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In This Edition

Thom Hartmann reports, "The Ongoing Kaepernick Controversy Shows Much Of White America Is Still In 'Slave Patrol' Mode."

Greg Palast says, "Florida Still Using An Old Katherine Harris Trick To Purge Black Voters."

Glen Ford examines, "9/11 Legacy: Two Contending Fascisms."

Juan Cole explains, "Why The Midterm Elections Can't Be Counted On To End Our Constitutional Crisis."

Jim Hightower wonders, "Will You Win The "Throw Your Money At Amazon" Sweepstakes?"

John Nichols finds, "Actually, Invoking The 25th Amendment Makes A Lot Of Sense."

James Donahue reveals, "The Corporate Plan: Keep Them Scared."

William Rivers Pitt concludes, "Kavanaugh Must Be Stopped, And Republicans Must Stop Him."

Heather Digby Parton finds, "Another "A" Poll Shows Trump Slippage."

David Suzuki says, "Trans Mountain Decision Is Good, But We Still Have Far To Go."

Charles P. Pierce remembers, "A Nation's Grief Was Hijacked On The Afternoon Of September 11, 2001."

David Swanson concludes, "Legalizing Peace Is Far From Simple."

Jane Stillwater had a, "Guilty Pleasure."

Maine House of Representatives Lawrence Lockman wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich foretells, "The Dangerous Myth Of Deregulation."

Chris Hedges is, "Conjuring Up The Next Depression."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Trump Demands To Know Who Put "Entering Crazytown" Sign On Oval Office Door" but first Uncle Ernie asks, "Where's John Wilkes Booth, Now That We Need Him?"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Bill Schorr, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, Jen Castro, Erik Hersman, Drew Angerer, Christian Hartmann, Rich Lipski, Mandel Ngan, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

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

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

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Where's John Wilkes Booth, Now That We Need Him?
By Ernest Stewart

"It was too flowery, four score and seven years ago, right? Too flowery. And he died." ~~~ Donald tRump ~ Billings, Montana speech

..."Meanwhile in the Pacific, record warm waters along the coast of Southern California and beyond are seen as a prelude to an El Nino weather pattern in winter that sometimes includes higher-than-normal rainfall, experts say. El Nino years usually go hand-in-hand with mild hurricane seasons in the Atlantic and active ones in the Pacific. But not this year. Warming waters could exacerbate the issue of hurricanes in the Pacific." ~~~ Phil Klotzbach

"Our position is code for lying. Certainly, as a journalist, I have never known official lying to be more pervasive than today. We may laugh at the vacuities in Tony Blair's "Iraq dossier" and Jack Straw's inept lie that Iraq has developed a nuclear bomb (which his minions rushed to "explain"). But the more insidious lies, justifying an unprovoked attack on Iraq and linking it to would-be terrorists who are said to lurk in every Tube station, are routinely channelled as news. They are not news; they are black propaganda." ~~~ John Pilger

Fight the good fight every moment
Every minute every day
Fight the good fight every moment
It's your only way
Fight The Good Fight ~~~ Triumph

On September 6th tRump gave a speech in Billings, Montana, where he declared that the "fake news media" excoriated former President Abraham Lincoln for his Gettysburg Address. Which is strange because we never had a fake news media until tRump came along and told a thousand plus lies! Sure, the media has been bought and paid for by the likes of tRump but that was because of not what they reported but the important news that they didn't report on!

"You know when Abraham Lincoln made that Gettysburg Address speech, the great speech, you know he was ridiculed?" tRump was referring to the Gettysburg Address that Lincoln made on the fields of Gettysburg in 1863.

"And he was excoriated by the fake news. They had fake news then. They said it was a terrible, terrible speech." Actually the only criticism of Lincoln's speech was that some said it was too short at 272 words, not that there was anything wrong with what was said!

"Fifty years after his death they said it may have been the greatest speech ever made in America," Trump continued. "I have a feeling that's going to happen with us. In different ways, that's going to happen with us."

Funny thing, I think that in 50 years tRump will be remembered as the worst President this country's ever known, and with former presidents like Smirky and Popa Smirk, Andrew Jackson and George Washigton, that's really saying something!!!

In Other News

I see where there are three hurricanes lining up in the Atlantic to pummel the east coast. By the time you read this Hurricane Florence currently a Category 4 will have come ashore and caused major damage. Because of global warming melting the arctic and antarctic the hurricane will do more damage by floods to the coastal areas do to ocean rise, and will drop more water as warming temperatures draw more water to the atmosphere.

Right behind Florence comes hurricanes Isaac and Helene on similars tracks. So the east coast if going to take a hammering in the next couple weeks. They currently have Isaac heading west perhaps targeting Puerto Rico before turning north, while Helene maybe heading towards New York City?

With the Eastern Seaboard on alert, storms in the northeast Pacific Ocean have generated the most "accumulated cyclone energy" on record through the first week September, said Phil Klotzbach, an atmospheric science researcher at Colorado State University.

Usually when the Pacific is alive with storm energy the Atlantic Ocean is not. The synergistic high and low activity modes are well known to scientists, and this was supposed to be the Pacific's year to make waves.

And then Florence came along.

"The thing that's interesting now is the Pacific is still active, but the Atlantic is very active, which isn't normal," Klotzbach said. "I'm surprised to see the Pacific and Atlantic active at the same time.

The researcher said this happened to a lesser extent in 2016, but notes that this time around the Atlantic is displaying unusual fury after being slated for relative hibernation. Oh, and did I mention that tRump just took $10 million out of FEMA and put it into ICE?

With global warming; as Meat Loaf sang, ..."there's always something going wrong..."

And Finally

I was watching the remembrance of 9-11-2001 on the local TV channel and all I could think of was that they were telling the same lies that Smirky told, ergo the terrorists have won, and what I mean by terrorists is PNAC! We haven't been the country, that we were before 9-11, the PNAC plan had worked.

Yes two airliners were flown into the twin towers but after that, there was nothing but lies. There was no revolt on the other airliner it was shot down by an F-16 while still at 30,000 + feet and the debris were spread over a three mile area. The thing that hit the Pentagon was a missle as one could plainly see the circular hole it left on the outside of the building.

PNAC or Project For The New American Century was run by a group of fascist neer-do-wells the likes of Eliot Abrams, Richard Armitage, Gary Bauer, William J Bennet, John R. Bolton, William F Buckley Jr., Jeb Bush, Frank Carlucci, I. Lewis Libby, Edwin Meese III, J. Danforth Quayle, Donald Rumsfeld, Casper W. Weinberger, Paul Wolfowitz, and was founded by, Bill Kristol, Robert Kagan and Dick Cheney! Talk about a rouges gallery! Of course, those are just the famous ones, there was an addition 100 or more truly evil men and women!

Their sole purpose was to get America into a never ending war for oil and then conquer the Arab world, and all they needed to achieve this goal was "some catastrophic and catalysing event - like a new Pearl Harbor." Which you may recall almost gave it away, as you may remember that Pearl Harbor was a Japanese set up to get us into WWII. And with Americans being as dumb as America was and is both plans worked out perfectly.

Of course, we couldn't have pulled it off without the tireless work of Israel who made a large foretune by buying up the world trade center and building 7 a few weeks before 911. Do you remember the dancing Israelis across the river in New Jersey while the building were struck and then fell. We know that building 7 was blown up and we expect so were the twin towers as they fell in their own foot prints. Not to mention the still happening cover ups.

Keepin' On

Time is running out for this country and this magazine. Without your direct help America will fall into a third world country, and this magazine will cease to exist. Who ya gonna call when Issues & Alibis is gone?

We need to raise about $2100 before the middle of November to stay active and in the fight to restore our Republic to where it should be. And you need to join us in that good fight to turn congress blue and also replace those blue-dog Democrats with young liberals!

We've been fighting for your rights since the 12-12-2000 coup d'etat went down and it's been people like you that have kept us at it ever since. If you think knowing what the real truth is; in order to deal with it for yourself and your family, is a pretty good idea, won't you please send us whatever you can, as often as you can, and we'll keep at it until the people win their country back!


06-06-1948 ~ 09-10-2018
Thanks for the music!


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So please help us if you can-?

****** We've Moved The Forum Back *******

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


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

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2018 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.

Protest has now moved from the streets to social media, and then into the venue most visible to white men in American public life: the NFL's football fields.

The Ongoing Kaepernick Controversy Shows Much Of White America Is Still In 'Slave Patrol' Mode
There's a long history of whites trashing blacks when they protest the systems whites have put in place to keep them down
By Thom Hartmann

The slave patrols live.

Just ask any of the people at Nike who answer the phones and are dealing with an avalanche of angry white callers throwing the N-word around and complaining about Nike treating Kaepernick with respect. Trump, Pence, and billionaire Rupert Murdoch's Fox News are ginning up even more racist hysteria on a near-daily basis.

But this doesn't come out of thin air. There's a long history of whites trashing blacks when they protest the systems whites have put in place to keep them down.

Policing people of color, which our history teaches was a "government function" handled by the southern states back in the day, was actually a largely civilian effort, although it depended on the support and constant encouragement of political leaders within government. So, too, today's largely civilian, male, and white "slave patrols" are on the lookout for anybody who may support Colin Kaepernick in his protests of police killings of unarmed black people. And those civilians, being called to arms by Trump and Pence with lies that Kaepernick doesn't "respect" the flag or the national anthem, are flooding into the public square, from Twitter to retail stores.

At the core of modern American policing (particularly in the South), and at the creation of the Second Amendment, we find the slave patrols that were the first militia of the southern states. They're also essential to the modern neo-confederate and white supremacist efforts to demonize black people whenever they stand up for their rights.

In Georgia, for example, a generation before the American Revolution, the colonial government passed laws in 1755 and 1757 that required all white men 17-47 years old to be members of the Georgia Militia, and for those armed Militia members to make monthly inspections of the quarters of every slave in the state. The law defined which counties had which armed militias, and explicitly required armed militia members to keep a keen eye out for slaves who may be planning uprisings.

As Dr. Carl T. Bogus wrote for the University of California Law Review in 1998, "The Georgia statutes required patrols, under the direction of commissioned militia officers, to examine every plantation each month and authorized them to search 'all Negro Houses for offensive Weapons and Ammunition' and to apprehend and give twenty lashes to any slave found outside plantation grounds."

It's the answer to the question raised by the character played by Leonardo DiCaprio in Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained when he asks, "Why don't they just rise up and kill the whites?" If the movie were real, it would have been a purely rhetorical question, because every southerner of the era knew the simple answer: well regulated militias kept the slaves in chains.

Sally E. Hadden, in her book Slave Patrols: Law and Violence in Virginia and the Carolinas notes that, "Although eligibility for the Militia seemed all-encompassing, not every middle-aged white male Virginian or Carolinian became a slave patroller." There were exemptions so "men in critical professions" like judges, legislators, and wealthy white students could stay at their work. Generally, though, she documents how most southern men -including physicians and ministers -had to serve on slave patrol in the militia at one time or another in their lives.

And slave rebellions were keeping the slave patrols busy.

By the time the Constitution was ratified, hundreds of substantial slave uprisings had occurred across the South. Blacks outnumbered Whites in large areas, and the state militias were used to both prevent and to put down slave uprisings. As Dr. Bogus points out, slavery can only exist in the context of a police state, and the enforcement of that police state was the explicit job of the gun toting mostly civilian militias.

As I've written before, the Second Amendment was written the way it was -mentioning "state" instead of, as in its original version, "country" -to allow the southern states to keep their militias intact, and those militias were overwhelmingly slave patrols.

As a result, for the two-plus centuries since then, American police -and, in the 19th century, American slave patrollers -have largely had carte blanche to execute black men who they think are "out of line."

In the 21st century the publicly-known (and partial) list of the victims of this white and "blue" violence runs long: Akiel Denkins, Gregory Gunn, Samuel DuBose, Brendon Glenn, Freddie Gray, Natasha McKenna, Walter Scott, Christian Taylor, Michael Brown, Ezell Ford, Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice, Yvette Smith, Jamar Clark, Rekia Boyd, Shereese Francis, Ramarley Graham, Manuel Loggins Jr., Sean Bell, Ronald Madison, and Kendra James (among others).

Not to mention Treyvon Martin, killed by the most notorious recent civilian volunteer "slave patroller," George Zimmerman.

None of the killers of any of these human beings are in prison for that crime. All of the killers were afforded great deference and privilege -something that wouldn't have happened if they'd been European cops -because of our uniquely long history of slave patrols.

Our history is also filled with stories and anecdotes about times black people protested this treatment -the story of the response to the brutal murder of Emmit Till is probably best known in the 20th century. There was also the murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson, a protest known now as the Selma to Montgomery march.

Protest has now moved from the streets to social media, and then into the venue most visible to white men in American public life: the NFL's football fields.

Predictably, this inflamed the older white men who run the GOP -particularly President Trump and Vice President Pence -who are regularly shouting out to today's somewhat less organized but no less enthusiastic "slave patrollers," encouraging them to "police" the unruly African Americans among us.

At the top of Trump and Pence's hit list is Colin Kaepernick, who began the protests against these police killings.

But in order to sanitize the naked racism of Trump, Pence, and their lickspittles at Fox News, they had to add a twist to the story: the lie that Kaepernick "hates" and "doesn't respect" the flag and the national anthem. Fox has even gone so far as to have (white) soldiers' widows come on and respond to leading questions about Kaepernick "disrespecting" their dead husbands.

But Fox and Trump/Pence have it all wrong, as they well know.

If you're going to protest police killings of black people during the national anthem, the most respectful way to do it, according to many veterans, is to take a knee. Kaepernick got the idea from special forces veteran Nate Boyer, who suggested to him that he should consider going to his knee to respectfully protest the police killings, rather than just sitting on the bench.

"Soldiers take a knee in front of a fallen brother's grave, you know, to show respect," Boyer told a reporter he'd told Kaepernick. "When we're on a patrol, you know, and we go into a security halt, we take a knee, and we pull security. ... [P]eople take a knee to pray. So for me it was a common ground, at least, to start from."

Kaepernick loved the idea and adopted it, and now this respectful, almost prayerful protest has spread across the NFL. And Trump and Pence are cynically using it as new and useful shorthand for "uppity black people" that they can use to call out the modern-day slave patrol.

What's so breathtaking about the entire thing is how often the media in America allows Trump's and Pence's slanders of Kaepernick to go unchallenged when its repeated in speeches and rallies. Trump, Pence, and hard-right media have clearly adopted the model, "When one lies, it should be a big lie, and one should stick to it."

But Americans are figuring it out.

Just as African Americans have been economically disenfranchised since the founding of America, the white billionaire owners of the NFL are continuing that tradition by denying Kaepernick an opportunity to practice his craft. Now Trump and Pence are encouraging the NFL to extend that economic segregation, that redlining, to any other players who may join the protest.

Nike has now stepped up to embrace Kaepernick, in what many Republicans are calling a "crazy" marketing campaign, which has brought this all to the top of the news again. But is it crazy?

Maybe. Or maybe it's just crazy enough to finally wake white America up to what's been happening for centuries to our black brothers and sisters.
(c) 2018 Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program The Thom Hartmann Show.

Florida Still Using An Old Katherine Harris Trick To Purge Black Voters
By Greg Palast

Florida's up to its old tricks again, using dubious lists of felons and computers that come up with criminal mismatches to rob votes from people of color.

This is a prime example of how the vote heist - first mastered by Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris in 2000 - works: In yesterday's Florida election, an African-American attorney named Thomas Joseph Brown, who lives in Tallahassee, had his vote stolen. When he showed up to his polling station in Leon County, he was told he'd been purged from the rolls. When he took the matter up with the Election Supervisors they said it was because his name "matched" that of a felon called Thomas Jerald Brown, who lived 200 miles away in Daytona. Seems the fact that the middle names, addresses, and other identifying information didn't match wasn't an impediment for the state when it came to stripping a citizen of his or her right to vote. Fortunately, as an attorney, Thomas Joseph Brown knew exactly how to steal his vote back, but most people in his position would've had their vote irrevocably snatched by the state.

It's the same exact scam that stole the race from Al Gore in 2000. I demand y'all watch this cartoon about the original theft of Florida. It's by Keith Tucker who drew Who Framed Roger Rabbit and is featured in my film, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: The Case Of The Stolen Election. View the clip here then watch the whole move - available for FREE on Amazon Prime or with a donation from our store.

Below a full account of events as written by Thomas Joseph Brown, Esq.:

I am a licensed Florida and Texas attorney who was wrongfully removed from the voters list and not allowed to vote. I was removed because of the felon list and documents (see criminal judgment of conviction of another attached) provided by the State of Florida to the Leon County Supervisors of Elections. This was both embarrassing and upsetting to be denied my fundamental right to vote as a U.S. citizen and Florida resident - a right that I cherish and exercise faithfully considering how my ancestors and others fought for African Americans such as I to vote. Upon presenting my valid Florida Driver's License with my full name "Thomas Joseph Brown" at my voting precinct, I was told that I had been purged from the voters list and could not vote.

After traveling to the Leon Country Supervisor of Elections Office and speaking to the Supervisor and staff, I was provided a copy of a criminal Judgment from 2005 for a "Thomas Jerald Brown" whose address was in Daytona Florida which is more that 200 miles from Tallahassee, Florida as support for purging me from the voters list. Again my improper removal from the voting list without notice to me, a registered Leon County voter since 1990, is a clear example as to why I and others are against Florida's unfettered use of the Felon list to purge voters, including lawfully registered voters such as I, from the voting list.

Although my rights were re-established due to my actions, I am deeply concerned for other citizens who are not lawyers and may not have known how or had time to re-establish their voting rights to be able to cast a regular ballot before the polls close at 7:00 p.p.. It was embarrassing to be purged as a convicted felon, unable to vote, especially when a colleague noticed that I was not allowed to vote and asked if he needed to vouch for me.

With kind regards, I am


Thomas J. Brown, Esq.,
1102 E. Tennessee Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32308

(c) 2018 Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic, named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC Newsnight Review

9/11 Legacy: Two Contending Fascisms
By Glenn Ford

Two fascisms compete for popular support in the US. One is blatantly racist, the other offers a devil's bargain that demands Black people accept austerity and war. Both must be fought.

9/11 gave the rulers of the United States blanket permission to wage foreign wars at will or whim, while stripping down domestic civil liberties to fit the security demands of a perpetual war society. At the time, voices on the left warned of impending fascism -- and they were right, although many of these same people have since acclimated to the new order, and now scream "fascist" at the racist menace in the White House. And they are right, again -- but only halfway.

Two contending, yet interrelated, forms of fascism are vying for supremacy in the U.S. Both fascisms are anchored in the leadership of their respective duopoly parties, which together monopolize the national political conversation. Thus, fascism is "mainstream" politics in the United States, as reflected in the daily diatribes between the warmongering, Russian stooge-hunting, neo-McCarthyite, corporate Democratic "Resistance" and the race-mongering, Dixiecrat-Republican, law and order-loving (but also white mob rule-friendly) troglodytes aligned with Donald Trump.

0 These are not polar opposite fascisms, of course. Both are American exceptionalist -- another term for imperialist -- and both are thoroughly capitalist, tailored to the rule of the rich. The major difference between the two, is race.

Donald Trump presides over a revival of the world's oldest fascism, the one created in the former slave states to keep Blacks subordinate and rich white people on top. As I explained in "Trump and His Fascist Forefathers," (BAR, 17 Aug18):

"After crushing Black Reconstruction, the southern states invented, from the bottom up, the world's first totally racially regimented society. U.S. 'Jim Crow' inspired Adolph Hitler's vision for nation-building under Aryan supremacy, as documented in James Q. Whitman's recent book, Hitler's American Model. American fascism predated -- and has long outlived -- the European variety. It is generally accepted that fascist states are characterized, to one degree or another, by:

* Extreme nationalism

* Frequent resort to mob rule

* Oppression of an internal "Other" as an organizing principle

* Militarism

* The political dominance of the most reactionary elements of the bourgeoisie

"All of these characteristics describe the southern states of the U.S. during the nearly century-long period between the death of Reconstruction and the triumph of the Civil Rights Movement. Moreover, the post-Reconstruction reconciliation between North and South guaranteed that the southern fascism model would leave its imprint on the larger American political economy. In the aftermath of the Sixties, the Republican section of the corporate electoral duopoly assumed the role of the White Man's Party -- the purer party of indigenous American fascism."

Donald Trump is a phony, even as a fascist. His actual policies are a corporate dream-list, crushing workers of all ethnicities in the dust. But his rhetoric is straight out of post-Reconstruction Dixie, and translates to racist ears as a promise of "white man's work" in abundance, combined with severe state repression for Blacks, a wink and nod to white vigilantism, and expulsion for immigrants and various others. Although there is nothing substantive for workers of any kind in the Trump legislative agenda, majorities of whites responded to his racist appeal in 2016, as they have to Republican presidential candidates since Richard Nixon's "Southern Strategy," in 1968. In rhetoric, if not in practice, Trump represents a revival of (never moribund) old school, race-centered American fascism.

Trump's neo-Dixiecrat regime is under siege by a rival fascism that purports to be color-blind -- and, indeed, created the first billion-dollar-plus campaign war chest in U.S. history to elect the First Black President, in 2008. These purported "race neutral" fascists coalesced in Hillary Clinton's campaign tent in response to Trump's takeover of the GOP and the flight of establishment corporate Republicans -- a great disruption of the duopoly electoral system. The corporate Democrat fascists, now backed by most of the major media and the military-industrial complex, and openly aligned with the worst elements of the U.S. "intelligence" community, launched a furious campaign to delegitimize the Trump presidency through charges of "collusion" with "the Russians" and Wikileaks to pilfer Clinton campaign emails. Despite almost two years of investigations, there is no proof that the predicate crime ever happened. However, corporate media-generated anti-Russian hysteria has succeeded in whipping up war mania and causing the imposition of crippling censorship of genuine left media.

The goal is to delegitimize all dissent, to prevent any serious challenge to the corporate consensus on endless war and austerity. For electoral purposes, the corporate fascists have decreed that the dividing line in U.S. politics is race. Blacks, immigrants, Muslims and others are all invited to join the corporate Democrat "Resistance" to Trump -- as if Black people have not always resisted that brand of American fascism, sometimes all but single-handedly. But, the devil's bargain demands that we must accept austerity and war, policies that are most harmful to Blacks and violate the historical Black consensus on peace and social justice.

The corporate fascists are just as phony as Trump. Their race "neutrality" means only that they have no problem with Black presidents and Black generals that wage racist wars against people of color; or with Black heads of Homeland Security that pursue the imprisonment of "Black Identity Extremists"; or with Black politicians overseeing their sectors of the Mass Black Incarceration Gulag.

What separates Trump's old school cracker fascism from the smoother, Democrat corporate version, is that the Clinton-Pelosi fascists invite Black people to fully participate in their own destruction -- and to feel honored at the invitation.

At this juncture in history, when it is crystal-clear that the ruling class has no vision, intention or goal except endless war and austerity, so-called "progressives" claim it is Black people's duty to align with a Democrat corporate "Resistance" that would spend every loose dollar on the war machine; has no plans to rebuild the cities -- at least until they are emptied of Black people; and remains wedded to Mass Black Incarceration and the armed occupation of Black communities.

The corporate Democrat tricksters have their own conflicts with Trump over regime change and the movement of money and jobs around the globe, but they claim to be race-neutral -- as if such a ruling class is possible in the USA.

The rule of white oligarchs requires race-conscious methods. Trump, the real estate oligarch, calls Black and brown people names, to get the votes of stupid white folks. Bezos and other Democratic plutocrats claim to be anti-racist, but could not hold on to their ill-gotten billions for a second were their fortunes not protected by the world's biggest police state, which specializes in warehousing and killing Black bodies.

Two fascisms offer even less choice than one. We choose struggle. Power to the People.
(c) 2018 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

Even if Democratic voters dutifully come out in droves, so many voting districts have been gerrymandered to
have a permanent Republican majority that there is no guarantee that we can produce a congressional Democratic majority.

Why The Midterm Elections Can't Be Counted On To End Our Constitutional Crisis
So many voting districts have been gerrymandered to have a permanent Republican majority that there is no guarantee that we can produce a congressional Democratic majority.
By Juan Cole

The country is in the midst of a constitutional crisis. Asked about its resolution, former Secretary of State John Kerry urged that the solution is to elect a Democratic Congress, and if possible, Senate-the solution is for voters to vote.

It is true that U.S. voter participation rates are extremely low, especially in midterms, and participation can run to only a little bit over a third of eligible voters. Thus, if more people would just vote, they might well be able to end the Republican dominance of all three branches of government.

The problem is not, however, merely one of low voter participation (which may well be bipartisan, so that lazy Democrats and Republicans cancel one another out).

The problem is gerrymandering. Rahm Emmanuel, who is no one's fool when it comes to politics, has said that it took a couple decades for the Republicans artificially to engineer their majority, and that process would not be overturned over night.

Take Austin, Texas. In an ordinary political world that wasn't corrupt, Austin would be represented in Washington, D.C. by a couple of Democratic representatives.

The Republicans in the Texas state legislature, however, used their dominance of the statehouse to cut Austin up into 6 congressional districts, attaching a rural hinterland to each so that the city slickers could be outvoted by more rural voters, who were disproportionately white. The minorities in Austin were particularly robbed by this crass piece of voter suppression. That this is so was one of the grounds for optimism that at long last the Supreme Court might invalidate the extreme gerrymandering. But if so, it won't come soon enough to affect these midterms.

All around the country there has been similar gerrymandering, the bulk of it Republican rather than Democratic (some Democratic states have even put districting in the hands of nonpartisan commissions, as in California-which should be universal.)

So Mr. Kerry's hopes that a blue wave will solve our constitutional crisis are not a sure thing. Nate Silver's polling is showing a blue wave in the House, but the proof will be in the pudding.

The Senate, where small conservative dinky little states can overrule 39 million Californians, is even less in play.

The long and the short of it is that even if Democratic voters dutifully come out in droves, so many voting districts have been gerrymandered to have a permanent Republican majority that there is no guarantee that we can produce a congressional Democratic majority. That isn't a counsel of despair. It is a warning that doing just a little bit more won't do the trick. Everyone who is worried for our country has to pull out all the stops. The inertia is with Trump.

And if he keeps one or both houses of Congress, will the crisis become permanent?
(c) 2018 Juan R.I. Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia and has given numerous media interviews on the war on terrorism and the Iraq War. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years and continues to travel widely there. He speaks Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.

Will You Win The "Throw Your Money At Amazon" Sweepstakes?
By Jim Hightower

How much are you paying Amazon? I don't mean how much you're shelling out for stuff you bought, but how much you and your neighbors are simply giving to this huge and uber-rich on-line retailer.

If you live in Indianapolis, Austin, Chicago, Atlanta, or 16 other lucky cities - congratulations, for you're a finalist in the "Throw-Your-Money-At-Amazon" Sweepstakes! It's like Bonnie & Clyde, but instead of robbing banks, Amazon has enticed city and state officials to rob their own citizens, then hand over the loot in the form of tax breaks, land, and other bribes to Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. The locality that offers the most booty "wins" the grand prize of having this thieving corporate behemoth become its new neighbor. At least until Bezos gets a better offer.

So, again I ask: How much are your officials offering?

Shhhh, that's a secret. Nearly all of the 20 contestant cities won't tell city council members (much less taxpayers) how many billions they're throwing at Bezos. Many cities even turned their negotiations over to business groups like the chamber of commerce, letting this handful of unelected, self-interested, private elites secretly make binding promises that would affect all residents without consulting them. In the few places that did release information, it's amounted to an unfunny joke - Montgomery County, Maryland, for example, made public a 10-page document listing "incentives" it was offering, but every word on every page was blacked out!

This whole flim-flam is abominable and ought to be criminal. Amazon will rake in a quarter-trillion dollars in sales this year, and Bezos is sitting on $166 billion in personal wealth. Shame on him for demanding public handouts, and shame on local officials for robbing the public till to further bloat his ego and fortune.
(c) 2018 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

Donald Trump speaks at the start of the NATO summit in Brussels, May 25, 2017.

Actually, Invoking The 25th Amendment Makes A Lot Of Sense
Trump's anonymous lieutenant was wrong to reject a constitutional remedy for an erratic and amoral presidency.
By John Nichols

Agreeing with Sarah Huckabee Sanders is not something that responsible people get into the habit of doing. But the president's press secretary was more-or-less right to suggest that "this pathetic, reckless, and selfish op-ed" written by an anonymous "senior official in the Trump administration" for The New York Times was not exactly a profile-in-courage statement. The op-ed writer claimed to be "part of the resistance inside the Trump administration," yet the resistance that he described was more self-congratulatory than consequential. Indeed, the writer's enthusiasm for the administration's right-wing agenda suggests that the trouble this senior official has with Trump is more a matter of style than substance.

The Trump lieutenant actually admitted that "It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room." Well, yes, yes it is cold comfort to think that the republic is being preserved by a "steady state" cabal that thinks "the president's instincts are good" on things like "tax cuts, deregulation, judges."

The worst part of the Times column was a section that rejected an appropriate response to an "amoral" president who exhibits "erratic behavior," acts in "impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective" ways, and displays "impulses [that] are generally...anti-democratic."

"Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the President," wrote the anonymous official. "But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until-one way or another-it's over."

Just to be clear: Acting to remove an "amoral" president who exhibits "erratic behavior," acts in "impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective" ways, and displays "impulses [that] are generally...anti-democratic" does not "precipitate a constitutional crisis." Enabling such a president to remain in office precipitates the crisis; taking steps to end so dangerous a presidency is how the "adults in the room" are supposed to address this kind of crisis.

This is an argument that has been made since the early days of the Trump presidency by serious constitutional scholars.

Wise members of Congress have taken an interest in the 25th amendment as a tool for checking and balancing errant presidents. And the wisest of their number, Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin, has taken steps to strengthen that tool.

Raskin, who was a professor of constitutional law at American University's Washington College of Law before his election to the House in 2016, now serves as the vice-ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. Over the course of the past year, he has made a compelling case for consideration of how best to utilize the 25th Amendment-which outlines procedures by which "the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office..."

While that anonymous "senior official in the Trump administration" and his compatriots may have rejected the constitutional remedy, Raskin explains that "the 25th Amendment, adopted in 1967, does not leave this judgment solely to the Cabinet."

"Under the 25th Amendment, the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet or the Vice President and a majority of 'such other body as Congress may by law provide' can determine that the President is-for reasons of physical or mental incapacity-unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office," says the congressman from Maryland, who explains that, "Because an unstable President might fire his own Cabinet, Senator Birch Bayh, who sponsored the 25th Amendment, wanted to empower Congress itself to set up an independent 'body' to act with the Vice President in the event of presidential inability."

Raskin has sponsored a bill, HR 1987, the Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity Act, which would define the Congressionally appointed "body" that is called for in the 25th Amendment. If enacted, it would establish a permanent standing body, which would be available to act during any presidential administration.

As Raskin explains it, "this body will consist of a panel of elder statespersons (former Presidents, Vice Presidents, Secretaries of State, Attorneys General and so on), physicians, and psychiatrists-all of them selected in a scrupulously bipartisan and bicameral manner by Congressional leadership. The body will select an eleventh member as the Chair. It will only act to conduct a medical examination of the President at the explicit direction of Congress. And Congress always has the last word under the terms of the 25th Amendment."

Sixty-five members of the House agree with Raskin and have signed on as cosponsors of his bill. They recognize that the future need not be left to the whims of anonymous op-ed writers.

"Congress has a constitutional duty under the 25th Amendment to define the process by which a judgment of presidential incapacity can be made if circumstances render such a judgment necessary, in this administration or any other," says Raskin, who correctly observes that this matter is of "pressing and enduring importance to the security of our nation."
(c) 2018 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.

The Corporate Plan: Keep Them Scared
By James Donahue

Have you ever wonder why the stock market makes the U.S. economy look so healthy while so many Americans are struggling just to make ends meet? Have you also wondered why there has been no push to raise the minimum wage or why many skilled workers are still listed among the unemployed? Consider this: the corporate giants appear to like it this way.

Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, gave the whole idea away when he testified before Congress in 1997. He told that roomful of financial shills that he believed imposing "greater worker insecurity" was a major route to economic success.

The following quote by Greenspan is taken right out of the Congressional record:

"If workers are more insecure, that's very healthy for the society, because if workers are insecure they won't ask for wages, they won't go on strike, they won't call for benefits; they'll serve the masters gladly and passively. And that's optimal for corporations' economic health."
Yup, Greenspan, the man we once considered the most powerful and influential figure in the world of finance, revealed in one sentence his general contempt for the working class, and his plan for keeping them enslaved under the iron thumb of corporate power.

It should come as no surprise that Greenspan was an acquaintance and admirer of American writer and economic philosopher Ayn Rand, whose books advocated the very direction the nation has been going as corporate power has been slowly eroding the thinking of elected state and national leadership.

Noam Chomsky, author and professor of analytic philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, pointed out the Greenspan testimony in a recent published commentary. In the article, Chomsky noted how American universities, that depend on corporate financial support, have all fallen into lock step with a corporate business model that insures a shortage of jobs for graduates.

Thus there can be an understanding why we have so many college graduates working for minimum wage jobs in fast food joints while holding masters degrees in specialized fields where jobs do not exist.

Adding to the horror is the bank sponsored student loan fiasco, which leaves graduates indebted to the banks, to the government, and to any employer they may happen to have.

There was a time when a college degree meant an expansion of thought and personal enlightenment. Students read fine art and studied philosophy, sociology and psychology. Now they study bookkeeping, computer skills, engineering and other fields that they are led to believe might offer them good paying employment.

It is all a lie. Once they enter the work force, that college diploma in hand, they find themselves in a long line of other candidates just like them, all competing for the few jobs that may be available. They made a big investment with borrowed money, often for naught.

Chomsky's article transferred the Greenspan (Ayn Rand) philosophy to the university setting. He asked: "How to you ensure greater worker insecurity? Critically by not guaranteeing employment, by keeping people hanging on a limb that can be sawed off at any time, so that they'd better shut up, take tiny salaries, and do their work; and if they get the gift of being allowed to serve under miserable conditions for another year, they should welcome it and not ask for any more."
(c) 2018 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.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh listens to opening statements during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing before the
Senate Judiciary Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, September 4, 2018, in Washington, DC.

Kavanaugh Must Be Stopped, And Republicans Must Stop Him
By William Rivers Pitt

Before we get to the bat belfry currently melting through the pavement at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, let's take a moment for the profoundly important event that has been relegated to a circus ring way over in the far corner of the tent: The Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Right, that. Remember? I do, barely, after the first half of this week. There is no sense in stemwinding some deep-think paean to the doings on Capitol Hill; the whole exercise is a charade wrapped in a mugging, and it is all just terribly sad. "Once you decide something is a low and very predictable farce," wrote Esquire blogger Charles P. Pierce as the hearings began, "this job becomes very easy to do."

The hearings went sideways faster than Nixon's farewell speech, but no amount of bombast or rank partisan malfeasance could obscure the truth of it. The base fact before us is that Brett Kavanaugh has no business coming within a light year of the highest court in the land. He is a shameless political hack of the purest ray, a hatchetman whose fingerprints are all over many of the most appalling events of the last 25 years.

Kavanaugh was a key figure in the Clinton impeachment debacle, the Elian Gonzales fiasco, the historic calamity of Bush v. Gore and the Terri Schiavo tragedy. And let us not forget how he also lent a helping hand during the years George W. Bush was surveilling the nation, pursuing illegal wars, slaughtering civilians and torturing prisoners: Kavanaugh was there, pitching in like the eager Federalist Society careerist he has been probably since the day he was born.

All those Kavanaugh documents from his Bush years the Republicans are refusing to divulge - Mitch McConnell feared releasing them would imperil the nomination - are almost certainly black-letter evidence of the atrocities he helped commit while serving that pestiferous man and his pestiferous administration. Kavanaugh's cozy little Brooks Brothers riot of a life would likely not be the only one turned inside out if the crimes detailed on those papers saw daylight, which is why Republicans have ensured that, for all practical purposes, they may as well not even exist.

Despite all that, despite an act of organized Democratic resistance on Tuesday that was remarkable because it was organized and because it actually happened, despite the protests popping off in the chamber like heat lightning in a distant purple sky, Brett Kavanaugh will almost certainly become an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court before the first snows blanket Mt. Monadnock. Why? Because the Republicans have the votes ... and because the most repellant aspects of his sordid career are precisely what adherents to the modern Republican ethos love most about him.

They've all been listening to Kavanaugh's pleasant fictions and hearing exactly what they need to, because of course they have. No one on the North American continent is better prepared to lie straight to the faces of senators than Brett Kavanaugh. Part of his role with the Bush administration was coaching other nominees on how to do exactly that, as Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse so succinctly explained on Tuesday:

Tomorrow, we will hear a lot of "confirmation etiquette." It's a sham. Kavanaugh knows the game. In the Bush White House, he coached judicial nominees to just tell Senators that they will adhere to statutory text, that they have no ideological agenda. Fairy tales. The sad fact is that there is no consequence for telling the Committee fairy tales about stare decisis, and then riding off with the Roberts Five, trampling across whatever precedent gets in the way of letting those big Republican interests keep winning 5-4 partisan decisions. Every. Damned. Time.
Brett Kavanaugh's ticket was punched two Novembers ago; one could argue it was punched after the 1994 midterm elections, when the existence of Bill Clinton finally fractured the last lingering bedrock Republican sensibilities, which had been visibly cracking since Barry Goldwater ran for president 30 years earlier. Kavanaugh, like Trump and Reagan before him, is a symptom and not a cause of the vile subterranean aquifers that have turned the country into a floodplain of racism, hate and greed.

"Justice Kavanaugh" is a done deal because he shares those rank ideals with the GOP senators who will vote to raise him on high. He will sit there and do their bidding for the next 30 years, amen, and virtually nothing short of the Earth careening into the Sun can stop it.


Unless a precious few of them - two would do it, five would be nice - decide to vote against Kavanaugh at the conclusion of these hearings, or when the full Senate convenes for his final confirmation.<> A paltry little week ago, I would have dismissed such an idea with a weary shake of the head and perhaps an unrestrained jet of vomit. Not these people, I would have said. Never in hell. Kavanaugh is their beau ideal in every policy sense, and besides, they are in so deep with Donald Trump and his cavalcade of deliberate mayhem that a sudden reversal would give them terminal whiplash.

That, as they say, was then. Things happen fast way up where the air is rare, and if this week has proven anything, it has proven that matters can always get worse.

The revelations released in previews of journalist Bob Woodward's new book were harrowing enough by themselves. Woodward's story begins with former chief economic adviser Gary Cohn stealing papers from the president's desk to keep Trump from signing them, an apparently common event for several high-level staffers that Woodward correctly describes as an administrative coup d'etat. Also included in the excerpts are scenes of presidential rage, incoherence, ignorance, fear and hate so sinister they would make Edgar Allan Poe seek a new line of work.

The saber-toothed disclosures in Woodward's book were still chewing their way through an astonished and unprepared White House when the second volcano erupted: On Wednesday afternoon, some cowardly administration official seeking to set bold new parameters for the term "CYA" dropped an anonymous editorial on The New York Times.

The editorial, perhaps the most self-serving platter of cognitive dissonance ever proffered in print, bemoaned the "amoral" president who was messing up all the great work the administration was doing: enlarging the military, poisoning the environment and plundering the Treasury for the wealthiest of the wealthy. Were it not for the unlettered orange goon in the round room, reads the lament, everything would be just spiffy.

Fear not, this craven writer soothed, we're here to protect you from the president we've known to be malevolently dangerous from the beginning, but we didn't speak up until now because, well, gosh, we have such nice jobs to protect.

I can count on one hand with fingers to spare the number of times Donald Trump has said something I agree with, but when he called the author of that article "gutless" on Wednesday night, he hit the nail on the head. Whoever wrote that tripe saw fit to take a job with this administration in the first place, saw fit to hide the ugly reality of Donald Trump from the public and ultimately saw fit to crouch behind "anonymous" in order to salvage any future employment prospects. The best people, really, no, tell me more.

The content of the op-ed makes me want to run up a tree for about a dozen different reasons. However, not only does it serve to confirm the core elements of Woodward's book, it has also utterly demoralized Donald Trump and his entire crew. The White House is flailing around trying to figure out who dropped this dung bomb on them. In one fell swoop, the author transformed Donald Trump into every panicked victim from all those bad horror movies: THE CALL IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!

The double-barreled combination of these events - the Woodward book and the anonymous op-ed - is a profoundly significant event in US politics. The chaos in the White House has moved beyond the seedy realm of reality TV and into a zone of genuine contra-constitutional peril unseen in the land since the days of Andrew Johnson. Pile on the five guilty verdicts/pleas for former Trump associates and the looming Mueller/New York investigations and what we have is nothing less than an existential crisis of national proportions.

Which brings us back to Brett Kavanaugh, and to all those Republican senators who have been carrying water for this lumbering fraud of a president since the moment he broke the party over his knee in 2016.

Those senators support Kavanaugh's nomination because they agree with him on shredding corporate power limitations, thwarting gun control, erasing women's reproductive rights, obliterating regulations, trashing the environment and breaking unions, among other things. Donald Trump likes Kavanaugh because Kavanaugh may be the one person who can save Trump from the legal consequences of his actions.

Mr. Kavanaugh, you see, believes presidents are immune from the law. He hasn't come right out and said so in the hearings, but his previous writings tell the tale and his evasions this week speak for themselves. Can Trump pardon himself? No answer. Can Trump ignore a lawfully executed subpoena? No answer. Will he recuse himself if any Trump-related legal issues reach the Supreme Court? No answer.

By themselves, these non-replies should constitute possible grounds for disqualification from the position he seeks. In the context of current events, with the legal and moral roof caving in on this administration to the point that aides are stealing the people's paperwork from the Oval Office, Kavanaugh's love affair with executive power and refusal to pledge recusal should be the period at the end of a one-word sentence: "No."

No president in these circumstances should be allowed to make a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, especially if the one appointed may decide his fate based on politics and not the law. The Democrats cannot block this catastrophe from the minority. Only Senate Republicans can. Two would do it, five would be nice, and time is short.
(c) 2018 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.

Another "A" Poll Shows Trump Slippage
By Heather Digby Parton

... and his rating wasn't that high to begin with. Also, a majority believe he's a lying idiot:

American voters believe 55 - 28 percent anonymous allegations that senior aides to President Donald Trump work behind his back to keep him from making what the aides believe are bad decisions, according to a Quinnipiac University National Poll released today.

Republicans don't believe these accounts 52 - 27 percent, the only listed party, gender, education, age or racial group which does not believe that aides are working behind the president's back, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University National Poll finds.

But American voters say 51 - 39 percent that the person who wrote the allegations did the wrong thing by submitting them to the media to be published anonymously.

American voters disapprove 54 - 38 percent of the job President Trump is doing, compared to a 54 - 41 percent disapproval August 14.

The only listed groups approving of the president are Republicans, 84 - 7 percent and white voters with no college degree, 51 - 40 percent.

A total of 70 percent of American voters say the nation's economy is "excellent" or "good," matching the all-time high rating for the economy. Another 28 percent say the economy is "not so good" or "poor."

"American voters believe those tales of intrigue coming from the Trump White House, but they think it's wrong to tell those tales anonymously," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

"The economy booms, but President Donald Trump's numbers are a bust. An anemic 38 percent approval rating is compounded by lows on honesty, strength and intelligence.

"But Trump's base remains loyal." American voters give President Trump his lowest grade for honesty since he was elected, saying

60 - 32 percent that he is not honest. Trump gets low grades on most character traits:
57 - 38 percent that he does not have good leadership skills;
55 - 41 percent that he does not care about average Americans;
65 - 30 percent that he is not level-headed;
57 - 39 percent that he is a strong person;
51 - 42 percent that he is intelligent;
60 - 33 percent that he does not share voters' values;
55 - 41 percent that he is not fit to serve as president;
48 - 42 percent that he is mentally stable.

Kavanaugh for Supreme Court

Wide gender, racial and partisan gaps leave American voters divided on whether the U.S. Senate should confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court as 41 percent say yes and 42 percent say no.

Support for confirmation is 81 - 3 percent among Republicans and 45 - 39 percent among independent voters, with Democrats opposed 76 - 9 percent;

Men support confirmation 46 - 37 percent, with women opposed 47 - 36 percent;

White voters support confirmation 49 - 37 percent, with opposition at 66 - 13 percent among black voters and 53 - 33 percent among Hispanic voters.

Jeff Sessions, Robert Mueller

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions gets a negative 17 - 43 percent favorability rating, with no listed group giving him a positive rating.

But American voters would disapprove 50 - 29 percent if Trump fired Sessions. Republicans are the only listed group who would approve, 49 - 23 percent.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is conducting a fair investigation into possible coordination between the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government, voters say 55 - 32 percent, compared to 51 - 33 percent August 14.

Historian Jon Meachum noted on MSNBC today that Nixon held 50% of voters all the way until the very end. 34% of the public stuck with Joseph McCarthy even after the "at long last sir have you no decency" moment.

This racist, conspiratorial, authoritarian wingnut faction is always with us. But it appears to be reducing down to its bare essence which is about a third of the country.

That would be many tens of millions of people, by the way.

Update: Uh oh, here's another one.

President Donald Trump's approval rating has fallen 6 points in the last month and stands at a new low among political independents, according to a new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS.

Overall, just 36% approve of the way the President is handling his job, down from 42% in August. Among independents, the drop has been sharper, from 47% approval last month to 31% now. That's 4 points below his previous 2018 low of 35% approval among political independents in CNN polling, and 1 point below his previous all-time low among independents in CNN polling, reached in November 2017.


The President's favorability rating -- a measure of whether people like him, rather than approve of his job performance -- has also taken a hit in this poll, with 61% saying they have unfavorable views of Trump, up from 55% in June. That unfavorable number is the worst since he won the presidency, and it matches the worst level seen during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump has also lost ground on several personal attributes, most notably perceptions of his honesty:

Just 32% say they see the President as honest and trustworthy, the worst read in CNN polling. About a third, 32%, say he's someone they are proud to have as President, down 6 points since March and the lowest since Trump took office. Only 36% say he "cares about people like you," another new low. Just 30% say he'll unite the country and not divide it, matching his previous low on that measure from November 2017. Four in 10 say the President can bring the kind of change the country needs, down 5 points from March and matching a November 2017 low. And 60% say the President does not respect the rule of law, not significantly changed since March.

As on the President's approval rating, the shifts in Trump's favorability rating and attributes are driven largely by movement among independents. The share saying they have an unfavorable view of the President is up 10 points since June (from 55% to 65%), and there have been 10-point declines since March among independents in the share who say Trump is someone they are proud to have as President (from 36% to 26%), who cares about people like them (from 42% to 32%) and who can bring needed change (from 46% to 36%).

(c) 2018 Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

Trans Mountain Pipeline Westridge Marine Terminal, Burnaby, B.C.Moments after the Federal Court of Appeals struck down the Government of Canada's approval to move ahead
with the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, Kinder Morgan Canada's shareholders approved the sale of the pipeline, including the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby, B.C., to Canada.

Trans Mountain Decision Is Good, But We Still Have Far To Go
By David Suzuki

Saved by the whales! The federal Appeal Court decision on August 30 to quash the government's approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project was largely based on the National Energy Board's failure to consider the environmental impacts of a sevenfold tanker traffic increase off the B.C. coast, including how it would affect endangered southern resident orca whales.

"The unjustified exclusion of marine shipping from the scope of the Project led to successive, unacceptable deficiencies in the Board's report and recommendations," the decision states. "As a result, the Governor in Council could not rely on the Board's report and recommendations when assessing the Project's environmental effects and the overall public interest."

Not to diminish the efforts of Indigenous Peoples, environmental groups, politicians with integrity and citizens from all walks of life who stood strong for protection of land, air, water and climate - but it's interesting that the whales we're trying to save may have saved us from this anachronistic project.

Another key element was Canada's failure to properly consult with Indigenous Peoples. The court found that, although "Canada acted in good faith and selected an appropriate consultation framework," it "failed in Phase III to engage, dialogue meaningfully and grapple with the real concerns of the Indigenous applicants so as to explore possible accommodation of those concerns."

The decision doesn't spell the end of the 1,150-kilometre project. The government is determined to go ahead, with Finance Minister Bill Morneau calling it "critically important for our economy." The court has ordered the government to redo Phase 3 of the NEB process if it wants to proceed.

Elevation of short-term economic considerations over reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and the fact that Kinder Morgan shareholders immediately voted to accept our government's generous offer to buy this white elephant on our behalf - for $4.5 billion! - illustrate the momentous challenges we face to transition off fossil fuels.

For some pipeline proponents, sacrificing a pod of whales is justified by the possibility of increased profits from selling oilsands bitumen to expanded markets. For many politicians and business people (and their supporters in media and business-oriented "think tanks"), economic growth is the highest aspiration and they've convinced many citizens no goal is more important. If that means devastated landscapes, extinction of plants and animals, polluted air and water, and climate disruption, at least the economy's growing and jobs are being created.

Election cycles and the bottom line stand in the way of long-term thinking. The Trans Mountain project is just one of many fossil fuel developments. It was stopped because of a failure to consider impacts on the marine environment and to properly consult with Indigenous Peoples. Those are incredibly important, but so too is the fact that projects like this are predicated on expanded fossil fuel development and use, which is pushing Earth's climate into a more unpredictable, less hospitable phase.

Projects like Trans Mountain and the expanded oilsands development on which they depend conflict with our Paris Agreement commitments to limit greenhouse gas emissions and rising global temperatures. As people choke on smoke-filled air and refugees flee drought-stricken lands, and as polar ice caps melt and sea levels rise, it often feels like we're playing whack-a-mole with fossil fuel development. We stopped the Northern Gateway pipeline only to see Trans Mountain emerge. Keystone XL was halted by one U.S. administration and revived by the next.

It's good that courts and governments are recognizing that they must address issues around the environment and the duty to consult with Indigenous Peoples for resource development to proceed, but there's much to sort out in those areas. And we can't continue to ignore the climate impacts of increasing fossil fuel development. Think what could be accomplished if the $4.5 billion Canada plans to shell out to buy Trans Mountain and the many billions more to complete the project were invested in energy efficiency and clean energy!

Until we shift from short-term economic thinking that pits the environment, Indigenous rights, species at risk and human health and well-being against short-term profit and "growth," we'll likely be stuck in this rut for some time.

But we don't have time. It's up to all of us to keep the pressure on to move away from fossil fuels.
(c) 2018 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co_founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

A Nation's Grief Was Hijacked On The Afternoon Of September 11, 2001
Keep the memories of those who exploited the attacks at arm's length.
By Charles P. Pierce

My first reaction to the news of the atrocities committed on September 11, 2001 was to think about all my good friends who'd regularly made a habit of eating breakfast at Windows On The World, and then praying to God that they'd all eaten at their desks that morning. (Which they had, thank heavens.) In Washington, however, the reaction of Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, was quite different from mine. With lower Manhattan, and the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania all still smoldering, this was Donald Rumsfeld's reaction. From a 2002 CBS News report:

With the intelligence all pointing toward bin Laden, Rumsfeld ordered the military to begin working on strike plans. And at 2:40 p.m., the notes quote Rumsfeld as saying he wanted "best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H."-meaning Saddam Hussein-"at same time. Not only UBL"-the initials used to identify Osama bin Laden.

Now, nearly one year later, there is still very little evidence Iraq was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. But if these notes are accurate, that didn't matter to Rumsfeld. "Go massive," the notes quote him as saying. "Sweep it all up. Things related and not." Things related.

And not.

While most people were thinking and praying for friends and relatives in New York City, and just generally walking around stunned and hurting, there were people in government already planning to use the attacks as an opportunity to carry out the imperial projects about which they'd been dreaming for decades. (There were other people in government who saw the attacks as a chance to put in place authoritarian measures that had been gathering dust on the shelf since COINTELPRO was exposed in 1971.)

For all practical purposes, the Iraq War, with all its terrible consequences, intended and unintended, was launched on September 11, 2001. Four planes were hijacked that morning. A country's grief and pain was hijacked later that day.

Donald Rumsfeld in 2001.

So, yes, today, remember the fallen, and the friends lost and never found. But remember, too, that many of the people who will be telling you today how much "changed" that day were responsible for some of the changes that never should have happened-Iraq, rendition, torture, warrantless surveillance. Remember the fallen but remember the opportunists, too, the people who were neither stunned nor hurting enough that they lost sight of their golden dreams and who, when those dreams came apart in dust and blood, were able largely to escape responsibility and consequence.

Many of them are Never Trumpers now. Many of them will share their memories of that awful day in which so many of them found a dark opportunity to take the country into the shadows from which it has yet to emerge. Keep all those people and their memories at arm's length. Treasure your own. Console yourself with them if you must. But keep away from the anesthetic banalities that were used to shield effectively the plans and connivances of the people who saw opportunity in the still-burning places that morning. Remember things related.

And not.
(c) 2018 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote-

The most practical kind of politics is the politics of decency.
~~~ Theodore Roosevelt

Legalizing Peace Is Far From Simple
By David Swanson

As the U.S. government simultaneously threatens the International Criminal Court for even acting as if it might prosecute the United States for crimes in Afghanistan (a topic "investigated" for years now, while the ICC has yet to actually prosecute any non-African for anything) and (with little apparent cognitive dissonance) uses the implausible claim that the Syrian government might violate a law as an excuse to threaten to violate the supreme international law (that against war) by escalating the killing in Syria, the choice between war and law could not be more stark or critical.

This question will be taken up by many talented speakers and workshop facilitators at #NoWar2018 later this month in Toronto. The conference will focus on replacing mass killing with nonviolent prevention and resolution of disputes. Participants can be expected to agree on that much and little else.

Has law been used more for war or peace thus far? Has it done more harm or good? Should it be a significant focus of a peace movement? Should it focus on local laws, laws on the national level, on tweaking existing international institutions, on democratizing such institutions, on creating a new global federation or government, or on advancing particular disarmament and human rights treaties? No universal consensus, or anything even close to it, exists on any of these points.

But consensus can and will be found, I believe, on particular projects (whether or not there is agreement as to their prioritization) and might be found - and would be very beneficial if found - on broader principles if thoroughly and openly discussed and considered.

I've just read James' Ranney's book, World Peace Through Law. I find myself in as much disagreement as agreement with the details of it, but in far more agreement with it than with the status quo of Western common sense. I think it's important that we think through some of the details, and press forward together as we're able, whether or not we agree on everything.

Ranney proposes a "moderate" vision that stays far short of the utopia of world federalism. Citing the recommendations, now centuries old, of Jeremy Bentham, Ranney writes that "the prospects of adoption of Bentham's 'world peace through law' proposal are almost literally infinitely greater than world federalism being adopted any time soon."

But wasn't arbitration, as proposed by Bentham, put into law over 100 years ago? Well, sort of. Here's how Ranney addresses that in a list of past laws: "Second Hague Convention (outlaws war to collect debt; accepts 'principle' of compulsory arbitration, but without operative machinery)." In fact, the primary problem with the Second Hague Convention is not a lack of "machinery" but a lack of actually requiring anything. If one were to go through the text of this law and delete "use their best efforts to" and "as far as circumstances allow" and similar phrases, you'd have a law requiring that nations settle disputes nonviolently - a law that includes a fairly elaborate description of a resolution process. Ranney similarly, but with less basis, dismisses a law that was put in place 21 years later: "Kellogg-Briand Pact (normative principle outlawing war, but no enforcement mechanism)." However, the Kellogg-Briand Pact doesn't include any of the hedge words found in the Second Hague Convention, or anything whatsoever about normative principles. It requires nonviolent dispute resolution, full stop. In fact the "normative principle outlawing war" - on an actual reading of the text of this law - is exactly the outlawing of war and nothing else. Nothing accurate is communicated by tacking on the words "normative principle." The need for "machinery," if not "enforcement" (a troubled term, as we'll see in a minute) is a real need. But institutions of dispute resolution can be added to the ban on war that exists in the Kellogg-Briand Pact without imagining that the ban does not exist (whether or not one accepts the loopholes purportedly opened up by the UN Charter).

Here are the three steps Ranney proposes to replace war with law:

"(1) arms reductions-primarily the abolition of nuclear weapons, with necessarily concomitant reductions in conventional forces;"


"(2) a four-stage system of global alternative dispute resolution (ADR), utilizing both law and equity;" ("compulsory negotiation, compulsory mediation, compulsory arbitration, and compulsory adjudication by the World Court")


"(3) adequate enforcement mechanisms, including a UN Peace Force." ("not pacifism")

Here lies a major disagreement. A UN Peace Force, albeit not appropriately commanded by General George Orwell, exists and has been failing spectacularly since the launch of the war on Korea. Ranney quotes, apparently favorably, another author proposing that this global cop be armed with nuclear weapons. So, that insane idea is new. Ranney also favors the so-called "responsibility to protect" (R2P) the world from genocide through war (without, as is typical, ever clarifying what distinguishes one from the other). And despite the traditional lack of respect for a clear law like the Kellogg-Briand Pact, Ranney offers the traditional respect for R2P despite it not being any law at all: "great caution must be exercised to define very carefully when the new 'responsibility to protect' norm mandates intervention." It mandates nothing whatsoever.

Where does this belief in UN war-making for the cause of peace take us? Places like this (the belief in proper illegal occupations): "Despite the opposition of a recent American president, the use of UN troops to assist nation-building is something that obviously should have happened much earlier in Iraq and Afghanistan, now costing the U.S. trillions of dollars, thousands of lives, and gaining us nothing but the contempt of a large segment of the world." The identification of "us" with the U.S. government is the deepest problem here. The notion that these genocidal wars imposed costs on the United States worth even mentioning in comparison with the costs to the wars' principle victims is the ugliest problem here - uglier still in the context of a paper proposing to use more wars to "prevent genocide."

In fairness, Ranney favors a democratized United Nations, which would suggest that its use of its armies would look very different from how it does today. But how one squares that with occupying Iraq and Afghanistan I cannot say.

Ranney's support for a global improved-UN war machine runs into another problem raised in his book, I think. He believes World Federalism is so unpopular and implausible as not to be worth promoting any time soon. Yet I believe that handing over a monopoly on warmaking to a democratized United Nations is even more unpopular and implausible. And I agree with the popular sentiment this time. A comprehensive world government able to attempt to restrain the destruction of the environment by homo sapiens is badly needed, while strongly resisted. A war-fighting world institution out from under the thumb of the United States is even more strongly resisted, and a terrible idea.

I think the logic of why it's a terrible idea is fairly clear. If the use of deadly violence is needed to accomplish some good in the world that cannot be accomplished nonviolently (a very dubious claim, but a very widely and deeply believed one) then people will want some control over deadly violence, and national leaders will want some control over deadly violence. Even a democratized United Nations would move control further from the hands of parties that very much want it. If, on the other hand, we believe the data that nonviolence is more effective than violence, then no war machine is needed - which is of course the reason many of us see for trying to get rid of war.

Ranney gives some examples of what he calls "strong" international law, such as the WTO, but they do not involve militarism. It's unclear why a strong use of the laws against war need use war in violation of itself. Discussing enforcement of a nuclear weapons ban, Ranney writes: "a recalcitrant international outlier must be treated in basically the same manner as a domestic murderer." Yes. Good. But that requires no armed "peace force." Murderers are not typically dealt with by bombing everyone around them (the justifications for attacking Afghanistan in 2001 being an obvious and disastrous exception to that rule).

Ranney also supports as an afterthought what I think ought to be central to this project. He writes: "Not that a UNPF [United Nations Peace Force] ought to be engaged in nothing but the application of force. On the contrary, there ought to be a 'peace and reconciliation' force that makes full use of conflict resolution and other nonviolent approaches, something like the existing Non-Violent Peaceforce. There would need to be diverse types of peace forces, appropriately staffed and trained to focus on diverse challenges."

But why make this superior approach a side note? And how does doing so differ from what we've got right now?

Well, again, Ranney is proposing a democratized U.N. not dominated by five big war makers and weapons dealers. This is a major point of agreement. Whether you cling to violence or not, the first question is how to bring the United States and its allies into the world community of law - including how to democratize or replace the United Nations.

But when envisioning a democratized world body, let's not envision it using the tools of the Middle Ages, albeit with horrific technological advances. This parallels in my mind science fiction dramas in which humans have learned space travel but are extremely eager to initiate fist fights. That's not a likely reality. Neither is a world in which the United States has abandoned rogue-nation status while the customary interaction between nations consists of bombing people.

Getting to a world beyond war without using war to do so is not a matter of personal purity, but of maximizing the likelihood of success.
(c) 2018 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.

Guilty Pleasure
How I actually liked visiting Flora-duh
By Jane Stillwater

After hearing so much of this state's bad press over the years regarding Jeb Bush, Rick Scott, Florida's hellish foster-care system, the violent Trump rallies, the brutal murder of Trayvon Martin, the climate catastrophe and all the other horror tales about Flora-duh, I was totally dreading my trip to St. Petersburg -- but still had to go there. Had an important book conference to attend at the historic Vinoy Hotel.

But guess what? I actually liked St. Petersburg. Everything there was so green and balmy and lush. They had great public transportation. The Cuban hot-pressed sandwiches were almost biblically delicious. I totally went off my health-food diet and ate Key Lime pie in an actual diner. I walked around in the swamps, er, wetlands. I got caught in the tail-end of Tropical Storm Gordon (not Gordon Ramsey, BTW, but it was definitely a bit like being in Hell's kitchen). I visited two excellent libraries. I stayed in a trailer. I had a fabulous time and came home with an actual suntan and 40 pounds of free books!

I also talked with a social worker there who said that, yes, there was a problem with the foster-care system. "Some retirees supplement their income by taking in foster kids, receiving $500 a month from the state, feeding their wards on rice and beans and then pocketing the rest. And some of the charter schools here are atrocious too." Okay. So those rumors are true.

But geez Louise. The beaches, the balmy night air around midnight, the kindness of strangers and the fact that everywhere you look you see tropically green plants smiling back at you. Just imagine what this place looked like before 1492!

PS: Another big reason that I had such a great time in Flora-duh is that I had just finished reading a rather scary article in Dissident Voice about how it is totally possible that the human race may become extinct as soon as 2026 -- and that's only eight years from now! So I'd better start trying to "live fast, die young"? Too late for that! But at least I will die knowing that I'd been to almost-paradise.

According to this article, "There is a group of courageous and prominent climate scientists who offer compelling climate science evidence that human beings, along with millions of other species, will be extinct by 2026 (and perhaps as early as 2021) in response to a projected 10 degree celsius increase in global temperatures above the pre-industrial level by that date."


PPS: And please be aware that the major Number One cause of climate catastrophe today is "war". The Department of "Defense" may not be dropping bombs on our own neighborhoods like they do in neighborhoods in Syria and Gaza -- but the Pentagon is murdering us too just the same.
(c) 2018 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!

The Dead Letter Office-

Lawrence collects and plays with dolls!

Heil Trump,

Dear Unter Fuhrer Lockman,

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 statement, "If a woman has (the right to abortion), why shouldn't a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman?," Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 09-28-2018. We salute you Herr Lockman, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

The Dangerous Myth Of Deregulation
By Robert Reich

Trump and his appointees are on a binge of deregulation that masks another kind of trickle-down economics, where the gains go to the top and the rest of us bear the risks and losses.

They say getting rid of regulations frees up businesses to be more profitable. Maybe. But regulations also protect you and me - from being harmed, fleeced, shafted, injured, or sickened by corporate products and services.

So when the Trump administration gets rid of regulations, top executives and big investors may make more money, but the rest of us bear more risks and harm.

After heavy lobbying by the chemical industry, for example, the Environmental Protection Agency has scaled back the way the government decides whether some of the most dangerous chemicals on the market pose health and safety risks. Which may increase the profits of the chemical industry but will leave the rest of us less protected from toxins that can make their way into dry-cleaning solvents, paint strippers, shampoos and cosmetics.

Scott Pruitt may be gone from the EPA, but Trump put a former coal executive in his place. Which means the EPA will continue to try to repeal the Clean Power Plan, a regulation that set the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from U.S. power plants. If it's repealed, wealthy shareholders may do better, but most of us will bear the costs of more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and faster climate change.

Trump's Education Department under Betsy DeVos has stopped investigating for-profit colleges. Which may result in more profits for the for-profits, but leaves many young people and their parents more vulnerable to fraud.

Trump's Labor Department is reducing the number of workers who are eligible for overtime pay. And it's proposing to allow teenagers to work long hours in dangerous jobs that child labor laws used to protect them from. Again, more profits for business, more cost and risk for the rest of us.

Trump is weakening banking regulations put in place after the financial crisis of 2008, even rolling back the so-called Volcker Rule that prevented banks from gambling with commercial deposits. The result: More profits for the banks, and more risk on you and me.

Trump's gang of industry lobbyists and executives who are busy deregulating the same industries they once represented will no doubt do very well when they head back into the private sector.

But the rest of us won't do well. We may not know for years the extent we're unprotected - until the next financial collapse, next public health crisis, next upsurge in fraud, or next floods or droughts because the EPA failed to do what it could to slow and reverse climate change.

Don't fall for it. Trump's binge of deregulation is just another form of trickle-down economics - where the gains go the top, and nothing trickles down except risks and losses.
(c) 2018 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is

Conjuring Up The Next Depression
By Chris Hedges

During the financial crisis of 2008, the world's central banks, including the Federal Reserve, injected trillions of dollars of fabricated money into the global financial system. This fabricated money has created a worldwide debt of $325 trillion, more than three times global GDP. The fabricated money was hoarded by banks and corporations, loaned by banks at predatory interest rates, used to service interest on unpayable debt or spent buying back stock, providing millions in compensation for elites. The fabricated money was not invested in the real economy. Products were not manufactured and sold. Workers were not reinstated into the middle class with sustainable incomes, benefits and pensions. Infrastructure projects were not undertaken. The fabricated money reinflated massive financial bubbles built on debt and papered over a fatally diseased financial system destined for collapse.

What will trigger the next crash? The $13.2 trillion in unsustainable U.S. household debt? The $1.5 trillion in unsustainable student debt? The billions Wall Street has invested in a fracking industry that has spent $280 billion more than it generated from its operations? Who knows. What is certain is that a global financial crash, one that will dwarf the meltdown of 2008, is inevitable. And this time, with interest rates near zero, the elites have no escape plan. The financial structure will disintegrate. The global economy will go into a death spiral. The rage of a betrayed and impoverished population will, I fear, further empower right-wing demagogues who promise vengeance on the global elites, moral renewal, a nativist revival heralding a return to a mythical golden age when immigrants, women and people of color knew their place, and a Christianized fascism.

The 2008 financial crisis, as the economist Nomi Prins points out, "converted central banks into a new class of power brokers." They looted national treasuries and amassed trillions in wealth to become politically and economically omnipotent. In her book "Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World," she writes that central bankers and the world's largest financial institutions fraudulently manipulate global markets and use fabricated, or as she writes, "fake money," to inflate asset bubbles for short-term profit as they drive us toward "a dangerous financial precipice."

"Before the crisis, they were just asleep at the wheel, in particular, the Federal Reserve of the United States, which is supposed to be the main regulator of the major banks in the United States," Prins said when we met in New York. "It did a horrible job of doing that, which is why we had the financial crisis. It became a deregulator instead of a regulator. In the wake of the financial crisis, the solution to fixing the crisis and saving the economy from a great depression or recession, whatever the terminology that was used at any given time, was to fabricate trillions and trillions of dollars out of an electronic ether."

The Federal Reserve handed over an estimated $29 trillion of this fabricated money to American banks, according to researchers at the University of Missouri. Twenty-nine trillion dollars! We could have provided free college tuition to every student or universal health care, repaired our crumbling infrastructure, transitioned to clean energy, forgiven student debt, raised wages, bailed out underwater homeowners, formed public banks to invest at low interest rates in our communities, provided a guaranteed minimum income for everyone and organized a massive jobs program for the unemployed and underemployed. Sixteen million children would not go to bed hungry. The mentally ill and the homeless-an estimated 553,742 Americans are homeless every night-would not be left on the streets or locked away in our prisons. The economy would revive. Instead, $29 trillion in fabricated money was handed to financial gangsters who are about to make most of it evaporate and plunge us into a depression that will rival that of the global crash of 1929.

Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers write on the website Popular Resistance, "One-sixth of this could provide a $12,000 annual basic income, which would cost $3.8 trillion annually, doubling Social Security payments to $22,000 annually, which would cost $662 billion, a $10,000 bonus for all U.S. public school teachers, which would cost $11 billion, free college for all high school graduates, which would cost $318 billion, and universal preschool, which would cost $38 billion. National improved Medicare for all would actually save the nation trillions of dollars over a decade."

An emergency clause in the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 allows the Fed to provide liquidity to a distressed banking system. But the Federal Reserve did not stop with the creation of a few hundred billion dollars. It flooded the financial markets with absurd levels of fabricated money. This had the effect of making the economy appear as if it had revived. And for the oligarchs, who had access to this fabricated money while we did not, it did.

The Fed cut interest rates to near zero. Some central banks in Europe instituted negative interest rates, meaning they would pay borrowers to take loans. The Fed, in a clever bit of accounting, even permitted distressed banks to use these no-interest loans to buy U.S. Treasury bonds. The banks gave the bonds back to the Fed and received a quarter of a percent of interest from the Fed. In short, the banks were loaned money at virtually no interest by the Fed and then were paid interest by the Fed on the money they borrowed. The Fed also bought up worthless mortgage assets and other toxic assets from the banks. Since Fed authorities could fabricate as much money as they wanted, it did not matter how they spent it.

"It's like going to someone's old garage sale and saying, 'I want that bicycle with no wheels. I'll pay you 100 grand for it. Why? Because it's not my money,' " Prins said.

"These people have rigged the system," she said of the bankers. "There is money fabricated at the top. It is used to pump up financial assets, including stock. It has to come from somewhere. Because money is cheap there's more borrowing at the corporate level. There's more money borrowed at the government level."

"Where do you go to repay it?" she asked. "You go into the nation. You go into the economy. You extract money from the foundational economy, from social programs. You impose austerity."

Given the staggering amount of fabricated money that has to be repaid, the banks need to build greater and greater pools of debt. This is why when you are late in paying your credit card the interest rate jumps to 28 percent. This is why if you declare bankruptcy you are still responsible for paying off your student loan, even as 1 million people a year default on student loans, with 40 percent of all borrowers expected to default on student loans by 2023. This is why wages are stagnant or have declined while costs, from health care and pharmaceutical products to bank fees and basic utilities, are skyrocketing. The enforced debt peonage grows to feed the beast until, as with the subprime mortgage crisis, the predatory system fails because of massive defaults. There will come a day, for example, as with all financial bubbles, when the wildly optimistic projected profits of industries such as fracking will no longer be an effective excuse to keep pumping money into failing businesses burdened by debt they cannot repay.

"The 60 biggest exploration and production firms are not generating enough cash from their operations to cover their operating and capital expenses," Bethany McLean writes of the fracking industry in an article titled "The Next Financial Crisis Lurks Underground" that appeared in The New York Times. "In aggregate, from mid-2012 to mid-2017, they had negative free cash flow of $9 billion per quarter."

The global financial system is a ticking time bomb. The question is not if it will explode but when it will explode. And once it does, the inability of the global speculators to use fabricated money with zero interest to paper over the debacle will trigger massive unemployment, high prices for imports and basic services, and a devaluation in which the dollar will become nearly worthless as it is abandoned as the world's reserve currency. This manufactured financial tsunami will transform the United States, already a failed democracy, into an authoritarian police state. Life will become very cheap, especially for the vulnerable-undocumented workers, Muslims, poor people of color, girls and women, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist critics branded as agents of foreign powers-who will be demonized and persecuted for the collapse. The elites, in a desperate bid to cling to their unchecked power and obscene wealth, will disembowel what is left of the United States.
(c) 2018 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Bill Schorr ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Trump Demands To Know Who Put "Entering Crazytown" Sign On Oval Office Door
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)-Donald J. Trump demanded on Friday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions investigate who put a sign reading "Entering Crazytown, U.S.A." on the door to the Oval Office. Trump reportedly noticed the sign for the first time Friday morning, and became enraged after asking Kellyanne Conway, the counsellor to the President, to read what it said to him.

According to White House insiders, determining the creator of the sign could prove difficult, because between seventy and a hundred White House staffers have been known to use the word "Crazytown" to describe their work environment.

"Whoever put that sign on my door has committed treason against the United States," Trump told reporters, before turning away and revealing that someone had put a Post-it reading "President Stupidpants" on his back.
(c) 2018 Andy Borowitz

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Issues & Alibis Vol 18 # 36 (c) 09/14/2018

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