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In This Edition

Chris Hedges with an absolute must read, "The Silencing Of Dissent."

Uri Avnery considers, "Despair Of Despair."

Glen Ford reminds us that, "Trump's "Sovereignty" Is Lawlessness (So was Obama's)."

William Rivers Pitt recalls, "The Day I Got 23 Guns In The Mail."

Jim Hightower exclaims, "Where Can Congress Forget Shaming This Do-Nothing Congress. Stop Paying Them!"

John Nichols demands we, "Honor the Constitution By Impeaching Jeff Sessions."

James Donahue finds, "Claims GE Knew Fukushima Plants Were Unsafe."

Robert Kuttner examines, "The Trump Nightmare: How It Ends."

Heather Digby Parton explains, "Why Trump's Voter Fraud Commission Is Just A Bunch Of Clown."

David Suzuki wonders, "Can Emissions Shrink While The Economy Grows?"

Charles P. Pierce asks, "Have You Seen Betsy DeVos's Yacht?"

David Swanson demands we, "Pull Down That Statue Of The U.S. Constitution."

Glenn Greenwald returns with, "Sean Spicer Is Honored Because - As Bush Officials Have Shown - D.C. Elites Always Thrive."

U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy R-LA wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich warns of, "The Growing Danger Of Dynastic Wealth."

Jeffery St. Clair says, "Hillary Happened."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Exhausted John Kelly Parks President In Front Of Episode Of 'Tucker Carlson' To Get Quick Hour To Himself" but first, Uncle Ernie sees, "President Jabberwock."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Milt Pilggree, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Mr. Fish, Propaganda Remix, Nicholas Kamm, Walter, Ars Electronica, NASA, Reuters, Shutterstock, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, HBO, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org. Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

John Kelly's reaction to Trump's United Nations speech

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President Jabberwock
Our national embarrassment goes to the U.N.
By Ernest Stewart

So, would the president be deeply philosophical or would he be Donald Trump? We found out when he got up to speak in front of his most diverse audience of all time. Now, President Trump's address included many familiar themes: how great he's doing as president, how great the country's doing with him as president, how much he's president, did I mention he's president?" ~~~ Trevor Noah

You don't need a weather man
To know which way the wind blows
Subterranean Homesick Blues~~~ Bob Dylan

"Coverage for all? No. In fact it will kick about 30 million Americans off insurance.
"Pre-existing conditions? Nope. If the bill passes, individual states can let insurance companies charge you more if you have a pre-existing condition. You'll find that little loophole later in the document, after it says they can't. They can and they will.
"But will it lower premiums? Well, in fact for lots of people, the bill will result in higher premiums.
"And as far as lifetime caps go, the states can decide on that too, which means there will be no lifetime caps in many states." --- Jimmy Kimmel

"Success follows those who champion a cause greater than themselves." ~~~ George Alexiou

Donald gave another song and dance, this time to the U.N. and the results were par for the course. The far, far right loved it, regardless of what his speech implied. The reaction from the UN was to piss off a lot of countries, including our allies and the United Nations, forced most of the delegates to play games on their phones, or stare off into space or to walk out which the North Korean delegation did before Trump approached the podium. To the North Koreans Trump said:
"North Korea's reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life.

It is an outrage that some nations would not only trade with such a regime, but would arm, supply and financially support a country that imperils the world with nuclear conflict. No nation on Earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles.

The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary. That's what the United Nations is all about; that's what the United Nations is for. Let's see how they do."
Trump attacked Iran, dismissing the nuclear deal between Tehran and the U.S. and other world powers that lifted sanctions in exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear program. Trump ripped the deal as an "embarrassment" and vowed that this would not be the last the world hears about it - "believe me."
"The Iranian government, masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy. The Iran deal is the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into."
To which talk Iranian president Hassan Rouhani replied...
"The ignorant, absurd and hateful rhetoric... was not only unfit to be heard at the United Nations which was established to promote peace and respect between nations, but indeed contradicted the demands of our nations from this world body to bring governments together to combat war and terror.

"Exiting such an agreement would have - would carry a high cost for the United States of America. I do not believe that Americans would be willing to pay such a high cost for something that will be useless for them."
Venezuelan delegation sat with their arms crossed as Trump described the country's leadership, under President Nicolas Maduro, as a "corrupt regime that has destroyed a prosperous nation by ideology that has produced poverty and misery everywhere it has been tried."

Of course, the only positive spin on this came from Trump's puppetmaster Benjamin Netanyahu who tweeted: "In over 30 years in my experience with the UN, I never heard a bolder or more courageous speech." Meanwhile, the Zionazis in Tel Aviv were dancing the Temani and planning attacks on Iran that will no doubt start WWIII, if Trump hasn't started it first!

Oy Vey!

In Other News

I watched my local weatherman, and I'm not talking about the good kind, but the one on TV. He was busy denying that global warming has anything to do with those killer hurricanes we've been having and then said that all global warming was doing was raising the oceans surface temperature. I'll repeat that again, for those of you on drugs:

Global Warming doesn't cause hurricanes, except, of course, that it does!

You may have notice that Atlantic hurricanes form off the coast of Africa where the water temp is slightly above bath water and it rides that heat wave across the ocean until it arrives where the water temperature is slightly higher and if it's path stays in this warm water and it misses landfall it continues to get stronger and that tropical storm spawned off Africa turns into a Category 4 or a Category 5 in the Caribbean. That was the formula for last 3 out of the last 4 hurricanes with Jose leaving the warm water and heading north until it became a tropical storm. Meanwhile our latest storm Maria is following Harvey and Irma's path of wiping out the islands and heading for the US. So far they've named 13 storms this season and season is only half over. For those of you who might think a Category 5 is the worse nature can do, think again. Those Pacific super or mega Typhoons make ours look like a tempest in a teapot!

There was more bad news in a story published in the journal Nature Geoscience, it concludes that "limiting the increase in global average temperatures above pre-industrial levels to 1.5-C, the goal of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, is not yet geophysically impossible, but likely requires more ambitious emission reductions than those pledged so far." Pity we're the 2nd largest polutter on the planet, i.e., "the United Snakes" thanks to "glorious leader" we won't even try to reach the current emission reductions. China which is the worst is doing it's best to make us #1 as it's adopted and gone beyond the Paris accords.

Apparently there are, "Three approaches were used to evaluate the outstanding 'carbon budget' (the total amount of CO2 emissions compatible with a given global average warming) for 1.5-C: re-assessing the evidence provided by complex Earth System Models, new experiments with an intermediate-complexity model, and evaluating the implications of current ranges of uncertainty in climate system properties using a simple model. In all cases the level of emissions and warming to date were taken into account."

Dr Richard Millar, lead author and post-doctoral research fellow at the Oxford Martin Net Zero Carbon Investment Initiative at Oxford University, said: "Limiting total CO2 emissions from the start of 2015 to beneath 240 billion tonnes of carbon (880 billion tonnes of CO2), or about 20 years' of current emissions, would likely achieve the Paris goal of limiting warming to 1.5-C above pre-industrial levels."

So fasten your seat belts coastal America, it's going to be a bumpy ride!

And Finally

The Rethuglicans are at it again. If it's the last thing they ever do it will be to get rid of Obama Care and replace it with a death sentence for even more Americans then they tried to get rid of before. This time some 30 million souls. Old "Turtle Boy" and his partner in crime Sinator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana have yet another boondoggle to cram down our throats. In their war against the poor, sick and elderly the Rethuglicans know no bounds. So you know what I did, don't you. I sent the following message to Sinator Cassidy's FaceBook page...

Hey Bill,

I see that you and turtle boy are out to murder the poor, sick and elderly by repealing Obamacare and throwing tens of millions of Americans off of their health insurance and leaving them to die with your bright idea. Just one question Bill. How do you look in the mirror in the morning with a razor in your hand and not cut your worthless throat? How is that possible Bill. An honorable man would fall on his sword, but we both know that will never happen, don't we? You have to have honor to do that! Still, congratulations are in order, as you've just won this weeks Vidkun Quisling Award. That's our weekly award for the biggest traitor in America! I bet your mama would be proud, huh Bill?

If you have any thoughts on Bills bright idea you should share them with him at:

or if he's your Sinator reach him here:
And tell him Uncle Ernie sent you!

Keepin' On

I'm having that Mother Hubbard deja vu, all over again. Nothing but a piece of spam in the PO Box again and need I say that time is running out for the magazine. We need your help now more than ever. I don't spend 50 hour a week, every week, since February 1, 2001 because I lack things to do, I do it because we need to fight back lest we all becomes slaves again and that is exactly where this is leading!

I don't need to tell you what dire straights this country is in. I'm sure, that for many, that's the reason that they come here. The truth is something that you need to know in this day and age. All the old bets are off, and this is, in so many ways, quickly turning into a Brave New World. Might it not be handy, to have folks that you can trust, and know exactly what's going down and will tell the unvarnished truth to help us all through those dangerous daze to come. I think it might come in handy!

Ergo, if you can could give us a hand, by paying your fair share to help us keep fighting the good fight for you and yours! We make no money out of this, not a dime in 17 years; but the Internet is not free; and I have no money, as, maybe like you, I just have my head above water. But if you can please send us whatever you can, as often as you can, to help keep us, keeping on!


07-14-1926 ~ 09-15-2017
Thanks for the film!

06-08-1939 ~ 09-20-2017
Thanks for the film!


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

The Silencing Of Dissent
By By Chris Hedges

The ruling elites, who grasp that the reigning ideology of global corporate capitalism and imperial expansion no longer has moral or intellectual credibility, have mounted a campaign to shut down the platforms given to their critics. The attacks within this campaign include blacklisting, censorship and slandering dissidents as foreign agents for Russia and purveyors of "fake news."

No dominant class can long retain control when the credibility of the ideas that justify its existence evaporates. It is forced, at that point, to resort to crude forms of coercion, intimidation and censorship. This ideological collapse in the United States has transformed those of us who attack the corporate state into a potent threat, not because we reach large numbers of people, and certainly not because we spread Russian propaganda, but because the elites no longer have a plausible counterargument.

The elites face an unpleasant choice. They could impose harsh controls to protect the status quo or veer leftward toward socialism to ameliorate the mounting economic and political injustices endured by most of the population. But a move leftward, essentially reinstating and expanding the New Deal programs they have destroyed, would impede corporate power and corporate profits. So instead the elites, including the Democratic Party leadership, have decided to quash public debate. The tactic they are using is as old as the nation-state-smearing critics as traitors who are in the service of a hostile foreign power. Tens of thousands of people of conscience were blacklisted in this way during the Red Scares of the 1920s and 1950s. The current hyperbolic and relentless focus on Russia, embraced with gusto by "liberal" media outlets such as The New York Times and MSNBC, has unleashed what some have called a virulent "New McCarthyism."

The corporate elites do not fear Russia. There is no publicly disclosed evidence that Russia swung the election to Donald Trump. Nor does Russia appear to be intent on a military confrontation with the United States. I am certain Russia tries to meddle in U.S. affairs to its advantage, as we do and did in Russia-including our clandestine bankrolling of Boris Yeltsin, whose successful 1996 campaign for re-election as president is estimated to have cost up to $2.5 billion, much of that money coming indirectly from the American government. In today's media environment Russia is the foil. The corporate state is unnerved by the media outlets that give a voice to critics of corporate capitalism, the security and surveillance state and imperialism, including the network RT America.

My show on RT America, "On Contact," like my columns at Truthdig, amplifies the voices of these dissidents-Tariq Ali, Kshama Sawant, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Medea Benjamin, Ajamu Baraka, Noam Chomsky, Dr. Margaret Flowers, Rania Khalek, Amira Hass, Miko Peled, Abby Martin, Glen Ford, Max Blumenthal, Pam Africa, Linh Dinh, Ben Norton, Eugene Puryear, Allan Nairn, Jill Stein, Kevin Zeese and others. These dissidents, if we had a functioning public broadcasting system or a commercial press free of corporate control, would be included in the mainstream discourse. They are not bought and paid for. They have integrity, courage and often brilliance. They are honest. For these reasons, in the eyes of the corporate state, they are very dangerous.

The first and deadliest salvo in the war on dissent came in 1971 when Lewis Powell, a corporate attorney and later a Supreme Court justice, wrote and circulated a memo among business leaders called "Attack on American Free Enterprise System." It became the blueprint for the corporate coup d'Etat. Corporations, as Powell recommended in the document, poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the assault, financing pro-business political candidates, mounting campaigns against the liberal wing of the Democratic Party and the press and creating institutions such as the Business Roundtable, The Heritage Foundation, the Manhattan Institute, the Cato Institute, Citizens for a Sound Economy, the Federalist Society and Accuracy in Academia. The memo argued that corporations had to fund sustained campaigns to marginalize or silence those who in "the college campus, the pulpit, the media, and the intellectual and literary journals" were hostile to corporate interests.

Powell attacked Ralph Nader by name. Lobbyists flooded Washington and state capitals. Regulatory controls were abolished. Massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy were implemented, culminating in a de facto tax boycott. Trade barriers were lifted and the country's manufacturing base was destroyed. Social programs were slashed and funds for infrastructure, from roads and bridges to public libraries and schools, were cut. Protections for workers were gutted. Wages declined or stagnated. The military budget, along with the organs of internal security, became ever more bloated. A de facto blacklist, especially in universities and the press, was used to discredit intellectuals, radicals and activists who decried the idea of the nation prostrating itself before the dictates of the marketplace and condemned the crimes of imperialism, some of the best known being Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Sheldon Wolin, Ward Churchill, Nader, Angela Davis and Edward Said. These critics were permitted to exist only on the margins of society, often outside of institutions, and many had trouble making a living.

The financial meltdown of 2008 not only devastated the global economy, it exposed the lies propagated by those advocating globalization. Among these lies: that salaries of workers would rise, democracy would spread across the globe, the tech industry would replace manufacturing as a source of worker income, the middle class would flourish, and global communities would prosper. After 2008 it became clear that the "free market" is a scam, a zombie ideology by which workers and communities are ravaged by predatory capitalists and assets are funneled upward into the hands of the global 1 percent. The endless wars, fought largely to enrich the arms industry and swell the power of the military, are futile and counterproductive to national interests. Deindustrialization and austerity programs have impoverished the working class and fatally damaged the economy.

The establishment politicians in the two leading parties, each in service to corporate power and responsible for the assault on civil liberties and impoverishment of the country, are no longer able to use identity politics and the culture wars to whip up support. This led in the last presidential campaign to an insurgency by Bernie Sanders, which the Democratic Party crushed, and the election of Donald Trump.

Barack Obama rode a wave of bipartisan resentment into office in 2008, then spent eight years betraying the public. Obama's assault on civil liberties, including his use of the Espionage Act to prosecute whistleblowers, was worse than those carried out by George W. Bush. He accelerated the war on public education by privatizing schools, expanded the wars in the Middle East, including the use of militarized drone attacks, provided little meaningful environmental reform, ignored the plight of the working class, deported more undocumented people than any other president, imposed a corporate-sponsored health care program that was the brainchild of the right-wing Heritage Foundation, and prohibited the Justice Department from prosecuting the bankers and financial firms that carried out derivatives scams and inflated the housing and real estate market, a condition that led to the 2008 financial meltdown. He epitomized, like Bill Clinton, the bankruptcy of the Democratic Party. Clinton, outdoing Obama's later actions, gave us the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the dismantling of the welfare system, the deregulation of the financial services industry and the huge expansion of mass incarceration. Clinton also oversaw deregulation of the Federal Communications Commission, a change that allowed a handful of corporations to buy up the airwaves.

The corporate state was in crisis at the end of the Obama presidency. It was widely hated. It became vulnerable to attacks by the critics it had pushed to the fringes. Most vulnerable was the Democratic Party establishment, which claims to defend the rights of working men and women and protect civil liberties. This is why the Democratic Party is so zealous in its efforts to discredit its critics as stooges for Moscow and to charge that Russian interference caused its election defeat.

In January there was a report on Russia by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The report devoted seven of its 25 pages to RT America and its influence on the presidential election. It claimed "Russian media made increasingly favorable comments about President-elect Trump as the 2016 US general and primary election campaigns progressed while consistently offering negative coverage of Secretary [Hillary] Clinton." This might seem true if you did not watch my RT broadcasts, which relentlessly attacked Trump as well as Clinton, or watch Ed Schultz, who now has a program on RT after having been the host of an MSNBC commentary program. The report also attempted to present RT America as having a vast media footprint and influence it does not possess.

"In an effort to highlight the alleged 'lack of democracy' in the United States, RT broadcast, hosted, and advertised third party candidate debates and ran reporting supportive of the political agenda of these candidates," the report read, correctly summing up themes on my show. "The RT hosts asserted that the US two-party system does not represent the views of at least one-third of the population and is a 'sham.' "

It went on:

RT's reports often characterize the United States as a 'surveillance state' and allege widespread infringements of civil liberties, police brutality, and drone use.

RT has also focused on criticism of the US economic system, US currency policy, alleged Wall Street greed, and the US national debt. Some of RT's hosts have compared the United States to Imperial Rome and have predicted that government corruption and "corporate greed" will lead to US financial collapse.

Is the corporate state so obtuse it thinks the American public has not, on its own, reached these conclusions about the condition of the nation? Is this what it defines as "fake news"? But most important, isn't this the truth that the courtiers in the mainstream press and public broadcasting, dependent on their funding from sources such as the Koch brothers, refuse to present? And isn't it, in the end, the truth that frightens them the most? Abby Martin and Ben Norton ripped apart the mendacity of the report and the complicity of the corporate media in my "On Contact" show titled "Real purpose of intel report on Russian hacking with Abby Martin & Ben Norton."

The blacklist published by the shadowy and anonymous site PropOrNot in November 2016 soon followed. The blacklist was composed of 199 sites PropOrNot alleged, with no evidence, "reliably echo Russian propaganda." More than half of those sites were far-right, conspiracy-driven ones. But about 20 of the sites were major left-wing outlets including AlterNet, Black Agenda Report, Democracy Now!, Naked Capitalism, Truthdig, Truthout, CounterPunch and the World Socialist Web Site. The blacklist and the spurious accusations that these sites disseminated "fake news" on behalf of Russia were given prominent play in The Washington Post in a story headlined "Russian propaganda effort helped spread 'fake news' during the election, experts say." The reporter, Craig Timberg, wrote that the goal of the Russian propaganda effort, according to "independent researchers who have tracked the operation," was "punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy." Last December, Truthdig columnist Bill Boyarsky wrote a good piece about PropOrNot, which to this day remains essentially a secret organization.

The owner of The Washington Post, Jeff Bezos, also the founder and CEO of Amazon, has a $600 million contract with the CIA. Google, likewise, is deeply embedded within the security and surveillance state and aligned with the ruling elites. Amazon recently purged over 1,000 negative reviews of Hillary Clinton's new book, "What Happened." The effect was that the book's Amazon rating jumped from 2 1/2 stars to five stars. Do corporations such as Google and Amazon carry out such censorship on behalf of the U.S. government? Or is this censorship their independent contribution to protect the corporate state?

In the name of combating Russia-inspired "fake news," Google, Facebook, Twitter, The New York Times, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed News, Agence France-Presse and CNN in April imposed algorithms or filters, overseen by "evaluators," that hunt for key words such as "U.S. military," "inequality" and "socialism," along with personal names such as Julian Assange and Laura Poitras, the filmmaker. Ben Gomes, Google's vice president for search engineering, says Google has amassed some 10,000 "evaluators" to determine the "quality" and veracity of websites. Internet users doing searches on Google, since the algorithms were put in place, are diverted from sites such as Truthdig and directed to mainstream publications such as The New York Times. The news organizations and corporations that are imposing this censorship have strong links to the Democratic Party. They are cheerleaders for American imperial projects and global capitalism. Because they are struggling in the new media environment for profitability, they have an economic incentive to be part of the witch hunt.

The World Socialist Web Site reported in July that its aggregate volume, or "impressions"-links displayed by Google in response to search requests-fell dramatically over a short period after the new algorithms were imposed. It also wrote that a number of sites "declared to be 'fake news' by the Washington Post's discredited [PropOrNot] blacklist ... had their global ranking fall. The average decline of the global reach of all of these sites is 25 percent. ..."

Another article, "Google rigs searches to block access to World Socialist Web Site," by the same website that month said:

During the month of May, Google searches including the word "war" produced 61,795 WSWS impressions. In July, WSWS impressions fell by approximately 90 percent, to 6,613.

Searches for the term "Korean war" produced 20,392 impressions in May. In July, searches using the same words produced zero WSWS impressions. Searches for "North Korea war" produced 4,626 impressions in May. In July, the result of the same search produced zero WSWS impressions. "India Pakistan war" produced 4,394 impressions in May. In July, the result, again, was zero. And "Nuclear war 2017" produced 2,319 impressions in May, and zero in July.

To cite some other searches: "WikiLeaks," fell from 6,576 impressions to zero, "Julian Assange" fell from 3,701 impressions to zero, and "Laura Poitras" fell from 4,499 impressions to zero. A search for "Michael Hastings"-the reporter who died in 2013 under suspicious circumstances-produced 33,464 impressions in May, but only 5,227 impressions in July.

In addition to geopolitics, the WSWS regularly covers a broad range of social issues, many of which have seen precipitous drops in search results. Searches for "food stamps," "Ford layoffs," "Amazon warehouse," and "secretary of education" all went down from more than 5,000 impressions in May to zero impressions in July.

The accusation that left-wing sites collude with Russia has made them theoretically subject, along with those who write for them, to the Espionage Act and the Foreign Agent Registration Act, which requires Americans who work on behalf of a foreign party to register as foreign agents.

The latest salvo came last week. It is the most ominous. The Department of Justice called on RT America and its "associates"-which may mean people like me-to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act. No doubt, the corporate state knows that most of us will not register as foreign agents, meaning we will be banished from the airwaves. This, I expect, is the intent. The government will not stop with RT. The FBI has been handed the authority to determine who is a "legitimate" journalist and who is not. It will use this authority to decimate the left.

This is a war of ideas. The corporate state cannot compete honestly in this contest. It will do what all despotic regimes do-govern through wholesale surveillance, lies, blacklists, false accusations of treason, heavy-handed censorship and, eventually, violence.
(c) 2017 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

Despair Of Despair
By Uri Avnery

MY OPTIMISM about the future of Israel irritates a lot of people. How can I be an optimist in view of what's happening here every day? The practical annexation of occupied territories? The mistreatment of the Arabs? The implantation of poisonous settlements?

But optimism is a state of mind. It does not falter in the face of evil. On the contrary, evil must be fought. And you cannot fight if you do not believe that you can win.

Some of my friends believe that the fight is already lost. That Israel can no longer be changed "from within". That the only way to change it is by pressure from outside.

Fortunately, they believe, there is an outside force, that is ready and able to do our job for us.

It is called BDS - short for "Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions".

ONE OF these friends is Ruchama Marton.

If anyone has the right to criticize and despair, it is she. Ruchama is a psychiatrist, the founder and now the honorary president of the Israeli association "Physicians for Human Rights". A splendid outfit.

The physicians go every week to an Arab village and dispense medical help (for free) to all who need it. Even the Israeli authorities respect it, and often accede to their demand to allow sick people from the occupied territories into Israel for hospitalization.

When we celebrated Ruchama's 80 birthday last week, she turned on me and accused me of fostering false hopes about the chance that present-day Israel will ever make peace and withdraw from the Palestinian territories. According to her, that chance has passed. What is left is the duty to support BDS.

BDS is a world-wide movement which propagates the total boycott of everything Israeli. It wants to convince corporations, and especially universities, to divest themselves of Israeli investments, and supports all kinds of sanctions against Israel.

In Israel, BDS is hated like the devil, if not more. You really need a lot of courage to stand up in Israel and support it publicly, as a few people do.

I promised Ruchama to provide an answer to her accusation. So here it is.

First of all, I have a profound moral objection to any argument that says that we can do nothing to save our own state, and that we must put our trust in foreigners to do our job. Israel is our state. We are responsible for it. I belong to the few thousands who defended it on the battlefield when it was born. Now it is our duty to fight for it to become the state we wanted it to be.

First of all, I do not accept the belief that the battle is lost. No battle is lost as long as there are people who are ready to fight.

I BELIEVE in peace. Peace means agreement between two (or more) sides to live in peace. Israeli-Palestinian peace means that the State of Israel and the Palestinian national movement come to terms with each other.

Peace between Israel and Palestine presupposes that the State of Israel does exist, side by side with the State of Palestine. I am not quite sure that this is the aim of the BDS movement. Much of what it does and says could lead to the conclusion that it wants a peace without Israel.

I believe that it is the duty of BDS to make this point absolutely clear. Peace with Israel or peace without Israel?

Some people believe that peace without the State of Israel is possible and desirable. Many of them subscribe to something called the "One-state Solution". This implies that Israelis and Palestinians will live happily together in one common state, as equal citizens.

That is a nice dream, but, unfortunately, historical experience testifies against it. The Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Indochina and others have broken up, Belgium, Canada, the UK, and many others are in dire danger of breaking apart. At this very moment, genocide is being carried out in Burma under the auspices of a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Are two fiercely nationalistic peoples, who claim the same homeland and have been at war for almost 150 years, now going to live together peacefully in one joint state? Not likely. Life in such a state would be hell.

(An Israeli joke: "Can the wolf and the sheep live together? No problem! But one has to provide a new sheep every day.")

PEOPLE WHO support BDS generally point to the experience of South Africa as the basis of their strategy.

The story goes like this: the black majority of South Africa were oppressed by the white minority. They turned to the enlightened (white) world, who proclaimed a world-wide boycott on the country. In the end the Whites gave in. Two wonderful men, Nelson Mandela and Frederick Willem de Klerk, fell into each others arms. Curtain.

This is the story seen through white eyes. It reflects typical self-centered white egotism. Black eyes see a slightly different story:

The blacks, who constituted the vast majority in South Africa, started a campaign of strikes and violence. Mandela, too, was a terrorist. The world-wide boycott movement certainly helped, but it was the indigenous struggle that was decisive.

(Israeli leaders told their white South African friends to partition the country, but there were no takers on either side.)

Circumstances here are totally different. Israel does not need Arab workers, it can do well without. It imports laborers from all over the world. The living standard of Israelis is more than 20 times (!) higher than that of the Palestinians in the occupied territories. Both sides entertain a fierce nationalism. Because of the holocaust, the Jewish side enjoys the profound sympathy of the world. Anti-Semitism is out, and Israeli propaganda accuses BDS of being anti-Semitic.

In a moment of unusual wisdom, the United Nations decreed the partition of Palestine. In practice, there is no better solution.

IN PRINCIPLE, I am not against a boycott. Indeed, already in 1997, the Gush Shalom movement, to which I belong, was the first to proclaim a boycott of the settlements. We distributed many thousands of lists of the businesses operating there. As a result, quite a number of them were re-located to Israel proper. I can easily envision an even wider boycott of all enterprises which support the settlements.

But to my mind, a boycott of Israel proper is a mistake. It would drive all Israelis into the arms of the settlers, while our job is to isolate the settlers and separate them from ordinary Israelis.

Is this ever possible? Is this still possible? I believe it is.

THE PRESENT situation indicates that we have made mistakes. We must stop and think again, right from the beginning.

The organization founded by Ruchama Marton is not the only group doing its bit for peace and human rights. There are dozens of them, founded by splendid men and women, each active in its chosen niche. We need to find a way to combine their strengths without damaging their independence and special nature. We need to find a way to revitalize the political parties of the Left (the Labor Party, Meretz and the Arab United List) which are in a state of coma. Or form a new party.

I respect BDS and all their activists who are sincerely striving to liberate the Palestinians and make peace between them and us. The effort being made now in the US to enact a law forbidding their activity looks to me both ridiculous and anti-democratic. Let them do their job over there. Our job here is to regroup, to reorganize and to redouble our efforts to overturn our present government and their allies and bring the forces of peace to power.

I believe that the majority of Jewish Israelis would want peace, if they thought peace possible. They are torn between an energetic right-wing minority, with a fascist edge, that declares peace both impossible and undesirable, and a weak and soft left-wing minority.

This is not a hopeless situation. The fight is far from over. We must do our job inside Israel, and let the outside forces do their job over there.

There is nothing to despair of but despair itself.
(c) 2017 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Trump's "Sovereignty" Is Lawlessness (So was Obama's)
Regime change is the rule in U.S. foreign policy practice.
By Glen Ford

Donald Trump's tragicomic performance at this week's opening of the United Nations General Assembly caused the U.S. foreign policy establishment to cringe in embarrassment, as the ultra-provincial and unabashedly white supremacist real estate magnate from Queens brazenly threatened U.S. military intervention any damn where he pleases, based on American "sovereign" rights.

"Sovereignty," and its variations, is Trump's foreign policy mantra, a term he deployed 21 times in much the same way that previous American leaders (including Confederates) brayed incessantly about "freedom" to justify their multitudinous crimes: "freedom" to exterminate and enslave darker peoples, and the "freedom" of infinite expansion across other people's borders. Effectively, "sovereignty" = "freedom" = "American exceptionalism" -- all of which far outweigh (trump) international law. In this sense, Trump's foreign policy is substantively no different than his predecessors': lawless and brutal. Which is precisely why U.S. corporate imperialists and their servants -- the folks with offices, assets and bases all across the planet -- are desperate to muzzle or overthrow the oaf in the White House. Trump is white settler imperialism in the raw, a colonoscopy into the nation's innards and, therefore, much too ugly for international prime time.

Trump has great difficulties even pretending that he gives a hoot about what the world thinks. Only after addressing his domestic audience ("the stock market is at an all-time high...more people are working in the United States and than ever before") did Trump appear to be speaking directly to the assembled foreigners. He delivered an implicit threat: "We will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defense. Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been." Trump quickly deployed his watchword, "sovereignty." The UN's "success," he said, "depends on a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty, to promote security, prosperity, and peace, for themselves and for the world."

He is wrong. The United Nations' claim to legitimacy is based on the rule of international law, of which the UN is the ultimate instrument -- law that applies equally to nations small or large, weak or strong. National sovereignty is protected by international law, and is not subject to the machinations of "coalition[s] of strong and independent nations" acting outside the norms of law. Trump utters the word "law" just twice in his presentation, and only in a pro forma, passing manner. That's because, in Trump's worldview - shared by a huge portion of the U.S public -- American super-sovereignty cannot be bound by non-national institutions - a central aspect of Trump's "America First" philosophy.

There is nothing strange about Trump's worldview -- except that he expresses U.S. "exceptionalism" in such raw language before an international public. Barack Obama and every U.S. president that has served since the founding of the United Nations has flaunted international law in practice, despite paying lip service to the principle in nearly every international venue. U.S. imperialism intends to rule the world, by any and all means necessary. It's no secret; U.S. leaders have heralded "an American Century" for at least three-quarters of a century. Regime change is the rule in U.S. foreign policy practice; William Blum lists 57 attempted or successful U.S. overthrows of targeted governments since World War Two. Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama collectively developed an alternative version of international law, called "Responsibility to Protect" (R2P) to justify U.S. violation of targeted countries' national sovereignty.

Since 9/11, regime change has been elevated to a national crusade, raggedly cloaked in a "War on Terror." Obama's brazen overthrow of the Libyan government in 2011, followed by his illegal regime change war against Syria, finally forced a military response by Russia, in 2015. At the UN General Assembly meeting, Russian President Vladimir Putin told the world body"

"An aggressive foreign interference has resulted in a brazen destruction of national institutions and the lifestyle itself. Instead of the triumph of democracy and progress, we got violence, poverty and social disaster. Nobody cares a bit about human rights, including the right to life.

"I cannot help asking those who have caused the situation, do you realize now what you've done?"

What Obama had done was enlist al Qaida as a military asset of the illegal U.S. wars against sovereign governments. Putin pointed to the convoys of oil tankers stretching "to the horizon" from ISIS held oil fields to the Syrian border with Turkey -- with the U.S. Air Force benignly patrolling overhead. Russia's entirely legal military intervention at the request of the sovereign government of Syria -- a member in good standing at the UN - reversed the nation's descent into U.S.-backed jihadist terror. History may decree that Putin saved the international legal order from complete destruction by the "exceptionalist" United States.

Barack Obama uttered the words "law" seven times at the 2015 UN General Assembly, each time with utter hypocrisy. But such are the rules of verbal conduct. The aggressor must deploy the language of international law, even as he trashes the principle, so that the compliant international corporate media can describe imperial criminality in high-sounding terms. If you say "international law" often enough, media professionals can make you sound as if you are actually conforming to the law.

Donald Trump is no more -- or less -- opposed to international law than Barack Obama or other past presidents. He's just more upfront and honest about U.S. imperial prerogatives, and is attracted to the Confederate-ness of the term "sovereign." Trump at least entertained the idea of normalizing relations with Russia, and quietly succeeded in shutting down the CIA's jihadist-training program in Syria. He has also bombed a Syrian air base, to prove to the War Party that he is willing to use gratuitous violence, and this week told the UN that the U.S. might "have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea" and "is ready, willing, and able" to help that country's "Rocket man" leader commit suicide.

Obama probably wouldn't have spoken that way, but would doubtless also be threatening North Korea with nuclear annihilation -- just as has every U.S. government since Harry Truman.
(c) 2017 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

Be the lucky winner of your very own mass-murder hobby kit!

The Day I Got 23 Guns In The Mail
By William Rivers Pitt

I got 23 guns in the mail on Tuesday. Three shotguns, eight handguns, eight hunting rifles and four assault rifles, emblazoned all over the front and back of a large glossy yellow envelope from Fairfax, Virginia. Scattered in between the pictures of weapons were some ATVs, a dead buffalo, a dead elk, a shiny pile of unused bullets, and the following declarations:

How I came to be in possession of this incredible bit of correspondence has everything to do with the quality of magazines to be found in hospital waiting rooms. I spent a fair portion of June in those rooms, dealing with the aftermath of a health emergency. My reading choices ranged from periodicals like Better Throw Rugs & Window Treatments to Sconces Today to Your Lawn Sucks Quarterly, and the news-related magazines all thought Trump might win the 2016 New Hampshire primary.

One day, however, I found an up-to-date copy of Field & Stream, one of the most popular hunting/fishing/camping magazines. Having filled my quota of stories about spoons and clever potpourri, I dove right in _ and came across one of the most well-written, eloquent articles on the defense of public land I've ever read.

Sure, the authors wanted to save that land from mining and drilling mainly so they could keep hunting and fishing in still-pristine protected lands -- but the writers accurately made the Republican land-grabbers sound like the Barbary Pirates, and more to the point, the activists described in the story were winning the fight in ways left-leaning environmentalists simply can't. The GOP listens to gun people, and the gun people were saying "No."

So, in the spirit of weird comradeship, I dropped ten bucks on a yearly subscription to Field & Stream. Hey, I live in rural New Hampshire. The wise animal adapts to his surroundings.

Tuesday saw the Lotsa Guns NRA Sweepstakes envelope hit my PO Box. On Wednesday night, I got a fundraising call from the Republican National Committee. Methinks my new pals at Field & Stream peddled my papers to the National Rifle Association and the Republican Party. Thanks to some crummy reading choices in sickrooms, I seem to have joined a club that would never have me as a member.

Opening the seal, one imagines a whiff of cordite and freedom. The first enclosure is much like the outside of the envelope, festooned with exciting proclamations about the sweepstakes opportunities here at my fingertips. Exclamation point usage is, pardon the pun, quite liberal. First Prize: 12 guns, or come kill an elk! Second Prize: 9 guns, or come kill a bison! Third Prize: 7 guns, or come kill a bear! It continues on a sliding scale like this -- fewer guns, quail and chickadee hunts -- to the tenth prize, which is a very small red flashlight that would totally be lethal if you dropped it on someone from a tall building.

Then comes the special exhortation: "Please enter as soon as you can!" it shouts. "Because this sweepstakes also includes a very special Early Entry Bonus Prize -- a top-of-the-line LaRue Tactical rifle and 7,200 rounds of ammo!"

What a country, right? There I was, minding my own business on a Tuesday afternoon, and the postal service brought me a letter seeking to give me -- not sell, give -- the means to kill every living soul in my small town three times over. Having this capability is a moral imperative, you see, because as NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre explained in the letter I got with all this, the world is a doomed zombie bonfire and we're all kindling.

"You and I know our enemies are not going away if we lay down our arms now," it reads. "They have more resolve than ever. And they're promising to fight on and never surrender. Again, you don't have to join NRA to enter the sweepstakes. It won't improve your chances of winning. But your NRA membership will definitely improve your chances of holding the line against those who would like nothing more than to destroy your freedom. Standing together under the NRA banner is the best guarantee for the long-term survival of our freedom, our heritage and our American way of life."

Ah, yes, the gilded buzzword: "heritage." What are the fruits of this heritage? Colonialism, white supremacy, fear and rage, all wound together to facilitate a national bloodbath that has killed more people than smallpox. Mr. LaPierre would have his followers believe in a horde of liberal gun-grabbing brigands looming over the horizon, just waiting for the right time to strike. Five years ago, 20 children and 6 staff members were slaughtered at Sandy Hook Elementary School with a gun very much like the one Mr. LaPierre wants to give me today. The fact that I received this gun-swaddled sweepstakes mailer in the first place is proof positive that nothing, but nothing, has changed.

Last Sunday, a group of friends gathered at a house in Plano, Texas, to watch football together. According to reports, the estranged husband of one of the guests showed up uninvited, there was an angry verbal altercation, and then he started shooting. When it was all over, nine people were dead including the wife of the gunman. The gunman himself was killed by police.,P. Hurricane Harvey was over by then, Irma was in full swing, and the news media almost completely ignored yet another story of mass gun carnage. These events have become commonplace to the point of near-invisibility. It is also worthwhile to note, given the NRA's long history of racial scaremongering, that this latest gun massacre -- like most large-scale acts of gun violence in the US -- was perpetrated by a white man.

The news media almost completely ignored yet another story of mass gun carnage. "The last time I saw her was at my sister's wedding," wrote a friend of one of the victims, "which she attended with the man who would kill her. I must have met him. It is so difficult to believe this is real; it is impossible to understand that it is common."

Imagine what the Plano shooter might have accomplished had he won Mr. LaPierre's LaRue Tactical Rifle and those 7,200 rounds of ammunition. Someone, somewhere is going to win that stuff sooner or later, and we are somehow supposed to feel safer and more free because of it.

I cancelled my Field & Stream subscription. It's a fine publication, I suppose. I'm just not comfortable with the company I'm suddenly keeping.
(c) 2017 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

Where Can Congress Forget Shaming This Do-Nothing Congress. Stop Paying Them!
By Jim Hightower

Want good quality, lower-cost health care for your family - and (what the hell, let's think big here) for every man, woman, and (especially) every child in our society?

Here's how we can finally get Congress to pass such a program: Step One - take away every dime of the multimillion-dollar government subsidy that Members of Congress get to cover their platinum-level health insurance. Let them have to live with the same exorbitantly-expensive, dysfunctional, and (let's admit it) sick system of medical profiteering they've thrust on us. Eliminate all of their special treatments, including shutting down their "Office of the Attending Physician," a little-known spot of pure, 100% socialized medicine conveniently located in our US Capitol to provide government-paid doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and others who give immediate, on-the-spot attention to these special ones.

Well, you might say, they still won't feel the pain, because they're 1-percenters, pulling down $174,000 a year each from us taxpayers, meaning they can afford to buy decent health insurance. Ah, but here comes Step Two - put all of our congressional goof-offs on pay-for-performance salaries. Why pay them a flat rate whether they produce or not? For example, American babies are one-third more likely to die in their first year of life than babies in Poland, which provides universal health insurance for all of its people. So, every year that the US Congress fails to provide health coverage for every American family, the members should get their pay docked by a third. Pay them only when they deliver for the people.

When Congress finally assures good health care for all of us, then its members would get the same coverage. But until they deliver for the whole public, the public owes them nothing.
(c) 2017 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

Jeff gives the corporate salute

Honor the Constitution By Impeaching Jeff Sessions
The attorney general lied to Congress, and now he uses a department named "Justice" to undermine justice.
By John Nichols

Two hundred and thirty years ago this week, delegates to the convention that drafted the US Constitution signed the document into being. In so doing, they afforded the legislative branch the power to remove presidents, vice presidents, and attorneys general. This was an essential act in the distinguishing of the American experiment. As George Mason said in that summer of 1787, "No point is of more importance than that the right of impeachment should be continued. Shall any man be above justice?"

Impeachment is not a legal mechanism. It is a political act. The founders employed the catch-all phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" to provide leeway for the future generations who would hold errant officials to account. An impeached and convicted official is not jailed or fined. He is simply removed from office. This is the appropriate remedy, as the point of impeachment is not punishment or vengeance but, rather, protection of the republic from lawless and dangerous individuals who have claimed positions of power.

When Wisconsin Congresswoman Gwen Moore called for Trump's impeachment last month, she did so with language that echoed the original intentions of the American experiment. "For the sake of the soul of our country, we must come together to restore our national dignity that has been robbed by Donald Trump's presence in the White House," Moore explained. "My Republican friends, I implore you to work with us within our capacity as elected officials to remove this man as our commander-in-chief and help us move forward from this dark period in our nation's history."

Trump has brought a chorus of impeachment calls upon himself. But he is not the only member of this administration whose words and deeds demand a constitutional remedy. By many good measures, the list of those who should be removed begins with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the most lawless and dangerous member of this administration.

As US Senator Al Franken, D-Minnesota, says of the testimony Sessions gave to his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing with regard to contacts with Russian officials: "I think that he did not answer truthfully under oath." When the lies that Sessions told were exposed, he recognized the seriousness of the circumstance and recused himself from further involvement with the inquiry into alleged ties between Trump's business and Trump's campaign to Russian interests.

Then the attorney general recused himself from his recusal and helped Trump gin up arguments for firing the FBI director who was overseeing the bureau's investigation into what the president referred to as "this Russia thing."

Those are just the rough outlines for articles of impeachment against Sessions, a crudely intolerant political careerist whose enthusiastic talk about scrapping DACA provided a reminder of how he uses his ill-gotten position to divide Americans against one another. Jeff Sessions has no business heading a department named "Justice."

Members of Congress, who swear an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same," can begin to honor that oath by using the power that has been afforded them to impeach and remove Jeff Sessions.
(c) 2017 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Claims GE Knew Fukushima Plants Were Unsafe
By James Donahue

Former nuclear engineer and whistleblower Arnold Gundersen recently told The EnviroNews USA that engineers for General Electric Company knew the Mark 1 boiling water nuclear reactor they were designing in the 1970's was flawed but were unable to stop the company from marketing the system to Tokyo Electric Power Company and 34 other buyers throughout the world. A total of 23 Mark 1 plants are currently operating in the United States.

Three of the four nuclear power plants at Fukushima Daiichi went into meltdown in 2011 after they were hit by a major earthquake and tsunami that caused a total power blackout. The loss of the system's backup power disabled the plant's ability to cool the reactors. The rods of enriched uranium must be kept cooled by a constant flow of water. The high level of radioactivity and heat from the disaster has prevented workers from repairing the destroyed plants the toxic radioactive fallout has been infecting the air and waters throughout the Northern Hemisphere ever since.

Gundersen said three engineers resigned in 1976 because they believed the design was not safe but could not stop General Electric officials from marketing it.

He said he joined General Electric right out of college as a mechanical engineer. He was assigned as a field engineer responsible for supervising the construction and startup of power plant equipment throughout the United States. At the time, the company was building large-scale commercial boiling water reactors on a turnkey basis. They built the entire plant and got it operating before turning it over to the electric companies that was buying it.

As he became familiar with the design and operation of these plants, Gundersen said he also discovered potential problems with the design. He said the Mark 1 units in the U.S. and overseas . . . including the Fukushima units . . . "had not taken into account all of the pressures and forces that are called hydrodynamic loads that could be experienced by the pressure suppression units as a result of a major accident. We didn't really know if the containments would be able to contain the event that they were supposedly designed to contain," he said.

Gunderson said he became worried about this issue. He said he called his boss late one night and said he felt the buyers needed to be warned that GE could not support the continued operation of the plants. He said his boss told him: "If we have to shut down all of those Mark 1 plants it will probably mean the end of GE's nuclear business forever" "That conversation cinched my decision," Gunderson said. He said he resigned the following week.

Gunderson also noted that the staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, after Fukushima, recommended "some pretty substantial improvements" to the operating Mark 1 plants in the U.S. But he said the politically appointed commissions, "who have no nuclear background, overrode the staff" and refused to make the changes. Thus the Commission is also actively involved in blocking needed safety improvements on the aging and potentially explosive nuke energy plants.

It isn't that the Commission is blind to the problem. In fact the Commission published its own report in 1982 that noted an 85 percent chance that "if there was a meltdown in a Mark 1 reactor, the containment would explode." This is exactly what happened at Fukushima.

Based on what he now knows, Gundersen concluded: "I think it would be a good idea to not have reliance on nuclear units. They're very risky enterprises."

The situation in Japan appears to be totally out of control.

Officials at TEPCO have just revealed that radiation levels inside the destroyed reactor are higher than when the plant went into a triple meltdown six years ago.

This is suggesting that something very serious is occurring within a structure that is so radioactive that even robots are unable to successfully enter without going into a complete shutdown. Consequently, plant officials are unable to find out what is going on inside the wrecked facility.

What is feared is that the reactor has become so hot that it has burned its way through the containment core and is falling into the rock formations and possibly the ocean waters under the plant. It is somewhat comparable to a runaway atomic bomb that no human manufactured device has ever been designed to bring under control.

Gunderson, who boasts 44 years of nuclear industry experience, has come under severe criticism for his criticism of the nuclear power industry. His biggest critic appears to be Rod Adams, a retired naval engineer officer, who maintains the website Atomic Insights. Adams claims Gunderson is giving out non-factual information about the dangers of nuclear power generating systems.

Gunderson has written numerous nuclear expert reports and served as an expert witness in the investigation of the Three Mile Island accident and has provided data linked to the Fukushima disaster. He currently is chief engineer of Fairewinds Associates, a non-profit organization to educate the public about nuclear power and other energy issues.
(c) 2017 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

You could write an entire edition of the DSM-the official manual of psychiatric disorders-just on Trump.

The Trump Nightmare: How It Ends
A scenario that becomes more likely by the day.
By Robert Kuttner

I don't have a crystal ball, but I find the following scenario increasingly plausible. Let me begin by giving away the punch-line: When Robert Mueller's report comes out, the Republican leadership will quickly huddle, and tell Trump that he needs to resign or face impeachment.

Why is this prediction other than wishful thinking? For starters, Trump could not do a better job of alienating the Republicans in Congress, whom he needs to save his bacon, if it were his deliberate plan.

He insults Mitch McConnell personally. Then he makes separate deals with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, first on the debt extension, then on the Dreamers, and next quite likely on taxes, and perhaps on climate change.

The far-right base is enraged at Trump as never before. Breitbart has become an anti-Trump screed.

Congressional Republicans never liked Trump, and the feeling was reciprocal-just ask Little Marco or Lyin' Ted. But Trump and the Republicans figured they could use each other. That didn't work out so well. Not much remains of the marriage.

Despite the Republican majority in both houses of Congress, the GOP is so badly split that they can't manage to deliver either their own priorities or Trump's. Obamacare lives. The Dreamers are likely to avoid deportation. Trump is so desperate to get something that he can call tax reform that he could well make a deal with Schumer and Pelosi that avoids cutting taxes on the rich.

Why is Trump behaving like this?

For one thing, Trump is out of patience with McConnell, Ryan, the Freedom Caucus, and the whole Republican crew. They simply can't deliver. He never was much of a partisan Republican, and now he's sniffing around the Democrats. It's Trump's version of what Bill Clinton called "triangulation."

Second, Schumer and Pelosi are part of Trump's tribe-big-city, East Coast ethnics-the kind of people Trump has made deals with all of his adult life. They remind him of his lawyers, his bankers, his developers and real-estate cronies.

Pelosi is from an Italian family in Baltimore. Chuck Schumer is from Jewish Brooklyn. His people. Better yet, unlike poor McConnell and Ryan, they can deliver. Their caucus is unified. They are Trump's kind of deal-maker.

McConnell and Ryan are not part of Trump's tribe at all, and they keep tripping over each other and their fellow Republicans. They are rubes.

Now it would make political sense for Trump to switch camps and do business with the Democrats, were it not for one small detail. He has already committed several impeachable offenses.

Firing FBI Director James Comey, after Comey failed to heed Trump's request to go easy on former national security director Michael Flynn, all by itself is obstruction of justice. And Mueller soon will have a great deal more.

So when Mueller's report is tendered, there will be no partisan reservoir of goodwill left to cause Republicans to rally to Trump's defense. Democrats, never mind their deals on the budget or on taxes or on DACA, will immediately file a bill of impeachment-leaving Republicans in an election year to decide whether to defend a president who is clearly damaged goods and whom they detest.

Whether the Republican leadership sends Trump that message to resign or be impeached will depend on one thing: their calculation of whether they are better off with Vice President Pence becoming president.

And here is where things get really interesting. If you had posed that question a month ago, they might well have decided that they are better off sticking with Trump, for two reasons. First, the hard-core base is still loyal to Trump. And second, Trump has threatened to support primary challengers against Republicans who are disloyal to him.

But that was a month ago, before Trump started doing deals with Schumer and Pelosi, and before he enraged the base by going soft on the Dreamers. To hear Breitbart tell it, Trump should be wearing a scarlet A, for Amnesty.

So by the time Mueller's report comes out, there will be more reasons for Republicans to dump Trump and fewer reasons to keep him. The anti-immigrant base is already beginning to defect. Trump will have far less leverage to run primary opponents against Republicans if he is no longer president. Better to have close to a year to regroup under President Pence.

Would Trump go quietly if confronted with such a threat? Maybe not quietly, but he'd go. An impeachment would spread on the public record, over several agonizing months, all the slimy details of Trump's tax history and tawdry business deals, which he has tried so hard to keep secret. Remember, this is a guy whose highest loyalty is to his brand.

As I said, I don't have a crystal ball, but this scenario becomes more likely by the day. You might wonder: Why, then, does Trump go out of his way to alienate the Republicans in Congress, when they are the one thing standing between him and impeachment or forced resignation?

You may have noticed that clear thought is not exactly Trump's strong suit; that the man is given to impulsive, narcissistic, reckless, infantile behavior that doesn't always serve his self-interest. You could write an entire edition of the DSM-the official manual of psychiatric disorders-just on Trump.

More elegantly, the ancient Greeks liked to say that character is fate. As Trump's hubris begins to do him in, we approach the last act of this tragicomedy.
(c) 2017 Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect magazine, as well as a Distinguished Senior Fellow of the think tank Demos. He was a longtime columnist for Business Week, and continues to write columns in the Boston Globe and Huffington Post. He is the author of A Presidency in Peril: The Inside Story of Obama's Promise, Wall Street's Power, and the Struggle to Control our Economic Future. Obama's Challenge, and other books.

Why Trump's Voter Fraud Commission Is Just A Bunch Of Clown
Vote-suppression specialist Kris Kobach, investigating a problem that doesn't exist, is flailing desperately.
By Heather Digby Parton

It's pretty much beyond dispute at this point that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 election in a number of different ways. The extent of the damage, and whether or not the Trump campaign and other Republicans who were clearly the beneficiaries helped them do it, is still unknown. In the past it would have been automatic for the government to establish a blue-ribbon commission to investigate and make recommendations about how to prevent such events in the future. The 9/11 Commission comes to mind. That obviously is not happening now. In fact, the president is doing everything he can to prevent any investigations at all.

Never let it be said that Donald Trump isn't concerned about the integrity of our elections, however. He is convinced that he was the victim of an unprecedented tidal wave of election fraud amounting to millions of illegal votes, all cast for his opponent in 2016. Determined to prove that he was cheated out of the popular vote, he immediately convened his Election Integrity Commission to look into the matter. It's led by vote suppression zealot, Kansas Secretary of State and paid Breitbart columnist Kris Kobach, the man who wrote the template for Arizona's odious "show me your papers" law that was struck down by the courts.

I've written about Kobach here for years. He is one of the foremost GOP experts on vote suppression and anti-immigration law. Those issues have long been central to conservative political strategy but have achieved new salience with demographic challenges to the Republican coalition, since that relies more and more upon a large racist and xenophobic faction at its base. Kobach is determined to ensure that both legal and illegal immigration is stopped and that voting is made as difficult as possible for minority groups and young people who tend to vote Democratic.

As analyst Ron Brownstein said on CNN on Tuesday when asked about the commission and the issue of "voter fraud":

This is not a neutral "good government" argument. As the court said about the North Carolina [voter fraud] law, they talked about surgical precision aimed at minority voters. You have a diversifying country, and you have in Trump a candidate who relied on whites for 90 percent of his votes in that rapidly diversifying country. He's looking at approval ratings among nonwhite voters of under 20 percent. So there is a clear kind of direction in the way this might be going in terms of the recommendations . . . that is about resisting the implications of a changing America.
On the same program, Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander explained the specific strategy behind Kobach's commission:
As the chief election official in the state of Missouri that has a Republican supermajority, I have seen the GOP voter suppression playbook up close . . . The commission is step one. Convince the American people that American democracy doesn't work so they can then take laws that make it harder to vote and spread them all over the country. And that is the core of the Trump reelection strategy.
Kobach got off to a bad start when he demanded that all states turn over all the personal information on their voters to the commission. He had to back off when many states, even those run by Republicans, refused. This looks even worse today than it did at the time, with Tuesday's report that the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation demanded that the commission be stacked with right-wing extremists. That didn't happen, but the president did appoint the man the foundation confirmed was the one who made that demand to the commission, Hans von Spakovsky. As the Campaign Legal Center has said, von Spakovsky is "widely considered to be the architect of the voter fraud myth." One can only imagine what he and Kobach had planned to do with that information.

On Tuesday, Kobach held the second meeting of the commission and was once again embarrassed by his sloppy extremism. In a Breitbart column last week, he declared that voter fraud had tipped the election in New Hampshire last fall, costing the Republicans a Senate seat. The reason? There were people who registered to vote on Election Day with out-of-state drivers' licenses and didn't get a New Hampshire license within 60 days. As usual, the governing assumption was that these were mostly Democrats because Republicans are all honest as the day is long.

Dave Weigel of The Washington Post debunked this story at the time. These people were mostly college students, and there is no law that says your vote doesn't count if you don't change your driver's license within 60 days. Nonetheless, Kobach and the commission hightailed it up to New Hampshire to "investigate," where Kobach was confronted with his misleading assertions. He now says his evidence was "anecdotal" and admits he shouldn't have said it "appears" there was fraud. He looked foolish, but didn't admit he was wrong.

But that was nothing compared to the master trolling presentation by the thoroughly discredited economist John Lott, whose usual field is the study of gun violence on behalf of the NRA. Evidently, Lott wrote an article on voter fraud a decade ago from which to hang his alleged expert testimony, but his proposal was clearly designed simply to provoke Democrats. He suggested that if the left is so adamant about background checks for gun owners, the government should use that system to determine whether someone is eligible to vote. Quoting Senator Chuck Schumer, Lott said:

Democrats have long been concerned about voter suppression but they've also long lauded the background check system on guns, saying it's simple, accurate, in "complete harmony with the right of people to go and defend themselves." If they don't believe that it suppresses people's ability to defend themselves, would we believe that using this system would suppress being able to go and vote?
The sophomoric Republican commission members could barely keep from snickering and high-fiving each other over how they'd totally pwned those libs. It'll be a cold day in hell before they try to pass gun control legislation again!

Oh, wait: This was about voter fraud. And they want to stop people from voting, don't they? What are they talking about?

To recap: our election campaign was clearly tampered with by a foreign country. The president of the United States may or may not have been in on it, but he's certainly been active in trying to cover it up. Meanwhile, he's convened a commission that's completely lacking in credibility to investigate election fraud that doesn't exist, and they're spending their time trolling Democrats about gun control.

It's Breitbart's world. We just live in it.
(c) 2017Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

Can Emissions Shrink While The Economy Grows?
By David Suzuki

What does climate change have to do with economic growth? Canada's prime minister and premiers signed a deal in December to "grow our economy, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and build resilience to the impacts of a changing climate." The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change outlines plans for carbon pricing, energy-efficient building codes, electric vehicle charging stations, methane emission regulations and more.

Is the framework correct in assuming we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and grow the economy? If not, which should be given precedence?

These questions come at a pivotal moment in Canadian climate action. The Pan-Canadian Framework marks the first time Canada's first ministers have endorsed a national plan to tackle climate change. It opens the door to a game-changing carbon price that will make reducing greenhouse gas emissions the smart, cost-saving choice for businesses and individuals.

However, a recent Nature Climate Change article claims, "No major advanced industrialized country is on track to meet its pledges to control the greenhouse-gas emissions that cause climate change." Canada pushed for ambitious targets during the 2015 Paris climate negotiations, but even the framework won't put us on track to meet our pledged reductions.

Rather than being an outcome of climate action, economic growth may prevent us from reaching climate targets. A July 2017 study in Nature Climate Change concluded that the world only has a five per cent chance of keeping global average temperature from increasing beyond 2 C. On a positive note, the authors found economies worldwide will likely become more energy-efficient, and low-carbon sources like wind and solar will make up a growing share of the mix.

But economic growth will likely cancel out these advances. For every megatonne of emissions reduced through efficiency and clean energy, another megatonne will be produced because of economic expansion. Our economies will get bigger almost as fast as they get cleaner and emissions will not drop quickly enough to stave off catastrophic climate change.

Economic growth has been the primary goal of every Canadian government, provincial and federal, for decades. Leaders' speeches are peppered with references to it. Election campaigns are filled with promises of economic expansion. Pity the politician who presides over an economic downturn.

Rarely do we stop to ask what economic growth means. In short, it's a year-to-year increase in production, distribution and consumption, as expressed by gross domestic product.

If GDP strikes you as a poor indicator of well-being, you're not alone. The late U.S. politician Robert F. Kennedy once remarked that GDP "measures everything, except that which makes life worth living." It's a flawed indicator of progress.

The Pan-Canadian Framework expresses optimism that we can reduce emissions while expanding the economy. This promise of "green growth" is popular because it offers something for everybody. It maintains a commitment to economic growth while claiming greenhouse gas emissions will drop. But, as the Nature Climate Change study asserts, "green growth" is likely an oxymoron.

"Degrowth" advocates argue that tackling climate change requires shrinking the economy. A planned slowdown of the economy would be achieved by implementing shorter workweeks and more holidays and encouraging low-consumption lifestyles.

"Agrowth" advocates such as environmental economist Jeroen van den Bergh argue that we should ignore GDP altogether, and instead evaluate progress using indicators such as literacy, employment, rates of diabetes and heart disease, water and air quality and climate stability. If GDP happens to go up while these indicators improve, so be it. If GDP goes down while other measures of well-being increase, what have we truly lost?

When the Pan-Canadian Framework is implemented, some economic sectors will likely grow. Companies that offer low-carbon energy sources, energy-efficient products and opportunities to offset or store greenhouse gas emissions will prosper. Other sectors, like coal mining for power production, will shrink. We may or may not have "clean growth," but we will have a cleaner economy and a better shot at preventing or mitigating climate change's most harrowing effects.

If moving beyond the Pan-Canadian Framework is at odds with growing the economy, let's make sure our elected officials have their priorities straight. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions should take precedence over economic growth.
(c) 2017 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

Have You Seen Betsy DeVos's Yacht?
I know it's parked around here somewhere.
By Charles P. Pierce

Why not some rank class-based demagoguery to begin the week? I'm game. This is the yacht belonging to Betsy DeVos, the clueless plutocrat who has been installed at the head of the federal Department of Education.

It is called the Seaquest. It's 142-feet long and it's moored at the moment at a dock in Milwaukee. It-the yacht, not the dock-costs $40 million. Here are some more piquant details from, your go-to source for rich people on the water.

And this is what Betsy DeVos is up to when she's not cruising the Great Lakes on a yacht that cost almost as much as did a Lexington-class aircraft carrier during World War II. She's treating American public education like something you can sell off for parts, and the students that come along with it, too. From Bloomberg:

Last week, the Education Department quietly informed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that it would stop sharing critical information on $1.3 trillion of federal student loans, ending a partnership that has let the CFPB sue loan companies and force others to change their practices in the nation's second-largest household debt market. Several former high-ranking federal officials fear the directive signals a greater leniency toward loan companies trying to collect on debts, and perhaps a new effort by the Trump administration to undermine the bureau's enforcement authority. "The system is always going to work against the interest of borrowers and toward the interest of the government," said Bergeron, who retired as the Education Department's head of postsecondary education in 2013 after more than 30 years there. "The CFPB is a check on that, and a necessary one."
The CFPB, of course, is the brainchild of Senator Professor Warren and it has become quite the nuisance to the country's real owners and their ongoing project to steal the country from the rest of us. This latter group certainly includes the DeVos family, who made its pile from Amway, and who appear to believe that control of the political commons is another something you can buy wholesale. Naturally, the CFPB swung back. What we do know is that, as is typical of many of the Cabinet officials down there at Camp Runamuck, Betsy DeVos knows nothing about the subject of the portfolio she's been handed. That boat sailed years ago.
(c) 2017 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote...

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."
~~~ Abraham Lincoln

Pull Down That Statue Of The U.S. Constitution
By David Swanson

Nobody, not racist warmakers, not imaginary non-racist warmakers, not founding fathers, not radical protesters should be made into a deity, larger than life, in marble or bronze, on horseback or otherwise. Nobody is that flawless, and nobody's story so withstands the test of time. We need human-sized statues and memorials of whole movements.

The U.S. Constitution, along with the Declaration of Independence, has a whole marble building dedicated to its worship: the National Archives in D.C., plus the Constitution Center in Philadelphia. It's generally taught in U.S. schools as something in the past, not something to be improved upon - hardly even to be questioned.

A new book, which should be taught in every school, takes a different approach. Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Framers, Their Fights, and the Flaws That Affect Us Today by Cynthia Levinson and Sanford Levinson gives the Constitution its due, praises its merits, and questions what might have been done better from the start and what could be done better now, these many years later. The Constitution has hardly been tweaked. It's one of the oldest, least amended, and most difficult to amend. Areas where it broke ground have been widely duplicated. Areas where other countries and U.S. states have found successful innovations have generally not made it into the U.S. Constitution.

Fault Lines examines issues like legislative gridlock (the difficulty of creating new laws), the unequal power given to the residents of small states, the presidential veto power, the supermajority required in the Senate before anything can be voted on, gerrymandering, the lack of representation for Washington, D.C., or other U.S. colonies in the Caribbean and Pacific, the absence of direct democracy (governance by public initiative), voter ID laws, poll hours, voter registration restrictions, age and birth and residency requirements to run for Congress or President, the electoral college, and the amendment process.

For each of these issues, the authors examine what the Constitution says, how it came to say that, what the results have been, what other Constitutions say, and what changes might be considered. The content is all very straightforward and factual. The authors lean so far toward acceptable unquestioned rational objectivity as to glorify John McCain's role in the mass-murder of nearly four million people in Vietnam and to warn of dangers from "our enemies." Yet the best blurb they could get on the back cover has Dan Rather calling the book "opinionated, maybe controversial." Presumably, the non-opinionated threshold can only be crossed by total brain death.

Fault Lines proposes numerous positive steps for amending the Constitution, including amending the Constitution's rules for amending the Constitution. But, bizarrely, it views the central problem in Washington, D.C., as "gridlock," as the lack of more laws. This, the authors claim, is the cause of the unpopularity of the U.S. government. But have they examined the popularity of the laws that do get passed? If they did, would they still think more laws was the answer? Have they noticed that when it comes to military spending or anything else that oligarchs aren't organized against, nothing is less present than gridlock?

How do you write a book about a government almost completely corrupted by money and not mention the money? Of course, the Constitution did not sanction bribery, but it is treated as though it did, and that standard was sufficient for including all kinds of topics in the book. Also not making an appearance: public financing of elections, democratization of media, free air time for candidates, open debates, open ballot access, verifiable vote counting, the restriction of human rights to humans rather than corporations, or the addition of rights for non human creatures and ecosystems.

Also, this whole book treats states of emergency as theoretical, as if the U.S. government had not made such a state permanent.

Still, I'd rather broach those subjects with someone who had studied this book than with someone who had just studied the usual hagiographic texts taught in U.S. schools.
(c) 2017 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

Sean Spicer Is Honored Because - As Bush Officials Have Shown - D.C. Elites Always Thrive
By Glenn Greenwald

SEAN SPICER'S playful, glamorous appearance at last night's Emmy Awards and being honored as a visiting fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School (the honorific which the CIA vetoed for Chelsea Manning) has prompted a mix of shock and indignation. Former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau wrote: "Harvard fellowships, Emmy appearances, huge speaking fees: there's just gonna be no penalty for working in Trump's White House, huh?" Slate's Jamelle Bouie added: "The degree to which Sean Spicer has faced no consequences is a glimpse into the post-Trump future."

There should be nothing whatsoever surprising about any of this, as it is the logical and necessary outcome of the self-serving template of immunity which D.C. elites have erected for themselves. The Bush administration was filled with high-level officials who did not just lie from podiums, but did so in service of actual war crimes. They invaded and destroyed a country of 26 million people based on blatant falsehoods and relentless propaganda. They instituted a worldwide torture regime by issuing decrees that purported to redefine what that term meant. They spied on the communications of American citizens without the warrants required by law. They kidnapped innocent people from foreign soil and sent them to be tortured in the dungeons of the world's worst regimes, and rounded up Muslims on domestic soil with no charges. They imprisoned Muslim journalists for years without a whiff of due process. And they generally embraced and implemented the fundamental tenets of authoritarianism by explicitly positioning the president and his White House above the law.

We're supposed to all forget about that, or at least agree to minimize it, in service of this revisionist conceit that the United States has long been governed by noble, honorable, and decent people until Donald Trump defaced the sanctity of the Oval Office with his band of gauche miscreants and evil clowns. Many of the same people who, just a decade ago, were depicting Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and Paul Wolfowitz - remember them? - as monsters of historic proportions are today propagating the mythology that Trump is desecrating what had always been sacred and benevolent American civic space.

Not only were all Bush officials fully immunized from the legal consequences of their crimes - in D.C., that's a given - but they were also fully welcomed back into decent, elite society with breakneck speed, lavished with honors, rewards, lucrative jobs, and praise. Those same Bush officials responsible for the most horrific crimes are now beloved by many of the same circles that, today, are expressing such righteous rage that Spicer is allowed onto the Emmy stage and a classroom at Harvard.

The speechwriter who churned out some of George W. Bush's worst lies and most obscene justifications, David "Axis of Evil" Frum, is a senior editor at The Atlantic, a CNN contributor, and one of the most beloved and cited commentators by the self-styled, anti-Trump "Resistance." With a straight face, he wrote a long, somber Atlantic article earlier this year, which the magazine put on its cover, in which he postured as someone qualified to warn of the dangers of authoritarianism when his only real qualification would be to write a manual on how to implement it.

The Sean Spicer of torture and the Iraq War, Ari Fleischer, is a regular CNN contributor and makes many millions of dollars on the speaking circuit and providing communications consulting advice to large corporations and sports teams. One of the most vocal proponents of torture, former Bush and Rumsfeld speechwriter Marc Thiessen, was hired as a columnist by the Washington Post shortly after his torture-advocating book was published, and he remains employed there.

John Yoo, author of the memos justifying torture and lawlessness, is on the faculty of Berkeley Law School, where he holds an endowed chair. Condoleezza Rice, who literally chaired the meetings inside the White House where torture was choreographed to the last detail and crusaded for the invasion of Iraq, is not only on the faculty of Stanford but serves on the boards of multiple Fortune 500 corporations and is virtually universally beloved.

Darth Cheney himself, after leaving the Bush administration, made millions from a book that he was able to promote by being welcomed onto all major television networks, where he was treated like a wise, old statesman. When a marble bust of him was unveiled at the Capitol, Joe Biden - whose administration had previously immunized Bush officials from prosecution for war crimes - attended to pay homage and heap praise on his predecessor, gushing: "I actually like Dick Cheney." The rehabilitation of George W. Bush has been as widespread as it has been nauseating, culminating with a recent appearance on the talk show of liberal icon Ellen DeGeneres, who hugged him, hailed him as a personal friend, invited him to denounce Trump for sullying the office which Bush served with such honor, and then posted warm and loving pictures of the pair to her 48 million followers on Instagram.

Hillary Clinton, in her new book, fondly recalls how "George [W. Bush] actually called just minutes after I finished my concession speech, and graciously waited on the line while I hugged my team and supporters one last time. When we talked, he suggested we find time to get burgers together." She added: "I think that's Texan for 'I feel your pain.'" We've put all that Iraq War, torture, and rendition unpleasantness behind us - just some good-faith policy disputes - and now see him as a nice, kind, decent, and honorable statesman.

In a recent interview with Vulture, the weekend MSNBC host Joy Reid, a former Obama campaign aide, gushed about the favorable views she now holds about, and the alignments she has now formed with, the Bush-era neocons who helped justify and usher in some of the most repugnant abuses and war crimes in American history:

Vulture: On the flip side, it has to be a bit heartening that some conservatives who used to be sort of MSNBC "villains" are now on your network trashing a Republican president.

Reid: One of the most amazing outcomes of the Trump administration is the number of neo-conservatives that are now my friends and I am aligned with. I found myself agreeing on a panel with Bill Kristol. I agree more with Jennifer Rubin, David Frum, and Max Boot than I do with some people on the far left. I am shocked at the way that Donald Trump has brought people together. [Laughs.]

So if initiating an aggressive war (which the Nuremberg Tribunal called "the supreme international crime"), instituting an international torture regime (which Ronald Reagan called "an abhorrent practice" that no circumstance can justify), and embracing the full model of presidential lawlessness does not result in ostracization, sanction, or exclusion from polite society, why on earth would anyone expect that Sean Spicer would face any sort of actual recrimination or consequence?

If you're someone who employs David Frum or hires Ari Fleischer or treats Bush-era war criminals as respectable and honored sources, you really have no standing to object to the paradigm that has ushered Spicer into the halls of elite power. This is the precedent of elite immunity that has been created, often by the same people who are now so upset that Sean Spicer and his fellow Trump functionaries are the beneficiaries of the framework they helped to install.
(c) 2017 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. His most recent book is, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism.

The Dead Letter Office...

Bill gives the corporate salute!

Heil Trump,

Dear Uberfuhrer Cassidy,

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 continuing fight to strip 24 million Americans of their healthcare, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Republican whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

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

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

The Growing Danger Of Dynastic Wealth
By Robert Reich

White House National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, former president of Goldman Sachs, said recently that "only morons pay the estate tax." I'm reminded of Donald Trump's comment that he didn't pay federal income taxes because he was "smart." And billionaire Leona Helmsley's "only the little people pay taxes."

What Cohn was getting at is how easy it is nowadays for the wealthy to pass their fortunes to their children, tax-free.

The estate tax applies only to estates over $11 million per couple. And wealthy families stash away dollars above this into "dynastic" trust funds that escape additional taxes.

No wonder revenues from the estate tax have been dropping for years even as wealth has become concentrated in fewer hands. The tax now generates about $20 billion a year, which is less than 1 percent of federal revenues. And it applies to only about 2 out of every 1,000 people who die.

Now, Trump and Republican leaders are planning to cut or eliminate it altogether.

There's another part of the tax code that Cohn might also have been referring to - capital gains taxes paid on the soaring values of the wealthy people's stocks, bonds, mansions and works of art, when they sell them.

If the wealthy hold on to these assets until they die, the tax code allows their heirs to inherit them without paying any of these capital gains taxes. According to the Congressional Budget Office, this loophole saves heirs $50 billion a year.

The estate and capital gains taxes were originally designed to prevent the growth of large dynasties in the U.S. and to reduce inequality.

They've been failing to do that. The richest 1 tenth of 1 percent of Americans now owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.

Many of today's super rich never did a day's work in their lives. Six out of the ten wealthiest Americans alive today are heirs to prominent fortunes. The Walmart heirs alone have more wealth than the bottom 42 percent of Americans combined.

Rich millennials will soon acquire even more of the nation's wealth.

America is now on the cusp of the largest inter-generational transfer of wealth in history. As wealthy boomers expire, an estimated $30 trillion will go to their children over the next three decades.

Those children will be able to live off of the income these assets generate, and then leave the bulk of them - which in the intervening years will have grown far more valuable - to their own heirs, tax-free.

After a few generations of this, almost all of the nation's wealth will be in the hands of a few thousand families.

Dynastic wealth runs counter to the ideal of America as a meritocracy. It makes a mockery of the notions that people earn what they're worth in the market, and that economic gains should go to those who deserve them.

It puts economic power into the hands of a relative small number of people who have never worked, but whose investment decisions will have a significant effect on the nation's future.

And it creates a self-perpetuating aristocracy that is antithetical to democracy.

The last time America faced anything comparable to the concentration of wealth we face now, occurred at the turn of the last century.

Then, President Teddy Roosevelt warned that "a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men, whose chief object is to hold and increase their power," could destroy American democracy.

Roosevelt's answer was to tax wealth. The estate tax was enacted in 1916 and the capital gains tax in 1922.

But since then, both have been eroded. As the rich have accumulated greater wealth, they have also amassed more political power, and they've used that political power to reduce their taxes.

Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, helped create a movement against dynastic wealth. Trump and today's congressional Republicans will not follow in his footsteps. I doubt even today's Democrats would do so if they had a chance. Big money has become too powerful on both sides of the aisle.

But taxing big wealth is necessary if we're ever to get our democracy back, and make our economy work for everyone rather than a privileged few.

Maybe Gary Cohn is correct that only morons pay the estate tax. But if he and his boss were smart and they cared about America's future, they'd raises taxes on great wealth. Roosevelt's fear of an American dynasty is more applicable today than ever before.
(c) 2017 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His website is

Hillary Happened
By Jeffery St.Clair

So someone has ghost-written another Hillary Clinton memoir. My biggest question when I picked it up was: Did Hillary stiff the writer out of the final payment as she did Barbara Feinman, the real author of It Takes a Village?

You don't have to read any further than the cover of the book to answer the question posed by its title: What Happened: Hillary Clinton. Glutton for punishment, I took a masochistic dive into its dark pages anyway.

It soon became apparent that Hillary shouldn't have treated Feinman so churlishly. What Happened would have greatly benefited from her stylistic enhancements. The prose in this book is as brittle as the mind behind it. Notice the lack of a question mark in the title. This is a telling punctuational elision. It signals that this text will not be an investigation into the dynamics behind the most perplexing election in American history. Don't skim these pages in search of a self-lacerating confession or an apologia. What Happened reads more like a drive-by shooting rampage. The book is a score-settling scattershot rant, enfilading anyone who stood in Clinton's way, from Bernie Sanders to James Comey. Amid Hillary's hitlist of villains, even toothless Joe Biden gets gut-shot.

There are, naturally, two ways of interpreting the results of the 2016 elections pitting the two most unappetizing candidates in American history against each: either Trump found some way to defeat Hillary or, more probably, Hillary managed to lose to Trump. But Hillary's psyche can't swallow either scenario. So, she endeavors to create a mystery where there is none. The outcome was so inexplicable, she reasons, that there must be some hidden mechanism at work: Russian hacking, press bias, left betrayal, FBI sabotage. Clinton summons a lineup of the possible suspects: Bernie Sanders, Vladimir Putin, Julian Assange, Jill Stein, the New York Times, CNN, and Jim Comey. Alas, Hillary and her ghost-writer are not John LeCarre. She can't spin a coherent and plausible cyber-spy yarn, in part because Clinton keeps getting sidetracked by a compulsion to wash her own hands of any culpability in blowing the election.

The closest Hillary comes to any admission of personal liability is when she discloses that she may have blundered when she smeared Trump's supporters as "deplorables." Then she suddenly pulls back, recalibrates and defends her denunciation of white working class voters as an act of courage, speaking truth to the powerless, even though it may have harmed her. "I regret handing Trump a political gift with my 'deplorables' comment," she writes. "[But] too many of Trump's core supporters do hold views that I find - there's no other word for it - deplorable." What started as a confession ended in a boast.

Of course, Hillary Clinton has never been able to conceal her contempt for her enemies, real and imagined. It's one reason she's never been a successful politician. Where others are supple, she is taut. Hillary is a prolific liar, but, unlike Bill, she is graceless and transparent as she spins her tall tales. She is also probably the nastiest political figure in America since Nixon. Yet she lacked Nixon's Machiavellian genius for political manipulation. Hillary wears her menace on her face. She could never hide her aspiration for power; her desire to become a war criminal in the ranks of her mentor Henry Kissinger (symbolized by the laurels of a Nobel Peace Prize, naturally). Americans don't mind politicians with a lust to spill blood, but they prefer them not to advertise it.

Thus, Clinton was miscast from the beginning as a political candidate for elected office. Her skills and temperament were more suited to the role of political enforcer in the mode of Thomas Cromwell or John Erhlichman. But her ambition wouldn't let her settle for the role of a backstage player. "One thing I've learned over the years is how easy it is for some people to say horrible things about me when I'm not around," she fumes with Nixonian fury, "but how hard it is for them to look me in the eye and say it to my face."

Hillary has tried to reinvent herself many times and does so yet again in this meretricious coda to her failed campaign. She made herself more domesticated for the southern electorate in Arkansas. She shifted the blame to her advisors after the disaster of her health care bill. She washed off the blood-spatter from the Ken Starr investigations by portraying herself as the target of a witch hunt. She exploited an addled Daniel Patrick Moynihan to justify running as an interloper for Senator in New York. She rationalized her votes for the Iraq War by saying she was duped by Colin Powell and Dick Cheney. She manufactured a timely tear for the cameras after her loss to Obama. She assumed the mantle of unrepentant war-monger during her belligerent tenure as Secretary of State and transubstantiated into a white dove during her debates with Bernie Sanders.

She has weeded and blurred inconvenient episodes from her resume. She has gone on talking tours. She has appeared in town halls. She has reintroduced herself, again and again. She's changed her name, hairstyles and fashion designers. She exchanged dresses for pantsuits. She shifted from drinking pinot noir to craft beers. She's backed wars both before she opposed them and after she condemned them. But she remains the same Hillary Rodham Clinton Americans have known since 1992. Everybody sees this except her. Americans know Hillary better than she does herself. All of her manufactured mirages are translucent to the very the people she wants to deceive. When Hillary looks in the mirror, she must see what might have been (should have been in her mind) and not what is. And that schism enrages her.

"Why am I seen as such a divisive figure and, say, Joe Biden and John Kerry aren't?" she mopes. "They've cast votes of all kinds, including some they regret, just like me? What makes me such a lightning rod for fury? I'm really asking. I'm at a loss."

This self-pitying book should prove a challenge for library cataloguers. Shall they shelve it as non-fiction or fiction? What do we make of a woman who lies so casually about matters great and petty, including the origins of her own name? For years, Hillary has insisted that her mother named her after Edmund Hillary. HRC was born in 1947. The New Zealand mountaineer and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Everest six years later in 1953.

Hillary rarely offers anything remotely revealing about herself, other than plastic platitudes and self-flattering fables. But what seeps through this memoir page after page is an animus that seethes beneath her very thin-skin against anyone she believes has slighted her. Brooding on her fate, she writes mordantly: "It wasn't healthy or productive to dwell on the ways I felt I'd been shivved." Yet that's precisely what she does, incessantly. [Note the deployment of the prison slang "shivved," with its faint whiff of black criminality. The cunning use of racist tropes is a familiar trick in the Clinton playbook. It implies that she has been stabbed in the back by a friend or someone she thought she owned.]

Hillary's politics never really matured much beyond the inbred conservativism that drew her to Barry Goldwater in the mid-60s. She's a moral prude, a hawk, and an unrepentant capitalist, who is deeply suspicious of black people. Eventually, the Democratic Party devolved toward her austere political views, abetted by her husband, Al Gore and the other neoliberal "New Democrats."

What she had, the ace of up her sleeve, was her feminism. But it was a unique brand of feminism. Call it power feminism, which asserted individual ambition rather than a militant political agenda. She also weaponized the feminism of victimhood. At one point in What Happened, she compares herself to Cersei Lannister in "Game of Thrones." Not Cersei the torturer, assassin and war-monger, mind you, where the parallels might have been germane. But Cersei the victim of male power, who was forced to walk naked through the streets of Kings Landing while being jeered and pelted with garbage and feces by the townsfolk in a ritual of public shaming. Hillary charges that her chance to rule was undone by a nation of misogynists, who thrilled at her torments. "I wish so badly we were a country where a candidate who said, 'My story is the story of a life shaped by and devoted to the movement for women's liberation' would be cheered, not jeered. But that's not who we are."

As for the 53 percent of white women who voted against her, they too are portrayed as victims. We are led to believe that these women weren't acting on their own agency in the voting booth. Rather they were captives, little more than automatons controlled by their husbands, fathers, bosses and preachers.

Throughout her career, HRC regularly scolded poor black and Hispanic families about taking "personal responsibility" for their dire circumstances. Indeed, Clinton cast welfare reform as the penance the poor must pay for not getting their shit together. But personal responsibility is a quality that Hillary never adopts for her own failures and screw-ups, including grave ones such as the invasion of Libya or sliming black teens as "super predators" in her lobbying blitz to enact her husband's vicious Crime Bill. She can't forgive Bernie Sanders for having the temerity to challenge her pre-ordained coronation and shining a spotlight on the more ignoble chapters of her political career.

"Bernie routinely portrayed me as a corrupt corporatist who couldn't be trusted...Bernie was outraged about everything. He thundered on at every event about the sins of the 'millionaires and billionaires,'" she raves. "I was more focused on offering practical solutions that would address real problems and make life better for people." She then cynically blames Sanders for her losses in Ohio and Pennsylvania with apparently no assist from Putin: "What did matter, and had a lasting impact, was that Bernie's presence in the race meant that I had less space and credibility to run the kind of progressive campaign that had helped me win Ohio and Pennsylvania in 2008." Tell Putin the news, Bernie.

Hillary Clinton has been obsessed with power her entire adult life. Now it has finally slipped from her hands, and, like some deposed monarch or disgraced CEO, she can only see a conspiracy behind her downfall. Of course, the Clintons have always been professional paranoids. Every roadbump in their political careers has been covertly placed in their path by some shadowy, malign force. In What Happened the "vast right-wing conspiracy" Hillary inveighed against in the 1990s has morphed into a vast "left-right conspiracy of men," who, in her portentous words, "want to blow up the system and undermine it and all the rest of the stuff they talk about." The system, of course, is a stand-in for herself. Her defeat at the hands of a ruthless and scheming patriarchy, we are encouraged to believe, is a trembling testament to American political decline. This egotistical gibberish comes from the woman who seemed eager to bring the world to the brink of nuclear holocaust over Syria and Ukraine.

What Happened is a sordid book, petulant and spiteful. It made me feel queasy and dirty while reading it, like the whole 25-year-long experience of Clintonism itself. By the end, I got the sense that its sleazy torrent of invective and blame-mongering was more an attempt to console the frail psyche of the author rather than to repair her shattered image to any readership the book might find. In the years to come, What Happened will prove much more valuable as documentary evidence for psycho-historians than political scientists.
(c) 2017 Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes From a Failed Revolution. He can be reached at: or on Twitter @JSCCounterPunch

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~~~ Milt Pilggree ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Exhausted John Kelly Parks President In Front Of Episode Of 'Tucker Carlson' To Get Quick Hour To Himself
By The Onion

WASHINGTON-Saying he needed a break from constantly watching over the commander-in-chief to make sure he didn't get into any trouble, visibly exhausted Chief of Staff John Kelly reportedly sat President Trump down in front of a White House television Friday and put on a Tucker Carlson episode in order to get a quick hour to himself.

"I can't take my eye off him for one second without him getting into some policy issue he's not supposed to be touching, so sometimes I just have to throw on a show he likes to get him to sit and behave for a little while," said Kelly, rubbing his temples and explaining how he was "completely wiped out" from dealing with temper tantrums and cleaning up a variety of messes the president had made throughout day, and how he was desperate for a brief moment of peace and quiet to recuperate.

"I just grabbed him a baggie of Goldfish and put on the episode where Tucker talks about his crowd size in West Virginia-the president loves that one. He calms right down and just stares at the screen for an hour straight. I've tried to get him to sit quietly with a book, but it's no use. His TV shows are the only thing that can hold his attention long enough for me to get a minute to sit down and take a breath."

At press time, the chief of staff, who had reportedly nodded off on the Oval Office couch, awoke to find President Trump running through the West Wing screaming wildly about the nation's borders.
(c) 2017 The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 17 # 36 (c) 09/22/2017

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