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In This Edition

Matt Taibbi sees, "Three Colliding Problems Leading To A New Economic Disaster."

Henry A. Giroux examines, "The Fascist Threat Our Political Establishment Won't Acknowledge."

Glen Ford explains, "The Great Un-Blackening."

Pepe Escobar returns with, "Leaders Of Asia And Europe Sit Down For Talks, Not Sanctions."

Jim Hightower talks, "Front Porch Politics."

John Nichols concludes, "President Body Slam Needs To Be Checked And Balanced."

James Donahue explores, "Slaves To The Zeigarnik Effect."

William Rivers Pitt examines, "The Terrible Trump Portrait That Explains Everything."

Heather Digby Parton gives, "A Useful Primer On The Caravan."

David Suzuki asks, "Will The World Act On Climate Change Before It's Too Late?"

Charles P. Pierce says, "Trump's New Attack on Transgender People Is Another Sign It's About the Cruelty Itself."

David Swanson questions, "Nobody To Vote For."

Jane Stillwater needs, "Money Money Money."

Tennesse state Senator Mark Green wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich has a, "Message To Millennials."

Chris Hedges finds, "The Rule Of The Uber-Rich Means Either Tyranny Or Revolution."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Trump Dispatches Sarah Huckabee Sanders To Saudi Arabia To Provide Lying Advice" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "It's Our 1000th Edition!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Gary Varvel, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, Political Strikes, Rex Babin, Marcio Jose Sanchez, Alexey Vitvitsky, Justin Lane, Evan Vucci, Witch Kiki, Al Drago, Jared Rodriguez, Carolyn Kaster, Mark Makela, Ethan Miller, Unsplash, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

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

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

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It's Our 1000th Edition!
By Ernest Stewart

"Welcome to volume 1 # 1 of our new ezine "Issues & Alibis." Our goal is to present to you on a bi-monthly basis America's best writers and political cartoonists, so that you can cut through the political bullshit and past the spin-doctors to the heart and the truth of the matter.

"On the 1st and 15th of every month no smoke and mirrors will stop us from bringing you your political reality no matter how horrible it actually is. You can always deal with the truth no matter how bad it is but you must know what it is. This is not an ezine for the weak of heart or for those who would rather have a sugar coating on the truth. We're going to tell it like it is and let the chips fall where they may! We hope you are ready for "Issues & Alibis." ~~~ An Introduction

"Global warming is the foreboding thunder in the distance. Ocean acidification is the lightning strike in our front yard, right here, right now." ~~~ David Horsey

"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." ~~~ George W. Bush

"When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed." ~~~ Maya Angelou

How time flies when you're having fun, huh? You may recall that Al Gore won the 2000 election by the popular vote, trouble is with little brother Jeb instigating sedition Al would have won the electoral college as well if not for the actions of Jeb. When the Florida votes were actually counted, some months later Al won again but thanks to the Extreme Court's act of treason and sedition by stopping the vote, they gave the election to Smirky, oh, and didn't that just work out fine?

As you may know I dropped out of school decades ago because I couldn't face teaching poli-sci as there is nothing more depressing to me. I became a DJ, i.e., "Uncle Ernie" where instead of bring people down, I made them happy playing music. However, after 30 years of that, I wanted a new career, i.e., writing, something that I did for several newspaper chains while I was going to school.

I had finished one book, "Uncle Ernie's Hollywood Daze" and had started several more when the judicial coup d'etat went down on 12-12-2000 and I knew exactly what that meant, and whether it was my cub scout training, or my U.S. Army training, something just snapped and I knew I had to put my life on hold, in order to see what I could do to stop this seditious, treason. I knew very little about how to start an on-line magazine but my dear old friend Terry Coppage, you may remember him as "Bartcop" had the answers and was happy to share them with me. I based Issues and Alibis on "Look" and "Life" magazines from the 60s, a simple, clear. easy to read format of words and photos in four colors, i.e., Red, White, Blue and Black. So, by the time I got it together and started rounding up writers and artists it was mid-January, so it was planned that about a week after Smirky took office we'd begin the magazine and therefore on February 1st 2001 the magazine was born!

At first it was just bi-monthly as I needed the time to get enough connections to do it on a weekly basis but after 6 weeks I had the connections and we went weekly and have been so ever since! You might say that this is our 1001 edition as we put out two the week of 9-11-2001, but that one wasn't a full edition, it was only what had gone down on that terrible day, an hour by hour update, ergo I don't count it as a full edition.

I did skip two editions. One when I took a week off to act in, and produce the film "W The Movie" and six years later when I took the first vacation I had taken in about 20 years. That's right, there is no rest for the wicked!

Where we go from here is totally up to you!!!

In Other News

Another monster hurricane is making landfall on Mexicos west coast. "Hurricane Willa is considered extremely dangerous. The Hurricane's eye is continuing to move northward and is currently about 110 miles off the southwestern coast of Mexico," said the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) in a 5 p.m. ET update on Oct. 22.

The storm has 155 mph winds after slightly weakening from a Category 5 storm with 160 mph winds. Hurricane Michael had 155 mph winds when it slammed the Florida Panhandle earlier this month, killing at least three dozen people. Willa had for a time Category 6 winds, yes, I know there is no Category 6 but what do you call it when the winds are above the Category 5 limits? I, and most climate scientists call it a 6 but there is still no official change! Meanwhile out in the Pacific Typhoon YuTu is packing winds of 220 mph making it what? A category 7 or 8? YuTu is right on top of the U.S. territories of Saipan and Tinian. We can kiss those people goodbye as tRump won't help the people of Florida or Texas so goodbye Saipan and Tinian!

According to the NHC, Willa is expected to produce life-threatening conditions, including heavy winds, rain, and storm surge along west-central and southwestern Mexico.

The storm hit land during midday on Tuesday. Then, the storm's remnants are forecast to pass over northern and eastern Mexico before hitting southern Texas and adding to the disaster of the last few weeks of rain that has most of western Texas at flood stage already. While Willa won't be a hurricane when it hits Texas it will still be a major rain storm, just what they don't need. A couple years ago Texas was in a major drought, a drought that still haunts most of the west, but now they get way to much rain. Speaking of too much rain, Willa will cruise over central Texas before heading east over the southern states pausing to gather some more water before heading north through the Carolins and up the coast turning into a nor-easterner through the upper Atlantic states. That's the way global warming works, either too little or too much, seldom a happy medium! And since tRump hasn't figured out a way to make a buck off of global warming, nothing will be done in Washington to stop it. It will just get, worse, and worse, and worse!

And Finally

Here's my first editorial for Issues & Alibis magazine from the 02-01-2001 edition

Some people have said that with the ascendancy of the Bushit regime, democracy in this country is dead. I beg to differ with those folks. If one has taken the time to study the situation, one comes to the conclusion that there was never democracy in the United States. There was a sort of Republic that lasted twelve years until the Thomas Jefferson/John Adams debacle of 1800. Since then, on at least four occasions, the powers that be have stepped in to throw an election. I refer, of course, to John Quincy Adams/Andrew Jackson of 1824, Rutherford B. Hayes/Samuel J. Tilden of 1876. Benjamin Harrison/Grover Cleveland of 1888, and, of course, our own George W. Bush/Al Gore of 2000. So, as you can see, election year treason is as old an American tradition as mom's good ole apple pie. This is not to say, of course, that other or all presidential elections aren't equally as treasonous; but they were at least able to hide the treason a little better than in these examples.

A quick glance at the founding fathers tells you all you need to know about the chances of actually forming a democracy. They were, to a man, the richest men in their area or were sent to the new Congress by the richest men in their areas. They were all white with the majority being slave owners or in sympathy of the slave owners. All were tired of bowing to a king and thought that those who were rich by their own deeds or perhaps their fathers deeds were the very ones to rule and exploit this new land. The Electoral College is a good example of this, and has been used in all the above examples to throw an election. In every case, it was the candidate of the very rich who, though losing the election, became the next president; funny how that works, eh? Of course, selling that to the sheep back at home wasn't always easy and so the spin-doctors were born. They'd say things like, "Well, you know, the average person isn't up to date on the election; and so, we'll help him out by disenfranchising him, er... helping him make the right choice. I mean, we have lands, freshly stolen from the natives; and, therefore, we are somehow better equiped and see the big picture." The big picture, of course, was them going to the bank to make a deposit every day!

Then, of course, we have the Senate and the Congress, neither of which is fair or equitable. Neither represents one man, one vote. The people in Rhode Island have the same say in the Senate as the folks in California, although there are more people in one average California town than in the entire state of Rhode Island. There are more folks in Los Angeles than in a half a dozen states combined. Yet, they all have two Senators. So much for one man one vote. And one man one vote is the very first principle of a Democracy. Majority rules; and whether or not this is a good thing really doesn't enter into it; you cannot have a democracy without it. Again, the Congress is limited by numbers so that no matter how large the country grows, only the few will have representation. Consider it was only in the last century that everybody got the vote -- with the Native Americans being the last to get the franchise in 1924. The native factor never came up at the Continental Congress, even though they outnumbered the white folk who were busily orchestrating a campaign of genocide against them. Although black men got the vote at the end of the second revolution, they really could only use it during reconstruction in the South; and as soon as Rutherford B stole the election, their voting days were over until the late 1960's. Black women, like white women, and Indians of every persuasion, had to wait until the 1920's for their franchise.

So, to those who say the treason of the Bushit family has ended democracy, I say guess again. How can you lose something that you never had? Others say that with the House as close as it is, and the 50/50 split in the Senate, though, try as he might the Emperor, won't be able to do very much damage -- just a couple of thoughts on that. Instead of worrying about what Smirky might do, we should be dragging that son-of-a bitch out of the 'Peoples House' to a quick trial, followed by a slow execution; and then, hang that traitorous bastard up high for the entire world to see. Instead, he'll no doubt spend the next four years, at least, being your Dictator and playing petty tyrant to the world. If you think the Democrats or Independents are going to stand up to him, I submit they already have their pants down around their ankles begging him not to stick it in too far. Remember the congressional black delegation that begged for just one Senator to stand up and be counted with them, in order to have a debate on the Florida election fraud during the Electoral College vote count? Remember how many Senators stood up for the people? The correct answer, of course, is zero. Don't count on your elected representatives doing anything about it except lining their own pockets and giving you double speak. So, I wonder, what will you do about it, Mr. and Mrs. America?
I wrote two editorials that week...

Darth Nader And The Green Party
Once upon a time, in a mythical country called America, there lived a knight in a rumpled suit. This knight, who could've been safe and rich like others of his calling, seemed to go out of his way to take on the largest dragons in the land. Not only did this not pay very well, but it was also very dangerous. The people loved this knight in rusty armor; but the king and his court were determined to make life miserable for the questing knight. To inform the people, the knight wrote a book that told them how the King and his corporate pals deliberately separated the people from there lives by making and selling shoddy chariots. Chariots that couldn't stop or with wheels that fell off at high speeds, or by their very designs were hazardous to the people's health. These corporate dragons knew well that their chariots were no good; and they knew how to make them safe; but wouldn't do it because it'd cost them money. This rumpled knight in rusty armor showed these corporate dragons to the people for the villains they were; and there was a great disturbance in the land. The success of his deeds brought others of his calling to his side; and together they took on even more of these corporate dragons. The people were very happy, indeed. But, alas, this got old to the knight, this not being able to control those dragons from the back of his horse and this wearing that same old suit of armor year after year after year. And the knight got old. One evening, this knight was approached by some political wizards from far-off lands who whispered in his ear that he could be the king and call the shots. They whispered many things until he began to believe their magic. He could have all of the power that he lacked if only he would become one of them. They didn't tell the old crusading knight that he'd also have to join the dragons and would become just like them. So, he did as they asked, and lost his soul and became Darth Nader!

A simple fairy tale? Don't you only wish it were? No, the Greens had come to this mythical land just in time to hand the country over to the worst possible creature. For people who espouse love of nature, their fellow man and social justice, they couldn't have come at a worse time. The college students who saw only the charisma and the ecological types who voted Green failed to remember the #1 rule of politics: You may not know who to vote for, but you always know who to vote against. Perhaps the college kids didn't know this as the Greens certainly didn't bother to explain the ramifications of electing Bushit. However, an old crusader like Ralph surely knew. Yet, when he had made his point, a point with which I can agree, he didn't then admit that; since he couldn't win, or even get 5% of the vote, he wanted all of his supporters to vote for Gore. Don't get me wrong. I'm not a Democrat. I find they are as far from being the right political party as any other; however, they were the lesser of two evils. When it's Bushit as the other choice, the Democrats were, without a doubt, the only choice! Ralph, of course, knew this; and because he sucked just enough votes out of the liberals to elect Smirky, I have a bone to pick with him.

What the Greens have forgotten is that they are perceived as some kind of Communist Party out of Eastern Europe at the worst and Euro-trash at the best. The politics that work in the Old World won't cut it in America. The French, for example, are concerned about Iraqi babies dying. They blame it on U.N. sanctions in general, and the United States in particular. In reality, Iraqi babies are dying because Saddam won't spend the oil money to feed them or buy them medicine. He is busy rebuilding his palaces and tank brigades with the billions in oil dollars. The Greens pick up this chant and lay it on America, saying essentially, mom and dad, you're killing babies. Then they wonder why their party is going nowhere politically. I'm sure Smirky knows he owes his dictatorship not only to the treason of his brother and the Republican Party, but also to Ralph. Without Ralph, he could've never claimed a victory. Ralph provided the smoke and mirrors that George needed. Whether or not Ralph was paid to do so remains to be seen.

The Green Party says it stands for almost everything I think is important and believe in; but, by their own estimates, it'll take a lifetime or two just to be thought of as a regular party. The Greens say they are a local party without any real foreign connections; but they seem a lot more interested in what's going on around the world than around the corner. They say the various Green Parties throughout the world aren't connected; but all seem to rise as one for this or that perceived threat. This reporter is still convinced that somewhere a committee is pulling the strings of all the Green Parties throughout the world -- a little like one party, one world, Brother Earth! Maybe they'll turn the planet into a Star Trek world where no one wants, and there's plenty for all. I hope they can do that. However, I trust a politician about as far as I can comfortably spit out a rat. I suppose the Greens are no better or worse than other political parties; but that isn't saying a lot.
(c) 2001 Ernest Stewart

Keepin' On

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

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

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


01-10-1924 ~ 10-21-2018
Thanks for the inventions!

11-28-1923 ~ 10-23-2018
Thanks for the film!


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

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

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


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

Until the next time, Peace!

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

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, New York, USA, 12 October 2018.

Three Colliding Problems Leading To A New Economic Disaster
Last week's stock sell-off was merely the beginning of what's to come
By Matt Taibbi

The soaring stock market has been the crux of Donald Trump's argument for the competence of his reign. It might be his favorite tweet subject, outside the "Failing New York Times."

Trump on August 18th: "Longest bull run in the history of the stock market, congratulations America!" August 24th: "Our economy is setting records on every front." September 11th: "Where are the Democrats coming from? The best economy in the history of the country would totally collapse if they ever took control!"

But since the market hit an all-time high on October 3rd, Trump has shifted his tweets to other subjects. This makes sense, given that it took a nasty dive. The worst was a two-day sell-off in the middle of last week, during which the Dow Jones Industrial average dropped 1,377 points.

On Friday, the Dow opened with a big round of buying, then plunged again, then wobbled all day before finally ending 287 points up. This allowed the financial world to spend the weekend relief-boozing instead of planning for The End.

Maybe the stock market isn't about to crash in the next 10 minutes. That doesn't mean we shouldn't be scared to our marrow over the future.

The sell-off last week was likely just a mild preview of what will happen once the blunt contradictions of Trump's major economic moves - crazy even by his standards - set in.

"We're fucked," a market analyst friend of mine put it this weekend. "It's all baked in the cake already." You don't have to be a financial expert to see the irreconcilability of these three problems:

1. Fed tightening

Under Trump, the Federal Reserve is trying to end a decade-long party. Massive programs of money-printing and low-to-zero-interest rate lending were implemented to keep markets moving after the 2008 disaster. Terms like "unlimited liquidity" began to catch on to describe the level of central bank support the financial world could expect in the post-crash universe.

Programs like Quantitative Easing in the U.S. (and analogs in Europe and Japan) had central banks pumping an extra $12 trillion or more into the economy over the past decade. The cash was supposed to trickle down to the rest of us in the form of real-world investment. But the vast sums of free money pumped into the economy produced dependably unimpressive economic growth overall (prompting headlines like, "$12 trillion... for this?").

Who benefited instead? You may be surprised to learn it was the financial sector!

QE and "ZIRP" (Zero Interest Rate Policy) allowed big companies to borrow recklessly and gorge themselves on buybacks of their own stock, which had the twin consequences of driving down bond prices and sending the stock market soaring.

The central banks of the world are finally trying to end the madness. The Fed is taking about $50 billion out of the economy every month, and now raising rates not just above zero, but close to (and perhaps even beyond!) neutral. The free-money era is over. Once the European and Japanese central banks follow suit, the net effect worldwide will go from "easing" to "quantitative tightening" in 2019.

Trump must be cursing his bad luck. After 10 years of Fed policy that turbocharged bank-sector profits and defined "austerity" as a thing for poor people, he's now got a terminally cheery Fed chief in Jerome Powell who keeps insisting the economy is finally healthy enough to start re-introducing the concept of pain to Wall Street.

"A wide range of data supports a positive view," Powell said earlier this month following a rate hike.

After last week's sell-off, Wall Street analysts whined and pointed the finger at Powell, implying that he was causing this mess by cutting off the magic money-tap too early.

"The current dip in confidence can be allayed were the Federal Reserve to signal it is easing off its quantitative tightening and rates rises," Jasper Lawler, research head at London Capital Group, wrote during the plunge last Thursday.

Trump agrees. He's ripping the Fed for raising interest rates, as in, why do we have to come back to Earth now?

"I don't want to slow it down even a little bit, especially when we don't have the problem of inflation," Trump said last week.

If the Fed turns off the rocket boosters entirely, he's in trouble because...

2. Trump's tax cuts depend on monster growth

When Republicans rammed through the administration's tax-cut package, more than a few analysts warned that the cuts were based on too-rosy projections of economic growth.

Groups like the Tax Policy Center warned, "Trump's tax cuts would drive new activity at first, but... the impact would be blunted in later years by rising deficits, forcing more federal borrowing."

A year later, the Trump administration has indeed had to sharply increase the scale of federal borrowing in order to cover the shortfall in expected tax revenue.

Few noticed when the Trump Treasury borrowed $488 billion in the first quarter of this year, beating the record of $483 billion set in the first quarter of 2010, when the economy was still recovering from a crash. There was talk that the Treasury would roughly quadruple the number of T-bills issued in 2018 versus 2017.

President Donald Trump delivers remarks on trade between the United States, Canada, and Mexico, in the Rose Garden of the White House.

If you're wondering where all those deficit hawks in the Trump White House (like Mick "bring on the default" Mulvaney) and in the Republican Party (like Paul "It would take me too long to go through all of the math" Ryan) were when the national debt shot past $21 trillion for the first time last year, that's a good question.

This is part of the reason Trump wants Fed rates lower. He doesn't want to have to pay interest on the giant sums he will inevitably have to borrow to pay for his idiotic tax cuts.

"I think the Fed has gone crazy," he seethed, adding that "they seem to like raising interest rates, [when] we can do other things with the money."

Rising interest rates also hurt Trump's own bottom line. The prez supposedly owes $300 million to Deutsche Bank, and interest payments there go up or down in accordance with Fed policy.

"I'm paying interest at a high rate because of our Fed," he admitted.

It should be noted that even presidents whose personal fortunes are not massively affected by Fed policy have traditionally stayed mum about central bank moves. Trump's comments broke two decades of presidential silence about Fed policy.

So we have a Fed-tightening colliding with a ballooning public-borrowing need. Awesome! To this we add a third factor:

3. Trump's tariffs

Here's how dumb Donald Trump is. First, he announces a massive unnecessary tax cut that can only be paid for by unsustainably high growth. Almost immediately, he has to increase national borrowing to pay for it.

The traditional Treasury note supply goes up right away, but even that's not enough to pay the nut. In fact, this week - October 16th, to be exact - the government is going to debut a brand-new two-month Treasury bill, through which it hopes to raise $30-$35 billion immediately.

So we're going to have to sell more and more Treasury notes. On whom do we depend most of all to buy those notes?

That's right: China, which holds about $1.2 trillion in Treasury notes and about $1.5 trillion in U.S. debt overall.

In any trade war with China, the United States would seem to have an advantage. We import a lot more of their goods (last year, about $524 billion in Chinese products) than they import of ours (about $188 billion of U.S. exports). But all of this is moot if China suddenly stops buying U.S. debt, or even just slows down a bit.

Experts claim to think this is unlikely, given China's own dependence on U.S. Treasuries as a safe destination for its trillions in foreign exchange reserves.

Bloomberg over the summer wrote, "Treasuries are nearly as crucial an underpinning to China's economic plumbing as America's." They quoted a Goldman Sachs analyst who added: "We don't see any evidence that China is planning to use Treasuries as part of its trade negotiations."

But what if Trump's big populist gambit announced in September - slapping 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese products - hurts the Chinese economy to the point where they can't afford to keep subsidizing our exploding debt? What if it just dulls their enthusiasm for doing so?

Under Quantitative Easing, we were inventing huge sums of cash to lend to ourselves, with the Fed buying as much as $45 billion in Treasuries every month. This time last year, the Fed had $2.5 trillion in Treasuries on its balance sheet.

Now that source of funding is drying up, and we're in a trade war with our other major borrower, and Trump thought this was the time to bet our national economic health on a tax giveaway.

Who comes up with these ideas?

As we've seen in recent decades, even smart people are fully capable of driving the American economy off a cliff. What happens when the dumbest administration in history gets a turn at the wheel? Maybe last week wasn't the time to start panicking. But that moment can't be far.

(c) 2018 Matt Taibbi is Rolling Stone's chief political reporter, Matt Taibbi's predecessors include the likes of journalistic giants Hunter S. Thompson and P.J. O'Rourke. Taibbi's 2004 campaign journal Spanking the Donkey cemented his status as an incisive, irreverent, zero-bullshit reporter. His books include Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History, The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion, Smells Like Dead Elephants: Dispatches from a Rotting Empire.

"Proud Boys" co-founder Gavin McInnes is surrounded by supporters at a rally in Berkeley, Calif.

The Fascist Threat Our Political Establishment Won't Acknowledge
By Henry A. Giroux

Marx was certainly right in arguing that the point is not to understand the world but to change it, but what he underemphasized was that the world cannot be transformed if one does not understand what is to be changed. As Terry Eagleton rightly notes "Nobody can change a world they didn't understand." Moreover, the lack of mass resistance to oppression signals more than apathy or indifference, it also suggests that we don't have an informed and energizing vision of the world for which we want to struggle. Political struggle is dependent on the political will to change, which is central to any notion of informed agency willing to address the radical and pragmatic issues of our time. In addition to understanding the world, an informed public must connect what they know and learn to the central task of bringing their ideas to bear on society as a whole. This means that a critical consciousness must be matched by a fervent willingness to take risks, and challenge the destructive narratives that are seeping into the public realm and becoming normalized.

Any dissatisfaction with injustice necessitates combining the demands of moral witnessing with the pedagogical power of persuasion and the call to address the tasks of emancipation. We need individuals and social movements willing to disturb the normalization of a fascist politics, oppose racist, sexist, and neoliberal orthodoxy.

As Robin D. G. Kelley observes we cannot confuse catharsis and momentary outrage for revolution. In a time of increasing tyranny, resistance in many quarters appears to have lost its usefulness as a call to action. At the same time, the pedagogical force of civic ignorance and illiteracy has morphed into a national ideal. Tyranny and ignorance feed each other in a theater of corporate controlled media ecosystems and function more as a tool of domination than as a pedagogical outlet in pursuit of justice and the practice of freedom. Under such circumstances, when education is not viewed as central to politics itself, resistance withers in the faux language of privatized struggles and fashionable slogans.

For instance the novelist Teju Cole has argued that "'resistance' is back in vogue, and it describes something rather different now. The holy word has become unexceptional. Faced with a vulgar, manic and cruel regime, birds of many different feathers are eager to proclaim themselves members of the Resistance. It is the most popular game in town." Cole's critique appears to be born out by the fact that the most unscrupulous of liberal and conservative politicians such as Madeline Albright, Hilary Clinton, and even James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, are now claiming that they have joined the resistance against Trump's fascist politics. Even Michael Hayden, the former NSA chief and CIA director under George W. Bush, has joined the ranks of Albright and Clinton in condemning Trump as a proto-fascist. Writing in the New York Times, Hayden, ironically, chastised Trump as a serial liar and in doing so quoted the renowned historian Timothy Snyder, who stated in reference to the Trump regime that "Post-Truth is pre-fascism." The irony here is hard to miss. Not only did Hayden head Bush's illegal National Security Agency warrantless wiretapping program while the head of the NSA, he also lied repeatedly about his role in Bush's sanction and implementation of state torture in Afghanistan and Iraq.

This tsunami of banal resistance and its pedagogical architecture was on full display when an anonymous member of the Trump's inner circle published an op-ed in the New York Times claiming that he/she and other senior officials were part of "the resistance within the Trump administration." The author was quick to qualify the statement by insisting such resistance had nothing to do with "the popular 'resistance' of the left." To prove the point, it was noted by the author that the members of this insider resistance liked some of Trump's policies such as "effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more." Combining resistance with the endorsements of such reactionary policies reads like fodder for late-night comics.

The Democratic Party now defines itself as the most powerful political force opposing Trump's fascist politics. What it has forgotten is the role it has played under the Clinton and Obama presidencies in creating the economic, political, and social conditions for Trump's election in 2016. Such historical and political amnesia allows them to make the specious claim that they are now the party of resistance. Resistance in these instances has little to do with civic courage, a defense of human dignity, and the willingness to not just bear witness to the current injustices but to struggle to overcome them. Of course, the issue is not to disavow resistance as much as to redefine it as inseparable from fundamental change that calls for the overthrow of capitalism itself. Neoliberalism has now adopted unapologetically the language of racial cleansing, white supremacy, white nationalism, and fascist politics. Unapologetic for the widespread horrors, gaping inequality, destruction of public goods, and re-energizing of the discourse of hate and culture of cruelty, neoliberalism has joined hands with a toxic fascist politics painted in the hyper-patriotic colors of red, white, and blue. As I have noted elsewhere:

Neoliberalism's hatred of democracy, the common good, and the social contract has unleashed generic elements of a fascist past in which white supremacy, ultra-nationalism, rabid misogyny and immigrant fervor come together in a toxic mix of militarism, state violence, and a politics of disposability. Modes of fascist expression adapt variously to different political historical contexts assuring racial apartheid-like forms in the post-bellum U.S. and overt encampments and extermination in Nazi Germany. Fascism with its unquestioning belief in obedience to a powerful strongman, violence as a form of political purification, hatred as an act of patriotism, racial and ethnic cleansing, and th superiority of a select ethnic or national group has resurfaced in the United States. In this mix of economic barbarism, political nihilism, racial purity, economic orthodoxy, and ethical somnambulance a distinctive economic-political formation has been produced that I term neoliberal fascism.
While the call to resist neoliberal fascism is to be welcomed, it has to be interrogated rather than aligned with individuals and ideological forces that helped put in place the racist, economic, religious, and educational forces that helped produce it. What many liberals and conservative calls to resistance have in common is an opposition to Trump rather than to the conditions that created him. In some cases, liberal critics such as Christopher R. Browning, Yascha Mounk, and Cass R. Sunstein document insightfully America's descent into fascism but are too cautious in refusing to conclude that we are living under a fascist political regime. This is more than a retreat from political courage, it is a refusal to name how liberalism itself with its addiction to the financial elite has helped create the conditions that make a fascist politics possible.

Trump's election and the Kavanaugh affair make clear that what is needed is not only a resistance to the established order of neoliberal capitalism but a radical restructuring of society itself. That is not about resisting oppression in its diverse forms but overcoming it-in short, changing it. The Kavanaugh hearings and the liberal response was a telling example of what might be called a politics of disconnection.

While it is crucial to condemn the Kavanaugh hearings for its blatant disregard for the Constitution, expressed hatred of women, and its symbolic expression and embrace of white privilege and power, it is necessary to enlarge our criticism to include the system that made the Kavanaugh appointment possible. Kavanaugh represents not only the deep seated rot of misogyny but also as Grace Lee Boggs, has stated "a government of, by, and for corporate power." We need to see beyond the white nationalists and neo-Nazis demonstrating in the streets in order to recognize the terror of the unforeseen, the terror that is state sanctioned, and hides in the shadows of power. Such a struggle means more than engaging material relations of power or the economic architecture of neoliberal fascism, it also means taking on the challenge producing the tools and tactics necessary to rethink and create the conditions for a new kind of subjectivity as the basis for a new kind of democratic socialist politics. We need a comprehensive politics that brings together various single interest movements so that the threads that connect them become equally as important as the particular forms of oppression that define their singularity. In addition, we need intellectuals willing to combine intellectual complexity with clarity and accessibility, embrace the high stakes investment in persuasion, and cross disciplinary borders in order to theorize and speak with what Rob Nixon calls the "cunning of lightness" and a "methodological promiscuity" that keeps language attuned to the pressing the claims for justice.

Outside of those intellectuals who write for CounterPunch, Truthout, Truthdig, Rise Up Times, Salon, and a number of other critical media outlets, there are too few intellectuals, artists, journalists willing to challenge the rise of an American version of neoliberal fascism. It is not enough to report in an alleged "balanced fashion" on Trump's endorsement of violence against journalists, the massive levels of inequality produced under neoliberalism, the enactment by the Trump administration of savage policies of racial cleansing aimed at undocumented immigrants, and the emergence of a police state armed terrifying new technologies aimed at predictive policing. The real challenge is to tie these elements of oppression together and to recognize the threads of state violence, white supremacy, and fascist politics that suggest the emergence of a distinctive new political order.

Shock and outrage in the midst of a fascist politics is now undermined by the mainstream press which is always on the hunt for higher ratings and increasing their bottom line. Rather than talk about fascism, they focus on the threat to liberal institutions. Rather than talk about the mounting state violence and the increased violence of neo-fascist thugs such as the Proud Boys, they talk about violence coming from the left and right. Rather than raise questions about the conditions and a society in which more and more people seem to prefer authoritarian rule over democracy, they talk about Trump's eccentric behavior or keep tabs on his endless lying. This is not unhelpful, but it misses the nature of the true threat, its genesis, and the power of a corporate elite who are now comfortable with the fascist politics that Trump embodies.

An iPsos poll found that "a surprising 26 percent of all Americans, and 43 percent of Republicans, agree with the statement that the president "should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior." In addition, a majority of Americans across the ideological spectrum- 72 percent - think "it should be easier to sue reporters who knowingly publish false information." Couple this with the fact that Trump has recently stated privately to his aids that he regrets reversing his policy of separating children from their parents at the border and you have a mix of fascist principles coupled with a dangerous demagogue who cannot bring the country fast enough to the fascist abyss. While it is true that the United States under Trump is not Hitler's Germany, Trump has tapped into America's worst impulses and as Jason Stanley and others remind us his ultra-nationalism, white supremacist views, and racist diatribes coupled with his attack on immigrants, the media, African-Americans, and Muslims are indicative of a politics right out the fascist playbook. If the public and media keep denying this reality, the endpoint is too horrible to imagine. If we are to understand the current resurgence of right-wing populist movements across the globe, economic factors alone do not account for the current mobilizations of fascist passions.

As Pierre Bourdieu once put it, it is crucial to recognize that "the most important forms of domination are not only economic but also intellectual and pedagogical, and lie on the side of belief and persuasion." He goes on to state that left intellectuals have underestimated the symbolic and pedagogical dimensions of struggle and have not always forged appropriate weapons to fight on this front. In part, this means that the left and others must make matters of culture and pedagogy central to politics in order to address people's needs and struggles. And they should do so in a language that is both rigorous and accessible. Matters of culture and consciousness in the Gramscian sense are central to politics and only when the left can address that issue will there be any hope for massive collective resistance in the form of a broad-based movement.

Trump has emboldened and legitimated the dire anti-democratic threats that have been expanding under an economic system stripped of any political, social, and ethical responsibility. This is a form of neoliberal fascism that has redrawn and expanded the parameters of the genocidal practices and hate filled politics of the 1930s and 40s in Europe in which it was once thought impossible to happen again. The threat has returned and is now on our doorsteps, and it needs to be named, exposed, and overcome by those who believe that the stakes are much too high to look away and not engage in organized political and pedagogical struggles against a fascist state and an omniscient fascist politics. We live in an age when the horrors of the past are providing the language and politics of illiberal democracies all over the globe. This is a world where dystopian versions of a catastrophic, misery producing neoliberalism merge with unapologetic death dealing visions of a fascist politics. We live in an era that testifies to the horrors of a past struggling to reinvent itself in the present, and which should place more than a sense of ethical and political responsibility on those of us bearing witness to it. As my friend, Brad Evans, notes under such circumstances, we live in a time "that asks us all to continually question our own shameful compromises with power," and to act with others to overcome our differences in order to dismantle this assault on human rights, human dignity, economic justice, equality, and democracy itself.

(c) 2018 Henry A. Giroux is an American scholar and cultural critic. One of the founding theorists of critical pedagogy in the United States, he is best known for his pioneering work in public pedagogy, cultural studies, youth studies, higher education, media studies, and critical theory.

The Great Un-Blackening
The Corporate Project to Erase Black People from Politics
By Glenn Ford

Corporate rule imposes a duopoly system in which one party is overtly white supremacist and the other party refuses to tackle racial oppression - but both pursue austerity and war.

While Donald Trump's Republicans strive to maintain electoral majorities through blatant appeals to white supremacy and constant scapegoating of Blacks and browns, corporate Democrats masquerade as the sensible political "center," around which most Americans -- except for small, "polarizing" minorities at the extremes of the spectrum -- can unite. The latest corporate attempt to paper over the nation's class and race contradictions was launched earlier this month by an outfit called More in Common, which works closely with corporate media and think tanks in the U.S. and Europe. Its new report, titled "Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape," is an attempt to obscure the racism that animates majorities of white voters and to erase Black politics, entirely.

The More in Common study claims to have discovered seven "tribes" of political belief and behavior that comprise the American spectrum. None of these tribes revolve around race and class, yet, according to the authors, they each possess "distinctive beliefs, psychology and levels of engagement." The villains of this imagined tribal order, arrayed at opposite ends of the study's poles, are Progressive Activists, who supposedly make up 8 percent of the population, and Devoted Conservatives, at 6 percent. "Although they comprise just 14% of the population, their voices dominate public debate in the digital age," the More in Common folks lament. "They are more ideologically dogmatic, more hostile towards the other side, and more active in elections and on social media.">This is considered a very bad thing.

A national political consensus can supposedly be found among the middle groups: Traditional Liberals (11%), Passive Liberals (15%), Politically Disengaged (26%), Moderates (15%), and Traditional Conservatives (6%). When you subtract the disputatious and "highly ideological" Progressive Activist and Devoted Conservative "tribes," according to the authors, "most Americans - including both liberals and conservatives - are actually more reasonable than people on the other side are made to think." More in Common claims to have found that, once a person can be located among its seven previously "hidden" tribes "their views on a wide range of current issues could be predicted more accurately than by referring to their visible traits such as race, gender or income."

This is utter nonsense, with no grounding in race, class, or history. Stark differences have long separated Blacks and whites on issues of living wages and union rights (Black women are the group most in favor of unions, white men the least); war and peace (Blacks are most opposed to US military adventures abroad, whites most warlike, Hispanics in between, as usual); and the fairness of the criminal justice system, of which Blacks are near-universally skeptical.

Majorities of white people, across class and gender lines, voted for the virulently white supremacist Donald Trump -- with Trump piling up supermajorities in the Deep South. The GOP has thrived as the White Man's Party since 1968, supplanting the southern Democrats (Dixiecrats) precisely because white supremacy is the most dependable mass organizing principle for a rightwing corporate electoral party in the United States. Race works like a charm for making white folks forget about class in the United States, which is why the moneyed classes have constructed a duopoly electoral system that gathers the most racist whites in one party, while Blacks and other despised peoples are corralled in the other corporate party -- with both parties supporting global U.S. empire and warfare. Class has been effectively suppressed, except as racialized euphemisms and code words of American politics: "middle class," meaning "hard working, salt-of-the-earth, patriotic white folks," versus "the underclass," signifying "predatory" and criminal Blacks and other darker people, who need to be kept under surveillance and containment.

The More in Common outfit would have us believe that most of the anger and rancor in the U.S. polity is caused by the 14 percent of the population described as Progressive Activists, on the left, and Devoted Conservatives, on the right, who are determined not to get along, and that an "exhausted majority" of 67 percent of the people are ready for "compromise" on most issues. This is in synch with the aims of leadership of the Democratic Party, dominated by Wall Street and the high-tech oligarchs in Silicon Valley. The party's corporate leadership has no intention of yielding to demands for living wages, job security, single payer health care, and free universal college tuition, nor are they willing to lift the state of siege that has been imposed on Black America by the mass incarceration regime. The Democrats depend on the votes of Blacks and other minorities, and those whites that haven't thrown in with Trump's brand of white nationalism, but offer no programs that would substantially ameliorate deteriorating economic and social conditions -- nothing but more austerity and war. Therefore, the political crisis must be blamed on strident voices of the "far left and far right" -- like "Progressive Activists" and "Devoted Conservatives," the political categories invented by the More in Common political conjurers. Race must be erased as a demographic marker, along with class, on the theory that if you don't recognize racial and class conflicts, they will disappear.

Corporate Democrats believe they can attract enough disaffected Republicans to their side to make up for the leftish voters that abandon the party in disgust. The More in Common study is designed to encourage such an alignment. It urges traditional "moderates" of both parties to unite and form an effective electoral majority from the "center."

This is all about reinforcing the corporate "center," which has been destabilized, not only by Donald Trump's takeover of the GOP and surprise election victory, but most fundamentally by the collapse of wages and job security and the general demoralization caused by endless austerity and war -- the core policies of both corporate parties. Americans must be made to reject the "extremes" if the corporate consensus is to be reestablished. But racial oppression cannot be tackled without massive, and expensive, transformations of society, requiring whole new layers of democratization. To the extent possible, therefore, race must be eliminated from the conversation (except to avow that America loves all races). The More in Common brand of race-less and classless social science, which claims to more accurately describe Americans' political views "than by referring to their visible traits such as race, gender or income," is a perfect tool for corporate consensus-makers. The rulers won't have to do anything for anybody, because real demographics cease to exist.

The assault on "extremes of left and right" by the oligarchs that control the Internet -- most of them Democrats -- is another front in the escalating corporate war to reestablish the hegemony of the ideological "center" by purging those that cause "dissension" in society -- with or without a Russian connection.

Corporate pollsters have already largely disappeared the Black demographic from their surveys, which nowadays often neglect to break down public opinion by race. Some surveys even lump all "minorities" together, despite the fact that Hispanic opinion is most often somewhere near middle of the chasm that separates whites and Blacks. This, in a nation whose currently ruling political party, controlling all three branches of government and most state legislatures, shouts its white supremacism to the world.

The result is a two-corporate party system in which half of the duopoly is overtly white supremacist while the other half appeals to most of the nation's non-white voters but doesn't have the vocabulary to even begin to discuss the dismantling of racial oppression.

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

Asian and European leaders gather at the ASEM 12 summit last week with German Chancellor
Angela Merkel, center in purple, for a group photo in Brussels on October 19, 2018.

Leaders Of Asia And Europe Sit Down For Talks, Not Sanctions
The 12th ASEM summit came at a crucial time with a divided EU assessing how to respond to China's worrying technological transfer policy and the Belt and Road Initiative
By Pepe Escobar

Totally under the radar of a news cycle consumed by the Pulp Fiction in Istanbul saga and the ever-mutating US-China trade war, leaders from no less than 51 Asian and European nations met in Brussels on Friday to talk about developing some measure of global stability.

The day before in Brussels had been lost on yet another unresolved soap opera - Brexit, with no credible deal in sight.

The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), established in 1996, lists 53 partners - 30 European nations, 21 Asian nations, the EU and the ASEAN Secretariat. Members, apart from the whole EU, include three BRICS nations (China, Russia, India), Japan, Australia and New Zealand - attesting to its importance.

Even though ASEM's decisions are not binding, the 12th summit could not have happened at a more crucial juncture, according to diplomats, in terms of the pressing need for some sanity in international law and relations.

Even with the EU focused on Brexit, the fallout of migration and Italy's open defiance of Brussels in raising its budget deficit; and Asia worried about inter-Korean dialogue, US bombers flying over the South China Sea ahead of an ASEAN summit, and the Rohingya crisis, they still managed to conduct meaningful discussions.

After all, Eurasia-wide trade already tops trans-Pacific trade, and the gap will continue to grow.

They discussed connectivity and trade and investment, but also sustainable development policies, climate change, terrorism, nuclear non-proliferation, cyber-security and, last but not least, the theme that galvanizes right-wing populism: migration.

Arguably the key consensus point of the Asia-Europe entente cordiale is the need to preserve the WTO - for all its faults still hailed as the only rules-based mechanism capable of arbitrating the proliferation of trade wars.

In parallel, the EU is advancing business as usual, signing a free-trade agreement with Singapore and another one with Vietnam and finalizing the terms of a trade deal with Japan.

So what's the deal with BRI?

Then there's the heart of the matter: how the EU as a whole plans to position itself towards the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Last month, the European Commission (EC) came up with its own Asia-Europe connectivity strategy ranging from transport and energy to digital economy developments.

The EU motto is "sustainable connectivity" - privileging "sound regulatory frameworks", "fiscal responsibility", and with everything operating under "open-market" rules.

For the moment, that's still quite vague - and not substantially different from BRI's goals. Diplomats in Brussels constantly refer to the EU's External Investment Plan, focusing mostly on Africa and the "EU neighborhood", and theoretically able to draw investments up to 44 billion euros.

This map shows a few examples - but that's really a drop in the Atlantic compared to the reach, breadth and vast funding of BRI. Yet there's no question that a few European nations would like the EU mechanism to rival China's New Silk Roads.

EU divided, but talking about it

For the moment, the EU is - as usual - a divided house, pitting the pro-BRI Eastern Europeans and Italy, with a paralyzed France and Germany not exactly sure how to calibrate its strategy.

Arguably the top Brussels headache concerns Chinese investments in high-tech European businesses. Diplomatic corridors are abuzz with worries of technological transfers boosting the Made in China 2025 strategy. Berlin is now heavily regulating Chinese acquisitions in strategic sectors - but the EU as a whole still has not come up with a consensus strategy.

German industrialists know that for an export powerhouse the markets of the future are all in Asia - and especially China. Duisburg happens to be the key BRI terminal in Europe, as it hosts the Logport, one of the largest container ports in the continent. Twenty-five cargo trains arrive each week at Terminal DIT - the "China Terminal", coming from Chongqing and crossing Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus and Poland. In a not too distant future, this cargo will all move via high-speed rail.

The Mercator Institute for China Studies, a top think-tank in Berlin, has been releasing consistent reports on how Made in China 2025 is replicating the Germany: Industrie 4.0 technological leap, and how China will soon be building those ultra high-tech machines that for the moment shine worldwide as a symbol of German know-how.

Well, instead of becoming hostages in a sanctions crossfire, at least Asia and Europe are talking about it.

(c) 2018 Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times. His latest book is "Obama Does Globalistan." He may be reached at

Front Porch Politics
By Jim Hightower

If you despair that a mysterious plague of incurable political knuckleheadism has swept our country, turning previously progressive white working-class people into mindless Trump worshippers, check out this report: "The Promise of a Progressive Populist Movement."

It's from People's Action, a grassroots coalition that sent out volunteers to knock on more than 5,000 doors, have nearly 2,500 phone conversations, and visit scores of local events and churches in "Trump Country" - dozens of rural counties in 10 swing states that went for Trump in 2016. The volunteers simply had open conversations, asking folks in economically distressed rural communities what mattered to them politically. The most common initial response was, "No one's ever asked me before."

While Trump voters are predominantly white, the working-class families visited by People's Action included Black, Latino, Native American, and other residents living in these rural areas. Practically none were worried about the inflammatory bugaboos that idolatrous Trumpsters cite: Hordes of invading aliens! Mooching poor people! Fake media! Rather, what most concerned them was being told by word and deed that they - America's hard-hit and hard-working families - don't matter. Far from converting to the Narcissistic Church of The Donald, these voters saw Trump as merely a handy, blunt-force club to whack a two-party system that no longer speaks to - much less for - them.

And rather than embracing Trump's elitist ideology and corporate agenda, they told People's Action that they want populist reforms like health care for all, fair wages, free access to education, clean water, and a government uncorrupted by big money. To learn more and read the report go to:

(c) 2018 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

Representative Greg Gianforte and President Donald Trump shake hands at a rally in Missoula, Montana on October 18, 2018.

President Body Slam Needs To Be Checked And Balanced
America needs a Congress that will challenge this president when he attacks freedom of the press, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution.
By John Nichols

As his administration was slow-walking its response to the murder of an American-based journalist in the Istanbul embassy of an American ally, Donald Trump flew to Montana to praise a congressman who assaulted a journalist covering an election.

Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte pleaded guilty to assaulting a reporter for the British newspaper The Guardian as he was bidding for an open House seat in 2016. Angered at being asked basic questions about his campaign, Gianforte body-slammed the reporter. On Thursday, Trump's argument for his Republican ally was a warning to the crowd: "[Never] wrestle him. You understand that? Never. Any guy that can do a body slam, he's my kind of... he was my guy."

In case anyone in the crowd, or around the world, missed the president's point, he spelled things out for them.

As the crowd in Missoula whooped it up, Trump announced that "I shouldn't say this, because-there's nothing to be embarrassed about. So I was in Rome with a lot of the leaders from other countries talking about all sorts of things, and I heard about it. And we endorsed Greg very early, but I had heard that he body-slammed a reporter. And he was way up. And he was way up. And I said, oh, this was like the day of the election, or just before, and I said, 'Oh, this is terrible, he's going to lose the election.' Then I said, 'Well, wait a minute, I know Montana pretty well. I think it might help him.' And it did!"

The president's disdain for American journalists so overwhelms him that he does not recognize his duty as a global leader to defend freedom of the press. So it is that, in a perilous moment for those who speak truth to the power of authoritarian states, Donald Trump is achingly off-message.

On Thursday afternoon, after days of making excuses for the Saudi regime with which his administration has so closely aligned itself, Trump acknowledged Thursday that Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi was probably dead and that it looked like some "bad, bad stuff" had taken place in Istanbul. Yet the president could not wrap his head around the fact that this was a time for expressing solidarity with journalists everywhere and for sending clear signals regarding the vital role that a free press plays in maintaining democracy and civil society.

Trump's tin ear has, again, made him the odd man out on the global stage. And that is not a place where the president of the United States should position either himself or a country that prides itself on its commitment to press freedom. Robust good journalism is still produced in the United States, and 85 percent of Americans still believe "freedom of the press is essential for American democracy."

Unfortunately, a president who labels reporters as "the enemy of the people" does not choose to champion freedom of the press.

Or, even, to show the basic respect for reporters.

The shocking details of the Khashoggi case have focused attention on threats to press freedom in countries around the world, and on the urgent need-in the words of Reporters Without Borders Secretary General Christophe Deloire-to fight impunity for crimes against journalists." Responsible leaders have recognized this need, and they have echoed sentiments expressed by Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, when she went out of her way this week to "reaffirm our commitment to defending freedom of expression and protection of the free press."

But Donald Trump has not responded as a responsible leader. He has, instead, chosen this moment to make himself the head cheerleader for a politician who assaulted a journalist. This is not normal. John Mulholland, the editor of The Guardian's US operations, responded soberly, explaining that "The president of the United States tonight applauded the assault on an American journalist who works for the Guardian. To celebrate an attack on a journalist who was simply doing his job is an attack on the first amendment by someone who has taken an oath to defend it."

That is an appropriate critique. Donald Trump solemnly swore on January 20, 2017, that he would "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." The founders of the American experiment-not just the authors of the Constitution but the citizens who demanded the attachment of a Bill of Rights-pointed to an essential truth that American president's have historically embraced.

"Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed-and no republic can survive," explained President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in his historic 1961 address on the presidency and mass media. "That is why our press was protected by the First Amendment-the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution-not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply 'give the public what it wants'-but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion. This means greater coverage and analysis of international news-for it is no longer far away and foreign but close at hand and local."

The same Constitution that recognizes the vital linkage between journalism and democracy outlines a system of checks and balances. This separation of powers is designed to counter abuses by presidents. Unfortunately, it is not working now. President Trump is part of the problem, but he is not the whole of it. Because Trump's excesses are sustained by a Republican-controlled House and advanced by a Republican-controlled Senate, this president operates without constraints. He is never held to account, never scrutinized, never checked and balanced by the House or the Senate, not when he errs against the demands of the Constitution, not when he rejects the responsibilities that go with his office.

Trump is a destructive force, domestically and internationally. His policies can do great harm. His words can do ever greater harm. He would prefer that this circumstance continue; that is why he was campaigning in Montana for Greg Gianforte. That is why he will keep campaigning through November 6 for the congressional Republicans who always give him a pass. But this president cannot be given a pass any longer. He needs to be checked and balanced by a Congress that is prepared to tell the world-with resolutions, oversight hearings, legislation and budgets-that that the man who lost the 2016 election by 2.9 million votes is wrong, and that he is not the only voice of America.

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

Slaves To The Zeigarnik Effect
By James Donahue

Have you ever noticed that the most popular television shows always leave you "hanging" at the end of each week's episode so you will be sure to tune in the following week to learn what happened to the hero or heroine?

This is an old trick that script writers and novelists like to use in their books to spike continued interest in watchers and readers so that they remain in the game, so-to-speak.

There is a name for this kind of trickery. It is called the Zeigarnik Effect, named after Bluma Zeigarnik, a Russian psychologist who made a study of human behavior after watching waiters taking orders and serving meals in a Vienna restaurant. When questioned, Zeigarnik found that the waiters seemed to only remember uncompleted orders, but could not recall orders already served.

This led to some laboratory tests in which volunteers were asked to do various tasks but then interrupted them before the list of tasks could be completed. She found that the subjects were more likely to remember the list after being interrupted than they were if allowed to complete the tasks.

There seems to be something about us that commits unfinished tasks to vivid memory until they are completed. It does not seem to matter how mundane the list of jobs may be. If we are once committed to completing them, we do not forget the list until we do them all.

That may not seem to be a great psychological discovery until you understand the significance of this kind of recall in our daily lives.

Interesting and ongoing news events, like a search for a missing child, have a way of keeping viewers glued to their television sets until the child is found. The O. J. Simpson murder trial, one of the first major trials of its kind to be televised to the nation, was faithfully viewed by millions, even people who were watching from their jobs.

I still have vivid memories of the fight to rescue three-year-old Cathy Fiscus after she fell into a well in San Marino, California, in 1949. The rescue efforts went on for days, with volunteers drilling a second hole beside the well under the glare of floodlights and early television crews. The little girl died before they reached her.

English novelist Charles Dickens' great novel Oliver Twist features exciting cliff hangers at the end of each chapter. This is because the novel was first published chapter by chapter in serialized newspaper accounts before it was published as a complete novel. Even though it was not studied, identified or named, Dickens wisely used the Zeigarnik effect to keep readers coming back each week for more of his stories. It was said that his American readers would wait at the New York docks for the papers carrying the latest chapters to arrive by ship from England.

Unfortunately, when it comes to television serial stories, when the Zeigarnik effect is working too well, the advertising industry is well aware of it. Thus the stories are so jammed with promotional advertising interruptions that the mere fun of following the characters through their make-believe trials is somewhat ruined.

But we ingenious watchers have found clever ways of escaping the advertising blitz. We have invented machines like TiVo and other digital television recording devices that allow us to skip over the ads. And for those who choose to wait, the onset of NetFlix and other programs that can be streamed via our home computers does it automatically.

The nice thing about watching the great shows from previous years is that you don't have to wait a week to follow-up on the cliffhangers. Just jump into the next show with the click of a button. We call it binge watching. Pass the popcorn please.

(c) 2018 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

The administrations and legacies of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush combine to tell a long, sorry tale of corruption,
greed, brazen lies, abused power and religious fundamentalism gone wild that, in whole and in part, put us where we are today.

The Terrible Trump Portrait That Explains Everything
The mayor works in Jefferson County, where administrators stopped the group from bringing seniors to the polls.
By William Rivers Pitt

In this business, you eventually become enured to Monday mornings that are the mental equivalent of a car accident. You get used to it, mostly, until a morning comes along that is more cognitively akin to a plane crash on the interstate during rush hour, and you find yourself wondering again if investing in a time-share on Neptune might be an idea whose time has come. That was this past Monday, in the form of a painting that falls somewhere in the shade between "Dogs Playing Poker" and Revelation 6:1-8.

Those watching Lesley Stahl help Donald Trump self-immolate during their "60 Minutes" interview on Sunday night spotted it first, right there on the wall above the vat of Starburst candies: a pastel creamsicle nightmare rendering of Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Calvin Coolidge, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush sharing a drink and a hearty Republican belly laugh with The Donnybrook himself.

Cue the squealing tires and shattered safety glass; I saw this thing before I could so much as blow on my first cup of Monday morning coffee, and I'm still trying to come to grips with the experience.

The internet had a field day, of course. Before Tuesday even had a chance to put its pants on, Twitter was bursting with Photoshop jobs that turned Missouri artist Andy Thomas's annihilation of time and history into a legitimate cultural phenomenon.

One recreation has Trump sitting with Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Bill O'Reilly and other noteworthy perpetrators of sexual assault and harassment unmasked by the #MeToo movement. Another has Trump replaced by a miniaturized version of the baby blimp that has been following him around the world. Still another puts Plaid Shirt Guy over Trump's right shoulder once again, looking appropriately astonished.

Yes, all in good fun, and next week some other poor slob's magnum opus will become a punchline for half a billion online wiseasses, and Mr. Thomas's tender attempt at whatever he was reaching for with this thing will be last week's forgotten funny meme.

That's a damned shame, because much of what we need to know about Donald Trump, the Republican Party and why we are all mired in this towering, disheartening mess is right there in that painting, staring us down with every eye-bruising brush stroke. It is a paint-by-numbers history lesson we should all take deeply to heart if we want to understand the strange ground we stand upon.

One could spend a bag of lifetimes parsing the collected failures of the individuals featured in the painting - yes, even Honest Abraham Lincoln, who had unfriendly newspaper editors arrested by the score - but I choose to stick to three of the presidents I have personally endured.

The administrations and legacies of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush combine to tell a long, sorry tale of corruption, greed, brazen lies, abused power and religious fundamentalism gone wild that, in whole and in part, put us where we are today. Remove any one of those men from that painting, and from history, and Donald Trump would likely be just another late-night punchline you slept through, again. Nixon, Reagan and W. Bush made Donald Trump possible.

It is telling, and perhaps deliberate, that the painting finds Donald Trump seated at the right hand of Nixon. Who better than the Beast of San Clemente to frame the groaning reality of this White House? Richard Nixon's "Southern Strategy" - courting brazen segregationists like South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond while stoking racial animosities wherever he and his fixers could find them - won him two presidential elections and greased the rails for every Republican presidential nominee to follow.

The construction of a Republican Electoral College fortress in the South began with Nixon and remains standing, very nearly brick for brick, to this day. Trump's victory in 2016 happened because of that fortress. If he wins re-election in 2020, he will have Nixon's deeply racist campaign strategy to thank once again. Beyond that, Nixon's disdain for the rule of law, combined with his venomous hatred of the press, set the tone for the latter half of the 20th century and laid a precedent Trump has followed practically to the note.

Though he never served a day in prison for his crimes, thanks to a pardon from one of the other fellows featured in the painting, Richard Nixon was ultimately forced to pay a steep price for his transgressions. The same cannot be said for Ronald Reagan, whose administration sold missiles to Iran and used the proceeds to fund an illegal war in Central America. The Iran/Contra scandal was a vast, sweeping international affair for which the president eluded punishment by dint of 124 separate "I don't remember" replies during the congressional inquiry.

Vivid public dishonesty by that president set yet another precedent Trump has taken full advantage of over the course of two long years. Lie straight to their faces, goes the thinking, and dare them to do something about it. The juggernaut rolls on.

Reagan's most indelible imprint on the country, the one Trump has taken greatest advantage of, is cultural. He oversaw a rollicking festival of across-the-board deregulation while preaching the polluted gospel of trickle-down economics that endures to this day. Donald Trump came of age in the Reagan era, and learned the dark arts of the con man by watching the master in the White House.

More than anything else, Reagan's courting of what became known as the "Religious Right" changed the face of the country. Conservative Protestant evangelical leaders like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and Billy Graham actively helped solidify and expand the religious fervor of the Republican base, creating one of the most reliable voter blocs in modern US history. Their legendary loyalty to the GOP, even in the face of myriad scandals and shameful episodes, has proven to be one of Donald Trump's great strengths.

Another lasting Reagan legacy that Donald Trump has capitalized on is the muscular approach Reagan's strategists took to Nixon's racist "Southern Strategy." Reagan adviser Lee Atwater, the infamous Southern Republican political operative who showed Karl Rove the ropes, explained during a 1981 interview the long, sure process of making virulent racism mainstream by hiding it in plain sight.

"You say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states' rights, and all that stuff," said Atwater, "and you're getting so abstract. Now, you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, Blacks get hurt worse than whites. 'We want to cut this,' is much more abstract than even the busing thing."

Anyone who can say with a straight face that Trump has not benefitted from the mainline injection of racism into conventional Republican politics should immediately apply for a gig at the White House. From Nixon to Reagan to Trump, the Republican "Southern Strategy" traded in the white robes of the Klan for a suit, a tie and some buzzwords to obscure the truth. The strategy has proven to be highly effective for the Republican Party, and toxic to the rest of the country, particularly to communities of color.

Sixteen years before the ascendancy of Donald Trump, George W. Bush adopted every fetid, discredited Nixon/Reagan ploy as his own. The 2000 GOP primary in South Carolina was a festival of racist gutter tactics that set Bush on course for the presidency, thanks entirely to the lessons Rove absorbed at Atwater's knee. Bush survived the 2000 general election and was re-elected four years later, thanks in part to the thick white walls of that electoral fortress Nixon and Reagan built in the Southern states.

Like Nixon and Reagan, Bush had little use for the truth, and less use for observing the democratic norms that hold the republic together. Like Reagan, Bush embraced the power of the evangelical Christian right to the continued detriment of all. Nixon and Reagan lied about wars, but Bush lied us into a pair of wars that grind on to this day. Like his predecessors, George W. Bush paid no legal price for his serial crimes and astonishing dishonesty.

The rank racism of the "Southern Strategy." The nonsense and classism of trickle-down economics. The grim fusion of politics and extremist evangelical Christianity. The bold power of the shameless lie. It has all flowed from Nixon to Reagan to Bush and finally to Trump, the inheritor of that poisoned estate. But for them, we would not have him. It's all there in the painting, if you find your way to see it.

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

A Useful Primer On The Caravan
By Heather Digby Parton

America's Voices sent this out in response to Trump's hysteria about "MS-13 and middle east" in the caravan and all the other "bad people" he's protecting us from:

As President Trump stokes fears and tries to whip up a frenzy over border security, immigration and a caravan of Central Americans seeking safety and opportunity, here is our take:

Trump wants to exploit this issue, not solve it.

Trump's frenzy over the issue is ugly, cynical and primarily motivated by his desire to hang onto unchecked political power. Yes, he wants to spur turnout by his base, but more importantly, he wants to block out the focus on the issue that matters the most to voters - healthcare. He knows that if voters focus on what they want, it's not even close. Of course, we've seen homestretch fear-mongering over immigrants before. In Virginia's 2017 governors race, Republican Ed Gillespie stoked fear of immigrants as his closing argument, and ended up losing by 9 percentage points. But that isn't stopping Trump and the GOP from going back to the well.

Trump and the GOP have been in power for two years; this is their mess and they have failed.

Republicans control the White House, Congress and the Supreme Court. Yet, Trump is blaming Democrats for the Republican failure to deal with this challenge in an intelligent and serious manner. In fact, over the past two years, Trump and his immigration advisor Stephen Miller made sure to blow up every serious effort to enact bipartisan immigration legislation. Instead, the centerpiece of Trump's border policy has been to rip thousands of toddlers from their parents - a practice both immoral and ineffective. Now the Trump administration is gearing up to restart this dehumanizing and cruel policy.

There is a more humane and effective policy approach than the cruel and chaotic Trump approach.

A responsible, humane and effective approach to the multi-dimensional challenge of migration from Central America would do the following: 1) slow the out-migration from Central America by working with governments and civil society to give vulnerable residents a reason to stay home; 2) initiate a multilateral approach to protecting, screening and resettling refugees, including working with the UNHCR; and 3) state clearly that it is a strength when America stands as a beacon of hope and a country that recognizes the humanity of vulnerable people fleeing violence. Trump and his team done have done just opposite: 1) ending policies such as the Obama Administration's push to facilitate refugee applications from within countries of origin; 2) alienating and bullying regional allies while ignoring the UNHCR; and 3) separating families with breathless cruelty and no plans for reunification and gutting asylum rules and deny access to a fair process on what amounts to life-or-death refugee claims.

The following is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America's Voice:

Harry Truman famously said 'the buck stops here.' Trump tweets, blusters and blames. FDR said the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Trump says the main thing we have to fear are refugees. JFK called America a nation of immigrants. Trump calls on America to hate immigrants.

With respect to the policy challenge before us now, he doesn't get it. He thinks migration from Central America is a problem that starts and ends at the U.S.-Mexico border. He thinks bluster is a strategy. And he is failing miserably.

Of course, like everything with Trump, this is about politics. He's cynically exploiting the caravan in hopes of whipping up fears over immigrants to distract voters from the GOP's real record on healthcare.

The majority of Americans embrace immigrants and want leaders to bring us together and solve problems, rather than blame others. The majority of Americans dislike the divisiveness Trump relishes. Election Day is an opportunity for that majority to be heard.

It's the old "they're comin' ta git ya, run for your lives!!!!" gambit. Childish boogeyman stories from the President of the United States. .

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

Will The World Act On Climate Change Before It's Too Late?
By David Suzuki

When our children and grandchildren and those of us still here in 20 years look back to this time, will we say it was when the world finally got serious about the climate crisis? Or will we mark a tragic time when political and business leaders prioritized short-term economic gain over the future of humanity?

Listening to Canada's minister of environment and climate change respond on the radio to the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, Global Warming of 1.5 degreesC, didn't raise my hopes. Despite outlining good policies such as pricing carbon pollution and phasing out coal power, the government representative who should know the most about climate issues repeated numerous debunked and false talking points.

She floated the excuse for inaction I've been hearing for at least 30 years: "We aren't going to get off fossil fuels overnight." She skirted around a question about the climate impacts of burning the increasing amounts of bitumen government plans to ship to foreign markets. She touted Canada's biggest fossil fuel venture, a $40-billion, foreign-owned liquefied natural gas project, as a "climate solution" because it could replace coal power. That's despite research and advice from scientists about how the project impedes meeting our climate targets, the substantial and underreported release of the potent greenhouse gas methane from LNG and fracking, and the fact that LNG is as likely to slow renewable energy development as to replace coal-fired power.

She also repeated the tired refrain of politicians from across the spectrum, that economic considerations are as important as environmental ones - equating the relatively new, human-created, outdated economic system with the timeless natural systems on which our health, well-being and survival depend.

It could be worse. The U.S. president's response to the IPCC report was, "I want to look at who drew it. You know, which group drew it. I can give you reports that are fabulous and I can give you reports that aren't so good." Beyond its inarticulate nature, the comment displays a profound lack of understanding of climate change, the IPCC and the work of climate scientists worldwide whose research informs its reports.

Listening to these politicians could lead people to think global warming isn't an urgent challenge or that the science and its well-known, already observable effects are up for debate. The only issues we should be debating are the best ways to confront the crisis.

The IPCC special report, prepared by 91 researchers from 40 countries and based on more than 6,000 scientific resources, is clear: "Limiting global warming to 1.5 degreesC would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society." Temperatures have already risen close to 1 C.

The report warns we have about 12 years to act decisively if we are to avoid a dramatic increase in impacts we're already experiencing: extreme weather events, droughts, floods, rising sea levels, diminishing polar ice and subsequent feedback loops that accelerate warming, and ecosystem collapse among them.

Those who argue the economy is too important to stop developing and expanding fossil fuel infrastructure - from oilsands to pipelines to deep sea drilling to fracking - ignore the mounting costs of climate disruption and the economic benefits of shifting to cleaner energy. A report by the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction found climate-related disaster losses cost US$2.2 trillion over the past two decades, up from $895 billion over the previous two decades. (It only accounts for official reports and insurance stats, so likely only represents a fraction of the true costs.) Meanwhile, worldwide employment and opportunities in the clean energy sector continue to grow.

The IPCC report lays out numerous solutions, including "shifting to low- or zero-emission power generation, such as renewables; changing food systems, such as diet changes away from land-intensive animal products; electrifying transport and developing 'green infrastructure', such as building green roofs, or improving energy efficiency by smart urban planning, which will change the layout of many cities."

Will we and our elected leaders heed these dire warnings and start facilitating and implementing solutions at the pace required to forestall disaster? Or will we continue to abuse this small planet that gives us life until it's too late? It's time to decide - and to hold all politicians to account.

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

Trump's New Attack on Transgender People Is Another Sign It's About the Cruelty Itself
How is this in the national interest in any way?
By Charles P. Pierce

At the beginning of October, Adam Serwer of The Atlantic wrote the most important assessment of where we are under this president*, and of the damage being done by the mutual feedback loop between him and his increasingly mindless cultists. Serwer makes the point that the essential dehumanizing cruelty of the president* and of the meat-headed tribe that follows him is the whole purpose of the exercise.

Taking joy in that suffering is more human than most would like to admit. Somewhere on the wide spectrum between adolescent teasing and the smiling white men in the lynching photographs are the Trump supporters whose community is built by rejoicing in the anguish of those they see as unlike them, who have found in their shared cruelty an answer to the loneliness and atomization of modern life.
Me? I'd suggest some of them grow up and find another answer to the loneliness and atomization of modern life. The corner saloon leaps immediately to mind. As does church, or lawn darts. Serwer continued:
The laughter undergirds the daily spectacle of insincerity, as the president and his aides pledge fealty to bedrock democratic principles they have no intention of respecting. The president who demanded the execution of five black and Latino teenagers for a crime they didn't commit decrying "false accusations," when his Supreme Court nominee stands accused; his supporters who fancy themselves champions of free speech meet references to Hillary Clinton or a woman whose only crime was coming forward to offer her own story of abuse with screams of >Lock her up!" The political movement that elected a president who wanted to ban immigration by adherents of an entire religion, who encourages police to brutalize suspects, and who has destroyed thousands of immigrant families for violations of the law less serious than those of which he and his coterie stand accused, now.
You can't have spent 15 minutes at a Trump campaign rally without knowing in your bones that Serwer is telling the truth. This is what "energizing his base" really means, and it's, well, really mean. This is what was built to serve somebody like Donald Trump by various conservative politicians, the people that worked for them, and the media outlets that informed all of the above. (Many of those same people are now making a nice living being appalled at what has managed to get out of the lab.) This is what "solidifying his vote" means. Cruelty. Nothing more.

Over the weekend, we got another nice bit of evidence supporting Serwer's theory. From The New York Times:

Now the Department of Health and Human Services is spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times. The department argued in its memo that key government agencies needed to adopt an explicit and uniform definition of gender as determined "on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable." The agency's proposed definition would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with, according to a draft reviewed by The Times. Any dispute about one's sex would have to be clarified using genetic testing.
What is this except cruelty toward fellow Americans who make you uncomfortable? What is this but pandering to religious-based ignorance? This decision serves no public policy purpose. How is this in the national interest in any way? These people really are the f_cking mole people. For the last year, the Department of Health and Human Services has privately argued that the term "sex" was never meant to include gender identity or even homosexuality, and that the lack of clarity allowed the Obama administration to wrongfully extend civil rights protections to people who should not have them. I didn't know there were Americans who should not have civil rights protections.
Roger Severino, the director of the Office for Civil Rights at the department, declined to answer detailed questions about the memo or his role in interagency discussions about how to revise the definition of sex under Title IX...Mr. Severino, while serving as the head of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation, was among the conservatives who blanched at the Obama administration's expansion of sex to include gender identity, which he called "radical gender ideology." In one commentary piece, he called the policies a "culmination of a series of unilateral, and frequently lawless, administration attempts to impose a new definition of what it means to be a man or a woman on the entire nation."
The DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation. If you want to play Bad Wingnut Policy Bingo, you're almost halfway home.

(c) 2018 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote-

"Hell hath no fury like a liberal scorned."
~~~ Dick Gregory

Nobody To Vote For
By David Swanson

When I say there is nobody to vote for, I don't just mean the familiar complaint that the candidates may be different shades of evil but are all too evil to support, that the earth's climate does not recover one iota because some even worse policy has been averted, that sadistic bombings and humanitarian bombings actually look identical. I do mean all of that. But I also mean that candidates are campaigning as and being presented as nothing, as empty figures with no positions on anything.

What is the most common foreign policy position on the websites of Democratic candidates for U.S. Congress? Quick! It's not hard! You got it? You're wrong. It was a trick question. Most of their websites do not admit to the existence of 96% of humanity in any way shape or form - although one can infer that the world must exist, because so many of them express such deep love for veterans.

Numerous resources claim to fill the gap, but like private weather profiteers regurgitating federal data, they mostly just pick out bits of the almost nothing coming from the candidates and re-package it as Useful Voter Information. The Campus Election Engagement Project has nothing on Virginia's Fifth District Congressional race, and on the Virginia race for U.S. Senate it has next to nothing. In a nod to the existence of the earth, it tells us the candidates' positions on the Iran nuclear agreement, plus three questions on the environment. But the fact that one of the two candidates' whole schtick is hatred of immigrants, glorification of racism, and fascistic devotion to Trump doesn't come up in the predictable policy questions. Nor does the duplicity of the other guy's constant support for presidential war-making, while claiming to oppose it, make the cut.

The League of Women Voters is worse. They present seven predictable questions that they claim neither major-party candidate has answered, although they could have grabbed the answers to at least five of them from the candidates' websites. None of the seven questions admit to the existence of a world outside the borders of the United States, apart from the fact that "immigrants" must come from somewhere. None of the questions addresses any sort of problem related to the habitability of the planet. When it comes to the Senate, the League presents answers to the same questions from three candidates. The League is, however, compelled to indirectly admit to the existence of the world and problems in it, because it explains two questions that will be on the ballot for public votes in Virginia, one related to taxes on flooded property, the other to taxes for spouses of disabled or killed participants in wars.

Then there's This one claims a broader range of issues covered, including "Foreign Policy," and also "Defense/Veterans." How in the world "foreign policy" is separated from "defense" (taking the latter to be a euphemism for militarism) and how "defense" is paired with "veterans" is not explained. Each section contains a few sentence fragments, each one in quotes and linked to its source, which is usually the candidate's website. has 16 things it thinks you should know about a Congressional candidate. Two relate to foreign policy, and each asks - with a straight face - whether the U.S. government should commit the greatest crime imaginable: "Should the United States use military force in order to prevent governments hostile to the U.S. from possessing a nuclear weapon?" "Do you support increased American intervention in Middle Eastern conflicts beyond air support?" The answer that VoteSmart provides for each of the major-party candidates in Virginia's Fifth is, for each question, "unknown."

I understand that Code Pink is about to publish a voting guide that will list the dollar figures from that incumbents have taken from weapons dealers, which is certainly useful as far as incumbents go. It will also draw on Peace Action's scorecard for incumbents, although those have typically graded on a curve, avoiding any votes in Congress that were heavily slanted one way or the other, in order to pick out the votes most evenly split along partisan lines, and omitting anything not voted on.

The most likely place to find what scraps exist remains candidates' own websites. In some cases, this can be augmented from speeches and interviews. Even after doing that research yourself, you will almost certainly still lack an answer to any of these 20 basic questions:

1. What would you like the U.S. discretionary budget to look like? With 60% now going to militarism, what percentage would you like that to be?
2. What program of economic conversion to peaceful enterprises would you support?
3. Would you end, continue, or escalate U.S. war making in: Afghanistan? Iraq? Syria? Yemen? Pakistan? Libya? Somalia?
4. Would you end the exemption for militarism in Kyoto, Paris, and other climate agreements?
5. Would you sign / ratify any of these treaties: Paris Climate Agreement? Convention on the Rights of the Child? International Convention on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights? International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights optional protocols? Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women? Convention Against Torure optional protocol? International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families? International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance? The Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities? International Convention Against the Recruitment, Use, Financing, and Training of Mercenaries? Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court? Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity? Principles of International Cooperation in the Detection, Arrest, Extradition, and Punishment of Persons Guilty of War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity? Convention on Cluster Munitions? Land Mines Convention? Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons? Proposed treaties banning the weaponization of space and banning cyber crimes?
6. Would you halt or continue expenditures on the production and so-called modernization of nuclear weapons?
7. Would you end weapons sales and the provision of military training to any governments? Which?
8. Would you close any foreign bases? Which?
9. Would you halt or continue the practice of murder by missiles from drones?
10. Do you recognize the ban on war, with exceptions, contained in the United Nations Charter? And the ban on threatening war?
11. Do you recognize the ban on war, without exceptions, contained in the Kellogg-Briand Pact?
12. Will you end discriminatory bans on immigrants?
13. Should actual, non-military, no-strings-attached foreign aid be eliminated, reduced, maintained, or increased? How much?
14. 84% of South Koreans want the war ended immediately. Should the United States block that?
15. Should NATO be maintained or abolished?
16. Should the CIA be maintained or abolished?
17. Should the ROTC be maintained or abolished?
18. Should domestic police forces be trained by, collaborate with, and be armed by militaries?
19. Should the U.S. military pay sports leagues, secretly or openly, to celebrate militarism?
20. How large should the U.S. military's advertising budget be, and how much should the U.S. government spend promoting the concepts of nonviolent dispute resolution and the abolition of war?

(c) 2018 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

Money Money Money
Only rich people can afford to report on America's "wars"
By Jane Stillwater

Thank goodness for FaceBook. If it weren't for Mr. Zukerman's reluctant invention, we would never have any idea at all regarding what is actually going on in the world right now, even in "war" zones. Thanks to FB, however, we have easy access to over a billion on-the-scene eye witnesses located in almost every nook and cranny on the globe.

Or at least we used to.

But please be aware that things are run a hecka lot differently in the mainstream media. There's never any local citizens on FB covering the news for the MSM in all those trumped-up war zones that Washington and Lockheed-Martin seem to love so much. Only reporters hired by rich people can afford to report stuff on mainstream media news feeds from there. And because only rich people can afford to hire MSM war correspondents, we only get rich people's accounts of what's going on in these so-called "wars". Nobody else can afford it.

Take me for example. I would immediately run off to such hot-spots and/or hell-holes as Libya, Afghanistan, Honduras or Yemen and report nothing but the truth back to you -- but to do that, I would have to win the lottery first.

And not just any lottery either. It's got to be the mega-million-dollar PowerBall SuperLotto jackpot if I am ever gonna have even a tiny chance of reporting back to you from Benghazi or Gaza. You simply can't get an accurate news-feed from Aleppo or Kabul for free these days.

For instance, when I was an embedded reporter in Iraq in 2007, I was totally stuck in the so-called Green Zone of Baghdad -- where absolutely nothing was going on and there weren't even any Iraqis to talk to. "But I want to go out and report on the rest of Baghdad too," I complained to my official US Army minder there.

"Of course you can go out into the Red Zone," my babysitter replied, "but you'll be dead within 15 minutes of crossing that bridge over the Tigris -- unless you can afford eight thousands dollars to hire a platoon of mercenaries and a tank." Er, no.

Being a "war" correspondent is simply too expensive for me.

And another thing that I would just love to report on? What the freak is going on with the Saudis? Why have they suddenly dropped their alliance with America and ISIS and become BFFs with the Russians instead? Could it possibly be that they are starting to think that America might be planning to do unto them what America has already done to Libya, Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Indonesia and Afghanistan? To most of the world's oil-bearing nations? And is hoping to do to Iran, Russia and Venezuela too? Is there a pattern here or what?

And it's not too hard to imagine that, at this rate, Big Oil will eventually gain a monopoly on every single drop of oil currently left in the world. But then what happens? Do you honestly think that the price of gas in America will suddenly start to drop after that? With a Big Oil monopoly firmly in place? Yeah right.

And as for that Washington Post journalist who just got hacked to death by the Saudis? Face it, guys. It's been decades since America has ever given a shite about freedom of speech or even the lives of any journalists -- or even about Saudi terrorism in Yemen or at the World Trade Center either. You can just bet that Money Money Money is somehow involved here too.

And if I win the lottery, I'm gonna go to Saudi Arabia (again) and find out just what.

PS: There are also lots of places closer to home, right here in the belly of the Beast itself, that I can afford to go report on. For instance, there's that never-ending "war on drugs" zone in El Paso/Juarez. Or I could report on that war zone in Washington DC where Congress is fighting like crazy to steal our Social Security. Or the war zone in Georgia where Black people, even after 400 years, are still fighting for their right to vote. Or the war zone in South Dakota where Native Americans are fighting for the right to have drinkable water. Or ditto that war zone in Flint.

Or I could even report on that war zone right here in Berkeley where we are desperately fighting for affordable housing and the prevention of climate catastrophe -- and also fighting for our right to not have the corporate-owned White House, Congress and Supreme Court continuously stomp on our dreams.

(c) 2018 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!

The Dead Letter Office-

Heil Trump,

Dear Staats Senator Green,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your stopping medicaid to some 300,000 and closing hospitals because of you mythology, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

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

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

Message To Millennials
By Robert Reich

You are the largest, most diverse, and progressive group of potential voters in American history, comprising fully 30 percent of the voting age population.

On November 6th, you have the power to alter the course of American politics - flipping Congress, changing the leadership of states and cities, making lawmakers act and look more like the people who are literally the nation's future.

But you need to vote. In the last midterm election, in 2014, only 16 percent of eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 29 even bothered.

Now, I understand. I was young once. You have a lot on your minds - starting jobs, and careers, and families. Also, unlike your grandparents-some of whom were involved in civil rights, voting rights, women's rights, the anti-Vietnam War movement-you may not remember a time when political action changed America for the better.

You don't even recall when American democracy worked well. Instead, during your lifetime you've watched big money take over Washington and state capitals. Which may explain why only about 30 percent of you born in the 1980s think it "essential" to live in a democracy.

But the issues up for grabs this coming November 6 are not ideological abstractions. They're causes in which you have direct personal stakes.

Take, for example, gun violence - which some of you have experienced first-hand and have taken active roles trying to stop.

Or immigrant's rights. Over 20 percent of you are Latino, and a growing percent of you are from families that emigrated from Asia. Many of you have directly experienced the consequences of Trump's policies.

A woman's right to choose whether to have a baby, and gay's or lesbian's rights to marry. They're also issues you're deeply committed to. They'll be front and center if the Supreme Court, as expected, puts them back into the hands of Congress and state legislatures.

You're also concerned about student debt, access to college, and opportunities to get ahead unimpeded by racial bigotry or sexual harassment.

And you're worried about the environment. You know climate change will hit you hardest since you will be on the planet longer than older voters.

You've also seen that your votes count. You saw Hillary lose by a relative handful of votes in places like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. You're aware of the slim but increasingly real possibility of taking back the Senate.

As doubtful as you are are about politics, or the differences between the two parties, you also know that Donald Trump and his Republican enablers want to take the nation backwards to an old, white, privileged, isolated America. You don't.

In my thirty-five years of teaching college students, I've not encountered a generation as dedicated to making the nation better as yours.

So my betting is on you, this November 6th. Please register and vote.

(c) 2018 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is

The Rule Of The Uber-Rich Means Either Tyranny Or Revolution
By Chris Hedges

At the age of 10 I was sent as a scholarship student to a boarding school for the uber-rich in Massachusetts. I lived among the wealthiest Americans for the next eight years. I listened to their prejudices and saw their cloying sense of entitlement. They insisted they were privileged and wealthy because they were smarter and more talented. They had a sneering disdain for those ranked below them in material and social status, even the merely rich. Most of the uber-rich lacked the capacity for empathy and compassion. They formed elite cliques that hazed, bullied and taunted any nonconformist who defied or did not fit into their self-adulatory universe.

It was impossible to build a friendship with most of the sons of the uber-rich. Friendship for them was defined by "what's in it for me?" They were surrounded from the moment they came out of the womb by people catering to their desires and needs. They were incapable of reaching out to others in distress-whatever petty whim or problem they had at the moment dominated their universe and took precedence over the suffering of others, even those within their own families. They knew only how to take. They could not give. They were deformed and deeply unhappy people in the grip of an unquenchable narcissism.

It is essential to understand the pathologies of the uber-rich. They have seized total political power. These pathologies inform Donald Trump, his children, the Brett Kavanaughs, and the billionaires who run his administration. The uber-rich cannot see the world from anyone's perspective but their own. People around them, including the women whom entitled men prey upon, are objects designed to gratify momentary lusts or be manipulated. The uber-rich are almost always amoral. Right. Wrong. Truth. Lies. Justice. Injustice. These concepts are beyond them. Whatever benefits or pleases them is good. What does not must be destroyed.

The pathology of the uber-rich is what permits Trump and his callow son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to conspire with de facto Saudi ruler Mohammed bin Salman, another product of unrestrained entitlement and nepotism, to cover up the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whom I worked with in the Middle East. The uber-rich spend their lives protected by their inherited wealth, the power it wields and an army of enablers, including other members of the fraternity of the uber-rich, along with their lawyers and publicists. There are almost never any consequences for their failures, abuses, mistreatment of others and crimes. This is why the Saudi crown prince and Kushner have bonded. They are the homunculi the uber-rich routinely spawn.

The rule of the uber-rich, for this reason, is terrifying. They know no limits. They have never abided by the norms of society and never will. We pay taxes-they don't. We work hard to get into an elite university or get a job-they don't. We have to pay for our failures-they don't. We are prosecuted for our crimes-they are not.

The uber-rich live in an artificial bubble, a land called Richistan, a place of Frankenmansions and private jets, cut off from our reality. Wealth, I saw, not only perpetuates itself but is used to monopolize the new opportunities for wealth creation. Social mobility for the poor and the working class is largely a myth. The uber-rich practice the ultimate form of affirmative action, catapulting white, male mediocrities like Trump, Kushner and George W. Bush into elite schools that groom the plutocracy for positions of power. The uber-rich are never forced to grow up. They are often infantilized for life, squalling for what they want and almost always getting it. And this makes them very, very dangerous.

Political theorists, from Aristotle and Karl Marx to Sheldon Wolin, have warned against the rule of the uber-rich. Once the uber-rich take over, Aristotle writes, the only options are tyranny and revolution. They do not know how to nurture or build. They know only how to feed their bottomless greed. It's a funny thing about the uber-rich: No matter how many billions they possess, they never have enough. They are the Hungry Ghosts of Buddhism. They seek, through the accumulation of power, money and objects, an unachievable happiness. This life of endless desire often ends badly, with the uber-rich estranged from their spouses and children, bereft of genuine friends. And when they are gone, as Charles Dickens wrote in "A Christmas Carol," most people are glad to be rid of them.

C. Wright Mills in "The Power Elite," one of the finest studies of the pathologies of the uber-rich, wrote:

They exploited national resources, waged economic wars among themselves, entered into combinations, made private capital out of the public domain, and used any and every method to achieve their ends. They made agreements with railroads for rebates; they purchased newspapers and bought editors; they killed off competing and independent businesses and employed lawyers of skill and statesmen of repute to sustain their rights and secure their privileges. There is something demonic about these lords of creation; it is not merely rhetoric to call them robber barons.
Corporate capitalism, which has destroyed our democracy, has given unchecked power to the uber-rich. And once we understand the pathologies of these oligarchic elites, it is easy to chart our future. The state apparatus the uber-rich controls now exclusively serves their interests. They are deaf to the cries of the dispossessed. They empower those institutions that keep us oppressed-the security and surveillance systems of domestic control, militarized police, Homeland Security and the military-and gut or degrade those institutions or programs that blunt social, economic and political inequality, among them public education, health care, welfare, Social Security, an equitable tax system, food stamps, public transportation and infrastructure, and the courts. The uber-rich extract greater and greater sums of money from those they steadily impoverish. And when citizens object or resist, they crush or kill them.

The uber-rich care inordinately about their image. They are obsessed with looking at themselves. They are the center of their own universe. They go to great lengths and expense to create fictional personas replete with nonexistent virtues and attributes. This is why the uber-rich carry out acts of well-publicized philanthropy. Philanthropy allows the uber-rich to engage in moral fragmentation. They ignore the moral squalor of their lives, often defined by the kind of degeneracy and debauchery the uber-rich insist is the curse of the poor, to present themselves through small acts of charity as caring and beneficent. Those who puncture this image, as Khashoggi did with Salman, are especially despised. And this is why Trump, like all the uber-rich, sees a critical press as the enemy. It is why Trump and Kushner's eagerness to conspire to help cover up Khashoggi's murder is ominous. Trump's incitements to his supporters, who see in him the omnipotence they lack and yearn to achieve, to carry out acts of violence against his critics are only a few steps removed from the crown prince's thugs dismembering Khashoggi with a bone saw. And if you think Trump is joking when he suggests the press should be dealt with violently you understand nothing about the uber-rich. He will do what he can get away with, even murder. He, like most of the uber-rich, is devoid of a conscience.

The more enlightened uber-rich, the East Hamptons and Upper East Side uber-rich, a realm in which Ivanka and Jared once cavorted, look at the president as gauche and vulgar. But this distinction is one of style, not substance. Donald Trump may be an embarrassment to the well-heeled Harvard and Princeton graduates at Goldman Sachs, but he serves the uber-rich as assiduously as Barack Obama and the Democratic Party do. This is why the Obamas, like the Clintons, have been inducted into the pantheon of the uber-rich. It is why Chelsea Clinton and Ivanka Trump were close friends. They come from the same caste.

There is no force within ruling institutions that will halt the pillage by the uber-rich of the nation and the ecosystem. The uber-rich have nothing to fear from the corporate-controlled media, the elected officials they bankroll or the judicial system they have seized. The universities are pathetic corporation appendages. They silence or banish intellectual critics who upset major donors by challenging the reigning ideology of neoliberalism, which was formulated by the uber-rich to restore class power. The uber-rich have destroyed popular movements, including labor unions, along with democratic mechanisms for reform that once allowed working people to pit power against power. The world is now their playground.

In "The Postmodern Condition" the philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard painted a picture of the future neoliberal order as one in which "the temporary contract" supplants "permanent institutions in the professional, emotional, sexual, cultural, family and international domains, as well as in political affairs." This temporal relationship to people, things, institutions and the natural world ensures collective self-annihilation. Nothing for the uber-rich has an intrinsic value. Human beings, social institutions and the natural world are commodities to exploit for personal gain until exhaustion or collapse. The common good, like the consent of the governed, is a dead concept. This temporal relationship embodies the fundamental pathology of the uber-rich.

The uber-rich, as Karl Polanyi wrote, celebrate the worst kind of freedom-the freedom "to exploit one's fellows, or the freedom to make inordinate gains without commensurable service to the community, the freedom to keep technological inventions from being used for public benefit, or the freedom to profit from public calamities secretly engineered for private advantage." At the same time, as Polanyi noted, the uber-rich make war on the "freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of meeting, freedom of association, freedom to choose one's own job."

The dark pathologies of the uber-rich, lionized by mass culture and mass media, have become our own. We have ingested their poison. We have been taught by the uber-rich to celebrate the bad freedoms and denigrate the good ones. Look at any Trump rally. Watch any reality television show. Examine the state of our planet. We will repudiate these pathologies and organize to force the uber-rich from power or they will transform us into what they already consider us to be-the help.

(c) 2018 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Gary Varvel ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Trump Dispatches Sarah Huckabee Sanders To Saudi Arabia To Provide Lying Advice
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)-Donald J. Trump has dispatched the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, to Saudi Arabia to provide what the White House on Thursday called "essential lying advice and assistance."

According to the counsellor to the President Kellyanne Conway, "The President was not happy with the quality of lies coming out of the Saudi royal family, and who better to fix that than Sarah Sanders?"

Sources close to Sanders said that the press secretary was "horrified" during her first meeting in Riyadh to discover that the crown prince's lying skills were "rudimentary at best."

"The absence of a free press in Saudi Arabia means that M.B.S."-Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman-"has had virtually zero experience lying to reporters," Sanders reportedly told one of her aides. "The learning curve is going to be steep."

In perhaps her most withering comment on the state of the Saudis' lying, Sanders said, "These clowns could never have gotten Kavanaugh confirmed."

(c) 2018 Andy Borowitz

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Issues & Alibis Vol 18 # 42 (c) 10/26/2018

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