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In This Edition

Thom Hartmann with a must read, "Welcome To Our Dying Empire."

Dahr Jamail explains, "How Feedback Loops Are Driving Runaway Climate Change."

Glen Ford compares, "Democratic Corporate Fascism Vs The Trump Kind."

Juan Cole finds, "55% Of GOP Say Sexual Assault Not Disqualifying For SCOTUS; What Is *Wrong* With Them?"

Jim Hightower asks, "Poverty Is Over! So Why Are Republicans So Quiet About Their Chief Economic Accomplishment?"

John Nichols concludes, "Evolution Or Death."

James Donahue wonders, "Can We Trust The Poll Numbers?"

William Rivers Pitt reports, "The Dubious Fiction Of Donald Trump's Fortune Has Been Exposed."

Heather Digby Parton finds, "The Future And The Past Is Colliding In Texas."

David Suzuki sees, "A Butterfly-Friendly Balm For Turbulent Times."

Charles P. Pierce examines, "The Voters Are Rising Up Against The Thieves."

David Swanson sees, "Delusion Upon Fantasy Upon Lie Based On Propaganda."

Jane Stillwater concludes, "Let's Take Our European Grand Tour Now -- While We Still Can."

Arkansas state representative Andy Mayberry wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich says, "It's Up To You."

Chris Hedges is, "Lynching The Past."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Jeff Flake Announces Retirement From Humanity" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Ask Not For Whom The Bell Tolls, America. It Tolls For Thee!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Jeff Stahler, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, Sherri Helwig, John M. Cropper, John Fraser, Win McNamee, Jewel Samads, Mandel Ngan, Tom Williams, Scott Eisen, Chris Wattie, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

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

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

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Ask Not For Whom The Bell Tolls, America. It Tolls For Thee!
By Ernest Stewart

"Kavanaugh is against any President being investigated or indicted... Wonder why Trump picked him?" ~~~ Tom D'Angora

"The amazing thing they're saying is human activities are going to lead to this rise of carbon dioxide that is disastrous for the environment and society. And then they're saying they're not going to do anything about it." ~~~ Michael MacCracken

"Our dear father, Fred C. Trump, passed away in June 1999. Our beloved mother, Mary Anne Trump, passed away in August 2000. All appropriate gift and estate tax returns were filed, and the required taxes were paid. Our father's estate was closed in 2001 by both the Internal Revenue Service and the New York State tax authorities, and our mother's estate was closed in 2004. Our family has no other comment on these matters that happened some 20 years ago, and would appreciate your respecting the privacy of our deceased parents, may God rest their souls." ~~~ Robert Trump

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

By the time this is published we should know whether Brett Kavanaugh with be the ninth "justice" on the Extreme Court. Brett is after all the perfect Rethuglican, is he not? Think about it!

He's a self-centered, woman hating, egotistical, drunken, lying, psychopathic, molester who thinks he has a right to be a member of the Extreme Court. The perfect Rethuglican you must agree!

So, you can see why tRump loves him, especially since he will rule in tRumps favor and keep him out of court and prison. He already has ruled in tRumps favor blocking any attempts for the employees in Trump's old casinos to form a union.

Turtle boy has blocked the Senate from seeing over 90% of Brett's past mistakes and thoughts, and swears "The Senate will vote on Judge Kavanaugh, here on this floor, this week!" The only thing standing in the way of this happening is the triumvirate of Rethuglican Senators, Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. We need all three or Kavanaugh is a "made man" for life. We are sooooo screwed, America! So very screwed!

In Other News

I see where tRump actually believes in global warming like he did in the 1990s. The tRump administration released a report that predicted global temperatures will be 7 degrees F higher by the end of this century, assuming current trends persist. You may recall that world leaders have pledged to keep global temperatures from rising even two degrees (Celsius) above pre-industrial levels, with the understanding that warming beyond that could prove catastrophic. The last time the Earth was as warm as the White House expects it to be in 2100, its oceans were hundreds of feet higher. Which is to say: The Trump administration ostensibly, officially expects that, absent radical action to reduce carbon emissions, within the next 80 years, much of Manhattan and Miami will sink into the sea, along with most of coastal America; many of world's coral reefs will be irreversibly destroyed by acidifying oceans; vast regions of the Earth will lose their primary sources of water; and a variety of extreme weather events will dramatically increase in frequency.

This report was an environmental-impact statement justifying tRumps decision to repeal previously scheduled, federal fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles built after 2020, a deregulatory measure that will add 8 billion additional tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by the end of this century, according to the government's own estimates. You heard tRump right, if we can't make it better, then let's make it worse!

The Washington Post revealed Friday, the administration uses its four-degree C warming estimate to argue that eliminating 8 billion tons worth of emissions won't be enough to change the climate outlook, by itself, so the federal government shouldn't bother.

In fact, it looks like the world, for us, will end, so you might as well make a killing in the market now. As I've said for years now, the 1% don't need us, well, a few hundred million of us will do to take care of them, so the other 7 billion folks can drown, or starve to death for all they care. So America, let's eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow most of us shall die!

And Finally

I see where the old grey bitch i.e., The New York Times dropped a bomb on Dear Leader the other day! In a 14,000 word essay Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father. The time wrote:
"The president has long sold himself as a self-made billionaire, but a Times investigation found that he received at least $413 million in today's dollars from his father's real estate empire, much of it through tax dodges in the 1990s.

"President Trump participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the fortune he received from his parents, an investigation by The New York Times has found.

"Mr. Trump won the presidency proclaiming himself a self-made billionaire, and he has long insisted that his father, the legendary New York City builder Fred C. Trump, provided almost no financial help.

"But The Times's investigation, based on a vast trove of confidential tax returns and financial records, reveals that Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father's real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day."
And where did Daddy Dearest get the half a billion he gave to the Donald? From doig business with the American Nazi's, the KKK, and the mob. Among the mob linkages to Fred Trump were Constantino "Big Paul" Castellano, head of the Gambino crime family and secret owner of S&A Concrete, a defunct New York firm run by Nick Auletta, which built the Trump Plaza and Trump Tower; Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno, head of the Genovese crime family and secret owner of S&A Concrete, Inc.; Genovese crime family member and FBI informant Peter Savino; Atlantic City/Philadelphia crime boss Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo.

And where did Daddy Dearest get his money to invest with the mob? From his father, Friedrich Trump who ran whore houses in Idaho, British Columbia and Alaska. What a swell family, huh?

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!


04-29-1935 ~ 09-29-2018
Thanks for the music!

12-04-1945 ~ 10-02-2018
Thanks for the music!


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

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

Welcome To Our Dying Empire
A French television program tackles the tough questions of compliance and resistance.
By Thom Hartmann

When you think about it, Earth is a relatively modest-sized planet - about 25,000 miles in circumference at the Equator, with a total surface area of 197 million square miles, almost three-quarters of which is water. It's not so hard, if you're in a certain frame of mind (as American officials were after 1991), to imagine that a single truly great nation - a "sole superpower" with a high-tech military, its capabilities unparalleled in history - might in some fashion control it all.

Think back to that year when the other superpower, the lesser one of that era, so unbelievably went down for the count. Try to recall that moment when the Soviet Union, its economy imploding, suddenly was no more, its various imperial parts - from Eastern Europe to Central Asia - having largely spun free. It's hard now to remember just how those months after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and that final moment in 1991 stunned the Washington establishment. Untold sums of money had been poured into "intelligence" during the almost half-century of what became known as the Cold War (because a hot war between two nuclear-armed superpowers seemed unimaginable - even if it almost happened). Nonetheless, key figures in Washington were remarkably unprepared for it all to end. They were stunned. It simply hadn't occurred to them that the global standoff between the last two great powers on this planet could or would ever truly be over.

And when you think about it, that wasn't so illogical. Imperial rivalries had been the name of the game for so many centuries. A world without some version of such rivalries seemed genuinely unimaginable - until, of course, it happened. After the shock began to wear off, what followed was triumphalism of a soaring sort. Think of that moment as the geopolitical equivalent of a drug high.

Imagine! After so many centuries of rivalries between great powers and that final showdown between just two superpowers, it was all over (except for the bragging). Only one power, the - by definition - greatest of all, was left on a planet obviously there for the taking.

Yes, Russia still existed with its nuclear arsenal intact, but it was otherwise a husk of its former imperial self. (Vladimir Putin's sleight-of-hand brilliance has been to give what remains a rickety petro-state the look of a great power, as in MRGA, or Make Russia Great Again.) In 1991, China had only relatively recently emerged from the chaos of the Maoist era and was beginning its rise as a capitalist powerhouse overseen by a communist party - and, until that moment, who would have believed that either? Its military was modest and its leaders not faintly ready to challenge the U.S. It was far more intent on becoming a cog in the global economic machinery that would produce endless products for American store shelves.

In fact, the only obvious challenges that remained came from a set of states so unimpressive that no one would have thought to call them "great," no less "super" powers. They had already come to be known instead by the ragtag term "rogue states." Think theocratic Iran, Saddam Hussein's Iraq, and Kim Il-sung's (soon to be Kim Jong-il's) North Korea, none then nuclear armed. A disparate crew - the Iraqis and Iranians had been at war for eight years in the 1980s - they looked like a pushover for... well, you know who.

And the early results of American global preeminence couldn't have been more promising. Its corporate power initially seemed to "level" every playing field in sight, while conquering markets across the planet. Its thoroughly high-tech military crushed the armed forces of one rogue power, Iraq, in a 100-hour storm of a war in 1991. Amid a blizzard of ticker tape and briefly soaring approval ratings for President George H.W. Bush, this was seen by those in the know as a preview of the world that was to be.

So what a perfect time - I'm talking about January 2000 - for some of the greatest geopolitical dreamers of all, a crew that saw an "unprecedented strategic opportunity" in the new century to organize not half the planet, as in the Cold War, but the whole damn thing. They took power by a chad that year, already fearing that the process of creating the kind of military that could truly do their bidding might be a slow one without "some catastrophic and catalyzing event - like a new Pearl Harbor." On September 11, 2001, thanks to Osama bin Laden's precision air assaults on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, they got their wish - what screaming newspaper headlines promptly called "a new day of infamy" or "the Pearl Harbor of the twenty-first century." Like their confreres in 1991, the top officials of George W. Bush's administration were initially stunned by the event, but soon found themselves swept up in a mood of soaring optimism about the future of both the Republican Party and American power. Their dream, as they launched what they called the Global War on Terror, would be nothing short of creating an eternal Pax Republicana in the U.S. and a similarly never-ending Pax Americana first in the Greater Middle East and then on a potentially planetary scale.

As their 2002 national security strategy put it, the U.S. was to "build and maintain" military power "beyond challenge" so that no country or even bloc of countries could ever again come close to matching it. For them, this was the functional definition of global dominance. It gave the phrase of that moment, "shock and awe," new meaning.

A Smash-Up on the Horizon?

Of course, you remember this history as well as I do, so it shouldn't be hard for you to jump into the future with me and land in September 2018, some 17 years later, when all those plans to create a truly American planet had come to fruition and the U.S. was dominant in a way no other country had ever been.

Whoops... my mistake.

It is indeed 17 years later. Remarkably enough, though, the last superpower, the one with the military that was, as President George W. Bush put it, "the greatest force for human liberation the world has ever known," is still fruitlessly fighting - and still losing ground - in the very first country it took on and supposedly "liberated": poor Afghanistan. The Taliban is again on the rise there. Elsewhere, al-Qaeda, stronger than ever, has franchised itself, multiplied, and in Iraq given birth to another terror outfit, ISIS, whose own franchises now multiplying across parts of the planet. In no country in which the U.S. military intervened in this century or in which it simply supported allied forces in a conflict against seemingly weaker, less-well-armed enemies has there been an obvious, lasting victory of the kind that seemed so self-evidently an American right and legacy after 1991 and again 2001.

In fact, there may not be another example of a truly great power, seemingly at the height of its strength and glory, so unable to impose its will, no matter the brutality and destructive force employed. The United States had, of course, been able to do exactly that, often with striking success (at least for a while), from Guatemala to Iran in the Cold War years, but "alone" on the planet, it came up cold. Of those three rogue powers of the 1990s, for instance, Iran and North Korea are now stronger (one of them even nuclear-armed) and neither, despite the desires and plans of so many American officials, has been toppled. Meanwhile, Iraq, after a U.S. invasion and occupation in 2003, has proven a never-ending disaster area.

Not that anyone's drawing lessons from any of this at the moment, perhaps because there's that orange-haired guy in the Oval Office taking up so much of our time and attention or because there's an understandable desire to duck the most obvious conclusion: that Planet Earth, however small, is evidently still too big for one power, however economically overwhelming or militarily dominant, to control. Think of the last 27 years of American history as a demo for that old idiom: biting off more than you can chew.

In 2016, in what came to be known as the "homeland," American voters responded to that reality in a visceral way. They elected as president a truly strange figure, a man who alone among the country's politicians was peddling the idea that the U.S. was no longer great but, like Putin's Russia, would have to be made great again. Donald Trump, as I wrote during that campaign season, was the first presidential candidate to promote the idea that the United States was in decline at a moment when politicians generally felt obliged to affirm that the U.S. was the greatest, most exceptional, most indispensable place on the planet. And, of course, he won.

Admittedly, despite a near collapse a decade earlier, the economy is seemingly soaring, while the stock market remains ebullient. In fact, it couldn't look sunnier, could it? I mean, put aside the usual Trumpian tweets and the rest of the Washington sideshow, including those Chinese (and Canadian) tariffs and the bluster and bombast of the leakiest administration this side of the Titanic, and, as the president so often says, things couldn't look rosier. The Dow Jones average has left past versions of the same in the dust. The unemployment rate is somewhere near the bottom of the barrel (if you don't count the actual unemployed). The economy is just booming along.

But tell me the truth: Can't you just feel it? Honestly, can't you?

You know as well as I do that there's something rotten in... well, let's not blame Denmark... but you know perfectly well that something's not right here. You know that it's the wallets and pocketbooks of the 1% that are really booming, expanding, exploding at the moment; that the rich have inherited, if not the Earth, then at least American politics; that the wealth possessed by that 1% is now at levels not seen since the eve of the Great Depression of 1929. And, honestly, can you doubt that the next crash is somewhere just over the horizon?

Meet the Empire Burners

Donald Trump is in the White House exactly because, in these years, so many Americans felt instinctively that something was going off the tracks. (That shouldn't be a surprise, given the striking lack of investment in, or upkeep of, the infrastructure of the greatest of all powers.) He's there largely thanks to the crew that's now proudly referred to - for supposedly keeping him in line - as "the adults in the room." Let me suggest a small correction to that phrase to better reflect the 16 years in this not-so-new century before he entered the Oval Office. How about "the adolts in the room"?

After all, from National Security Advisor John Bolton (the invasion of Iraq) and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (a longtime regime-change advocate) to CIA Director Gina Haspel (black sites and torture), Secretary of Defense James "Mad Dog" Mattis (former Marine general and CENTCOM commander), and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (former Marine general and a commander in Iraq), those adolts and so many like them remain deeply implicated in the path the country took in those years of geopolitical dreaming. They were especially responsible for the decision to invest in the U.S. military (and little else), as well as in endless wars, in the years before Donald Trump came to power. And worse yet, they seem to have learned absolutely nothing from the process.

Take a recent example we know something about - Afghanistan - thanks to Fear: Trump in the White House, Bob Woodward's bestselling new book. Only recently, an American sergeant major, an adviser to Afghan troops, was gunned down at a base near the Afghan capital, Kabul, in an "insider" or "green-on-blue" attack, a commonplace of that war. He was killed (and another American adviser wounded) by two allied Afghan police officers in the wake of an American air strike in the same area in which more than a dozen of their compatriots died. Forty-two years old and on the eve of retirement, the sergeant was on his seventh combat tour of duty of this century and, had he had an eighth, he might have served with an American born after the 9/11 attacks.

In his book, Woodward describes a National Security Council meeting in August 2017, in which the adolts in the room saved the president from his worst impulses. He describes how an impatient Donald Trump "exploded, most particularly at his generals. You guys have created this situation. It's been a disaster. You're the architects of this mess in Afghanistan... You're smart guys, but I have to tell you, you're part of the problem. And you haven't been able to fix it, and you're making it worse... I was against this from the beginning. He folded his arms. 'I want to get out... and you're telling me the answer is to get deeper in.'"

And indeed almost 16 years later that is exactly what Pompeo, Mattis, former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, and the rest of them were telling him. According to Woodward, Mattis, for instance, argued forcefully "that if they pulled out, they would create another ISIS-style upheaval... What happened in Iraq under Obama with the emergence of ISIS will happen under you, Mattis told Trump, in one of his sharpest declarations."

The reported presidential response: "'You are all telling me that I have to do this,' Trump said grudgingly, 'and I guess that's fine and we'll do it, but I still think you're wrong. I don't know what this is for. It hasn't gotten us anything. We've spent trillions,' he exaggerated. 'We've lost all these lives.' Yet, he acknowledged, they probably could not cut and run and leave a vacuum for al-Qaeda, Iran, and other terrorists."

And so Donald Trump became the latest surge president, authorizing, however grudgingly, the dispatching of yet more American troops and air power to Afghanistan (just as he recently authorized an "indefinite military effort" in Syria in the wake of what we can only imagine was another such exchange). Of Mattis himself, in response to reports that he might be on the way out after the midterm elections, the president recently responded, "He'll stay... we're very happy with him, we're having a lot of victories, we're having victories that people don't even know about."

Perhaps that should be considered definitional for the Trump presidency, which is likely to increasingly find itself in a world of "victories that people don't even know about." But don't for a second think that The Donald was the one who brought us to this state, though someday he will undoubtedly be seen as the personification of it and of the decline that swept him into power. And for all that, for the victories that people won't know about and the defeats that they will, he'll have the adolts in the room to thank. They proved to be neither the empire builders of their dreams, nor even empire preservers, but a crew of potential empire burners.

Believe me, folks, it's going to be anything but pretty. Welcome to that most unpredictable and dangerous of entities, a dying empire. Only 27 years after the bells of triumph tolled across Washington, it looks like those bells are now preparing to toll in mourning for it.
(c) 2018 Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program The Thom Hartmann Show.

Midnight sun shines over the Arctic Ocean with drifting ice floes, north of the Arctic Circle in Nordaustlandet, Svalbard / Spitsbergen, Norway.

How Feedback Loops Are Driving Runaway Climate Change
By Dahr Jamail

If you think this summer has been intense as far as record warm temperatures, wildfires, drought, and flooding events around the Northern Hemisphere, you haven't seen anything yet -unless you happen to live in the Arctic.

According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), air temperatures there are increasing at an "unprecedented rate" - twice as fast as they are around the rest of the globe. NOAA's 2017 Arctic Report Card states unequivocally that the Arctic "shows no sign of returning to reliably frozen region of recent past decades."

: The Executive Summary of the report also adds, "Arctic paleo-reconstructions, which extend back millions of years, indicate that the magnitude and pace of the 21st century sea-ice decline and surface ocean warming is unprecedented in at least the last 1,500 years and likely much longer."

A recent report from National Geographic revealed that some of the ground in the Arctic is no longer freezing, even during the winter. Along with causing other problems, this will become yet another feedback loop in the Arctic, causing yet more greenhouse gasses to be released from permafrost than are already being released and impacting the entire planet.

The simplest explanation for a positive climate feedback loop is this: The more something happens, the more it happens. One of the most well-known examples is the melting of sea ice in the Arctic during the summer, which is accelerating. As greater amounts of Arctic summer sea ice melt away, less sunlight is reflected back into space. Hence, more light is absorbed into the ocean, which warms it and causes more ice to melt, and on and on.

Dr. Ira Leifer is an academic researcher who specializes in bubble-related oceanographic processes (such as subsea bubble plumes emanating from the ocean floor), satellite remote sensing, and air pollution. Working closely with NASA on some of his projects, Leifer uses the agency's satellite data to study methane in the Arctic and its role in climate disruption.

One of his concerns about a feedback loop already at play in the Arctic is how the heating of that region is already being amplified by ocean currents that transport warmer, more southerly waters northwards into Arctic seabed waters where it can affect methane deposits in submerged permafrost and sub-seabed methane hydrates.

"The release of this methane contributes powerfully to overall warming - methane is a very potent greenhouse gas, which actually has a bigger effect [on] the atmosphere's radiative balance than carbon dioxide on decadal timescales," Dr. Leifer told Truthout.

Although climate is generally thought to occur on century timescales, human timescales and ecological adaptation timescales are measured in decades instead of centuries, and this is now how many climate processes are being monitored given the rapidity of human-forced planetary warming.

Dr. Peter Wadhams is a world-renowned expert who has been studying Arctic sea ice for decades.

His prognosis for the Arctic sea ice is grim: He says it is in its "death spiral."

"Multi-year ice is now much less than 10 percent of the area of the ice cover; it was 60 percent or more before 2000," Dr. Wadhams told Truthout. "[Sea ice] extent in summer is down to 50 percent of its value in the 1980s."

Dr. Wadhams, who is also the President of the International Association for the Physical Sciences of the Ocean (IAPSO), noted that this primary feedback loop is much further along than most of us realize.

"I see the summer sea ice disappearing by the early 2020s," Wadhams said. He noted that the change of albedo (a measure of reflection of solar radiation) due to the loss of sea ice and snowline retreat across the Arctic "is sufficient to add 50 percent to the warming effect of CO2 emissions alone."

Alarmingly, on August 21, Arctic scientists told The Guardian that the oldest and strongest sea ice in the Arctic had broken up for the first time in recorded history. One of them described the event as "scary," in part because it occurred off the north coast of Greenland, which is normally frozen year-round. The region has long been believed to be "the last ice area": It was thought, at least until now, to be the final place that would hold out against the melting impacts from an increasingly warmer planet.

Abrupt Acceleration

Temperatures are rising most strongly in the Arctic, with some areas already showing an increase of as much as 5.7 degrees Celsius (10.26 degrees Fahrenheit).

Dr. Michael MacCracken, Chief Scientist for Climate Change Programs with the Climate Institute in Washington, DC, explained to Truthout how, now that the Arctic is warmer, the temperature gradient between the tropics and the traditionally cold Arctic is reduced.

With a reduced gradient, the movement of warmth from low to high latitudes is slowed. As Earth rotates, this leads to a wavier jet stream that can carry low latitude warmth up to Alaska and elsewhere in the Arctic, and the southward reach of cold air in the Arctic to lower latitudes. This explains why New Orleans, for example, has recently experienced unusual freezing winter weather.

"In addition, the waves in the jet stream that result are shifting to the east less rapidly, which means the unusual weather patterns that are more frequently occurring are moving eastward less rapidly," Dr. MacCracken explained. "So both wet and dry periods are lasting longer, contributing to both excessively wet (e.g., flooding) and excessively dry (e.g., wildfire) conditions."

Dr. Wadhams is concerned about this as well.

"The jet stream effect is because Arctic air is warming faster than tropical air, so the temperature difference is decreasing," he explained. "This reduces the driving force on the jet stream, so it then meanders, which brings hot air to the higher latitudes (and cold air to some low latitudes)."

Summer weather patterns are now increasingly likely to become stalled out over places like North America, portions of Asia, and Europe, according to a recent climate study that showed how a warming Arctic is causing heatwaves in other places to become more intense and persistent due to a slowing of the jet stream.

Dr. Leifer warned that as these processes continue and the Arctic continues to heat up faster than the tropics, the pole-equator temperature difference that controls our weather and causes three major weather circulation "cells" -tropical, mid-latitude, and arctic -will merge into a single weather cell. A similar merging of weather cells occurred during the time of the dinosaurs.

"The jet stream, which controls seasonal storms in the midlatitudes, is a result of these three cells, and would disappear in a single weather cell planet, dramatically altering rain patterns and almost certainly heralding an ecosystem catastrophe," Leifer explained. "The plants that underlie the food chain would be replaced by others that the local animals (insects to apex predators) could not utilize -in short, an abrupt acceleration of the current Great Anthropocene Extinction event."

The diminishment of the jet stream also contributes to another potentially catastrophic feedback loop within the Arctic seabed: Changes to the jet stream are causing longer and more intense heat waves to occur across the Arctic, which of course causes the Arctic Ocean to warm further.

Kevin Lister, an associate with the Climate Restoration Foundation in Washington, DC, co-authored a paper with Dr. MacCracken for the United Nations that addressed the crisis in the Arctic, among other climate disruption-related issues.

Unlike the most commonly accepted idea that global temperatures should not be allowed to increase by more than 1.5°C, Lister told Truthout that the planet reaching 1.5°C above baseline "is fundamentally dangerous and that the rate of change we are seeing today means we will not even be able to stop the temperature at this level."

Lister said this conclusion was reached, in part, due to initial observations from Dr. Wadhams regarding how the loss of sea ice was amplifying rates of change in the Arctic.

Lister told Truthout that "methane emissions [in the Arctic] are already a severe risk," and that he and Dr. MacCracken's UN paper shows that once temperatures started rising they would be largely unstoppable due to the interacting nature of the feedback mechanisms.

"Thus, one feedback mechanism, such as sea ice melting, can trigger another, such as methane releases, which then accelerates the first in a tightening spiral," he explained. "In reality, there are many critical feedback mechanisms and the interlocking effects between them means that the climate is far more unstable and irreversible than we are led to believe, and the climate's change is likely to follow a super exponential progression once the temperature rises above a certain level."

Dr. Leifer, who has been studying Arctic methane for years, shares the same concern.

"There is the potential for seabed methane deposits off Greenland to be destabilized by the input of warm melt water and also heat transport," he said, in addition to having pointed out that this process has been occurring in other areas around the Arctic for many years.

As I have written in the past, we are currently facing the very real possibility of a major methane release in the Arctic. Such a release would be a catastrophe for the global climate -and the survival of humans and other species.

Could a Dire Situation Lead to a "War for Survival"?

Lister and Dr. MacCracken both believe that the global focus on a maximum allowable temperature increase target of 1.5 C above baseline is both dangerous and unachievable. Most media and governmental attention has centered on keeping the Earth from warming 2 C over pre-industrial revolution baseline temperatures, and ideally limiting warming to 1.5 C. This is based on a politically agreed upon goal set forth during the 2015 Paris Climate talks, which were nonbinding.

"It reflects the way that intergovernmental climate change policy has been managed which has been to arbitrarily set a temperature target, which was firstly 2 C and then latterly 1.5 C, and then to see if economic and political policy can deliver an appropriate carbon budget," Lister explained. "This is clearly not a rational way to develop climate change policy."

Lister and Dr. MacCracken both believe that, in an ideal world, the process would be the other way round; governments would decide a safe temperature rise based on the best science and then set an appropriate climate change policy. But this is not the world we live in.

Mark Serreze, the director of the US National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder, recently pointed out how the Arctic climate system has entered uncharted territory, so that even computer models are "no longer providing a reliable guide to the future." Dr. Leifer said that even if we prepare for the inevitable sea level rise from Greenland melting alone, accelerated melting there is "very bad," as it reduces the time to implement plans. However, he noted, most countries are not in preparation mode to begin with.

"For example, a forward-looking society would encourage relocation through, say, tax incentives and disincentives from, say, most of Florida, to higher ground -even purely on a hurricane insurance basis," he said. "Sadly, forward-looking is incompatible with our political system's biannual money festival, aka elections. Still, very few other countries are doing better -excepting some northern European countries, like Holland -despite differences."

The impacts of climate disruption aren't waiting for our preparations, or lack thereof. Dr. Leifer believes that, sooner or later, the sea levels will rise dramatically.

Once this happens, he believes coastal cities will have to be abandoned due to sea level rise and increasingly destructive hurricanes. He believes that the sooner that departure happens, the less destruction and loss of human lives we will experience.

Dr. Leifer also expressed concern about the changes to the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), which is currently weakening and already at its weakest in at least the last 1,600 years.

Dr. MacCracken told Truthout that his greatest concern about Arctic feedback loops is that of the melting of the plateau of the Greenland Ice Sheet. He explained that the meltwater and warmth at the surface is penetrating down into the ice sheet, softening it enough that the glacial ice has started flowing outward, and as this happens, the surface of the ice sinks to lower altitudes.

This kicks in a feedback loop that ultimately causes warming to accelerate, which causes the ice to flow faster, which further accelerates the melting.

"The ice making up the Greenland Ice Sheet holds about the equivalent of 6-7 meters (~20 feet) of global sea level rise, and glaciological evidence makes clear that an order of approximately half of that melted during the last interglacial about 125,000 years ago, contributing significantly to the 4-8 meter rise in sea level at that time," Dr. MacCracken said.

He pointed out that this rise was caused by a 1 C temperature increase, similar to the temperature increase Earth is experiencing right now (1.16 C above baseline).

"At that time, the atmospheric CO2 concentration was near 300 ppm and the warming was due to differences in the Earth's orbit around the Sun; today, the orbital parameters are less favorable to significant warming, but the CO2 concentration is a good bit higher and growing," Dr. MacCracken said. "And its warming influence acts all year long, making it not surprising that the loss of mass of ice from the Greenland Ice Sheet is going up rapidly with a stronger and stronger influence on sea level around the world."

The rapidly melting Greenland Ice Sheet is precisely what is causing the AMOC to slow. Moreover, an Arctic that is continuing to warm could lead to the failure of the Gulf Current, Dr. Leifer said.

"The resultant deep freeze that would hit Europe would destroy European agriculture and likely lead to a massive war for survival," he warned.
(c) 2018 Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last 10 years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.

Democratic Corporate Fascism Vs The Trump Kind
By Glenn Ford

Modern American corporate fascism is rooted in multinational corporate structures and wedded to a concept of racial and cultural "diversity" that (they hope) is compatible with corporate dictatorship.

The weakness of the Left In the United States is so extreme that the ruling class has to invent a "menace" to the prevailing oligarchic order: the Russians, whose phantom agents are said to wage a twilight struggle to undermine public faith in U.S. institutions. The U.S. Left is so pitifully small, so patently incapable of disrupting the rule of the rich, that it has lost all usefulness as a scapegoat for the failures and crimes of capitalism. Since no one believes that U.S. leftists have either the will or capacity to challenge the corporate regime, the Russians have to fill the role of internal as well as external enemy -- a daunting task on a meager Facebook budget of only $100,000.

With the real U.S. left having shrunk to near-invisibility, the capitalist pseudo-left -- all of them Democrats -- pretends that socialism has already arrived in America in the form of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and Lyndon Johnson's Great Society. Comrade Bernie Sanders tells us that [big "D"] "democratic socialism" will bloom triumphant with passage of Medicare for All, on the home front, and by combating the "New Authoritarian Axis" of Russia, China and assorted Trump-like regimes around the world. Sanders believes that U.S. empire is compatible with his very minimalist version of socialism, which neither requires nor desires the overthrow of the moneyed classes.

The pseudo-left Democrats have also invented their own version of fascism. In the real world, the world of actual human history, fascism arises as a reaction to grave threats to the capitalist order. During and after the First World War, the crises of capitalism and of intra-capitalist war gave birth to the Russian Revolution, and to desperate attempts at socialist revolution in Germany and Austria. The socialist threat spawned ultranationalist fascist movements across Europe, seizing power in Italy and Germany. I maintain that an earlier version of fascism arose in the Jim Crow regions of the United States, in reaction to the threat posed to the race-based ruling order by democratically empowered Black peasants and workers, during the brief Reconstruction period. The American South became the world's first thoroughly racially regimented society, and a model for German and South African fascism.

Donald Trump, the billionaire brat from Queens, New York, drew heavily on this seminal American fascism in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Trump's pitch sounded very much like a promise to (re)create "good jobs" -- once known as "white man's work" -- for his pale base, while stepping up police repression of Blacks and deportations of brown immigrants. Trump seized control of the GOP by feeding raw racist red meat to the Republican rank and file, rather than the usual, coded "dog whistles." Trump had observed that, in both 2008 and 2016, any GOP senator or governor that acquired a billionaire sponsor could become a serious aspirant to the party's presidential nomination. Why not Trump, the billionaire with instant name recognition who could sponsor himself?

Trump's explicit racism was upsetting to many Republican big wigs' corporate sensibilities, but that wasn't the deal-breaker that caused the intra-capitalist crisis. The GOP had been the "White Man's Party" since 1968. Trump's explicit white supremacism was only a difference in degree. What set establishment Republicans to flight and nearly destroyed the corporate duopoly, was Trump's campaign rhetoric opposing U.S. regime change wars and corporate trade deals that facilitated the free flow of money and jobs around the globe. The bulk of the ruling class, along with its national security and corporate media servants, fled into Hillary Clinton's big nasty campaign tent, and have plotted to hog-tie or remove Trump, ever since.

Trump has since abandoned his opposition to regime change and corporate trade deals. He remains an arch-racist -- but that is only a difference in degree from all the other Republican presidents since Richard Nixon in 1968. In virtually every other aspect, the Trump presidency reflects the whims of the GOP's corporate funders, for whom the Trump regime has been a cornucopia of tax and deregulation benefits, and promises to join previous Republican and Democratic administrations in pursuit of endless austerity and war - which marks both Trump and his corporate Democratic adversaries as fascists.

Endless austerity and war is how the corporate regime strips all democratic character from late stage capitalist societies like ours, and reorganizes the world economy to serve plutocracy's purposes.. The U.S. empire is multinational capital's home, not the territorial United States. Corporate imperatives dictate the global race to the bottom. The job of the two duopoly parties in the U.S. -- and of the bourgeois parties in the rest of the "West" and Japan - is to blunt the people's resistance to the increasingly oppressive measures of capitalism in crisis and decline. The imperial "home" countries' populations must also be made to acquiesce in, if not cheer, the steady drumbeat of war against the resistance to imperial aggression, now centered in Russia, China, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua -- even though every tightening of the imperial knot means more misery for all those who have been drafted into the race to the bottom.

In the U.S., the hegemony of capital is all but complete. That's why all of our "news" comes from five or six corporations -- and most of it is fake. Alone in the world, the U.S. has two parties of the ruling class, and no other parties that effectively contend for power. It is therefore, definitively, a corporate dictatorship. However, even though there is no effective countervailing force to corporate rule, the U.S. ruling class is wracked by contradictions that are playing out in full view of the global audience. Despite their near-monopoly on power, the capitalists are unsure how to manage endless austerity and war, and are fearful that real resistance may arise to the precariat, total insecurity political economy they are creating in the United States.

The bulk of the corporate ruling class still do not trust Donald Trump, despite having neutered his foreign policy heresies. They are fascists -- in that they seek to perfect the dictatorship of the most ruthless elements of finance capital -- but their version of fascism is different from Trump's old school, crudely race-based brand. Modern American corporate fascism is rooted in multinational corporate structures, and wedded to a concept of racial and cultural "diversity" that (they hope) is compatible with corporate dictatorship.

Whether these corporate actors actually believe in racial and ethnic equality or not, they have been forced by circumstances to make "diversity" the battle cry in their conflict with Trump and his "White Man's Party" -- a party and racist ideology that still commands the allegiance of a majority of white Americans, including white women. Ironically, the two-corporate party trap that the ruling class built to corral all the rest of us provided only one alternative when Donald Trump mounted his takeover of the GOP. The bulk of the ruling class found itself herded together into a Democratic Party that is 25 percent Black, and growing more Latino every day. Not only was the (overwhelmingly white) corporate class forced to champion diversity for electoral reasons, but, even more importantly, they have made diversity virtually the onlyissue (along with pro forma support for women's reproductive rights), in order to avoid confronting all the other issues and contradictions of life in a racist country under late stage capitalism at war with much of the rapidly warming world. Trump's overt white supremacism, which won him solid white majorities, becomes the defining issue for his corporate adversaries, whose project is increased insecurity and disappearing freedoms for the masses of people under endless austerity and war. But, they promise respect for people's diversity, amidst the misery.

For Blacks, diversity is a diversion. The term was coined two generations ago as an alternative to the reparations-like promise of affirmative action. Instead of goals and timetables for inclusion or promotion of Black people, we got vague schedules to achieve "diversity" in the classroom and workplace -- with the bulk of the benefits going to white women. The corporate ruling class is making the same kind of promise, today, at a time of intense intra-capitalist conflict: Let's all join together to defeat the racist Trump, they say, and build a world of diversity. But, it is the diversity of an integrated concentration camp -- and, even that is a lie. 21stcentury fascism will be race-based and segregated, just as the United States has always been. The ruling class will be as white as ever, and the cops will be as brutal and technically proficient possible.

As the only group that has repeatedly demonstrated the will and capability to massively disrupt major urban centers of the nation, and the group that is, historically, the most left-leaning and peace-minded, Blacks will remain the main "national security" threat, just as when we first arrived in the British Americas, in chains.

The U.S. ruling class wants desperately to put its electoral duopoly back together again, with both parties serving corporate interests, interchangeably. They are betting that Donald Trump is a temporary disruption to the smooth operations of the system, and that the Republican Party will be recaptured by the dog whistlers. Odds are, they are correct, and the ruling class electoral political crisis will end when Trump leaves the White House, although the emboldened racists will doubtless continue to embarrass the corporate managers of the GOP. With the corporate consensus re-established, both parties will speak the same language as they collaborate to manage the last days of capitalism - and, maybe, of human existence on Earth.

Unless we rebuild a real left that actually challenges corporate rule, with the clear aim of overthrowing the oligarchs and setting the oppressed free.
(c) 2018 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

Supreme Court nominee judge Brett Kavanaugh arrives with Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
for the second day of his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 5, 2018.

55% Of GOP Say Sexual Assault Not Disqualifying For SCOTUS; What Is *Wrong* With Them?
It seems to me that social psychologists ought to look into what is wrong with self-described Republican voters that they take such completely amoral stances
By Juan Cole

What in the world is wrong with self-identified Republicans in the United States. I mean, look, I'm a historian and a world traveler. I get that different people have different ways of looking at the world, different norms and customs. It is to be expected.

But the blatant amorality of GOP voters, at least as they represent themselves in the polling, baffles me. Morality ought to be equally distributed across parties, like immorality. People are people.

But as Newsweek notes, an Economist/YouGov poll has found that 55% of Republicans hold that even if Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a woman when he was in high school, that would not disqualify him from serving on the Supreme Court.

Note well. They didn't ask them if they disbelieved the charges and therefore didn't think he was disqualified.

The question was, if he were actually guilty, should he serve? And a majority of Republicans said he should not be disqualified for this reason. Another 18% said they just didn't know whether it was disqualifying. Really? Attempted rape shouldn't keep you off the court?

71% of Democrats said that sexual assault is disqualifying. Are they more capable of ethical reasoning, or are they just being partisan and hoping the Democrats can keep their 5-4 majority on the court, which Kavanaugh would permanently throw out?

Lawrence Kohlberg, influenced by the Swiss child psychologist Piaget, put forward a 6-stage structural theory of children's morality.

Stage 1. Obedience and Punishment Orientation.

Stage 2. Individualism and Exchange.

Stage 3. Good Interpersonal Relationships.

Stage 4. Maintaining the Social Order.

Stage 5. Social Contract and Individual Rights.

Stage 6: Universal Principles.

In stage one, children think something is wrong if there is a significant chance you will be punished for doing it. I think the corollary is that if the likelihood of punishment is remote, at this stage of ethics, a stage 1 child might do something more mature individuals would consider wrong, just because they are sure they can get away with it.

In stage two, they still think and act as isolated individuals, but they can understand that there are differing definitions of what is wrong. Some in this school would say that at level 2, a person is willing to help out a buddy by doing something generally considered wrong, but no one else-assuming the buddy is willing to scratch the first person's back in return.

In stage three, teens learn to put the welfare of another person, say a family member or close friend, above individual greed. They might agree that it would be moral to steal an unfairly high-priced medicine for the sake of an ill loved one.

In stage four, the teen comes to value an orderly society, and sees morality as doing what is necessary to uphold that web of relationships. Nationalists among older adults are often stuck at this stage. They value their own society and its norms and stability so much that they are willing to sacrifice the welfare of outsiders for its sake. The Soviet Union was full of people who thought like this about morality.

Persons at stage five put rights above an orderly society. The emphasize rule-based decision-making, not solidarity and orderliness. But like Rousseau, they would accept the outcome of the General Will if it operated in a procedurally just way.

Stage six have been castigated as ethical cowboys. They see general ethical principles that are higher than procedural justice. Stage six ethical thinkers insist on universal, consistent rights. Kohlberg saw Gandhi and Martin Luther King in this light.

I'm not a psychologist or anything, but I went through a phase when I read a lot of Kohlberg and his school. I would say that Brett Kavanaugh comes very low on this scale. He repeatedly lied- about the legal drinking age when he was 17 (it was 21); about what the sexually charged terms in his Yearbook meant (devil's triangle is a menage a trois or 3 positions in one night; bouf is anal intercourse); about not being a fall-down drunk, which some of those close to him say he was. It also seems to me that he told all these lies because he knows that the Republican majority in the Senate will vote for him no matter what, and therefore he risks no punishment from lying. He has the moral sense of a kindergartner.

As for putting a proven sexual predator on the court, the majority of Republicans who hold that it should be done may be functioning at level two (they'll do a favor for Kavanaugh if he'll rule for their interests- low taxes, low services for everyone but the well off, curbs on workers and minorities, and an end to abortion). That would be level 2. Or those who think it is necessary to put him on the bench to preserve social order might be reasoning as high as level 4.

But no level 5 would say, put someone guilty of sexual assault on the Supreme Court, since that would contravene general moral principles and basic fairness.

As for level 6, people of that sort, who i wouldn't imagine are more that 5 percent of the population, might even lead a movement against putting attempted rapists on the Supreme Court. Of course, some Democrats who supported such a movement might only be doing it out of concern for social order and social solidarity (level 4).

We see this low level of Republican ethical reasoning in lots of area, from approval for Trump despite his own immorality, to their willingness to treat Muslims in unfair and even unconstitutional ways.

So I am genuinely shocked by this poll's results, and can't figure out what produces them. Has the Republican Party just started attracting ethically challenged individuals, so that it is mostly 4s and below?

I recognized that not all the 71% among the Dems may be taking this stance on principle. Some of the Democratic opposition to the unethical stances I mentioned above could also be Stage 4 order and solidarity rather than higher ethical thinking about principles. Still, across the board Dems take more principled stances.

Is there some sort of elective affinity here? Democrats become known for compassion, so they attract more ethical people?

It seems to me that social psychologists ought to look into what is wrong with self-described Republican voters that they take such completely amoral stances.
(c) 2018 Juan R.I. Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia and has given numerous media interviews on the war on terrorism and the Iraq War. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years and continues to travel widely there. He speaks Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.

Republican vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence, House majority leader Kevin McCarthy, Speaker Paul Ryan,
and House majority whip Steve Scalise share a laugh when a reporter Ryan called on began to ask Pence
a question about his criticism of Donald Trump during a joint news conference on September 13, 2016.

Poverty Is Over! So Why Are Republicans So Quiet About Their Chief Economic Accomplishment?
They told us they did it not for the rich, but to help middle-class and poor families. But here we are in the thick of the 2018 congressional elections, and - shhhhh - silence. Not a single lawmaker who voted for this grand ideological promise is mentioning it, much less running ads touting their role in hammering the plan into law.
By Jim Hightower

Listen ... Can you hear it? Listen to the eerie "sound of silence" from the Trumpeteers and congressional Republicans who so loudly cheered themselves just a year ago for bestowing a trillion-dollar tax giveaway on corporate elites.

They told us they did it not for the rich, but to help middle-class and poor families. How would enriching the already rich benefit the rest of us? "Trickle-down Economics 101," said Trump & Company, explaining that giving more money to elites would spark "an immediate jump in wage growth" because CEOs would use their bonanza to reward workers for their productivity. The White House even got specific, declaring that average pay would jump as much as $9,000 per person.

But here we are in the thick of the 2018 congressional elections, and - shhhhh - silence. Not a single lawmaker who voted for this grand ideological promise is mentioning it, much less running ads touting their role in hammering the plan into law. Why so shy?

Because their trickle-down giveaway to the superrich was a crude hoax from the start. CEOs spent the trillion-dollar boondoggle the GOP doled out to them on raising their own exorbitant pay. Once again, moneyed elites got the gold mine, working families got the shaft. As Bloomberg News reports, far from enjoying their promised $9,000 income boost, the workaday majority of Americans now find that their hourly earnings are lower than they were a year ago.

But who cares? Being a Trumpeteer Republican means never admitting your lies and never apologizing. Steve Mnuchin, a former Wall Street banker who's now the secretary of the treasury, is a perfect example of a blase, ethically challenged Trump huckster. He recently shrugged off the failure of the bloated tax cut that he promoted to raise working people's income: "Wages are going up on some people," he declared disingenuously.

Yeah, wages are going up - for multimillionaires like him. Yet he wonders why most Americans despise him and his ilk.

Someone needs to buy a Grassroots USA tour package for the members of Trump's Council of Economic Advisers so they can at least visit the real world for once in their lives.

The three professors on the council are ivory-tower ideologues whose sole professional expertise seems to be twisting reality to fit their boss' right-wing fantasia. In July, for example, the trio issued a fairy tale disguised as an official government report on poverty, essentially asserting that our U-S of A no longer has a poverty problem. "Poof," declared these learned ones from on high - the need for food stamps, Medicaid, public housing and other assistance has virtually disappeared in our land. Jobs abound, they lectured, the economy is pumping out great gobs of new wealth, and happy bluebirds are spreading joy everywhere.

You can imagine the comfort that this report by aloof academics has brought to the 45 million Americans now living below the poverty line. That line means they're trying to make ends meet on only $25,000 a year - not per person, but for a family of four. Let's see any of Trump's advisers try to live on that before smugly claiming that poverty is "largely over."

What's at work here is the political manipulation of statistics to support Trump's ideological delusion that poor people are losers who are addicted to safety net programs. As a narcissistic son of privilege, he is out to cut those programs and to impose strict work requirements on families seeking public assistance. Never mind that most recipients of aid already work, subjected to the hardships of poverty by the low wages of their jobs.

But that's the real world, and it doesn't mesh with Trump & Company's cruel self-deception that basic humane benefits make poverty "too pleasant." They're imposing a Dickensian governing ethic that is fundamentally obscene ... and un-American.
(c) 2018 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

Ayanna Pressley secured her upset victory with a 59-41 landslide. She was one of dozens of insurgents
who prevailed in Democratic primaries during the course of the first nine months of 2018.

Evolution Or Death
The midterms are a battle for the soul of both parties
By John Nichols

President Donald Trump keeps signaling his determination to remake the Republican Party in the image of Steve Bannon and his circle of wild-eyed racists and xenophobes. Because the media in the United States tend to focus on personality clashes and electoral strategies rather than ideologies and the evolution of political parties, Trump's political project is still too little-noted by the pundits and politicians, who have consistently underestimated the threat he poses. Yet, for those who are paying attention, the President's extreme messaging sends a clear signal."The dog whistles get louder," says anti-racism activist and author Tim Wise.

Early in 2017, Trump expressed enthusiasm for France's far right, hailing National Front (now National Rally) leader Marine Le Pen as "the strongest on what's been going on in France"-an embrace of a candidate whom French conservatives rejected for leading a party "known for its violence, its intolerance." Several months later, when neo-Nazis rioted and killed a woman in Charlottesville, Virginia, Trump suggested there were "good people" among those throwing up fascist salutes.

In August, Trump began hyperventilating about white farmers in South Africa, with a tweet announcing that he had asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to investigate "South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers." In so doing, he adopted a meme favored by shadowy global networks that mumble about "white genocide." The New York Times said the president was citing "false claims." Patrick Gaspard, the former U.S. ambassador to South Africa, warned that the President "needs political distractions to turn our gaze away from his criminal cabal, and so he's attacking South Africa with the disproven racial myth of 'large scale killings of farmers.'"

Gaspard was right about the impulse of this President to distract the media and his supporters from his many crises. Yet there is more going on here than the usual smoke and mirrors of politics.

"Ultimately, I don't see this tweet as being about South Africa at all," Wise told Joy Reid on an MSNBC program that offered a rare example of how Trump should be covered. "I think it is a way to try and scare white Americans not of black South Africans, about whom they don't think very much, but of black people in this country. It's all part of a larger political process."

The larger political process is what matters. Donald Trump knows this. So, too, do his sharpest critics. That makes the 2018 election cycle much more than the traditional partisan fight between Republicans and Democrats. What is playing out this year are battles for the souls of both major political parties.

A new generation of intersectional candidates is doing its best to drive the Democratic Party in a different direction.

Just as Trump is steering the Republican Party into the ditch of white nationalism, a new generation of intersectional candidates (many of them women, people of color, immigrants, or the children of immigrants) is doing its best to drive the Democratic Party in a different direction. It is a movement that Ayanna Pressley, who beat a ten-term incumbent Congressman in a Massachusetts primary in September, says "can ensure that this moment of hatred and division in Washington is a catalyst for the greatest progressive movement of our generation."

Neither major party will finish 2018 unchanged. Yet the extent of the transformation will be known only after the November 6 election results are digested. The changes may be uneven; one party may go through a more radical transformation than the other. But there is no going back for either party. Nor is there any reason to believe that this unavoidable process of radical transformation will end on a particular Election Day. Even if Republicans are completely vanquished by a "Blue Wave" election, the process of remaking the party in the President's image will continue.

The President is a dangerous man, a danger he extends by regularly intervening on behalf of his "mini-mes"-like race-baiting Florida Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis. The threat Trump poses is multiplied by the fact that, as veteran Republican strategist Rick Wilson reminds us, GOP "leaders" such as Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan "lack the moral courage to stand up and say directly into the camera: this President is engaging in things that are overtly racial, this is a signal to some of the worst elements in our society."

With that said, however, it must be understood that Trump is not our condition. Rather, he is an alarming symptom of what ails our politics at a moment of dramatic change in how we organize our lives, our work, our world.

Trump is President because this country's political leaders have failed to respond honestly or usefully to the radical changes that are transforming the lives of Americans, and the anxiety these changes create.

The United States has barely begun to wrestle with the immediate crisis of climate change. At the same time, it is now thirty years into a globalization revolution that is changing everything about how we relate to the world-economically, socially, politically, and practically. It is twenty years into a digital revolution that is changing everything about how we communicate, with dramatic repercussions for how we organize our time and our relationships. And it is ten years into an automation revolution that is already changing everything about our workplaces, and that will ultimately upend our sense of who we are as workers and what we might seek to accomplish.

This is heavy stuff. It is hitting the average American with the force of three industrial revolutions at the same time. Unfortunately, because of the lingering influence of neoliberal fabulism on both parties, serious thinking about the policies needed to address this sea change has been neglected in favor of the fantasy that "the market will come up with a solution."

Economists tell us that the concentration of power in the hands of a billionaire class, and the monopolization of wealth by trillion-dollar tech corporations, is bad for business and worse for humanity. Social scientists identify economic and social inequality as an existential threat. The Harvard Business Review notes that "people in all walks of life are becoming very concerned about advancing automation." Yet the supposedly "enlightened" leaders of both parties continue to propose "more-of-the-same" schemes to divert precious public resources to billionaires, tech titans, and the military-industrial complex that has already locked up so much of our commonwealth.

Until Bernie Sanders opened up the debate with a 2016 presidential run that shook the Democratic Party's complacency, scant attention was paid to the fact that a Scandinavian-style social welfare state will have to be developed to provide Americans with guarantees of health care, education, transportation, and other basic needs. It is the only rational response to a "gig-economy," where workers cannot count on the benefits packages that sustained their grandparents and that their parents are now losing.

By the way, young voters did not back Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primaries because he was promising "free stuff." They voted for him because his social-democratic agenda sounded like a smart proposal for bringing a measure of stability to the chaotic future they are already experiencing.

Yet, even at his best, Sanders barely touched on the topics that will soon confront society, like whether a universal basic income will be required to sustain workers displaced by robots. And once the nomination fight was done, Democrats defaulted to the habitual caution that keeps the party from inspiring young people and disaffected Americans.

Neglect of the essential debate has made it easy for Trump to fill the anxiety void with a combination of over-the-top bragging about his dubious business skills and crude appeals to xenophobia. This was just enough to swing battleground states such as Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania-and, with them, the Electoral College-in 2016. But Trump is incapable of addressing the sources of the anxiety, which is one of the reasons why his approval numbers are so low and the prospects that Democrats might take the House in 2018 are so high.

There are plenty of people-many of them Trump voters and potential Trump voters-who recognize that good employment numbers are transitory, that wages are stagnant, and that tax cuts are more likely to be invested in robotification than long-term job creation. Trump has no answers for the real issues of our time. So he will keep going further down the rathole of racialized politics, and he is not going alone.

The story of the Republican Party's future is being written by Donald Trump. That tweet about South African farmers, like so many of the President's signals, should be read in the context of the politics of right now.

The evidence from the 2018 campaign is that Trump's trajectory will be every bit as horrible as his sharpest critics imagine. He'll keep intervening in Republican primaries on behalf of men like Kansas gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach, who peddles lies about "illegal voting" that Republicans use to make it harder for non-Republicans to cast ballots; and Georgia gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, who proved that it was possible to be more venomous than Trump by promising to use his pickup truck to round up immigrants.

The story of the Democratic Party's pushback against Trump is, as yet, unwritten. There are no guarantees that the Democrats will rise to the challenge of the moment. They failed to do so in 2016 because party leaders at the highest level misread the moment. They spent too much time concentrating on Trump and too little time on the question of why the most divisive and discredited Republican nominee in the party's history was a viable contender for the presidency.

What Democrats must recognize is that the required response to Trumpism involves filling the void of the uncertainty he creates with information, ideas, and programs. This won't change the hearts of visceral racists and xenophobes, of the David Dukes and Richard Spencers, who relish the political normalization of white nationalism. But it will speak to frightened and frustrated Americans, and identify an agenda for mobilizing what Democracy for America Executive Director Charles Chamberlain calls "the New American Majority of people of color and progressive white voters [who] are ready to deliver transformative results for candidates who share their commitment to bold, inclusive populism."

This year's primary elections have been notable for breakthrough victories by scores of Democratic candidates who recognize the need for this new politics. In Massachusetts, for instance, Ayanna Pressley launched her campaign with a declaration that: "the people of this district deserve a representative who will enlist them as partners in the development, visioning, and governing of their communities. Activism is no longer an option, but is the expectation of our generation."

That last line went to the heart of the matter. Pressley, a forty-four-year-old African American progressive, shared many positions with incumbent Congressman Mike Capuano. What distinguished her was a promise to combine representation in Washington with movement activism at home. She communicated a sense of urgency that her party has lacked. After casting her primary ballot on September 4, she said: "This is a fight for the soul of our party, and the future of our democracy, at a time when our country is at a crossroads."

Pressley secured her upset victory with a 59-41 landslide. She was one of dozens of insurgents who prevailed in Democratic primaries during the course of the first nine months of 2018. Gubernatorial candidates such as Ben Jealous in Maryland, Stacey Abrams in Georgia, and Andrew Gillum in Florida won historic nominations, as did Congressional candidates such as Kara Eastman in Nebraska, Rashida Tlaib in Michigan, Ilhan Omar in Minnesota, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York.

The first challenger to defeat an incumbent Congressman in a Democratic primary, Ocasio-Cortez became a symbol of the movement to change the party. She was open about the failure of the party to speak to the issues that matter to voters-including some voters who backed Trump in 2016, and many more who stayed home.

"[Trump] spoke very directly to a lot of needs that were not being met by both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party," she told The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald. "Our neglect of that is something we wholeheartedly have to take responsibility for, and correct for."

That's a vital acknowledgment, and an even more vital call to action.

Trump's answers to America's problems are wrong. Yet he is doubling down on them with a white-nationalist message that could come to fully define his party. The challenge for Democrats is to forge an alternative message that is bigger and bolder than the pathetic agenda that this President and his partisan allies propose.

The alternative to a "make-America-great-again" politics of old policies and older fears is a new politics for a new time. To achieve this new politics, the Democratic Party must be as radical as it was in the days of Franklin Roosevelt and Henry Wallace. It must be more open to social democratic ideals, especially those that will shape and sustain a social welfare state sufficient to provide benefits as the economic order of the past gives way to a new order in which jobs are replaced by gigs.

It will recognize that a universal basic income may be the only answer for workers who are being displaced, not temporarily but permanently, by the robots and computers that Oxford University social scientists say could eliminate half of existing jobs in the next two decades. And it will know that antitrust initiatives to break up, regulate, and tax tech monopolies will allow citizens rather than CEOs to guide a technological revolution focused on the betterment of the human condition.

This is the politics proposed by the most tech-savvy Democrat in the current Congress, Ro Khanna of California, who two years ago defeated an eight-term incumbent Congressman in a primary contest that foretold the intraparty fights of 2018. "Our country is going through a profound transition from an industrial age to a digital age," Khanna has said. "The gains of that transition had gone to a few people who are creative, brilliant, at the right place at the right time. There are a lot of folks who had been left out in that transition."

If next-generation candidates who practice a politics of big ideas and big mobilization win in November, that will be a signal for the only major party that still has the potential to meet the challenges of the times.

The Democratic Party can't be too bold. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party does not yet know whether it wants to be bold. This is what the primary battles of 2018 were about, and this is why the results from November contests matter more than a measure of D-versus-R alignment. If next-generation candidates who practice a politics of big ideas and big mobilization win in November, that will be a signal for the only major party that still has the potential to meet the challenges of the times.

Parties evolve, or die. That's a fact of political science. This year will tell us a great deal about just how dangerous the evolution of the Republican Party has become. But it could also tell us how the Democratic Party might avert the danger and claim the future.
(c) 2018 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Can We Trust The Poll Numbers?
By James Donahue

Probably because I still use the old land-line telephone system at my home I am subjected to a rash of nuisance calls from people trying to sell me things I don't want, or asking me to send money to people claiming to represent the police, fire departments or charitable organizations such as cancer research. Some of the more interesting callers have been from so-called pollsters who say they want my opinion about current political issues.

Because, like most Americans, I have some strong opinions so I attempt to participate in the polls. But when I agree to submit to the pollster's calls, the moment they learn that I am an elderly, retired gentleman living in a rental unit, they lose interest and say they do not want my opinion on anything. So why is this? Since statistically the older Americans are shown to be among the most faithful voters it would seem that my opinion in the polls would be important.

It has crossed my mind that the pollsters are representing political interests that wish to use the numbers they accumulate to help sell the public on controversial issues that the public in general may not really support. If this is true, the polls coming out of the State of California where I live cannot be trusted. If the number counters don't wish to hear from people like myself, who pack this state with the largest number of elderly residents per capita (3.3 million of us at last count), there must be a political reason. Can this also be true of polls being taken throughout the nation this fall?

Could it be that the pollsters are attempting to mislead the people with alleged numbers supporting the Republican right-wing conservative agenda? They know that the older population is heavily dependent on Social Security and Medicare programs, and the variety of other government social services created over the years especially for the sick, handicapped, unemployed and elderly. These are the very things the conservative Republican elements in Washington seem to be trying to eliminate. Thus there appears to be a very good reason for them to not want the opinions of people who depend heavily on these programs.

The Pew Research Center, known for its accuracy in polling the nation, still defends its numbers. For example, this agencies' pre-election polls in 2016 indicated that Hillary Clinton would win the national popular vote. This actually happened but the polls did not account for the Electoral College, which gave the presidency to Donald Trump.

The same thing happened when the Electoral College and the Supreme Court helped George W. Bush steal the 2000 election from Al Gore.

While the Pew researchers still claim a good record in their poll numbers, numerous other agencies, including the major news networks, conduct polls of their own. And some of the published results have generated some relatively thorny numbers.

A recent New York Times editorial noted that "two trends are driving the increasing unreliability of elections and other polling in the United States: the growth of cellphones and the decline in people willing to answer surveys." These phenomenons have made it more costly to conduct high-quality research and "opened the door for less scientifically based, less well-tested techniques," the editorial stated.

It has occurred to me that when pollsters call on my telephone, I do not remember any of them explaining who they were representing. My advice: If you are willing to answer the questions, it might be well if you find out who you are talking to first.
(c) 2018 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

Donald Trump arrives at a "Make America Great Again" rally at Landers Center in Southaven, Mississippi, on October 2, 2018.

The Dubious Fiction Of Donald Trump's Fortune Has Been Exposed
By William Rivers Pitt

A vital element of Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign was the fiction-filled autobiography he foisted on us, the beating heart of which was, "Vote for me because I'm a self-made rich man." For a variety of reasons best contemplated after a tall glass of neat whiskey and a nap, it worked. Erasing the presidency of Barack Obama while enshrining "Owning the Libs" as a national policy priority became the grease to lubricate the machine. Nearly two years later the mythology of the billionaire president remains highly motivational to Trump's still-frantic supporters.

That mythology took a torpedo shot below the waterline on Tuesday courtesy of The New York Times, which unleashed a meticulous 14,000-word analysis of the origins of Trump's fortune. David Cay Johnston, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting, wrote of the Times report, "As the paper's former tax reporter, and the journalist who has covered Trump the longest, I'm in a solid position to judge the depth and quality of their work. It is masterful."

The details, based on a review of more than 100,000 Trump documents, are shattering. Instead of one "small" million-dollar loan from his father to get things started, Trump received over the years what would be today the equivalent of $413 million. That money started coming when his father put him on a $200,000-a-year salary when he was three years old.

Dodging taxes became a family affair. Trump and his siblings put together a sham corporation in 1992 called All County Building Supply & Maintenance, using it to hide massive financial gifts from their parents. Trump also helped his father undervalue his real estate holdings to avoid paying taxes. Many of the tactics used to dodge the tax man amount to "outright fraud," in the words of the Times report.

When all was said and done, Fred and Mary Trump transferred more than $1 billion to their children in ways that allowed them to avoid paying approximately $550 million in gift and inheritance taxes. According to the Times report, and with the direct assistance of Donald Trump, the Trump family only paid about $52 million in taxes, a rate of about 5 percent. It's amazing how rich you can get when you don't pay your bills.

The Trump administration coughed up a boilerplate denial of the findings, which was "thin gruel" according to Johnston, given the scope and depth of the report. "The New York Times' allegations of fraud and tax evasion are 100% false, and highly defamatory," wrote Trump attorney Charles Harder. "There was no fraud or tax evasion by anyone. The facts upon which the Times bases its false allegations are extremely inaccurate.... President Trump had virtually no involvement whatsoever with these matters.... Should the Times state or imply that President Trump participated in fraud, tax evasion, or any other crime, it will be exposing itself to substantial liability and damages for defamation."

Amusing last sentence there, particularly the bit about "Should." Harder is basically threatening suit if the Times dares to call Trump crooked, as if the paper hadn't already done precisely that with its Tuesday bombshell. Here is a Trump tactic of old: Threaten to sue anyone who calls The Great Man a fraud in the public prints. Sometimes it even works and the accuser is silenced, but in this instance, the cat is out of the bag and over the hills.

The filthy truth of the matter, however, is that Harder isn't entirely wrong about Trump's potential criminal liability. Tax laws, and the enforcement of same, are dramatically different for rich people. A wealthy person who actually pays their full, fair share is either not trying hard enough to dodge their taxes or has a sense of responsibility wider than their wallet. Paying taxes is for lesser mortals, a fact Trump himself has bragged about on live television. When Hillary Clinton tagged him for not paying taxes during a September 2016 presidential debate, Trump glibly retorted, "That makes me smart."

The legal consequences of this article for Trump are nebulous. Those who want the grisly revelations contained within to be the silver bullet that removes Trump from office should anticipate those hopes getting dashed against the reef of pliant tax laws. "According to tax experts," reads the Times report, "it is unlikely that Mr. Trump would be vulnerable to criminal prosecution for helping his parents evade taxes, because the acts happened too long ago and are past the statute of limitations."

That being said, Donald Trump is not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination. The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance has taken a keen interest in the information provided by The New York Times. Its review comes in addition to an ongoing Taxation and Finance Department investigation into the Trump Foundation that may be linked to another investigation being carried out by New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood. "There is no time limit," notes the Times report, "on civil fines for tax fraud."

The political consequences, on the other hand, are another entirely fascinating matter altogether. Thanks to the Times report, we now fully understand why Donald Trump has been so unwilling to release his tax returns. Among other things, his calamitous financial history goes a long way toward explaining how he got himself all tangled up with Russian oligarch money in the first place.

After Trump had wrung the last coppers from his father's empire in an effort to paper over his failures (which begs the question: How does one go bankrupt multiple times after getting millions from Mom and Dad?), those willing to loan him money were few and far between. Should we ever see the final report from the Mueller investigation, odds are it will begin with the highly mobile decimal point on Trump's bottom line.

This is only part of the problem for Trump today. His entire adult existence, beginning well before he monsooned his way into national politics, is premised on the long fiction of his wealth, power and ability to cut a deal. The Times report strips this mythology to the bone in a way that those crying "fake news" will find difficult to rebut.

In his book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, author Yuval Noah Harari makes a compelling argument about the power of fiction in human affairs. Unlike the other subspecies of humans who shared the planet with us for millions of years, homo sapiens possessed a genetic mutation that allowed us to organize in huge numbers around an idea.

Be it a god, a nation-state or the value of money, homo sapiens came to be the dominant species on Earth because of their ability to devote themselves in massive numbers to something that could not be seen or touched, according to Harari. Seen through this lens, politics becomes nothing more or less than the art of myth-building. If enough people believe in a common fiction, the purveyor of that fiction can move mountains.

Thanks to the report by The New York Times, the Trump mythology has been dealt a mighty blow. Many, if not most, of his supporters will brush it off as just another callow Deep State attack upon their beloved leader ... but stories like this, like the slow dripping of water in a deep cavern, have a way of wearing down even the strongest stones. Donald Trump became president because enough people believed in the fiction he was peddling. It will be a hard sell going forward, and even harder with the creeping burn of time.
(c) 2018 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co_written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

The Future And The Past Is Colliding In Texas
By Heather Digby Parton

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Monday described Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) as "cult-like" in the way that he's garnered attention in his bid to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

"He's been a cult-like, very popular figure the way that he's run the campaign, but you don't vote on cult, you don't vote on personality when you get to the U.S. Senate. You vote on the issues," Abbott said on "Fox & Friends."

He should ask Donald Trump about that.

If this is a cult, it's an empowering, uplifitng, forward-thinking, inclusive, cult.

We'll have to see if Texas want more of that. Or if they prefer the servile Trump sycophantic hypocrite who used to say this:

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

The return of monarchs is great news, because only four years ago their situation looked bleak.

A Butterfly-Friendly Balm For Turbulent Times
By David Suzuki

In these turbulent political times, inspirational stories are more important than ever. Here's one about how people power is fuelling a surprising comeback.

It starts with a quiet disappearance that gradually builds to a historic wave of orange. And it may offer a balm for the seemingly endless barrage of negative news.

Folks in Eastern Canada may have noticed something joyous in the air this summer: an abundance of monarch butterflies. After a couple of decades of decline, it appears monarchs had a great summer, culminating in an unusually strong migration over the past few weeks, with ribbons of orange "500 miles wide" flowing southward.

The return of monarchs is great news, because only four years ago their situation looked bleak. The eastern monarch population had plummeted from one billion two decades before to only 35 million.

The dramatic decline spurred the David Suzuki Foundation's first #Gotmilkweed campaign. The Foundation offered milkweed plants, which monarchs require for survival - although there was some uncertainty about how many customers would be interested in this particular type of "weed."

Canadians' collective love for monarchs and the urgency of their plight translated into brisk sales, though, resulting in the Foundation distributing more than 30,000 milkweed plants and a half million seeds. Milkweed mania spread throughout the rest of the monarch's northern range, from eastern Manitoba to the Maritimes, with countless groups and individuals adding milkweed and other butterfly-friendly plants to gardens, schoolyards, parks and roadsides.

Volunteer "Rangers" with the Foundation's Butterflyway Project have found particularly creative ways to add butterfly-friendly habitat. They've planted neighbourhood networks of "canoe gardens" filled with native wildflowers, hosted fun musical parades and filled laneways with colourful butterfly-inspired murals by local street artists.

City governments have also taken flight. Markham became the first monarch-friendly city in Canada. Toronto became the largest city in North America to sign the Mayors' Monarch Pledge, while also adopting one of Canada's most ambitious pollinator strategies. More than a dozen Ontario communities and nine municipalities in Quebec have all joined the growing movement to bring monarchs back. Butterflyways have also been established in Richmond, the District of North Vancouver and Victoria, B.C., to help butterflies and pollinators there.

Milkweed can now be found in many garden centres and nurseries in Toronto and elsewhere, and an observant neighbourhood wander commonly includes a few patches of milkweed. The transformation of milkweed from noxious weed to Eastern Canada's most in-demand native plant in a few short years is nothing short of inspirational.

But we still wondered if the monarchs would come back.

One of the biggest drivers of monarch decline is use of the herbicide glyphosate (a.k.a. Roundup) that has eradicated milkweed on millions of hectares of cropland along monarch migration routes. Extreme weather is monarch enemy number two. Severe droughts can cause havoc and winter storms can wipe out tens of millions of monarchs. So, even if we plant a ton of milkweed, monarchs won't be out of the woods.

This summer, though, has been epic. The migration northward was strong and our summer weather was ideal from a monarch's perspective. Renowned monarch researcher Chip Taylor at the University of Kansas has suggested this winter's population may be the strongest in a decade.

Although the future of monarchs remains in peril, we should savour the wonder of these butterflies and celebrate the collective impact that thousands of gardeners, Rangers, citizens, businesses, bureaucrats and politicians can have when we dig in.

These efforts offer a glimpse of how the unexpected can happen. Despite weighing less than a paperclip, monarchs fly 4,000 kilometres to forests they've never been to. Despite decades of being unloved and eradicated, a plant like milkweed can be popularized. Despite being on the brink of extinction, monarchs can be plentiful. And despite our messy political landscape, we can alter the landscape of our neighbourhoods, making an effort to bring a bit more nature home to our gardens, yards, schoolyards and parks.

So, before the next political bombshell plunges you into despair, I urge you to take a deep breath. Smell the flowers. Reconnect with the wonders of nature. And remember that we can all bring hope and joy, one small step at a time.
(c) 2018 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co_founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

The Voters Are Rising Up Against The Thieves
The backlash against voter suppression may have truly begun.
By Charles P. Pierce

There is some reason for optimism out in the states that voters are beginning to take the attacks on the franchise seriously as a reason to go to the polls and revenge themselves in the proper democratic fashion against the vandals who have been running wild over the past decade.

First, master vote-suppressor Kris Kobach is underperforming in his race to become the next governor of Kansas. (Losing independents by nine points is an ominous rumbling across the prairie.) Second, in Michigan, a pair of ballot proposals aimed at undoing election finagling both have opened up huge leads in recent polling. A "Yes" vote on Proposal 2, which would establish a nonpartisan citizens commission to undo the state's heavily gerrymandered map, is leading 48-32, and Proposal 3, which would make registering to vote automatic when a citizen gets or renews a driver's license, as well as authorizing other measures to make voting easier, is crushing it in the recent numbers, with "Yes" leading 70-24.

And, perhaps most significantly, a ballot measure in Florida that would amend the state's constitution to return the franchise to some 1.5 million ex-felons and, in doing so, perhaps permanently change the nature of the electorate in that crucial state, also cracked the 70 percent ceiling in a poll conducted by the University of North Florida. (It needs 60 percent in November to pass.) From The Orlando Sentinel:

The referendum garnered the most support among African Americans, with 82 percent saying they would vote yes. Among whites, 69 percent said they would vote yes, along with 65 percent of Hispanics. "These results reflect the status of African-Americans as the population most directly affected by Florida's felon disenfranchisement laws," Natasha Christie, chair of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at UNF, said in a statement. "With such a large majority of likely voters saying they would vote 'yes' on Amendment 4, this indicates views on this issue are becoming more progressive overall throughout the state, regardless of race," Christie said.
These questions, and dozens more like them around the country, are going to get buried in the national news on Election Night, especially if one or both houses of Congress change hands, but they are going to be monumentally important in 2020, which it is too soon to think about, but what the hell.
(c) 2018 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote-

"And on the subject of burning books: I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength or their powerful political connections or their great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and have refused to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles.

"So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries." ~~~ Kurt Vonnegut,

Delusion Upon Fantasy Upon Lie Based On Propaganda
By David Swanson

Read this headline: "To Avoid Repeating Catastrophic Mistake of Iraq Invasion, Senate Bill Would Forbid Attack on Iran Without Congressional Approval."

Consider these facts:

The Senate voted to let Bush attack Iraq.

So did the House.

The pair of them continue to fund the U.S. military occupation of Iraq to this day.

The pair of them have repeated the same catastrophic mistake - on different scales but indisputably catastrophic - in, among other places, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, and Pakistan, plus tripling in size (now scaled back again) the invasion of Afghanistan.

The U.S. Constitution already does what this bill claims to do.

The War Powers Resolution already does what this bill claims to do.

The U.S. Constitution makes treaties the supreme law of the land, and two of them absolutely forbid invading Iran with or without "Congressional approval."

The U.N. Charter bans war with very limited exceptions not remotely met here.

The Kellogg-Briand Pact bans war completely.

A Congressionally approved attack on Iran would be exactly as catastrophic as a non-Congressionally approved attack on Iran.

While Congress has no power to legalize a crime, requiring a president to come to Congress before committing that crime could be a means of preventing it only if anyone took Congress seriously.

A Congress led by people who have made clear their commitment never to impeach a president - or for that matter block a Supreme Court nominee - for anything unrelated to sex or to blaming a foreign government for an election cannot be taken seriously.

Spreading the false belief that Congress has the power to legalize an attack on Iran does not benefit Iran, the world, the United States, or Congress.

Progressive media outlets failing to correct that false belief - which could be done with a single sentence - are behaving regressively.

Here is a sentence that could be copied and pasted into thousands of articles: "While Congress can deny a president the power or the funding to wage war, and can impeach and remove war makers, Congress has no ability to make legal what is illegal under the UN Charter and the Kellogg-Briand Pact."
(c) 2018 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

Let's Take Our European Grand Tour Now -- While We Still Can
By Jane Stillwater

Being friends with America is sometimes a lot of hard work. For instance, Saddam Hussein used to be America's BFF and just look what happened to him. America also "friended" all those Jihadi freaks and warlords in Afghanistan -- and Afghans are still paying the price.

Kissinger befriended a dictator in Chile but torches and pitchforks eventually nailed Pinochet. Johnson befriended a dictator in Vietnam and we all know what happened to Diem. Reagan befriended Noriega in Panama -- and then turned on him too. Obama befriended Al Qaeda "rebels" in Syria and Libya and also those gross neo-Nazis in Ukraine -- and now even though Trump also tweets in their favor, bin Ladin's next generation is still violently hated by Syrians, Libyans and Ukrainians. Various American presidents have also befriended Haiti, Yemen and Palestine -- and with friends like that, who needs enemies.

And now America is trying really hard to upgrade the European Union to its "close friend" status too. If I was Europe right now, I'd run like hell! And if I was the average American tourist right now, I'd be taking the traditional European grand tour ASAP. Go see Buckingham Palace, the Eiffel Tower, the Acropolis and the Colosseum -- while you still can.

According to journalist Rostislav Ishchenko, America now has plans to thwart China's big move to establish a New Silk Road trade route from China to Europe. But how, exactly, does America plan to hijack China's new trade route? Apparently by eliminating Europe as an effective trade partner at the end of the Silk Road.

America's recent attempts at "The chaosization of Europe" would just about do that, right?

For instance, all of America's brutal unjust neo-colonial "wars" on the Middle East have sent millions of refugees out on various involuntary road trips. "Crap! America just bombed my home, murdered my wife and daughter and slaughtered my camel!" cry America's victims. "What the freak should I do now!" Go to Germany of course. Or Sweden. Or Britain. Or Italy. Anywhere but Baghdad or Benghazi.

Then there was the recent destabilization of Eastern Europe after America armed almost anyone there who could shoot straight -- and also lots of folks who clearly could not.

Next came Trump's policy of getting Europe to pay for NATO. "Gotta buy guns! Gotta buy guns!" shout the Europeans. "No money left over to run to the dollar store!"

And don't forget that America's whacked policies in the Middle East have created all kinds of terrorism in the EU as well. Blowing up stuff in Belgium, France, Spain and England can be unsettling to say the least. And economic terrorism sucks eggs too. Just ask the Greeks.

But why should all this geopolitical weirdness on the other side of the globe of concern to you and me too? We live safely on the other side of the Atlantic, right? But it's like I said. If you wanna float down the Danube to waltz tunes, lie on a beach in sunny Spain or see Stonehenge by moonlight, you had better do it now -- before America gets any more friendly with Europe than it already is.

PS: Why does China have so many more friends on FaceBook than America has? Two reasons. First, when China sends out a "Friend" request to other nations, it offers that recipient nation definite rewards and perks. However, when America sends out a "Friend" request to other nations, it's usually in the form of a missile attack or brutal economic sanctions or the CIA tampering with local elections.

Second, China also has a ten-year plan, a fifty-year plan and a hundred-year plan. Americans are lucky if our military-industrial complex looks ahead for even a week or two.

PPS: America seems to be totally out of touch when it comes to "friending" its women as well. It's not like we are living in Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan -- and yet our president, judges and old-fart legislators treat us like we should either be locked up in purdah or act like glorified blow-up dolls.

Have you been watching "13 Reasons Why" on Netflix? We will never know what made the difference between Dr. Ford's and Hannah Baker's (fictionalized but nevertheless highly plausible) responses after both had been badly bullied -- but fortunately Dr. Ford did not allow herself to become just one more suicide statistic too.
(c) 2018 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!

The Dead Letter Office-

Heil Trump,

Dear Unter Fuhrer Mayberry,

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 blocking rape victims from getting an abortion without the rapist's permission, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 11-24-2018. We salute you Herr Mayberry, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

It's Up To You
By Robert Reich

Okay. Time to stop complaining about Trump. November 6 is your chance to create a firewall against this catastrophe, and flip the House and even the Senate.

How do we get out of this mess? It's up to you.

First and most obviously: Vote! Even if you're in a pure blue or deep red state or district, don't assume your vote doesn't count. You never know how close the vote can be.

Verify your registration, find your polling place, and make a plan to vote on Election Day. If you still need to register, do so today.

Second: Encourage others to vote. Typically, in midterm elections, only about 40 percent of eligible voters go to the polls. The upcoming election will be decided by turnout.

The most powerful way to motivate others to vote is the personal touch. So call your friends and family. Talk about what's at stake in this election. If you live in a blue state or district, be sure to also call family and friends in red or purple states and districts.

Third: Get young people to the polls. In the last midterm election, in 2014, only 16 percent of eligible voters aged 18 to 29 voted, compared to 55% of people over 50.

The millennial generation is now the largest voting block in America, for the first time outnumbering Baby Boomers and older Americans.

So please urge your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and even their friends to vote. If they don't already know, explain how important this election is to them and to their future.

Fourth: You can do even more to get out the vote. Host a phone bank, knock on doors, make sure people know where to vote, help drive them to polling places. Groups like MoveOn have tools to get you started today.

Folks, our democracy depends on all of us - now more than ever. This November 6th, please do your part.
(c) 2018 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is

Lynching The Past
By Chris Hedges

JONESBORO, Ga.-I boarded the Gone With the Wind Tour bus outside the train depot built in 1867 to replace the depot burned during the Civil War. The building now houses the Road to Tara Museum. It has displays of "Gone With the Wind" movie memorabilia including dolls of Mammy, played in the film by Hattie McDaniel, and the pantalettes and green hat worn by Vivien Leigh, who played Scarlett O'Hara.

Rick, the bus driver, switched on the audio track, written and narrated by a local historian, Peter Bonner. We listened to the familiar story of the noble South and its "Lost Cause." We heard about the courage of the Confederate soldiers in Jonesboro who fought gallantly on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, 1864, in a failed effort to block the Union Army from entering Atlanta. We were told of the gentility and charm of the Southern belles. We learned that the war was fought not to protect the institution of slavery but the sanctity of states' rights. Finally, we were assured that the faithful slaves, the "mammies," "aunties" and "uncles," loved their white owners, were loved in return and did not welcome emancipation.

That this myth persists and perhaps has grown as the country polarizes, often along racial lines, means that whole segments of the American population can no longer communicate. Once myth replaces history there is no way to have a rational discussion rooted in verifiable fact. Myth allows people to deny who they are and the crimes they committed and continue to commit. It is only by confronting the past that we can end the perpetuation of these crimes in other forms.

When loyalty to the tribe is more important that truth, fact or justice-a tribalism on display in the hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh-an open society is extinguished. Reparations for African-Americans are not only just, they are the only way we as a nation, as with Germany's reparations to the Jews, can build a shared history based on truth, atone for the crimes of the nation and reverse the legacies of white supremacy. The Southern cause, as Ulysses S. Grant wrote in his laconic memoirs, was "one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse."

David Blight in "Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory" documents that in the decades after the war whites in the South and the North furiously rewrote the history of the conflict. "As long as we have a politics of race in America, we will have a politics of Civil War memory," Blight notes. The root cause of the war, the need to emancipate 4 million people held in slavery, was erased, he said, and replaced with the "denigration of black dignity and the attempted erasure of emancipation from the national narrative of what the war was about." As W.E.B. Du Bois lamented in his book "Black Reconstruction," which looked at the brief postwar period, from 1865 to 1877, when African-Americans were given some political space in the South to resurrect their lives, "little effort [was] made to preserve the records of Negro effort and speeches, action, work and wages, homes and families. Nearly all of this has gone down beneath a mass of ridicule and caricature, deliberate omission and misstatement."

The Civil War, as portrayed in novels and films such as "Gone With the Wind," histories such as "The Civil War" by Shelby Foote and television programs such as Ken Burns' documentary series on the conflict, is usually reduced to stories about the heroic self-sacrifice and courage exhibited by the soldiers from the North and the South who fought as brother against brother. The gruesome suffering, widespread looting and rape and senseless slaughter are romanticized. (For every three soldiers who died on a battlefield, five more died of disease, and, overall, 620,000 Americans, 2 percent of the country's population, perished in the war.) Meanwhile, the far more important struggle, the struggle of black people to rise from bondage to be free, is effectively eclipsed in these narratives of white self-pity and self-exaltation.

"Gone With the Wind," the 1936 novel by Margaret Mitchell, has sold over 30 million copies worldwide and, according to one survey, is the second favorite book among Americans, after the Bible. The 1939 film version of the book is the highest-grossing movie ever, in inflation-adjusted dollars. The book and film are unapologetic celebrations of historical myth, historical erasure and white supremacy.

The Lost Cause romance and veneration of Confederate military leaders have a powerful hold on white imaginations, especially among those for whom economic and political marginalization is becoming more pronounced. The myth of the Confederacy resembles the retreat into a fictional past I saw in Yugoslavia during the Bosnian War, an ethnic conflict that lasted from 1992 to 1995. That retreat gave Yugoslavs-whether Serb, Muslim or Croat-who had been cast aside by economic collapse and a failed political system manufactured identities that were rooted in a mythologized past of glory, moral superiority and nobility. It allowed them to worship their own supposedly unique and innate virtues. These fantasies of an idealized past were accompanied by the demonization of opposing ethnicities, a demonization used by demagogues to fuel the hatred and violence that led to a savage war.

"He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country," White House chief of staff and former Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly said last year of the Confederate military commander, Robert E. Lee, a slave owner. "It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it's different today." Kelly blamed the Civil War on "the lack of an ability to compromise," adding that "men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand."

During my bus ride in Georgia, a woman on the audio guide impersonated Scarlett O'Hara as music from the 1939 movie played in the background: "Now y'all sit back and enjoy this journey back into a time of cavaliers, ladies fair, and cotton fields-called the Old South."

The theme of the tour could be summed up as " 'Gone With the Wind' accurately portrays life in the South during and after the Civil War." Over and over, incidents and characters in the novel and film were related to actual events and people. Nowhere was this more pernicious than in the portrayals of black men and women who were enslaved.

"I learned that a black servant 144 years ago so loved her 'masters' that she requested to be buried in their family plot. ... And when I learned that her masters willingly allowed such a burial request, I had to conclude that there must have been a greater bond, perhaps a loving bond of slave for master, and master for slave," Bonner writes in his thin book "Lost in Yesterday," which is sold in the Road to Tara Museum. "The unique and often misunderstood relationship has been presented throughout fiction and the entertainment media, in my opinion, in a multitude of unfair portrayals."

Bonner goes on to argue that the slaves in the book and the film-Mammy, Pork, Prissy and Big Sam-all supporters of the Confederacy and loyal to the O'Hara family, represent a true picture of many, maybe most, blacks in the antebellum South. He cites the small headstone at the feet of Philip and Eleanor Fitzgerald in the local cemetery that reads "Grace, Negro servant of the Fitzgeralds" and insists "that Grace was honored as a family member."

That Grace was given no last name on the stone and was buried, like a pet, at the feet of those who owned her seems to escape Bonner. Did Grace have a family? A mother? A father? Brothers? Sisters? Grandparents? Aunts? Uncles? Cousins? A husband? Children of her own? Or had they been sold by her beloved owners?

We stopped outside the 1839 Stately Oaks plantation house, which originally sat on 404 acres before being moved into the city. It is now part of the Margaret Mitchell Memorial Park. The mansion hosts white re-enactors in period costumes, including Confederate uniforms, the equivalent of re-enactors dressed in SS uniforms giving cheery tours of Auschwitz.

In squalid, overcrowded shacks outside Stately Oaks, children were born, lived and died enslaved. They spent a lifetime engaged in hard labor, misery and poverty. They watched in agony as mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers were sold off, never to be seen again. They lived in constant fear and humiliation. They were beaten, chained, whipped, castrated and sometimes shot or hanged. The male slave masters routinely raped black girls and women, sometimes in front of their families, and often sold their mixed-race children.

"Like the patriarchs of old," Mary Chesnut, a white South Carolinian, confided in her diary in March 1861, "our men live all in one house with their wives and concubines; and the mulattoes one sees in every family partly resemble the white children. Any lady is ready to tell you who is the father of all the mulatto children in everybody's household but her own. Those, she seems to think, drop from the clouds."

The Southern tradition, as James Baldwin pointed out, "is not a tradition at all." It is "a legend which contains an accusation. And that accusation, stated far more simply than it should be, is that the North, in winning the war, left the South only one means of asserting its identity and that means was the Negro."

The ability to disregard the horror of slavery, to physically erase its reality, and to build in its place a white fantasy of goodness, courage and virtue speaks to the deep sickness within American society. Most Confederate monuments were erected under the leadership of the Daughters of the Confederacy between 1890 and 1920, a time when the terror of lynching by the Ku Klux Klan was at its peak. These statues were designed to romanticize white supremacy and divide blacks into good and bad "negros." There are no statues to Reconstruction governors and senators or black political leaders, not to mention the leaders of slave revolts such as Nat Turner or Denmark Vesey. The few Confederate generals, such as James Longstreet, who supported black rights after the war are not memorialized, nor are the 186,000 black soldiers-134,111 conscripted from slave states-who served in the Union Army. The historian James Loewen calls the South "a landscape of denial."

"Public monuments," the historian Eric Foner writes, "are built by those with sufficient power to determine which parts of history are worth commemorating and what vision of history ought to be conveyed."

One of the most outrageous public celebrations of white supremacy is Stone Mountain outside of Atlanta. Carved in the gray stone are massive figures of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and the generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. The Confederate leaders, all mounted on horses, hold their hats over their hearts. The carving covers more than 1.5 acres of rock face and rises 400 feet. It is the largest bas-relief in the world. It is also the most visited site in Georgia.

William Faulkner published "Absalom, Absalom," his searing condemnation of slavery and the Old South the same year Mitchell published "Gone With the Wind." The hate-filled slave owner and Confederate veteran Thomas Sutpen in Faulkner's novel, unlike the characters in "Gone With the Wind," is "demonic evil." Sutpen, who engages in miscegenation, buys his slaves "with the same care and shrewdness with which he chose the other livestock-the horses and mules and cattle." Faulkner understood "the past is never dead. It's not even past," that it is subject to constant revision by those seeking to justify and hide their crimes. He warned that the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves lead to moral squalor and self-destruction.

The tour bus stopped at Patrick Cleburne Memorial Cemetery, which holds the remains of some 1,000 Confederate soldiers who died in the Battle of Jonesboro. Most are unidentified. The walkway is laid out in the shape of a Confederate flag. A Confederate flag flies at the entrance.

"In 1872, the state of Georgia pays Stephen Cars, a local cabinetmaker, to rebury the Southern soldiers' remains and place them in the Patrick Cleburne Memorial Cemetery here," the audio recording said. "Mr. Cars did not bury over a thousand soldiers by himself. Mr. Cars had a slave named Tom who left with a Yankee captain after the Battle of Jonesboro. When the war was over, Tom returned to Mr. Cars' house asking for his job back. It was in 1872 that Tom and Mr. Stephen Cars reburied the Confederate soldiers in this cemetery. I told this story to the state of Georgia building authority years ago, they oversee the cemetery, and they remarked that Tom was very similar to the O'Hara slave Big Sam."

The bus paused in front of a 10-room green house built in 1880 that once belonged to the president of Middle Georgia College.

"Under Reconstruction, five Southerners were not allowed to meet together without a federal marshal present," Bonner said on the audio guide. "In 'Gone With the Wind,' meetings were held in secret. In Jonesboro, there were those secret meetings that dealt with the issues the town had to deal with, including the violence in shantytown. Shantytown was a real location in Jonesboro and many other cities that had a large population of former slaves who are without a job or a home. When this house was being restored in 1995, it was found to have a secret room in the attic, believed to have been used for those secret meetings. There was also a ladder in the wall leading to the cellar. In the cellar, people believed they had found a tunnel. However, upon further research, they found out it was not a tunnel but a bomb shelter where the city fathers planned to store the county records if and when they got back to war" (meaning if and when they resumed the fight against the Union).

It is a safe bet that this house was also a meeting place for the heavily armed goons of the Ku Klux Klan, who rode four abreast at night through the Jonesboro streets to terrorize the blacks in "shantytown." Over 4,000 people were lynched between the end of the Civil War and World War II in the United States. Georgia had the second highest number of lynchings, with 589. Only Mississippi, with 654 murders, had more.

Lynching was a popular public spectacle in Georgia that could last for hours and included sadistic torture and mutilation. Children were let out of school and workers were given the day off to witness the events. When Sam Hose, who had thrown his ax at a white man and killed him after the man pulled a gun on him, was lynched on April 23, 1899, near Newman, Ga., 1,000 people attended. Many arrived on a special excursion train from Atlanta. Hose was stripped and chained to a tree. His executioners stacked kerosene-soaked logs around him. They cut off Hose's ears, fingers and genitals. They flayed his face. Members of the crowd thrust knives into him. The logs were lit.

"The only sounds that came from the victim's lips, even as his blood sizzled in the fire, were 'Oh, my God! Oh, Jesus,'" writes Leon Litwack in "Trouble in Mind: Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow." "Before Hose's body had even cooled, his heart and liver were removed and cut into several pieces and his bones were crushed into small particles. The crowd fought over these souvenirs, and the 'more fortunate possessors' made some handsome profits on the sales. (Small pieces of bone went for 25 cents, a piece of liver 'crisply cooked' sold for 10 cents.) Shortly after the lynching, one of the participants reportedly left for the state capital, hoping to deliver to the governor of Georgia a slice of Sam Hose's heart."

On the trunk of a tree near the lynching, a placard read: "We Must Protect Our Southern Women."

In May of 1918, Mary Turner, eight months pregnant, publicly denounced the lynching of her husband, Hazel "Hayes" Turner, who had been murdered the day before. She threatened to take those who lynched him to court. A mob of several hundred in Valdosta, Ga., hunted her down. They tied the pregnant woman's ankles together and hung her upside down from a tree. They doused her clothes with gasoline and set her on fire. Someone used a hog-butchering knife to rip open her womb. Her baby fell the ground and cried briefly. A member of the mob crushed the infant's head under the heel of his boot. Hundreds of rounds were shot into her body. The Associated Press reported that Mary Turner had made "unwise remarks" about the lynching of her husband "and the people, in their indignation, took exceptions to her remarks, as well as her attitude."

In commenting in 1894 on lynchings, the crusading editor and activist Ida B. Wells said, "[O]ur American Christians are too busy saving the souls of white Christians from burning in hell-fire to save the lives of black ones from present burning in fires kindled by white Christians."

James Baldwin, in the second half of the 20th century, repeatedly warned white Americans that their relentless refusal to honestly confront their past, and themselves, would lead to grotesque distortions of the sort that decades later we see embodied in Donald Trump. There is a severe cost, he wrote, for a life lived as a lie.

"People pay for what they do, and, still more, for what they have allowed themselves to become," Baldwin wrote. "And they pay for it very simply by the lives they lead. The crucial thing, here, is that the sum of these individual abdications menaces life all over the world. For, in the generality, as social and moral and political and sexual entities, white Americans are probably the sickest and certainly the most dangerous people, of any color, to be found in the world today."

The first recorded lynching in Georgia took place near Jonesboro in 1880. We have only the name of the victim, Milly Thompson. No one knows if Thompson was male or female. There is no record of Thompson committing a crime. But I suspect that, as in the cases of most lynching victims, the crime Thompson committed was the crime of freedom. If you were black, in this land of gallant cavaliers and Southern belles, and you objected to being human chattel and to enforced deference and submission to whites, they killed you.
(c) 2018 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

The Cartoon Corner-

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To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Jeff Flake Announces Retirement From Humanity
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)-In an announcement that many saw coming, Senator Jeff Flake, of Arizona, announced on Friday that he would retire from humanity, effective immediately.

Speaking to reporters at the Capitol, Flake said that the demands of being a human being had "taken their toll," and that it was "time to move on."

"Having empathy and compassion for other human beings has been a thoroughly draining experience," he said. "I for one am ready for something new."

Flake said that, before making his decision, he consulted with others who had retired from humanity years earlier, such as Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, and Donald Trump.

"They all fully supported my decision," he said. "It's great to be one of them now."
(c) 2018 Andy Borowitz

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