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In This Edition

Greg Palast reports, "GOP's Brian Kemp Purged 1 In 10 Georgia Voters: I've Got The Names."

Dahr Jamail warns, "Earth's Ice Loss 'Is a Nuclear Explosion Of Geologic Change.'"

Glen Ford sees, "The Long Night Has Fallen On The Supreme Court -- Thanks Largely To Democrats."

David Sirota returns with, "America's New Aristocracy Lives In An Accountability-Free Zone."

Jim Hightower wonders, "How Far-Out Is Trump's War Policy."

John Nichols concludes, "Brett Kavanaugh Has Lied His Way Onto The Supreme Court."

James Donahue considers, "The Smart Analytical Thinking Of Crows."

William Rivers Pitt says, "Kavanaugh Is Confirmed. Only Mass Organizing Will Save Us Now."

Heather Digby Parton shows, "Sabotage Before Your Very Eyes."

David Suzuki says, "Get Outside And Save The World."

Charles P. Pierce exclaims, "Wait, Judge Brett Kavanaugh Told Us He Was Non-Partisan And Impartial!"

Ralph Nader returns with a great idea, "Let's Start a Kavanaugh Watch to Check All Five Corporate Judges."

Jane Stillwater explains, "Wasteland: How The Good Ole Boy Network Is Taking America Down."

Senator Joe Manchin D/WV wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich is, "Containing The Catastrophe."

Chris Hedges examines, "Homeless America."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Trump Wakes Up Covered In Dozens Of Small Cuts After Being Chased Through Dreams By Razor-Blade-Fingered Robert Mueller," but first Uncle Ernie sez, "It's Do Or Die, America."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Mark Streeter, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, David Ambrose, Alberto Casetta, Joshua Roberts, Marcel Antonisse, Saul Loeb, Mark Long, Guardian US, Unsplash, 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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It's Do Or Die, America
By Ernest Stewart

"I don't think that would be sustainable politically because it wouldn't be a very good argument to make. I noticed one of the Democratic senators said if they got the Senate back this year they would just not do any judges for the next two years, I don't think that works politically. People understood, I felt in 2016, despite of all of the complaining by Democrats, everybody knew if the shoe had been on the other foot they wouldn't have filled the vacancy. Everybody just smiled." ~~~ Mitch McConnell

That's laughable, that claim gives fig leaves a bad name. The Trump administration's rollback of clean car standards is a disastrous wreck for consumers and the planet, it will force Americans to pay more at the pump and breathe dirtier air." ~~~ Robert Weissman ~ president of watchdog group Public Citizen

America's foreign policy lacks the backbone to do the right thing in Afghanistan - which is leave. ~~~ Henry Rollins

The days grow shorter and the nights are getting long
Feels like we're running out of time
Every day it seems much harder tellin' right from wrong
You got to read between the lines
Fight The Good Fight ~~ Triumph

As I said before to stop Brett Kavanaugh we needed the Rethuglican ladies to see the light and vote against him. We also needed Jeff Flake to lend a hand but Flake being the flake that he is voted to to confirm as did Maine Sinator Susan Collins who looks to become an ex-Sinator if Stephen King was anything to say about it. Even if they had voted our way we would have lost because of old Traitor Joe, Joe Manchin a soon to be ex-Demoncrat took the tRump bribe and drank the kool aid too.

However, it's not too late, we can still get rid of Kavanaugh if the the Democrats take the House back in November as Kavanaugh's penchent for lying under oath to Con-gress is an impeachable offense and the new Democratic Judiciary Committee head Representative Jerrold Nadler promises Kavanaugh will be their first piece of work. Can't you just see Kavanaugh crying and blubbering now?

In order for Nadler to do it we need to get out and vote come November 6th. If we don't and tRump keeps his three way lock then we are truly doomed and you'll have no one to blame but yourselves! It's truly a do or die time, America and there is no excuse to not vote. If Hawaii's junior Senator Mazie Hirono could get up from her sickbed of kidney cancer and fly in to vote against Kavanaugh you can certainly get up off your couch potato couch and head to the polls too, if you don't, this could be our last election.

In Other News

Currently, there are some 60 fires burning through out the western United States. The fires are burning in California, Oregon, Washington State, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Arizona. Are you having a deja vu again, America? Isn't global warming great? No, it's not!

The four corner states, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona are in an extreme drought, a drought that is in it's 18th year. California and Oregon are still in an servere drought which explains why there are 60 fires burning at this late date. There used to be a fire "season," but no more, in some states the fires keep on burning year round.

Meanwhile, a way down yonder, Florida braces for Hurricane Michael which is turning from a force one to a force four and taking aim at the "Hillbilly Riviera" i.e., the Florida Panhandle and before it's through it will "march" through Georgia like William Tecumseh Sherman did to the Carolina's. Just what they need down there, more rain, just when things were going back to normal after Hurricane Florence nailed them in September. Did I mention that the Atlantic wasn't suppose to have any hurricanes this year, it was supposed to be the Pacific's turn. Florence is ranked as the 6th worst hurricane in our history, but Dear Leader says there's no such thing as man made global warming. Of course, I beg to differ!

On the other hand, der fuhrer says it's already too late to do anything to stop global warming so there is no reason to make the auto companies get better gas mileage because the new mileage rating wouldn't stop global warming so why not make a buck out of it, why not indeed? Ask the survivors down in the Carolinas how they feel, but do it quick, before Hurricane Michael comes to play!

And Finally

How time flies when you're having fun, eh? We just started our 18th year in Afghanistan with absolutely no end in sight! Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) turned to Twitter on Wednesday saying:

Then she added:
To which Bernie added:
This has become America's longest war, in fact if you add up all the wars that we been in since the revolution it's slightly less than all the those wars combined. Yes, I know we've been constantly murdering Indians since 1492 but that's not so much a war as it is a genocide. Afghanistan is 8 years longer than Viet Nam war, which had been our longest war before Afghanistan and Iraq, Did I menton we've been murdering Iraq for 15 years? Oh, and don't look for an ending in either war, as you may recall Smirky said this is a never ending war, that is, until the cost destroys the American empire, like war destroyed the British, Russian and French empires!

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!


03-29-1942 ~ 10-06-2018
Thanks for the film!

02-14-1935 ~ 10-08-2018
Thanks for the productions!


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

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

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


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

Until the next time, Peace!

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

Journalist Greg Palast confronts GOP candidate for Governor of Georgia Brian Kemp outside the Sprayberry Barbecue in
Newman, Georgia, asking, "Mr. Kemp are you removing Black voters from the voter rolls just so you can win this election?"

GOP's Brian Kemp Purged 1 In 10 Georgia Voters: I've Got The Names
By Greg Palast

This past week, I released the name of every one of these Georgia voters Kemp flushed from voter rolls in 2017. If you're a Georgia resident, check the list. If your name is on it, re-register right now. You only have through tomorrow (October 9).

It's no coincidence that Georgia's Purge'n General is also running for Governor: The Republican candidate is fighting a dead-even race against Stacey Abrams, Democratic House Minority Leader. Abrams, if she wins, would become the first Black woman governor in US history.

Suspiciously, Kemp sent no notice to these citizens after he took away their voting rights. If they show up to vote on November 6, they're out of luck - and so is Georgia's democracy.

I brought in one of the nation's top mailing database experts, Mark Swedlund, and his team to go through the list, name by name. Among the voters purged are thousands who supposedly left the state but remain in Georgia. Thousands more are people who moved from one end of town to another and lost their vote - and we even found one who simply moved from one apartment to another in the same building.

These registration cancellations are therefore dead wrong and, say voting law experts, coldly break the law.

That is why Gerald Griggs, counsel for the Atlanta NAACP, and voting rights attorney Nse Ufot, executive director of the New Georgia Project (a nonpartisan voter registration initiative), are joining in my suit against Kemp.

We'll be hauling Kemp into federal court to force him to open the records to which the public is entitled under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 - provisions meant to prevent just this type of voter roll shenanigan. In particular, we're forcing him to disclose the complete detailed process that led to each voter's removal.

I don't file federal suits on a whim. Kemp has continually turned down legitimate Open Records Act requests over my five years of investigation for Al Jazeera and Rolling Stone.

Griggs and Ufot made their announcement about the suit at a press conference October 2 in Atlanta at the national headquarters of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the civil rights group that traces its origins to the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

The location was meant to make a point. The racial stench from the computerized torching of the Georgia voter files has motivated prominent civil rights leaders from Georgia to add their names to the lawsuit: Axel Adams, executive editor of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition that grew out of two nonprofit organizations founded by Jesse Jackson; Joe Beasley, the former southern regional director for Rainbow PUSH; and SCLC President Dr. Charles Steele Jr., who currently holds the post held by Dr. Martin L. King Jr. until his assassination.

Steele told the gathered media and rights leaders, "Many people have died and paid the supreme sacrifice for people to have the right to vote. What is taking place here in Georgia is an insult to all these efforts and accomplishments."

Dr. Charles Steele, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, announces that he will join the suit against Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp.

Why did I wait to release endangered voters' names until days before the last day of registration? Because Kemp dragged his feet on my request for the purge lists until literally the last hours before of the 90-day deadline imposed by the law.

I tried to get Kemp's answers to the NAACP's and SCLC's charges that the mass purge of 1 in 10 Georgia voters was aimed at decimating the Black electorate so he could steal the governorship from Abrams.

Technically, Kemp removed voters after they had skipped voting - and failed to return a postcard that, according to Morgan County Elections Board member Helen Butler, "Looks like junk mail. You'd throw it away." Butler, who also serves as executive director of the Georgia Coalition for the People's Agenda, is wary of Kemp's purge methods. Just last year, her group settled a suit against Kemp that forced him to return over 40,000 voters to the rolls.

The National Voter Registration Act specifically prohibits cancelling voter registrations for not voting. But the failure to vote, in combination with not returning a postcard or other information, can be used to justify a cancellation if there is legitimate belief this is evidence the voter has moved.

"But they have not moved," notes Swedlund, who says not returning a postcard is an "absurd, dangerous" way to determine if voters have moved - especially if their rights are at stake. And basing cancellations on non-responses to postcards is, Swedlund notes, endemically biased against voters who move often, including the poor, students, and Black and Latino voters - in other words, Democrats.

Notably, Swedlund's analysts found that 108,000 of the names on Kemp's hit list were also on the notorious "Interstate Crosscheck" list, which my investigations team had obtained from an insider in Kemp's office as part of my investigations for Rolling Stone.

The lists were created for Georgia by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, President Donald Trump's "fraudulent voter hunter." Kobach himself, interviewed in Kansas, told me the list was sent to Kemp and others to indicate a voter had moved out of state. In fact, we went through each and every Crosscheck-tagged voter's name - and only 2,000 of the 108,000 Crosschecked voters who were purged have left the state. And the majority of others purged had not moved from their original registration address. In simple terms, most of those whose registrations have been cancelled are legitimate Georgia voters.

Representatives from Kemp's office issued a statement this week denying they used the Crosscheck list, but they did not know we had obtained the list despite Kemp's resistance. Furthermore, Kemp's former deputy and his predecessor as Secretary of State both confirmed Georgia participated in Crosscheck.

Meanwhile, Kemp had no clear response as to why the others were removed.

So, I thought it important to get the answers about the purges from the horse's mouth. But Kemp has weaved and ducked all my interview requests in my several trips to Georgia beginning in 2014.

So, this time, I decided to track down his campaign bus. On Tuesday, I located the candidate in the parking lot of a BBQ joint in Newnan, 38 miles outside Atlanta. You could smell the pigs roasting.

I asked Kemp, bluntly, "Mr. Kemp are you removing Black voters from the voter rolls just so you can win this election?"

Kemp's answer was to turn his back as I was physically body-blocked, then grabbed and hauled away by Georgia "smokies," the local county deputy sheriffs. (They claimed that Sprayberry's Barbecue ordered me off the property, but the owner said otherwise.) It was later reported that his handlers had clocked me before the bus pulled in.

The civil rights leaders are dissatisfied with Kemp's response and will press our litigation. "Georgia," said the SCLC's Steele, "needs to know that we're not going to take it anymore."

Note to Georgia residents: You can find out if your registration has been cancelled here. Type in your name and zip code now - you have only Monday and Tuesday to re-register.

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

A study shows that 3 trillion tons of ice have disappeared into the oceans since 1992.

Earth's Ice Loss "Is a Nuclear Explosion Of Geologic Change"
By Dahr Jamail

Much of the frozen water portion of the Earth, otherwise known as the cryosphere, is melting.

This is not news: It's been happening for decades. What is news is that the long-term melting trends in the Arctic, Antarctica, and with most land-based glaciers are accelerating, often at shocking rates, largely due to human-caused climate change.

Antarctica is melting three times as fast as it was just 10 years ago, alarming scientists. A study earlier this year showed 3 trillion tons of ice had disappeared since 1992. That is the equivalent of enough water to cover the entire state of Texas with 13 feet of water, and raise global sea levels a third of an inch.

"From 1992 to 2011, Antarctica lost nearly 84 billion tons of ice a year (76 billion metric tons)," read the AP story on the study. "From 2012 to 2017, the melt rate increased to more than 241 billion tons a year (219 billion metric tons)."

"I think we should be worried," one of the study's 88 co-authors, University of California, Irvine's Isabella Velicogna, told AP. "Things are happening. They are happening faster than we expected."

In fact, the polar ice caps have melted faster in the last 25 years than they have in the last 10,000 years.

In the Arctic, the Greenland Ice Sheet is losing an average of 270 billion tons of ice each year, and the strongest sea ice in the region broke up for the first time on record this summer.

All of this melting is causing sea level rise to accelerate.

For glaciers that exist outside of the Polar Regions, the situation is even worse.

"You can count on all alpine glaciers in the world to be gone by 2100," Dan Fagre, US Geological Survey (USGS) research ecologist and director of the USGS Climate Change in Mountain Ecosystems Project, told Truthout.

Truthout spoke with experts like Fagre, as well as others with expertise in the Antarctic and Arctic, who shared an often-grim prognosis of what lies in store for the cryosphere.


Ruth Mottram>is a climate scientist at the Danish Meteorological Institute who has been studying Greenland for the last 11 years, and the Arctic for the last 15. Mottram is also one of the scientists behind the Polar Portal - a Danish web portal that gives near real-time data on the Arctic, including sea ice and Greenland ice sheet processes.

She explained to Truthout that melting in Greenland can vary significantly from year to year and is highly dependent upon weather conditions any given year.

"However, since the turn of the millennium there has been a series of summers where there have been increasingly large amounts of melt and runoff into the ocean," Mottram explained.

She studies the surface mass budget, which is the balance between income - snowfall - and the outgoing melt and runoff. Mottram and her colleagues sum these up daily on the Polar Portal, as well as over the entire year, which in turn gives them an idea of the "health" of the ice sheet.

Her data is alarming.

"Of the top 10 lowest surface mass budget years," Mottram said of this data, "only 2 occurred before the year 2000."

She explained that on top of this, the ice sheet can also lose mass by calving (ice breaking off a glacier at its terminus) from glaciers and basal melting.

"Yet, both of these processes also have to be balanced by snowfall and what we see in the last two years is that the total budget, as opposed to the surface-only budget, has been roughly neutral - around 0," she added.

However, Mottram also pointed out how the ice sheet has lost 200 - 300 gigatonnes (one gigatonne is about 1 cubic kilometer) of ice every year from 2003-2011. This means that the two aforementioned neutral and relatively lower melting years, as she put it, "do not nearly reverse the mass losses of the last decades."

Greenland Ice Sheet meltwater is influencing the circulation of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), a massive oceanic conveyor belt current that moves huge amounts of warm water from the tropics northward, and from the Atlantic up toward the Arctic. The AMOC plays a critical role in creating the mild climate of the UK and other parts of Western Europe.

"There is also some evidence that Arctic climate change in general is influencing mid-latitude weather patterns - leading to the kind of persistent and extreme weather that leads to, for example, the heatwave we had in northern Europe this year," Mottram explained. "The idea is that the warming of the Arctic - which has been more rapid than in other parts of the planet - has led to a smaller difference in temperature between pole and tropics, which then leads to a more wavy jet-stream."

While Mottram believes longer observations are needed on this topic, some studies have pointed out how the wavier jet-stream is intensifying extreme weather events like hurricanes, as well as altering global climate patterns.

Meanwhile, the increasing melt of the Greenland Ice Sheet is directly linked to the increase in calving and iceberg production at outlet glaciers.

"These can pose hazards to shipping and fisheries," Mottram added. "But they also allow the ice sheet to contribute water to the ocean faster than just by melting."

She and her colleagues also note the number of storms tracking up the east coast of Greenland of late, which have brought a lot of snow and rain to eastern Greenland and seem to be penetrating higher up into the Arctic - possibly due to the lower sea ice extent there.

"The winds associated with these storms can bring quite high temperatures to east and northeast Greenland, and this year we twice saw very unusual warm periods - associated with Foehn winds (similar to the Chinook in north America) - that also opened up the pack ice around the coast of Greenland," Mottram explained. She also pointed out the role this could have played in the way in which the aforementioned "last ice area" of sea ice recently began to move away from the coast and break up.

This led to the north coast of Greenland briefly becoming navigable over the summer. The Polarstern and Oden - two research ships from Germany and Sweden respectively - were able to access areas of the Arctic to do research much more easily than had been expected.

The same is true of the Venta Maersk - the Danish "ice class" container ship that was the first to traverse the northern sea route this summer.

"It's not to say it's easy to sail in the Arctic right now, quite not," Mottram said. "But the time is coming soon!"

Michael MacCracken, the chief scientist for climate change programs at the Climate Institute in Washington, DC, told Truthout that the loss of land ice, such as the loss of mass from the Greenland Ice Sheet, clearly raises sea level globally.

"This threatens low-lying coastal areas and island nations, and additionally, the rise in sea level can lift up glacial ice streams around Antarctica," he said. "This then allows ocean waters better access to the ice streams, warming them and making calving more likely, ultimately contributing to further sea level rise."


NASA emeritus scientist Robert Bindschadler, who worked for 35 years as a glaciologist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, previously told Truthout that the world may see three to four meters of sea level rise by the year 2200.

Bindschadler has led 18 field expeditions to Antarctica, published more than 130 scientific papers, and advised the US Congress and a former vice president on the stability of ice sheets and ice shelves. His current primary concern about what is happening in the Antarctic is linked to the fact that many of the glaciers there exist within deep valleys, as remote sensing has proven as of late.

"These deep valleys matter because they mean the glacier is sitting in a trough so deep that were you to remove the ice, it is below sea level," Bindschadler told Truthout. "The damage the ocean can do only extends to the point where the glacier retreats onto the land. But the fact that these big outlet glaciers in Antarctica are sitting in a valley whose floor is below sea level means they can never escape the impact the oceans have on them."

In other words, these land-based glaciers are now at risk of being melted from below by warming seawater that could flow into the valleys within which the glaciers are located.

He pointed out another worrisome fact about these valleys: Many of their depths may increase the further they get from the ocean.

"So, the ocean has greater impact on them the more they melt, which means the potential for fast and continual retreat of these outlet glaciers is probably more widespread than we appreciated four years ago," Bindschadler added.

Bindschadler is concerned that these valleys - in which so many of the major glaciers exist - could be the next major factor in how glacial ice is rapidly released into the oceans, causing sea levels to rise further.

Alpine Glaciers

Fagre, who is the lead investigator in the USGS Benchmark Glacier Program and has been working in Glacier National Park since 1991, is concerned about how mountain snowpack has been shrinking in Glacier National Park, like in so many other places, over the last half century.

In Glacier National Park, the snow is on the ground an average of 30 days less than it used to be.

"Since the planet is warming up, more of the precipitation in Glacier is now falling as rain instead of snow," Fagre told Truthout. Since they're less likely to be covered in snow, glaciers are more directly exposed to the sun, which obviously hastens their melting.

In 1850, Glacier National Park, before it was designated a national park, contained 150 glaciers, covering around 100 square kilometers. Today, only between 14 and 15 square kilometers of ice coverage remain, an 85 percent loss. Instead of 150 glaciers, there are now only 26. Even this alarming tally of ice loss is a conservative estimate, as measuring area doesn't account for thinning.

Fagre and his team started monitoring the mass balance of Glacier National Park's Sperry Glacier in 2005.

"Our program mirrors what the others are seeing in Alaska and the Cascades," he said. Aside from a couple of years where the glacier accumulated more ice, the glacier lost mass consistently, "as is true for almost every mountain glacier in the world for which we have mass balance information." "Our trajectory has well exceeded previous worst-case projections for many of our glaciers," said Fagre, and added that the Blackfoot and Jackson Glaciers in the park had melted faster than the predictions by a full decade.

"What we've found since then is that they continue to go, and at unsustainable rates," he said.

"This is an explosion, a nuclear explosion of geologic change," Fagre said of the global impacts from climate change, particularly in the cryosphere. "This is unusual. It is incredibly rapid and exceeds the ability for normal adaptation. We've shoved it into overdrive and taken our hands off the wheel."


Kevin Lister, an associate with the Climate Institute in Washington, DC, co-authored a paper with MacCracken for the UN that addressed the crisis in the Arctic, among other climate change-related issues.

Lister and MacCracken's paper showed that the natural rate of carbon sequestration is so slow as to not be measurable. This doesn't bode well for the possibility of halting climate change: The researchers say that carbon sequestration will be incapable of bringing atmospheric CO2 down to safe levels even in the hypothetical circumstance of a zero-carbon economy emerging.

Their paper also shows that while carbon sequestration and mitigation measures must continue to be pursued, "the likelihood is that that they will be unable to bring [atmospheric] CO2 down fast enough."

Lister believes that climate change "is fundamentally irreversible as there is strong evidence that the heating effects of the amplifying mechanisms are greater than that of increases in [atmospheric] CO2."

Lister told Truthout that he and MacCracken have argued that dramatic solutions to the climate crisis "must be pursued with all urgency."

"Should we fail to make a start, then the scale of intervention that we need and the risks associated with it will increase exponentially with any delay," Lister said.

(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.

The Long Night Has Fallen On The Supreme Court -- Thanks Largely To Democrats
By Glenn Ford

If the Democrats were serious they would have treated each reactionary GOP nominee over the decades as a bullet to the heart of their constituents. They did not.

Brett Kavanaugh took his seat on the far right of the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, but before the Court's newest racist, pro-torture, corporate, patriarchal pig could don his new robes the Democratic National Committee was filling email boxes with appeals for funds to turn Republican victory into defeat in November. "The only way we'll be able to protect our rights is by regaining a Democratic majority in Congress," writes Seema Nanda, the DNC's chief executive officer. "If we don't, women's reproductive justice, affordable health care, and the future of our democracy will all be at risk."

The Democrats have been singing that same song for decades -- indeed, generations -- even as they passively allowed reactionary justices to become dominant on the High Court, their hard right rulings only slightly tempered by the "swing" votes of, first, Sandra Day O'Connor -- who is credited with rescuing "diversity," the pale replacement for affirmative action, as a public policy option - and, later, Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose seat Kavanaugh now fills. Whenever the Democrats' GOP-lite policies became indefensible, the party's apologists would caution exasperated Black voters: "But what about the Supreme Court? You can't allow the Republicans to decide the law of the land for the next 20 years!"

But their assurances that the Democratic Party would hold back the corporate legal juggernaut were always a sham. Yes, an ultra-right judiciary portends disaster for Black, working and poor people, but not for the oligarchs that fund and control both mass parties in this country. No Supreme Court produced by the two corporate parties could possibly pose the slightest threat to the core interests of the ruling class or the capitalist system.Indeed, the judiciary becomes more reactionary in synch with the consolidation of wealth at the top of the economic pyramid, which is reflected in the rightward lunge of both corporate parties. If the Democrats were sincere in their vows to block the troglodytes' steady march to judicial hegemony -- if they were serious about preventing a human rights apocalypse -- they would have treated each reactionary High Court nominee put forward by the GOP over the decades as a bullet to the heart of their constituents, and shut down the Congress to force the nomination to be withdrawn. But the Democrats have always been unwilling to create a political crisis in order to prevent a human rights meltdown for Black and poor people.

The Supreme Court was already a right-wing club when John Roberts was nominated in 2005. Twenty out of 42 Democrats voted to confirm the reactionary jurist. Two months later, right-winger Alito was confirmed after 19 Democrats joined 53 Republicans to halt a filibuster against his nomination by Senators Barack Obama and Harry Reid. Brett Kavanaugh represents an imminent threat to "women's reproductive justice, affordable health care, and the future of our democracy," as DNC operative Seema Nanda put it,because the Democratic Party, as a body, collaborated in laying the groundwork for an ultra-right majority. And, when West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin made it clear he would vote to confirm Kavanaugh, the party's honchos made it just as plain that he would not be punished.

Yet, the Democrats have the gall to continue playing the Supreme Court card, when it is already too late to reverse the damage they have helped to inflict. Make no mistake: the Democratic Party is a corporate party that will never create a real political crisis -- never shut down the Senate, which is within the power of a unified minority party - unless the interests of their masters, the Lords of Capital, are threatened.

A Huffington Post article from June 27 of this year reported that some Democrats discussed the idea of a Senate shutdown in 2016, when the Republican leadership refused to act on President Obama's nomination of the "moderate" corporatist, Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court-- an insult and unanswered challenge action that paved the way for Kavanaugh's seating, a year later. "We should have shut down the Senate," said Sen. Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii. "We made a calculation that we were going to win the 2016 [presidential] election and confirm a nominee. And it didn't work out."

Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal corrected the narrative. "Self-immolation was not an option," he told reporters, which is another way of saying he and other Democrats were not willing to create a political crisis over the issue. Neither was Obama willing to a respond to the GOP declaration of political war by refusing to conduct governmental business as usual with the Republican-controlled Congress until Garland's nomination was acted upon. That's because, even if a fifth reliable ultra-right vote on the Supreme Court ensures decades of misery for Blacks, workers and poor people, that is not sufficient cause for Democrats to disrupt the governmental order. And it never will be.

The Democrats are a fraudulent opposition, and totally shameless, moving from election to election, financed by an oligarchy whose interests both parties regard as paramount. They have no vision beyond endless austerity and war, the same agenda as the Republicans -- with a racial and ethic "diversity" twist.

The long legal twilight time is over and deep darkness has now fallen on the U.S. Supreme Court, with the active and passive collaboration of the Democratic Party. A real opposition must be mobilized in the streets, and in alternative electoral formations that take their cues from the street mobilizations.

(c) 2018 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

'If there are no legal consequences for profiteers who defrauded the global
economy into a collapse, what will deter those profiteers from doing that again?'

America's New Aristocracy Lives In An Accountability-Free Zone
Accountability is for the little people, immunity is for the ruling class. If this ethos seems familiar, that is because it has preceded some of the darkest moments in human history
By David Sirota

When the former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling was released from prison a few weeks ago, the news conjured memories of a corporate scandal that now seems almost quaint - and it was also a reminder that Enron executives were among the last politically connected criminals to face any serious consequences for institutionalized fraud.

Since Skilling's conviction 12 years ago, our society has been fundamentally altered by a powerful political movement whose goal is not merely another court seat, tax cut or election victory. This movement's objective is far more revolutionary: the creation of an accountability-free zone for an ennobled aristocracy, even as the rest of the population is treated to law-and-order rhetoric and painfully punitive policy.

Let's remember that in less than two decades, America has experienced the Iraq war, the financial crisis, intensifying economic stratification, an opioid plague, persistent gender and racial inequality and now seemingly unending climate change-intensified disasters. While the victims have been ravaged by these crime sprees, crises and calamities, the perpetrators have largely avoided arrest, inquisition, incarceration, resignation, public shaming and ruined careers.

That is because the United States has been turned into a safe space for a permanent ruling class. Inside the rarefied refuge, the key players who created this era's catastrophes and who embody the most pernicious pathologies have not just eschewed punishment - many of them have actually maintained or even increased their social, financial and political status.

The effort to construct this elite haven has tied together so many seemingly disparate news events, suggesting that there is a method in the madness. Consider this past month that culminated with the dramatic battle over the judicial nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.

September began with John McCain's funeral - a memorial billed as an apolitical celebration of the Arizona lawmaker, but which served as a made-for-TV spectacle letting America know that everyone who engineered the Iraq war is doing just fine.

Has anyone been held accountable for the financial crisis?

The event was attended by Iraq war proponents of both parties, from Dick Cheney to Lindsey Graham to Hillary Clinton. The funeral featured a saccharine eulogy from the key Democratic proponent of the invasion, Joe Lieberman, as well the resurrection of George W Bush. The codpiece-flaunting war president who piloted America into the cataclysm with "bring 'em on" bravado, "shock and awe" bloodlust and "uranium from Africa" dishonesty was suddenly portrayed as an icon of warmth and civility when he passed a lozenge to Michelle Obama. The scene was depicted not as the gathering of a rogues gallery fit for a war crimes tribunal, but as a venerable bipartisan reunion evoking nostalgia for the supposed halcyon days - and Bush promptly used his newly revived image to campaign for Republican congressional candidates and lobby for Kavanaugh's appointment.

The underlying message was clear: nobody other than the dead, the injured and the taxpayer will face any real penalty for the Iraq debacle.

Next up came the 10th anniversary of the financial crisis - a meltdown that laid waste to the global economy, while providing lucrative taxpayer-funded bailouts to Wall Street firms.

To mark the occasion, the three men on whose watch it occurred - Fed chair Ben Bernanke, Bush treasury secretary Hank Paulson and Obama treasury secretary Tim Geithner - did not offer an apology, but instead promised that another financial crisis will eventually occur, and they demanded lawmakers give public officials more power to bail out big banks in the future.

In a similar bipartisan show of unity, former Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn gave an interview in which he asked "Who broke the law?" - the implication being that no Wall Street executives were prosecuted for their role in the meltdown because no statutes had been violated. That suggestion, of course, is undermined by banks' own admissions that they defrauded investors (that includes admissions of fraud from Goldman Sachs - the very bank that Cohn himself ran during the crisis). Nonetheless, Obama's attorney general, Eric Holder - who has now rejoined his old corporate defense law firm - subsequently backed Cohn up by arguing that nobody on Wall Street committed an offense that could have been successfully prosecuted in a court of law.

Meanwhile, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon garnered non-Onion headlines by floating the idea of running for president - a reminder that a decade after his firm played a central role in destroying countless Americans' economic lives, he remains not only unincarcerated and gainfully employed, but so reputationally unscathed that he is seen as a serious White House candidate.

Again, the message came through: nobody who engineered the financial crisis will pay any real price for wreaking so much havoc.

Then as Hurricane Florence provided the latest illustration of climate change's devastation, ExxonMobil marched into the supreme court to demand an end to a state investigation of its role denying and suppressing climate science. Backed by 11 Republican attorneys general, the fossil fuel giant had reason to feel emboldened in its appeal for immunity: despite investigative reporting detailing the company's prior knowledge of fossil fuel's role in climate change, its executives had already convinced the Securities and Exchange Commission to shut down a similar investigation.

Once again, the message was unavoidable: in the new accountability-free zone, companies shouldn't be bothered to even explain - much less face punishment for - their role in a crisis that threatens the survival of the human species.

Now comes the latest stage of the immunity project: the installation of Kavanaugh as the sentinel standing watch over this sprawling accountability-free zone from a lifetime perch on America's very own star chamber.

Kavanaugh is the nominee of Donald Trump, who as a businessman helped set the legal precedent protecting corporate titans from fraud charges, and who as president has appointed a cabinet of accountability evaders - from the treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, who escaped prosecution during the financial crisis, to the transportation secretary, Elaine Chao, who avoided consequences for her role at Wells Fargo during that company's mass fraud. Kavanaugh is also the nominee of an accountability-free party whose last House speaker was deemed "a serial child molester"by a judge, whose potential next House speaker is named in a college sexual abuse scandal, and whose White House occupant was caught on camera bragging about sexually accosting women.

To the delight of the Republican party, Kavanaugh is not backing down in the face of multiple credible accusations of sexual misconduct. On the contrary, in a snarling refrain that must seem all-too-familiar to victims of sexual assault, Kavanaugh is angrily insisting that "you'll never get me to quit."

In the context of this political moment, Kavanaugh's defiance is more than merely a plea of innocence. It is more than just an ideological warrior's yearning to serve on a court that has been making it ever-harder for commoners to hold the aristocracy accountable. It is a grand edict detailing the entire culture of entitlement and immunity inside the accountability-free zone.

Here is a corporate lobbyist's son armed with a prep school education, a diploma from his grandaddy's Ivy League alma mater, a writing credit on Ken Starr's Clinton-Lewinsky report, a law review article arguing that Congress should consider exempting presidents from indictments, and a sheaf of judicial opinions that consistently side with power.

Kavanaugh has precisely the pedigree that is the ticket into the accountability-free zone. His braying at senators, his laughably obvious dissembling, his refusal to explicitly support an FBI review of his accusers' allegations - this is the behavior of someone who seems to believe a supreme court seat is his to arrogate.

Indeed, Kavanaugh has been inside the aristocracy's hermetically sealed bubble for so long that he is genuinely surprised and outraged that anyone would dare get in his way - as are his biggest boosters such as the Republican majority leader, Mitch McConnell. Promising a forceful defense of the accountability-free zone, McConnell explicitly lashed out at sexual assault survivors who are now begging Republicans to vote down Kavanaugh's nomination.

"I want to make it clear to these people chasing my members around the hall here, or harassing them at the airports, or going to their homes. We'll not be intimidated by these people," McConnell declared.

To be sure, you could write this last month off if it was an anomaly - but it is the norm, not the exception.

Over the last decade, we saw presidential administrations of both parties decrease white-collar prosecutions and grant telecom companies retroactive legal immunity for their role in the government's mass surveillance system. We witnessed the director of national intelligence, James Clapper brazenly mislead Congress about that surveillance, then face no charges of perjury - and then be rewarded with a CNN contributor gig.

We watched the Trump White House grant "waivers" - another word for immunity - to its own employees who violate seemingly strict ethics rules, and we watched the Obama labor department waive punishment for a politically influential financial firm after it had been convicted of operating what law enforcement officials said was a scheme that "knowingly and willfully aided" tax fraud.

We saw congressional Republicans so utterly eviscerate the Internal Revenue Service's budget that "there may never be a better time to be a tax cheat," according to a recent ProPublica report.

We have seen no consequences for a pharmaceutical company that made big money off peddling opioids - and now we see the same company turn the crisis into another prospective profit opportunity by patenting a treatment to help wean people off opioids.

Taken together, all of it evinces the same underlying message echoing throughout the country: to paraphrase Leona Helmsley, accountability is for the little people, immunity is for the ruling class.

If this ethos seems familiar, that is because it has preceded some of the darkest moments in human history - the eras of violent purges, authoritarian dictators and sharpened guillotines. There is no guarantee that is our future - and let's hope it isn't our destiny. Whether or not things proceed in that terrifying direction, though, the moral question remains: what can be done to restore some basic sense of fairness and justice?

Of late, one proffered answer is hard-hitting journalism - and there is no doubt that righteous media vigilantes such as Ronan Farrow have occasionally sparked some much-needed paroxysms of accountability. However, for every investigative reporter doing the hard work to break open a much-needed story of corruption and criminality, there is an entire machine that continues to provide platforms to those who are firmly ensconced in the accountability-free zone.

Turn on CNN, and you will see Iraq war cheerleaders like David Frum and Bill Kristol as honored guests depicted as the new vanguard of democracy.

Flip on MSNBC, and it is much the same thing. In the morning you get economic analysis from Steve Rattner, who was given his media platform even after securities regulators charged him "with participating in a widespread kickback scheme" and he was banned from the securities industry. In the afternoon you get Nicole Wallace, who helped run the Bush administration's PR operation during the Iraq war. And in the evening you get the news from Brian Williams, who was bequeathed a new show after he was busted for serially lying about his war reporting.

Meanwhile, if you take a peek at the business press, you will behold an entire corner of the journalism world that saw few mea culpas or firings after it missed almost all of the warning signs in the lead-up to the financial crisis.

No, if there is an answer, it will not originate from media (at least not until there's radical change in that industry). To wedge open the gates of the accountability-free zone, everyday citizens will have to be organized enough to overcome already well-organized money.

In the political arena, that means electing pro-accountability candidates of both parties, and then forcing them to follow through on prosecuting wrongdoers and voting down aristocracy-approved nominees who represent the accountability-free zone.

In the consumer economy, it will require boycotts, pressure campaigns, union drives, #MeToo movements, shareholder resolutions and other direct actions to hold companies and executives accountable (and as the recent minimum wage campaign against Amazon proves, those efforts can succeed). It will require support for companies that offer different models of corporate behavior, and it will require swarms of cable-news-addled dittoheads to shut off the TV and instead support other forms of media that are serious about questioning, scrutinizing and challenging power.

In the job market, it will require employers to actually fire executives when they lie, cheat, steal, harass and otherwise mistreat their workers.

And at a cultural level, it will require any and all efforts to rescind and deny social status to those who have committed egregious war, financial and sexual crimes - and it will require doing that even if those miscreants wear nice suits and have gilded credentials.

This is no easy way forward and there are no shortcuts - but if we avoid this path, then the accountability-free zone will fortify itself and we will probably see the rise of an institutionalized form of moral hazard that dooms us to a tragic repetition of history.

After all, if there are no social or professional consequences for those who lied a country into a trillion-dollar war that amassed hundreds of thousands of casualties - if that war's architects can remain in good standing and in high-prestige jobs - what will deter any politician or pundit from supporting a similar military conflict when it is politically opportune?

If there are no legal consequences for profiteers who defrauded the global economy into a collapse, what will deter those profiteers from doing that again?

If there are no financial consequences for fossil fuel moguls who knowingly created an ecological crisis, what will deter them from continuing to try to profit off that crisis as the planet burns?

And if a petulant zealot like Kavanaugh can be credibly accused of sexual harassment, repeatedly distort the facts during his confirmation, temper-tantrum his way through congressional hearings and still get catapulted on to the nation's highest court - what will deter any other power-hungry child of privilege from behaving in exactly the same way?

The answer is nothing - which is exactly the point for the aristocracy. But that cannot be considered acceptable for the rest of us outside the accountability-free zone.

(c) 2018 David Sirota is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, magazine journalist, a staff writer at PandoDaily and the best"selling author of "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E"mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee. Follow him on Twitter @davidsirota.

How Far-Out Is Trump's War Policy
By Jim Hightower

If you think our government's war policy has become out-of-this world cuckoo - consider the spaciness being proposed by the cosmonauts on Spaceship Trump.

Spending nearly $700 billion a year on maintaining the five branches of the US war machine (not counting the costs of actually fighting all the wars they get into) is not enough they now tell us. So prepare to soar - militarily and budgetarily - into a boundless war theater where none have gone before: Yes, outer space!

It seems that Captain Trump himself woke up one morning in June and abruptly announced that he was bored with the fusty old Army, Air Force, etc., so he wanted a shiny new sixth military branch to play with [space music sound effects] - a "Space Force" to carry America's war-making power to a cosmic level. His loyal lieutenant, Mike "Yes-Man" Pence promptly saluted, calling Trump's whim "an idea whose time has come." America's military leaders rolled their eyes at this folly, but they've since snapped to attention and are preparing to launch Cap'n Trump's grandiose space dreams.

In a melodramatic speech, Pence declared that the new Space Command will "seek peace, in space as on Earth." Hmmm... that's not very comforting. However, he says he's thrilled that Trump's Space Force will be led by a four-star general, have its own bureaucracy with a multibillion-dollar budget, have a separate division to funnel money to corporate war contractors, and have its own snappy uniforms. Won't all that look great if Trump ever gets that big showy military parade he's been demanding as a tribute to his leadership as a cocktail-room warrior.

The Trumpeteers gush that this extraplanetary extravagance will attract "America's best and bravest" to serve as "warfighters." Of course, their privileged families won't have to fight in any of the space wars they're dreaming up for other families to fight.

(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

US Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Brett Kavanaugh Has Lied His Way Onto The Supreme Court
The House has a duty to do what the Senate has failed to do: investigate this shameful jurist and hold him to account.
By John Nichols

Republican leaders of the Senate refused to organize a confirmation process that might have allowed senators to provide honest advice and consent regarding Donald Trump's nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the Supreme Court. This failure of duty, orchestrated with deliberate intent by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley, has resulted in a narrow 50-48 confirmation vote for Kavanaugh-a vote that will be remembered as one of the most dishonorable decisions in the long history of an often-blameworthy institution.

McConnell and Grassley-a pair of White House hirelings who were assisted in their infamy by blank-stare partisans such as Jeff Flake and Susan Collins-upended the constitutionally defined provisions for the oversight of presidential nominations for the high-court bench. By Saturday evening, Kavanaugh had been sworn in as a justice whose championship of expanded executive authority threatens to further erode the separation of powers as outlined by the Constitution.

But this does not mean the system of checks and balances must continue to give Kavanaugh a pass. He is no longer under the protection of the Senate, and that means that Justice Kavanaugh can and should face the accountability moment that was denied by McConnell's debasement of the confirmation process.

The measure of that debasement is found in the confirmation of Kavanaugh, a man whom former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has dismissed as unfit to sit on the high court.

Posters reading "Pattern of Lies" reminded everyone of the corruption of the confirmation process by Senate Republican leaders who failed to address the nominee's deliberate dishonesty in testimony under oath to the Judiciary Committee.

The reasons for keeping Kavanaugh, a veteran political operative and determined judicial activist, off the Court were outlined by dissenting members of the Senate during the debate that preceded Saturday's extraordinary vote, and by thousands of protesters who rallied around the Supreme Court Building and the Capitol. Those protests continued through the confirmation vote, which was interrupted by a woman who cried "Shame!" from the Senate gallery as Vice President Mike Pence completed the charade.

Some of the arguments against Kavanaugh were political. Some were practical. Some were moral. Many of them intersected in the message from a group of women, angered with the failure of the Senate to take seriously allegations of sexual abuse against the nominee, who unfurled a banner that read survivors vote: november is coming.

Posters denouncing Kavanaugh's "Pattern of Lies" reminded everyone of the corruption of the confirmation process by a Republican majority that refused to address the nominee's deliberate dishonesty in testimony under oath to the Judiciary Committee.

That dishonesty must not be dismissed by responsible members of the Congress.

No matter what Trump, Pence, McConnell, and Grassley claim, and no matter what cautious Democratic strategists might suggest, Congress cannot ignore credible evidence that Kavanaugh lied while under oath. The list of the justice's documented lies continues to grow. It is more than sufficient to merit an investigation into Kavanaugh's lawless behavior by the House Judiciary Committee. That investigation has already been discussed by the man who will chair the committee if Democrats win the House in November, New York Congressman Jerry Nadler.

Nadler explains that, with "the Senate having failed to do its proper constitutionally mandated job of advise and consent, we are going to have to do something to provide a check and balance, to protect the rule of law and to protect the legitimacy of one of our most important institutions."

One of the ablest arbiters of constitutional issues in the Congress, Nadler proposes the dutiful examination of the Kavanaugh nomination that was thwarted by Senate leaders. "We can't have a justice on the Supreme Court for the next several decades who will be deciding questions of liberty, and life, and death, and all kinds of things for the entire American people who has been credibly accused of sexual assaults, who has been credibly accused of various other things, including perjury. This has got to be thoroughly investigated," he said last Sunday, as McConnell was rushing the confirmation process to its conclusion. While Nadler said that he hoped the Senate would do its job, he concluded: "If he is on the Supreme Court and the Senate hasn't investigated, then the House will have to."

Nadler is not proposing Kavanaugh's impeachment. But it should be understood that any honest investigation into this man's lies under oath-and into a host of other issues that were raised but never really examined during the confirmation process-has the potential to become an impeachment inquiry.

California Congressman Ted Lieu, a former military prosecutor who now serves on the House Judiciary Committee, argued during the confirmation process that "Based on the numerous allegations of sexual assault against Judge Brett Kavanaugh...the House Judiciary Committee must immediately start an investigation into Judge Kavanaugh to see if he should be impeached."

Constitutional lawyer John Bonifaz said as it became clear that Kavanaugh would be confirmed, "[There] will be a campaign to impeach him. He does not belong on the nation's highest court or on any court."

Proposing to investigate and impeach Kavanaugh is not sour grapes or political gamesmanship. It is an indication of respect for the system of checks and balances.

Talk about the need to hold Kavanaugh to account is not a casual suggestion made in the heat of the moment. This is a reminder of a responsibility that extends from the oath that members of the House and the Senate swear to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic [and] that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same."

The Constitution gives the House, as the chamber closest to the people, the authority to initiate impeachment proceedings. This is done when warranted by evidence of wrongdoing that affronts the Constitution and the processes by which its provisions are exercised.

Lying under oath to the Congress represents a classic impeachable offense, as the accountability group Free Speech for People noted in a recent "Call on Congress to Launch an Impeachment Investigation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh" Deliberately deceiving the Judiciary Committee is not merely impeachable because of the dishonesty itself but also because the lies disrupt the advice-and-consent duty that the Senate is required to perform. The details of Kavanaugh's lies have already been outlined at great length. The senior member of the Senate, Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy, has described lies Kavanaugh told the committee regarding his use of stolen documents to manipulate the confirmation process for Bush's judicial nominees. Former Judiciary Committee member Russ Feingold (D-WI) has argued that "Taking all his testimony together, we see a clear pattern emerge: Brett Kavanaugh has never appeared under oath before the U.S. Senate without lying." Kavanaugh's college roommate announced after the nominee testified that he had not been a heavy drinker (an assertion made as part of a broader effort to discredit abuse allegations) to say that Kavanaugh had lied under oath. "Not only did I know he wasn't telling the truth, I knew that he knew he wasn't telling the truth," explained James Roche. Yet, McConnell has made no effort to examine allegations that Kavanaugh was deliberately dishonest.

The issue of Kavanaugh's credibility was not examined by the Senate because McConnell and Grassley refused to allow a serious review of the nominee's record, or to demand a full FBI background check. This rejection of the system of checks and balances created a constitutional crisis. It is a crisis the founders of the American experiment anticipated.

"The Framers of the US Constitution understood that corruption in the process of obtaining a federal office is an impeachable offense," note the constitutional advocates with Free Speech for People. "In the constitutional debates over the impeachment power, George Mason asked rhetorically: 'Shall the man who has practised corruption & by that means procured his appointment in the first instance, be suffered to escape punishment, by repeating his guilt?'"

(c) 2018 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

The Smart Analytical Thinking Of Crows
By James Donahue

A study titled "Crows Spontaneously Exhibit Analogical Reasoning" published in Current Biology expresses surprise by Russian and American researchers involved in a cooperative testing of crows.

The research done at the Biology Department for Lomonosov Moscow State University in Russia, with support by Psychology Professor Ed Wasserman at the University of Iowa, noted that in a controlled study, where crows were rewarded with food by choosing the correct card, the birds always picked the right card without advanced training.

Prior to this study, researchers believed that only humans and apes were capable of achieving this degree of intelligence, and the apes required training before they could pick the correct card.

Anthony Wright, Neurobiology and anatomy professor at the University of Texas-Houston Medical School, noted that the "apparent spontaneity of this finding makes it all the more remarkable. We have always sold animals short." Wright noted that humans think of themselves as superior to the animals, not considering that they think in the ways that humans do.

The findings should not be a surprise to many animal and pet lovers who deal with the intelligence of household cats and dogs daily. We have a cat at our house that appears to clearly understand things we say to it, or ask it to do. This animal also knows how to tease and play tricks on us, which strongly suggests a sense of humor.

A few days ago this cat began putting up a fuss and I was unable to determine what the problem was. I had filled up the cat's food bowl, filled its water bowl and opened the cat door to allow access to leave the house. These are how we meet its daily needs. I was perplexed until my daughter determined that the cat wanted special distilled drinking water like the kind we were drinking, instead of the tap water we were giving it. Once we changed the water, the cat was content. This animal noticed that it was not getting the same water that we were using and wanted equality. It obviously doesn't like the taste of fluoride any more than we do. Imagine that if you will.

When I was a young boy growing up in Michigan, my father kept a large garden in a field directly behind our house. One spring when Dad was planting his seeds, he noticed a crow following him down the open row, eating the seeds. Dad of course chased the bird away and replanted his row, this time covering the seeds as fast as he put them in the row. The bird began digging up the seeds. Thus began Dad's personal melee against that "pesky" crow.

Dad tried every trick he could think of, but the crow seemed to always be one step behind him. He even put up a scarecrow, which the crow found to be a good place to sit and stare down at my father while he worked in his garden.

I am happy to say that my father was never a hunter and he never owned a shotgun. Had we had a gun in the house that season, I think my father might have considered shooting that crow.

My parents slept in a rear bedroom on the second floor that looked down over the garden. After the war with the crow went on for several days, my father was dismayed one morning to find the crow standing on the window frame, staring in through the window at him.

Looking back at it now, I realize the sheer intelligence that was being exhibited by that crow and find much humor in the way it was teasing my father. At the time, my father didn't see much humor in it at all.

My mother couldn't stop laughing.

(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.

Protestors march through midtown Manhattan as they rally against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, October 1, 2018, in New York City.

Kavanaugh Is Confirmed. Only Mass Organizing Will Save Us Now.
By William Rivers Pitt

There was a seeming furtiveness to the moment Brett Kavanaugh uttered the oath shortly after the confirmation vote on Saturday, a hasty sense of narrow escape. Kavanaugh was "promptly" sworn in, according to The New York Times, by Chief Justice Roberts and retired Justice Kennedy, during a private ceremony many marbled walls away from the protesters screaming their throats raw on the steps outside. When it was done, an accused perpetrator of sexual assault and confirmed serial liar had become the newest associate justice to the United States Supreme Court.

The president who nominated Brett Kavanaugh began his victory lap later that night in Topeka, Kansas, at a rally for Republican gubernatorial candidate and professional vote suppressor Kris Kobach, officially signing Kavanaugh's judicial commission aboard Air Force One. Before yet another adoring crowd of supporters, Donald Trump gave voice to his vision of the future.

"You're going to have other Supreme Court Justice places to be filled," Trump told the delighted assemblage. "It could be three. It could even, before it could be a lot. And if you allow the wrong people to get into office, things could change. You don't hand matches to an arsonist and you don't give power to an angry leftwing mob, and that's what they've become. The Democrats have become too extreme and too dangerous to govern."

What a filthy piece of work this process was. Millions of sexual assault survivors saw their wounds simultaneously reopened and dismissed as the compelling testimony of Christine Blasey Ford was blown aside like so much dandelion fluff. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised the horrified outrage and pain caused by Kavanaugh's nomination as "a great political gift."

The FBI "investigation" into Ford's allegations against Kavanaugh did not see fit to interview either Ford or Kavanaugh before submitting its report, willfully ignoring multiple other witnesses along the way. This disgraceful dereliction comes as no surprise to those who understand the FBI's longstanding role as defender of the racist, sexist, timorous status quo. Still, it was galling to behold.

The speech delivered by Sen. Susan Collins of Maine on Friday afternoon was, in its own way, perhaps the worst moment of the entire ordeal. Collins, who fashions herself as a pro-choice Republican "moderate" with little evidence to support the label, embraced full-bore Trumpism like a rat seeking rescue in a rain barrel. "It wasn't just a yes," lamented the Boston Globe's editorial board. "It was a hell yes."

Collins's remarks could have easily been drafted by Mitch McConnell himself, so deeply did she dive into McConnell's oft-repeated colloquies on Kavanaugh's virtues, temperament and status as victim. She showered praise on Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley shortly before he opined that there were no Republican women on the committee because they didn't want to do the work. "The #MeToo movement is real," she proclaimed in defense of her vote for an accused assaulter. It was almost overwhelming to behold.

A great many people will spend this day and the days to come feeling as hollowed out as the pumpkins dotting the doorsteps for Halloween, faces carved into frozen screams. Given the current right-wing makeup of the federal government, some terrible Federalist Society pocket Nazi was inevitably going to be confirmed after Kennedy stepped down ... but the fact that it was this guy, when it didn't have to be and only because McConnell had the power and the will to use it with such feckless abandon, will still be unacceptable when my little daughter has daughters of her own.

I am not going to try and blow any happy smoke over this. It is nothing more or less than a disaster for the people and a shouting victory for corporations, polluters, gun manufacturers, union busters, homophobes, sexists, anti-choice extremists, Trump's legal standing and every misogynist who believes might makes right.

The calamity of Brett Kavanaugh is the latest, loudest battle in a larger war being fought between time and money. White Christian men under the banner of the Republican Party are fighting for the dominance of a shrinking faction in the face of a demographic tidal wave that is changing everything, but believe they can maintain their ascendancy with money in the guise of dark campaign financing and expensive disinformation outlets like Fox News.

For the moment they are correct, but moments pass. A fulcrum election looms, new Supreme Court vacancies are inevitable, and anything is possible in between. The Kavanaugh/Roberts/Alito/Gorsuch/Thomas majority is the fact of the present and will do unimaginable damage as it takes its star turn through history, but the only true constant is change. If you're going to properly label the universe, author Frank Herbert reminds us, name it temporary.

Wresting power back from the right-wing forces that have taken control of the US government and courts will only be possible through mass participation, mass disobedience and the vote. There is, quite simply, no alternative.

In this moment, we must lay ourselves upon the gears and remember the words of progressive historian Howard Zinn: "It would be naive to depend on the Supreme Court to defend the rights of poor people, women, people of color, dissenters of all kinds. Those rights only come alive when citizens organize, protest, demonstrate, strike, boycott, rebel, and violate the law in order to uphold justice."

This, too, is fact.

(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.

Sabotage Before Your Very Eyes
By Heather Digby Parton

Oh look, they're doing it again:

The Trump administration is planning hours-long downtimes for maintenance on during the coming ObamaCare sign-up period.

The administration drew criticism for a similar move last year from advocates who said the downtime would hinder efforts to sign people up for coverage, but the administration counters that maintenance downtime happens every year and is designed to occur during the slowest periods on the site.

The maintenance schedule is the same as last year, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Tuesday, meaning is scheduled to be offline for maintenance from 12 a.m. to 12 p.m. each Sunday during the sign-up period, except for the final Sunday, for a total of 60 hours of downtime.

They couldn't possibly do it any other time...

(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.

Everything in nature, including us, is connected.

Get Outside And Save The World
By David Suzuki

Renowned biologist Edward O. Wilson says to protect nature, people must regain their innate love for it. That means spending time in nature. While the concepts in Wilson's book Biophilia have gained widespread acceptance since its publication more than 30 years ago, we're still facing serious problems based on a lack of understanding of and attention to the natural environment.

The only nature connection some political representatives and media influencers have appears to be time on the golf course (hardly natural) or excursions into wild areas to kill animals for trophies. Many people, especially in Western societies, are spending less time in nature than ever before.

A Nature Conservancy of Canada survey found almost 90 per cent of respondents "feel happier, healthier and more productive when they are connected to nature," but "74 per cent say that it is simply easier to spend time indoors and 66 per cent say they spend less time in nature today than in their youth."

Young people are also spending increasingly more time glued to electronic devices and less time in green spaces.

The personal benefits of spending time in nature are well known. Research shows time outdoors can reduce stress and attention deficit disorder; boost immunity, energy levels and creativity; increase curiosity and problem-solving ability; improve physical fitness and co-ordination; and even reduce the likelihood of developing near-sightedness! But as screen time replaces green time, humans are increasingly suffering from what author Richard Louv calls "nature deficit disorder."

An even bigger issue is that many people making decisions that profoundly affect all our lives have so little connection to nature that they fail to understand the consequences of their policies and actions on the natural systems on which our health, well-being and survival depend. Wilson told PBS Nova, "I doubt that most people with short-term thinking love the natural world enough to save it." What could be more short-term thinking than rushing to exploit as many fossil fuel resources as possible before cleaner energy sources and the realities of global warming make them economically unviable?

Ever-growing human populations, consumer-driven economics, short political cycles and narrow thinking have fuelled an alarming rate of environmental degradation and destruction. The Nature Conservancy survey found "more than 80 per cent of Canadians worry that accessible natural areas will not be there for future generations to enjoy."

It's a legitimate fear. We base many of our activities on an incomplete understanding of natural systems. Industry - with government approval - clear cuts a forest and thinks replanting it with a single species will make up for the loss of a complex, diverse ecosystem. Not long ago, fungi were classified as plants, but in the mid-20th century, scientists discovered they're closer to animals than plants but different enough from both that they merited their own classification. Even more recently, we have begun to learn about their crucial role in forest ecology.

It's only recently that science has started to catch up on what Indigenous cultures have known for millennia: that everything in nature, including us, is connected. Short-term thinking justifies putting a salmon population at risk to get more money for bitumen on international markets. But when the salmon are gone, so too are the whales, bears and eagles that eat them, and the rain forests their nitrogen-rich carcasses fertilize as they complete the cycle of life and death from the oceans to spawning grounds.

If you spend time in nature, your senses open to its intricacies and beauty, from the complexity of a leaf or dragonfly to the majesty of an old growth forest. You start to see how many of our priorities are petty and limited. It's also easier to understand how affecting one part of an ecosystem affects the entire ecosystem and the surrounding environment.

It's tragic that so many "leaders" fail to understand their connection with nature or appreciate its importance and intricate beauty. Many would be happier and healthier if they spent more time immersing themselves in nature. They'd also make better decisions.

Understanding that we're part of something much bigger than ourselves is a necessary step to healing this wonderful world that we have treated so badly. So, get outside - for your own sake and the sake of the planet.

(c) 2018 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co_founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

Wait, Judge Brett Kavanaugh Told Us He Was Non-Partisan And Impartial!
He's just calling balls and strikes, folks.
By Charles P. Pierce

You know, I'm starting to wonder if Brett Kavanaugh was playing it straight when he talked about what an impartial, disinterested Supreme Court justice he's going to be. I mean, what the hell is going on here? From The Washington Examiner:

The ceremony follows perhaps the most contentious confirmation battle for a Supreme Court nominee in history and the administration is using Monday evening to show voters they can make good on its promises. In front of a room full of reporters, television cameras and Republican lawmakers at 7:00 p.m. Monday, the president will stand next to Kavanaugh and present him to the nation as one of the crowning achievements of his first two years in office.
In other words, a sitting Supreme Court justice-Kavanaugh already was sworn in on Saturday by the person who was supposed to do it, Chief Justice John Roberts-is going to participate willingly in a meaningless masquerade of a partisan campaign event. (We'll leave how disgusting it is that anyone besides Fox is going to televise this puppet show for another time.) Worse, it is a meaningless masquerade of a partisan campaign event that implies that a Supreme Court justice must be "sworn in" by the head of the Executive Branch, which, at the moment, is headed by someone as ill-suited to that office as Kavanaugh is to his.

If Kavanaugh was as dedicated to a non-partisan, independent judiciary as he claims to be, he'd have told the president*, politely, how completely unseemly this spectacle is. I'm telling you, I'm starting to wonder.

(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-

"Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
~~~ John F. Kennedy

Kavanaugh's decisions and political statements are so off the wall, I've called him a corporation masquerading as a human being.

Let's Start a Kavanaugh Watch to Check All Five Corporate Judges
Their unjust decisions, hiding behind stylized plausibility and casuistry, need to be unmasked and regularly relayed to the American people
By Ralph Nader

Brett Kavanaugh, the new Injustice of the Supreme Court of the United States, must be pleased by the leading news stories on Monday and Tuesday regarding his swift swearing-in on Saturday. The multiple perjurer, corporate supremacist, presidential power-monger, and a past fugitive from justice (regarding credible claims of sexual assault), Kavanaugh saw critical media coverage become yesterday's story. The mass media has moved on to other calamities, tragedies, superstorms, and celebrity outrages. Opponents of his nomination must persevere anew.

The future of the Supreme Court looks grim considering Kavanaugh's judicial decisions and involvement in war crimes and torture as Staff Secretary to President George W. Bush. It is likely that Kavanaugh will be the cruelest and most insensitive justice on the high Court. His support of corporate power will have few limits. That's saying something, given the rulings of Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch.

Kavanaugh's decisions and political statements are so off the wall, I've called him a corporation masquerading as a human being. Corporations' uber alles is his pre-eminent core philosophy. Public Citizen's analysis of his judicial record (apart from his extremist political ideology) showed that in split-decision cases (which are the most ideologically revealing cases), Kavanaugh ruled 15 times against worker rights and 2 times for worker rights. On environmental protection, he ruled 11 times for business interests and 2 times for the public's interest. On consumer protection, he ruled 18 times for businesses and only 4 times for consumers. As for monopoly cases, he ruled 2 times for the corporation and zero times for market competition.

Kavanaugh also likes to rule for government power when it is arrayed against the people - ruling 7 times for police or human rights abuses and zero rulings for victims. On the other hand, governmental decisions that are protective of people interests will find Kavanaugh blocking the court room door more often than not. (See Public Citizen's report).

The Alliance for Justice report on nominee Kavanaugh summed up their research with these words:

"He has repeatedly sided with the wealthy and the powerful over all Americans. He has fought consumer protections in the areas of automobile safety, financial services and a free and open Internet. Kavanaugh has also repeatedly ruled against workers, workplace protections and safety regulations… Kavanaugh has repeatedly ruled against efforts to combat climate change and the regulation of greenhouse gases. He also repeatedly ruled against protections for clean air.."
Locking in the 5 to 4 dominant corporate muscle of the Supreme Court will endanger you as a consumer and will jeopardize your health and economic well-being. Unless you become a corporation, your freedoms will be jeopardized. (See the Citizens United Decision in 2010 that allowed our elections to be overwhelmed with unlimited commercial campaign money and propaganda).

The cold-blooded, most corporate-indentured Republicans dominate our political process today. Mitch McConnell (see Kentucky Values), led by the election-buying Koch brothers, drove Kavanaugh's nomination through the Senate, excluding important witnesses who wished to testify. To shore up claims of legitimacy, McConnell allowed the FBI to conduct a sham investigation that was shaped by Trump's White House lawyer Don McGahn and the FBI head, Christopher Wray. Wray had previously worked with his friend Kavanaugh on the Starr investigation of Bill Clinton's sexual misconduct.

Resilience and action are required. The Supreme Court is deeply political - forget about the claims of judicial independence by the five Justices in the majority. Their votes on issues of class, race, presidential and corporate power, peoples' rights, and remedies and access to justice (day in court with trial by jury) against corporations are quite predictable.

A new Kavanaugh Watch group - lean and sharp - needs to be created to publicize the Five Corporatist Judges. Their unjust decisions, hiding behind stylized plausibility and casuistry, need to be unmasked and regularly relayed to the American people. Their speeches to the Federalist Society (that shoehorned them onto the Court) and other plutocratic audiences need to be publicized and critiqued. Importantly their refusal to recuse themselves, due to conflicts of interest or prior expressions of bias (as in Kavanaugh's eruption on his last day of the Senate Judiciary hearings), need to be denounced. (See Laurence Tribe's op-ed in the New York Times). Also, their light workload, as in the low numbers of cases they take, in contrast to the many cases they decline to hear, both requires more public attention.

The life-time ensconced enforcers of corporate state control over the lives of the American people and often innocent people abroad (permitting undeclared bloody wars of choice) must be confronted by "We the People." We need to remember that the words "corporation" or "company" are not mentioned in the Constitution that starts with the phrase, "We the People."

Finally, are there a few billionaires in the country, concerned enough about what their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren are going to inherit from our generation, to make a significant founding grant to launch the Kavanaugh and company watch dog project?

(c) 2018 Ralph Naderis a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest book is The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future. Other recent books include, The Seventeen Traditions: Lessons from an American Childhood, Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism: Build It Together to Win, and "Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).

Wasteland: How The Good Ole Boy Network Is Taking America Down
By Jane Stillwater

Hey, you. Yes, you. The person in front of me right now -- sitting at your computer or punching buttons on your SmartPhone. Are you happy with your life as it is currently? "Sure."

But what about ten years from now? After ten more static years of endless "war" and corrupt judges and climate catastrophe and job outsourcing and allowing good ole boy networks to run our country?

What chance will you have then? Frankly? It will suck to be you.

The wealthy old farts who run America now? They have no vision. For them it is only and always just "grab and go". How long, exactly, do you think that will last? How long before they grab and run with your life as well, mess with it, steal all the nutrients out of it, suck it dry -- until you will be lucky to score even some low-life job at the Walmart or be cannon fodder in some bug-infested jungle somewhere? Or be pole-dancing at some exclusive hunting lodge in Texas? Or eating cat food out of a jar? Or....

Are you getting my point here yet? That the good ole boy network, with their Super PACs and their lobbyists in Congress and their power over our judicial system? The good ole boys simply do not know how to create. They only know how to destroy. And just exactly how long do you honestly think that America will last with these misanthropes and cavemen at the helm?

Seriously? Would you really want to be alive ten years from now? In a world where creativity is the enemy, where freedom is frowned upon and where dirty old men hold the future of our world in their small-minded, greedy, uncalloused and blood-stained hands? Where America has become a non-productive wasteland?

We outsiders, we millennials, we women and Blacks and immigrants and children and grandmothers? We have been burned in the past. We are being burned right now. But are we truly going to stand by and get burned in the future as well?

(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-

Joe gives the corporate salute

Heil Trump,

Dear Uber Fuhrer Manchin,

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 voting to put another woman hating pervert on the Supreme Court" 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 Manchin, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

Containing The Catastrophe
By Robert Reich

Anyone still unsure of how (or even whether) they'll vote in the midterms should consider this: All three branches of government are now under the control of one party, and that party is under the control of Donald J. Trump.

With the addition of Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court is as firmly Republican as are the House and Senate.

Kavanaugh was revealed as a fierce partisan - not only the legal advisor who helped Kenneth Starr prosecute Bill Clinton and almost certainly guided George W. Bush's use of torture, but also a nominee who believes "leftists" and Clinton sympathizers are out to get him.

He joins four other Republican-appointed jurists, almost as partisan. Thomas, Alito, and Roberts have never wavered from Republican orthodoxy. Neil Gorsuch, although without much track record on the Supreme Court to date, was a predictable conservative Republican vote on the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit - which is why the Heritage Foundation pushed for him and Trump appointed him.

Even under normal circumstances, when all three branches are under the control of the same party we get a lopsided government that doesn't respond to the values of a large portion of the electorate.

But these are not normal circumstances. Donald Trump is President.

Need I remind you? Trump is a demagogue who doesn't give a fig for democracy - who continuously and viciously attacks the free press, Democrats, immigrants, Muslims, black athletes exercising First Amendment rights, women claiming sexual harassment, anyone who criticizes or counters him; who treats the executive branch, including the Justice Department, like his own fiefdom, and brazenly profits off his office; who tells lies like other people breathe; and who might well have conspired with Vladimir Putin to swing the election his way.

Trump doesn't even pretend to be the president of all the people. As he repeatedly makes clear in rallies and tweets, he is president of his "base."

And his demagoguery is by now unconstrained in the White House. Having fired the few "adults" in his Cabinet, Trump is now on the loose (but for a few advisors who reportedly are trying to protect the nation from him).

All this would be bad enough even if the two other branches of government behaved as the framers of the Constitution expected, as checks and balances on a president. But under Republican leadership, they refuse to play this role when it comes to Trump.

House and Senate Republicans have morphed into Trump sycophants and toadies - intimidated, spineless, opportunistic. The few who have dared call him on his outrages aren't running for reelection.

Some have distanced themselves from a few of his most incendiary tweets or racist rantings, but most are obedient lapdogs on everything else - including Trump's reluctance to protect the integrity of our election system, his moves to prevent an investigation into Russian meddling, his trade wars, his attacks on NATO and the leaders of other democracies, his swooning over dictators, his cruelty toward asylum-seekers, and, in the Senate, his Supreme Court nominees.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has emerged as Trump's most shameless lackey who puts party above nation and Trump above party. The House leadership is no better. House intelligence chair Devin Nunes is Trump's chief flunky and apologist, but there are many others.

Now that Kavanaugh is on the Supreme Court, you can forget about the Court constraining Trump, either.

Kavanaugh's views of presidential power and executive privilege are so expansive he'd likely allow Trump to fire Mueller, shield himself from criminal prosecution, and even pardon himself. Kavanaugh's Republican brethren on the Court would probably go along.

So how are the constitutional imperative of checks and balances to be salvaged, especially when they're so urgently needed?

The only remedy is for voters to flip the House or Senate, or ideally both, on November 6th.

The likelihood of this happening is higher now with Kavanaugh on the Court and Trump so manifestly unchecked. Unless, that is, enough voters have become so demoralized and disillusioned they just give up.

If cynicism wins the day, Trump and those who would delight in the demise of American democracy (including, not incidentally, Putin) will get everything they want. They will have broken America.

For the sake of the values we hold dear - and of the institutions of our democracy that our forbearers relied on and our descendants will need - this cannot be allowed.

It is now time to place a firm check on this most unbalanced of presidents, and vote accordingly.

(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

Homeless America
By Chris Hedges

PORTLAND, Ore.-It is 8 a.m. I am in the small offices of Street Roots, a weekly newspaper that prints 10,000 copies per edition. Those who sell the newspaper on the streets-all of them victims of extreme poverty and half of them homeless-have gathered before heading out with their bundles to spend hours in the cold and rain.

"There is foot care on Mondays starting at 8 a.m. with the nurses," Cole Merkel, the director of the vendor program, shouts above the chatter. "If you need to get your feet taken care of, come in for the nurses' foot care. Just a really quick shout-out and thank you to Leo and Nettie Johnson, who called up to City Hall this week to testify about the criminalization of homelessness to City Council and the mayor. Super awesome."

The men and women, most middle-aged or elderly, sit on folding chairs that hug the walls. They are wrapped in layers of worn and tattered clothing. Some cradle small dogs. Others cup their hands around disposable coffee cups and take small sips. The weekly newspaper was founded in 1998. It focuses on issues surrounding social and environmental justice as well as homelessness. It also reprints poems and artwork by the 180 vendors, who buy the paper for 25 cents a copy and sell it for a dollar.

On the walls there are poignant reminders of the lives these people lead, including posters of missing men and women, notices about where to find free food or clothing, and scattered one-page obituaries of those who died recently, many discovered in parks or on sidewalks. The average age at death for a man is 51 and for a woman 43. Nearly half succumb to alcohol or drugs, 28 percent are hit by vehicles and 9 percent commit suicide. Life expectancy plummets once you become homeless. From 50 to 80 homeless people die on the streets of Portland every year, and many more in its hospitals.

"Monica needs a kidney," reads one handwritten sign.

"Missing: Robert Gary Maricelli, not seen since Feb. 10, 11:00 pm," reads another. Maricelli, 22, was last sighted near the Steel Bridge in Portland.

These men and women, and increasingly children, are the collateral damage of the corporate state, their dignity and lives destroyed by the massive transference of wealth upward, deindustrialization and the slashing of federal investment in affordable housing begun during the Reagan administration. The lack of stable jobs that pay a living wage in the gig and temp economy, the collapse of mental health and medical services for the poor, and gentrification are turning America into a living hell for hundreds of thousands of its citizens. And this is just the start.

Though federal estimates put the nation's homeless number at 554,000, most cities-including Portland, which officially has about 4,000 people without shelter-estimate the homeless, notoriously hard to count, to be at least three times higher. Portland schools, like most public schools throughout the country, are seeing growing homelessness among their students-1,522 children in the Beaverton School District, or 4 percent of the total enrollment, and 1,509 in the Portland Public Schools, or 3 percent of total enrollment. The problem extends to many of Oregon's smallest towns. In Butte Falls (population 429 in 2010) in Jackson County, there are 56 homeless students, or 30 percent of the district's total enrollment. Many homeless students, because they often drift from one temporary space to another, never appear in the official statistics.

As we barrel toward another economic collapse, the suffering endured by those on the streets will become ever more familiar, especially with the corporate state intent on further reducing or eliminating social services in the name of austerity. Nothing will halt the downward spiral other than sustained civil disobedience. The two ruling political parties are wedded to an economic system that serves the corporate rich and punishes and criminalizes the poor and the working poor. Over half the country is probably only a few paychecks away from being on the streets.

This gritty section of Portland was once known as Nihonmachi or Japantown. The Street Roots newspaper is housed in the former Chitose Laundry. Across the street is the old Oshu Nippo News, the Japanese-language daily newspaper that was raided by the FBI on Dec. 7, 1941, when Pearl Harbor was attacked. It was shut down and its staff arrested. The neighborhood's Japanese population was rounded up, stripped of all possessions and placed in concentration camps, part of the 120,000 Japanese-Americans, most from California and the Northwest, who were interned during the war. People who were only one-sixteenth Japanese were arrested. Sixty-two percent of those displaced by the internment order were U.S. citizens. There were no credible reports of them being a security risk. It was a policy grounded in racism.

The Japanese community in Portland never resurrected itself after the war. The past crimes of the state merge, in the eyes of Kaia Sand, the executive director of Street Roots, with the present ones.

"Those families were rendered homeless and incarcerated by order of the federal government," she says. "Their possessions were reduced to what fit in suitcases. Now, on these same streets, people also carry their bags and their sorrows without a home."

Charles McPherson, 34, stands looking at the collection of recent obituaries posted on the wall near the front door. He was about 2 when his father died. In his senior year in high school he was taken hostage by an escaped convict and held for 12 hours during a standoff with police. He never went back to school.

"PTSD," he says of his dropping out of school. "I could not be in crowds."

He drifted from one short-term job to another. He lived for two years in an RV. He filed countless requests for housing but was turned down. By 2014 he was homeless.

I ask him what he finds hardest about being homeless.

"Not being able to get ahead," he says. "Just barely keeping from losing everything we've got."

Throughout the day I hear a lot about "losing everything." Small piles of possessions, along with tents or tarps, precious to the homeless and very hard to procure, are confiscated during police sweeps. The victims find themselves standing in the rain in the middle of the night with nothing. The confiscated possessions are supposed to be stored by two subcontractors, Pacific Patrol Services and Rapid Response Bio Clean, for 30 days, but many on the streets say they never see their belongings again.

Leo Rhodes, 53, a Pima Indian, grew up in poverty on the Gila River Indian reservation south of Phoenix. He joined the Army when he was 19. When he returned from the Army after three years he started abusing drugs and alcohol. He has been homeless, on and off, for 30 years. He has also been one of the most effective advocates for the homeless in Seattle and Portland. He helped found and organize the governance of two tent cities and a rest area in Portland where the homeless can sleep in 12-hour shifts in a safe environment called Right to Dream Too. He keeps notebooks full of his poetry. He divides the world into the "homeless and the non-homeless."

He hands me one of his poems, published in Street Roots, titled "Being Human?" It reads:

I am the voice you never hear
If I spoke would you listen?
I am the ugly duckling
Visible in your pretty little world
I am the criminal when I sleep
I am the nuisance
Trying to keep dry out of the rain
I am the homeless person
Looking for dignity and a safe secure place.
"The problem is that when you get a job and they find out you are homeless they fire you," he says. "It does not matter if you are sober and a hard worker. As soon as your co-workers know you are homeless or formerly homeless they put this stigma on you. They think you are a drunk, a druggie, a criminal or mentally ill and can't be trusted."

The stress of living on the streets takes a toll on mental health and often pushes those who already have mental health issues over the edge.

"When you're outside, any little noise, it is a real threat," says Dan Newth, an Army veteran who says he tried to commit suicide in January 2015 by overdosing on prescription pills. "I've been kicked in the head when I was asleep. I've woken up to a beating from people I didn't know. They're just doing it because they see a homeless person there on the sidewalk. We try to hide when we sleep, get out of the way. I got my tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, and a pillow. It's critical. When I don't sleep for two days, I see things that aren't there. I hear things that nobody said. And they're negative. My hallucinations become very negative. Anybody who doesn't sleep for a number of days is going to hallucinate. When you see someone on the street and they're going off for no reason, they're not getting enough sleep. They've dealt with so much negativity. It can be a look. Saying hello to somebody and you're ignored. All this stuff adds up. You blame yourself. Subconsciously, you start hating yourself. Even though you are trying to think, you start blaming things in every direction. You will react to people who aren't necessarily there to hurt you. But you feel everybody is. It's overwhelming."

"You jump all these hoops," he says of the city's social services. "And then they exclude you and you don't know why. They don't let you get into housing. You never know why. You just get frustrated. Portland needs another MSW [master of social work] like they need another panhandler. The money goes to the salaried people. They keep making their money. And they will use up a homeless person's energy, jumping through the hoops, going to meetings with this person, going to that meeting, all this stuff. We're exhausted most of the time. At the end, you're still homeless. In some ways, MSWs are like vampires. I don't like the way the system is set up. I avoid it. I sleep outside. I sell Street Roots. I meet my needs the best I can."

Jasmine Rosado, 39, works periodically as a stripper. She is currently in subsidized housing, where she pays $530 a month for a studio apartment. Her only child, a 24-year-old son, Darius, is in the Army in Syria. She has not seen him in over four years. When she mentions his name her eyes well up.

"It's been very hard on me," she admits. "I love him a lot. There's nothing we can do. He's in God's hands."

She studied music and dance at the University of Oregon and plays the violin and cello. Her instruments are in storage.

"The strip club owners are very tight knit," she said of her employers. "If they have a problem with a girl, they will call around and you won't get a job anywhere."

Art Garcia, 71, sits holding his 5-pound dog on his lap.

"Migo," he says when I ask the dog's name. "Like Amigo without the A. It's a Chihuahua. I've had Migo for four years. I got him when he was a little over 9 months old from the shelter. My best friend. This guy has really helped me a lot. I have anxiety disorder. Around a lot of people I can't breathe. He calms me down a lot. He helps a lot. Sometimes he'll wake me up at night if I have an attack or something. In my sleep, my breathing changes."

Garcia was raised in an abusive home and later an orphanage. When he graduated from high school in 1966 he joined the Marine Corps and was sent to Vietnam. He was 19. He fought at Da Nang during the Tet Offensive.

"People were dying all around us," he says. "It was like a movie. Getting blown up. Killed our own man in the bathroom who was hiding in there. We didn't know who it was. The lieutenant yelled, 'If you're an American come out.' He was scared. He took his chances and hid in there. We just leveled it. Shot. Killed our own man."

"I was as scared as I'd ever been," he says of the war. "All these people shooting at you. That's when I started my drug habit. You didn't know if you were going to live or die. Heroin. At first, I was taking speed. We worked seven days a week. Got no days off. Couldn't stay awake. Got some liquid speed, the guy said, 'Here take this, it will keep you awake.' It got us all wired to stay awake. But then you couldn't go to sleep. So, I got heroin to go to sleep. But after you use that you get all strung out."

He returned from the war a heroin addict with no home. He slipped in and out of homelessness and was often in prison. He worked odd jobs in construction. He has been clean for a decade and is on methadone. He self-published two books. The one about the war is called "Sitting on the Edge." The one about returning home as an addict is called "Falling Off the Edge."

"I missed 10 Christmases in a row for going to prison," he says. "Going for three years, getting out for a month, going back. Being out for a couple of weeks, going back. Selling drugs. Robbing people for drugs. All drug-related. I spent a lot of years in there. I was on parole for a lot of years. I went to fire camp in California. During a fire, we'd make $1 an hour. That was really good."

In 2012 Garcia received a monetary settlement from a class-action lawsuit stemming from the military's use of Agent Orange, which damaged his heart and mobility. He gave Street Roots a $10,000 check and used the rest of the money to find a place to live and help out relatives. Rhodes takes me around the city. He laconically remembers being beaten in parks, forced off street corners and wakened in the middle of the night by police and told to move.

"You want to know what it is like to be homeless?" he asks. "Set your alarm clock to go off every two hours, pick up everything around you and walk for a few blocks to find another place to sleep."

"We used to sleep on that loading dock," he says, pointing to a warehouse. "Then the owners started turning on the sprinklers at 3 a.m. We got soaked. We would walk the streets in our wet clothes carrying our wet things."

Rhodes said that even when homeless people find a place to live inside it is often difficult to sever themselves from the community of other homeless people.

"I have voluntarily gone back out on the street a few times," he says. "I missed my friends, the good times, the bad times. You feel guilty for leaving them behind. And I am a homeless advocate. These are my people."

He is carrying a child's umbrella with a wooden handle shaped like a duck's head. In 2009 he was in the rain trying to sell Street Roots outside a Panera Bread restaurant when a passerby handed it to him. He calls it Ducky.

"It's like my security blanket," he says. "Ducky has been everywhere with me, in the heat, the rain, the freezing cold. He's been with me when the rent-a-cops threw us out of doorways where we were sleeping. I say to Ducky, 'Don't worry, one day we will have a place. One day we'll be inside.' When you are homeless, when you are abandoned, you need something like Ducky. It is why you will see homeless people with dolls or pets. And it's why they talk to them. It helps us deal with the negativity, all those in society who shun us."

Rhodes, affable and articulate, regales me with tales of life on the street, the repeated and exhausting efforts to create small communities and the sudden "sweeps" by the police that shatter them.

"I was in a tent city, it was our second move," he says. "It was right next to a freeway. Traffic was always going by. People honking their horn even at nighttime. Diesels going by. It took us literally three days to acclimate ourselves to that loud noise. You know who was sleeping there because they all had big puffy eyes. Couldn't sleep because of the noise. But after three days we started sleeping really well. The next place we went to, it was quiet. The only noise there was just a rooster or crow. Every two hours. When we went to the first place, people said, 'Man, I can't sleep here, it's too noisy.' Then they settle down. At the next place they said, 'Man, I can't sleep here, it's too quiet. I gotta have some noise!' "

He laughs.

In his poem "Excuse Me if I Don't Cry" he writes:

Excuse me if I don't cry
I'm putting on my game face
The world is big
And they don't understand
So, I will fight till the world understands
Or till I'm too tired to fight
Until then
Excuse me if I don't cry
I'm putting on my game face
Rest in Peace
My brothers and sisters
(c) 2018 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Mark Streeter ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Trump Wakes Up Covered In Dozens Of Small Cuts After Being Chased Through Dreams By Razor-Blade-Fingered Robert Mueller
By The Onion

WASHINGTON-Slowly coming to the realization that something was terribly wrong, President Trump reportedly awoke Friday to discover his entire body covered in dozens of small cuts after being chased through his dreams by a menacing Robert Mueller brandishing fingers covered in razor blades.

"Oh, thank God. It was just a dream," said Trump, just before seeing the very real, tiny wounds on his arms and chest that mirrored the lacerations he had received as the psychotic special prosecutor pursued him down the halls of the White House within his nightmare, laughing maniacally while he slashed violently at the president.

"What-no. This isn't possible. It was a dream! It was just a dream!" Trump later discovered that he was still asleep the moment Robert Mueller's razor claws burst through the president's mattress, dragging his struggling body down into its seemingly endless depths.
(c) 2018 The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 18 # 40 (c) 10/12/2018

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