are made up of union workers. The decline in the ranks of labor unions matches with cold precision the overall decline of the nation itself.

Unions represent and fight for what the United States should be, and more importantly, serve as a vital bulwark against the atrocities of this country's early labor history, right from its colonial beginnings. The 17th century aristocrat with the tobacco plantation -- constructed on stolen land -- profited largely from the labor of enslaved Africans, enslaved or indentured Indigenous people, as well as that of unpaid laborers scraped from the lowest rungs of British society. Both cases created profit for the few, with toil and misery for the many. That struggle, in one form or another, has been going on ever since. Organized labor has been a key component of the resistance to that old, ugly formula.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, one could not go more than a day without hearing candidate Trump rail about empty factories dotting the landscape like tombstones. This was, to put it mildly, a hoot, because it was his wealthy friends and their parents, and their parents' parents, who intentionally obliterated the manufacturing industry in the United States. For many years, labor unions held the line against ownership's greed and actually made sure a factory worker could support a family. Their influence was growing, and that influence had to be stymied if profits were to be maximized. By deliberately sending our nation's manufacturing core -- steel, textiles, etc. -- overseas, where wages were lower, ownership pulled a checkmate move against labor unions, kneecapping their power.

They didn't care if such an act shattered the economy for the rest of us, because they still got paid. More importantly to them, they chopped down broader union influence with brutal effect. How are you going to organize if there are no more jobs? There's always work at Walmart, because ours is now a service economy -- but don't try to unionize.

Over a quarter of the nation's workers were in a union before Ronald Reagan famously fired more than 11,000 air traffic controllers and crushed their union in 1981. After that, Reagan stacked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) with avowed union-haters, which made screwing your workers easier and safer than getting the mail. Union enrollment plummeted after that, the years rolled by, wages stagnated, and none of it was an accident.

The first rule of non-union workers is, "The bosses don't care about you, you are disposable." They wrecked a very good economic model on purpose rather than live in a country where laborers can organize for a real living wage, and that is Pennsylvania steel-bound fact. They destroyed the village in order to save it ... for themselves.

When it comes to wages and unions, we have all been trapped in a kind of feedback loop. It is this way because it has always been this way and will always be this way, because that's the way it is. Everything stays the same, including your sorry paycheck and your deflated opportunities for a better life.

If I had a hammer, I would smash that stilted owner-positive paradigm to shards and flinders.

Wait, I do have a hammer.

See, I'm in a union, an unusual thing these days. Some brave souls organized our shop years ago, and were able to succeed. Not every workplace that attempts unionization is able to follow this path. The problem is not that workers don't want to unionize. The problem is that the act of trying to unionize is practically revolutionary these days, and the forces arrayed against those who would organize are aggressive, repressive, well-funded and also organized themselves. Unionizing is not easy -- anything worth doing seldom is -- and often comes with danger, but unions, collective worker strength, is our hammer. It's time to pick it up and swing it again.

Happy Labor Day.
(c) 2017 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.

All of this reckless spending of our tax dollars for a 1,900-mile barricade of both physical and symbolic ugliness that only an extremist minority of Americans support.

The Gaping Hole In Trump's Border Wall
By Jim Hightower

How much of our money does Donald Trump want to pour into his xenophobic fantasy of erecting an impenetrable wall on our Mexican border?

The big-businessman-turned-president insists that costs be damned - just build it! That seems to be a very un-businesslike approach - but then, it's not his money, is it? For those of you who do care, one measure of what the total tab might be is that he's now demanding $1.6 billion from Congress to start construction. How much wall will that buy? Seventy-four miles. And how long is the U.S.-Mexican border that he wants to seal off? One thousand, nine-hundred miles long. So, $1.6 billion down, and only 1,826 miles to go!

And let's not even get into the cost overruns, fraudulent billings shoddy materials and other scams that the army of corporate contractors will add to the sticker price of Donald's boondoggle on the border.

All of this reckless spending of our tax dollars for a 1,900-mile barricade of both physical and symbolic ugliness that only an extremist minority of Americans support. Besides being wildly expensive, this Trumpian folly is not needed, won't work, stifles the border economy, crudely tramples on both property rights and sensitive environments, autocratically separates millions of families and communities - and is an insult not only to the people of Mexico, but also to our own people's democratic values.

As for the assertion by die-hard Trumpateers that a massive, 30-foot high, six-foot deep, steel-and-concrete barricade will stop illegal immigration from Mexico, here is a fact Congress should ponder before taxing us with this harebrained structure: Two-thirds of undocumented migrants in our country entered with legal visas, then didn't leave when their visas expired. How does Trump's gold-plated wall stop people who can simply walk through or fly over it?

But Donald Trump loves it when crowds at his raucous right-wing rallies stand and chant in red-faced fury: "Build that wall! Build that wall!"

So, he keeps fanning their fire by repeatedly promising to wall off Mexico with a multibillion-dollar "big, beautiful" barrier on the border. "We must have THE WALL" he tweeted in late August, promising again that "Mexico will pay for it."

The problem with his bombastic presidential promises, however, is that they turn out to be duds, and even Trump knows that his wall promise is a total piece of PR trumpery. First, in a secret phone call to Mexican President Pena Nieto, he admitted he was aware that Mexico actually was not going to pay a single peso for the offensive border barrier. But he begged his cross-border counterpart to stop saying so publicly, for Mexico's adamant refusal to pay was hurting Trump's political image of being a strong dealmaker.

Second, even though he loudly threatened on August 21 to "close down our government" if Congress doesn't pony up billions to fund his pet project, reality intervened just four days later when a mass migration poured across the US border. Not a migration of "bad hombres" from Mexico, but of devastating flood waters from the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Harvey's biblical-level of destruction not only swamped the city of Houston and millions of people in communities all along the Texas-Louisiana coastline - but it also has effectively washed away Trump's folly of frittering away billions of our tax dollars on a monstrous wall that would be as ineffectual as trying to wall-off the next Category 4... or Category 5 hurricane.

Ironically, Trump and his anti-big-government congressional cohorts were about to cut nearly a billion dollars from the federal disaster aid budget when Harvey hit the coast. Now, they've got to find some $180 billion to add to that budget just to rebuild what Harvey destroyed. Where to get the money? Start by zeroing-out every dime going to Donald's wall.
(c) 2017 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

David Clarke at an NRA convention in Louisville, Kentucky

Scandal-Plagued Sheriff David Clarke Would Make A Bad Trump Administration Even Worse
Trump's favorite lawman wants to shred the Constitution and abandon habeas corpus.
By John Nichols

Not since Richard Nixon hightailed it out of Washington to avoid impeachment has a resignation by a public official been so welcomed as that of Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke.

Cruel and unusual, bombastic and autocratic, Clarke wore out his welcome years ago. Yet Clarke lingered on the local scene-playing a crude politics of division in Wisconsin's largest county, where he remained an exceptionally controversial elected official until he quit Thursday.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said the exit of the volatile sheriff-who regularly condemns Black Lives Matter activists, immigrant-rights campaigners, liberals, and the media-would free the county to finally have a law-enforcement leader who is "more interested in integrating with the rest of the community and maybe more focused on solutions and allies than enemies and fights."

Wisconsin State Senator Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, thanked Clarke for resigning and said: "After years of abuse at his hands, the people of Milwaukee can sleep soundly tonight."

Unfortunately, the people of the United States may not be able to rest soundly.

It is no secret that Trump has been interested in appointing Clarke to a position in the administration. Just days ago, the president tweeted an endorsement of a book the sheriff had written: "A great book by a great guy, highly recommended!"

The sheriff's abrupt resignation was followed by a Politico report that "Clarke is expected to join the Trump administration in a position that is not Senate-confirmed."

Trump and Clarke know that the scandal-plagued lawman could not stand the scrutiny of a confirmation hearing that would focus on the former sheriff's miserable record-at least five people have died in the Milwaukee County Jail, which Clarke managed, since 2016-and his authoritarian disregard for civil rights and civil liberties.

It is clear by now that, if Clarke gets any White House post, the threat this administration poses to the Bill of Rights will increase.

Trump has been busy shredding the Constitution since he took office. But he can't do it on his own. He needs help to advance an agenda that aggressively assaults the rule of law, the separation of powers, freedom of the press, and the basic liberties of Americans.

Trump's got Attorney General Jeff Sessions on the job of attacking voting-rights and civil-rights protections. He's got House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell shutting down the system of checks and balances. But the work of undermining basic liberties is a big task, even for an authoritarian president.

Clarke would like to help.

The former sheriff announced earlier this year that he would become an assistant secretary in the Trump administration's Department of Homeland Security. That did not happen because the news that Clarke might go to DHS sparked an examination of a record that made the president's bluster about "enemy of the state" journalism and religious targeting of refugees seem mild by comparison.

Clarke refers to progressives who advocate for equality and equal protection under the law as "rat bastards on the left." And he leaves no doubt about what he would do with power.

The former sheriff proposes "a suspension of habeas corpus" so that "suspected" Americans can be jailed indefinitely as part of his war-at-home program for "bold and aggressive action."

How bold?

As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted last year, when Trump was considering Clarke for DHS secretary:

Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. wants to bring the war on terror to the home front. Clarke, who is in the running for a top job in President-elect Donald Trump's administration, says in his upcoming memoir that the US needs a major overhaul of its homeland security program. Authorities, he writes, should treat American citizens suspected of being terrorists as 'enemy combatants' who can be questioned without an attorney, arrested by authorities and held indefinitely.
Clarke's new book, Cop Under Fire: Moving Beyond Hashtags of Race, Crime and Politics for a Better America, is packed with "we are at war" language and talk of operating "under a war-time model." He advocates for rounding up Americans who are perceived as threats, suspending their rights, holding them indefinitely, and handling cases with military tribunals rather than the courts.

This is nothing new. On Clarke's radio show, The People's Sheriff, he once declared: "I suggest that our commander in chief ought to utilize Article I, Section 9 and take all of these individuals that are suspected, these ones on the Internet spewing jihadi rhetoric." Clarke announced in 2015, on a radio broadcast tracked down by the group American Bridge and reported by Mother Jones and other publications, that he wanted "to scoop them up, charge them with treason and, under habeas corpus, detain them indefinitely at Gitmo."

What kind of numbers?

"We have no idea how many people out there have pledged allegiance or are supporting ISIS, giving aid and comfort, but I would suggest hundreds of thousands, I would suggest maybe a million," Clarke said.

It's just a guess. And then you take the known terrorists that are here, and you think we're going to arrest all these people and put them in jails and then sentence them to prison? It's idiotic. [Send them to] Gitmo and hold them indefinitely under a suspension of habeas corpus.
How broad a brush does Clarke paint with when he is discussing threats to America?

During the 2016 presidential race, in which the sheriff who was elected as a Democrat campaigned across the country for Trump, Clarke wrote an opinion piece headlined: "This is a war, and Black Lives Matter is the enemy." In it, he claimed:

We have several forces internal and external attacking our rule of law: ISIS, Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street-just the most recent iterations of the elements who brand themselves as unique but seek the same revolutionary aim: take down the West, the philosophy of equality before the law, and replace it with their authority, their rules, their hate.
The argument against making Clarke part of this administration are many-and they are profound. Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, who has had to try to work with Clarke as sheriff, says, "For the country I love, the last thing America needs is another loud voice angrily and unproductively telling you who to blame and who not to trust." Shripal Shah, the vice president of American Bridge, a progressive research group that has monitored Clarke's record, says:
Sheriff David Clarke is a bigot who has allowed numerous people-including an infant-to die or be brutally tortured in his jails and on his watch. Clarke's actions and beliefs are directly at odds with American values and have no place in our government at any level. It's shameful that Clarke still holds a job in law enforcement, and appalling that Trump wants to give him a promotion.
"Sheriff Clarke's apparent disregard for the US Constitution is extremely troubling,"
adds Edward Fallone, a constitutional scholar who teaches at Milwaukee's Marquette University Law School. The sheriff's most extreme proposals appear to be "manifestly unconstitutional," warned Fallone in a November 2016 conversation with the Journal Sentinel that noted,
Clarke does discuss the Bill of Rights and Constitution in detail in other sections of his memoir, including a chapter on gun rights and another on a proposed Convention of the States-though he dates the writing of the Constitution, incorrectly, to 1776 instead of 1787.
Christine Neumann-Ortiz, the executive director of the Milwaukee-based Voces de la Frontera immigrant-rights group, which frequently clashed with the former sheriff, takes the calculus a step further. "Clarke is unfit for any office and should face criminal charges for the deaths and abuses at the jail," says Neumann-Ortiz. "Trump's [consideration of] Clarke shows this administration's disregard for human rights."
(c) 2017 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Have We Got Another Planet Or Two In Our Solar System?
By James Donahue

Astronomers Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin of California Institute of Technology say they have discovered strong evidence of "something big" in the outer regions of our solar system. It may be at least one additional planet if not two of them.

They haven't confirmed their findings yet, but they say the strange behavior of six Kuiper Belt objects suggest that their orbits are being influence by the magnetic pull of something very large in their neighborhood. They calculate that this body is about 10 times more massive than Earth and orbiting about 20 times farther from the Sun than Neptune.

Since Pluto lost its status as a real planet in 2006, this yet undiscovered body is being dubbed the "Ninth Planet."

Brown and Batygin dismissed the thought that other smaller particles of the Kuiper Belt may be affecting the orbit. To get the calculations they coming up with they say there has to be an extreme amount of mass within that part of the belt. A better possibility is that a large and undiscovered planet is circling the sun in the far outer reaches.

They are not alone in this theory. There has been a major hunt for "Planet X" perhaps ever since Nancy Lieder went public with her claim that she was contacted by Zetas, a name for the gray extraterrestrial beings, who warned her that a massive planet called Nibiru was on a near collision course with Earth and would fly by so close in 2003 that the effect would destroy all civilization.

At about this same time author Zacharia Sitchin published is controversial book The Twelfth Planet, in which he wrote of a large planet called Marduk which passed through the Solar System every 3,600 years and allowed its sentient beings, the Annunaki of Sumerian myth, to interact with humans.

Scientists scoffed at both Lieder and Sitchin's stories although the idea of a Twelfth planet has been considered by astronomers for several years. They have considered discrepancies in the orbits of both Uranus and Neptune which suggest they are being "tugged" by the gravity of another unknown planet. Astronomer Percival Lowell was among the first to be convinced of the existence of a Planet X. Yet neither Lowell nor other astronomers of that day were able to find the mysterious missing planet.

Lieder also drew on work by V. M. Rabolu, Hercolubus or Red Planet, in which he told of a mythical planet called Hercolubus that passed through our solar system, came dangerously close to Earth and destroyed Atlantis. Rabolu warned that the planet was on a course to sweep near our system again at around the year 11,700.

Then there was the hypothetical star Nemesis proposed by Richard A. Muller in 1984, who claimed proof in the fossil record that mass extinctions that happened every 26 to 34 million years were caused by a dim red dwarf that passed through the Oort cloud every 26 million years. Miller gave it the name Nemesis for obvious reasons. He theorized that Nemesis was the source of long-period comets that orbit our system and in the periods when the star was close, bombarded Earth with burning comets. Miller's theory has never been proven.

Yet a new paper appearing in the Astronomical Journal, suggests a second possible planet in those outer limits, that may exist far beyond Pluto but closer to the sun than Brown and Batygin's Planet Nine. Lead author Kat Volk, postdoctoral fellow at Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, says he is calculating "something as massive as Mars would be needed to cause the warp that we measured" among the tumbling particles flying around in the Kuiper Belt.

Volk and his fellow astronomers present what they believe is compelling evidence of this second body "with a mass somewhere between that of Mars and Earth." They say this object would be different from - but much closer than - the so-called Planet Nine, which also is yet to be confirmed.

So if two more large planets exist in our solar system, and astronomers have produced data proving they may exist, why haven't they been found? They explain that the planets may be hiding not only among the vast amount of debris within the Kuiper Belt, but also in a galactic plane that is so densely packed with stars, that astronomers tend to avoid it. Volk explained: "The chance that we have not found such an object of the right brightness and distance simply because of the limitations of the surveys is estimated to be to about 30 percent."

There is help on the way, however. A new Large Synoptic Survey Telescope is under construction on Mt. El Penon, Chile. When it goes on line in about 2020, astronomers believe this instrument will be doing nightly real-time surveys of the sky that may find those planets and prove once-and-for-all their existence.
(c) 2017 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

Flames rise behind a firefighter at the La Tuna Fire on September 2, 2017 near Burbank, California.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a news conference that officials believe the fire, which is at 5,000 acres
and growing, is the largest fire ever in L.A. People have been evacuated from hundreds of homes in Sun Valley, Burbank and
Glendale. About 100 Los Angles firefighters are expected to return soon from Texas, where they've been helping survivors from Hurricane Harvey.

Floods And Fires
The New Normal of Destabilization
By Randall Amster

In just the past week, we've seen record-breaking rainfall and wildfires plague parts of the United States. Globally, such extreme events appear to be increasing in frequency and magnitude. Droughts, floods, fires, and more can be seen as warning signs of impending ecosystem collapse at the planetary scale, with impacts felt in locales and regions around the world. While no single event may be able to draw a causal line directly from climate change, the cumulative correlation indicates escalating destabilization.

In this light, it seems plausible to invoke images of an "uninhabitable earth," including the issuance of dire predictions for the fate of humanity on this planet. Equally pointed phrases have entered the lexicon, such as depicting Earth's systems as an "angry beast," framing climate change as the equivalent of a "world war," or conceiving of humans as an "invasive species." These characterizations convey a deep sense of urgency, shock, and even grief in attempting to elicit proactive responses for our survival.

As poignant as these insights and warnings may be, however, I believe they miss the mark in some important ways. First, in their apocalyptic overtones, they can serve to foster an air of climatic inevitability and relative disempowerment to avert it, despite their ostensible intentions otherwise. The western ideal is simply too steeped in the lore and ethos of a self-fulfilling apocalypse to be adequately shocked into action by its invocation, and there is an abiding belief that science can save us in the end.

While many people have become inured to the "end times" and are enamored enough with the technology around them to believe in a kind of scientia ex machina salvation, many others are trapped on the other end of the spectrum: experiences of profound impoverishment and dislocation, with no end in sight. The resonance of images of planetary catastrophe for people simply struggling to make ends meet isn't likely to generate many viable pathways for change, even if the warnings are grasped.

And this gets closer to the core of problem. Many of the direst predictions paint the crisis with too broad a brush-not in terms of the magnitude of the challenges before us, but as to their origins and impacts. Oftentimes we're told that humans have impacted Earth's systems, or that the planet will become uninhabitable for humankind-as if these categories of causation are monolithic, or that the emerging consequences will affect everyone equally. We are all human, yes, but we experience the world differently.

Indeed, for many of the planet's inhabitants, patterns of destabilization are unfortunate features of daily life. Access to basic provisions of food, water, and energy can be intermittent, and in some places aren't available in sufficient quantities at all. Disruptions due to conflict, war, disease, displacement, colonization, gentrification, and similar occurrences regularly impact communities and cultures worldwide. Myriads of people live on the edge of survival already, and contribute relatively little to climate change.

It's one of the basic tenets of environmental justice that those who do the least to cause a problem frequently experience its worst effects. While this is well understood in the annals of environmentalism, somehow when the urgency of global cataclysm is in play, its teachings can go unheeded. And beyond misplaced attributions and the inequities of disparate impacts, an even deeper and potentially more potent lesson is often overlooked, namely the capacity of people to mitigate and adjust to changes.

From African farmers utilizing adaptive and innovative methods of food production, to local and regional networks applying mindful approaches to creating sustenance and transforming conflict, there are a plethora of effective and impactful examples for coping with the changes emerging. While we need global action to confront the planetary crises in our midst, important lessons can be drawn from the experiences of those for whom profound destabilization has already been the norm for some time now.

The one constant we can expect in the days ahead is rampant and escalating change. Perhaps the world has always been this way to some extent, and it was only an illusory sense of order and dominion that led to the complacency of control and the dismay of deterioration. Still, we have before us a brief window of time in which to muster our collective resolve toward not only surviving the transformations at hand, but perhaps even learning how to thrive amidst them with a deeper sense of justice and resilience alike.
(c) 2017 Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., is Director of the Program on Justice and Peace at Georgetown University. Among his most recent books are Anarchism Today (Praeger, 2012) and the co-edited volume "Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009) and the co-edited volume Exploring the Power of Nonviolence: Peace, Politics, and Practice (Syracuse University Press, 2013

Left Strategy After Charlottesville
We need consistent and deep strategic dialogue among left organizers if we are going to forge a path to power through these dangerious times. To meet that need, Organizing Upgrade will be re-launching with regular pieces in late September. Keep an eye out!
By Max Elbaum

"Everything we are seeing stems almost inevitably from the decisions the country made, collectively, last November. We elected a president driven by white racial grievance. That is the fulcrum and driving force of his politics. It's no surprise that a big outbreak of white supremacist violence would lead us to a moment like this. We also elected a president who is an abuser and a predator...As things get worse, as more people turn against him, Trump gets more wild and unbridled..." ~~~ Josh Marshall, The Bomb Bursts: It Will Keep Happening, Talking Points Memo

The white supremacist violence In Charlottesville - and Trump's embrace of the 'very fine people' who marched and murdered under Confederate and Nazi banners - did more than sharpen the intense polarization already underlying U.S. politics.

It spotlighted the dangerous role white nationalism plays in galvanizing Trump's racially anxious white social base while energizing the anti-racist and democratic-minded forces who have the potential to overcome it.

But realizing that potential is going to require the resistance - especially its radical wing - to up our game. This essay offers a strategic perspective toward that end. It is anchored in five key points:

1. The over-arching priority of the current period is to break the grip on power of Trump and the white nationalist bloc that is the driving force of the right's overall anti-democratic and anti-working class agenda.

2. Direct action and street protest make up indispensable components of the resistance, crucial to keep focus and pressure on white nationalism and its conciliators. At least one show of force on the scale of the Women's March this fall would be a stark reminder that the resistance will not leave it to intra-elite maneuvers to determine Trump's fate and what comes after. Further, energy from direct mass action needs to be carried into the 2018 and 2020 elections, which will be the decisive battlefronts measuring and altering the relative strength of the contending forces and which provide the only avenues to actually remove the white nationalist right from power.

3. In order to bring together a sufficient bloc of social forces to defeat Trump and the GOP, and also to give progressives much-strengthened initiative if and when Trump is ousted, the left needs to engage the fight within the Democratic Party over message, candidates, allocation of resources and institutional clout. There is a key parallel here with the dynamic of the 2016 campaign. Almost all sectors of the left grew as the election polarized the country, but the ones that grew the most (DSA, Labor for Bernie) were those that plunged into Bernie Sanders' campaign, not those who criticized it for being insufficiently radical or dismissed it because it fought on the terrain of the Democratic Party and ultimately supported voting for Clinton to defeat Trump.

4. The struggle for a working class program of economic, racial, gender, and environmental justice - and peace - within the Democratic Party and society in general will be conducted beyond the next two or three election cycles. We should have confidence that the kind of program advocated by by Bernie Sanders or Rev. William Barber can at some point gain majority support in the country and decisively shape the national agenda. But we also need to strategize based on hard-headed realism about how far we have to go in addressing the unevenness and fragmentation of the broad progressive movement and the still relatively marginalized anti-capitalist left.

5. Because of the character of the Trump regime and the weaknesses in race-class analysis and practice in the resistance movement, the issues moved front and center by Charlottesville - race, racism and the true history of integral role people of color have played in the very heart of the U.S. working class from 1620 to the present day - are likely to stand out as determinants of whether or not the resistance continues to mature. If Trump follows through on threats to end DACA, this will be even more the case.

In shorthand: this essay is an argument for the left to interact with the post-Charlottesville surge of resistance by pursuing a strategy that is anti-right, anti-racist, gender-inclusive, grounded in the interests of the working class and oriented toward working both inside and outside of the Democratic Party.


The resistance has come a long way since Trump's gloating inauguration. The aggressive edge of the white nationalist bloc - the Nazis, Klan and their ilk - is now exposed and condemned almost across the board. Trump's insistence that "both sides" were to blame in the Charlottesville confrontation between a Nazi/Klan contingent and those who protested it alienated major sections of the political class that had played footsie with him up to now.

With corporate leaders fleeing his show-piece councils, the top military brass issuing statements contradicting his views, and the president feuding with congressional leaders of his own party, Trump's governing coalition is significantly narrower than it was in January. The section of the elite that was already trying to bring Trump down because they believe he is an unreliable steward of empire has also been strengthened. (Meanwhile their preferred reason for doing so - electoral collaboration with Russia - is at least for the moment eclipsed by his racism). Public opinion polls show Trump's approval rating for the first time dipping below 38%.

Still, most of Trump's core base is sticking with him. Republicans approve his post-Charlottesville remarks by more than a 3-1 margin and 87% oppose taking down Confederate monuments. Leading Democrats, including Bernie Sanders, as well as some sections of the left, have argued that Trump won the election largely by speaking to the economic concerns of working class whites, not because of racial resentment. Charlottesville should end that debate: clearly for Trump's base the two are thoroughly interconnected.

Trump's sub 38% approval rating is a dismal minority of the country but still constitutes a big majority of Republicans, so GOP electeds defy Trump at the peril of a primary challenge. GOP officials have increasingly taken their private "concerns" about Trump public, but not a single administration figure, GOP Congress member, state level elected official or even congressional staffer has yet resigned in protest. Their calculations are changing daily, but as of this writing GOP Congress members still see alignment with Trump as necessary to implement their shared agenda of crushing the labor movement, rolling back women's and LGBTQ rights, stonewalling action against climate change, and transferring even more wealth into the pockets of the already rich.

Our side is the majority, and we also have the moral high ground. But favorable polling numbers and moral suasion are not enough. This fight will be decided by power. The right will not be effectively divided and forced into retreat until the open advocates of white supremacy, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and unrestrained patriarchy are demoralized by being out-numbered 100 to one every time they show their face. And it will take the energy in the streets translating into an anti-GOP, anti-Trump tsunami in the voting booths to break their grip on power.

Only when Trump and his allies no longer control both the legislative and executive branches of government at the federal level and in 25 states can the country's majority move to a new and more favorable stage of class struggle.


In the aftermath of Charlottesville, a post-Trump environment can be glimpsed for the first time since November 2016. But we won't get there if the left underestimates the Trump-led GOP as many did in 2016.

Fear-mongering and war-making are longstanding tools of besieged presidents. In the wake of Trump's 'fire and fury' threats to wipe out millions of North Koreans and his eagerness to dump the Iran nuclear agreement, all complacency about what Trump might do on this front should be dispensed with immediately. Integrating anti-militarism into the heart and soul of the entire resistance remains a vital but challenging task. If a major terrorist attack happens within the U.S., or if Mueller's investigation appears ready to indict members of Trump's family or Trump himself, an unprecedented constitutional crisis or globe-threatening dose of military adventurism cannot be ruled out.

Even short of such scenarios, the president and his GOP enablers have numerous tools to frustrate majority will. The militarization of police and pattern of ultra-harsh charges coming down on protesters are weapons already being used to weaken the opposition. Executive branch actions that threaten the operations of key sectors of the anti-Trump coalition - the labor movement, Planned Parenthood - take a daily toll. The GOP's commitment to voter suppression, gerrymandering, the racist skew built in to the electoral college and the possibility of widespread voter intimidation by right-wing goons combine to make it an uphill battle to end GOP control of the House and Senate in 2018 and the White House in 2020.


U.S.-style racism came into being in the midst of struggles over land, property, power, and political rights in the 17th century. Slavery, along with the genocide of Native Americans, is accurately termed the country's 'original sin.'

Among the manifestations of this deeply rooted component of U.S. political economy is a recurring pattern: in response to movements that advance or threaten to advance the interests of people of color, especially African Americans - and because those movements also drive forward progress for all workers and democracy in general - there is a fierce backlash. That backlash involves building a cross-class white united front which advances the economic program of the most reactionary wing of ruling class; enlists all who can be mobilized to defend white power and privilege; and is aided by the passive allegiance of others who believe that they can advance their own narrow interests by connecting with this bloc.

At different times the mix of specific forces in that front - and the relative clout of each - has varied. But whenever that backlash bloc has held part or all of governing power (as after the rollback of Reconstruction) it has inflicted the most severe repression against people of color and, with racism as the wedge, restricted democratic rights and women's rights and weakened the working class as a whole. Backlash coalitions have also been a center of gravity of militarism and imperial expansion.

The way that pattern has unfolded in the last five decades starting with Nixon's "Southern Strategy" has been written about widely. It built up steam through the 1970s and took a leap forward when it helped Reagan get elected and the "neo-liberal model" of privatization, de-regulation, tax "reform" favoring the very rich and a withering offensive against unions became entrenched.

But the last few years saw an unprecedented twist. The balance within the backlash bloc shifted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis; the resulting recession and sharp rise in economic inequality and anxiety; demographic changes, and the election of first Black president. Leadership was ripped from the GOP establishment and seized by a demagogue who rode birtherism, anti-immigrant hysteria and blatant Islamophobia to the nomination and then the Presidency.

Trump and his core supporters - those for whom the bottom line is 'racial and imperial revenge' - were now in the driver's seat. The rest of the GOP, including the party establishment (with minor exceptions), fell in line behind the Trump/Bannon juggernaut. Conservative intellectual Avik Roy explained why: "We've had this view that the voters were with us on conservatism - philosophical, economic conservatism. In reality, the gravitational center of the Republic Party is white nationalism." And enough people who were not themselves motivated primarily by racism decided to give Trump's racism a pass in hopes that other aspects of his program would change things for the better.


Because of the differences among the GOP legislators and tension between GOP Congress members and the president, the right is having a hard time getting what it wants through Congress. But while the media is focused on those failures and Trump's Twitter outrages, an extremely dangerous agenda is being steadily implemented via executive branch actions, with a Gorsuch Supreme court expected to affirm each one.

This agenda aims to establish a racialized authoritarian state. Given the unpopularity of their actual economic program and the fact that demographic changes are not working in their favor, the right sees that kind of state as needed to implement their full program of fossil fuel-driven, no-limits capitalism and permanent U.S. global hegemony. This is not classical fascism. But it is an arrangement more like the U.S. during the height of Jim Crow or today's Israel than the bourgeois democracy the U.S. has had since legalized discrimination was abolished in the 1960s.

Bottom line, Trumpism in power is not just a 'more conservative' version of business-as-usual. It is a concerted drive for a substantial shift away from the capitalist democracy we have lived under since the mid-1960s toward a new kind of repressive regime.


Resistance to Trump and his agenda has come from all quarters, including from within the government, the judiciary, the media and the military. The ruling class is today more divided than any time since at least the 1930s and more likely since the Civil War.

From election night on, however, the driving force of the resistance has been action from the grassroots. From the Women's March and the surge of energy into new formations like Indivisible and Our Revolution to the expansion of pre-existing community and issue-oriented organizations, direct action protests and raucous town halls have kept the anti-Trump wheels turning. And after the events in Charlottesville, another wave of mass action has begun. With the pardon of anti-Latino thug Joe Arpaio, and DACA under immediate threat as this essay goes to press, more protests lie just ahead. These will put Trump even more on the defensive and heighten already intense pressure on vacillating figures and groups to get off the fence.

There is now less middle ground than ever in U.S. politics. The country is polarized along a Trump vs. anti-Trump axis. This polarization affects the dynamics surrounding every issue from health care and climate change to transgender rights, abortion, and student debt. But race and racism are at the pivot.

It is all but certain that this polarization would continue even if (via Russia-gate or some other means) Trump is forced out of office before his term is up. The GOP has traveled so far down the road of embracing white identity and a repressive, anti-working class agenda that it would remain in place under Pence or any other Republican president. But if Trump was ousted the resistance would celebrate that victory and press even harder for major change while the GOP would be embroiled in bitter divisions and recriminations. How such a shake-up would play out long-term is impossible to predict. But in the short term, the fissures that Charlottesville in particular have opened within the GOP are both a mark of the resistance's growth and a source of further strength.


The anti-capitalist left does not (yet) match other components of the resistance in size or influence. But we do bring a distinct systemic analysis to the fray. We have no crystal ball to tell us exactly what the future holds, yet somewhere down the road we do expect the central polarization in mass politics to be around capitalism as such. And we work today to bring that moment closer. But in determining strategy, we cannot let our anti-capitalist ideological stance substitute for a concrete analysis of what is actually moving millions and shaping today's front-burner battles. Today's reality is a massive polarization whose axis is support or opposition to the white nationalist-driven GOP agenda. The road to maximizing chances of defeating Trump and growing the anti-capitalist left in the process is to throw ourselves into the battle as it is unfolding.

In doing so, the left has a distinct and crucial role to play.

Part of that role is keeping a stress on mass action: getting people out in the streets, onto the picket lines and into town halls; fighting for the organizations that mobilize people to develop and maintain a democratic, participatory character; doing all we can to sustain and deepen political discussion alongside mobilization and protest.

The realm of mass action is the left's natural habitat. There we can often be the catalyst that taps into sentiment extending far beyond the immediate reach of organized left groups. That is the case at present with issues like Single Payer, where a combination of years of work and ripe conditions has pushed the demand into the mainstream. The left also has a vital role to play in mass actions and educational campaigns around demands which are still on the edges of U.S. politics. A prime example today is support for Palestinian national and human rights by promoting the BDS campaign and fighting for a drastic change in U.S. policy.


The left also has a vital role to play in the electoral arena. Again, we will do best if our starting point is what is actually emerging on the ground rather than abstract formulas.

The large-scale resistance to Trump includes a surge of energy into the electoral arena. Trump took office - and the GOP won control of the House, Senate and numerous state legislatures - by winning elections. These GOP victories were, in large part, the result of a highly successful, long-term right-wing electoral strategy. It is hardly surprising, then, that most people opposed to Trump, seeing that they constitute a majority of the country, have concluded that the way to defeat Trump and the GOP is by voting them out of office. Hence the flood of newly politicized individuals considering runs for office and the surge of volunteers into special elections or ongoing organizations working to defeat the GOP. And it is no surprise that the overwhelming bulk of that energy is flowing in the direction of what is now the only alternative to the GOP, that is, the Democratic Party ballot line.

All the energy moving "from protest to politics" is a good thing. But the fact that it is flowing onto Democratic Party terrain poses many dilemmas and challenges. It is here where left's stance will make the most difference.

Because beating Trump is the immediate and over-riding priority, engagement alongside the vast majority of anti-Trump forces in the only vehicle that can do so makes complete sense. The trick is to do so in a way that maximizes chances of an anti-Trump victory while building progressive clout, consolidating independent vehicles for long-term struggle and expanding the ranks of the anti-capitalist left. A major challenge is finding the right mix of directing fire at the main enemy - the racist right as represented by Trump and the GOP - while contending with the corporate politicians, funders and flaks who control the Democratic Party apparatus.

The lessons most social justice advocates have drawn from 2016 are a good starting point. The main take-away is that Democratic candidates need a message and program beyond 'we aren't Trump' or 'let's go back to the way things were before." Rather, a program of economic, racial, gender, and environmental justice and peace has to permeate through Democratic campaigns at all levels. Only such a message can inspire and turn out the active mass Democratic constituencies and those who stayed home in 2016 or voted third party – as well as Trump voters who now realize that the president is a con-man. A closely related take-away is that the road to victory runs through campaigns aimed at communities of color, the working class, women, the LGBTQ community and millennials (the key sectors in the 2008 and 2012 "Obama Coalition"), not through moving to the right in order to chase either better-off white suburbanites who might be turned off by the crudeness of Trump's bigotry or the sectors of Trump's working class base most invested in white identity.

The fight in the Democratic Party for this kind of program and orientation is already raging. Among the key fights so far have been the Perez-Ellison contest for DNC chair and the Bauman-Ellis fight in the California Democratic Party. Battles over potential candidates' stands on Single Payer/Medicare for All are underway right now.


The anti-capitalist left will advance both its short-term and long-term goals by throwing ourselves fully into these battles. This maximizes our chances of defeating the GOP and simultaneously attracting the maximum number of newly politicized people to the left, mirroring the dynamic of the Sanders campaign.

Yet this will only work if the left brings more than our bodies to the fray. We need to bring a compelling political perspective and galvanizing narrative as well:

First, we must keep reminding ourselves and others not to underestimate the Trump regime or the high stakes in the 2018 and 2020 balloting. If the GOP isn't soundly defeated in the 2018 congressional and state races, the forces of reaction in general and white supremacy in particular will be emboldened and Trump's position will be strengthened. Just about everyone in the GOP or within its reach will conclude that appeals to racism are political winners and will act accordingly. Conversely, a crushing victory over the GOP will divide and demoralize the enemy camp and give the forces who spearheaded that victory tremendous momentum. It could even lead to Trump's impeachment or forced resignation.

Second, the fight over message and which voters to prioritize will come down to specifics district-by-district and state-by-state. One-size-fits-all ideological formulas will not cut it. In 'solidly blue' areas we can and should aim for candidates that are rock steady behind a progressive program and have roots especially in working class and people of color constituencies (which of course overlap). In other districts, because of their socio-economic profiles or because progressives have not yet developed strong grassroots organization or potential candidates, we have to settle for less.

Given our overall initiative within the country we should be able to pressure more "moderate" candidates to strongly advocate of at least one of our key positions and to devote resources to door-to-door campaigning rather than spend it all on TV spots. Then support for that candidate both adds to the chances to hit the GOP and lays the groundwork for growing our strength for the next time around. Practicing "unity and struggle' (in old left parlance) within the anti-right front is never simple. But the simplistic route of planting our own flag and standing aside from a fight in which the vast majority of our potential base accurately sees immense stakes is a formula for marginalization.

Third, the left bears the responsibility of being an anchor force regarding the ways race and class are interlinked. Only a multi-racial, class conscious force of millions has any chance of winning lasting victories over the world's most powerful racist ruling class. Throughout U.S. history the Achilles heel of efforts to construct that force has been the susceptibility of its white component to view the non-white sector as something other than class brothers and sisters where "an injury to one is an injury to all." Playing this anchor role not only means battling Trump and his white nationalist crew, but playing an advanced role practically, theoretically and polemically within the anti-Trump front, the Democratic Party and even the progressive movement itself. For further elaboration of how such battles are unfolding at the current moment, see Linda Burnham, No Plans to Abandon Our Freedom Dreams; Steve Phillips, The Democratic Party's Billion Dollar Mistake and Democracy in Color's Return of the Majority' and Mid-Year Progress Report June 2017.)

Last, the consolidation of a grassroots-based, independent political formation that can fight both inside and outside of the electoral arena and the Democratic Party is absolutely crucial for making sure a victory against Trumpism translates into momentum for radical change. The building blocks of such a form have become visible. There is increasing political alignment between such groups as Our Revolution, Labor for Our Revolution, MoveOn, Color of Change, the Working Families Party, Climate Hawks Vote, the various national and state-based community organizing formations,, Planned Parenthood, NOW and many others. The left has a key role to play in working to increase that alignment and, over time, turning it into a solid alliance or even a single united form, perhaps a 21st century version of the 1980s Rainbow Coalition that has the Rainbow's strengths without the weaknesses.

Strategic patience as well as today's sense of urgency will be needed. Building a base in the multiracial working class, reviving the labor movement, constructing a unified, independent organizational vehicle on the basis of a progressive agenda cannot be accomplished in one election cycle. These tasks are likely to unfold unevenly, developing state by state and locality by locality as well as nationally.

And this strategic task will be orders of magnitude harder, if not impossible, if we have to attempt it for seven more years with the GOP holding power. That fundamental reality is the reason we need to take a different stance toward the corporate and centrist elements who are opposed to Trump than to the Trump/GOP camp. The path to a more advanced stage of the class struggle runs through using the divisions in the ruling class to our advantage; fighting full-out against all our class enemies at the same time is a dead-end road.


Today the anti-capitalist left is experiencing a period of rapid growth. The next few years will determine whether that can be translated into the construction of a U.S. left that is a relevant nationwide force for the first time in decades.

The strategy of building the broadest possible front against Trump/GOP while fighting for maximum leverage within that front will give the left the maximum possible strength and initiative if and when the right's grip on power is broken. It is the forces that actually contribute to beating the right that will emerge from this fight with the most influence and credibility among all those who have had a stake in that fight. A left that is in the thick of the battle, that galvanizes a base that others cannot or will not reach, and that helps keep diverse forces focused on the main immediate enemy – that kind of left will emerge from victory in a far stronger position than one that has stood on the sidelines or restricted its role to only pockets of the battlefield where it feels the most comfortable.
(c) 2017 Max Elbaum has been active in peace, anti-racist and radical movements since the 1960s. Most recently was part of a team that prepared a three-part 2016 Election Curriculum, "The U.S. Electoral System and Progressive Electoral Strategy," and a follow-up Post-Election Discussion Guide "Changed Terrain Demands a New Orientation," both still available for download from Organizing Upgrade.

Study Finds Exxon Misled The Public By Withholding Climate Knowledge
By David Suzuki

Coal, oil and gas are tremendous resources: solar energy absorbed by plants and super-concentrated over millions of years. They're potent fuels and provide ingredients for valuable products. But the oil boom, spurred by improved drilling technology, came at the wrong time. Profits were (and still are) the priority - rather than finding the best, most efficient uses for finite resources.

In North America, governments and corporations facilitated infrastructure to get people to use oil and gas as if they were limitless. Companies like Ford built cars bigger than necessary, and although early models ran on ethanol, the oil boom made petroleum the fuel of choice. Public transit systems were removed and governments used tax revenues to accommodate private automobiles rather than buses and trains.

The oil industry fulfilled many of its promises and became the main driver of western economies. It increased mobility and led to job and profit growth in vehicle manufacturing, oil and gas, tourism and fast food, among others. Petroleum-derived plastics made life more convenient.

The industry boom and the car culture it fuelled had negative consequences, though - including injuries and death, rapid resource exploitation, pollution and climate change. Plastics are choking oceans and land.

Are these unintended consequences? When did people learn burning large quantities of fossil fuels might be doing more harm than good? Evidence suggests scientists, governments and industry knew all along there would be a steep price to pay for our excesses.

In the late 1800s, Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius warned that burning fossil fuels and increasing carbon dioxide emissions would initiate feedback loops and increase water vapour in the atmosphere, causing global temperatures to rise. Scientific evidence for human-caused global warming has since increased to the point of certainty, but while few would dispute that burning coal, oil and gas causes pollution and public health problems, many still believe the role of fossil fuels in climate change is contentious.

There's a reason for that: According to volumes of research by journalists, investigators and academics - including a new peer-reviewed study - some of industry's largest players have long been deceiving the public about climate science.

The new study, by Harvard's Geoffrey Supran and Naomi Oreskes and published in Environmental Research Letters, analyzes 40 years of research and communications by Exxon Mobil. "Our findings are clear: Exxon Mobil misled the public about the state of climate science and its implications," Oreskes and Supran write in a New York Times opinion article. "Available documents show a systematic, quantifiable discrepancy between what Exxon Mobil's scientists and executives discussed about climate change in private and in academic circles, and what it presented to the general public."

Taking up Exxon's challenge to "Read all of these documents and make up your own mind," the researchers examined the company's scientific research, internal memos and paid public-facing "advertorials." They concluded that, although the company knew of and communicated internally about its product's climate impacts and the danger of it becoming a "stranded asset," it told the public a different story.

Exxon placed paid opinion articles in the New York Times between 1989 and 2004, at a cost of US$31,000 each. Contrary to the company's own research and internal communications - as well as overwhelming scientific evidence from around the world - the articles argued, among other things, that, "The science of climate change is too uncertain to mandate a plan of action that could plunge economies into turmoil," and, "We still don't know what role man-made greenhouse gases might play in warming the planet."

Oreskes and Supran also note Exxon is being sued by current and former employees and investigated by the New York and Massachusetts attorneys general and the federal Securities and Exchange Commission. Much relates to whether the company "misled consumers, shareholders or the public about the environmental or business risks of climate change, or about the risk that oil and gas reserves might become stranded assets that won't be developed, affecting shareholder value."

Given climate change's serious implications, the fact that fossil fuel companies, aided by compromised governments and shady "think tanks" and media outlets, would put fossil fuel profits ahead of human health and survival is an intergenerational crime against humanity. We should commend Oreskes and others for their tireless efforts to bring this truth to light.
(c) 2017 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

Over the past two days, the Arkema people have given us a master class in Not Giving A Damn

The Chemical Plant Explosion In Texas Is Not An Accident. It's The Result Of Specific Choices
The Perils Of Deregulation
By Charles P. Pierce

So, conservative ideas have triumphed in Texas. A business-friendly environment has been created, based on free-market principles, deregulation, and a return to 10th amendment freedoms just as the Founders designed them, because the best government is the one that is closest to the people.

Basic chemistry doesn't care, via NBC News:

A flooded chemical plant near Houston exploded twice early Thursday, sending a plume of smoke into the air and triggering a fire that the firm plans to let "burn itself out." Arkema Group, which is one of the world's largest chemical companies, had warned Wednesday that the plant would catch fire and explode at some point - adding there was nothing that could be done about it.
Awfully blithe for a company whose massive chemical plant just exploded because the company was unprepared for a completely predictable meteorological catastrophe, I'd say. Of course, over the past two days, the Arkema people have given us a master class in Not Giving A Damn. Anyone who saw the essential Matt Dempsey of the Houston Chronicle on the electric teevee machine with Kindly Doc Maddow on Wednesday night knows exactly what I'm talking about. (And, if you're not following him on the electric Twitter machine-@mizzousundevil-you should be.) They played a tape of a conference call on which Dempsey pressed the CEO of Arkema, Rich Rowe, about what substances were in the company's plant that would be released if the plant blew, as it apparently did Thursday morning. Rowe refused to answer, which was his perfect right within Texas' business-friendly environment. They could be hoarding nerve gas in that place, and be perfectly within the law not to tell anybody about it.

In fact, and this is the delectable part of the entire farce, there apparently is a law in Texas that specifically forbids many cities and towns from designing their own fire codes. Hell, the state even passed a law forbidding cities and towns from requiring fire sprinklers in new construction. Freedom!

Two years ago, Dempsey and his team put together a staggering eight-part series about the lack of rudimentary safety precautions that exists in what has become the petrochemical capital of the country. The series took a chunk out of both the recklessness of the Texas state government and out of the spavined state of the EPA and OSHA even under President Obama, the latter problems having gotten worse under the current administration. You should read the whole thing, but Part Six of the series is particularly relevant. It describes how the city government of Houston, and its responsible officials, are flying completely blind as to what is being manufactured and stored in the hundreds of plants in and around the city. From the Chronicle:

A black plume big enough to show up on weather radar touched the sky that Thursday morning in May. Explosions echoed through Spring Branch. Students fled a nearby school. A substance like tar coated cars in the neighborhood. Blood-red fluids spilled into a creek, choking fish and turtles. More than 400 firefighters responded over two days, and when they were done, piles of torched barrels and melted plastic tanks lay in a snow-white blanket of fire-fighting foam. Days later, they still didn't know what they'd been fighting. No city inspector had been inside the place for years, and the owner's records burned up in the blaze. The firefighters didn't even know there was a chemical facility in the neighborhood, one surrounded by houses and apartments, a nursing home and a gun shop full of ammunition...The fire department in the nation's fourth-largest city has no idea where most hazardous chemicals are, forgetting lessons learned in a near-disaster 21 years ago, a Houston Chronicle investigation has found.
This is no accident. This is a political philosophy put into action, and a triumphant one at that.

Basic chemistry doesn't give a damn.
(c) 2017 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote...

"Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny."
~~~ Thomas Jefferson

Charlottesville's Past That Isn't Even
By David Swanson

Here in Charlottesville, Virginia, I like to point out that the rallies of racists are mostly imported from out of state. It's tempting to relax comfortably on that assertion, and to reflect on how our great lord and master Thomas Jefferson owned people with more reluctance and inner turmoil than Barack Obama bombing a foreign country or Donald Trump mouthing kind or coherent phrases from a teleprompter.

Reality is a little more troubling. Jefferson was a vicious and heartless profiteer and racist who was into slavery for the money and the benefits. UVA had ties to the KKK in the 1920s when the racist war monuments were put up in segregated parks by a wealthy resident. Jim Crow ruled until the Civil Rights movement and has been dying hard. Most people, including the mayor, didn't come around to favoring taking the statues down until after the deadly rally.

Now Charlottesville's tragedy has helped many other places take down the sort of statues that still stand in Charlottesville, albeit now covered in black tarps. But Charlottesville and UVA have been leaders on these issues in other ways that one doesn't hear much about. Nancy MacLean's Democracy in Chains is illuminating, and criticisms of parts of the book, which I am in no position to judge, do not touch on some central points.

The right-wing anti-government movement that has created things like unregulated "development" in Houston, the defunding of preparation for hurricanes, free rein to destroy the earth's climate for war and profit, and the bizarre cultural understanding in which we simply accept that we must fund disaster relief ourselves as the government is too busy funding wars and billionaires - all of this has deep roots in an institute of economists now based at George Mason University but originally created at the University of Virginia in 1956 in response to school integration. And those economists' teachings have deep roots in the thinking of leading advocates for slavery.

James McGill Buchanan created at UVA an economics department funded by Charles Koch and dedicated to expanding the power of the wealthy to hoard more wealth, and to reducing the power of the masses to influence government. John C. Calhoun, proponent of slavery extraordinaire, was the grandfather of the deceptive ideology advanced. In Calhoun's thinking, taxing a slave owner was an abuse and exploitation, whereas owning someone as a slave was simply the exercising of liberty. Similarly, taxing an oil CEO is tyranny in today's libertarian understanding, whereas letting people drown in a flood is just right and proper.

Making this twisted line of thought presentable as a quantifiable science overseen by experts has been the work of decades of deliberation and deception. Yet slavery has not been made presentable again, and opposition to public spending on human needs grew out of slavery - arose in fact only in areas that practiced slavery. Buchanan and others did not set out to win over the public, but to mislead the public into supporting policies that would have little backing if properly understood.

Massive resistance was not massive, de-funding is not reform, and the right to work is not a right.

Virginians did not rise up en masse and compel their representative government to shut down all the schools rather than integrate them. Rather, state politicians elected by a corrupt system imposed a shutdown in the face of significant popular resistance to it.

The economist schemers knew that shutting down schools was unpopular, so began the ongoing effort to sell the defunding of schools as school reform, innovation, experimentation, choice, and so forth. They would push the same lies about Social Security and healthcare.

In 1974, Charles Koch set up his own foundation and held its first event here in Charlottesville with Buchanan as featured speaker. Buchanan and his ilk went on pushing for more wealth consolidation and de-democratization, to "save capitalism from democracy." Buchanan offered Augusto Pinochet guidance on how to entrench elite rule in Chilean institutions, and sought the same in the U.S., working toward the "removal of the sacrosanct status assigned to majority rule."

Tyler Cowen, who would later succeed Buchanan and who now leads the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, says that in the future people will be "expected to fend for themselves much more than they do now." The U.S. will be "some version of Texas - and then some."

You're welcome, world.
(c) 2017 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

Floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey surround homes in Port Arthur, Texas, on Thursday.

Hell Hath No Fury Like Mother Earth Scorned!
By Amy Goodman

Hurricane-turned-Tropical Storm Harvey unleashed the fury of a warming planet on the Gulf Coast of Texas this week, leaving hundreds of thousands displaced and homeless, thousands languishing in crowded shelters, and killing at least 60 people. It is projected to be the costliest disaster in the nation's history, with the heaviest rainfall ever recorded in the continental U.S., inundating a number of cities, including Houston, the fourth-largest and most diverse city in the United States.

Houston, the Petro Metro, is home to one-quarter of the petroleum refining capacity in the United States. Include the entire Gulf Coast, and the percentage increases to half. In the midst of this massive storm, sprawling petrochemical facilities were forced to shut down abruptly, ejecting millions of pounds of toxins into the air, impacting most heavily the poorer communities of color near where these plants have historically been built.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump, peddler of the lie that climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese to hurt the U.S. economy, made a predictably superficial visit to Texas. "What a crowd, what a turnout," Trump boasted as he landed in Corpus Christi. He made no mention of the victims.

Climate denial in the face of Harvey's devastation is incomprehensible, ignorant and immoral.

Given that both Trump and Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott are climate change deniers, it is important to understand the science. "It's not debatable now. These are all well-established facts," Dr. James Hansen explained on the "Democracy Now!" news hour. He is the former top climate scientist at NASA and current director at Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions at Columbia University's Earth Institute. "With the beginning of changes in atmospheric composition, caused mainly by burning fossil fuels, the planet is getting warmer, and sea level has begun to go up, because the ocean is getting warmer and because ice is melting." He continued: "The amount of water vapor in the atmosphere is increasing because the atmosphere is getting warmer, and therefore the amount of water being dumped during these storms is larger because of human-made global warming. Thunderstorms, tornadoes, tropical storms all get their energy from the latent energy of water vapor. There are substantial human-made effects on these storms." Larger storm surges. More rain. Stronger storms.

Intensified by climate change, this storm has slammed into the epicenter of the U.S. petroleum industry.

The flooding is bad enough. Then you have the toxins released. Bryan Parras, as organizer for the "Beyond Dirty Fuels" campaign with the Sierra Club in Houston and co-founder of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (t.e.j.a.s.), works in the poor and working-class communities of color in Houston, where people live up against the fences of large, toxin-spewing petrochemical plants. "All of the facilities, all of the refineries went into voluntary shutdown mode. When that happens, they often have to go through the process of burning off these excess chemicals. But it is a dirty burn. So you can see actually the black smoke ... unfortunately, that adds thousands of pounds of cancer-causing chemicals to the air," he told "Democracy Now!."

Writer and activist Naomi Klein has long made the connection between disasters and economic opportunism. A key ingredient, she says, is a compliant media. "You turn on any coverage, and you hear that word over and over again, but what you don't hear, or you hear very, very rarely, is an explanation for why the word 'unprecedented,' 'record-breaking' - why these words have become meteorological cliches," she said on "Democracy Now!." "We hear them all the time, because we're breaking heat records year after year. We're seeing record-breaking wildfires, record-breaking droughts, record-breaking storms, because the baseline is higher."

Klein continued: "Nobody is saying that climate change caused this storm. What we're talking about are what are the superchargers of this storm, the accelerants that took what would have been a disaster, in any situation, and turned it into this human catastrophe."

That is a central tenet of climate science: You can't attribute any given weather event to climate change, but human-induced climate change is making extreme weather events stronger and more frequent, more costly, more deadly. While the people in Texas and Louisiana suffer the final days of rain and begin recovery, over 1,200 people have been killed by massive floods in Bangladesh, India and Nepal. The planet is drowning in denial. Climate change is real, and needs to be addressed.
(c) 2017 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now,!" a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 750 stations in North America. She is the co"author of "Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times," recently released in paperback and "Breaking The Sound Barrier."

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Trump,

Dear Unterfuehrer Johnson,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your plan to cut social security by 1/3 and raise the age to qualify to 69, 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 Fuehrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuehrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 09-23-2017. We salute you herr Johnson, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

It's not that they object to the hatefulness and divisiveness Trump has been sowing.
What's been moving them to action is they don't like the effects of the hatefulness on business,

Why CEOs Are Turning On Trump
It really doesn't matter how the CEOs come to see the light. What matters is they're pushing Trump into an ever darker hole.
By Robert Reich

Trump isn't just alienating Republican senators. He's also pissing off the executives of America's biggest corporations, who happen to have a lot of influence over Republican members of Congress because they pay the costs of their campaigns.

"Trump doesn't worry about moving the nation backwards. He's been at it for more than seven months." Trump's unwillingness to strongly condemn the neo-Nazi's and white supremacists in Charlottesville caused business leaders to stampede off his advisory councils.

Now Trump's cruel plan to end DACA, the Obama-era program that allows unauthorized immigrants who arrived in America as children to remain here, is mobilizing CEOs to make the program permanent.

A business coalition founded by former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is lining up corporate leaders in at least 15 states to pressure members of Congress.

Meanwhile, a who's-who of more than 400 executives have signed a petition urging Trump and Congress to protect the "dreamers." They include CEOs of Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, AT&T, Wells Fargo, Best Buy, Ikea and Kaiser Permanente.

"We're also calling on Congress to finally pass the Dream Act or another permanent, legislative solution that Dreamers deserve," wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a Facebook post last week. "These young people represent the future of our country and our economy."

CEOs are not moral leaders of American society. They're taking action because Trump's hatefulness is bad for business.

Customers and investors reacted so badly to Charlottesville that the CEOs had to distance themselves from Trump.

Now they're responding to Trump's plan to end DACA because they know that Dreamers are good for the American economy.

Dreamers aren't taking jobs away from native-born Americans. Their purchases are creating more jobs.

Plus many of them are unusually ambitious, and their drive is already adding to the economy. Their parents, who had to be ambitious in order to get into America, seem to have passed on to their kids a particularly strong work ethic.

Dreamers have been among my best students at Berkeley. In recent years I've had many tearful sessions with them, discussing whether they should try for graduate or professional schools when their futures are so uncertain.

Still, more than 72 percent of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies now count Dreamers among their employees, according to, which organized the recent petition.

Brad Smith, Microsoft president, wrote in a blog post that at least 27 of Microsoft's employees are Dreamers - including software engineers, finance professionals and retail associates. Ending the program, he said, would be a "step backwards for our entire nation."

On Sunday, Apple chief executive Tim Cook tweeted, "250 of my Apple coworkers are #Dreamers. I stand with them."

Trump doesn't worry about moving the nation backwards. He's been at it for more than seven months.

The good news is he's becoming more isolated than ever - abandoned not just by a growing number of elected Republicans but also by CEOs.

It's not that they object to the hatefulness and divisiveness Trump has been sowing. What's been moving them to action is they don't like the effects of the hatefulness on business.

It really doesn't matter how the CEOs come to see the light. What matters is they're pushing Trump into an ever darker hole.
(c) 2017 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His website is

This Labor Day The Struggle Continues
By Bernie Sanders

Labor Day was established in 1894 by President Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, as a concession to the labor movement days after he used federal troops to crush a strike by railroad workers which resulted in 30 deaths and some $80 million in property damages. Workers then, and workers now, were fighting for decent wages and working conditions and the end of human exploitation.

Today, at a time of massive income and wealth inequality and an outrageous level of corporate greed, we must never forget the struggles and ideals of those who came before us. We must continue the fight for a government and an economy that works for all, and not just the wealthy and powerful.

Labor Day is a time to remember that for hundreds of years the trade union movement in our country has led the fight for equal rights and economic and social justice. And it is a day to pledge our continuing support to protect workers' rights which have been under fire for decades.

The reality is that over the past 40 years, the wealthiest and most powerful people in this country have rigged the economy against the American middle class, the working class and the most vulnerable people. The result is that the very rich are getting richer while most working families are struggling.

In America today, the typical male working full-time is making about $2,100 less than he did 43 years ago, while millions of women are working two or three jobs just to cobble together enough income to pay the bills. Back in 1979, nearly 4 out of 10 private sector workers had a defined benefit pension plan that guaranteed a secure retirement after a lifetime of hard work. Today, only 13 percent do.

In 1980, CEOs made 30 times more than the average worker. Today, chief executives of the largest corporations in America make about 347 times as much as their typical employees.

Meanwhile, the wealthiest and most powerful people in this country have never had it so good. The top 0.1 percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. Fifty-two percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent. One family, the Walton family of Walmart, the worst union-busters of all, owns more wealth than the bottom 130 million Americans.

As a result, people all over this country are asking the hard questions that need to be asked:

Why is it that, despite all of the incredible gains we have made in technology and productivity, millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages? Why is it that we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major industrialized country while we have seen a 10-fold increase in the number of billionaires since the year 2000?

How does it happen that many of the new jobs being created today in America are part-time, low wage jobs?

Why is it that since 2001, over 60,000 factories have shut down in America and millions of good-paying manufacturing jobs have disappeared? Why are the new manufacturing jobs being created in this country pay in some cases half of what manufacturing jobs used to pay?

Why are we in a race to the bottom with low wage countries like China, Mexico and Vietnam?

Why are we the only major country on earth not to guarantee health care for all or to provide paid family and medical leave?

Why have we lost our position as the best educated country in the world and now find millions of people paying off outrageously high student debts?

Why is our infrastructure, roads, bridges, airports, levees, dams, water systems and wastewater plants, mass transit, schools and housing, crumbling and in need of major repair?

The bottom line is that there are a number of reasons as to why the middle class in this country continues to shrink, while those on top are doing phenomenally well. The most important being that we increasingly have governments, at the national, state and local levels, that are beholden to wealthy campaign contributors rather than the needs of their constituents.

Our job is to bring our people together around a progressive agenda that works for all, and not just the few. Our job is to create an economy based on human needs, not the greed of the billionaire class.

We must rebuild the American labor movement and make it easier, not harder, for workers to join unions. Forty years ago, more than a quarter of all workers belonged to a union. Today, that number has gone down to just 11 percent and in the private sector it is now less than 7 percent as Republican governors across the country have signed anti-union legislation into law, drastically cutting labor membership in this country.

It is not a coincidence that the decline of the American middle class virtually mirrors the rapid decline in union membership. As workers lose their seat at the negotiating table, the share of national income going to middle class workers has gone down, while the percentage of income going to the very wealthy has gone up.

The benefits of joining a union are clear. Union workers earn 27 percent more, on average, than non-union workers. Over 76 percent of union workers have guaranteed defined benefit pension plans, while only 16 percent of non-union workers do. More than 82 percent of workers in unions have paid sick leave, compared to just 62 percent of non-union workers.

In order to revitalize American democracy we must overturn Citizens United, move to public funding of elections and end voter suppression.

We must demand that the wealthy and large corporations begin paying their fair share of taxes.

We must break-up the large Wall Street financial banks and make sure that no institution in America is too big to fail.

We must raise the minimum wage to a living wage, $15 an hour, and end the unconscionable and inequitable pay gap that currently exists between male and female workers.

We must re-write our disastrous trade policies and make sure that trade agreements benefit workers and not just CEOs of large corporations.

We must rebuild our crumbling infrastructure with a $1 trillion dollar investment and create up to 15 million good-paying jobs.

We must pass a Medicare-for-all, single-payer health care system and guarantee health care as a right, not a privilege.

We must make public colleges and universities tuition free for working families so that everyone can get a higher education regardless of income.

Today, on Labor Day, we must recommit ourselves to bringing all working people together in the fight for a just and humane world.
(c) 2017 Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 after serving 16 years in the House of Representatives. He is the longest serving independent member of Congress in American history. Elected Mayor of Burlington, Vt., by 10 votes in 1981, he served four terms. Before his 1990 election as Vermont's at-large member in Congress, Sanders lectured at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and at Hamilton College in upstate New York. Read more at his website. Follow him on Twitter: @SenSanders or @BernieSanders

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...

Fake Sons
By Will Durst

And now, a few choice words about Donald Trump... Junior. Seems as if the eldest son of the Trump Crime Family is not the brilliant hotheaded tactician that Santino was in the Corleone Crime Family but more in the mold of Fredo. The Trump most likely to make people offers they can't understand.

To say the collusion trail is convoluted is like intimating that Wimbledon has found that ripe strawberries are not an adequate substitute for tennis balls. On the advice of lawyers, Jared Kushner amended his security clearance application three times, setting off bells loud enough to wake Richard Nixon's dead dog, Checkers.

This led to the revelation that Don Jr. held a meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer, described as a "nothing burger meeting" about Russian adoptions and nobody else was there. And isn't it time we focus on what really matters to the American people? Hey, look over there... a squirrel.

Well, okay, so maybe the lawyer had some vague connections to the Russian government, but doesn't everybody? And Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner were there, but they had no idea why. A month before the Conventions, the campaign manager and lead advisor attended a meeting for no apparent reason. With a Russian lawyer. About adoption. And linoleum is edible.

It was so boring, the two left early. And okay, it wasn't about orphans, but had nothing to do with seeking damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Which wouldn't be illegal, even if it did. Which it didn't. Okay, it did. So maybe it was a marinated flank steak meeting.

Then, to beat the New York Times to the punch, Junior released some grass- fed, prime- cut, filet mignon emails that portrayed him as eager to receive the promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton. From an American- born Russian record producer. And an oligarch pop star. Don't ask.

But absolutely nothing happened and we know that because Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner and the Russian lawyer all said nothing happened. And why shouldn't we believe the people who haven't told us the truth ever. Not once. Oh yeah: this time, for sure.

And a former Russian Intelligence officer also attended the meeting. But don't worry, because he's a former Russian Intelligence officer. And maybe a couple other folks were there. No one knows. Doesn't matter. Look away.

To recap: Donald Trump Jr. colluded with the Russians to uncover proof that Hillary Clinton was involved in Russian collusion, because colluding with Russians would prove a person unqualified to be President. Then again, collusion is not such a bad thing. Everybody does it. As a matter of fact, you'd be a fool not to collude. And nobody wants a fool as president, do they? Too late.

Capo di capo, Donald Trump Sr. applauded Son Number One's transparency for releasing the grass- fed, prime- cut, filet mignon emails detailing the campaign's attempt to enlist foreign help to discredit Hillary. Which is like complimenting the bear that mauled you for maintaining such sharp claws.

Soon the senior Don will tweet warnings to the press to totally ignore Don Jr. because he's not a real Trump son. And neither are Eric or Jared. The only true Trump son is Ivanka. The rest are just Fake Sons. Just like fake news, only different.
(c) 2017 Will Durst is an award- winning, nationally acclaimed columnist, comedian and former roasted corn salesman at the Wisconsin State Fair. For a calendar of personal appearances including his new one - man show "Durst Case Scenario" appearing every Tuesday at the San Francisco Marsh starting July 11, please visit

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Issues & Alibis Vol 17 # 34 (c) 09/08/2017

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