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In This Edition

Chris Hedges predicts, "The Great Flood."

Uri Avnery gives, "A Confession."

Glen Ford reminds us that, "The Black Panthers Didn't Fight Symbols."

William Rivers Pitt reports, "To Serve Himself, Trump Just Set The GOP On Fire."

Jim Hightower asks, "Where Can Congress Find The Money To Repair Damage From Hurricane Harvey?"

John Nichols reminds us that, "Hurricane-Ravaged Puerto Rico And The Virgin Islands Are Part Of The US Too."

James Donahue warns of, "Becoming A Police State."

Ralph Nader exposes, "Destructive Stock Buybacks-That You Pay For."

Heather Digby Parton says, "It's Jaw-Dropping to Watch the Media Let Trump Rebrand Himself Away from the Right-Wing Hate Monster He's Become."

David Suzuki advises, "Nature Offers Solutions To Water Woes And Flood Risks."

Charles P. Pierce explores, "A Noxious Environmental Disaster Is Buried In Houston."

David Swanson wonders, "Are Governments Useless?"

Lee Fang returns with, "Pharma CEO Worries Americans Will Say 'Enough Is Enough' And Embrace Bernie Sanders' Single-Payer Plan."

Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich considers, "Trump's Obstruction Of Justice."

Naomi Klein explains why, "Irma Won't "Wake Up" Climate Change-Denying Republicans. Their Whole Ideology Is Os The Line."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Eight Hundred Thousand People With Dreams To Be Deported By One With Delusions" but first, Uncle Ernie sez, "McConnell's Treason Has Paid Off."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Bruce Plante, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, Nicholas Kamm, Jill Carlson, Aaron P. Bernstein, William Straka III, Mandel Ngan, Joseph Sohm, Ramon Tonito Zayas, Ars Electronica, NASA, Reuters, Shutterstock, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, HBO, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org. Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

McConnell and Gorsuch American Traitors

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McConnell's Treason Has Paid Off
By Ernest Stewart

"The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president." ~~~ Sinator Mitch McConnell

"The amount of real estate at risk in New York is mind-boggling: 72,000 buildings worth over $129 billion stand in flood zones today, with thousands more buildings at risk with each foot of sea-level rise. In addition, New York has a lot of industrial waterfront, where toxic materials and poor communities live in close proximity, as well as a huge amount of underground infrastructure-subways, tunnels, electrical systems. Finally, New York is a sea-level-rise hot spot. Because of changes in ocean dynamics, as well as the fact that the ground beneath the city is sinking as the continent recovers from the last ice age, seas are now rising about 50 percent faster in the New York area than the global average." ~~~ Jeff Goodell

"Maybe the right words were 'does not appear.'" ~~~ Dale Ho ~ director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project

Most of your life can be out of sight
Withdraw from the darkness and look to the light
Where everyone's free
At least that's the way it's supposed to be
We just keep on keeping on
Keep On Keeping On ~~~ Curtis Mayfield

I see where Mitch McConnell's act of treason has payed off in spades for the Rethuglicans and their masters. You may recall how McConnell illegally kept Obama from naming an Extreme Cout justice to replace Antonin (Fat Tony) Scalia. With the illegal appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the court the Rethuglicans maintain there grip on the court and on our throats.

According to the New York Times, on Tuesday night, the Supreme Court ruled that Texas should not be required to promptly redraw federal and state legislative districts that a federal court had found violated the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. The decision was rendered by a 5-4 margin, with the fascist judges (John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch) in the majority.

The court's one-paragraph explanation did not provide any reasoning for their decision, although it noted that the four liberal judges (Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg) disagreed with the decision. The court blocked the ruling of a three-judge panel in Texas. Those judges overturned two legislative districts drawn up after the 2010 census, saying the districts were deliberately gerrymandered to deny minority voters "of their opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice." I know, the hell you say why would the Rethuglicans ever try to keep black folks from voting, it just doesn't make any sense, huh?

According to CNN a decision that was also issued without comment, the Supreme Court blocked another federal appeals court ruling - this one concerning Trumps travel ban. Five justices came to the decision (can you guess which five?)that approximately 24,000 refugees who had agreements with resettlement organizations to come to the United States couldn't do so until a decision has been made about the legality of Trump's travel ban. We'll just have wait until at least October to see if Trump's travel band is the law of the land. Stay tuned to this Bat-channel!

In Other News

Well with two once in 500 years or two once in a 1000 years hurricanes coming back to back depending on which pundits you listen to, gets me thinking on several things, (I know a very dangerous thing for me to do). The first, does this mean we're good to go until 3017 or 4017 until we see their like again? Also how do they know it's the worst in either 500 or 1000 years? Are there press reports from those days?

Trouble is, this is just the beginning, of seeing such hurricanes, thanks to global warming. It seems obvious to me that we can expect to see more of these storms, causing the same amount of damage or even more damage, in the same places, again and again and again. Ergo, the question arises should we go bankrupt repairing the damages, time and time again. How many times should we spend our treasure fixing up Miami and Huston if these storms hit every year? The cost for these two storms will be over a quarter trillion dollars.

It reminds me of a town in Kansas where over a 9 year period the town got hit by 7 tornadoes; and when ask by reporters after the seventh storm if they were going to rebuild they all said that they were all going to rebuild. I mean WTF? As I've been telling you for years with global warming weather conditions are going to keep getting worse. That anyone who lives near the ocean had better move away or face the consequences of being dead or financially ruined.

So it comes down how much is enough and how much is too much? At what point is the government going to say, you're on your own for rebuilding, not only your house but your streets and infrastructure. It will take one good storm to destroy our largest city. Most of Manhattan is below sea level and the city itself is slowly sinking. One storm like Harvey and half of New Your City will be under water including the subway and all critical systems like power and water.

All this just so that the coal, gas and oil oligarchs can make another buck, Trump and company turn their backs on reality, and the people, to allow our destruction for their profit.

So by all means Huston and Miami spend billons making repairs to your citys perhaps if you really hurry you can get them rebuilt before another hurricane comes along with perhaps twice the power of these last two to tear you a brand new one. For the folks that live there, now might be a very good time to move out of these coastal zones for some peace-of-mind and a longer life for you and your children! As Trump said to a group of hurricane Harvey drowning survivors, "Have a good time, everybody." Well, Texas, and Florida, are you having a good time yet?

And Finally

Kris Kobach Kansas Secretary of State and would be Kansas governor was lying his ass off in a Breitbart column the other day. Kobach who is the co-chair of Trumps ploy to get rid of Democratic voters, a.k.a. the White House voting commission.

In that Breitbart column last week, Kobach claimed that he had definitive proof that more than 5,000 out-of-state voters cast fraudulent ballots in 2016, tipping the Senate and potentially presidential race to Democrats. It was, of course, a lie, but that didn't stop Kobach from telling it. As a Trump puppet-weasel, with the help of Steve Bannon, and as the voters in Kansas already know, when he moves his lips, lies come out to play!

Two Democratic secretaries of state. New Hampshire's Bill Gardner (D) and Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap (D) both called his bluff by fact-checking his lies, one by one before the commission. Dunlap said:
"Despite what Kobach claimed in his column, college students and other temporary residents with out-of-state ID's can cast ballots in elections because their domicile, where they spend a majority of nights, is in the state. When it comes to voting, where's your pillow? Accusing someone with an out-of-state ID of committing voter fraud is like accusing someone who has cash of robbing a bank."
Then Gardner looked to Kobach, sitting next to him, and spoke about the integrity of elections in his state. Gardner said to applause from the audience:
"The result as we have recorded it is real and valid. I hope we can all learn from this."
I doubt that Koback learned a thing about the truth from the committee, however, he has since learned that he is the winner of this week's Vidkun Quislings Award!

Keepin' On

I'm having a deja vu all over again, got them empty p.o. box blues, from my head down to my shoes. That means we're still $1500 short of paying our bills for the year, just like last week -- with about 9 weeks to go before the last bit is due. Which is where you come in! Trouble is, the folks who read us are as broke as we are, most used to be middle class, but are now as broke as we are. If we were right wing instead of left wing, we'd be buried in 1% money; but we're on the other side; we're here for the people, not the bosses! They lie to you; we tell you the truth, so that you can make up your own mind and act on that information!

As I'm sure you know by now how broke we are and how you all have kept us going for the last thirteen years, which by a strange coincidence is when I ran out of money for the magazine; it was only at this point that we started advertising, which still pays about half of our yearly bills; if I could find the likes of our current advertisers, I wouldn't be here every week begging for alms to keep going. What a happy day that would be! Until that time, I have to be here week after week to try and raise the funds we need to keep on keeping on!

Therefore, if you think what we do is worthwhile and important to you and your family, please consider sending us as much as you can, as often as you can; and we'll keep bringing you the truth -- which is very hard to come by in this day and age!


09-23-1975 ~ 09-11-2017
Thanks for the music!

08-04-1939 ~ 09-13-2017
Thanks for the film!


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

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

The Great Flood
By By Chris Hedges

How many times will we rebuild Florida's cities, Houston, coastal New Jersey, New Orleans and other population centers ravaged by storms lethally intensified by global warming? At what point, surveying the devastation and knowing more is inevitable, will we walk away, leaving behind vast coastal dead zones? Will we retreat even further into magical thinking to cope with the fury we have unleashed from the natural world? Or will we respond rationally and radically alter our relationship to this earth that gives us life?

Civilizations over the past 6,000 years have unfailingly squandered their futures through acts of colossal stupidity and hubris. We are probably not an exception. The physical ruins of these empires, including the Mesopotamian, Roman, Mayan and Indus, litter the earth. They elevated, during acute distress, inept and corrupt leaders who channeled anger, fear and dwindling resources into self-defeating wars and vast building projects. The ruling oligarchs, driven by greed and hedonism, retreated into privileged compounds-the Forbidden City, Versailles-and hoarded wealth as their populations endured mounting misery and poverty. The worse it got, the more the people lied to themselves and the more they wanted to be lied to. Reality was too painful to confront. They retreated into what anthropologists call "crisis cults," which promised the return of the lost world through magical beliefs.

"The most significant characteristic of modern civilization is the sacrifice of the future for the present," philosopher and psychologist William James wrote, "and all the power of science has been prostituted to this purpose."

We are entering this final phase of civilization, one in which we are slashing the budgets of the very agencies that are vital to prepare for the devastation ahead-the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, along with programs at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration dealing with climate change. Hurricane after hurricane, monster storm after monster storm, flood after flood, wildfire after wildfire, drought after drought will gradually cripple the empire, draining its wealth and resources and creating swathes of territory defined by lawlessness and squalor.

These dead zones will obliterate not only commercial and residential life but also military assets. As Jeff Goodell points out in "The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities and the Remaking of the Civilized World," "The Pentagon manages a global real estate portfolio that includes over 555,000 facilities and 28 million acres of land-virtually all of it will be impacted by climate change in some way."

As this column is being written, three key military facilities in Florida are evacuated: the Miami-area headquarters of the U.S. Southern Command, which oversees military operations in the Caribbean and Latin America; the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, in charge of overseas operations in the Middle East and Southwest Asia; and the Naval Air Station in Key West. There will soon come a day when obliteration of infrastructure will prohibit military operations from returning. Add to the list of endangered military installations Eglin Air Force Base in the Florida Panhandle, the U.S. missile base in the Marshall Islands, the U.S. naval base on Diego Garcia and numerous other military sites in coastal areas and it becomes painfully clear that the existential peril facing the empire is not in the Middle East but in the seas and the skies. There are 128 U.S. military installations at risk from rising sea levels, including Navy, Air Force, Marine and Army facilities in Virginia. Giant vertical rulers dot the highway outside the Norfolk naval base to allow motorists to determine if the water is too deep to drive through. In two decades, maybe less, the main road to the base will be impassable at high tide daily.

Cities across the globe, including London, Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro, Mumbai, Lagos, Copenhagen, New Orleans, San Francisco, Savannah, Ga., and New York, will become modern-day versions of Atlantis, along with countries such as Bangladesh and the Marshall Islands and large parts of New Zealand and Australia. There are 90 coastal cities in the U.S. that endure chronic flooding, a number that is expected to double in the next two decades. National economies will go into tailspins as wider and wider parts of the globe suffer catastrophic systems breakdown. Central authority and basic services will increasingly be nonexistent. Hundreds of millions of people, desperate for food, water and security, will become climate refugees. Nuclear power plants, including Turkey Point, which is on the edge of Biscayne Bay south of Miami, will face meltdowns, such as the accident that occurred in the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan after it was destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami. These plants will spew radioactive waste into the sea and air. Exacerbated by disintegration of the polar ice caps, the catastrophes will be too overwhelming to manage. We will enter what James Howard Kunstler calls "the long emergency." When that happens, our experiment in civilization might approach an end.

"The amount of real estate at risk in New York is mind-boggling: 72,000 buildings worth over $129 billion stand in flood zones today, with thousands more buildings at risk with each foot of sea-level rise," writes Jeff Goodell. "In addition, New York has a lot of industrial waterfront, where toxic materials and poor communities live in close proximity, as well as a huge amount of underground infrastructure-subways, tunnels, electrical systems. Finally, New York is a sea-level-rise hot spot. Because of changes in ocean dynamics, as well as the fact that the ground beneath the city is sinking as the continent recovers from the last ice age, seas are now rising about 50 percent faster in the New York area than the global average."

A society in crisis flees to the reassuring embrace of con artists and charlatans. Critics who ring alarm bells are condemned as pessimists who offer no "hope," the drug that keeps a doomed population passive. The current administration-which removed Barack Obama's Climate Action Plan from the White House website as soon as Donald Trump took office-and the Republican Party are filled with happy climate deniers. They have adopted a response to climate change similar to that of the Virginia Legislature: ban discussion of climate change and replace the term with the less ominous "recurrent flooding." This denial of reality-one also employed by those who assure us we can adapt-is driven by fossil fuel and animal agriculture industries that along with the rich and corporations fund the political campaigns of elected officials. They fear that a rational, effective response to climate change will impede profits. Our corporate media, dependent on advertising dollars, contributes to the conspiracy of silence. It ignores the patterns and effects of climate change, focusing instead on feel-good stories about heroic rescues or dramatic coverage of flooded city centers and storm refugee caravans fleeing up the coast of Florida.

Droughts, floods, famines and disease will eventually see the collapse of social cohesion in large parts of the globe, including U.S. coastal areas. The insecurity, hunger and desperation among the dispossessed of the earth will give rise to ad hoc militias, crime and increased acts of terrorism. The Pentagon report "An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States Security" is blunt. "Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life," it grimly concludes.

But as Goodell points out, "In today's political climate, open discussion of the security risks of climate change is viewed as practically treasonous." When in 2014 then-Secretary of State John Kerry called climate change "perhaps the world's most fearsome weapon of mass destruction" and compared it to the effects of terrorism, epidemics and poverty, the right-wing trolls, from John McCain to Newt Gingrich, went into a frenzy. Gingrich called for Kerry's resignation because "a delusional secretary of state is dangerous to our safety."

James Woolsey, the former head of the CIA, wrote in a climate change report for the Pentagon titled "The Age of Consequences: The Foreign-Policy National Security Implications of Global Climate Change":

If Americans have difficulty reaching a reasonable compromise on immigration legislation today, consider what such a debate would be like if we were struggling to resettle millions of our own citizens-driven by high water from the Gulf of Mexico, South Florida, and much of the East Coast reaching nearly to New England-even as we witnessed the northward migration of large populations from Latin America and the Caribbean. Such migration will likely be one of the Western Hemisphere's early social consequences of climate change and sea level rise of these orders of magnitude. Issues deriving from inundation of a large amount of our own territory, together with migration towards our borders by millions of our hungry and thirsty southern neighbors, are likely to dominate U.S. security and humanitarian concerns. Globally as well, populations will migrate from increasingly hot and dry climates to more temperate ones.
We will react like most patients with a terminal disease as they struggle to confront their imminent mortality. The gradual diminishing of space, perception and strength will weaken our capacity to absorb reality. The end will be too horrible to contemplate. The tangible signs of our demise will be obvious, but this will only accelerate our retreat into delusional thinking. We will believe ever more fervently that the secular gods of science and technology will save us.

As Goodell writes, "People will notice higher tides that roll in more and more frequently. Water will pool longer in streets and parking lots. Trees will turn brown and die as they suck up salt water." We will retreat to higher ground, cover our roofs with solar panels, finally stop using plastic and go vegan, but it will be too late. As Goodell writes, "even in rich neighborhoods, abandoned houses will linger like ghosts, filling with feral cats and other refugees looking for their own higher ground."

The water will continue to rise. "It will have a metallic sheen and will smell bad," Goodell writes. "Kids will get strange rashes and fevers. More people will leave [low areas]. Seawalls will crumble. In a few decades, low-lying neighborhoods will be knee-deep. Wooden houses will collapse into a sea of soda bottles, laundry detergent jugs, and plastic toothbrushes. Human bones, floated out of caskets, will be a common sight. Treasure hunters will kayak in, using small robotic submersibles to search for coins and jewelry. Modern office buildings and condo towers will lean as salt water corrodes the concrete foundations and eats away at the structural beams. Fish will school in the classrooms. Oysters will grow on submerged light poles. Religious leaders will blame sinners for the drowning of the city."

The damage suffered by Houston, Tampa and Miami is not an anomaly. It is the beginning of the end. Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.
(c) 2017 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

A Confession
By Uri Avnery

TODAY IS the last day of the 93rd year of my life. Ridiculous.

Am I moderately satisfied with my life until now? Yes. I am.

If by a miracle I could be returned to, say, 14, and travel all this long way again, would I like that? No, I would not.

Enough is enough.

IN THESE 93 years, the world has changed completely.

A few days after my birth in Germany, a ridiculous little demagogue called Adolf Hitler attempted a putsch in Munich. He was put in prison, where he wrote a tedious book called Mein Kampf. Nobody took any notice.

The World War (no one called it World War I yet) was still a recent memory. Almost every family had lost at least one member. I was told that a remote uncle of mine had frozen to death on the Austrian-Italian front.

On the day of my birth, inflation was raging in Germany. My birth cost many millions of marks. Many people lost all they had. My father, a young banker, got rich. He understood how money works. I did not inherit this talent, nor did I wish to.

We had a telephone at home, a rarity. My father loved new gadgets. When I was three or four years old, we got a new invention, a radio. No one even dreamed of television, not to mention the internet.

We were not religious. We lit Hanukkah candles, fasted on Yom Kippur and ate Matzot on Passover. Giving this up looked like cowardice in the face of the antisemites. But it had no real meaning for us.

MY FATHER was a Zionist. When he married my mother, a pretty young secretary, one of the wedding presents was a printed document stating that a tree had been planted in the name of the couple in Palestine.

At the time, the Zionists were a tiny minority among the Jews in Germany (and elsewhere). Most Jews thought that they were a bit crazy. A current joke had it that a Zionist was a Jew who gave money to a second Jew in order to send a third Jew to Palestine.

Why did my father become a Zionist? He certainly did not dream of going to Palestine himself. His family had been living in Germany for many generations. Since he had learned Latin and Ancient Greek at school, he imagined that our family had arrived in Germany with Julius Caesar. That's why our roots were in a small town (I have forgotten its name) on the banks of the Rhine.

So what about his Zionism? My father was a "Querkopf", a contrarian. He did not like to run with the herd. It suited him to belong to a lonely little group. The Zionists.

This quirk of my father's personality probably saved my life. When the Nazis came to power - I was just nine years old - my father decided immediately to leave for Palestine. My mother told me much later that the trigger was a young German who told my father in court: "Herr Ostermann, we don't need Jews like you anymore!"

My father was deeply insulted. At the time he was a highly respected court-appointed receiver, a person in charge of bankruptcies, famous for his honesty. For years a terrible economic crisis had ravaged Germany, and bankruptcies were plentiful. This helped the demagogue called Hitler, the same one, on his way to power, shouting "Down with the Jews."

I was an eye-witness to the Nazi victory. Brown shirts could be seen everywhere in the streets. They were not alone: every major party had a private army, wearing uniforms. There were the Red Front of the communists, the Black-Red-Gold Flag of the Social-Democrats, the Steel Helmet of the Conservatives, and more. When the time came, not one of them lifted a finger.

I never attended kindergarten and was sent to school when I was five and a half years old. At the age of nine and a half I was sent to the Gymnasium, where I started to learn Latin. I was in a Zionist youth movement. Half a year later I heaved a profound sigh of relief when the train carried us across the Rhine to France - some 2000 years after my forefathers had crossed the Rhine in the opposite direction, according to family legend.

For many years I suppressed the memory of these first years of my life. My life started when I stood on the deck of a ship and saw in the early daylight a thin brown strip appear in the east. I was ten years and two months old. It was the beginning of my new life.

OH, THE bliss! A large boat with a huge, dark boatman brought me from the ship to the shore of Jaffa. What a mysterious, magical place! Full of people who spoke a strange, guttural language, who gesticulated wildly! All around the wonderful smell of a market with exotic foods! Horse-drawn carriages in the streets.

I mention these first impressions because later I read the biography of David Ben-Gurion, who had arrived at the same place some years before me. What an awful place! What a guttural language! What barbaric gesticulation! What disgusting smells!

I LOVED this country on first sight, and I still love it, although it has changed beyond recognition. I cannot imagine living anywhere else.

People keep asking me if I am a "Zionist". I answer that I don't know what "Zionism" means these days. To my mind, Zionism died a natural death when the State of Israel was born. Now we have an Israeli nation, closely connected with the Jewish people everywhere - but a new nation nevertheless, with its own geopolitical surroundings, with its own problems. We are bound to world Jewry rather like, say, Australia or Canada are to Britain.

This is so clear to me, that I can hardly understand the endless debates about Zionism. To me, these debates are empty of real, honest content.

So are the endless debates about "the Arabs", debates neither real nor honest. The Arabs were here when we arrived. I have just described what I felt towards them. I still believe that the early Zionists made a terrible mistake when they did not try to combine their aspirations with the hopes of the Palestinian population. Realpolitik told them to embrace their Turkish oppressors instead. Sad.

The best description of the conflict was given by the historian Isaac Deutscher: a man lives in an upper floor of a house that catches fire. In desperation the man jumps out of the window and lands on a passer-by down below, who is grievously injured and becomes an invalid. Between the two, there erupts a deadly conflict. Who is right?

Not an exact parallel, but close enough to inspire thought.

Religion has nothing to do with it. Judaism and Islam are close relatives, much closer to each other than either of them is to Christianity. The catchphrase "Judeo-Christian" is bogus, an invention of ignoramuses. If our conflict turns into a religious one, that would be a tragic aberration.

I am a complete atheist. In principle I respect the religion of others, but, frankly, I cannot even start to understand their convictions. They look to me like anachronistic relics of a primitive age. Sorry.

I AM an optimist by nature, even if my analytical mind tells me otherwise. I have seen in my life so many totally unexpected things, both good and bad, that I don't believe that any thing "must" happen.

But looking at the daily news, I could waver. So many stupid wars all over the place, so much awful suffering inflicted on so many innocent people. Some in the name of God, some in the name of race, some in the name of democracy. So stupid! So needless! In the year 2017!

The future of my own country fills me with anxiety. The conflict seems endless, without a solution. Yet to me, the solution is completely obvious, indeed so obvious that it is hard for me to understand how anyone in their right mind can avoid seeing it.

We have here two nations - Israelis and Palestinians. Innumerable historical examples show us that they cannot live together in one state. So they must live together in two states - "together" because both nations need close cooperation, with open borders and some joint political superstructures. Perhaps some kind of a voluntary confederation. And later on, perhaps some kind of union of the entire region.

All this in a world that is compelled by modern realities to unite more and more, moving towards some kind of world government.

I won't live long enough to see all this - but I am already seeing it in my mind's eyes on the eve of my 94th (a nice number, all in all.)

I realize how lucky I have been throughout. I was born into a happy family, the youngest of four children. We left Nazi Germany in time. I was a member of an underground organization, but never caught and tortured like some of my comrades. I was severely wounded in the 1948 war, but fully recovered. I had an attempt on my life, but the assailant missed my heart by a few millimeters. I was for 40 years the chief editor of an important magazine. I was elected three times to the Knesset. I was the first Israeli to meet with Yasser Arafat. I have taken part in hundreds of peace demonstrations and was never been arrested. I was married for 59 years to a wonderful woman. I am reasonably healthy. Thanks.
(c) 2017 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

The Black Panthers Didn't Fight Symbols
Johnny Reb's footprint on the landscape is tiny compared to the 5,000 state and federal prisons and jails that crater the nation
By Glen Ford

New York state prison guards assaulted and seriously injured 69 year-old former Black Panther Herman Bell, this week, a totally unprovoked beating timed to sabotage his chances for parole after more than 40 years behind bars. In neighboring New Jersey, former Panther Sundiata Acoli was denied parole last December shortly before his 80th birthday. Acoli has been behind bars since 1973, and eligible for parole since 1992. His next parole hearing won't come up for another 15 years -- when Acoli is 95 years old. Dozens of elderly Black activists remain entombed in a gulag that has expanded seven-fold since the federal government crushed the Black liberation movement and established a national Black Mass Incarceration State. Although slightly less than half the 2.3 million gulag inmates are African Americans, the system's founding rationale and central mission is race-based: to contain, control, and facilitate the removal of Black people from U.S. society. Although the U.S. is home to five times more whites than Blacks, African Americans outnumber whites in U.S. prisons and jails.

Black mass incarceration has been quite popular, historically -- a proven vote-getter among whites in all regions of the country. However, what goes around, comes around. In building the world's largest prison system to house the mostly non-white prey of the planet's most intrusive police state, the U.S. has condemned to the dungeons millions of non-targeted whites -- unintended, collateral damage of the race wars that birthed the nation and built an empire.

As BAR contributor Danny Haiphong writes in this week's issue, "Prisons in the U.S. are monuments that enforce terror against oppressed people." Indeed, these monuments to present-day oppression are far more numerous than the Confederate symbols that are the focus of current conflict. The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified 1,503 physical symbols of the Confederacy, including 718 monuments and statues and 109 public schools, 80 counties and 10 military bases named for Confederate icons. Yet, Johnny Reb's footprint on the landscape is tiny compared to the 5,000 state and federal prisons and jails, plus about 1,000 juvenile and tribal detention facilities that crater the nation - a vast infrastructure of race and class rule.

The so-called "alt-right" has been hard-pressed to gather more than a few hundred Nazis, Klansmen and right-wing militia to make a stand around Confederate landmarks. But, this rag-tag "fascist threat" is dwarfed by the 431,600 prison guards that staff America's penal monuments to the dictatorship of rich white men.

It is commendable and necessary to go blow-for-blow in the streets against predatory racist gangs. It is also clear that Donald Trump is giving political aid and comfort to today's sons and daughters of the old Confederacy who, although not yet able to mass in large numbers, could do so in the future. But that threat pales in comparison to the three-quarters of million sworn police officers that strut the streets of America, killing Black and brown people with impunity and dragg hundreds of thousands into the gulag every year. According to Police magazine, 84 percent of cops supported Donald Trump for president. The statistic is no surprise, but points up the real threat to Black lives and the rule of law: the state, itself.

The same state that Herman Bell and Sundiata Acoli resisted, two generations ago.
(c) 2017 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol September 7, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Ryan and fellow Republicans were caught off guard by President Donald Trump's decision to make a deal with Congressional Democrats to raise the debt ceiling.

To Serve Himself, Trump Just Set The GOP On Fire
By William Rivers Pitt

There has never been one moment, not one, when I believed Donald J. Trump would develop even marginal leadership skills once he became president. I never expected the much-ballyhooed "pivot" that would come just as soon as he realized how serious his job is and that we all might die if he screws up. The thought frankly never occurred to me. Waiting for a 71-year-old plutocrat to "mature" is not a high-yield use of my day. This is the guy who shouted, "Have a good time, everybody!" at a building filled with Harvey refugees.

Which is what made Wednesday so thoroughly fascinating. The man with the political instincts of a lobbed brick somehow closed out the day with a multi-dimensional checkmate maneuver that took down a number of large birds with one throw. The fact that Trump's motives were entirely self-involved only adds frosting to the cake.

Republican leadership in Congress wanted to tie Harvey relief to a bill that would lift the debt ceiling for 18 months, effectively removing it as an issue in the 2018 midterms. The Democrats agreed, but wanted 3 months instead of 18. The GOP said no, Speaker Ryan rose up in high public dudgeon over the very idea of "playing politics" with the debt ceiling ... and then Trump came down the mountain and abruptly made the deal with the Democrats, upending even his own Treasury Secretary in the process.

The Republican Party's motto should be "Wait, what?" from here on out. Trump's Democratic deal for three months of debt ceiling relief hit congressional Republicans like a bucket of bat urine. There was an almost feral recoiling within the ranks. With that deal, Trump ensured the Democrats could still campaign on the debt ceiling in 2018, and left them in a stronger negotiating position for future legislation.

More importantly, Trump removed the debt ceiling hostage from the room, infuriating the hard-right Freedom Caucus and the Republican Study Group, whose members wanted in the aftermath of their ACA repeal failure to use the ceiling as leverage to attack Medicaid again. Finally, just for flavor, he made Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell look like a couple of windbag backbenchers who have no idea what's really going on because they never get invited to the real meetings.

Congressional conservatives are now so thoroughly livid at Trump that they want to fire their own speaker, because someone has to pay the piper after this one. It isn't just that Pelosi and Schumer thoroughly rolled the president of the United States in his own house. Trump turned out his pockets and put his hands over his head. As CNN political analyst Paul Begala noted, "Poor president Donald Trump was lucky he got out of the room with his hair."

Lifting the debt ceiling was the right thing to do. Making a deal to get Harvey aid done was the right thing to do. Donald J. Trump couldn't possibly care less about what is or is not the right thing to do. He did this for a few reasons, each of them more selfish than the last.

Trump is comprehensively pissed at McConnell and Ryan, and not just because nothing beyond a Supreme Court appointment has gotten done. He thinks those guys should be protecting him from the Russia probe, defending him vehemently in the press, and they haven't. In Trump's world, if you're not taking a bullet for the boss, you're with the snipers throwing shots. Whatever else this was, in Trump's mind it was payback.

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo did a fine job of explaining how this move speaks to the core essence of Trump himself. "Trump needs to dominate people," writes Marshall. "Clearly Trump felt that McConnell and Ryan are not serving him well enough or loyally enough or both. So he lashed out or tried to damage them. Schumer and Pelosi were simply the most convenient cudgels available."

This deal, and the resulting political convulsion that followed it, has also temporarily removed Trump's devastating DACA decision from the national media conversation. Apparently, the president was surprised and hurt when his decision to blow up the lives of nearly a million people wasn't met with universal approval. With this, he changed the subject and saved himself a few hours of grief.

There was nothing Machiavellian in this particular move -- and certainly nothing noble or patriotic or even vaguely generous. Trump needed to put a hurt on someone in service to himself, and he chose his own party to be the victim.

Anyone in his orbit who thinks he likes them or is loyal to them should look at this deal as if it were a warning written in blood on the wall. To Trump, everyone is fungible. The leadership of his own party, 800,000 young students and workers, everyone. If it helps him even a little bit, Donald J. Trump will do like the narrator in the old song, "Me and My Uncle," and leave your dead ass there by the side of the road.
(c) 2017 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

Where Can Congress Find The Money To Repair Damage From Hurricane Harvey?
By Jim Hightower

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

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

The problem with his bombastic promises, however, is that they turn out to be duds. Even Trump knows that building that wall is nothing but PR trumpery. In a phone call to President Pena Nieto, he admitted that Mexico actually was not going to pay a single peso for the offensive border partition. But he begged his cross-border counterpart to stop saying so publicly, for Mexico's adamant refusal to pay was exposing Trump-the-dealmaker as a weakling.

Still, he loudly threatened again on August 21 to "close down our government" if Congress doesn't pony up billions to fund his pet project. But just four days later, reality intervened when a mass migration poured across the US border. Not a migration of Mexicans, but of floodwaters from the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Harvey's biblical-level of destruction not only swamped cities and communities all along the Texas-Louisiana coastline - but it also has swamped Congress with a tsunami of demands from GOP state officials for as much as $180 billion in federal relief, not counting Hurricane Irma.

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

Residents of Puerto Rico's island of Culebra comfort each other in front
of their home after it was damaged by Hurricane Irma. September 7, 2017.

Hurricane-Ravaged Puerto Rico And The Virgin Islands Are Part Of The US Too
But they don't get the same level of attention as Florida and Texas-let alone equal representation.
By John Nichols

As Hurricane Irma loomed larger and larger in the first days of September, there was much media speculation about when and how it would "make landfall" in the United States. We were told initially that the storm "poses a major threat to the Caribbean and potentially to the United States next week." Later we were informed that it was likely to "tear across the islands of the northern Caribbean and potentially slam into the U.S. by the weekend or early next week." Then headlines announced: "Hurricane Irma slams Caribbean islands; expected to hit US next week."

As Irma headed toward the Florida Keys, Dr. AccuWeather's Joel Myers lamented that, "Unfortunately, there is no way the United States is going to avoid another catastrophic weather event."

The problem with all this storm coverage-which has dominated broadcast, print, and digital reporting for the better part of two weeks-has been a stubborn lack of precision regarding what is the United States.

Long before Hurricane Irma's wind gusts and storm surges struck Florida Sunday, they were battering the United States.

Puerto Rico was, according to the BBC, pummeled last week by "waves of up to 30 feet off the capital San Juan." That report noted that, "Although the US territory avoided a direct hit, its infrastructure was badly affected-more than half of the island's three million residents were without power and officials said many could be cut off for several days. At least three deaths were reported on the island." The storm appears to have been even rougher on the Virgin Islands. Widespread damage was reported and at least four people were killed. All that remained of some homes were foundations. And, to make matters worse, communications systems were down.

The rebuilding process will be arduous, and expensive. Massive amounts of federal aid will be required by territories that experienced financial trouble long before this brutal storm season arrived. Puerto Rico has experienced fiscal turmoil in recent years at least in part because it is not allowed to respond to economic downturns in the same way states are, and because of the austerity agendas that have long been applied to US territories.

"This is not an event that is occurring in the Netherlands, where they're ready for it and they have a strong economy," Miguel A. Soto-Class, the president of the Center for a New Economy, a research group on the island, said as concerns about Hurricane Irma arose. "This is an event happening on a very poor island that's been in a depression for the last 10 years."

The Virgin Islands have also experienced hardship. As The New York Times explained earlier this year.

The public debts of the Virgin Islands are much smaller than those of Puerto Rico, which effectively declared bankruptcy in May. But so is its population, and therefore its ability to pay. This tropical territory of roughly 100,000 people owes some $6.5 billion to pensioners and creditors. Now, a combination of factors-insufficient tax revenue, a weak pension system, the loss of a major employer and a new reluctance in the markets to lend the Virgin Islands any more money-has made it almost impossible for the government to meet its obligations. In January, the Virgin Islands found itself unable to borrow and nearly out of funds for basic government operations.
These islands will need to make big asks of federal officials in coming days, weeks, and months. Yet, unlike Texas (which is still recovering from Hurricane Harvey) and Florida (which on Sunday was hard hit by Irma), Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands do not have elected advocates in Washington.

Puerto Rico has no voting representation in the House, the Senate, or the Electoral College that chooses the president. This has always been the case, despite the fact that Puerto Rico is home to roughly 3.5 million American citizens-more than Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, and 17 other US states.

The US Virgin Islands are home to more than 100,000 US citizens who have no voting representatives in Congress, and no voice in presidential elections. Guam, which has been much in the news of late because of North Korean threats and Donald Trump's responses to them, is home to more than 160,000 US citizens, but also sits on the sidelines at election time.

US territories have a combined population of more than 4.1 million Americans. Add to their total the population of the District of Columbia, which is allowed to vote in presidential elections but that is not allowed to choose voting members of the US House or the US Senate, and the number gets close to 5 million.

Almost 5 million people, and not one voting representative in Congress.

Compare that with Wyoming, which elects a voting member of the US House, and two voting members of the US Senate. Wyoming also casts three votes in the Electoral College. The state's total population is roughly 560,000.

Anyone who respects the basic premises of democracy will recognize that this electoral imbalance is atrocious-and potentially devastating for racially and ethnically diverse parts of the United States that need a voice and a vote when it comes to federal disaster relief and general budgeting.

There are proposals to address the imbalance. Puerto Rico recently voted to expand its exploration of the statehood option. There's also an independence movement there.

But even if US territories retain their current status, their citizens should have voting representation in Congress and a right to cast ballots in presidential elections. For those who argue that size is a barrier to representation, one response might be to link regional island groups together for purposes of democratic inclusion-aligning Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, for instance. But it is important to remember that a number of current states achieved statehood at a point when their populations were much smaller than the current populations of the Virgin Islands or Guam.

Serious proposals to expand American democracy invariably inspire spirited debates-as we've seen when representation demands have been made by the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. What is dispiriting, and irresponsible, is the general avoidance by federal officials of discussions about how to assure that all US citizens are fully represented in our government. It should not take a disaster to make real the promise of American democracy. But this disaster does remind us that the work of building a more perfect union is incomplete.
(c) 2017 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Becoming A Police State
By James Donahue

Ever since the 9-11 assault and United States has been shifting away from the free and comfortable nation we once knew and enjoyed. Almost overnight, as if planned, our legislators adopted the controversial Patriot Act that began stripping Americans of many of their constitutional rights under the guise of protecting us from additional terrorist attacks.

Within weeks of the attack the first draft of the Patriot Act was overwhelmingly passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush. Most elected members of the House and Senate admitted they never bothered to read the 300-page volume of information written into the act. This was done on October 26, just over a month after the September 11 attack.

The Patriot Act gave the federal government the authority to wiretap, conduct electronic surveillance, pry into private medical records and even open private financial records without a court order.

The following month, almost to the day, President Bush created the Department of Homeland Security, combining a lot of already established government offices into one massive complex with over 200,000 employees assigned to respond to terrorist threats and national disasters.

In 2006 President Bush signed the John Warner Defense Authorization Act. This act expanded the president's power to declare martial law through revisions to the Insurrection Act and take command of the National Guard troops without approval by state governors in the event of extreme public disorder.

Also that year Bush signed the United States Military Commissions Act, following a Supreme Court ruling that authorized trial by military commission for violations of the law of war. This appears to have opened the door for U. S. civilians to be tried before military tribunal when charged with acts of terrorism either on foreign or domestic soils.

In 2007 Bush signed the National Security Presidential Directive 51 and the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 20. These documents allow the president to assume dictatorial powers over all government and business activities if he declares that a national catastrophic emergency has occurred. This gives the president this power without Congressional approval or oversight. When Congressman Peter DeFrazio, an Oregon Democrat, and a member of the Homeland Security Committee, attempted to examine a classified portion of the White House plan for operating the government after a terrorist attack, he was denied access.

While President Barack Obama was in office, none of the Bush executive orders were rescinded.

In 2010 President Obama signed his own executive order that created a Council of Governors. This is a body of 10 state governors appointed by the president to help advance the "synchronization and integration of state and federal military activities in the United States." At about the same time the Department of the Army published the Internment and Resettlement Operations Manual that allows the military to "pacify" political activists on homeland soil and detain them in prison camps inside the United States. The document names the United Nations, Red Cross, FEMA and Homeland Security as partners in this action.

In 2011 Mr. Obama signed a four-year extension of key provisions in the Patriot Act. These allowed for continued wiretaps, searches of business records and surveillance of individuals suspected of terrorist related activities without court order.

Also in 2011 Mr. Obama ordered the assassination of an American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki and his son for terrorist activities in Yemen. This did not raise much alarm on the home-front, even though it violated an executive order by a previous administration that forbids government ordered assassinations.

On December 31, 2011, Mr. Obama signed The National Defense Authorization Act which gives the president even more dictatorial powers under the guise of protecting homeland security. The President now can order the military to assist local police in homeland law enforcement, in conflict with the Posse Comitatus act. It allows for indefinite detention of suspects without due process.

In March of 2012, Obama signed The Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act. This law makes the trespass of an area under Secret Service protection a felony punishable for up to 10 years in prison. The bill makes public protest a felony on public government grounds and is a violation of the First Amendment. Also that year Obama issued The National Defense Resources Preparedness Executive Order. This document gives the government the power to seize private property without due process under the direction of the Department of Homeland Security.

An American Civil Liberties Union statement warned: "The Obama administration and its enablers have established, legitimized, and normalized a national security state apparatus that removes any doubt that domestic policing is a prelude to a totalitarian police state."

It appears that Presidents Bush and Obama conspired collectively to give President Donald Trump the power to declare martial law following any attack or natural disaster. With the onslaught of violent weather systems stirred by our warming planet, Mr. Trump may soon have the justification for putting all or portions of our nation on lockdown.

The legal definition of martial law is "the exercise of government and control by military authorities over the civilian population of a designated territory." It was written into U.S. law to provide an "extreme and rare measure" to control society during war or periods of civil unrest. Nations under the control of a dictator, however, can and are controlled indefinitely through the use of military force.

Mr. Trump's recent decision to release military hardware, including armored tanks, rocket launchers and various other weapons of war to local police agencies, should be sounding alarm bells in every community.
(c) 2017 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

Burning trillions of dollars for the hyper enrichment of a handful of radical corporate
state supremacists, wasn't what classical capitalism was supposed to be about.

Destructive Stock Buybacks-That You Pay For
Presently, hordes of corporate lobbyists are descending on Washington to demand deregulation and tax cuts. Here's why.
By Ralph Nader

The monster of economic waste-over $7 trillion of dictated stock buybacks since 2003 by the self-enriching CEOs of large corporations-started with a little noticed change in 1982 by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) under President Ronald Reagan. That was when SEC Chairman John Shad, a former Wall Street CEO, redefined unlawful 'stock manipulation' to exclude stock buybacks.

Then after Clinton pushed through congress a $1 million cap on CEO pay that could be deductible, CEO compensation consultants wanted much of CEO pay to reflect the price of the company's stock. The stock buyback mania was unleashed. Its core was not to benefit shareholders (other than perhaps hedge fund speculators) by improving the earnings per share ratio. Its real motivation was to increase CEO pay no matter how badly such burning out of shareholder dollars hurt the company, its workers and the overall pace of economic growth. In a massive conflict of interest between greedy top corporate executives and their own company, CEO-driven stock buybacks extract capital from corporations instead of contributing capital for corporate needs, as the capitalist theory would dictate.

Yes, due to the malicious, toady SEC "business judgement" rule, CEOs can take trillions of dollars away from productive pursuits without even having to ask the companies' owners-the shareholders-for approval.

What could competent management have done with this treasure trove of shareholder money which came originally from consumer purchases? They could have invested more in research and development, in productive plant and equipment, in raising worker pay (and thereby consumer demand), in shoring up shaky pension fund reserves, or increasing dividends to shareholders.

The leading expert on this subject-economics professor William Lazonick of the University of Massachusetts-wrote a widely read article in 2013 in the Harvard Business Review titled "Profits Without Prosperity" documenting the intricate ways CEOs use buybacks to escalate their pay up to 300 to 500 times (averaging over $10,000 an hour plus lavish benefits) the average pay of their workers. This compared to only 30 times the average pay gap in 1978. This has led to increasing inequality and stagnant middle class wages.

To make matters worse, companies with excessive stock buybacks experience a declining market value. A study by Professor Robert Ayres and Executive Fellow Michael Olenick at INSEAD (September 2017) provided data about IBM, which since 2005 has spent $125 billion on buybacks while laying off large numbers of workers and investing only $69.9 billion in R&D. IBM is widely viewed as a declining company that has lost out to more nimble competitors in Silicon Valley.

The authors also cite General Electric, which in the same period spent $114.6 billion on its own stock only to see its stock price steadily decline in a bull market. In a review of 64 companies, including major retailers such as JC Penny and Macy's, these firms spent more dollars in stock buybacks "than their businesses are currently worth in market value!"

On the other hand, Ayes and Olenick analyzed 269 companies that "repurchased stock valued at 2 percent or less of their current market value (including Facebook, Xcel Energy, Berkshire Hathaway and Amazon). They were strong market performers. The scholars concluded that "Buybacks are a way of disinvesting - we call it 'committing corporate suicide'-in a way that rewards the "activists" (e.g. Hedge Funds) and executives, but hurts employees and pensioners."

Presently, hordes of corporate lobbyists are descending on Washington to demand deregulation and tax cuts. Why, you ask them? In order to conserve corporate money for investing in economic growth, they assert. Really?! Why, then, are they turning around and wasting far more money on stock buybacks, which produce no tangible value? The answer is clear: uncontrolled executive greed!

By now you may be asking, why don't the corporate bosses simply give more dividends to shareholders instead of buybacks, since a steady high dividend yield usually protects the price of the shares? Because these executives have far more of their compensation package in manipulated stock options and incentive payments than they own in stock.

Walmart in recent years has bought back over $50 billion of its shares - a move benefitting the Walton family's wealth - while saying it could not afford to increase the meagre pay for over one million of their workers in the US. Last year the company bought back $8.3 billion of their stock which could have given their hard-pressed employees, many of whom are on welfare, a several thousand dollar raise.

The corporate giants are also demanding that Congress allow the repatriation of about $2.5 trillion stashed abroad without paying more than 5% tax. They say the money would be used to grow the economy and create jobs. Last time CEOs promised this result in 2004, Congress approved, and then was double-crossed. The companies spent the bulk on stock buybacks, their own pay raises and some dividend increases.

There are more shenanigans. With low interest rates that are deductible, companies actually borrow money to finance their stock buybacks. If the stock market tanks, these companies will have a self-created debt load to handle. A former Citigroup executive, Richard Parsons, has expressed worry about a "massively manipulated" stock market which "scares the crap" out of him.

Banks that pay you near zero interest on your savings announced on June 28, 2017 the biggest single buyback in history - a $92.8 billion extraction. Drug companies who say their sky-high drug prices are needed to fund R&D. But between 2006 and 2017, 18 drug company CEOs spent a combined staggering $516 billion on buybacks and dividends - more than their inflated claims of spending for R&D.

Mr. Olenick says "When managers can't create value in the business other than buying their own stock, it seems like it's time for a management change."

Who's going to do that? Shareholders stripped of inside power to control the company they own? No way. It will take Congressional hearings, a robust media focus, and the political clout of large pension and mutual funds to get the reforms under way.

When I asked Robert Monks, an author and longtime expert on corporate governance, about his reaction to CEOs heavy with stock buybacks, he replied that the management was either unimaginative, incompetent or avaricious - or all of these.

Essentially burning trillions of dollars for the hyper enrichment of a handful of radical corporate state supremacists wasn't what classical capitalism was supposed to be about.
(c) 2017 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book is Unstoppable, and "Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).

It's Jaw-Dropping to Watch the Media Let Trump Rebrand Himself Away from the Right-Wing Hate Monster He's Become
While his administration works to enact the most right-wing agenda in history, Trump basks in unearned adulation.
By Heather Digby Parton

During the first months of the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump was clearly operating by the seat of his pants. Because of that, many a jaded pundit declared Trump the flavor of the week and said he was no different than earlier fads like Herman Cain in 2012 - or maybe, if he was lucky, Fred Thompson in 2008, another TV star (but one who at least had political experience). Elite reporters literally laughed out loud at the suggestion Trump might win.

When Trump began amassing delegates, everyone began to take him more seriously, and a new narrative emerged: Media pros anxiously waited for what they assumed would be an inevitable "pivot" to recognizable presidential behavior. They seemed to believe that his bizarre antics were a sideshow that he was cleverly deploying to set himself apart from his staid, more experienced rivals.

It wasn't as if Trump had a set of issues that differed wildly from the pack. He took a different tack on "free trade" than the standard Republican position, and he promised not to cut Social Security and Medicare, which wasn't much of a stretch since the others didn't place their usual emphasis on "deficits" and "entitlements" in that campaign either. He was notably soft on Russia, but most of his agenda was standard GOP dogma - he just didn't bother with the dog whistle. Trump spoke like a right-wing radio pundit instead of a politician trying to cover up the fundamental authoritarianism, racism, xenophobia, gun fetishism and plutocratic protectionism - which after all have been the basis of the Republican agenda for decades.

His voters loved it. Because those voters were heavily drawn from the white working class, the press saw him as "populist" even though only his trade policy and his vague promises to bring back manufacturing jobs from overseas fit that definition.

Trump has never made that pivot to normal, presidential behavior, but the mainstream media has declared one every couple of months, whenever he behaved in some way that seemed recognizably "presidential," like ordering air strikes or giving a State of the Union address that didn't include stories of mass executions with bullets dipped in pig's blood. And the media still clings to the notion that Trump is a "populist."

It's simply untrue. With the exception of Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Trump's major cabinet picks are all conservative movement zealots. And for every so-called mainstream adviser in the White House, there are at least two from the recesses of the fever swamps.

A partial list of Trump proposals so far includes the deportation and withdrawal of legalization for immigrants and blanket denial of entrance to the U.S. for citizens from a long list of Muslim countries, repeal of the Affordable Care Act, gutting energy and environmental regulations, backing out of the Paris climate accords, installing a Supreme Court justice to the right of the departed Antonin Scalia, tax cuts for millionaires like himself and deep cuts to domestic programs. He's even said to be in discussions about using "mini-nukes" in a limited, tactical nuclear war.

On social issues generally, Trump is a vicious demagogue who feeds his core followers' grievances and anger at the rising status of people of color, immigrants and feminists. He banned transgender service members from the military on a whim. It was only last month that he caused a firestorm by ratcheting up the nuclear threat while shrugging off crowds of torch-bearing Nazis chanting "Jews will not replace us." Then there was Trump's cruel DACA decision, using the most fatuous rationale he's ever given: the Constitution. The only part of it he's ever read is the Second Amendment, which he used to recite while extolling the virtues of vigilantism.

That brings us to the Big Bipartisan Deal of last week that has the mainstream media exclaiming once again that Trump has made a pivot, this time to being an "independent" in the mode of Teddy Roosevelt. This is all because he agreed to raise the debt ceiling and pass an emergency relief package with the help of Democrats. This is seen as Trump cleverly deploying the "Art of the Deal" to Get Things Done.

It's utter nonsense. In fact, when the history of this period is written, I won't be surprised to learn that the GOP leadership and the Democratic leadership cooked the whole thing up, and Trump bought into it because he was mad at Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and thought it would make them squirm. Even if this wasn't orchestrated between the party leaders, it's clearly kabuki theater on the GOP side.

The Republicans faced a major pileup of must-pass legislation in September, including the debt limit, disaster relief after Harvey (and now Irma as well) along with routine FEMA funding, a budget resolution, funding of the ACA exchanges and the CHIP program for kids and their Holy Grail: "tax reform," also known as tax cuts for rich folks. They had dawdled so long over their repeated attempts to kill Obamacare (which the "populist" Trump administration is now crudely trying to sabotage) that they'd left their most important work to the last minute.

At the same time, the House Freedom Caucus was up to its usual mischief, ready to throw the country into default and deny emergency disaster aid in order to make a political point. So Ryan was supposedly making noises that he wanted a temporary hike in the debt ceiling for several months, while the White House was insisting on tying it to disaster relief. What to do? Our hero Trump saved the day by agreeing to the Democrats' "demand" that instead of a four-month hike in the debt ceiling, they would sign on to three months, and disaster relief had to pass at the same time. Ryan and McConnell - in this telling of the story - were so bowled over by our maverick president's macho boldness they had no choice but to bring this package to the floor and let the Democrats have their day. Please.

In the end, the Republican leadership got some much-needed breathing room, the Freedom Caucus got to rail against Ryan as usual without having to do anything about it, Democrats got to smirk and wink and Trump got his massive ego stroked once again by the mainstream media, upon which he heaps contempt on a daily basis. Win-win.

But let's not lose sight of the fact that all Trump actually accomplished was agreeing to sign a bill that would lift the debt ceiling for three months, something that used to be considered a nonpartisan routine procedure, and an appropriation for disaster relief. These are bills any president in U.S. history would have signed, no matter who held the majority in Congress. The media turning this mundane agreement into the passage of the bipartisan Civil Rights Act is more than a bit much.

Trump may not act like a Republican president. But he doesn't act like a Democratic or an Independent president either. He doesn't act like a president at all. It's long past time for the media to stop trying to fit him into some familiar groove that they can understand. While he's busy with his weird demagogic performance art, his administration is working as quickly as possible to enact the most racist, most right-wing Republican agenda in history. He is fine with that, as long as he gets the credit.
(c) 2017Heather 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.

Nature Offers Solutions To Water Woes And Flood Risks
By David Suzuki

When the Aztecs founded Tenochtitlan in 1325, they built it on a large island on Lake Texcoco. Its eventual 200,000-plus inhabitants relied on canals, levees, dikes, floating gardens, aqueducts and bridges for defence, transportation, flood control, drinking water and food. After the Spaniards conquered the city in 1521, they drained the lake and built Mexico City over it.

The now-sprawling metropolis, with 100 times the number of inhabitants as Tenochtitlan at its peak, is fascinating, with lively culture, complex history and diverse architecture. It's also a mess. Water shortages, water contamination and wastewater issues add to the complications of crime, poverty and pollution. Drained and drying aquifers are causing the city to sink - almost 10 metres over the past century!

"Conquering" nature has long been the western way. Our hubris, and often our religious ideologies, have led us to believe we are above nature and have a right to subdue and control it. We let our technical abilities get ahead of our wisdom. We're learning now that working with nature - understanding that we are part of it - is more cost-effective and efficient in the long run.

Had we designed cities with nature in mind, we'd see fewer issues around flooding, pollution and excessive heat, and we wouldn't have to resort to expensive fixes. Flooding, especially, can hit people hard in urban areas. According to the Global Resilience Partnership, "Floods cause more damage worldwide than any other type of natural disaster and cause some of the largest economic, social and humanitarian losses" - accounting for 47 per cent of weather-related disasters and affecting 2.3 billion people over the past 20 years, 95 per cent of them in Asia.

As the world warms, it's getting worse. Recent floods in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Nepal have affected more than 40 million people, killing more than 1,000. One-third of Bangladesh is under water. In Houston, Texas, Hurricane Harvey has killed dozens and displaced thousands, shut down oil refineries and caused explosions at chemical plants. Some say it's one of the costliest "natural" disasters in U.S. history.

Although hurricanes and rain are natural, there's little doubt that human-caused climate change has made matters worse. More water evaporates from warming oceans and warmer air holds more water. Climate change is also believed to have held the Houston storm in place for longer than normal, and rising sea levels contributed to greater storm surges.

A lax regulatory regime that allows developers to drain wetlands and build on flood plains has compounded Houston's problems. The city has no zoning laws, and many wetlands and prairies - which normally absorb large amounts of water and prevent or lessen flood damage - have been drained, developed or paved over. President Donald Trump also rescinded federal flood protection standards put in place by the Obama administration and plans to repeal a law that protects wetlands. Compare Houston to Amsterdam and Rotterdam, which sit below sea level. Regulation and planning have helped the Dutch cities lower flood risk and save money.

As climate disruption accelerates in concert with still-increasing greenhouse gas emissions, people are looking for ways to protect cities from events like flooding. In China, authorities are aiming to make them more sponge-like. A Guardian article explains: "Designers will concede to the wisdom of nature to ensure water is absorbed when there's an excess: instead of water-resistant concrete, permeable materials and green spaces will be used to soak up rainfall, and rivers and streams will be interconnected so that water can flow away from flooded areas." As well as offering flood protection, the measures will also help prevent water shortages.

Cities worldwide have employed many of these flood-protection measures, including in the U.S. If China goes beyond its 16-city pilot project, it will be the largest-scale deployment of such combined measures ever.

Restoring natural areas costs much more than protecting them in the first place, more intense and frequent storms and floods can still overwhelm natural defences, and growing human populations will further stress resources, but restoring natural assets is a start. Ultimately, we must work with nature to prevent and adapt to problems such as flooding, water scarcity, wildfires and climate disruption. When we work against nature, we work against ourselves.
(c) 2017 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

A Noxious Environmental Disaster Is Buried In Houston
Along with a few Pulitzer Prizes.
By Charles P. Pierce

Dave Sirota and the people over at IBT/Newsweek have done a great job backgrounding the regulatory neglect and the outright contempt for public safety that led to the explosions and fire that occurred at the flooded Arkema chemical complex in Crosby, Texas. Their latest report is that seven first-responders have sued the French company that owns Arkema.

Those allegations come after Arkema and its lobbying group, the American Chemistry Council, lobbied to kill a federal rule designed to require companies to better coordinate and inform first responders about the toxic compounds at chemical plants. The rule would have taken effect in March. The EPA's rule, which included a series of other safety provisions, was ultimately delayed to February 2019 by the Trump administration, with the support of top Texas Republican lawmakers - many of whom received large campaign donations from the chemical industry.
Let us leave Arkema to Sirota and his team and move on to a place called Dickinson, a few degrees east of Crosby in Galveston County. Dickinson was briefly famous during the Harvey deluge because one of its nursing homes was inundated and CNN was there. Everybody got out and CNN went off to get more cool videos, but I have a feeling that we're all going to be hearing about Dickinson again because, down under all that water is another one of those environmental land mines just itching to go off. And, like so many of these land mines, it's located in an actual neighborhood called Hall Street. From the Texas Department of Environmental Quality:
In 2009, as part of the RI, the TCEQ oversaw cleanup operations involving the excavation of former waste pits containing soil, liquid contaminants, and buried drums. Approximately 9,187 tons of excavated waste were transported and disposed of to an approved landfill. Backfilling with clean soil was completed to fill in the excavations. Somewhere, beneath the waves, there lies buried a smorgasbord of noxious and poisonous goo. Also down there, I suspect, are about 20 Pulitzer Prizes. This story is not going away. Nor will the story of Irma, or Jose, or Katia, or...

I did not realize that Friday was the anniversary of the first airing of Star Trek. As should be obvious by now, my fandom extends only a bit beyond what has become known as TOS into what has become known as TNG. The rest of the shows, except for this intriguing new one that CBS is running on its boutique channel, I'll leave to the younger crowd.

I like how they've managed to spiff up the FX on the old episodes, although I am truly nostalgic for the original cheesiness of it all. (What would the Trek be without a badly painted Talosian sky?) In honor of the anniversary, here are my three favorite eps of the ol' Tos. I'm afraid they're fairly conventional.

1) City On The Edge of Forever.

2) The Trouble With Tribbles.

3) Requiem For Methuselah.

I'll grant that the third one is reasonably obscure, but I like the idea of one guy being all those famous people, although why he was Brahms and not Beethoven, or Little Richard for that matter, I never could quite determine.

I have to give TNG credit for coming up with the two best villains: the Borg and Q. (Q occasionally gets a little Squire of Gothos for my taste, but John de Lancie is a real hoot.) The worst villain is now and has always been Landru, and the Red Hour during Return of the Archons is the most hilariously bad scene in the history of American network television.

In a related story, Sirius/XM's Beatles Channel ran a poll of the 100 most beloved songs by the Fabs and spent Labor Day weekend playing the final list on a show hosted by Peter Asher, half of Peter and Gordon and onetime near-brother-in-law of Paul McCartney. "A Day In The Life" was the top choice, and I have no real objection since I get more enthralled by the sheer audacity of that piece of music every time I hear it.
(c) 2017 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote...

"I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time - when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness."
~~~ Carl Sagan ~ The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

Are Governments Useless?
By David Swanson

Useless! Useless!
Heavy rain driving
Into the sea.
~~~ Jack Kerouac ~~~

Talking with people who are fed up, and especially with people who are trying to do something about it, one increasingly runs into the statement that the (U.S.) government is useless, the government won't help us, we must help ourselves. And not only that, but the government is rotten to the core, irredeemable, systematically and hopelessly and essentially evil.

And of course this is basically true. The question is what to do about it. Part of the answer is clearly to create alternatives, to move positive change through local and state governments and global alliances, to take areas of life out from under the control of government entirely. But part of the answer isn't that.

What, after all, are we to make of the fact that the U.S. government clearly wants people conditioned to believe that they have to pay for their own hurricane relief even after having paid exorbitantly in taxes for, primarily, wars that happen to be, among many other things, the leading cause of climate chaos? If the government is evil, and the government wants you dismissing from your mind the very possibility of the government paying for protection from real dangers, shouldn't logic dictate that going along with that is evil?

Beyond logic, there's hard reality. The earth's climate cannot survive the conduct of the U.S. government. We can take care of each other lovingly and creatively with ever greater solidarity in ever deeper destitution. But we cannot fend off ecological or nuclear apocalypse without halting the leviathan that is driving them forward. In fact, if it's not simply too late already, we certainly cannot save ourselves merely by halting the government's destruction; we have no choice but to generate constructive action on the scale that can only be reached by moving a fraction of military spending into environmental protection. That it would only take a fraction and that it would not need to come from anything useful are little known facts, but facts they are nonetheless.

But how do you take control of and reverse course with a government that is demonstrably worse than useless?

Talking with people who are trying to figure this out, one hears that

a new messiah must be elected to the throne;

a new party must vault over all the barriers to new parties;

only total and complete replacement of the entire system can help at all;

revolution would be catastrophic and must be avoided;

a socialist Scandinavian-but-more-so state is needed ASAP.

And one hears these things, sometimes, all of them, from the very same person.

But where does this take us in terms of practical action. Well, we end up with pretty broad consensus on the need for education, organization, and mass resistance. But where does transformative change come in?

Beyond the thousands of creative campaigns that we need advancing thousands of issues, including various systemic reforms (of elections, of media, etc.), it seems to me that there is a useful tool people sometimes overlook for misguided reasons. If the U.S. government had no Constitution, or that Constitution did not contain any mechanism for removing people from high office, and a popular movement were to create such a mechanism, I think we would be very proud of ourselves and eager to use it. We wouldn't run around telling each other that removing individuals from a completely corrupt system was pointless. We'd remove one, make it a model for others, and remove the next as needed.

Of course, the wealthy white male enslaving and warmongering Founders put impeachment into the U.S. Constitution, having no idea who would later get access to voting or what activist movements would come to look like, but having a pretty darn accurate notion of what people like Donald Trump do and what sort of danger they are (even without knowledge of nuclear weapons or climate change).

I've been told that impeachment is a trick that "the system" uses to fool us into thinking something has been fixed. Really? When was that? The Democrats fended off a majority demand for Bush Jr.'s impeachment and are more set against Trump's impeachment than the Republicans are. The Democratic Party wants to keep Trump around in order to campaign without any real platform as being the people who are not Donald Trump. That is how corrupt the system is. It could hardly be more corrupt - unless, perhaps, the power of impeachment were removed by amendment rather than merely by inaction.

Popular impeachment movements have effected serious reforms short of getting to impeachment, including with Truman, and have forced individuals out while putting through a pile of progressive policies, including with Nixon.

Of course there is more than one way to abuse impeachment. You can neglect it. You can reserve it for sexual conduct. Or you could use it to generate xenophobia, Russophobia, and militarism by going after Trump for unproven but dangerous charges. Pardoning Joe Arpaio was not a reason to abolish the pardon power, though it was yet another reason to impeach. And misuses of impeachment are not reasons to abandon the tool of impeachment when put to proper use.

A proper Trump impeachment and removal would leave a President Pence subject to impeachment (if he wasn't impeached in the process), a divided Republican Party, a divided Democratic Party, an empowered populace, openings for serious policy changes, and a reduced risk of nuclear war or environmental disaster. It might not feel as pure as punching a Nazi, but living on a planet on which our children might get to live as well should feel pretty darn good.
(c) 2017 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

Pharma CEO Worries Americans Will Say 'Enough Is Enough' And Embrace Bernie Sanders' Single-Payer Plan
By Lee Fang

BRENT SAUNDERS, THE chief executive of Allergan, one of the largest pharmaceutical firms in the world, is concerned that Americans will become fed up and, in an era of increasing political polarization, come to embrace the single-payer health care plan being unveiled Wednesday by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

The candid thoughts were shared last weekend at the Wells Fargo Healthcare Conference in Boston, a gathering for investors and major pharmaceutical and biotech firms.

Americans have lost trust in drug companies, Saunders said, noting the industry consistently ranks lower than oil and tobacco companies in public trust surveys.

"I think we've got to do things to bring that trust back," the executive added. "Because ultimately, someone's going to be in the White House. Somebody's going to be in Congress. Someone's going to be somewhere and going to have to say, 'Enough's enough. Let's just change the whole system. Let's go to one payer. Let's do something.'"

While single payer has been discarded as a fringe, far-left idea over recent generations, the policy proposal has gained new traction in the wake of the 2016 presidential election. Many in the Democratic Party are drifting to the ideas of Sanders and other progressives who have long advocated for expanding coverage by providing Medicare to all Americans.

Saunders observed that "the party that seems to be out of power tends to move dramatically to the left or to the right," adding that the Republican Party during the Obama era had lurched far to the right-wing.

"We're seeing almost the equal, but opposite reaction here now that they've been swept out, the left of their party is really taken, gotten a louder voice and taken control," Saunders continued, speaking about changes in the Democratic Party.

"And so Bernie Sanders, and others in that movement, had really tried to vet candidates," Saunders noted, adding, "They wanted to go to one - that part of the party wants to go to a one-payer system."

Listen here:

Saunders, during his speech to Wells Fargo, touted a statement of principles he released in 2016 calling for a "social contract" with patients, promising not to use predatory pricing and other behaviors that have come to define his industry.

But if Saunders is concerned that the public may get fed up with the current system, it may have something to do with how Allergan itself has acted recently. The CEO has been under fire in recent weeks for taking the unprecedented step of transferring the patent of one of Allergan's blockbuster drugs, the eye medication Restasis, to a sovereign Native American tribe as part of a bid to maintain monopoly control of the drug and its revenue.

The highly unusual legal strategy is designed to keep generic drug firms from challenging the Restasis patent, thus lowering the cost to consumers, while keeping Allergan in effective control of the revenue through its deal with the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe. The Restasis patent was approved 15 years ago and was set to expire in 2014, but the Allergan deal is part of an attempt to renew the patent and extend the company's control of the drug through 2024.

While serious questions linger about the political viability of single payer, especially for the immediate future under President Donald Trump and a Republican Congress, the center of gravity within the Democratic Party has shifted dramatically in favor the universal Medicare plan that health care executives fear.
(c) 2017 Lee Fang is a journalist with a longstanding interest in how public policy is influenced by organized interest groups and money. He was the first to uncover and detail the role of the billionaire Koch brothers in financing the Tea Party movement. His interviews and research on the Koch brothers have been featured on HBO's "The Newsroom," the documentaries "Merchants of Doubt" and "Citizen Koch," as well as in multiple media outlets. He was an investigative blogger for ThinkProgress (2009-2011) and then a fellow at the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute and contributing writer for The Nation.

In 2012, he co-founded, a blog to cover political corruption that syndicates content with, Salon, National Memo,, TruthOut, and other media outlets. His work has been published by VICE, The Baffler, The Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Progressive, NPR, In These Times, and The Huffington Post. His first book, "The Machine: A Field Guide to the Resurgent Right," published by The New Press, explores how the conservative right rebuilt the Republican Party and its political clout in the aftermath of President Obama's 2008 election victory. He is based in San Francisco.

The Dead Letter Office...

Kris gives the corporate salute

Heil Trump,

Dear Aubenminister Kobach,

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 lying as the White House voting commission co-chair to stop Democratic voters from voting, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Republican whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuehrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuehrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 09-23-2017. We salute you herr Kobach, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

Trump's Obstruction Of Justice
It really doesn't matter how the CEOs come to see the light. What matters is they're pushing Trump into an ever darker hole.
By Robert Reich

Steve Bannon recently called Trump's firing of James Comey the biggest political mistake in modern political history. But it was more than that. It was outright obstruction of justice -another impeachable offense to add to the impeachable offenses Trump has already committed (violation of the Constitution's "emolument's clause," failure to faithfully execute the laws, and abuse of power).

Obstruction of justice was among the articles of impeachment drafted against both Presidents Nixon and Clinton. The parallel between Nixon and Trump is almost exact. White House tapes revealed Nixon giving instructions to pressure the acting FBI director into halting the Watergate investigation.

It's worth recalling that two weeks after Trump told Comey privately "I need loyalty. I expect loyalty," he had another private meeting with Comey in the Oval Office. After shooing out his advisers -all of whom had top security clearance -Trump said to Comey, according to Comey's memo written shortly after the meeting,"I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go."

Then on May 9, Trump fired Comey. In a subsequent interview with NBC Trump said he planned to fire Comey "regardless of [the] recommendation" of the Attorney and Deputy Attorney General, partly because of "this Russia thing." Trump also revealed in the interview that he had had several conversations with Comey about the Russia investigation, and had asked Comey if he was under investigation.

The federal crime of obstruction of justice applies to "[w]hoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication influences, obstructs, or impedes or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede the due and proper administration of the law" in a proceeding or investigation by a government department or agency or Congress.

As in Nixon's case, a decision to support an "inquiry of impeachment" resolution in the House-to start an impeachment investigation-doesn't depend on sufficient evidence to convict a person of obstruction of justice, but simply probable cause to believe a president may have obstructed justice.

There's already more than enough evidence of probable cause to begin that impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump.
(c) 2017 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His website is

Irma Won't "Wake Up" Climate Change-Denying Republicans. Their Whole Ideology Is Os The Line.
By Naomi Klein

AS ONE OF the most powerful storms ever recorded bore down on the continental United States, with much of Florida under evacuation order, President Donald Trump was focused on a matter of grave urgency.

He gathered his cabinet at Camp David and said there was no time to waste. With Hurricane Irma set to potentially devastate huge swaths of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, now was the time, he said, to rush through massive ... tax cuts.

Yes, that's right. He wasn't focused on getting massive aid to those most affected. He wasn't focused on massive change to our energy and transit systems to lower greenhouse gas emissions so that Irma-like storms do not become a thrice-annual occurrence. His mind was on massive changes to the tax code - which, despite Trump's claims that he is driven by a desire to give the middle class relief, would in fact hand corporations the biggest tax cut in decades and the very wealthy a sizable break as well.

Some have speculated that seeing the reality of climate change hit so close to home this summer - Houston underwater, Los Angeles licked by flames, and now southern states getting battered by Irma - might be some kind of wake-up call for climate change-denying Republicans.

US President Donald Trump speaks about Hurricane Irma watched by First Lady Melania Trump upon return to the White House in Washington, DC on September 10, 2017.

As Trump's address to his cabinet makes clear, however, Irma only makes him want to double down on his reckless economic agenda. Flanked by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, he explained that they were going to discuss "dramatic tax cuts and tax reform. And I think now with what's happened with the hurricane, I'm gonna ask for a speed up."

Some have pointed out that this is a classic example of what I have called the "shock doctrine" - using disasters as cover to push through radical, pro-corporate policies. And it is a textbook case to be sure, especially because when Trump made his remarks, Irma was at the very height of its potential threat.

But Trump's timing is even more revealing for what it shows about what's really driving climate change denial on the right. It's not a rejection of the science, but a rejection of the consequences of the science. Put simply, if the science is true, then the whole economic project that has dominated American power structures since Ronald Reagan was president is out the window, and the deniers know it.

Because if climate change is driving the kinds of catastrophes we are seeing right now - and it is - then it doesn't just mean Trump has to apologize and admit he was wrong when he called it a Chinese hoax. It means that he also needs to junk his whole tax plan, because we're going to need that tax money (and more) to pay for a rapid transition away from fossil fuels. And it also means he's going to have to junk his deregulatory plan, because if we are going to change how we power our lives, we're going to need all kinds of regulations to manage and enforce it. And, of course, this is not just about Trump - it's about all the climate-denying Republican governors whose states are currently being pounded. All of them would have to junk an entire twisted worldview holding that the market is always right, regulation is always wrong, private is good and public is bad, and taxes that support public services are the worst of all.

Here is what we need to understand in a hurry: Climate change, especially at this late date, can only be dealt with through collective action that sharply curtails the behavior of corporations, such as Exxon Mobil and Goldman Sachs (both so lavishly represented at Trump's cabinet meeting). Climate action demands investments in the public sphere - in new energy grids, public transit and light rail, and energy efficiency - on a scale not seen since World War II. And that can only happen by raising taxes on the wealthy and on corporations, the very people Trump is determined to shower with the most generous tax cuts, loopholes, and regulatory breaks.

In short, climate change detonates the ideological scaffolding on which contemporary conservatism rests. To admit that the climate crisis is real is to admit the end of their political and economic project. That's why the right is in rebellion against the physical world (which is what prompted hundreds of thousands of scientists around the world to participate in the March for Science in April 2017, collectively defending a principle that really shouldn't need defending: that knowing as much as possible about our world is a good thing). Yet there is a logical reason why science has become such a battle zone: because it is revealing again and again that pro-corporate business as usual leads to a species-threatening catastrophe.

And this isn't only about the right - it's also about the center. What mainstream liberals have been saying about climate change for decades is that we simply need to tweak the existing system here and there and everything will be fine. You can have Goldman Sachs capitalism plus solar panels. But at this stage, the challenge we are up against is much deeper than that.

Lowering our emissions quickly enough to avoid catastrophic warming requires confronting the centrality of ever-expanding consumption in how we measure economic progress. It requires remaking our economy in fundamental ways, including battling the systemic economic and racial inequalities that turn disasters like Harvey and Katrina into human catastrophes. In one sense, then, the members of Trump's cabinet - with their desperate need to deny the reality of global warming, or belittle its implications - understand something that is fundamentally true: To avert climate chaos, we need to challenge the free-market fundamentalism that has conquered the world since the 1980s.

Trump and his fellow climate change-deniers (and climate change-minimizers) see this challenge to their worldview as a crisis so existential, they are unwilling to let the possibility enter their brains. That's understandable. Global warming really does have radical progressive implications. If it's real - and it manifestly is - then the oligarch class cannot continue to run riot without rules.

As the reality of climate disruption shows its menacing face, more and more people will come to understand its obvious political and economic implications. In the meantime, we need to stop waiting for disasters to "wake up" hardcore deniers. The dream they are in is just too damn good, too comfortable, and too profitable. But as Trump uses overlapping disasters of Harvey, Irma, North Korea, and whatever other hell he can exploit to smuggle through his cruel economic agenda, the rest of us should be wide awake to the reality that stopping him, and the worldview he represents, is a matter of humanity's collective survival.

Partially adapted from "No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need." (c) 2017 Naomi Klein is an award"winning journalist and syndicated columnist and the author of the international and New York Times bestseller, "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism." To read all her latest writing visit You can follow her on Twitter: @NaomiAKlein.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Bruce Plante ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Eight Hundred Thousand People With Dreams To Be Deported By One With Delusions
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)-Eight hundred thousand people with dreams will be deported by one person with delusions, sources confirmed on Tuesday.

According to reports, U.S. residents who have obtained advanced degrees, served in the military, and saved people from Hurricane Harvey will be kicked out of the country by a man who believes that his microwave is spying on him.

"Under this new decision, if you have worked hard, gone to school, and contributed to the country, you face immediate deportation," one legal expert said. "On the other hand, if you can prove that you have a glaring personality disorder and a flimsy grasp on reality, you can decide the fate of those other people."

The delusional man defended his controversial decision late Tuesday afternoon, accompanied by several key voices in his head.

"The people I am deporting are parasites who have exploited our economy," the man, who has declared bankruptcy six times, said.
(c) 2017 Andy Borowitz

The Gross National Debt

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Issues & Alibis Vol 17 # 35 (c) 09/15/2017

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