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In This Edition

Norm Solomon is, "Tangled In The Garden Of Good And Evil."

Dahr Jamail reminds us, "As The Biosphere Dies, So Do We."

Glen Ford says, "Papa Bernie Got A (Not So) Brand New Foreign Policy Bag."

Juan Cole reports, "Kavanaugh: Dr. Christine Blasey Seeks To Forestall A Trauma To The Nation That Was Inflicted On Her."

Jim Hightower wonders, "How Many Tweety Birds Does It Take To Tweet The Truth?"

John Nichols finds, "Donald Trump Is Actively Obstructing Justice."

James Donahue examines, "The Brainwashing Of The Masses."

William Rivers Pitt says, "Ted Cruz Might Lose, And Other Giddy Tidbits From Election 2018."

Heather Digby Parton says, "Give The President A Yuge Hand."

David Suzuki explores, "One Of The Worst Words In The Dictionary."

Charles P. Pierce concludes, "History Will Remember Mitch McConnell As One Of The Very Worst."

David Swanson is, "Giving Resistance A Good Name."

Jane Stillwater warns of, "Hail From The Thieves."

GOP State Senator Mark Green of Tennessee wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich cites, "The Three Big Lessons We Didn't Learn from The Economic Crisis."

Chris Hedges explores, "The Culture Of Hate."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst exposes, "All The President's Con Men" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "I'm Having A Deja Vu All Over Again, Again."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Kevin Siers, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, Annie Spratt, Evan Vucci, Chip Somodevilla, Tom Williams, Alex Wong, Drew Angerer, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

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

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

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I'm Having A Deja Vu All Over Again, Again
By Ernest Stewart

"It feels like 1991 all over again. The parallels between the Thomas confirmation hearings and the Kavanaugh situation are striking. ~~~ Anna North

"The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive." ~~~ Donald Trump

"I actually think it was one of the best jobs that's ever been done. I think that Puerto Rico was an incredible unsung success." ~~~ Donald Trump

"No one has ever become poor by giving." ~~~ Anne Frank

You may recall way back on July 1, 1991, President George H. W. Bush a.k.a. (Popa Smirk), nominated Clarence (Slappy*) Thomas for the Extreme Court to replace Thurgood Marshall, who had announced his retirement. The nomination proceedings were contentious from the start, especially over the issue of abortion, and many women's groups and civil rights groups opposed Thomas on the basis of his fascist political views, as they had also opposed Bush's last Extreme Court nominee, David Souter.

During the confirmation hearings, behavior allegations by Anita Hill, a law professor who had previously worked under Thomas at the United States Department of Education and then at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), were leaked to the media from a confidential FBI report. Does this ring in any current bells, America? The allegations led to a media frenzy about sexual harassment, and further investigations. Televised hearings were re-opened and held by the Senate Judiciary Committee before the nomination was moved to the full, Democratic-controlled, Senate for a vote. Thomas was confirmed on a 52 to 48 vote. Yes, the Democrats, (led by Joe Biden) to do themselves, and us in, voted to confirmed Slappy,* anyone surprised by that?

A confidential FBI report, known by the Rethuglicans but hid from the Democrats by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, anyone having a deja vu out there. Christine Blasey Ford, a professor of Psychiatry at Palo Alto University and an affiliate at Stanford University, told the Washington Post Sunday that a young, drunk Brett Kavanaugh tried to rape her. He tore at "the bathing suit she was wearing under her clothes. When she tried to scream, he put his hand over her mouth. She was beset with claustrophobia and could not breathe." Of course, as soon as this was announced the Rethuglicans already had a list of some 66 women who testified that Bret was always a perfect gentleman. Proving that the Rethuglicans knew about this well in advance and gathered names and such for when it hit the fan. Much like the Patriot Act or as I called it, the Traitors Act which sprang up a few weeks after 911 with 342 pages of PNACs wish list, over turning 15 laws that protected our civil rights! To quote Kavanaugh from those days, "What happens at Georgetown Prep, stays at Georgetown Prep,' That's been a good thing for all of us, I think."

Apparently, you must be some sort of sexual pervert to become a Rethuglican. Whether you're playing footsie in the mens airport bathroom stalls, or wearing diapers for your mistress, or assaulting women if you want to be on the Extreme Court, or just grabbing strange women by the "pussy" to run for president. If you don't get out and vote on November 6th, to get these perverts out of office, and into prison, then America is finished!

* See Bartcop

In Other News

I wonder if Hurricane Florence changed any minds about global warming down in the Carolinas last week? True, out to sea she ws a category four but by the time she hit land she was barely a category one. Ergo she shouldn't have caused as much damage as she did. In fact, she shouldn't have even been a hurricane as this was the Atlantic's off year, all the action should have been in the Pacific.

Because of global warming ocean storms or land storms drawing from the ocean have gotten much worse as the rise in global temps allows the storms to draw more water into them and cause them to linger longer near shore, pumping up so much more water into the atmosphere! Which is what happened here and in last years Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

Here's the current damages, which is sure to go up!
At least 37 people have died in storm-related incidents -- 29 in North Carolina, 7 in South Carolina and 1 in Virginia

343,000 people are still without power in North Carolina.

As of 5 a.m. Tuesday, Florence was a post-tropical cyclone. It was located about 105 miles west-northwest of New York City with maximum sustained winds of 25 mph, the National Hurricane Center reported.

The Cape Fear River is set to crest at 62 feet Tuesday.

36 inches of rain has fallen over Elizabethtown, North Carolina, Other towns have seen roughly 30 inches since Thursday

Among the dead were Lesha Murphy Johnson, 41, and her 7-month-old son, who died when a tree fell on their house in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Two other children who were killed were Kaiden Lee-Welch, who officials say was was swept away in rushing waters from Richardson Creek in Union County, North Carolina, and Kade Gills, 3 months, who officials said died when a tree fell on a mobile home in Dallas, North Carolina.

There are currently at least 10,000 people in N.C. shelters.

First responders have reported rescuing and evacuating more than 2,200 people, Gov. Roy Cooper said in a news conference Tuesday.

On a happy note, half of the tobacco crops have been destroyed!
If you think that category one Florence was bad it's only a matter of time before a category 6 hits the whole Atlantic coast from Miami to Boston! Now might be a good time to sell off that beach front property and move the family into the mountains?

And Finally

Then there was Governor Moonbeam who has apparently had it up to here with The Donald. California being one of the main opponents to the Trump administration's policies on everything from land use to immigration. But there is perhaps no area where California has been more combative against the White House agenda than on the environment.

Brown said, "We never had a president who was engaged in this kind of behavior. I mean, he's not telling the truth; he keeps changing his mind; he's sabotaging the world order in many respects."

Brown added: "It's unprecedented, it's dangerous, and hopefully this election is going to send a strong message to the country; the Democrats will win... something's got to happen to this guy, because if we don't get rid of him, he's going to undermine America and even the world."

"It's really extraordinary that the president can deny science like that. It's bad, and how we counteract it is with a climate summit, with normal people respecting the truth, and communicating that with other normal people, and combating the President of the United States in what are lies, distortions, and quite frankly, bizarre behavior."

Well, I'm glad that Jerry sees it too, I thought I was the only one that thought tRump was a raving lunatic, I guess not! Maybe, there is hope for us all?

Keepin' On

Speaking of hope for us all, Dwayne from LA and Wanda from Chicago stood up and sent us two nice checks in the mail. Thanks to them we are a whole lot closer of paying off our bill for this year. A thousand dollars closer to be exact, which leaves us $1100.00 short of what we need for this year!

That bill comes due in about 7 weeks time so it's not hopeless yet, but it's up to you to keep us afloat though next June. I'm hoping those readers that like to see me squirm a bit before sending in their checks will cut us a break this year and get our fund raising finished for the year.

As it has been since 2004 when I ran out of money, we're totally dependent on our readership to keep us going in the fight to reclaim our republic from the 1%. If you think getting out the truth is important in this age of corporate news then please send us whatever you can, whenever you can, and we'll keep fighting the good fight for you, as we have since the Extreme Court's 12-12-2000 coup d'etat went down!


10-09-1960 ~ 09-13-2018
Thanks for the film!

04-08-1935 ~ 09-18-2018
Thanks for the opera!


We get by with a little help from our friends!
So please help us if you can-?

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

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


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

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2018 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

Richard Sammel plays Heinrich Muller, a Nazi official, in the French television series Un village francais.

Tangled In The Garden Of Good And Evil
A French television program tackles the tough questions of compliance and resistance.
By Norman Solomon

The most widely acclaimed TV series ever about the Nazi occupation of France is a relentless epic with little use for the familiar images of craven collaborators and selfless resisters. Un village français focuses on a fictional rural community that endures a tightening vise of German control for more than four years. The villagers live far away from black-and-white tropes. Even a ruthless Nazi official eludes the usual monochrome. The humans are all too human.

Un village averaged about 3.4 million French viewers during 72 episodes between 2009 and 2017. The dramatic series has also aired in upward of 40 countries, according to producers. Now gaining an audience in the United States via online platforms (under its English title A French Village), Un village is far afield from routine US media assumptions about bright lines between good and evil.

From the start of the series, when German troops suddenly arrive in mid-June 1940, the choices for locals are bad and keep getting worse. Un village is riddled with dilemmas that often go from painful to insoluble. The drama's creators aimed "to bring some shades of grey to the public memory of World War 2 in France," historian Marjolaine Boutet wrote; they had "the ambition to evoke an empathetic response from the audience towards every character" -while bypassing the timeworn formula of "collaborators as villains and Resistance fighters as heroes." Based on solid historical research, the poignant and often heartbreaking script comes alive with a superb ensemble cast in more than 20 major roles. The result is a dramatic tour de force that undermines Manichean views of the world.

After watching the 63 hours of Un village francais, I was eager to interview its head scriptwriter, Frederic Krivine. We met on a rainy Paris morning at a café not far from Place de la Republique. My first question: "How and why did you want to make a Nazi human?"

Krivine, who is Jewish, responded with a fleeting quip- "It's a good Jewish story" -and quickly turned serious. "A good show, especially a show to last for a while, needs to have characters who are really representative of the complexity of human nature," he said. "Otherwise, you mustn't use them." Nazis, he went on, "were human beings, with desires and problems," at the same time that "in another point of view, they were kind of monsters."

The main Nazi character in Un village is a powerful intelligence officer whose romantic charm and steely wit coexist with willingness to torture and execute if necessary to get the job done. I asked Krivine whether there was a message in the mixture.

"People who do horrible things are human beings," he said. "We have to find a way to talk about them without hiding what they do and without treating them as nonhuman people, nonhuman beings. They are human beings; like us they belong to, we are in, the same species, human species.... It's humans who kill now everywhere in the world where people are killed. It's because they are human beings that we have problems-because if they were just extraterrestrial or monsters we could just erase them."

Un village is an intricate counterpoint to Marcel Ophuls's landmark 1969 documentary The Sorrow and the Pity, which left many viewers with the broad-brush impression that occupied France was virtually a nation of collaborators, except for a few heroes. Krivine balks at such sweeping categories. In his script, some of the resisters are unable to resist their own egotism, opportunism, dogmatism, or lethally displaced rage. The purpose of the plot points is to engender not cynicism but realism.

Overall, Krivine commented, most people are apt to remain bystanders. In the case of wartime France, an overwhelming majority of the population were neither resisters nor collaborators and didn't do anything, "bad or good." (Meanwhile, many more French citizens cooperated with the occupiers than resisted them.) When I asked about human tendencies to go along with evils, Krivine replied that "it's a very complex matter," and then swiftly reframed my question this way: "Of what is made indifference, and what are the consequences of indifference?"

Krivine brought up two current examples. He pointed out that several million people have died of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa over the past decade-yet life-saving medicines exist and could be delivered for use in a far-reaching program. "But we don't do it." Krivine then spoke of how snipers in the Israeli military had recently been killing Palestinians along the Gaza border. Yet scant opposition came from the Israeli public.

When I remarked that such cases are forms of collaboration by the majority, Krivine demurred. "I don't feel it as collaboration," he said. "But it's not nothing." When I suggested the word "complicity," he differed again, and said: "People don't react when they don't have the horror in their eyes."

During the first year of the occupation, the tightening repression of Jews caused little critical response from the French public, he said. It was only when police began to separate Jewish parents and their children in 1942 that a widespread negative reaction from the population set in. German authorities took note and started to implement similar policies more discreetly; the public concern dissipated.

Near the close of Un village francais, two scenes notably bring the past into the present.

After barely eluding the dragnets of Vichy and German forces, Rita and Ezechiel escape to Palestine. But, contrary to boilerplate story lines, the Jewish couple doesn't get a happy ending in the Promised Land. On a desert road one day in 1948, they come under attack from Palestinians; when Rita expresses bafflement at the ambush, Ezechiel tells her that Jewish settlers have recently massacred Palestinian families in a village called Deir Yassin. More than one layer of tragedy hangs in the air.

The postwar trajectory of the central Nazi character-Heinrich Müller, the top SD (Sicherheitsdienst, or Security Service) intelligence official in the town-also goes against the familiar grain. As German forces retreat from advancing Allies in the late summer of 1944, Müller deserts with his French lover in an unsuccessful effort to reach Switzerland. Soon the American military captures Müller and discovers his identity. Later, when he resurfaces in the series, the year is 1960, the country is Paraguay, and-as a CIA operative-Muller is overseeing a torture session. The goal is to extract information from a woman who is part of a guerrilla insurgency against a fascistic regime being propped up by the US government.

With both narrative twists, so different than what we're apt to see in US mass entertainment, I asked Krivine: What's the big idea?

"The idea was," he said, "we need to show the long-distance consequences of an event like occupation. And it was interesting to show one guy in Paraguay in the sixties. And the Jews who escaped-it was so for Rita and Ezechiel a narrow escape, they were survivors, and then they're in another place, in another story. The idea was to say: there is no ending to that kind of story."

The next day, I crossed a bridge over the Seine and kept walking toward an appointment with the Nazi intelligence officer Heinrich Muller-or so it almost seemed, against all rational thought, because the chilling portrayal of that character in Un village francais demands the suspension of disbelief, willing or otherwise. As I hurried toward our rendezvous, there were moments when I couldn't help wondering whether Muller's icy fascist gaze might confront me at the little cafe where we were to meet.

Richard Sammel greeted me with a smile and a wave as he came through the door, carrying a motorcycle helmet in the other hand. I'd read that (like Krivine) he was born about 15 years after the end of the Second World War, that he speaks several languages fluently in addition to his native German, and that he has acted widely since the early 1990s. Concentrating on his big role in Un village for much of a decade must have absorbed a lot of psychological energy. I wondered what insights he might share after "being" a Nazi for so long.

Early in our conversation, I mentioned the assumption that there's nothing human about really bad people like Nazi officials.

"That's the biggest mistake you can make," Sammel said. Moments later he was citing Hannah Arendt's book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, "where you actually found out that Eichmann was a completely normal guy." High-ranking Nazi officers "were wonderful fathers and wonderful husbands and actually very tender," he added, "which would not fit at all with this common idea that they're all brutal sadists." Nazis were "normal people who turned into murder machines."

Soon Sammel brought up the famous experiment that Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram began in 1961 (the same year as Adolf Eichmann's trial for overseeing large-scale Nazi crimes against humanity). The professor found it easy to "make people torture other people, for the benefit of science. And they go until three times administrating a potential lethal electrical charge on another person, who is an actor who mimes the pain, but still-those people do not know it."

What about mass entertainment that, like so much nationalist rhetoric in the United States, thrives on depicting people as all good or all bad? "I guess in terms of catharsis, I get the Hollywood recipe," Sammel said. "It's complete crap. But it's an ideology that pumps us up. It will not help society grow."

"If we come to understand that people who are 'bad' have some good qualities," I said, "then maybe also we would be confronted that people who we know are 'us' and good might have some really bad qualities."

"Yeah, that's exactly it," he replied. "Isn't it like that in America? You are the only society in the world who have only good guys. How amazing for you. But then explain to me how come that you are the very nation who have the biggest rate of people imprisoned. Tell me about that-if you are so good, how come? You tell me. You are believing in shit. Excuse me, to say that."

He went on: "How come that you do not understand-I mean, it's not [only] you, it's even Europe-you bomb the Middle East 30 years and then you are kind of surprised that there is a refugee movement, people go out, or a terrorist movement even. Every fucking terrorist movement that was born in the Middle East was funded primarily in the beginning initially from us. They have our weapons because we gave them to them. So we play the fucking game and then it gets out of control. So the bad game is not started by them, it's started by us. And now we blame it on them."

Sammel grew up in West Germany, near Heidelberg. During childhood, he saw horrific footage from concentration camps. "I got to know all those documentaries the American soldiers filmed when they discovered the camps.... It traumatized me for the rest of my life. But I tell you what-you get your lesson.... Never ever again. That's how you learn from history."

An imperative is "understanding human behavior," Sammel said. "How the hell could that happen? And you will not understand how this has happened if you say, 'They're all bad, we killed them all, let's kill them all as quickly as possible, done, good job.' ... In a historical analysis, you have to go deep into society to find out where it started, how was the process of indoctrination, how a whole nation turned into believing an ideology completely disconnected from reality, and how this collective fury or enthusiasm could have happened-in order to prevent it."

The German official whom Sammel portrayed for eight years "took the ideology of the Nazis because it's the most powerful, the best way to make a career and a good living. And that's what he did. So, he's not a convinced Nazi, he's a convinced Darwinist." When his capture by the US military leads to a new career with US intelligence, "he's very happy that the Americans take him over. Very happy-perfect-safe."

The cafe was closing, so we found a quiet spot in a bar around the corner. "Know your biggest enemy most," Sammel said as we sat down. "All kind of caricature doesn't help you understand the other side."

He added: "Don't put the Nazis in a place where you think it has nothing to do with yourself. That's the biggest danger, historical danger, I think we can make."

"A historical series, like a historical book, speaks of the period that it talks about and also of the period it was made," Frederic Krivine told me. In the current era, his deeply nuanced scripting of Un village francais is at odds with countless tales of sheer goodness in the fight against evildoers-the kind of narratives that have retained huge power in spite of diminished credibility. Shaking off a propagandized worldview requires seeing not only what we abhor in others but also what others abhor in us-a sharp departure from outlooks that have dominated the US political culture. Facile accusations about the crimes of others beg the questions about our own. In such light, Un village francais can be viewed (with English subtitles) as particularly relevant for Americans, whose country-while never experiencing a successful invasion by a foreign power-has often occupied other lands.
(c) 2018 Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."

As The Biosphere Dies, So Do We
Using the Power of Nature to Heal the Planet
By Dahr Jamail

One only need look outside the window to understand that human-caused climate disruption is in overdrive.

Record warm temperatures, floods, droughts, wildfires and increasing incidents of extreme weather events have run rampant across the Northern Hemisphere this summer. These events, at least in part, stem from a global temperature increase of "only" 1 degree Celsius above preindustrial baseline temperatures.

MIT and Harvard-trained scientist Dr. Thomas Goreau, a climate and coral reef expert, put this in stark perspective.

"Today's carbon dioxide levels at 400 parts per million (ppm) [are] akin to bringing about a steady state temperature of 7 degrees C higher and sea levels 23 meters higher than they are today," Goreau, who is also president of the Global Coral Reef Alliance and coordinator of the Soil Carbon Alliance, told Truthout. In other words, the last time there was this much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it increased the Earth's temperature to a point 7 degrees C higher than it is today, and increased sea levels 23 meters above their current level. Hence, we are now only waiting for the planet to catch up to what we've done to the atmosphere.

More than three decades ago, Goreau and some of his colleagues were already pointing out that the only way runaway global warming could be avoided was by utilizing and expanding carbon sinks – a natural or artificial area where carbon is stored - as a way of sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Despite this not happening on the scale necessary to avert widespread impacts of runaway climate change, Goreau, along with many others, is as determined as ever to utilize various methods of "eco-restoration" to draw carbon out of the atmosphere.

These recommendations have gained more attention lately. A recent BBC headline stated, "Large-scale wind and solar power 'could green the Sahara.'" The article touts the possibility that if massive numbers of solar panels and wind turbines were installed across the Sahara Desert, they could dramatically improve the amount of rainfall, lower temperatures and increase vegetation.

Goreau is not alone in his idea of large-scale projects that could lead to this sort of mitigation. Adam Sacks is the executive director of Biodiversity for a Livable Climate (Bio4Climate), an organization working to promote eco-restoration approaches. These include the reintroduction of abundant growth to billions of acres of land that has been severely degraded or turned into desert as a result of human mismanagement.

"Clearly, there are many steps along the way, and a primary one is to shift the climate narrative from one focused almost exclusively on alternative energy and reducing fossil fuel emissions to one that's at least half about restoring global biodiversity and pulling carbon out of the atmosphere into the soils through photosynthesis," Sacks told Truthout.

His approach is to focus on the extraordinary power of nature as a means of healing what ails the planet.

"Since the first microbes appeared over 3.5 billion years ago and began inventing all the biochemistry of life, living things have crafted planet Earth out of dead rock, water and gas," Sacks said. "We have destroyed much of that life as our world population grew, and while humans are very clever about expanding carrying capacity, we have overdrawn our resource account and our talents have finally reached their limits. This has happened in many ways, but global warming is the culmination of millennia of hyper-technology."

Sacks reminds us that if the biosphere itself is ill, so are humans, as we are simply one of its creatures.

"As the biosphere dies, so do we," he added. "Fortunately there are thousands if not millions of people pulling in that direction on millions of acres. We need to multiply that a thousandfold to successfully address climate change."

"We Already Know How to Do This"

Sacks feels that every country on Earth has grossly underestimated the severity, extent and rapidity of the impacts of climate disruption, and has been dismayed by how, as he sees it, "The full implications are only appreciated when the damage has been done and all that's left is to watch as destruction and death have their way."

This is why he founded Bio4Climate, as an attempt to avert these outcomes for millions of species, including humans.

For Goreau, who collaborates with Bio4Climate, this work is nothing new. He has been writing scientific papers on recycling carbon dioxide through the tropical biota to prevent runaway global warming for nearly 35 years. He made the first measurements of greenhouse gas emissions from deforested Amazonian soils and virgin jungles, and wrote the very first short paper on the subject.

Goreau's 1987 paper even argued for a carbon tax, although at the time, he called it an "energy-growth" tax which would transfer income from fuel burners to environmentally sound tropical development.

Through books, talks and papers, Goreau has long been suggesting methods to the general public, as well as interested governments, for implementing the concept of regenerating carbon in soils and biomass while simultaneously pulling it out of the atmosphere.

"The idea is scientifically sound and has occurred independently to many people ... as people try to think about solving climate change seriously," Goreau said, though he noted that not many people seem to be familiar with the history of the concept of eco-restoration.

Last year, Goreau presented a paper at the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization Global Symposium on Soil Organic Carbon that investigated how long it would take to stabilize atmospheric carbon dioxide at safe preindustrial levels by way of drawing carbon into soils.

"Stabilization could be achieved in decades only if we used the best existing carbon-farming practices, but never if we keep on doing what we are doing now," Goreau said. "Thousands of farmers are out there doing the right thing and regenerating their soils, but the millions out there who are just running their soils down and amplifying the problem need to improve their act quickly for there to be any solution at all."

Sacks is also realistic about what it would take. NASA climate scientist James Hansen sounded the alarm about anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) to Congress in 1988, and despite the ongoing efforts of tireless advocates, atmospheric greenhouse gas burdens have worsened almost every year, due in large part to burning fossil fuels.

"It should have been clear from the beginning that, even with effective sources of alternative energy, a global infrastructure would take a long time to reconstruct," Sacks said.

But how feasible are projects like greening the Sahara? This one, in particular, would require nearly 3.5 million square miles of solar panels and wind turbines to produce the necessary change. What government on the planet is currently willing to invest in this scale of a project - even if we acknowledge that these kinds of projects may well be the last hope for mitigating some of the dramatically increasing impacts of runaway ACD?

Sacks readily admits that, on our current path, "there is no emissions scenario that can or will scale this large enough to truly mitigate the worsening impacts from human-caused climate disruption."

"Even if we go to zero [emissions] tomorrow, the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and their committed effects are consigning us to a future that will make life for humans extremely difficult or impossible," he said.

John Liu is the ecosystems ambassador for the Commonland Foundation, a group working towards the realization of large-scale landscape restoration with local farmers and land users. He is also a groundbreaking filmmaker who focuses on documenting ecological restoration around the planet.

Liu told Truthout he is "excited and hopeful" about the large amount of energy and interest in large-scale ecosystem restoration that he says is "exploding all over the world."

In addition to the work of the Commonland Foundation, Liu, who is also a visiting research fellow at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology of the Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences, points to Ecosystem Restoration Camps Foundation (a group working to restore ecosystem functionality), which he sees as proof that people anywhere can self-organize and self-govern in a way that is restorative of the Earth.

While Liu acknowledges that our current situation is "fraught with danger," he added that he believes "we are entering a new era of human civilization in which we are required to collectively understand that we all have a responsibility to act to restore the systems that naturally regulate the Earth's life-support systems."

Liu said his greatest hope is in the Earth's resilience, and pointed out that it is not the planet that is most at risk, but human civilization.

While most people point towards the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as the primary issue that needs addressing, Liu sees this carbon disequilibrium in the atmosphere as an "indicator."

"What I have learned is that we cannot simply consider carbon in the atmosphere and believe that sucking it down will solve our problems," he said. "Even in terms of human impact on the greenhouse effect, carbon dioxide is not the greatest anthropogenic cause. Most people are unaware that moisture-laden air in the upper atmosphere caused by temperature increases from devegetation is a greater anthropogenic contributor to the greenhouse effect than carbon dioxide."

Like Liu, Sacks and Goreau both believe it is possible to mitigate the worsening impacts.

"Nature can do the recovery if we help by putting the necessary pieces into place," Sacks said. "Just as absent beavers or wolves in a formerly intact habitat can completely transform the ecosystem within a few years, humans are also a keystone species, and can help nature recover orders of magnitude faster than nature would recover on its own."

Sacks's organizational compendium shows, as he put it, how "we already know how to do this in virtually all habitats between the poles." He describes the methods as inexpensive and low-tech, and believes they increase productivity significantly, improve local economies and self-sufficiency, restore local water cycles, mitigate droughts and floods, and reduce resource conflicts.

"The challenge is that we would have to move this effort to a global war footing immediately," he said. "The 'windows of opportunity' to act on global warming have been opening and closing and opening again (and closing again) over the past 30 years, and those squandered opportunities are just about dried up."

There is no way to seriously mitigate the impacts of runaway climate disruption without drawing vast amounts of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and Sacks and Goreau are convinced that the fastest way to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is via the biological sink.

"We've destroyed half the biomass in the world and turned it into carbon dioxide, and we've lost about half the carbon in the soil by burning it off," Goreau said. "But if we were doing what the best people are doing here, we could solve the problem in a manner of decades."

Given that there is five times the amount of carbon in soils as there is in the atmosphere, Goreau believes it is possible to sequester an immense amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide back into the Earth via natural processes like increasing nutrients in soils, as well as restoring wetlands and mangroves on a mass scale.

"From my point of view, we've got to be restoring carbon in all habitats and ecosystems," he said.

Both Sacks and Goreau feel a lot of the responsibility lies with farmers and those who manage pastures, who should be regenerating the areas where they work, as opposed to industrial agriculture which, as Goreau puts it, "runs land dry of carbon." Of course, this would entail governments supporting farmers - financially and otherwise - in working towards this way of operating.

"When you look at how effective the good farmers are at sequestering carbon, it is well within our reach to sequester enough carbon dioxide, and if there were carbon credits so they were rewarded, it would happen," he said.

What to Do?

It's not only farmers who are capable of acting on eco-restoration. What steps can each of us take?

"The most important is to change the mindset from ongoing growth to reducing resource exploitation and steady-state, regenerative land management and economics," Goreau said.

For starters, he suggests that people with homes can transform their lawns into native plant and food forests, and everyone should begin to work within their communities towards urban or suburban farming. Sacks also promotes the movement to depave (roads and parking lots, for example). Depavement removes unnecessary impermeable surfaces and replaces them with green, growing things wherever possible. Additionally, Sacks points to forest regeneration efforts, and suggests that those who are interested in exploring more options should visit the Regeneration International website.

Liu admits that the question of what to do is challenging "even to discuss," and that "it isn't very helpful to suggest small measures that are unlikely to really change the situation."

Still, on a personal level, he tries to slow down and consider his motivations and intentions. He says that the dominant culture's media and education system have instilled ambitions for him - and most of us - "to rush around, to buy and sell things, to desire the 'conveniences' that I thought I 'needed,' to meet the expectations of society that have been conditioned into me through socialization."

Liu believes each of us needs to be mindful and question the forces that drive our pursuits.

"Is our worldview something that is truth, or does it emerge from the past through norms created by those who practiced genocide, slavery, greed, power, brutality?" he asks.

Liu points out that shifting consciousness must occur alongside efforts towards biospheric restoration.

"There is [an] enormous disparity between the wealthy and the poor. There is also a growing sense of hopelessness that manifests in depression, suicide, nihilistic acts like mass shootings and great unhappiness," he said. "The types of social dysfunction that we are witnessing are similar to witnessing ecosystem dysfunction in various biomes. A logical conclusion could be that our human social ecosystem is degraded."

Goreau, meanwhile, is working on coral reef restoration "because we've already lost most of them to global warming."

He has been warning of coral bleaching from overly warm ocean waters since the 1980s, and believes the tipping point for coral bleaching already occurred during that decade. He reminds us that our current global climate crisis is already "much more dire than most people realize."

His projects entail the use of very low electric currents to stimulate coral growth, by way of steel grids erected underwater onto which then limestone rock grows, hence the building of reefs. He has found that in this way, coral can be kept alive at warmer temperatures as well, but added, "This is only a temporary measure to buy us some time until we can get more carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere."

Goreau is currently aiming to revive 400 reefs around the world, and admits this is but a fraction of what needs to happen.

"Death Is a Natural Part of Life"

Goreau reminds us that all of these projects are taking place against the backdrop of runaway ACD. The reality, he says, is even more devastating than most mainstream predictions show.

"This is far worse than the IPCC's [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] worst-case scenarios," he said. Goreau noted that even the IPCC's worst-case scenarios are "so minimal" because it takes the oceans 1,500 years to mix and turn themselves over. This is relevant, he said, because oceans "are storing 95 percent of the heat we've generated."

Hence, until the cold water of the depths mixes with the warmer surface water, "We're still not feeling the full impact of the heat we've placed in the oceans."

This means that we will not feel the full impact for another 1,500 years - yet, as Goreau pointed out, the IPCC ignores this "because they are only looking 100 years ahead, which is 1/15th of the time it takes for the oceans to mix. They are simply looking at the wrong time horizon."

As we reflect on how conditions have gotten to this point, Liu also reminds us how "death is a natural part of life," given that the dominant culture ignores this reality, with dangerous consequences.

In his view, this denial of death "has inflated our opinion of ourselves and limited our understanding and happiness. It can be hard to accept, but death is inevitable and being aware of it is very useful."

From his perspective, it is important to remember this not just as humans, but to do so for all of life.

This is all the more reason to focus on eco-restoration - and relatedly, Liu says, on the importance of the natural world more broadly.

"We need to look carefully and compare our creations to the eternally evolving life systems on the Earth and realize that everything we have ever made and everything that we will ever make combined is worth less that the fragile atmosphere that was respirated by living things over prodigious time," he said.

In order to undertake eco-restoration on the scale that would be necessary to mitigate the impacts of ACD, those in power in countries around the world would have to immediately prioritize that "fragile atmosphere" above all else.
(c) 2018 Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last 10 years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.

Papa Bernie Got A (Not So) Brand New Foreign Policy Bag
By Glenn Ford

Bernie Sanders obscures the facts of U.S. militarism, and urges Americans to fixate on axis of evil oligarch-ruled countries that does not include the home of the richest oligarchs of all: the United States.

Back in 2017 I called Bernie Sanders an imperialist pig -- twice, first in "Why Bernie Sanders is an Imperialist Pig," (June 15, 2017), and again, three months later, in "Bernie Sanders Can't Shake His Imperial Piggishness" (September 28, 2017). Like most self-described "democratic" socialists in the U.S., Sanders conflates and confuses the bourgeois electoral franchise with actual democracy -- the people's ability to guide the political economy in ways that serve the common good -- in order to create a "moral" rationale for siding with U.S. imperialism. But the United States is a "democracy" only in the narrow sense that citizens have the theoretical right to vote for a range of officeholders -- a franchise that almost half of Americans find effectively meaningless, which is why only 56 percent turned out for the presidential contest in 2016 (congressional elections draw less than 40 percent, on average). As professors Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page showed in their 2014 study, the U.S. is an oligarchy in which business interests almost always get their way "while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence" -- a dictatorship of the moneyed classes.

This oligarch-ruled superpower is also, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. declared in 1967, "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today," having slaughtered millions in its quest for supremacy over the entire planet. Washington's closest allies in this global mission are the western European former colonial powers and Britain's (other) former white settler colonies, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Thus, the foreign policy of the U.S. superpower, ruled by white billionaires, is aimed at preserving the white supremacist global order that held most of the world in its exterminationist, enslaving grip for 500 years.

No wonder Bernie Sanders and so many other purported "progressives" in the U.S. try to avoid articulating any foreign policy position, whatsoever. As Bruce Dixon reported in last week's issue of BAR, "Two Thirds of 'Progressive' Democratic Congressional Candidates [are] Completely Silent on Foreign Policy." Sanders supporters on Bronx congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's campaign team thought it best to (briefly) ditch her "Peace Economy" plank, which denounced U.S. military interventions in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia. U.S. war policy, says Ocasio-Cortez:

"damages America's legitimacy as a force for good, creates new generations of potential terrorists, and erodes American prosperity. In times when we're told that there's not enough money, Republicans and corporate Democrats seem to find the cash to fund a $1.1 trillion fighter jet program or a $1.7 trillion-dollar nuclear weapon ‘modernization' program. The costs are extreme: the Pentagon's budget for 2018 is $700 billion dollars, all to continue fighting an endless War on Terror and re-fighting the Cold War with a new arms race that nobody can win."

Although not a Communist Manifesto, words like that put Papa Bernie, a supporter of the F-35 fighter jet boondoggle, to shame. Sanders gathered a large quantity (1,369) of high-sounding words and arranged them in essay form for a September 14 piece in The Guardian, titled "A New Authoritarian Axis Demands an International Progressive Front."

A true-blue American foreign policy requires an enemies list. Sanders has found his nemeses: the "authoritarian axis,whose members share key attributes: hostility toward democratic norms, antagonism toward a free press, intolerance toward ethnic and religious minorities, and a belief that government should benefit their own selfish financial interests. These leaders are also deeply connected to a network of multi-billionaire oligarchs who see the world as their economic plaything."

The United States government, as the plaything of 12 of the 15 richest men in the world, should be at the top of Bernie Sanders list. But no, only Donald Trump qualifies as a world-class villain, in league with similar baddies, according to Sanders' worldview. Although Trump is only a very minor oligarch, himself, "in Europe, in Russia, in the Middle East, in Asia and elsewhere we are seeing movements led by demagogues who exploit people's fears, prejudices and grievances to achieve and hold on to power."

The geopolitical center of this "axis" of oligarchic evil isn't Wall Street or the City of London -- it's Russia and China, with lesser annexes in Saudi Arabia and "far-right authoritarian leader" Viktor Orbán's Hungary. But, China and Russia are the most dangerous malefactors. "In Russia," writes Sanders, "it is impossible to tell where the decisions of government end and the interests of Vladimir Putin and his circle of oligarchs begin. They operate as one unit." China is similarly satanic. "Xi Jinping has steadily consolidated power, clamping down on domestic political freedom while it aggressively promotes a version of authoritarian capitalism abroad."

One good thing: Sanders throws Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into the mix of Trumpian bad actors, for passing the racist "nation state law."

Sanders wants the U.S. to mend relations with "our longtime democratic allies," the western Europeans. Having established the enemy axis, Sanders then returns to his usual, "progressive populist" spiel, full of worthy words like:

"Our job is to fight for a future in which new technology and innovation works to benefit all people, not just a few. It is not acceptable that the top 1% of the world's population owns half the planet's wealth, while the bottom 70% of the working age population accounts for just 2.7% of global wealth.

But, doesn't the U.S. host the richest concentration of super-oligarchs on the planet? And, didn't the World Bank credit China with lifting 800 million people out of poverty since 1990? And, isn't it widely acknowledged that Vladimir Putin has at least tamed and restrained the oligarch class that was nurtured by U.S bankers under President Bill Clinton?

Sanders says it is "not acceptable that, with the cold war long behind us, countries around the world spend over $1trillion a year on weapons of destruction, while millions of children die of easily treatable diseases."

Wait a minute! Sanders blames "countries around the world" for spending "over $1 trillion a year on weapons of destruction." In fact, the US and its NATO partners, all by themselves, spend about $1 trillion a year on the military, representing about 70 percent of all military expenditures, worldwide. Sanders is deliberately attempting to obscure the central fact that the U.S. and its allies account for most of the world's military spending. Instead, he blames it on the global collective, and then cries crocodile tears for "the children." What a coward.

Does Sanders advocate, as does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, that the U.S. "end the ‘forever war' by bringing our troops home, and ending the air strikes that perpetuate the cycle of terrorism throughout the world?" No, he obfuscates the facts of U.S. militarism, and urges Americans to fixate on an axis of evil oligarch-ruled countries that does not include the home of the richest oligarchs of all: the United States.

Bernie Sanders' "New Authoritarian Axis" winds up demonizing the same main enemies -- Russia and China – that the warmongers at the Pentagon and the CIA want Americans to fear and hate. He does not oppose U.S. imperialism; he merely provides another, supposedly "progressive" rationale for preserving U.S. empire. Effectively, he is no different than Obama and Bush. His favored alliance is with the old colonial powers of western Europe and America's fellow white settler states -- just like over every racist, imperialist U.S. politician.

Sanders shares the same dream of empire as the rest of the Democrats and Republicans -- except that he soils the language of social democracy by putting it at the service of imperialism. Is he a fraud? Who knows? But he is a fool if he thinks that "a genuinely progressive global order based on human solidarity, an order that recognizes that every person on this planet shares a common humanity, that we all want our children to grow up healthy, to have a good education, have decent jobs, drink clean water, breathe clean air and live in peace" can coexist with military budgets like the one supported by 70 percent of the Democrats. Sanders' "New Authoritarian Axis" seeks to give "progressives" a reason to accept, and even love, U.S. militarism and imperialism.

Nonetheless, I hope Sanders does fantastically in the 2020 primaries, trounces the corporate Democrats Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, and forces the Party's overseers to once again sabotage his campaign. Sanders will never leave the Party, but perhaps a critical mass of his followers will exit that putrid capitalist pigsty in search of real socialist, and truly democratic, solutions to humanity's multiple crises.
(c) 2018 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

I just wanted to share my horror at the ordeal that the teenaged Professor Blasey was put through and
at the further gauntlet she must now run through the berating bully boys of the latently fascist, patriarchal Right.

Kavanaugh: Dr. Christine Blasey Seeks To Forestall A Trauma To The Nation That Was Inflicted On Her
I just wanted to share my horror at the ordeal that the teenaged Professor Blasey was put through and at the further gauntlet she must now run through the berating bully boys of the latently fascist, patriarchal Right
By Juan Cole

Christine Blasey Ford, a professor of Psychiatry at Palo Alto University and an affiliate at Stanford University, gave a harrowing interview in the Washington Post Sunday accusing a young, drunk Brett Kavanaugh of having attempted to rape her. He tore, she alleges, at the bathing suit she was wearing under her clothes. When she tried to scream, he put his hand over her mouth. She was beset with claustrophobia and could not breathe. He was drunk, out of control. Would he kill her without meaning to? You can relive her panic, her terror, her trauma in her words. And you wonder what it did to her, ever after.

Kavanaugh denies the charges. If he was blind drunk, you have to wonder whether he genuinely does not remember what he did. Although I believe Blasey, I should acknowledge that we only have an allegation against Kavanaugh, and no proof so far.

She writes under Blasey, so that is what I will call her. Blasey has a great deal of credibility. She told her therapist about the incident in 2012, as well as her husband, and named Kavanaugh to the latter. She has passed a polygraph test. She is being vilified by the right wing noise machine, of course, and says she came forward so late in the game because she just didn't want the extreme hassle of playing this role- but was persuaded by the imminence of the Republican GOP's anointment of him this coming Thursday (which may still happen).

I have no idea whether her accusation will derail the Kavanaugh nomination, though certainly the Republicans will put him through if they possibly can, because they know he will help destroy what is left of workers' unions, will protect Capital from all challenges of social justice, will uphold the stupid precept that money is speech (and so only the rich really have the right to speak and shape politics), and will make the Evangelical and conservative Catholic wings of the GOP happy by finally overturning Roe v. Wade and returning us to the Coathanger Epoch, in which tens of thousands of women died annually from botched abortions.

I just wanted to share my horror at the ordeal that the teenaged Professor Blasey was put through and at the further gauntlet she must now run through the berating bully boys of the latently fascist, patriarchal Right.

And, I wanted to reveal that I looked for some of her articles on psychiatry, and found one, the abstract of which brought tears to my eyes in light of her Sunday op-ed.

The article is Bruce Arno, Christine Blasey, Enid Hunkeler, Janell Lee and Chris Hayward, "Does Gender Moderate the Relationship Between Childhood Maltreatment and Adult Depression?" Child Maltreatment (8/2011), 175-183.

The article looks at trauma in children, including "emotional, physical and sexual abuse," and the way it leads to depression (Major Depressive Disorder or MDD). And the question here was whether boys and girls process all this differently, or there is a difference between the sexes with regard to how likely they are to fall victim to major depression as a result of being abused.

The article was published in 2011, just a year before she told her therapist about the Kavanaugh rape attempt. I don't want to pry, but it seems to me pretty obvious that her interest in the subject of this article is autobiographical. She says she determined to brush off the attempted assault, but it clearly left a deep mark.

This is the abstract:

"Although considerable evidence demonstrates that adults who report childhood maltreatment are at increased risk of depression in adulthood, little is known about whether gender moderates risk. In a sample of 5,673 adult Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) patients, the authors employed the Patient Health Questionnaire-8 (PHQ-8) to assess major depressive disorder (MDD) and the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) to assess five different types of childhood maltreatment: emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, as well as emotional and physical neglect. Logistic regression models tested the main and interactive effects of gender and childhood maltreatment. Consistent with previous studies, men and women with histories of each type of childhood adversity were significantly more likely to meet criteria for MDD. However, the authors found no evidence that gender moderates the risk of depression. These findings suggest that men and women reporting history of childhood maltreatment are equally likely to suffer major depression in adulthood."
As a psychiatrist, Professor Blasey has shown a special interest in ways of treating depression. And she is interested in helping veterans get over Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, which she and her co-authors define as "intrusive thoughts, hyperarousal, avoidance, and negative mood and thoughts, in response to an experienced or directly or indirectly observed traumatic event."

Her most recent co-authored piece argues that Yoga may be a superior therapy for veterans suffering from PTSD, finding in a small uncontrolled sample that it reduced PTSD symptoms but did not appear to affect perceived stress. The abstract says:

"Self-reported PTSD symptoms significantly reduced while perceived stress did not. Lower baseline set-shifting predicted greater improvements in PTSD between baseline and 4 weeks; early improvements in set-shifting predicted overall reduction in PTSD. Greater psychological flexibility was associated with lower PTSD and perceived stress; more yoga practice, before and during the study, was associated with greater psychological flexibility. Other predictors were not supported."
[-"Psychological Flexibility and Set-Shifting Among Veterans Participating in a Yoga Program: A Pilot Study" by Timothy Avery, PsyD Christine Blasey, PhD Craig Rosen, PhD Peter Bayley, PhD, Military Medicine (26 March 2018) ]

So this great and selfless woman has dedicated her life to helping people (including veterans) who have been abused and traumatized to deal with the resulting symptoms. She took her own horrible experience with spoiled DC elite males and turned it into lemonade for others. And now, at immense personal cost, she has stepped forward to attempt to save us all from a severe trauma.

If the GOP shoehorns Kavanaugh in (even though we are on the cusp of an election and they sidelined Merrick Garland on exactly these grounds) then all Americans will be raped by the elitist political philosophy of Kavanaugh, and half of Americans will lose autonomy over their own bodies to a Federal government in thrall to a religious minority (Evangelicals are now only about 17% of Americans, and anti-abortion Catholics are maybe 12%). Workers will lose the few rights they have left. The US will revert completely to the Robber Baron age of the late nineteenth century, and America will be about as favorable to women's rights as Mauritania, the Philippines and Honduras.

So apparently we all need to take up yoga.
(c) 2018 Juan R.I. Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia and has given numerous media interviews on the war on terrorism and the Iraq War. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years and continues to travel widely there. He speaks Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.

How Many Tweety Birds Does It Take To Tweet The Truth?
By Jim Hightower

In CorporateWorld, when trouble pops up and things get sticky, CEOs don't wring their hands and try to dodge the issue. No-sir-ee, the chief gets paid the big bucks to step forward confidently and seize control... by ringing up the company's PR consultants and having them try to dodge the issue.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon Inc.'s boss, is an expert at this. The uber-rich online marketing colossus has been hit with a long string of exposes about the corporation's nasty practices. From profiteering as a flagrant tax dodger and predatory killer of independent, local businesses to running a massive network of publicly-subsidized warehouses with sweatshop labor, Amazon's carefully-crafted image as a "cool" company is... well, getting fried in negative headlines and online chatter.

Known for thinking outside the cage), has hired a flock of tweety birds to counter the negativity. They are former warehouse workers who now tweet full-time about how absolutely wonderful those warehouse jobs are. The tweeters tell us that air circulation in the warehouses is "very good;" in a 10-hour shift, they assure us, lucky workers get not one, but two 30-minute breaks; and they're even allowed bathroom breaks (within reason, of course).

Jeff has given his Twitter testifiers the title of Amazon "ambassadors," and each of their Twitter accounts is branded to look alike, topped with the corporation's happy smile logo. It's claimed that the tweeters are not scripted or told what to write - but you can bet every tweet is monitored by corporate supervisors. And note that Amazon won't let reporters interview any of them.

As Sen. Bernie Sanders said of this PR gimmick: "If Amazon actually paid all its workers a living wage and treated them with dignity, they would not have to pay dozens of people to tweet all day."
(c) 2018 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

Donald Trump hears questions from reporters following the release of a memo on the FBI's role in the Russia inquiry in February 2018.

Donald Trump Is Actively Obstructing Justice
Nixon faced impeachment for "interfering or endeavoring to interfere with the conduct of investigations." That is what Trump is now doing.
By John Nichols

Interfering in an ongoing federal investigation with the purpose of subverting the inquiry represents a classic case of obstruction of justice.

When the president of the United States engages in such meddling, his wrongdoing affronts the separation of powers and the system of checks and balances that was developed by the founders of the American experiment in order guard against any American repetition of what they had so recently revolted against: "the exercise of the Kingly Office" in a manner that could "pervert the same into a detestable and insupportable Tyranny."

The essential response to such abuse is impeachment. It is the answer to the questions that George Mason posed in this regard to the Constitutional Convention on July 20, 1787: "No point is of more importance than that the right of impeachment should be continued. Shall any man be above Justice? Above all shall that man be above it, who can commit the most extensive injustice?"

This all matters today because Donald Trump has just meddled in on ongoing investigation-seeking to force the declassification of documents and text messages that are relevant to the inquiry into Russian influence on his campaign and his presidency. The president has ordered the Justice Department and Office of the Director of National Intelligence to begin the "immediate declassification" of key sections of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act application for Carter Page, who once served as a foreign policy aide to Trump. The president has also ordered the declassification of "all FBI reports of interviews prepared in connection with all Carter Page FISA applications" and "directed the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to publicly release all text messages relating to the Russia investigation, without redaction, of (former FBI director) James Comey, (former acting director of the FBI) Andrew McCabe, (former chief of the FBI's Counterespionage Section) Peter Strzok, (former FBI lawyer) Lisa Page, and (former Associate Deputy Attorney general and former director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force) Bruce Ohr."

Former Acting Director of Central Intelligence John McLaughlin describes Trump's unprecedented interference as "wrong on so many levels for Justice, law-enforcement, intelligence," and argues that: "This probably qualifies as the President's most serious assault on the Justice system yet."

McLaughlin is right that Trump's intervention is is profoundly problematic for law enforcement and national security. Virginia Senator Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, explains that: "The President shouldn't be declassifying documents in order to undermine an investigation into his campaign or pursue vendettas against political enemies. He especially shouldn't be releasing documents with the potential to reveal intelligence sources." Even though the information that is released may ultimately harm Trump, Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe wisely notes that: "Declassifying FISA documents while the investigation of which they're a part is ongoing is an especially grave species of obstruction of justice - an obstruction that endangers intelligence methods and sources, risks lives, and hurts national security."

Along with the practical issues, Trump's wrongdoing raises profound constitutional concerns.

"President Trump, in a clear abuse of power, has decided to intervene in a pending law enforcement investigation by ordering the selective release of materials he believes are helpful to his defense team and thinks will advance a false narrative," says California Congressman Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. "With respect to some of these materials, I have been previously informed by the FBI and Justice Department that they would consider their release a red line that must not be crossed as they may compromise sources and methods," Schiff added. "This is evidently of no consequence to a President who cares about nothing about the country and everything about his narrow self-interest."

California Congressman Eric Shalwell, a member of the Intelligence and Judiciary committees, was appropriately blunt. Calling the president "lawless... absolutely lawless," Shalwell pointed out that: "[Trump] is the subject of an investigation. Using his power to selectively release classified information is an abuse of power. His days of unchecked abuse are numbered. Tick tock. We will just mark this as another exhibit."

That exhibit should support an article of impeachment like the first article that targeted President Nixon in 1974. Approved by the House Judiciary Committee on bipartisan 27-11 vote, the article declared that: "In his conduct of the office of President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has prevented, obstructed, and impeded the administration of justice..."

In particular, the committee argued that Nixon must be impeached "for interfering or endeavoring to interfere with the conduct of investigations by the Department of Justice of the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the office of Watergate Special Prosecution Force, and Congressional Committees."

This is the type of interference in which Trump is now engaging.

In Nixon's time, Republicans joined Democrats in moving to hold a Republican president to account for obstruction of justice. These are different times. But there can be no excuses for members of Congress, no matter what their partisanship, who fail to recognize that the impeachment power exists to address precisely so lawless a presidency as that of Donald Trump.
(c) 2018 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

The Brainwashing Of The Masses
By James Donahue

Author and video producer Steven Jacobson said: "Television is the most powerful weapon of psychological warfare in history. The programming that we are constantly assaulted by throughout our lives conditions us. It programs us to a particular worldview. Now, we may consider it normal because we were born into this system of lies and deception. And because we were born into this situation and our parents were born into it and have suffered from it, we don't know any better."

Jacobson maintains a website called Mind Control In America. On its opening page he declares: "All the problems in America are the result of people being led to believe things that are not true."

Unfortunately, Jacobson appears to be correct in his claims. While not all television programming is found to be filled with malicious misinformation, most of the news content is either slanted in favor of an ideology, or certain important information is conveniently omitted. Certain high profile stories may dominate the news while crucial information we should be told about is either avoided or given casual attention.

During my college years I took a journalism class that addressed the problem of biased reporting, how to recognize it, and how to write balanced news stories that allowed the reader to decide what to believe. Every controversial issue has two sides. A man accused of wrongdoing may be either guilty or innocent. The politician seeking public office may have ideas that a majority of voters like or dislike. A nation's decision to go to war may be justified, or not. It is the job of the media to carefully present all of the available information but to remain on neutral ground while doing so.

That class, and the excellent number of great newspaper editors I worked under during my younger years, helped cement an understanding of fair and balanced reporting. That phrase, "fair and balanced" has been misused by Fox News, perhaps the most slanted of the so-called television information outlets to win the trust of the brainwashed masses. Little about the information and opinions flowing from the lips of the talking heads on that network is either fair or balanced.

As part of our studies for that journalism class, we were required to read a book by Vance Packard titled "The Hidden Persuaders." Even then, when this book was published in 1957, there were subtle forms of propaganda being used to trick us into buying certain products or believing certain political ideals. While television was still in its infancy at that time, the trickery was everywhere. They even went so far as to weave sensual images in what appeared to be wholesome promotional pictures and drawings. Remember the Camel cigarette's mascot Joe Camel? He was a cartoon image of the male genitals with a face.

Walter Glenn Moore, in a commentary The Battle For Your Mind, wrote: "The most dangerous form of mind control is subtle and it is coming from the technology which has been freely given to us on a silver platter - television, movies, internet and music. Drugs, sports, amusement parks and entertainment could also be viewed as subtle mind altering experiments which tend to change our mental focus from reality to fantasy, producing a trance-like state of life which is similar to that of one who has been hypnotized."

Moore wonders why they call television entertainment "programming." He believes it is designed to do exactly that . . . program our society to behave, dress, and respond in the way certain power figures wish.

The political battles that go on every two years among candidates for high office exposes the very worst in twisted thinking in what has become a highly financed propaganda machine. Because of the Supreme Court's Citizen's United decision declaring corporations qualified to finance campaigns, candidates find themselves flooded with billions of dollars for insane advertising blitzs that literaly flood out thoughts. The lies, half-truths and hate messages dominate our television screens, our radio programs and printed publications. It floods our computer screens. Small wonder that the public is confused, angry and ready to strike when they get an opportunity to go to the polls. But how can a vote cast in either direction repair the situation they are in?

Writer David Icke declared: "Most of humanity is in an absolute hypnotic trance that they're put in from cradle to grave by constant repetition of a fake reality."" Then Icke adds a strange line: "And when we wake up from this we will not be subservient."

When he wrote those words Icke was obviously referring to the promise of a global awakening that appears to already be happening. There is a clear sign, especially among the youth, that the massive propaganda machine is no longer keeping all of the slaves in check.

CNN's Jack Cafferty used to put out a question for television watchers every weekday afternoon that portrayed an interesting cross-section of the way Americans were thinking. Viewers were given an hour to e-mail or twitter answers to a political question then Cafferty read four or five of them at the end of the hour. While the host attempts to present balanced commentary from both sides of the issue, a visit to Cafferty's website allowed us to read all of the answers. It was promising to note that a majority of responders clearly appeared to be awake and fully aware of the twisted rhetoric being pumped into their heads.

That people have begun taking to the streets in protest to the oppressive governments they have been forced to live under is another important sign that change is in the air. The Arab Spring, the Occupy Movement, the Libyan and Syrian revolutions are the ones that have made the news. But there are others occurring, many in unreported and unseen corners of the world.

Since the Trump phenomen dumped the concept of fake news into the mix, it is difficult to get a full perspective of the current thinking of the masses. People now wonder if political elections aren't "rigged" and if their votes are being counted.

It has been said that the best way to tear ourselves away from the brainwashing effects of the mass propaganda machine is to first be aware of it, and then be selective in the television, film, radio and music programming we choose for personal entertainment. There are some excellent programs, documentaries and videos that can be streamed into home television sets via the Internet that allow us to skip all of the political junk that now floods the airways. Select with care and keep an open mind.
(c) 2018 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

Ted Cruz Might Lose, And Other Giddy Tidbits From Election 2018
By William Rivers Pitt

Ted Cruz might lose.

Walk that around on your tongue for a bit. Chew on it a minute and see how it tastes.

The deep-red state of Texas has not sent a Democrat to the Senate in 30 years and has not seen a Democrat win statewide office since 1994, but a former city councilman from El Paso named Beto O'Rourke is looking to make some new history, and he just might do it. O'Rourke, currently the Democratic representative for the state's 16th congressional district, has been running an aggressive, unabashedly progressive campaign against incumbent Republican Ted Cruz in all 254 Texas counties, and the margin has become razor close".

The stench of panic permeating RNC headquarters is thicker than the fog beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. No lesser light than GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has sounded the alarm about this race to his colleagues and donors. GOP Sen. John Cornyn called the O'Rourke campaign "a serious threat," and even Rick Tyler, Cruz's former campaign strategist, is worried. "We're not bluffing," said Tyler on MSNBC, "this is real, and it is a serious threat."

How is this brazen defiance of known political gravity even possible? First and foremost, Ted Cruz is about as popular as toenail fungus. His GOP colleagues all remember with grim clarity Cruz's grandstanding anti-ACA "Green Eggs & Ham" filibuster debacle of 2013, when he comprehensively failed to understand the moral of a children's story on live television. The main problem congressional Republicans have with Ted Cruz is the fact that he is a shameless self-promoting carny huckster just like they are, but he is wildly obvious about it, thus blowing their cover.

Time and again, when Cruz didn't get what he wanted out of McConnell and the leadership, he would go rattle the cage of the bomb-throwers in the House Freedom Caucus and then return, with clever gimlet eyes downcast, and say "Gee, Mitch, looks like there's trouble with the base." Cruz is as subtle as a car accident in his quest for self-promotion. The other Republicans know this, and they despise him for it.

In a recent closed-door meeting with donors and party officials, Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney painted a dire portrait of Cruz's re-election chances, stating Cruz might not be "likable" enough to win. Coming from Mulvaney, himself a graduate of the Tea Party Academy Class of 2010, the judgment had to sting. Cruz dismissed the federal budget director as "some political guy in Washington," but you have to believe Mulvaney's comments cut to the quick.

Which is why the narrow margin in Cruz's re-election race is so joyfully amusing. Ol' Ted has spent the last six years driving the Republican Party up the wall, and now he needs its help to survive. Under normal circumstances, the leadership would stand back and let Cruz fend for himself. It's Texas, after all; what could go wrong? These, however, are not normal circumstances, and the most delicious part of all this is that McConnell needs Cruz as much as Cruz needs McConnell.

Cruz's re-election has become central to the GOP's increasingly desperate attempts to stave off total calamity and keep their slim Senate majority intact. What looked to be a safe bet six months ago has become a klaxon scream of panic as race after race grows tighter or even out of reach, and now Republican money and support has begun pouring into Texas to try and pull Cruz's irons out of the fire.

Donald Trump himself - who nicknamed Cruz "Lyin' Ted" in the 2016 primaries and all but accused his father of having a hand in the assassination of JFK - has endorsed Cruz and will soon headline a rally in Texas to try and bolster the campaign.

Ah, yes, the other factor - the giant orange elephant in the room, the Donnybrook himself - is not making life any easier for the likes of Cruz and McConnell. Picture in your mind a giant craps table with the entire Republican leadership surrounding it. In pursuit of a trillion-dollar tax giveaway for their wealthy donors and a pair of Supreme Court nominees, they placed all their 2018 political chips on the red felt square marked "Trump" and flung the dice. The dice bounced here, rattled there, banged the back rail ... and came up snake eyes. Donald Trump's latest approval ratings are down to 36 percent, and that was before he claimed the 2,975 Americans killed in Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria existed only as a put-up job by Democrats to make him look bad. That was before Paul Manafort cut a deal with Robert Mueller to avoid another ruinous trial. That was before whatever he does today, and whatever he will do tomorrow.

By hitching its election wagon to Trump's blinkered star, the GOP has fashioned itself as the last holdout of the "He'll change" crowd, which mostly went extinct last year for lack of sustenance. He won't change, they know it now, and they are stapled to that walking frenzy of a president all the way to the first Tuesday in November. "Ugly" doesn't begin to explain the outlook. The Republican Party married a werewolf, and the moon is on the rise.

However, the low character of Ted Cruz and Donald Trump do not come close to explaining the success currently being enjoyed by Beto O'Rourke and candidates like him on all points on the national compass. Progressives in race after race are running as exactly who they are - progressives, with progressive platforms and policy proposals - and are finding success even in the unlikeliest of places.

Earlier this year, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a teacher and activist with no political experience, defeated 10-term congressman and Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley by almost 15 points in New York's 14th district. Ocasio-Cortez will face Republican nominee Anthony Pappas in the general election, and as Pappas is not actively campaigning, her victory is all but assured.

A similar story played out in the recent Democratic primary for the 5th district in Massachusetts, where Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley defeated another 10-term incumbent, Mike Capuano, in a historic victory. Pressley is currently running unopposed in the general election and, unless the creek rises, will be a member of the House of Representatives come January.

In Georgia, Stacey Abrams is seeking to become the first Black woman elected governor in the history of that state. She will face Trump clone Brian Kemp, who infamously claimed in a campaign ad that he owned a big truck "just in case I need to round up criminal illegals and take 'em home myself," in the general election. Polls show the race is a dead heat at 45 percent.

The other big southern-state governor's race is in Florida, where progressive candidate Andrew Gillum will face another Trump clone, GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis, to replace Rick Scott. DeSantis made the race even more famous on the day Gillum won his primary by warning Florida voters his Black opponent would "monkey up" the economy, which inspired a flood of racist robocalls from white supremacists. The latest Florida Chamber of Commerce poll has Gillum leading DeSantis by four points.

The winds of change are blowing even here in granite-conservative New Hampshire, which since 2004 hasn't been as reliably conservative as many previously assumed. In Concord's Ward 8, a blue-collar neighborhood speckled with fast-food joints, long-time state representative and former city councilor Dick Patten was defeated in the Democratic primary by a 27-year-old former Afghan refugee named Safiya Wazir, who had never before run for office. Wazir won in a rout, 329 votes to 123.

On September 29, music legend Willy Nelson will headline a rally in Texas for Beto O'Rourke. In his entire career, Nelson has never once done a public concert for a political candidate. "My wife Annie and I have met and spoken with Beto and we share his concern for the direction things are headed," said Nelson in a press release.

"Beto embodies what is special about Texas, an energy and an integrity that is completely genuine." There's something happening here, to quote another musician, and it ain't all Trump. When progressives actually run as progressives, when voters are given candidates who have discarded the thoroughly discredited empty vessel that is tepid "third way" Republican-lite centrism and offer genuine and workable policy alternatives, those candidates do very, very well.

Even in Texas, where Ted Cruz might lose.
(c) 2018 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co_written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

Give The President A Yuge Hand
By Heather Digby Parton

There were many low points of the 2016 campaign but this was one of the lowest:<> Stormy Daniels has written a new tell-all which explains why Trump felt the necessity to reassure the country that his equipment was adequate to the task of being the sexual assaulter in chief:

She describes Trump's penis as "smaller than average" but "not freakishly small."

"He knows he has an unusual penis," Daniels writes. "It has a huge mushroom head. Like a toadstool...

"I lay there, annoyed that I was getting fucked by a guy with Yeti pubes and a dick like the mushroom character in Mario Kart...

"It may have been the least impressive sex I'd ever had, but clearly, he didn't share that opinion."

I wouldn't normally discuss the presidential penis but he is the one who brought it up.

On national television.

In a presidential debate.

And the conservative evangelicals worship the guy.

Wonkette has more on this breaking news, in the funniest way possible of course.
(c) 2018 Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

Children play in hand-me-down clothingDo children today happily wear well-used hand-me-downs? How many parents think of passing clothing on that way?

One Of The Worst Words In The Dictionary
By David Suzuki

My parents married during the Great Depression. After the 1929 market collapse, people had to learn to make do, help each other out and live on meager incomes. Those times were seared into my parents' attitudes and values.

Although we were all born and raised in Canada, my family was seen as the enemy during the Second World War. Because of our Japanese ethnicity, the government confiscated our property and incarcerated us in camps deep in the Rockies. When the war ended, we were shipped to Ontario where my parents worked as farm labourers. Winters were cold and I needed a coat, which they bought with their limited resources. I was in a growth spurt and quickly outgrew it, so they passed it on to my twin sister. Half a year later, she had outgrown it so our younger sister inherited it. For years, my parents boasted, "This coat was so well-made, it lasted through three children!"

Durability was a prized attribute of clothing and other products. What's happened since? Would a child today happily wear a well-used hand-me-down? How many parents even think of passing clothing on that way?

War pulled the North American economy out of the doldrums, but as it was drawing to an end, politicians worried about how to transition a war economy to peacetime. The answer was delivered by the president's economic advisers: Get Americans to worship at the altar of consumption, they advised, so they buy things, use them and buy more. It worked. Today, 70 per cent of the American economy is based on consumer goods. And where America goes, a world enmeshed in the global economy follows.

In this critical moment when our energy decisions hold the key to our species' future, we must rethink our place in the world. That means re-examining our consumer-driven economy with its constant repetition of the need for growth.

The 1945 global population of about 2.5 billion has now exploded threefold. This huge consumer group has fed a steep rise in the global economy. To maximize consumption, businesses market products to children, seniors and sectors of the developing world. Holiday celebrations have become sales opportunities, none more than around American Thanksgiving with its Black Friday and now Cyber Monday.

Everything we consume comes from the Earth and goes back to it. Our home is the biosphere, the zone of air, water and land where all life exists. Many "resources" we exploit - air, water, soil, trees, fish - cleanse and replenish themselves. If we use them carefully, we can live in balance. But explosive growth in human numbers, consumption and the economy result in overexploitation and destruction, undermining the planet's life support systems.

Reflecting on the coat that "went through three kids," I wonder about the three Rs - reduce, reuse and recycle - that environmentalists pushed in the 1970s and '80s. Product durability means sales will dry up or at least diminish - not a good strategy in a business cycle demanding growth as the measure of success.

In a time of environmental crisis, the most obscene word in our language is "disposable." Disposability implies that something we've finished using disappears. In the biosphere, nothing goes away or disappears. Everything ends up somewhere.

During the 1950s, the phrase "planned obsolescence" became a critical element of industrial output to ensure continued markets for everything from buildings to cars. This mentality underpins the very notion of "fashion." Clothing is something we wear to cover up and keep us warm in cold weather and cool in hot. But appealing to people's thirst for novelty clothing epitomizes disposability. Few things flaunt disregard for the environment more than proudly wearing pre-ripped jeans costing hundreds of dollars. Those jeans are a tribute to the need to push unnecessary product onto easily manipulated consumers.

The planet is overrun with an insatiable predator, humankind. As we run out of places to dump our wastes, cities are reducing the waste stream by banning disposables such as plastic dishware, cutlery and bags. This is a first step to re-examining our unsustainable ways and the need to rediscover values of frugality and thoughtfulness about our place on Earth. Let's start by teaching our children that "disposable" is a bad word.
(c) 2018 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co_founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

History Will Remember Mitch McConnell As One Of The Very Worst
The Senate Majority Leader is shameless in his disregard for democratic norms-and for shame itself.
By Charles P. Pierce

When the history of the lasting damage done to American democracy over the past three decades is finally written, Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, is going to have a leading role in the chronicles. (Except, perhaps, in Texas, where various Stalinist gomers and gomettes still hold sway over what young Gomer, Jr. will get out of his book larnin'.) McConnell will have earned this exalted place in the saga through his utter and completely shameless disregard for democratic norms and functions, as well as his utter and completely shameless disregard for, well, shame.

He rose in the Senate on Monday afternoon for his daily exercise in persiflage, touching on all the news of the moment. He came out firmly against hurricanes, floods, and opioid overdoses. Then he started in on the perils suddenly facing Judge Brett Kavanaugh and, somewhere in mountains of Greece, our old friend Clio, Muse of History-often referred to by her Marvel Superhero identity, The Proclaimer (!)-washed down half a bottle of Klonopin with three deep swigs of cheap local ouzo.

This is what McConnell told the Senate, via C-SPAN:

See? Right there, ol' Mitch is in trouble with the truth. The "past five nominations" include that of Judge Merrick Garland, whose opinions the Senate declined to pore over and review, because Mitch McConnell decided that Merrick Garland would be disappeared as far as the Senate was concerned.

Jeff Sessions And Rod Rosenstein Attend Investiture Ceremony of U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden

Keep that in mind as Mitch rambles on.
"Almost" is laboring in a salt mine in that last sentence, as the events of the past several days have shown.
This is what will make Mitch McConnell immortal among the people most responsible for the demise of the American republic. That sentence, right there. To have the audacity, if you're Mitch McConnell, and while Merrick Garland still lives, to talk about anything being in "an irregular manner" regarding a Supreme Court nominee is the legislative equivalent of the famous legal definition of "chutzpah."

Senate Holds Confirmation Hearing For Brett Kavanaugh To Be Supreme Court Justice

And, in addition, as the elimination of Merrick Garland's nomination further showed, there's no "last minute" in the confirmation process. There's no clock on it, except the one in Mitch McConnell's head, the clock that's telling him to drop this guy onto the bench before the Court sits again in October, and before a possible Republican bloodbath in the November midterm elections. (Theoretically, McConnell even could shut this whole thing down and confirm Kavanaugh in a lame-duck session after the election. But, I suspect, that's a risk even he wouldn't take.)

Also, too, the fact that this alleged assault happened while Kavanaugh and his victim were in high school is completely irrelevant.

There is no "11th hour," except in McConnell's desire to grease this nomination through. I have searched high and low in the Constitution and found no provision that mentions "making Mitch McConnell's life easier."
Here, "bizarre innuendo" refers to the stonewalling efforts of Judiciary chairman Chuck Grassley, and of the current administration*, which required Democratic members of the committee to refer obliquely to the contents of various "committee/confidential" documents, a designation that has nothing to do with "regular order" at all.

He goes on to refer to the fictitious "11th hour" a few more times, and also to pretend that nobody on the Republican side-not even the elves who put together the 65-woman overnight rapid response letter-knew anything about this until the letter "leaked" to the media. But, mostly, he's very offended that the orderly process of confirming a Supreme Court justice is being disrupted this way. That is not how the Senate works, by gum. Not, of course, unless Mitch McConnell, constitutional vandal, wants it to work that way.
(c) 2018 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote-

"I hate all politics. I don't like either political party. One should not belong to them - one should be an individual, standing in the middle. Anyone that belongs to a party stops thinking."
~~~ Ray Bradbury

Giving Resistance A Good Name
By David Swanson

It's popular to refer to the political line of a major corporate party in the United States as something like "the resistance" when the other of the two parties is on the throne of what both parties have, over many decades, actively converted into an unconstitutional position of something wildly beyond old-fashioned royal powers. Around 2004 the Democratic Party line was to pretend to oppose wars. Around 2018 it wasn't. So the "resistance" of that party's followers included war opposition in 2004 but not in 2018. Its essence was and is not resistance at all, but obedience.

When it comes to the general habit of resisting unproven, unworthy, illegitimate, and unpopular authority, the stance promoted by U.S. culture is quite mixed, and virtually everyone in the U.S. government is opposed to resistance as a matter of principle or as a matter of cowardice. For every whistleblower, there are dozens, hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of people who could have exposed the very same abuses and chose not to.

Bruce Levine believes that the anti-authoritarian personality type is beaten down and drugged out of people by U.S. culture, and that we suffer in the United States from excessive apathy and obedience because the activists we need have been diagnosed as ill, drugged into submission, conditioned by schooling, tamed by rewards, hounded out of academe and respectability, imprisoned, and chased out of the country or exiled. Add those factors to long working hours, lack of economic security and healthcare, student debt loads, tons of television viewing, obsessive consumerism, social isolation, bootstraps bullshit, and the mythology that holds that submissive loyalty to the U.S. flag equals a brave stance for liberty, and you've got a population primed to put up with more shit than probably any other on earth - and, perhaps not coincidentally, the country producing the most violent destruction around the world and, by some measures - and per capita by virtually every measure - the most destruction of the earth's environment.

Bruce Levine has written and spoken on this theme in the past, but his new book, Resisting Illegitimate Authority, is a powerful new tool that ought to be put into the hands of every young person, teacher, and parent. When George W. Bush was emperor, it was rare to attend a gathering of peace activists in the United States at which nobody asked "Where are the people under 30?" During the Obama regime, especially the early years, a common question was (in much shortened form) "Shouldn't we all kill ourselves since we tried such a clever thing as empowering a different sort of war monger and we didn't get peace?" During Trump Times, it's "Where are the people under 40?" - a sort of return with an updated statistic. History doesn't repeat itself but it does photoshop itself.

Levine believes that one answer to "Where are the young people?" is that they have been diagnosed as diseased and drugged into obedience. It takes a certain personality type to question near-universal consensus, no matter how insane that consensus. In the past, such personality types have managed in some cases to flourish, even in the United States. Some historical figures in the U.S. pantheon, in fact, who are often presented in history books stripped of much of their radicalism, might never have done what they did had they lived in the era in which attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and oppositional defiant disorder are treated with drugs and institutionalization. This "psychopathologizing and resulting 'treatment'," writes Levine, "make it more difficult for young people's prideful noncompliance to mature into this vital societal contribution: discerning an authority's legitimacy, and resisting illegitimate authority."

They never had it easy. That is actually the message that takes up the bulk of Levine's book as he recounts the stories of such varied anti-authoritarians as Thomas Paine, Ralph Nader, Malcolm X, Emma Goldman, Eugene Debs, Edward Snowden, Frances Farmer, Ernest Hemingway, Phil Ochs, Lenny Bruce, Ida Lupino, Alexander Berkman, Leon Czolgosz, Ted Kaczinski, Henry Thoreau, Scott Nearing, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Jane Jacobs, Noam Chomsky, George Carlin, and Levine himself. Historical anti-authoritarians have had it hard when they've opposed the wrong authorities, and dismissing them as mentally imbalanced is nothing new. But today a kid like Malcolm X in a foster home would be quite likely to be drugged. Threatening suicide, as teenage Emma Goldman did, might today land her in a psychiatric hospital.

"I have talked to many anti-authoritarian women," writes Levine, "who, in their youth, for their anger and rebellious behaviors were labeled with 'bipolar disorder' and 'borderline personality' and heavily medicated. Several of these women have told me that the pathologizing of their anger and rebellious behaviors delayed their political consciousness." This, I think, is why it is important for healthy and respectable people like Levine to point out that anyone living in the current society ought to rebel, that rebelling is the normal response to some outside circumstances, and not necessarily something driven by a flaw within the rebel. One section of Levine's book looks at the anti-authoritarian nature of Native American culture, and how this constituted a threat to be eradicated. The victorious authoritarian culture, the society in which Donald Trump is the ultimate authority rather than the prime candidate for mental patient, is a culture in which a sane person ought to completely freak out.

In the history that Levine recounts, disease is often a matter of disempowerment. The tendency of enslaved people to rebel was understood as a disease. Homosexuality was understood as a disease. These understandings are shifted along with power. But young people, especially poor and institutionalized and orphaned young people do not have the power to rid themselves of the diagnoses that afflict them. The one nation on earth not party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child speaks up for children paternalistically, not respectfully.

Levine finds greater anti-authoritarianism in U.S. culture, not just in the 1960s, but in the 19th century prior to the spread of public education - an observation that I think merits further study. He also finds religious belief - including the belief in a personal mission assigned by God - to be a positive factor in the lives of some of the anti-authoritarians he chronicles. Whether this outweighs the George W. Bushes with the same belief and all the other damage religion does is not a question Levine gives any clear answer to, but is - I think - well worth looking further into.

Levine's book is designed to guide the potential anti-authoritarian. It offers not hero legends but flawed truths, including the mistakes and self-destructive actions of the people whose lives are chronicled, and including their self-corrections and changes in opinion. Some anti-authoritarians have lived long happy lives. Some have not. Levine helps us understand why.

I wish that Levine had stressed more what I see as critical to the happiness that some past anti-authoritarians have found, that I have found, and that many people I know have found, namely the activism cure. While activism creates difficulties, it also creates purpose and fulfillment far better than any pharmaceutical prescription.

I would certainly diagnose myself as heavily anti-authoritarian, and as having been so for a long time. I've been unable to hold a job in which I had a supervisor within 1,000 miles of me. I almost entirely avoid editors and publishers, and while I stagger people with my ability to condemn war making while trying to love the war makers, I would shock and offend them if they were aware of my visceral feelings toward editors. I'm generally at a loss to relate to the depression that many activists claim to feel and which Levine diagnoses in many anti-authoritarians. But if I didn't have the ability to make a living doing things I 99% agree with, if I didn't have a completely wonderful wife and kids and family, if I didn't have colleagues and associates and measurable if minimal progress and appreciation, who knows? I call myself healthy and happy, but I doubt I could last two weeks if required to sell widgets I had no interest in selling. And most people in the United States do just that. Are they healthy?

A few extra points about Resisting Illegitimate Authority:

As I'm headed to Toronto this week, I was interested to note how many anti-authoritarians have ended up there in exile. I wonder if it shows.

A couple of unsolicited corrections:

The deaths of Native Americans post-Columbus should really include mention of disease epidemics.

Al Gore was not "narrowly defeated in Florida," not by any means of counting the votes. He was narrowly defeated in the U.S. Supreme Court.
(c) 2018 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

Hail From The Thieves
I.C.E freezes our money in Florida
By Jane Stillwater

Good grief! For decades now, America has been the unwitting victim of various sleazy government contractors who shamelessly pick our pockets for all the valuables they can find there -- using the time-honored ruse of distracting our attention with fears of "war" while they move in for the snatch. It's like the Artful Dodger or even Fagan himself has seized control of America's treasury.

Since 9-11, these shady pickpockets have upped their game to the point where it's not even safe for Americans to carry a wallet on the subway any more. Since 9-11, we have been so royally fleeced by these so-called "war" contractors that you would think there was nothing even left to steal. But no. Apparently there is still a bit more moolah left to lift. Now these sleazy moochers have discovered an even newer and better way to slip their sneaky hands back into our pockets again.

Now ICE has come up with yet another evil scheme to snatch our purses and run -- whatever little is left in them, that is. "Stop! Thief!" When our current climate catastrophe hit the eastern seaboard recently, it was soon discovered that ICE's sticky fingers have stolen millions of dollars of our FEMA money and then used it to kidnap children instead of helping out disaster victims in North Carolina. Has ICE become the new Fagan? And has ICE, like Fagan, started running a new school for pickpockets too? It certainly looks that way, right?

We Americans appear to be the ultimate gullible marks, stuck on a crowded bus to nowhere while "war" profiteers and ICE profiteers easily dip into our pockets and steal our wallets -- and with absolutely no fear of ever getting caught.

ICE contractors are now getting paid $750 per day per child for every single child that they can kidnap at the border. Hell, the kiddies could be staying in a five-star hotel for that price!

According to a recent article in The Guardian, what we are getting for our $750 a day is definitely not The Ritz. "All day and night they listened to the wailing of hungry children. Here, in a freezing immigration detention facility somewhere in the Rio Grande valley of south Texas, adults and children alike were fainting from dehydration and lack of food. Sleep was almost impossible; the lights were left on, they had just a thin metallic sheet to protect against the cold and there was nothing to lie down on but the hard floor."

Would you pay $750 a night for this ICE version of Oliver Twist's orphanage? Ask your captors for "more, sir"? Give it a good review on Yelp? Uh, no.

While I was in St. Petersburg last week, I took part in an anti-ICE demonstration against the owner of The Birchwood Inn. Its owner, Chuck Prather, claimed to be just a small businessman in a sweet Florida tourist town -- and yet apparently he is currently renting out five (5) different buildings in the St. Pete area to ICE. Five of them. In a tourist town? Who the freak needs five (5) ICE buildings in St. Petersburg? It makes you stop and wonder, doesn't it. There goes our money. Sticky fingers again.

Also at the anti-ICE demonstration, I learned about even more Dickensian behavior taking place at the US-Mexico border where apparently some Border Patrol officers hunt down and murder asylum-seekers for sport. The Ghost of Christmas Past is not gonna like that!

All this rash of pickpocket theft by various government contractors since 9-11 has made me truly stop and wonder just how much money is left in America right now for the rest of us. "What's in your wallet?" Probably not much.
(c) 2018 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!

The Dead Letter Office-

Mark gives the corporate salute

Heil Trump,

Dear Uber Fuhrer Green,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your statement, "Medicaid interrupts the opportunity for people to come to a saving knowledge of who god is..." Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

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

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

The Three Big Lessons We Didn't Learn from The Economic Crisis
By Robert Reich

Ten years ago, after making piles of money gambling with other people's money, Wall Street nearly imploded, and the outgoing George W. Bush and incoming Obama administrations bailed out the bankers.

America should have learned three big lessons from the crisis. We didn't, to our continuing peril.

First unlearned lesson: Banking is a risky business with huge upsides for the few who gamble in it, but bigger downsides for the public when those bets go bad.

Which means that safeguards are necessary. The safeguards created after Wall Street's 1929 crash worked for over four decades. They made banking boring.

But starting in the 1980s, they were watered down or repealed because of Wall Street's increasing thirst for profits and its growing political clout. As politicians from both parties grew dependent on the Street for campaign funding, the rush to deregulate turned into a stampede.

It began in 1982 when Congress and the Reagan administration deregulated savings and loan banks - allowing them to engage in risky commercial lending, while continuing to guarantee them against major losses.

Not surprisingly, the banks got into big trouble, necessitating a taxpayer-funded bailout.

The next milestone came in 1999, when Congress and the Clinton Administration, under then Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, repealed the Glass-Steagall Act - a 1930s safeguard that had prohibited banks from gambling with commercial deposits. (For the record, I was no longer in the Cabinet.)

Then in 2000, Congress and Clinton barred the Commodity Futures Trading Commission from regulating most over-the-counter derivative contracts, including credit default swaps.

The coup de grace came in 2004, when George W. Bush's Securities and Exchange Commission allowed investment banks to hold less capital in reserve.

All of this ushered in the 2008 near meltdown - which was followed by another attempt to impose safeguards, the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010.

And now? The Street's political clout is as great as ever, which explains why the Dodd-Frank safeguards are now being watered down - clearing the way for another crisis.

The second lesson we should have learned but didn't is how widening inequality makes our economy susceptible to financial disaster.

In the decades leading up to 2008, stagnant wages caused many Americans to go deep into debt - using the rising values of their homes as collateral. Much the same thing had happened in the years leading up to 1929.

Wall Street banks were delighted to accommodate - lending willy-nilly and often in predatory ways - until the housing and debt bubbles burst.

And now? The underlying problem of stagnant wages, with most economic gains going to the top, is still with us. Once again, consumers are deep in debt - inviting another crisis.

The third big lesson we didn't learn concerned the rigging of American politics. After the crisis, many Americans realized that Wall Street, big corporations, and the wealthy had essentially bought up our democracy.

Americans saw the Street get bailed out while homeowners, suddenly owing more on their homes than the homes were worth, got little or nothing.

Millions lost their jobs, savings, pensions, and homes, but the bankers and big investors came out richer than before.

Bankers who committed serious fraud escaped accountability. No executive went to jail. Big banks like Wells Fargo continued to break laws with impunity.

Many officials involved in deregulating the Street became top executives in the Wall Street banks that benefited from deregulation. Some involved in writing the Dodd-Frank Act are now employed by the same financial institutions that are watering it down.

Meanwhile, big corporations and wealthy individuals continue to flood Washington with money, making it the capital of "crony capitalism."

Widespread outrage at all this fueled the Tea Party on the Right and the brief "Occupy" movement on the Left. Both eventually morphed into the two anti-establishment candidacies of 2016 - authoritarian populist Donald Trump and democratic populist Bernie Sanders.

And now? Anti-establishment fury remains the strongest force in American politics.

Trump has been using it to conjure up racist and xenophobic conspiracies and to create the most authoritarian regime in modern American history. He promised to "drain the swamp" but has made it bigger and filthier.

Democrats don't know whether to simply oppose Trump and his authoritarianism, or get behind a reform agenda to wrest control of politics and the economy from the moneyed interests.

But to do the latter they'd have to take on those that have funded them for decades. I wish I had more confidence they will.

Sad to say, ten years after the near meltdown of Wall Street we seem to have learned very little. Only worse: We now have Trump.
(c) 2018 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is

The Culture Of Hate
By Chris Hedges

This is an excerpt from the chapter titled "Hate" in Chris Hedges' new book, "America: The Farewell Tour," published by Simon & Schuster.

IT WAS A SWELTERING JULY afternoon when fifty protesters, many dressed in fatigues and wearing shirts that identified them with groups such as Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Bikers for Trump, the Alt Knights, and a militia group called American Patriot the III%, gathered in a gravel parking lot in Deposit, New York. They had come for the "Second Annual Ride for Homeland Security." Pickup trucks, cars, and motorcycles were adorned with American flags. Deposit, a depressed rural community in upstate New York with a population of 1,577, is located at the confluence of the Oguaga Creek and the West Branch of the Delaware River near the border with Pennsylvania.

The protesters, several driving all night, planned to ride past a small community called Islamberg, an enclave of two hundred mostly black Muslims in nearby Hanover, with seventy acres of farmland and woods. The community, with its modest homes of wood and cinder blocks along dirt roads, is a punching bag for right-wing conspiracy theorists.

The protesters milled about in the parking lot under the gaze of nearby State Police. Three counter-protesters stood near a car and filmed the group. The event opened with a short prayer. A stocky man handed me a flyer titled, "Islam: A religion of peace?" It read:M

KORAN 2:191 'Slay the unbelievers wherever you find them.'
KORAN 3:28 'Muslims must not take the infidels as friends.'
KORAN 3:85 'Any religion other than Islam is not acceptable.'
KORAN 5:33 'Maim and crucify the infidels if they criticize Islam.'
KORAN 8:12 'Terrorize and behead those who believe in scriptures other than the Koran.'
KORAN 8:60 'Muslims must muster all weapons to terrorize the infidels.'
KORAN 8:65 'The unbelievers are stupid; urge the Muslims to fight them.'
KORAN 9:5 'When opportunity arises kill the infidels wherever you find them.'
KORAN 9:30 'The Jews and Christians are perverts, fight them.'
KORAN 9:123 'Make war on the infidels living in your neighborhood.'
KORAN 22:19 'Punish the unbelievers with garments of fire, hooked iron rods, boiling water, melt their skin and bellies.'
KORAN 47:4 'Do not hanker for peace with the infidels; behead them when you catch them.'
There are far more calls by the God of the Hebrew Bible and Christian Book of Revelation for holy war, genocide, and savage ethnic cleansing than in the Koran, from the killing of the firstborns in Egypt to the wholesale annihilation of the Canaanites. God repeatedly demands the Israelites wage wars of annihilation against unbelievers in Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, and the Book of Revelation. Everyone, including women, children, and the elderly, along with their livestock, are to be killed. Moses ordered the Israelites to carry out the "complete destruction" of all cities in the Promised Land and slaughter all the inhabitants, making sure to show "no mercy." From Joshua's capture of the city of Ai to King Saul's decimation of the Amalekites-Saul methodically dismembers the Amalekite king-God sanctifies bloodbath after bloodbath. "You shall not leave alive anything that breathes," God thunders in the Book of Joshua, "But you shall utterly destroy them." Joshua "struck all the land, the hill country and the Negev and the lowland and the slopes and all their kings. He left no survivor, but he utterly destroyed all who breathed, just as the Lord, the God of Israel had commanded" (Joshua 10:40, 11:15). And while the Koran urges believers to fight, it is also emphatic about showing mercy to captured enemies, something almost always scorned in the Bible, where, according to Psalm 137, those who smash the heads of Babylonian infants on the rocks are blessed. Whole books of the Bible celebrate divinely sanctioned genocide. The Koran doesn't come close. The willful blindness by these self-proclaimed Christian warriors about their own holy book is breathtaking.

Islamberg was founded in 1980 by African American followers of the Pakistani Sufi cleric Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani. Gilani, who lives in Pakistan, urged his followers to leave urban areas and form religious communities in rural parts of the country. There are about a dozen communities across the United States adhering to Gilani's teachings. There is no evidence of criminal activity taking place in Islamberg according to local law enforcement.

This does not prevent Fox News and other right-wing outlets from referring to Islamberg as the center of homegrown American jihadism. Gilani is routinely linked to the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was in Pakistan writing a story about the British national Richard Reid, known as the "shoe bomber," and his possible links to al Qaeda. Pearl believed he was being taken to meet Gilani at a restaurant in downtown Karachi on the evening of January 23, 2002, when he was abducted. A radical Islamic group beheaded Pearl in a gruesome video nine days later. Gilani was cleared of all involvement in Pearl's death.

The Clarion Project posted a YouTube video in 2014 titled "Guerilla Training of Women at Islamberg, Hancock, N.Y., Headquarters of Muslims of the Americas." The video showed blurry clips of women wearing fatigues and headscarves doing marching drills along a road and scrambling through underbrush carrying assault rifles. The Christian Action Network calls Islamberg "America's first Islamic government." It charges that the children in the community are being groomed to be terrorists, that girls are denied an education, and those who break the community's rules "are often tied to trees and whipped for disobeying."

The demonization of the rural community of Muslims eventually promoted racists to act, illustrating the deadly convergence of the alt-lite and the alt-right. The FBI aborted a firebombing and armed assault on the community planned by Robert Doggart, a former congressional candidate from Tennessee in 2015. He was sentenced to twenty years in prison. On June 2, 2017, Johnson City police arrested Ramadan Abdullah, forty miles from Islamberg, and seized multiple pistols, assault weapons, and about ten thousand rounds of ammunition ranging from .38-caliber to armor-piercing incendiary rounds. Law enforcement officials did not link Abdullah with Islamberg. The Clarion Project, however, claimed Abdullah was one of the founders and that his weapons were for the "guerilla training compound."

Proud Boys, which the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as a "fight-club 'fraternity' of young, white, pro-Trump men to defend free speech rights by 'alt-right' leaders and engage in street fighting," publicized the Clarion Project's report.

"This past month there was an arms bust in Johnson City, New York down the road from the compound," the Proud Boys wrote. "It was later confirmed that the man in question was indeed headed to Islamberg, and the weapons were needed to 'protect themselves' against an upcoming 'biker rally' (that would be us)."

The prospect of a gun battle with radical Muslims may have discouraged supporters from attending, according to Konstantine Dee from Queens, a thirty-two-year-old Proud Boy at the protest.

Still, the some three dozen people who appeared for "Second Annual Ride for Homeland Security" was an improvement over the previous year, when only five members of the American Bikers United Against Jihad showed up.

These rallies and events acculturate and groom white racists to carry out acts of violence.

Daniel Peters drove nearly four hours to join the ride past Islamberg. He works six days a week from home in New York City as a computer network manager, starting at 7:00 a.m. and sometimes not finishing until 11:00 p.m.

When Peters joined the Oath Keepers last year, it was a relief to finally "not feel alone," he said. He called Islam "an evil cult" and denounced the prophet Muhammad as "a very bloodthirsty, sadistic killer."

"Historically, either they kill you or you kill them," he said.

He conceded that the Muslim population in the United States was small but noted that when the Europeans came to America they were also numerically a minority.

"Look," he said, glancing at the State Police who flanked the road toward Islamberg. "They're setting aside the traffic for us and everything. I feel like I'm in a Bill Clinton convoy.

"History is filled with collapses of civilizations," he went on. "What happens in America, is the price of food will skyrocket. There's going to be some kind of long-term disaster. For long-term survival after a disaster, it requires a community for security."

He said the impending collapse was a major reason he joined Oath Keepers.

The alt-right and militia groups say they are preparing for societal collapse. Once the electric grid goes out, they warn, it will trigger a race war. They are stockpiling food, water, supplies, weapons and ammunition to fight off the black and brown people that will flee the chaos of urban areas and roam the countryside like packs of wild animals. ... THE CONVOY OF CARS, TRUCKS, and motorcycles left the parking lot in Deposit and drove down the highway. They turned onto a dirt road that led past Islamberg. State Police were standing in front of the entrance to Islamberg. A few of the Muslims from the community filmed the vehicles as they passed. The caravan of cars and motorcycles pulled into a parking lot a few miles away. Many then drove to a house outside Binghamton where there was beer, food, and a bonfire.

I sat at a table in the barren dining room of the house, which was for sale, with the owner, Kat, who recently lost her job, and Scott Seddon, the founder of the militia group American Patriot the III%, or AP3. Its name was inspired by the belief that only 3 percent of the population actively fought the British during the American Revolution.

Seddon founded AP3 when Barack Obama took office in 2009. His initial focus was to connect survivalists for the coming collapse. But the militia soon took on a political coloring. It has expanded to multiple chapters nationwide, he said, each involved with organizing protests, training militia, and teaching survival skills to prepare for an imminent natural or man-made calamity. He estimates AP3 currently has thirty thousand to fifty thousand members. It also provides security for right-wing protests and rallies.

"I founded it out of fear, to be honest with you," he said. "I saw a change starting to occur in this country that really made me scared. It started with Obama."

He launched into an attack on the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama's former pastor in Chicago who delivered fiery sermons on the evils of empire and white supremacy. He called Wright "anti-American."

"Black Lives Matter went to the freaking White House," he said of a July 2016 meeting at the White House with Obama. "Everybody is a victim in America today.

"The majority of antifa have that victim mentality," he went on, referring to antifascists who advocate property destruction and violence. "There's no excuse for them to be in rallies every other week insulting people and not holding a job. Most of these kids, 90 percent of antifa, don't have jobs."

Michael Mosher, a former marine who is in charge of AP3's statewide security, joined us at the table. He had a tattoo of crossed rifles, another read "My Fight," and a third was the 3 percenter symbol of the militia. He also had a tattoo of the head of a buck.

"They're a bunch of immature kids," Mosher said of antifa. "They're disrespectful. If you don't agree with them, they spit on people. They throw urine at people."

"They throw bottles at people," Seddon said.

"How do they throw urine?" I asked.

"In little balloons," Mosher said.

"Every event I've been to where there has been antifa, there's always one heavyset ethnic chick that does nothing but scream the entire time," he went on.

"They're paid actually," Kat said, joining the conversation. "They have paid organizers that come and recruit these kids online from Craigslist or what-not. They do pay them like fifteen bucks an hour to come out."

"When we were at the rally point this morning, there was a red Cadillac across the street," Mosher said. "An older woman was sitting in the driver's seat. A heavyset lady was outside of the car recording. They were filming the entire time."

He said antifa was "funded by George Soros."

"They're socialists," Seddon said. "They're communists. They're the troubled youth of America who don't want to work. They think the upper one percent should hand them everything.

"The antifas are supposedly reaching out to the Muslim communities as well to get their backing," he said, "which doesn't make sense to me. Muslims are against homosexuality."

"A lot of antifa members are ambiguous homosexuals," Kat said. "They're definitely not alpha men or alpha women." "They're the misfits," Mosher said.

"They're misguided," Seddon said. "The patriot community, thank God, has a growing number of homosexual men and women. I'm a straight male, 110 percent. But some of our best, most patriotic men and women in America are gay. There's definitely no discrimination against gay people. But antifa supports a group-Muslims-that thinks gay people are an abomination."

"And we don't," Kat said. "We're trying to stick up for all these people who don't understand what they're bringing into the country, by bringing in all these Muslim refugees who are actually just migrants bringing in Sharia law and believe that homosexuality is an abomination. They're going to kill all of us."

"That's what they do in the Middle East," Seddon said.

"The rise in terrorism across Europe and England, we don't want that to happen here," Seddon said. "It's not going to be accepted if it starts. That's why we wanted to show up today. Just to let them know we're here. We're aware. We're Americans. We love our country."

"We're not going to give up our country the way England and London has," Mosher said.

"I'm quite sure Europe is going to be one big Islamic state, probably in the next twenty to thirty years," Kat said.

"Yeah," Seddon said, "except Eastern Europe. Eastern Europe is standing their ground."

"France, U.K., Germany, I think Finland was having a problem," Kat said. "Sweden, they're all having problems. Poland is going to resist. Look up the rape capitals of the world. They're all going to be where these large immigrant populations are. And also, missing people. Look it up. It's going to be where all these refugees are. They're number one in the slave trade, the sex slave trade, too. I just want to protect my family. I don't want that here."

"I've spent six years in the Marine Corps," Mosher said. "I've been overseas to Iraq, Afghanistan. I've fought them. I don't want them here. I've met people who I guess you would call moderate Muslims. They were normal people. I never had any issues with them. When I went over there, it was a whole lot different-they hate us so bad."

"Why?" I ask.

"To be honest with you, I think part of it comes from the United States getting involved in a lot of conflict overseas," he said. "But it also is in the Koran, anybody that doesn't follow them is supposed to be beheaded or whatever. I've seen their book. Their job is to kill us unless we convert to Islam."

"They're already inside our federal government," Seddon said. "Homeland Security has some people who are deeply entrenched. What's the name of the [Palestinian American] female speaker that [New York City] mayor [Bill] de Blasio loves? [Linda] Sarsour. She's right there next to de Blasio when he makes speeches at events. She's put up on a pedestal. Listen, in this country, Sharia law just ain't happening. It violates our entire Constitution. We're a free country. Anytime you start implementing a law that tells you, 'You have to do this, you have to abide by this,' you're going against the Constitution of the United States."

"Why are there so few African Americans in militias?" I asked.

"Because the left spins us as being racist bigots, when [actually] we allow anybody into the group," Seddon said. "Like I said, we have homosexuals in the group. We have a lot of Mexicans, believe it or not. Veterans. The media spins us as racist KKK members. Listen, we accept almost anybody into AP [American Patrol]. The only people I'd scrutinize a little more, unfortunately, would be the Muslim community. And no felons."

"Do you have any Muslims?" I asked.

"They have no interest in the group," Seddon said.

"Our country is divided completely," Mosher said. "Some people think it's going to lead to a civil war or a revolutionary war. I hope it happens during my time and not my son's."

Mosher said about 85 percent of the militia's members were veterans. Mosher and Seddon left the house to join the other militia members standing around the bonfire in the backyard. The light was fading.

Kat, recently divorced, lost her job in February 2017 as the cheer coach at Ithaca College. She had been there only a year. She is the mother of three boys and a girl, ages twenty-two, twenty-one, fourteen, and twelve.

"This [losing her job] was for my views of being a Christian Trump supporter," she said. "That's all it was."

"We went on break right after the election because the school shuts down from December to January after finals," she said. "We came back after inauguration. A couple of my girls [on the cheer team] seemed to be upset all the time. One of them was a Muslim refugee from Afghanistan. The other one was of Asian descent. I'm pretty sure she was a lesbian."

A few of the girls she coached confronted her about the pro-Trump opinions she had posted on Facebook, including a photo she had put up after the Women's March in Washington of a veteran woman captioned, "The real women who marched for us."

"They were fired up, started calling me a racist," she explained. "I said listen, I understand you're upset about the election. I understand these things. But it is what it is. This is how democracy works. This is your president now. You can't keep missing practices and getting up and calling me names.

"They weren't having it," she said. "This went on for over an hour. I was so tired. I couldn't even talk anymore." The verbal altercation ended when two girls stormed out of the cheerleading practice. "'We're not coming back if you're still here,'" she recalled one of the girls saying.

When she was fired the next day-she received a terse email saying her contract had been terminated-her world disintegrated. She was still trying to cope from a recently dissolved marriage.

"This was my life," she said. "This was all I ever knew. I cheered for fourteen [years] myself. And I've been coaching for six [years]. I was so heartbroken. I guess my life is going to be different now. ... I didn't know what to do. ... I have to figure it out."

She was planning on moving to Ithaca after she sold the house she had shared with her ex-husband. Now she had nowhere to go. She began spending more time on the Internet.

"I didn't understand why these girls hated me so much. ... I've been crying all week about what happened at school," she said. "I started reaching out on Facebook. Told everyone what happened. I put out publicly what happened to me at Ithaca College in a long post. I was embarrassed. I just lost my job. My career is over. My career is over! All of a sudden I started getting all these shares, 'I'm so sorry about what happened to you.' I heard about ... the refugee crisis in Europe. People started talking to me about Islam."

Then it hit her. One of the cheerleaders who argued with her was Muslim.

"At the time I was really not all that familiar with Islam," she said. "I thought it was a real religion. I did not know why that Muslim girl didn't like me ... because on the news you don't get correct information. You're getting very one-sided biases. On Facebook, we share real information with each other.

"A lot of us were afraid to say anything during the Obama administration because you'll be called a racist," she said. "Then all of a sudden, when we felt comfortable when Trump got in, I think everyone started waking up and started to be vocal, and learning more, and sharing information."

She came to believe, after reading posts on Facebook, that Islam is "a death cult basically started by a Satan-worshipper who came from a tribe that sacrificed children." She was mortified. The newfound fear and need to resist gave her a mission in life. She had to help save America from Muslims.

"I feel a very big threat to our humanity now. ... I had done so much research on Islam," she said. "I basically made it my job. ... I was as passionate about cheer as I am about this patriot movement," she said. "There's a lot of Muslim organizations that are behind the scenes putting people in offices, just like they did in Europe. You've got a Muslim mayor in London.

"Obama was the Manchurian candidate, wouldn't you agree?" she asked. "He was a plant. He was in the Muslim Brotherhood's back pocket. He was placed there on purpose. They're going to kill all of us.

"I got very vocal on Facebook," she said. "I'm sharing information. Next thing I know, I went from 1,200 followers to 5,000. They're Friending me. Basically, people are listening. They're waking up. I'm really, really excited about it. We're all coming out and starting to fight back. We are the resistance.

"I want to keep people safe," she said. "I want to fight for women. Not have their genitals cut off. Not be stoned to death. Or shamed or honor-killed."

These sentiments, revolving around a perceived assault by Muslims, African-Americans, Latinos, feminists, gays, liberals, and intellectuals against national identities, dominate the ideology of right-wing hate groups.

Stefan Meyer, twenty-five, a four-year Marine Corps veteran, sat in a bar in Parkville, Maryland. He was a member of the Maryland Chapter of Proud Boys. He joined after the riots in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray. He wanted to fight Black Lives Matter and antifa.

"[Freddie Gray] rammed his head into the walls of the police van so that it would look like police brutality," he said. "He hit himself against a bolt. So he killed himself trying to frame the cops. And people started destroying my city. I was furious."

Meyer was a commercial driver who was going through a divorce. He went to work at 4:30 in the morning and got home at 4:30 in the afternoon.

"I break my back at work for $20 an hour," he said. "Out of the $800 a week that I make, I see maybe almost $500 of it. Which for all intents and purposes isn't bad. But most of it is going to rent. Rent is not cheap. Rent is $1,040 for one bed, one bath. And a tiny kitchen.

"These days, I just sit at home and sleep," he said. "That's about it. [Being a part of the Proud Boys,] it gets me out more. I got to see the White House. I've never seen it before."

Meyer said he was bullied and excluded at school.

"I was tiny," he said. "I barely broke a hundred [pounds] in high school."

When he began dating a girl in high school, they agreed to keep their relationship secret so she wouldn't be teased. He once tried to give her a bracelet in front of her friends.

"She had this horrified look on her face," Meyer recalled. "So I said, 'Hey, I forgot to give this back to you, I'm so sorry.' I didn't want to embarrass her."

Meyer joined the Marines after high school.

"I would have liked to go when Afghanistan was still going on," he said. "There were a lot of men out there that are a lot better than I am. It upsets me a lot of people died that I didn't get to take that bullet for.

"Since day one," he said of Marine Corps boot camp, "you're just screaming, 'Kill!' There's nothing behind it. There's no 'Kill this.' There's no 'Kill that.' It's just, 'Kill.' Which is why we're such an effective fighting force. That's our job. To go in and win battles and win wars. At least it used to be. That's how wars were won. Now [the battle] happens on the news. I'm not sure which is worse."

Meyer described how he and other militia members, also veterans, casually spoke of killing people when they gathered at events such as the Freedom of Speech rally in Washington, D.C., in June 2017.

"Everyone will just say, 'I just want to fucking kill someone,'" Meyer said.

"It's not out of hate or rage," he went on. "It's just what was drilled into them for so long, for so many years."
(c) 2018 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Kevin Siers ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

All The President's Con Men
By Will Durst

The Unindicted Co-Conspirator-in-Chief and his Con Men are buried in a blanket of sleaze. It's almost impossible to measure the corruption surrounding Donald Trump and his faithful con men these days. It is huuuuuge, covering the White House with a blanket of sleaze deep enough to bury the 6 foot three inch unindicted Oval Office co-conspirator to the point he's going to need a two-foot length of bamboo to continue breathing.

His legal problems are growing like mold on the northwest corner of a Hawaiian greenhouse wall. Proliferating like that plastic garbage patch in the Pacific. In the same state of flourishment as dandelions after a week of thunderstorms on a Southern Illinois compost heap.

Paul Manafort was just found guilty on five counts of tax fraud, 2 counts of bank fraud and one count of failure to disclose a foreign bank account. A single jury member was responsible for deadlocking the 10 other counts, and somehow all 12 let the defendant totally slide on his incredibly bad taste, incredibly ignoring a $15,000 ostrich-skin jacket and a haircut stolen from Gordon Gekko.

At almost the exact same moment, Michael Cohen pled guilty to 8 felonies implicating the president in two of them. He received a plea agreement and is rumored to be making plans to testify against the president. They're turning on Trump like preschoolers on a pinata with a rack full of Louisville Sluggers.

One of the normal procedures for urging cooperation from co-conspirators is to offer leniency to culpable family members. And considering the lies and misdirections and conflicted testimony already in play, even Tiffany and Barron are probably seeking outside representation. The family that commits crime together, serves time together.

And knowing the 45th POTUS's philosophy of one-way loyalty, the only accommodation he's likely to make is to dedicate an entire cell-block at a federal facility for members of staff and family. Probably try to brand it, by calling it the Trump Wing. The next family get-together is bound to feature looks as auspicious as the last shots of the season finale of a telenovela.

These were not mere junior staffers who shared the ignominy of attaining convicted felon status on the same day, but Donald Trump's former campaign manager and personal lawyer. MAGA now stands for Many Are Growing Anxious or My Attorney Got Arrested or Mueller Ain't Going Away.

In response, our Mob Boss President railed against the prosecutorial strategy. "It's called flipping and it almost should be illegal" then called Cohen "a rat" while praising Manafort as still being "a good man." He predictably resorted to his trusty Rainman refrain "No collusion. No collusion." Starting to sound like a broken parrot. But bearing his teeth like a cornered wolverine.

Meanwhile, in San Diego, the second congressman to endorse Trump's campaign, Duncan Hunter, was indicted on 60 federal charges, following in the footsteps of the first congressman to endorse Trump, Christopher Collins, also indicted by the feds. Don't know who the third congressman to endorse Trump was, but chances are high he's looking over his shoulder about once every six seconds.

All this proves is not only was Trump unable to pick the best people, he couldn't even pick the best crooks. He keeps choosing crummy criminals. We can expect Bob Woodward's book on this one to be titled "All the President's Con Men."
(c) 2018 Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed columnist, comedian and former Pizza Hut assistant manager. For a calendar of personal appearances, including his new one-man show, "Durst Case Scenario," please visit:

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(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors."