Please visit our sponsor!

Bookmark and Share
In This Edition

Elizabeth Warren says, "Even After Equifax and Wells Fargo, GOP Sides With Big Financial Institutions."

Uri Avnery tries to solve, "The Terrible Problem."

Glen Ford examines the, "House (Of Representatives) Negroes Rally Against Russia."

William Rivers Pitt explains, "Why The 25th Amendment Won't Save Us."

Jim Hightower wonders, "What Happened To Trump's Pledge To Close This Billionaire Loophole?"

John Nichols concludes, "Donald Trump's Lies About The Iran Deal Reveal He Is Dangerously Out Of Touch With Reality."

James Donahue postulates, "Do Plants Think? Scientists Are Beginning To Believe It."

Greg Palast returns with, "I Went To School With The Vegas Shooter."

Heather Digby Parton wonders, "Who Could Be Worse For CIA Than Tom Cotton?"

David Suzuki says, "It's Time To Nix Neonics."

Charles P. Pierce points out, "Behind Trump, There's Bannon. Behind Bannon, There's The Mercers."

David Swanson considers, "The Secure, The Dispossessed, And The Mentally Deranged Dotards."

Juan Cole finds, "White Supremacists Flustered By Viking Discovery."

Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich asks, "Is Trump Unraveling?"

Chris Hedges concludes, "Only Nonviolent Resistance Will Destroy The Corporate State."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst says, "After Latest Mass Shooting, More Choreographed Twitching" but first Uncle Ernie is "At The Gates Of Delirium."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Scott Stantis, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, J. Scott, Mark Dodd, Kevin Lamarque, Drew Angerer, Bettmann Archive, Reuters, Shutterstock, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, HBO, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

Bookmark and Share

Visit me on Face Book

At The Gates Of Delirium
By Ernest Stewart

Listen, your friends have all been broken,
They tell us of your poison; now we know.
Kill them, give them as they give us.
Slay them, burn their children's laughter.
On to Hell!
The Gates Of Delirium ~~~ Yes

I'm praying for rain in California
So the grapes can grow and they can make more wine
Little Old Wine Drinker Me ~~~ Dean Martin

"Jeff Sessions Keeps Lying to the Senate. Sessions once claimed he never met with the Russians. Well, sorta, kinda, maybe. It depends ..." ~~~ The Nation

"All for one, one for all, that is our device." ~~~ Alexandre Dumas

As I've shown you before Trump's Alzheimers and Dementia problems, i.e., if you look at the definitions to those two condition Trump aces both by his own words and actions. Along those same lines is delirium. While Trump shows all the signs of delirium it's hard to say for sure, not knowing how fast this came over him. According to his professors he's always been as dumb as mud so it's kind of hard to tell. But here's how The Mayo Clinic defines delirium:
Signs and symptoms of delirium usually begin over a few hours or a few days. They often fluctuate throughout the day, and there may be periods of no symptoms. Symptoms tend to be worse during the night when it's dark and things look less familiar. Primary signs and symptoms include those below.

Reduced awareness of the environment

This may result in:

An inability to stay focused on a topic or to switch topics
Getting stuck on an idea rather than responding to questions or conversation
Being easily distracted by unimportant things
Being withdrawn, with little or no activity or little response to the environment
Poor thinking skills (cognitive impairment)

This may appear as:

Poor memory, particularly of recent events
Disorientation, for example, not knowing where you are or who you are
Difficulty speaking or recalling words
Rambling or nonsense speech
Trouble understanding speech
Difficulty reading or writing
Behavior changes

This may include:

Seeing things that don't exist (hallucinations)
Restlessness, agitation or combative behavior
Calling out, moaning or making other sounds
Being quiet and withdrawn - especially in older adults
Slowed movement or lethargy
Disturbed sleep habits
Reversal of night-day sleep-wake cycle
Emotional disturbances

This may appear as:

Anxiety, fear or paranoia
Irritability or anger
A sense of feeling elated (euphoria)
Rapid and unpredictable mood shifts
Personality changes
Types of delirium

Experts have identified three types of delirium:

Hyperactive delirium. Probably the most easily recognized type, this may include restlessness (for example, pacing), agitation, rapid mood changes or hallucinations.

Hypoactive delirium. This may include inactivity or reduced motor activity, sluggishness, abnormal drowsiness or seeming to be in a daze.

Mixed delirium. This includes both hyperactive and hypoactive symptoms. The person may quickly switch back and forth from hyperactive to hypoactive states.

Delirium and dementia

Dementia and delirium may be particularly difficult to distinguish, and a person may have both. In fact, frequently delirium occurs in people with dementia.

Dementia is the progressive decline of memory and other thinking skills due to the gradual dysfunction and loss of brain cells. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer's disease.

Some differences between the symptoms of delirium and dementia include:

Onset. The onset of delirium occurs within a short time, while dementia usually begins with relatively minor symptoms that gradually worsen over time.

Attention. The ability to stay focused or maintain attention is significantly impaired with delirium. A person in the early stages of dementia remains generally alert.

Fluctuation. The appearance of delirium symptoms can fluctuate significantly and frequently throughout the day. While people with dementia have better and worse times of day, their memory and thinking skills stay at a fairly constant level during the course of a day.

So, you tell me, America, does this explain the Donald's actions? Whether it's dementia, or delirium, either way we are sooooooo screwed!

In Other News

California continues to burn to the ground while the Donald drifts further away from reality. Going on two weeks now they been fighting a series of fires around Napa Valley which will see a whole less wine flowing for years to come. The lucky ones lost their buildings but had their arbors spared, most lost both. Bad news for them, good news for Michigan wineries and others in the Mid-West and East Coast.

According to Cal Fire "11,000 firefighters continued to make good progress on 14 large wildfires burning across the State, despite the fact that several new fires ignited. On the current 14 large wildfires over 213,000 acres have burned, an estimated 5,700 structures destroyed and sadly 41 people have been killed. Including, a private water tender driver assigned to the Nuns Fire tragically died in a vehicle rollover on Oakville Grade in Napa County."

"As containment figures have increased, many of the evacuations across the fires in Northern California have been lifted. From over 100,000 people evacuated to 40,000 people who still remain evacuated, but many of the evacuation orders are being reevaluated. Residents returning home are urged to be cautious as hazardous conditions may remain. Learn how to return home after a wildfire."

A frontal system off the coast will soon help the fire men out, to a point. Like a double bladed sword it may help them contain the fires but it may also cause major mudslides as after the fire there is little to hold the earth in place on hill sides and everyone at the bottom of the hills had better look out! Isn't global warming fun, America? Don't you wish Trump and company would do something about it? I know I do!

And Finally

I see where the Attorney General, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, a man named after an infamous American traitor, a man so corrupt that the Republicans blocked him from a federal judgeship under Reagan's nomination, because of his overt racism, spent five hours the other day singing and dancing and telling lies before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Jeffy started out his BS with this opening statement, "I can neither assert executive privilege nor can I disclose today the content of my confidential conversations with the president." Oh, and did I mention, it went straight downhill from there?

Trying to get his story straight Jeffy offered a slightly new wrinkle Wednesday, asserting that he may have discussed Trump campaign policy positions in his 2016 conversations with (Ambassador Sergey) The attorney general said it was "possible that some comment was made about what Trump's positions were. I don't think there was any discussion about the details of the campaign?" You may recall that Kislyak reported back to his superiors in the Kremlin "that the two had discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow." Sessions has previously said he did not "recall any specific political discussions," how convient for him that he has has such a poor memory!

Another interesting admission was when ask by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) whether the U.S. government is doing enough to prevent Russian interference in future elections. "We're not," Sessions responded. Gives you strength, does it not?

My favorite part was when former Saturday Night Live star, now US Senator, Al Franken was making Jeffy squirm by cross examining Sessions about lying about his Russian meetings:

Your tax dollars at work, America!

Keepin' On

We don't sell our readers new cars, fancy homes or designer clothes. We don't advocate consumerism nor do we offer facile solutions to serious problems. We do, however, bring together every week writers and activists who are not afraid to speak the truth about our country and our world. The articles we print are not for the faint of heart.

As access to accurate information becomes more difficult and free speech and the exchange of ideas becomes more restricted and controlled, small publications and alternative presses disappear. Issues and Alibis may soon join that list.

We aren't asking for much-not thousands of dollars a month, not tens of thousands a year. What we need is simply enough money to cover expenses for the magazine. A few thousand dollars a year. A few hundred dollars a month. We cannot continue to go into debt to publish Issues and Alibis but at the same time we cannot, in good conscience, go quietly about our daily lives, remaining silent in face of the injustices perpetrated by our leaders and our government. So we need your help. Please send us whatever you can as often as you can and we'll stand with you and fight the good fight!


04-12-1946 ~ 10-16-2017
Thanks for the film!

02-06-1964 ~ 10-17-2017
Thanks for the music!


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

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

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


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

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

Senate Democrats discussed consumer protections in the wake of a massive data breach at Equifax and a scandal at Wells Fargo.

Even After Equifax and Wells Fargo, GOP Sides With Big Financial Institutions
Contrtary to what financial industry lobbyists claim, class action settlements work for consumers.
By Elizabeth Warren

The Equifax data breach and the Wells Fargo fake accounts scandal have given America a peek into business practices at some of America's biggest financial institutions. In both companies, a related practice popped to the surface: forced arbitration clauses.

These little clauses, often buried in a fog of fine print, are a way for the companies to slither out of accountability when they cheat their customers. And Senate Republicans are on the verge of ramming through a resolution that will allow companies like Equifax and Wells Fargo to continue using these tricks to get away with even more misconduct.

Here's how the trick works: Let's say you discover an unexplained $20 fee on your credit card statement. You call, spend a long stretch on hold, get shuffled from person to person, and, finally, learn that your credit card company won't remove the fee. What now? If your credit card company cheated you out of $20, there's a good chance it cheated a lot of other customers out of $20. So you can join -or start -a class action, which gives you the chance to go to court and get your money back. It's not a lot of money, but add up all the people in the class action, and the company feels some real heat if they cheat a lot of their customers.

But if your credit card contract contains a forced arbitration clause, you can't go to court. Instead, your only option is to pony up $200 to file an arbitration claim. No one is going to pay $200 to try to recover a $20 fee -and your credit card company knows it. That means it can get away with cheating you on small fees forever. And it can juice its profit by cheating millions of its other customers too.

Forced arbitration is bad for consumers. That's why the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a new rule earlier this year that limits the use of forced arbitration clauses in financial contracts and lets consumers join class action lawsuits if they get cheated.

Bank lobbyists hate the CFPB's new rule, and they're pushing Congress hard to reverse it. So far, Republicans have been happy to oblige. While Democrats in the House of Representatives voted unanimously against a resolution to repeal the CFPB rule, House Republicans voted in lock step to pass it. If Senate Republicans follow suit, the rule -and protection for customers who get tricked -will disappear. The Senate vote on the resolution could happen this week.

Equifax, Wells Fargo and other giant financial institutions use forced arbitration clauses. But the new CFPB rule would stop them in their tracks. Any senators who vote to reverse the CFPB rule are saying loud and clear that they side with those companies instead of with their constituents.

A broad coalition of groups representing consumers is fighting hard to keep the new CFPB rule alive. The Military Coalition, which represents more than 5.5 million veterans and servicemembers, supports the rule because "our nation's veterans should not be deprived of the Constitutional rights and freedoms that they put their lives on the line to protect, including the right to have their claims heard in a trial." AARP, which represents nearly 38 million American seniors, says the rule "is a critical step in restoring consumers' access to legal remedies that have been undermined by the widespread use of forced arbitration for many years." And the Main Street Alliance, which represents thousands of small businesses, says the rule will help small businesses fight against big financial firms that try to drive up their fees.

Despite overwhelming public support for the CFPB rule, financial industry lobbyists are prowling the halls of Congress, claiming that the rule is bad for consumers because consumers fare better in arbitration than in class actions. That claim is laughable. According to a CFPB study, consumers recovered an average of $540 million annually from class actions settlements, while receiving less than $1 million annually in the arbitration cases the agency reviewed. It's not even close.

And if consumers prefer arbitration, that's their choice -the CFPB rule doesn't prevent consumers from choosing arbitration. The rule simply says that consumers should also have the option to go to court if that's what they want.

Senate Republicans should listen to service members, veterans, seniors, and small businesses -not bank lobbyists. As we continue to find out how much damage Equifax and Wells Fargo have inflicted on American consumers, the last thing Congress should be doing is reducing customers' rights to hold financial companies accountable.
(c) 2017 Elizabeth Warren is an US Senator representing Massachusetts.

The Terrible Problem
By Uri Avnery

Ze'ev Begin, the son of Menachem Begin, is a very nice human being. It is impossible not to like him. He is well brought up, polite and modest, the kind of person one would like to have as a friend.

Unfortunately, his political views are far less likeable. They are much more extreme than even the acts of his father. The father, after leading the Irgun, sat down and made peace with Anwar al-Sadat of Egypt. Ze'ev is closer to Golda Me'ir, who ignored Sadat's peace overtures and led us into the disastrous Yom Kippur war.

Begin jr. is a strict follower of the "revisionist" Zionist creed founded by Vladimir Ze'ev Jabotinsky. One of the characteristics of this movement has always been the importance it gave to written texts and declarations. The labor movement, headed by David Ben-Gurion, didn't give a damn about words and declarations and respected only "facts on the ground."

Last week, Ze'ev Begin wrote one of his rare articles. Its main purpose was to prove that peace with the Palestinians is impossible, a pipe-dream of Israeli peace-lovers (Haaretz 9.10). Quoting numerous Palestinian texts, speeches and even schoolbooks, Begin shows that the Palestinians will never, never, never give up their "Right of Return."

Since such a return would entail the end of the Jewish State, Begin asserts, peace is a pipe dream. There will never be peace. End of story.

A SIMILAR point is made by another profound thinker, Alexander Jakobson, in another important article in Haaretz (9.26). It is directed against me personally, and its headline asserts that I am "True to Israel, but Not to the Truth." It accuses me of being tolerant towards the BDS movement, which is out to put an end to Israel.

How does he know? Simple: BDS confirms the Palestinians' "Right of Return", which, as everybody knows, means the destruction of the Jewish State.

Well, actually I object to BDS for several reasons. The movement to which I belong, Gush Shalom, was the first (in 1997) to declare a boycott of the settlements. Our aim was to separate the Israeli people from the settlements. The BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement, by boycotting all of Israel, achieves the opposite effect: it pushes the Israeli people into the arms of the settlers.

I also don't like to call on people to boycott me.

But of all the points in the BDS platform, the one that bothers me the least is the demand that the State of Israel recognize the Palestinians' Right of Return. It is simply ridiculous. Not in a thousand years will the BDS compel Israel to do so. So why bother?

LET' US FIRST throw some light on the issue.

When the British withdrew from Palestine in 1948, there were in the country between the Mediterranean and the Jordan about 1.2 million Arabs and 635,000 Jews. By the end of the war that ensued, some 700,000 Arabs had fled and/or were driven out. It was a war of what was (later) called "ethnic cleansing". Few Arabs were left in the territory conquered by Jewish arms, but it should be remembered that no Jews at all were left in the territory conquered by Arab arms. Fortunately for our side, the Arabs succeeded in occupying only small slices of land inhabited by Jews (such as the Etzion bloc, East Jerusalem et al.), while our side conquered large, inhabited territories. As a combat soldier, I saw it with my own eyes.

The Arab refugees multiplied by natural increase, and today number about 6 million. About 1.5 million of them live in the occupied West Bank, about a million in the Gaza Strip, the rest are dispersed in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and all over the world.

Would they all come back, if given the opportunity? Let us consider this.

YEARS AGO, I had a unique experience.

I was invited to give a lecture in New York. To my pleasant surprise, in the front row I saw a good friend of mine, the young Arab poet Rashid Hussein. Rashid was born in a village near Nazareth. He begged me to come and visit him in his New Jersey apartment.

When I arrived, I was flabbergasted, The small apartment was crowded with people - Palestinian refugees of all kinds, young and old, men and women. We had a long and extremely emotional discussion on the refugee issue.

When we drove home, I told my wife: "You know what I felt? That only a few of them really care to return, but that all of them were ready to die for their right to return!"

Rachel, a very keen observer, replied that she had the same impression.

TODAY, DOZENS of years later, I am convinced that this basic truth is still valid: there is a huge difference between the principle and its implementation.

The principle cannot be denied. It belongs to the individual refugee. It is safeguarded by international law. It is sacred.

Any future peace treaty between the state of Israel and the State of Palestine will have to include a paragraph saying that Israel affirms in principle the Right of Return of the Palestinian refugees and their descendents.

No Palestinian leader could possibly sign a treaty that does not include this clause.

Only after this obstacle has been removed from the table, can the real discussion about the solution start.

I can imagine the scene: after agreement has been reached on this at the peace conference, the chairperson will take a deep breath and say, "Now, friends, let's get to the real issue. How shall we solve the refugee problem in practice?"

The six million Palestinian refugees constitute six million individual situations. There are many categories of refugees. No single solution can apply to all.

There are many refugees - perhaps most of them - who during the last 50 years have built for themselves a new life in another country. For these, the right of return is - well - a principle. They would not dream of going back to their ancestral village, even if it were still there. Some of them are well-to-do, some are rich, some very rich.

One of the richest is my friend (may I call you so?) Salman Abu Sitta, who started life as a barefoot boy in the Negev, fled in 1948 with his family to Gaza and later became an immensely successful contractor in Britain and the Gulf. We met at a peace conference, had a long and emotional private dinner afterwards and did not agree.

Abu Sitta insists that all refugees must be allowed to return to Israel, even if they are to be settled in the Negev desert. I do not see the practical logic in this.

I have had hundreds of discussions about solutions with Palestinians, from Yasser Arafat down to people in the refugee camps. The great majority nowadays would sign a formula that seeks a "just and agreed solution of the refugee problem" - "agreed" includes Israel.

This formula appears in the "Arab Peace Plan" devised by Saudi Arabia and officially accepted by the entire Muslim world.

How would this look in practice? It means that every refugee family would be offered a choice between actual return and adequate compensation.

Return - where? In a few extraordinary instances, their original village still stands empty. I can imagine some symbolic reconstruction of such villages - say two or three - by their former inhabitants.

An agreed number must be allowed to return to the territory of Israel, especially if they have relatives here, who can help them to strike roots again.

This is a hard thing for Israelis to swallow - but not too hard. Israel already has some 2 million Arab citizens, more than 20% of the population. Another - say - quarter million would make no real difference.

All the others would be paid generous compensation. They could use that to consolidate their lives where they are, or emigrate to places like Australia and Canada, which would gladly receive them (with their money).

About 1.5 million refugees live in the West Bank and Gaza. Another large number live in Jordan and are Jordanian citizens. Some still live in refugee camps. For all of them, compensation would be welcome.

Where will the money come from? Israel must pay its share (at the same time reducing its huge military budget). The world organizations will have to contribute a large part.

IS THIS feasible? Yes, it is.

I dare say more: if the atmosphere is right, it is even probable. Contrary to Begin's belief in texts written today by demagogues to serve today's purposes, once the process starts rolling, a solution like this - more or less - is almost unavoidable.

And let's not forget for a moment: these "refugees" are human beings.
(c) 2017 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

House (Of Representatives) Negroes Rally Against Russia
It is a catch-all for blanket repression of Black activism of any kind.
By Glen Ford

"The Congressional Black Caucus is "the heart and soul of the resistance movement in Congress," said California Rep. Barbara Lee, speaking at a "State of Black America" panel at Laney College, in Oakland, last week. Lee's right. She and her Black corporate Democratic colleagues are in the forefront of a kind of "resistance" -- but not resistance to the routine murder of Blacks by police, or the economic race to the bottom led by the Caucus's patrons on Wall Street, or to gentrification, hyper-militarization and war. Instead, the Black Caucus has been waging a desperate resistance to the incipient grassroots movement that emerged in Ferguson, Missouri, three years ago.

This perversion of "resistance" now speaks in anti-Russia tirades, but that's only the CBC's latest diversionary tactic, as it scrambles to reclaim its squandered legitimacy.

Like the rest of the Black Misleadership Class, the Caucus feared that a revival of movement politics might unleash forces that could not easily be contained. The Black elite's job is to keep the lid on Black protest -- the real resistance -- so that the dispersal, disempowerment and demoralization of Black communities can be accomplished with as little disruption as possible. The rebellions in Ferguson and Baltimore threatened the carefully constructed arrangement between corporate power and the Black political class -- a deal forged and mediated largely through the structures of the Democratic Party. The Black political class lives and feeds within the institutional confines of the Democratic Party, which has colonized most of the Black community's civic groups and churches. For the Black elite, "resistance" means defense of the Democratic Party against all challengers -- including independent political challenges from grassroots Black America, which is decidedly to the left of the Democratic Party

Ferguson thus created a crisis, not just for the ruling order in general, but also for the corporate-dependent Black Misleadership Class, rooted in the Democratic Party. The first casualties were the Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, as well as lesser lights of their ilk, whose legitimacy as Black leaders was rejected by a new cadre of activists. The Democratic National Committee's attempt to absorb #BlackLivesMatter was also rebuffed - for the time being, at least - in the late summer of 2015, when #BLM leaders declared:

"The Democratic Party, like the Republican and all political parties, have historically attempted to control or contain Black people's efforts to liberate ourselves. True change requires real struggle, and that struggle will be in the streets and led by the people, not by a political party."
Just two months before a Ferguson cop gunned down Michael Brown, the Congressional Black Caucus showed its true allegiances when 80 percent of its members voted against a bill that would have halted Pentagon transfers of weapons, gear and training to local police departments. (See BAR, "The Treasonous 32: Four-Fifths of Black Caucus Helps Cops Murder Their Constituents.")

Two years later, when all of Black America was in mourning or engaged in outraged action over the police murders of Alton Sterling, in Baton Rouge, and Philando Castile, in Minnesota, the Congressional Black Caucus tried to change the subject, staging a diversionary sit-down on the floor of the U.S. House demanding gun control - as if that had anything to do with mass police killings of Black people.

With the defeat of corporatist Democrat Hillary Clinton by the overt racist Donald Trump, the Black Caucus exited from reality-based politics altogether. Atlanta Congressman John Lewis forgot all about Republican voter suppression, which had stolen at least two presidential elections in this century and surely played a decisive role in Trump's 2016 victory. Instead, the first thing out of Lewis' mouth after the Electoral College verdict was "...Russians!" And that's all the Black Caucus has talked about, ever since.

Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters, who were among the eight Black Caucus members that voted to halt the Pentagon's wholesale militarization of local police in 2014, have now made common cause with the rest of the Caucus in demanding that Facebook, Google and other social media gatekeepers censor their pages to prohibit "promotion of division and racial animosity and racial hatred." Google was eager to interpret this as a mandate to censor the Left. The corporation openly brags that it has altered its algorithms to suppress "controversial" subject matter, resulting in dramatic declines in visitation to a whole range of left-wing web sites, especially those singled out by the Washington Post, right after the election, as giving aid and comfort to Russia. (Black Agenda Report is the only Black site targeted by the Post.)

The Black Caucus has found its comfort zone, in the heat of battle against ... Russia (and China, Venezuela, Cuba, Syria and everybody else on the imperial hit list). The CBC motto: My master's enemy is my enemy. They have taken the meaning of "House Negro" to a new level. Having nothing to offer their constituents, the Black Caucus has become the War Party's rhythm section, beating the drums of the New McCarthyism.

On November 4 and 5, the Black Is Back Coalition will hold its annual conference and march on the White House, under the theme, "The Ballot AND the Bullet: War and Peace in the Era of Donald Trump." There is a consensus among the Coalition that the ballot can be useful in conjunction with struggles for social and economic justice, Black self-determination, and peace. But, the Black Misleadership Class, which includes the vast bulk of Black Democratic office holders, is loyal to nothing but its own class fortunes and personal careers.

When the crunch comes, they change the subject, and then opt for war.
(c) 2017 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

President Donald Trump leaves the podium after making a statement on Iran, in the
Diplomatic Reception Room in the White House, October 13, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Why The 25th Amendment Won't Save Us
By William Rivers Pitt

Well I don't know, but I been told
If the horse don't pull you got to carry the load
I don't know who's back's that strong
Maybe find out before too long

One way or another
One way or another
One way or another
This darkness got to give ...

-- Robert Hunter

This may only be a minor accent in the vast symphony of outrage we are confronted with on a daily basis, but it is worthy of note. You are aware, I'm sure, of the ongoing shouting match Donald Trump is having with the NFL over players standing for the national anthem. Well, Trump found himself last week at the Air National Guard Base in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with Fox fiend Sean Hannity. By tradition, "Retreat" was bugled on the base as the flag was lowered for the day.

The same tradition requires all military personnel and civilian leadership to stand at attention out of respect for the flag. Neither Trump nor Hannity stood, flouting that tradition. Laughing as the bugle call filled the air, Trump asked Hannity, "Are they playing that for you or for me?" Referring to Hannity's show, Trump then addressed the crowd with, "They're playing that in honor of his ratings."

Remember when President Obama once saluted a member of his Marine guard with a coffee cup in his hand, and people like Sean Hannity reacted as if Obama had just offered the Sixth Fleet to Kim Jong-un as a birthday present? I do, and once upon a time, such brazen, televised hypocrisy would have captured my full attention. You're going on and on about the football players and the flag but just insulted your own armed forces, and on a base no less?

Once upon a time, yeah.

Those days are over. When the president of the United States of America tells all the residents of Puerto Rico he's basically sick of hearing about them being wet, hungry and in the dark all the time, when he threatens to cut them off completely despite the fact that the island was thoroughly scourged by a massive hurricane, and oh, by the way, they are also US citizens, it's hard to get worked up over "Retreat-gate" in the proper fashion.

This is what he said in a string of tweets before dawn on Thursday morning:

"Puerto Rico survived the Hurricanes, now a financial crisis looms largely of their own making." says Sharyl Attkisson. A total lack of accountability say the Governor. Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes. Congress to decide how much to spend. We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!

Got that, everyone? The storm was Puerto Rico's fault. This US territory with no voting power in Congress seems to have quite the influence over earth, wind and fire these days, not to mention infrastructure and debt. The president sure thinks so, anyway.

This from the guy who was throwing rolls of paper towels at storm victims last week while lowballing the death toll as he talked about "a real disaster like Katrina." For the record, the current official number stands at 36, but the people running Puerto Rico's funeral homes know different. The people who buried their parents days after the storm passed because there was no power for their life support machines know different. The uncounted dead know different.

From the Guardian last Wednesday: "Officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) say that the government and its partners are only providing 200,000 meals a day to meet the needs of more than 2 million people. That is a daily shortfall of between 1.8 million and 5.8 million meals. 'We are 1.8 million meals short,' said one senior FEMA official. 'That is why we need the urgency. And it's not going away. We're doing this much today, but it has to be sustained over several months.'"

Not if the president has his way about it. Sure, the US government enjoys Puerto Rico when the Navy needs to test its ship-to-shore firepower and showers Vieques with artillery, the remnants of which are likely to blame for the region having the highest disease rates in the Caribbean. What's a little depleted uranium, cardiovascular disease and cancer between fellow citizens, right?

But, you see, Puerto Rico has debt. A "financial crisis looms largely of their own making," Trump said. He is so adamant about Puerto Rico's debt that Congress, at his request, has made $5 billion of the aid package it's crafting a loan to Puerto Rico, which will also have to be paid back. Why? Because Puerto Rico's debt is owned by Wall Street, and Wall Street is Trump's people.

Sarah Jaffe recently spoke with Jonathan Westin, director of New York Communities for Change, who provided some truly revelatory information on who actually owns Puerto Rico's debt:

[Seth] Klarman is the hedge fund manager ... [Klarman] is generally seen as kind of a 'progressive' Wall Street guy, but has hid himself in very intentional ways from being discovered as one of the biggest bond-holders of Puerto Rican debt. The way the debt was acquired by many of these hedge fund managers was they bought it for cents on the dollar when they took over debt from Puerto Rico, and are now trying to extract as much as possible out of the island to pay that debt back, even though they bought it for cents on the dollar.

There is a reason they are called vulture funds; it is because they prey on very downtrodden folks. They buy up debt from places that most people believe they won't be able to recover [their money], but then they do everything in their power to extract blood from a stone. Puerto Rico is not the only instance where hedge fund managers have gobbled up debt. They have done it in Argentina. They have done it in Greece. They have done it in many other places.

So here's Trump helping hedge fund managers like Klarman squeeze Puerto Rico for all the coppers they can wring, even though Klarman has made it abundantly clear that he believes Trump to be one of the horseman for the looming apocalypse. No matter. Puerto Rico is seen as a pigeon to be plucked, and the hedge fund managers must be fed.

Hardly a surprise, I suppose, coming from the humanitarian who wants so many more nuclear weapons that his own secretary of state reportedly called him a "fucking moron." There is a rumor going around that Kelly and Mattis have agreed to bodily tackle Trump if he ever lunges for the political "football." It sounds farfetched, but I believe it.

You see, the president of the United States is a vacant hole posing as a person, and there has been a lot of talk about the 25th Amendment because of it. Unless Trump leaves office voluntarily, the only mechanism for his lawful removal is found in section 4 of that amendment. It's a doozy.

To make use of it, the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet must tell Congress the president is unable to perform the duties of his office. The president can challenge this and immediately retain his powers, but if the vice president and the Cabinet reaffirm their claim of presidential incapacity, the matter goes to Congress for what amounts to a trial. For removal, both the House and the Senate have to agree with the vice president and the Cabinet by a two-thirds majority in each chamber. Otherwise, the president stays put.

In short, the 25th isn't coming to rescue us any time soon. It makes for a fine hashtag to deploy whenever the monster behaves monstrously, but that's about as far as it goes. Leaving aside the pan-dimensional improbability of Mike Pence and the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari actually turning on Trump for any reason, there is the simple, sorrowful fact of Congress itself.

Let me tell you a little something about these people. Last week, the House passed legislation banning abortions after 20 weeks. They did so, according to a GOP caucus blog post, because the massacre in Las Vegas combined with the summertime shooting of GOP Rep. Steve Scalise reminded them "just how precious life is." Got that? Don't figure out what to do about the manufacture and distribution of the military-grade guns that killed all those actual people. Cough up a Senate-doomed sop to the GOP base to commemorate the sanctity of "life."

One of the GOP representatives who voted for this was Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania. A real bear for the sanctity of life is Tim, who enjoys a spotless "pro-life" voting record that was ever so slightly marred early this month when it came to light that he had urged his mistress to get an abortion. Rep. Murphy will be retiring at the end of his term.

Even Scalise, who (please pardon the all-caps) GOT SHOT this summer and almost died, is still dutifully hauling water for the NRA. We need more guns to keep us safe from all those guns. Seemingly in defense of his pro-gun stance, Scalise told Fox News last Tuesday, "When there was a shooter, luckily we had Capitol Police there with their own guns." Right, Steve, that would be the (pardon again) WELL-REGULATED MILITIA we read about in that 2nd Amendment you love so much.

Two-thirds of these people are not going to vote to remove Trump from office even if he lights the Capitol dome on fire. He is the last, best hope they have for making their proto-fascist Biblical nation fantasies a reality. A great many of these people are human vacancies just like the president, and they share a characteristic with him that happens to be their greatest collective strength: They are incapable of shame.

And so much for the 25th. For now.

"There comes a time," said free-speech activist Mario Savio, "when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part, you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop."

That is where we're at, I believe. This is not normal, this is not healthy, this is not safe, this is not right. It has to be stopped before Carl Sagan's pale blue dot becomes just another puff of dust in the long dark. The corporate "news" media won't help us. They love this stuff; hell, the country hasn't turned off the television since November. Our so-called leaders in Congress may as well be cardboard cutouts of themselves for all the good they do.

No, this falls to us, to as many of us as can be summoned, and there are a great, great many of us. Something simple. Everyone takes the same day off from work and idles the nation. Everyone participates in a tightly focused boycott until the entity in question ceases to exist. Then do it again. Everyone goes to Washington, DC, sits down in front of the White House, and waits. A flexing of muscles too many of us have forgotten we have, indicating to those in power during this ongoing calamity that it's sure been a laff riot, you guys, but enough is too much. We are stopping the machine until this is fixed.

If we're down to dreams, it's a good one. See what you can do.
(c) 2017 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

Donald Trump, who promised last year to close the special hedge-fund tax break, has
mysteriously omitted that vow from the "tax reform"framework the White House released this fall.

What Happened To Trump's Pledge To Close This Billionaire Loophole?
The president's pledge to roll back a hedge fund loophole has mysteriously vanished from his tax plan.
By Jim Hightower

These are hard times for America's gold miners. They're scrambling to get ahead, but seeing their pay dropping.

Take Bob Mercer, who's been a top miner for years, but last year even Bob was down. He pulled in only $125 million in pay. Can you feel Bob's pain?

Well, these aren't your normal miners. They're hedge fund managers, digging for gold in Wall Street. Indeed, if you divided Mercer's pay in his "bad year"among 1,000 real miners doing honest work, each would consider it a fabulous year.

Nonetheless, hedge funds are almost literally gold mines, although they require no heavy lifting by the soft-handed, Gucci-wearing managers who work them. These gold diggers are basically nothing but speculators, drawing billions of dollars from the uber-rich by promising that they'll deliver fabulous profits.

But the scam is that Mercer and his fellow diggers get paid whether they deliver or not.

Their cushy set up, known as 2 and 20, works like this.

Right off the top, they take 2 percent of the money put up by each wealthy client, which hedge fund whizzes like Mercer keep even if the investments they make are losers. Then, if their speculative bets do pay off, they pocket 20 percent of all profits.

Finally, hedge fund lobbyists have rigged our nation's tax code so these Wall Street miners pay a fraction of the tax rate that real mine workers pay.

Last year, the 25 best paid hedge fund operators totaled a staggering $11 billion in personal pay - even though nearly half of them performed poorly. Meanwhile, Donald Trump, who promised last year to close that special hedge-fund tax break, has mysteriously omitted that vow from the "tax reform" framework the White House released this fall.

Guess who was one of Trump's most generous funders last year? Bob Mercer.
(c) 2017 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

Donald Trump speaks about Iran from the Diplomatic Reception Room in the White house on October 13, 2017.

Donald Trump's Lies About The Iran Deal Reveal He Is Dangerously Out Of Touch With Reality
The president needs to be checked and balanced by Congress.
By John Nichols

Donald Trump was expected to refuse to recertify the Iran nuclear deal. He did that on Friday.

But the president did much more than signal his personal disapproval of Tehran's compliance with an agreement that the Obama administration and international allies reached in 2015 to avert the development of nuclear weapons by the Iranians. In a bombastic address, Trump pointed toward a dramatic ramping up of hostility toward a country that international observers and even his own aides indicate has been in compliance with the nuclear deal.

The president's pronouncements on Friday were not merely at odds with the facts regarding the agreement. They steered the United States away from diplomacy and toward a more charged-and potentially far more dangerous-relationship with Iran. They also distanced the United States from its allies. As former vice president Joe Biden explained on Friday, "Unilaterally putting the Iran deal at risk does not isolate Iran. It isolates us."

Trump did not seem to recognize that prospect, let alone to understand the consequences of a go-it-alone strategy that will make the United States an international outlier.

In his televised speech to the nation Friday, the president said he wanted Congress to set new benchmarks that Iran would be required to meet in order to avoid nuclear-related sanctions. He bluntly declared that the deal "will be terminated" if no plan is reached to radically alter the agreement.

"If the U.S. backs out of the Iran agreement, that would put war with Iran back on the table." - Peace Action

The president's over-heated language was decried by serious observers of the deal and of US relations with Iran. "Make no mistake: With his announcement today, President Trump is putting America at risk," announced Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), who explained that:

Most immediately, this reckless decision could give Iran a path to back out of the nuclear deal and resume its race to a nuclear bomb. A nuclear-armed Iran could become the single greatest national security threat we face and would be an immediate existential threat to Israel. At a time when our own intelligence agencies and every international monitor says that Iran is in compliance with the strict limits and monitoring of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), blowing up this agreement is the definition of a self-inflicted wound.
Trump rubbed the wound raw with remarks that pointed toward a significant intensification of US hostility toward Iran. The president accused Tehran of stirring "chaos" in the Middle East and beyond. He labeled the Iranian government as "fanatical regime" and accused it of spreading "death, destruction and chaos around the globe." Directing the Treasury Department to impose new sanctions on Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-which the White House identified as a "primary tool and weapon in remaking Iran into a rogue state" - Trump took steps that the administrations of Barack Obama and George W. Bush carefully avoided.

What Trump did Friday was serious, and unsettling. He took steps to alter relationships not just with Iran but with allies of the United States that helped to forge the nuclear agreement.

"The fallout of the U.S. going back on our word will reverberate far beyond just Iran. It will hurt our relationship with our European allies, on whom we rely as critical partners in nearly every aspect of international relations," said Merkley, who explained that:

[At] an absolutely crucial moment, it could torpedo efforts to secure international collaboration to end North Korea's nuclear program. Why would international partners work with us to impose sanctions on North Korea to bring them to the negotiating table, and why would North Korea come, if they know the United States does not live up to its word?
Congress still has a say with regard to the Iran deal. Indeed, says House Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Linda Sánchez (D-CA), "It is now up to Congress to prevent Donald Trump's 'America First' strategy from turning into 'America Alone.'"

Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Mark Pocan (D-WI) promised to organize House opposition to Trump's position.

"President Trump's announcement decertifying Iran's compliance with the JCPOA nuclear agreement-in defiance of eight compliance reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency and the assessment of his own Secretary of Defense-is yet another act of cynicism and deeply reckless political theater," said the CPC leaders. "Like his recent unilateral decisions to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, the Clean Power Plan, and the U.S. commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, President Trump once again showcases his willingness to put millions of lives at risk to score cheap political points in undoing the achievements of his predecessor."

"We must not mince words," Grijalva and Pocan added:

By rejecting overwhelming evidence of Iranian compliance with the JCPOA, President Trump is putting us on a disastrous path of confrontation and escalation with Iran. Congress needs to reassert its constitutional authorities and serve as a check to a totally erratic and dangerous executive who has already threatened to "totally destroy" another country. We urge our colleagues to vote to reject any re-imposition of sanctions against Iran that result from President Trump's decision today. The Congressional Progressive Caucus, reflecting the will of tens of millions of Americans who have advocated for peace, diplomacy, and stability, will strongly oppose any legislative or executive effort that seeks to undermine the JCPOA or needlessly ratchets up tensions with Iran, which would also threaten America's credibility to peacefully resolve tensions with North Korea using diplomacy.
Merkley promised to fight just as hard in the Senate, Merkley saying, "As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and as a concerned American, I will do everything I can in partnership with my colleagues to prevent this travesty of a decision from going into effect."

The congressional critics will have many allies in this vital struggle.

"If the U.S. backs out of the Iran agreement, that would put war with Iran back on the table. At the same time, it would send a terrible signal to North Korea about the U.S.'s ability to stand by its international commitments, which could unravel any hopes of negotiating a similar agreement to scale back North Korea's nuclear program," Jon Rainwater, the executive director of the group Peace Action, said Friday. "The ball is now in Congress' court. Will they listen to the more that 80 nuclear policy experts, key members of Trump's own administration, and foreign policy leaders from around the world calling on the US to stick with the deal?"

What is certain, said Rainwater, is that the activists who two years ago succeeded in "getting the deal through Congress and preventing a war" must rally once more "to protect that historic achievement."
(c) 2017 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Do Plants Think? Scientists Are Beginning To Believe It
By James Donahue

A recent article in the Christian Science Monitor reports on new research by scientists in "the evolving paradigm of plant intelligence."

The story by Patrik Jonsson notes that some scientists believe plants are capable of carefully considering their environment, speculating on the future, conquering territory and enemies, "and are often capable of forethought -revelations that could affect everyone from gardeners to philosophers."

Jonsson added that the research has opened "a sprouting debate over the nature of intelligence itself."

Examples of findings by the research included the discovery that the parasitic plant strangleweed "can sense the presence of friends, foes and food, and make adroit decisions on how to approach them."

Also the ground-hugging mayapple "plans its growth two years into the future, based on computations of weather patterns."

Plant geneticists are finding that plants can communicate with each other as well as with insects by coded gas exhalations. "They can perform Euclidean geometry calculations through cellular computations and, like a peeved boss, remember the tiniest transgression for months."

These findings support other new revelations by researchers that the Earth appears to be a living sentient being and that everything on the planet is not only alive, but part of a vast universal information system.

It seems that even the grass, the flowers and the trees are sending information not only within their own ranks, but to the Mother Earth and to the Universe.

My late wife Doris loved plants. She enjoyed growing flowers in our yard and kept a variety of house plants. I recall one day hearing her softly talking to her house plants. I asked her if she really thought the plants were conscious of her presence. She said the plants always did well when they knew they were loved. She also said she arranged her plants in certain ways so that they were pared off with other growing things that they liked. Like humans, Doris said she had learned over the years that plants do not get along with other particular varieties and will not flourish if they are placed too close to one another.

I had my first realization of how plants respond to human involvement in their environment a few years back, when I was cutting firewood to heat our home. My father and I used to drive back into the wooded area of the family farm every Saturday to cut down a few trees, saw them into sections, and load them on the back of a pickup for delivery to the back yard.

Thinking of conservation even in those years, we used to seek out the fallen or diseased trees in the forest, or take older trees that were crowding out the smaller ones. I never dreamed that what we were doing was exciting the forest, however.

One day I read about an experiment by some Russian biologists with a few cabbage plants growing in a greenhouse type environment.

A row of six cabbage plants were attached to a sensitive instrument that measured various electronic waves transmitted by the living plants. The device worked somewhat like an electroencephalograph attached to the human brain.

During the experiment a subject entered the room each day at a certain time to water and add nourishment to the soil in each of the pots in which the cabbages were growing. The signals were recorded. There was a reaction to this activity each day.

Then on one particular day a new person entered the room carrying an ax. This man walked up to one of the cabbage plants and chopped it to pieces. The response on the recorders was immediate. There was a wild increase in electronic activity. It was clear that the other cabbage plants not only were aware of this terrible event, they expressed a strong response to what just happened.

From that time on, the mere entrance of the room by the man who had wielded the ax caused the same kind of electronic reaction among the surviving cabbage plants.

The conclusion among the Russian researchers conducting the study is that the cabbage plants not only are aware of their surroundings, they communicate with one another, and respond to events that affect them.

After this, I found it difficult to enter the forest and cut down trees. I realized that the trees not only were communicating, but they may have feared my approach. Eventually we sold that home and moved into a smaller house that had a gas fired furnace.

I also learned to have more respect for my wife's house plants, and tended my vegetable gardens with much more love and care. I came to realize that we grow these vegetables, not to kill the plant, but to feed on their seed. It is comforting to know that as vegetarians, we are accepting the natural foods that our Mother Earth is providing for us.
(c) 2017 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

Mobile home on tracks, Sun Valley CA, birthplace of the Vegas shooter. From the film The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.

I Went To School With The Vegas Shooter
By Greg Palast

Los Angeles - When we were at Francis Polytechnic High in Sun Valley, Steve Paddock and I were required to take electrical shop class. At Poly and our junior high, we were required to take metal shop so we could work the drill presses at the GM plant. We took drafting. Drafting like in "blueprint drawing."

Paddock. Palast. We sat next to each other at those drafting tables with our triangular rulers and #2 pencils so we could get jobs at Lockheed as draftsmen drawing blueprints of fighter jets. Or do tool-and-dye cutting to make refrigerator handles at GM where they assembled Frigidaire refrigerators and Chevys.

But we weren't going to fly the fighter jets. Somewhere at Phillips Andover Academy, a dumbbell with an oil well for a daddy was going to go to Yale and then fly our fighter jets over Texas. We weren't going to go to Yale. We were going to go to Vietnam. Then, when we came back, if we still had two hands, we went to GM or Lockheed.

(It's no coincidence that much of the student population at our school was Hispanic.)

But if you went to "Bevvie" - Beverly Hills High - or Hollywood High, you didn't take metal shop. You took Advanced Placement French. You took Advanced Placement Calculus. We didn't have Advanced Placement French. We didn't have French anything. We weren't Placed, and we didn't Advance.

Steve was a math wizard. He should have gone to UCLA, to Stanford. But our classes didn't qualify him for anything other than LA Valley College and Cal State Northridge. Any dumbbell could get in. And it was nearly free. That's where Steve was expected to go, and he went with his big math-whiz brain. And then Steve went to Lockheed, like we were supposed to. Until Lockheed shut down plants in 1988. Steve left, took the buy-out.

And after NAFTA, GM closed too.

Land of Opportunity? Well, tell me: who gets those opportunities?

Some of you can and some of you can't imagine a life where you just weren't give a fair chance. Where the smarter you are, the more painful it gets, because you have your face pressed against the window, watching THEM. THEY got the connections to Stanford. THEY get the gold mine. WE get the shaft.

This is where Paddock and Palast were bred: Sun Valley, the anus of Los Angeles. Literally. It's where the sewerage plant is. It's in a trench below the Hollywood Hills, where the smog settles into a kind of puke yellow soup. Here's where LA dumps its urine and the losers they only remember when they need cheap labor and cheap soldiers when the gusanos don't supply enough from Mexico.

I'll take you to Sun Valley. It's in my film, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. In the movie, a kind of dream scene, the actress Shailene Woodley takes me back to my family's old busted home in the weeds and then down San Fernando Road, near Steve's place. Take a look, America. Along the tracks that once led in to the GM plant, you see a bunch of campers that the union men bought for vacations. Now they live in them.

No, Steve's brain was too big to end up on the tracks. He lived in empty apartments in crappy buildings he bought, then in a barren tract house outside Reno. I laugh when they say he was "rich." He wanted to be THEM, to have their stuff. He got close.

It's reported that Steve was a "professional gambler." That's another laugh. He was addicted to numbing his big brain by sitting 14 hours a day in the dark in front of video poker machines. He was a loser. Have you ever met a gambler who said they were a Professional Loser?

It's fair to ask me: Why didn't I end up in a hotel room with a bump-stock AR-15 and 5,000 rounds of high velocity bullets?

Because I have a job, a career, an OBSESSION: to hunt down THEM, the daddy-pampered pricks who did this to us, the grinning billionaire jackals that make a profit off the slow decomposition of the lives I grew up with.

But I'm telling you, that I know it's a very fine line, and lots of crazy luck, that divided my path from Paddock's.

Dear Reader: The publication that pulled this story at the last moment was plain scared -that they'd be accused of approving murder.

Paddock slaughtered good people, coldly, with intense cruelty, destroying lives and hundreds of families forever. If you think I'm making up some excuse for him, then I give up.

But also this: The editor of the Beverly Hills-based publication, a Stanford grad, could not understand that, just like veterans of the Vietnam war who suffer from PTSD even today, so too, losers of the class war can be driven mad by a PTSD that lingers, that gnaws away, their whole lives.

What happens to a dream deferred? Does it ...fester like a sore? Does it stink like rotten meat? a heavy load?

Or does it explode?

Steve, you created more horrors than your cornered life could ever justify.

But, I just have to tell you, Steve: I get it.
(c) 2017 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

Who Could Be Worse For CIA Than Tom Cotton?
By Heather Digby Parton

I wrote about the chilling rumors in DC about who might move into the CIA director's slot if Mike Pompeo is moved over to Secretary of State for Salon this morning: It may be that it took direct, vicious attacks on the mainstream media for its practitioners to understand the catastrophe of Donald Trump and cover him both factually and, more important, truthfully. They aren't perfect, but they aren't being the lapdogs we all saw during the Bush administration and thank goodness for that. Still, they have yet to kill some stale old tropes that desperately need to be thrown overboard. One of them is this idea that there are "grownups" out there somewhere who will come rescue us from the folly of our democratic choices.

Back in 2001, the entire press corps was delirious over the ascension of George W. Bush after the years of Bill Clinton and his hippie White House. Those so-called "grownups" wreaked havoc, and the press seemed to be chagrined enough by the Bush administration's failures to let Barack Obama's quiet dignity speak for itself. But with the election of Donald Trump and his infantile bullying, this meme has returned in a big way. I wrote about this latest iteration of the "finally, the adults are back in charge" line a few months ago, and it's only become more frequent and more desperate as the administration sheds its original cast of characters in favor of what Trump refers to as "my generals." (It's like a remake of "Seven Days in May" around there these days.)

Well, it just got worse. The much-rumored upcoming departure of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has created lots of gossip about possible replacements, starting with UN ambassador Nikki Haley, known as "the Iran whisperer." The other possibility being discussed is CIA Director Mike Pompeo, a Trump favorite who drives three hours a day from Langley, Virginia, to the White House to personally deliver the president his national security briefing just the way he likes it -- short, sweet and with "killer graphics."

If Pompeo were to be moved into Tillerson's spot, that would open up the CIA job, and word is that Trump is considering Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas for that position. Cotton is only 40 years old and has had one term in the House and three years in the Senate, so he seems a bit young for the job. (In fact, he's the youngest current U.S. senator.) But he's apparently enough of a grownup to join the Trump babysitters' club. Axios reported: MSNBC and conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt -who talks frequently to Cotton on and off the air, and first floated the idea of Cotton for CIA -told me that Pompeo, Cotton, SecDef Mattis and Chief of Staff Kelly would be "a quartet of serious intellectuals and warriors in the 'big four' jobs." And you could add National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster as a fifth.

Hewitt also said that Cotton and Trump get along well and that he and Pompeo both "like and listen to the president" and "accept his realism in foreign affairs." Trump's views on foreign affairs are not of what is called the "realist" school, nor are they actually realistic, so I'm not sure what Hewitt's referring to. But it sounds as though both men are champion Trump flatterers, which makes the president comfortable and happy.

On the substance, Cotton is a terrible choice. He comes from Arkansas, but he went to Harvard for both undergrad and law school. Then he served in Iraq and Afghanistan as an Army Ranger and worked in management consulting at McKinsey & Company, before embarking on his long-planned political career. (I wrote about him back in 2015, calling him Sarah Palin with a Harvard degree.)

His one term as a congressman was unremarkable, but he flew into the Senate like a whirlwind and immediately embarrassed the entire Republican caucus by catching them all on their way out of town and getting them to sign an ill-considered letter he wrote to the Iranian government telling them that the nuclear agreement wasn't worth the paper it was written on. As former Bush speechwriter and Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson wrote at the time:

The document was crafted by a senator with two months of experience under his belt. It was signed by some members rushing off the Senate floor to catch airplanes, often with little close analysis. Many of the 47 signatories reasoned that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's endorsement was vetting enough. There was no caucus-wide debate about strategy; no consultation with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who has studiously followed the nuclear talks (and who refused to sign).

This was a foreign policy maneuver, in the middle of a high-stakes negotiation, with all the gravity and deliberation of a blog posting. In timing, tone and substance, it raises questions about the Republican majority's capacity to govern.

Those questions have now been answered. It has no such capacity.

Cotton is clearly an intelligent man, but his instincts are highly Trumpian. It's seems likely that he's among the advisers who pushed the president toward decertification of the Iran deal based on no evidence. As CIA director, he would have no compunction about doing whatever is necessary to "find" evidence to achieve his long-cherished goal of a war with Iran. (It wouldn't be the first time the CIA director declared a "slam dunk" in such a situation.)

According to Molly Ball of The Atlantic, Cotton's Harvard thesis reveals his philosophy:

Cotton insists that the Founders were wise not to put too much faith in democracy, because people are inherently selfish, narrow-minded, and impulsive. He defends the idea that the country must be led by a class of intellectually superior officeholders whose ambition sets them above other men. Though Cotton acknowledges that this might seem elitist, he derides the Federalists' modern critics as mushy-headed and naive.

"Ambition characterizes and distinguishes national officeholders from other kinds of human beings," Cotton wrote. "Inflammatory passion and selfish interest characterizes most men, whereas ambition characterizes men who pursue and hold national office. Such men rise from the people through a process of self-selection since politics is a dirty business that discourages all but the most ambitious."

On the surface, such a belief would seem to be an odd mix with the allegedly populist Donald Trump and his "alt-right" white nationalist allies, but it really isn't. Trump himself is a big believer in eugenics and Steve Bannon is looking for a few good men to lead his army into the big final battle. Tom Cotton may be just the grownup they've been looking for.
(c) 2017Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

It's Time To Nix Neonics
Is this the new silent spring?
By David Suzuki

The Canadian government is banning plastic microbeads in toiletries. Although designed to clean us, they're polluting the environment, putting the health of fish, wildlife and people at risk. Manufacturers and consumers ushered plastic microbeads into the marketplace, but when we learned of their dangers, we moved to phase them out.

Why, then, is it taking so long to phase out the world's most widely used insecticides, neonicotinoids? Scientists have proven they're harming not only the pests they're designed to kill, but also a long list of non-target species, including pollinators we rely on globally for about one-third of food crops.

Neonics are systemic pesticides. Plants absorb and integrate them into all tissues - roots, stems, leaves, flowers, pollen and nectar. First introduced in the 1990s, they now account for one-third of the global pesticide market. Agricultural applications include leaf sprays, and seed and soil treatments. They're also used for trees, turf products, and flea and tick treatments for pets.

We've known about neonics' harmful impacts on pollinators and ecosystems for years, but this summer, two major scientific releases added significantly to the ever-growing body of research proving widespread use of these toxic chemicals must stop.

On September 18, the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides - an international group of independent scientists convened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature - released an update to its 2015 Worldwide Integrated Assessment of the Impact of Systemic Pesticides on Biodiversity and Ecosystems. The 2017 update takes into account more than 500 additional peer-reviewed studies, revealing broader impacts and reinforcing the 2015 conclusions that neonics represent a major worldwide threat to biodiversity, ecosystems and the services nature provides.

On October 6, task force scientist Edward Mitchell and an interdisciplinary team from the University of Neuchâtel and the Botanical Garden in Neuchatel, Switzerland, published a study in Science, which found three-quarters of the honey produced throughout the world contains neonics. Although concentrations were below the maximum authorized for human consumption, they surpassed levels proven to affect bees' behaviour, physiology and reproductive abilities.

Conducted in 2015 and 2016, the study analyzed 198 honey samples from around the world, searching for the five most common neonics: acetamiprid, clothianidin, imidacloprid, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam. Seventy-five per cent contained at least one, with proportions varying considerably by region. The highest levels were in North America (86 per cent), Asia (80 per cent) and Europe (79 per cent), with the lowest in South America (57 per cent).

Thirty per cent of all samples contained a single neonicotinoid, 45 per cent contained between two and five and 10 per cent contained four or five. Regulators don't tend to consider the "cocktail effects" of contamination by multiple neonics. The impacts on bees, humans and other organisms are still undiscovered, but I bet they won't be good.

These new findings restate the need to stop all mass-scale systemic pesticide use. Maintaining the status quo means continuing environmentally unsustainable agricultural practices. After all, the latest science also shows that in many cases, neonics provide little or no real benefit to agricultural production. Instead, they decrease soil quality, hurt biodiversity and contaminate water, air and food. They can't even be relied on to decrease farmers' financial risk or assist significantly with crop yields.

What are governments doing with this information?

In 2013, the European Union imposed a moratorium on certain uses of three neonics on bee-attractive crops: imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam. The EU is now considering extending the moratorium. Meanwhile, the new French biodiversity law aims to ban all neonics starting in September 2018. North American regulators, meanwhile, have failed to recognize the urgent need to prevent neonics from further contaminating the environment.

Health Canada's Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency; has proposed phasing out one neonic, imidacloprid, but not until 2021 at the earliest - possibly as late as 2023. While industry continues to lobby Ottawa to continue using the toxic chemicals, environmental groups are calling for faster phase-out plans and an end to neonic use.

If we care about the quality and security of our food sources - and the species and ecosystems they rely on - the time for neonics is over. Sustainable and affordable agricultural and pest management practices exist. It's time to ban bee-killing pesticides.
(c) 2017 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

Behind Trump, There's Bannon. Behind Bannon, There's The Mercers
And a new lawsuit is rather eye-opening.
By Charles P. Pierce

If you accept, as Joshua Green argues in his splendid Devil's Bargain, and as events subsequent to the election have more than borne out, without Steve Bannon, it is unlikely that we would have a President* Trump to be embarrassed by in front of the entire 21st Century. And what is also clear is that, without Robert and Rebekah Mercer, the reactionary New York gozillionnaires, Bannon would be back on Giedi Prime with the rest of the Harkonnens.

At the moment, Robert Mercer is being sued by his former partner in Renaissance Technologies, a guy named David Magerman, who is not quite as enthusiastic about the Trump presidency* as the Mercers are. Documents are becoming public and, as Vanity Fair reports, some of those documents are well off the boy-howdy scale of revelatory.

In court papers filed on Friday, Magerman argues that following a pair of phone conversations in which Mercer expressed arguably racist opinions, Magerman felt obliged to inform the press about his boss's viewpoints-and that he received verbal assurance by Renaissance C.O.O. Mark Silber that the statements he intended to make were "permissible under company policy." Those racist opinions, according to Magerman, included comments such as: a) The United States began to go in the wrong direction after the passage of the Civl Rights Act in the 1960s; b) African Americans were doing fine in the late-1950s and early-1960s before the Civil Rights Act; c) The Civil Rights Act "infantilized" African Americas by making them dependent on government and removing any incentive to work;d) The only racist people remaining in the United States are black; and e) White people have no racial animus toward African Americans anymore, and if there is any, is it not something that the government should be concerned with.

The best part of the filing, at least to us, was that when Magerman "point[ed] out that society was segregated before the Civil Rights Act and African Americans were required to use separate and inferior schools, water fountains, and other everyday services and items," Mercer allegedly responded that "those issues were not important." In a subsequent phone conversation (the "white supremacist" one), Magerman claimed Mercer initially "disputed that he had said such things, although he did not actually deny saying them" and "in the course of rehashing the conversation . . . repeated many of these same views, and even cited research that allegedly supported his opinion that the Civil Rights Act harmed African Americans economically." (A spokesman for Renaissance declined to comment.)

American politics long has been afflicted with wingnut plutocrats; after all, back in 1958, when he invited 11 men of considerable net worth to Indiana to help him found the John Birch Society, Robert Welch didn't hire out of the Yellow Pages. Fred Koch, father of Charles and David, was one of them. So was Robert Stoddard, the president of the Wyman Gordon Company and owner of my two hometown newspapers. Certainly, the Kochs have held true to the family politics. And the Mercers represent the next generation of that same peculiar conservative fauna. The JBS believed much the same things about civil rights legislation that, according to Magerman, Robert Mercer does.

How you can believe that in 2017 is another question entirely. We should keep an eye on this case, if only as a bulwark against any claims that the election of the 45th president* was not energized primarily by the racist manifestation of an ancient national Id.
(c) 2017 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote...

"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."
~~~ George Orwell

The Secure, The Dispossessed, And The Mentally Deranged Dotards
By David Swanson

In The Secure and the Dispossessed, Nick Buxton and Ben Hayes have collected an unflinching survey of a species gone mad. The book's subtitle is "How the Military and Corporations Are Shaping a Climate-Changed World." In short, the Authoritarian Exceptionalist Military Corporate Complex is flamboyantly recognizing the hole it is in, and exponentially increasing the rate of digging, while hiring PR firms to redefine "digging" as "robust engagement in advanced resilient green initiatives that save us all by further enriching the rich, militarizing the world, and rendering the earth uninhabitable."

The contributors to this book confront the idea that surviving in a further climate changed world is unrelated to surviving in the world we have right now. Avoiding the need to reform the most destructive practices now engaged in, they suggest, is not the surest path to useful future innovations. In fact, it exacerbates future crises. Out-of-control corporate crony capitalism and militarism are problems that must be addressed now and ever more so as the natural environment collapses. War and disaster capitalism are not produced by environmental or economic or refugee crises, quite the reverse. Climate crisis could produce greater social unity and sustainable practices if those are what we choose to respond with.

Corporate and military greenwashing should be powerwashed with facts. Wal-Mart's renewable energy goal is set to be actually reached in about 300 years. The U.S. military's supposed greening consists mostly of token moves toward non-green nuclear energy and bio-fuel "alternatives" dwarfed by such leading threats as a massive new investment in nuclear weaponry. Exxon Mobil now possesses more oil that the human-friendly climate can survive, and Exxon Mobil is focused on finding more. The proxy wars of the previous cold war ravaged social cohesion while killing 20 million, injuring 60 millions, and making 15 million people homeless. Rex Tillerson, one of the supposed "adults" keeping Trump under control, has said that climate crises for agriculture are no problem at all, as people can simply change the locations of the farming of various crops. Scientists do not agree with him. Following the BP oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico, insurance companies have been offering reputational-risk insurance, meaning the provision of public relations services to sell a false but preferable image of a corporation following its creation of a widely known catastrophe.

As climate change creates weather extremes, weather extremes create greater energy use, which creates greater climate change, which opens up previously inaccessible northern fossil fuel supplies, which can be used to create both greater climate change and energy use, as well as military conflicts, which are the biggest energy user there is - militarism creating a level of energy use that guarantees much greater climate change, which a militarized academia is establishing as a "cause" of militarism. I'm fairly certain that our Mentally Deranged Dotard in Chief could not find his way out of these loops with a headlamp and a smartphone even if he wanted to, which would have to follow his admitting they exist.

Part of climate-change denial is results-of-climate-change denial. And that's best accomplished by keeping problems out of sight. Two years ago, UK representatives at the EU suggested that rescuing drowning refugees from the Mediterranean would only encourage more refugees. Rather than refugee aid, the biggest industry to have grown out of the recent crises of mass fleeing from Western-driven-and-armed wars has been border walls, fences, guards, and weapons. People are being kept where they will die. Cameras are being kept where they won't see. This is part of the story of the current genocide in Yemen. Another part is the reluctance to tackle famines or disease epidemics when they've been produced by "successful" drone war and wider war in amicable partnership with a friendly vicious monarchy. And that problem is part of the wider problem of the massive arms-for-oil trade what takes place between the wealthy warmongering permanent members of the UN "Security" Council and the oil-rich dictatorships.

Another part of climate denial, pushed in great part by the same people who engage in climate denial, is the pretense that climate change (now admitted as quite real) can be solved through such insanities as filling the sky with sulfuric acid. Because the Harvard scientists pushing this "geo-engineering" madness have not tried it out on numerous uninhabited planets, most uncorrupted scientists suggest we'd be very wise to not try it out on ourselves, but rather to ban geo-engineering tests right away - and to focus on reducing the ongoing destruction of the climate.

Why do we not hear these pressing arguments everywhere? Here's part of the answer. The Nature Conservancy lists the U.S. military as a "Partner in Conservation." The National Resources Defense Council "partners" with the military. Conservation International helps weapons dealers greenwash, and was exposed by journalists posing as representatives of Lockheed Martin who asked purely for dishonest cover of destructive practices. The Sierra Club dropped out of a coalition effort I was part of when it found out that an organization involved in the coalition opposed drone murders. When I invited representatives of environmental organizations to take part in a conference last month on war and the environment, Greenpeace gave me a completely nonsensical refusal, while reluctantly signed on, then dropped out, then agreed to come, then called in sick.
(c) 2017 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

White Supremacists Flustered By Viking Discovery
By Juan Cole

The archaeological identification of stylized Arabic text for God (Allah) and Ali (the prophet Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law) in burial garments of the Vikings in Sweden has thrown white supremacists into a tizzy. While the garments could just be the result of trade with the Middle East, it can't be ruled out that there were some converts to Islam. This possibility drove the Neo-Nazis, Klansmen, the Breitbart staff, and other losers bonkers, since Vikings for them are the ur-Whites.

There was a similar controversy over Kenneth Branagh's 2011 movie "Thor" from Marvel Studios, inasmuch as it cast Idris Elba as a Black guardian of the Bifrost bridge between earth and Asgard. As usual, the white nationalists were just being brain dead. First of all, they might have noticed that this version of Norse mythology is the brainchild of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, two Jewish American giants of story-telling.

The biggest problem with white supremacy is how hateful it is. But its second biggest problem is how stupid it is. That is not to say that intelligent people cannot be members (Steve Bannon, e.g.). It is that they are captive of moronic premises. If you buy a stupid premise (global heating is not caused by humans, e.g.), then all your further statements will be false because they are built on a rotten foundation.

So genetic testing of those buried in Viking grave sites have turned up a some with Iranian origins, and Iran may be the origin of a significant number of Vikings.

And, Vikings ruled a maritime empire during the medieval warming period when Scandinavia could support a fair population, roughly 800-1200 CE (AD). For instance, Vikings briefly conquered Sicily in 860. But during the whole period 827-902 the island was gradually coming under Arab Muslim rule from North Africa. Their troops were Arab, Berber and Black African. If you don't think Vikings mingled with people of color in Sicily before returning north, including having some children by local women, you don't know much about medieval society. And that some of them converted to Islam is entirely plausible. In fact the 827 invasion was provoked by a Byzantine official who felt badly used and so converted to Islam and became an agent of the Aghlabid emirs of North Africa. A Viking woman buried with a Muslim ring has been found by archeologists. Vikings also traded with the Abbasid Empire and raided Muslim Spain (al-Andalus). Vikings were not racists, and wouldn't have know what a race is. As for their "tribes," tribes in medieval society were like our political parties. People joined successful ones and suddenly found an ancestor in common with the clan they joined.

The populations of empires are always mongrels, and the Vikings were just not all of one ethnic origin or religious belief.

Moreover, Norse mythology is just a version of Indo-European mythology which is shared by Iran and India. In ancient Iran, as well, there was a bridge to the next word, called Chinwat, similar to the Norse Bifrost. Thor is clearly the same as the Vedic Indra and the Midgaard Serpent is Vritra. In ancient Iran, Thor was Faridun who fought the serpentine Zohak. That is, the closest you can get to Norse mythology today is Indian religion. Yes, supremacists, there are brown Aryans.

Worst of all for the supremacists, there are no races as popularly conceived. Our outward appearance is dictated by only 2% of our genes, and no, has nothing to do with intelligence or character attributes. Irish and Chinese are genetically almost identical despite representing the easternmost and westernmost extent of homo sapiens sapiens. Skin color is an adaptation to UV rays. When a woman is pregnant, she needs enough UV rays from the sun to produce vitamin D in the embryo, but not so much that they will cause genetic damage. So in very sunny places like the Congo, nature selects for black skin. In Sweden, nature over time (13,000 years) selects for white skin. The people in Sweden came from places to the south and began by being dark.

So give us a break. Vikings were all kinds of people. And so are genuine Americans.

A related video

(c) 2017 Juan R.I. Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia and has given numerous media interviews on the war on terrorism and the Iraq War. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years and continues to travel widely there. He speaks Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.

The Dead Letter Office...

Bill gives the corporate salute

Heil Trump,

Dear Uberfuhrer Cassidy,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your constant attempts to destroy Obama Care and replace it with Rethuglican death panels, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Republican whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 11-25-2017. We salute you Herr Cassidy, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

Is Trump Unraveling?
By Robert Reich

Last week, Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, charged in an interview with the New York Times that Trump was treating his office like "a reality show," with reckless threats toward other countries that could set the nation "on the path to World War III."

Corker said he was concerned about Trump. "He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation," Corker said, adding that "the vast majority of our caucus understands what we're dealing with here - the volatility that we're dealing with and the tremendous amount of work that it takes by people around him to keep him in the middle of the road."

Corker's interview was followed by a report from Gabriel Sherman of Vanity Fair, who wrote that the situation has gotten so out of control that Trump's chief of staff, John Kelly, and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis have discussed ways to stop Trump should he order a nuclear attack. Kelly has tried to keep Trump focused by intercepting outside phone calls to the White House and restricting access to the Oval Office. Many of Trump's advisors believe he is "unstable" and "unravelling" quickly.

Is Trump really unraveling? Are Republican leaders ready to pull the plug? I phoned an old friend, a Republican former member of Congress who keeps up with what's going on. I scribbled notes as he talked:

Me: So what's up? Is Corker alone, or are others also ready to call it quits with Trump?

He: All I know is they're simmering over there.

Me: Flake and McCain have come pretty close.

He: Yeah. Others are thinking about doing what Bob did. Sounding the alarm. They think Trump's nuts. Unfit. Dangerous.

Me: Well, they already knew that, didn't they?

He: But now it's personal. It started with the Sessions stuff. Jeff was as loyal as they come. Trump's crapping on him was like kicking your puppy. And then, you know, him beating up on Mitch for the Obamacare fiasco. And going after Flake and the others.

Me: So they're pissed off?

He: Not just that. I mean, they have thick hides. The personal stuff got them to notice all the other things. The wild stuff, like those threats to North Korea. Tillerson would leave tomorrow if he wasn't so worried Trump would go nuclear, literally.

Me: You think Trump is really thinking nuclear war?

He: Who knows what's in his head? But I can tell you this. He's not listening to anyone. Not a soul. He's got the nuclear codes and, well, it scares the hell out of me. It's starting to scare all of them. That's really why Bob spoke up.

Me: So what could they do? I mean, even if the whole Republican leadership was willing to say publicly he's unfit to serve, what then?

He: Bingo! The emperor has no clothes. It's a signal to everyone they can bail. Have to bail to save their skins. I mean, Trump could be the end of the whole goddam Republican party.

Me: If he starts a nuclear war, that could be the end of everything.

He: Yeah, right. So when they start bailing on him, the stage is set.

Me: For what?

He: Impeachment. 25th amendment.

Me: You think Republicans would go that far?

He: Not yet. Here's the thing. They really want to get this tax bill through. That's all they have going for them. They don't want to face voters in '18 or '20 without something to show for it. They're just praying Trump doesn't do something really, really stupid before the tax bill.

Me: Like a nuclear war?

He: Look, all I can tell you is many of the people I talk with are getting freaked out. It's not as if there's any careful strategizing going on. Not like, well, do we balance the tax bill against nuclear war? No, no. They're worried as hell. They're also worried about Trump crazies, all the ignoramuses he's stirred up. I mean, Roy Moore? How many more of them do you need to destroy the party?

Me: So what's gonna happen?

He: You got me. I'm just glad I'm not there anymore. Trump's not just a moron. He's a despicable human being. And he's getting crazier. Paranoid. Unhinged. Everyone knows it. I mean, we're in shit up to our eyeballs with this guy.
(c) 2017 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His website is

The Oceti Sakowin camp, near the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota, in November 2016.

Only Nonviolent Resistance Will Destroy The Corporate State
By Chris Hedges

The encampments by Native Americans at Standing Rock, N.D., from April 2016 to February 2017 to block construction of the Dakota Access pipeline provided the template for future resistance movements. The action was nonviolent. It was sustained. It was highly organized. It was grounded in spiritual, intellectual and communal traditions. And it lit the conscience of the nation.

Native American communities-more than 200 were represented at the Standing Rock encampments, which at times contained up to 10,000 people-called themselves "water protectors." Day after day, week after week, month after month, the demonstrators endured assaults carried out with armored personnel carriers, rubber bullets, stun guns, tear gas, cannons that shot water laced with chemicals, and sound cannons that can cause permanent hearing loss. Drones hovered overhead. Attack dogs were unleashed on the crowds. Hundreds were arrested, roughed up and held in dank, overcrowded cells. Many were charged with felonies. The press, or at least the press that attempted to report honestly, was harassed and censored, and often reporters were detained or arrested. And mixed in with the water protectors was a small army of infiltrators, spies and agents provocateurs, who often initiated vandalism and rock throwing at law enforcement and singled out anti-pipeline leaders for arrest.

The Democratic administration of Barack Obama did not oppose the pipeline until after the election of Donald Trump, who approved the project in January 2017 soon after he became president. The water protectors failed in their ultimate aim to stop the construction, but if one looks at their stand as a single battle in a long war, Standing Rock was vitally important because it showed us how to resist.

In November of last year I spoke with Kandi Mossett, one of the water protector leaders, when I visited the North Dakota encampments. We were standing over one of the sacred fires.

"He starts throwing rocks at police," she said of an infiltrator who shadowed her and pointed her out to law enforcement for arrest. "When he throws rocks I see a few other people throw water bottles. One of our women says, 'Stop throwing shit!' So people stop. But there's instigators and infiltrators. We've had, here at this fire, two women who were called bikers because of the way they were dressed. When they lifted up their hands with everybody, people saw they had wires on. [Water protector] security went to them. They said, 'We see that you're miked.' They took off running. Went over the fence. And a car came zooming, picked them up, and they took off. It's not easy to keep [infiltrators] out. They can roll under the fence. They can come from under the security gates. We know they're here."

The corporate state, no longer able to peddle a credible ideology, is becoming more overtly totalitarian. It will increasingly silence dissidents out of fear that the truth they speak will spark a contagion. It will, as in China's system of totalitarian capitalism, use the tools of censorship, blacklisting, infiltration, blackmailing, bribery, public defamation, prison sentences on trumped-up charges and violence. The more discredited the state becomes, the more it will communicate in the language of force.

"This world is heading towards economic systems that continue to eat up life itself, even the heart of workers, and it's not sustainable," Native American and environmental leader Tom B.K. Goldtooth told me when we spoke at one of the camps last year. "We're at that point where Mother Earth is crying out for a revolution. Mother Earth is crying out for a new direction."

"As far as a new regime, we'll need something based on earth jurisprudence," he said. "A new system away from property rights, away from privatization, away from financialization of nature, away from control over our ... DNA, away from control over seeds, away from corporations. It's a common law with local sovereignty. That's why it's important we have a system that recognizes the rights of a healthy and clean water system, ecosystem. Mother Earth has rights. We need a system that will recognize that. Mother Earth is not an object. We have an economic system that treats Mother Earth as if she's a liquidation issue. We have to change that. That's not sustainable."

"If the pipeline is built, is that a defeat?" I asked him. He replied wryly, "That oil is going to run dry a lot sooner than they think. Maybe that corporation is going to go bankrupt. Who knows?"

"I talk about the need for young people to have patience, to put the prayer first, rather than just jumping out there and putting their energy into action," he said. Angry reaction is "what the corporations want. That's what the government wants. They want us to react. They want us to feel that anger. When the anger escalates, our feelings, frustrations, it goes back to that rage. The rage of the machines. It's also unhappy. It feeds off the unhappiness of people."

George Lakey, the Eugene M. Lang Visiting Professor for Issues in Social Change emeritus at Swarthmore College and a sociologist who focuses on nonviolent social change, talked about Sweden and Norway's response in the 1920 and '30s to the rise of fascism and compared it with the response in Italy and Germany. We live in a historical moment similar to when fascism was ascendant between the two world wars, he argues. Lakey was a trainer during the civil rights movement for Mississippi Freedom Summer and co-authored "A Manual for Direct Action: Strategy and Tactics for Civil Rights and All Other Nonviolent Protest Movements," one of the seminal texts of the civil rights movement.

"Fascism was a definite threat," he said of the situation faced by Sweden and Norway. "And they were also experiencing [economic] depression. Norway's degree of depression was even worse than Germany's. It was the worst in Europe. The highest unemployment in Europe. People were literally starving. The pressure, the pro-fascist setup that the depression brings, was very present both in Sweden and in Norway. What the Nazis did there-what they did in Germany and what the fascists did in Italy-was provocation, provocation, provocation. 'Bait the left. The left will come. And we'll have street fighting.' "

Street violence, he said in echoing Native American elders, always "strengthens the state."

"It puts more pressure on the state-which is presided over by the 1 percent-to step in more and more forcefully, with the middle class saying, 'We care about order. We don't want chaos,' " he said. "That's what happened in Germany. It was a strengthening of the state. This happened in Italy as well. That's what the game plan was for fascists in Norway and Sweden. It didn't work. It didn't work because the left didn't play their game. They didn't allow themselves to be baited into paying attention to them, doing street fighting."

"Instead, [what was done] in the civil rights movement we would have called 'they kept their eyes on the prize,' " Lakey said. "They knew the prize was to push away the economic elite, get rid of its dominance, so they can set up a new economic system, which is now called the Nordic model. What they did was: massive strikes, massive boycotts, massive demonstrations. Not only in the urban areas, which is what you expect, but also in the rural areas. During the Depression [in Sweden and Norway], there were lots of farmers who had their farms foreclosed on. Farmers are perennially in debt and had no way of repaying that debt. When the sheriff came, farmers in that county would come to join them and collectively not cooperate-not violently, but very strongly-in such a way that the sheriff couldn't carry out the auction."

"Remember who is actually running things, and we keep our focus on them both politically and economically," Lakey said.

"The group I'm involved with [Earth Quaker Action Team] loves to go after corporations," he said. "We went after a bank [PNC], the seventh largest bank in the country but it was the No. 1 financier of mountaintop-removal coal mining in Appalachia. We forced that bank out of [the] business of financing mountaintop coal mining. Nonviolently. Disrupting. Disrupting. We were in bank branches all over the place. We shut down two shareholder meetings. We led a boycott in which people took out money from that bank and were putting it in their local credit unions. So there's more than one way to go after the 1 percent."

"These days, a very smart way to do that is to focus on the economic entities that are owned by the 1 percent, who are basically responsible for the oppression that we experience," he said.

Resistance, he stressed, will come from outside the formal political system. It will not be embraced by either of the two main political parties or the establishment, which is now under corporate control.

"The Democratic Party is out to lunch," he said. "The Republican Party is actively grinding us. But even so we can make tremendous strides and start building that mass movement, which in Norway and Sweden was able to push the economic elites away. So that's an indication of the way to build a movement-which is not to take them on the way antifa suggests. Instead, in the way the civil rights movement did. It worked. I was there. The Ku Klux Klan was much stronger then than it is now. In the Deep South, the Ku Klux Klan virtually ran the [region]."

Resistance, he said, means movements have to keep "pushing, pushing, pushing. Campaign after campaign after campaign." It must always stay "on the offensive. That's the secret."

"As soon as they lost that sense of going on the offensive, choosing campaign after campaign and winning those campaigns, that was when they lost their momentum," he said of the civil rights movement. "The important thing about what happened in Norway and Sweden was they kept their momentum. The campaigns continued to grow in number and in power until the economic elite was out."

"I was very influenced by Bayard Rustin, who was the chief strategist for Dr. [Martin Luther] King," he said. "I heard Bayard say over and over and over, 'If we don't get this economic justice thing done, in 50 years we're still going to have rampant racism.' He was right. But Dr. King and the other leaders who understood that were not able to get a sufficient number of people to make it. Now, the '63 march was for jobs and justice. So they were able to do it to some degree. They kept moving in that direction, involving white trade unions in that process. But in the situation of general prosperity, there were many people who were content with our economic system."

Economic decline, deindustrialization, austerity, debt peonage, decay and collapse of social services and infrastructure and the impoverishment of the working class, Lakey said, have changed the configuration. The working class, in short, can no longer be bought off.

"We're in a very different situation," he said. "We're still in austerity. There's not the degree of [contentment] that there once was. Trump has obviously capitalized on that fact. There's discontent. I think what Dr. King and Bayard and others wanted to happen in the '60s is now realizable."

"The impact of ignoring climate change is going to be more and more disastrous," he added. "We're just through it now with [a devastating hurricane in] Houston. We're going to see more and more money drained off by that [kind of natural disaster]. Again, the 1 percent won't want to pay their fair share. What that leaves us is a population that is more and more discontent. We see that polarization going on. Polarization always goes along with increased inequality. We can expect more polarization. That's a part of the temptation of antifa: 'I'm more and more upset.' "

"When dealing with mountaintop-removal coal mining, we went from an organization [Earth Quaker Action Team] that started in a living room to 13 states," he said. "We were steadfastly nonviolent. And we were targeting something people understood. 'Wow, you're going after the bank that's financing this? I want to join that.' Even though there were some people who were like, 'We'd like a little more politeness, please.' They didn't get it because what we were about was making the bank's life so difficult that they would choose instead to get out of the business [of mountaintop mining]."

Lakey cautioned against diverting energy to attacking neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups. That, he said, is a gift to the state.

"There's really no need for us to shift our attention from going after the 1 percent to go after, often, working-class guys on the extreme right," he said. "For one thing, we look at their real, genuine grievances and address them. For example, how many people on the right are from working-class families who have family members who are not being served by our health care system? Many people on the far right are from a demographic that is actually losing life expectancy for the first time in U.S. history. The health care system in the U.S is a mess. Obamacare is better than previous, but it's a mess. So what we can do is address the genuine grievances instead of writing people off as if obsession with racism is all that's going on. Fascism grows when the economy declines. So let's address the real thing instead of the symptom."

While refusing to be baited into violent confrontations with the radical right, we must also be vigorous in using militant, nonviolent tactics to block hate speech. Article 4 of the International Covenant on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, adopted by the United Nations in 1965, stipulates that "all propaganda and all organizations" based on ideas or theories of racial or ethnic superiority should be illegal. It urges states to take positive steps to eliminate them.

Dr. Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese of Popular Resistance dealt with the issue of hate speech recently when a Baltimore chapter of the League of Women Voters held a series of panel discussions on immigration. The chapter invited speakers from anti-immigrant white supremacist groups listed as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Despite public outcry, the league refused to withdraw the invitations. At the initial event the speaker was prevented from completing his presentation by anti-racist activists and members of the local chapter of the Green Party.

"Organizations and institutions do not have a requirement to include those who espouse hate," Flowers and Zeese wrote of the event. "They are not required to give a platform to or legitimize white supremacist views. In fact, one could argue that it is anti-social to do so."

"We would do better as a society to debate the best ways to eliminate white supremacy," they added.

Lakey's prescription: "Consistently occupy the moral high ground, and that attracts support." "It defangs those who want to do us in," he said. "It's not like the 1 percent was fond of the civil rights movement. They had to be dragged kicking and screaming into making concessions. J. Edgar Hoover was even quoted as saying, 'He's [King] the most dangerous man in America.' "

And, Lakey said, "there's a psychological reward. Going for what you want, instead of opposing what you don't want, is itself fulfilling. It was civil rights. It was called the Freedom Movement. It's also called a black liberation movement. It was all about positivity."

To see Chris Hedges interview professor George Lakey, click here.
(c) 2017 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Scott Stantis ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

After Latest Mass Shooting, More Choreographed Twitching
More thoughts and prayers, but that's about it, after yet another mass shooting.
By Will Durst

Sadly fascinating to endure another predictable dance performed on the national stage by our elected politicians in response to the recent horrendous concert mass shooting in Las Vegas. Well, not a dance, really, more like the choreographed twitching of an unruly mob. Both parties retired to their respective corners while spasmodically jerking and mumbling hushed gobbledygook that even first graders could recite verbatim in a show and tell version of Hypocritical Cliches.

As surprising as milk-soaked hay after a missile strike on a dairy farm, Republicans slowly shook their heads somberly intoning that in the wake of such a tragic tragedy, this is neither the time nor the place to discuss gun control. Out of respect for the dead and injured we should wait for them to heal or die. And our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

Meanwhile, the Democrats pointed out that the only right time and right place to talk about gun control is right here and right now because these appalling incidents happen with such frequency we're stuck in a constant state of perpetual bereavement. Experiencing a remarkable lack of intermissions.

The mythical waiting period after each mass shooting is nothing but a ploy to insure nothing gets done, obviously the GOP's intent all along. (And quite possibly, a secret agenda of the Dems as well.) And our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

The difference being, this time, both sides may actually reach a compromise on the regulation of something called the "bump stock," a device that can turn a semi-automatic weapon, more automatic. Battlefield automatic. Video-game automatic.

But considering they didn't do anything after the slaughter of 6-year-olds at Sandy Hook Elementary, the chances of our esteemed representatives accomplishing real change is similar to that of our president admitting he made a mistake. About anything.

The NRA chimed in to say they were not dead set against this new restriction, which seems to indicate the accessory in question is a novelty item and not very widespread or effective. Like banning the use of flasks in the hollow shafts of putters on the PGA Tour. Telling bakeries to give up the habanero sprinkles. Forcing baseball players to use round laces instead of flat ones on their cleats.

The Gun Owners of America maintains its opposition to any regulation, at all. Ever. These guys make the NRA look like a radical wing of the ACLU. You know that new phenomena of conservative politicians getting primaried from the right, well, that's what the GOA threatens to do to the NRA. "You want extreme, we've got your vastly more extremer right here."

In the wake of Stephen Paddock's rain of terror, a GOA spokesman said "America will never truly be safe until all the gun-free zones are eliminated." You know, like schools and churches and hospitals. Because that's everyone wants; pre-teens playing cops and robbers with real guns.

Their point is gun violence can be stopped by more guns. This is the kind of logic that makes ordinary people chew their fingers off to the third knuckle. So, the best way to deal with floods is more water? To combat concussions - more hammers to the head. Got yourself a rat problem? What you need to do is meet more members of Congress.
(c) 2017 Will Durst is an award- winning, nationally acclaimed columnist, comedian and former roasted corn salesman at the Wisconsin State Fair. For a calendar of personal appearances including his new one - man show "Durst Case Scenario" appearing every Tuesday at the San Francisco Marsh starting July 11, please visit

The Gross National Debt

Iraq Deaths Estimator

The Animal Rescue Site

Issues & Alibis Vol 17 # 42 (c) 10/20/2017

Issues & Alibis is published in America every Friday. We are not affiliated with, nor do we accept funds from any political party. We are a non-profit group that is dedicated to the restoration of the American Republic. All views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily the views of Issues & Alibis.Org.

In regards to copying anything from this site remember that everything here is copyrighted. Issues & Alibis has been given permission to publish everything on this site. When this isn't possible we rely on the "Fair Use" copyright law provisions. If you copy anything from this site to reprint make sure that you do too. We ask that you get our permission to reprint anything from this site and that you provide a link back to us. Here is the "Fair Use" provision.

"Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

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