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In This Edition

Dahr Jamail returns with a must read, "New UN Report Warns Of Impending Catastrophe As World Warms, Glaciers Melt."

Thom Hartmann exclaims, "Medicare For All Will Destroy The GOP-Because Of Voting!"

Glen Ford reviews the, "Midterm Elections: Corporate Democrats Versus The Monster They Empowered ."

Pepe Escobar goes, "Under The Pakistani Volcano."

Jim Hightower asks, "Should You Have To Pay To Protest?"

John Nichols interviews, "Bernie Sanders: 'Trump Is Somebody Who Clearly Does Not Respect Democracy.'"

James Donahue is, "Understanding Hate In America."

William Rivers Pitt reports, "A Storm Of Dirty Tricks And Presidential Racism Mar The 2018 Midterms."

Heather Digby Parton reports, "Border Patrol Cancels Its Election Day 'Mobile Field Force Demonstration.'"

Medea Benjamin returns with, "Trump Bullying Will Hurt Millions Of Iranians."

Charles P. Pierce declares, "There Is Now An Institution Of The American Government That Isn't Controlled By-Or Afraid Of-Donald Trump."

David Swanson reviews, "Charlottesville: The Movie."

Jane Stillwater compares and contrasts, "Pittsburgh & Gaza Vs. The Holocaust Industry."

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich finds, "America Rejects Trumpism."

Chris Hedges compares, "Scum Vs. Scum."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst says, "Scary Scary," but first Uncle Ernie sez, "The People Have Spoken!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Dan Wasserman, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, Darh Jamail, John Locher, Jeff Darcy, Tom Williams, Jeff Mitchell, Zach Gibson, Nicholas Kamm, Mark Reinstein, 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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The People Have Spoken!
By Ernest Stewart

"People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war or before an election." ~~~ Otto von Bismarck

"I want everybody to report whatever they want, but ultimately, I'm the one that makes that final decision. I can also give you reports where people very much dispute that, you know, you do have scientists that very much dispute it. I want to make sure that we have the cleanest air." ~~~ Donald tRump

"Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
And another one gone, and another one gone
Another one bites the dust.""
Another One Bites The Dust ~~~ Queen

"If you're not making someone else's life better, then you're wasting your time. Your life will become better by making other lives better." ~~~ Will Smith

Here in Michigan we threw the rascals out. Gretchen Whitmer is our new governor, Dana Nessel was elected Attorney General, Jocelyn Benson is our new Secretary of State. All three of those positions were formally held by Rethuglicans, but thanks to the libertarians voting, the right lost; had they all voted Rethulican all three Rethuglican candidates would have won! We also got rid of some of our worst Rethuglican Con-gressmen who too were replaced by the ladies! We kept our Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow. A great day for the ladies, and the people of Michigan!

All three of our Propositions passed which were as importnat as the Democratic sweep.

Prop one: Legalized cannabis for recreational use. It had been legal for medical use since 2008. Time to par tay Michigan!!!

Prop two: The "Redistricting Commission" takes away politicians from drawing the voting boundaries and puts it into the hands of the people, which should return the Michigan House and Senate to the people.

Prop 3: Which will allow automatic, election day registering, amongst other things, making all the people eligible to vote, getting rid of any Jim Crow laws on the books!

Meanwhile we took control of the US House which should effectively protect, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps and tie tRump's tiny hands from more mischief as the House amongst other things controls the purse strings! It also means that Mueller is free to proceed with his investigation!

It wasn't everything that it could have been, but at leasts it's a good start! Rock on America!

In Other News

I see where a study released this past week reports that oceans absorbed 60 percent more heat than previously thought. The study estimates that for each of the past 25 years, oceans have absorbed an amount of heat energy that is 150 times the energy humans produce as electricity annually.

As you can imagine this causes havoc amongst the ocean dwellers! Scientists report that about 93 percent of the global warming caused by burning carbon for fuel is felt as changes in ocean temperature, while only a very small amount of this warming occurs in the air. Several billion people rely upon the oceans for a food source and that source is rapidly drying up. If that's not bad enough for the last 7 years the Japanese have been posoning the oceans with radioactive isotopes from their destroyed nuclear reactors to the point that every tuna fish caught in the Pacific ocean since 2012 has been radioactive, every one, bon apetite!

Meanwhile back on the land food producers continue dealing with the impact of record-breaking rain during this fall season of 2018, a new study finds that greenhouse gases are increasingly disrupting the jet stream, the powerful river of winds that steers weather systems in the Northern Hemisphere.

The results of that disruption are: more frequent summer droughts; floods; and wildfires. And, in agriculture, this includes: extensive crop and livestock damage because of long-lasting extreme weather occurrences. This study was done by an international group of scientists, led by Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann.

In this latest study, the research group noted that, on a very basic level, unusual warmth in the Arctic causes jet streams -- the rivers of air in the atmosphere that push and pull our weather around -- to slow down, stall or meander in strange ways. When the undulations of the jet stream lock in place, weather systems can be trapped and cause havoc in our weather. This development of extreme and unusual jet stream patterns is known technically as "quasi-resonant amplification." The study found that before the turn of the century, this effect could double.

And with "Dear Leader" in charge, a man with the brains of a duck (see quote above) we are certainly doomed if the Donald has any say in the matter, and he thinks that he does. Oh, and I'd like to make a sincere, and humble apology, to all the members of Duckdom for comparing them to tRump!

And Finally

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is no more. Sure he was a racist bigot. but apparently he followed the law, at least as it applied to himself and tRump. He is no more because he recused himself from tRumps Russian deals as he wouldn't protect der fuhrer from prosecution for his Russian crimes, so he had to go!

The man taking over the Justice Department following Jeff Sessions' firing as attorney general has argued that special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation went too far.

Matthew Whitaker, who was Sessions' chief of staff, is expected to take over oversight of Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether tRump and his campaign associates colluded with Russia. Imagine that!

tRump's dismissal of Sessions has raised yet more questions over how much influence tRump will have over Mueller's probe, which has been a source of pain since it began in spring 2017. tRump has complained repeatedly about Mueller's investigation, calling it a "witch hunt," and slammed Sessions in public repeatedly for recusing himself from the Russia probe, a step that helped lead to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointing Mueller.

Does the "Saturday Night Massacre" ring any bells, America? It brought Nixon down and if tRump tries it, it will bring him down too!

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!


04-26-1932 ~ 11-07-2018
Thanks for the music!


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

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

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


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

Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 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.

Glacier Peak in the central Cascade Mountains, seen from the East. The rapid retreat of the glaciers
on this 10,541-foot mountain is starkly apparent in this photo of the fourth-highest mountain in Washington State.

New UN Report Warns Of Impending Catastrophe As World Warms, Glaciers Melt
By Darh Jamail

"One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise." - Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

I have come to accept the bittersweet nature of my mountain trips. I venture into the heights for solace from the political, social and ecological demise that is raging across the planet. While camping at 7,000 feet in the central Cascade Mountains, I take in the view of the grand east face of Glacier Peak from atop Fortress Mountain. I gulp in the thick stars above. I find solace in the fact that those who are wrecking the planet will never be able to desecrate the stars.

However, while marveling at the glaciers glowing in the morning sun on Glacier Peak, their rapid retreat is starkly highlighted by the barren Earth below, where they once resided.

Visible on the left side of the photo, far off in the distance, is a massive plume from a large wildfire continuing to burn in Eastern Washington.

My last trip was on October 20, and from the summit, a 360-degree view revealed no less than four wildfires still burning. It was well into the fall in the Pacific Northwest, yet smoke still covered vast swaths of the state and was rapidly filling in the valleys below me.

While hiking out later, the after effects were inescapable. Portions of the forest I hiked through bore the scars of previous wildfires, and served as a warning of more to come.

Wildfires, made more frequent, hotter and larger due to climate change, are torching the Pacific Northwest.

The biggest news in the corporate media regarding climate change since my last dispatch has been the UN report stating that we have 12 years left to limit a full-on climate change catastrophe. To avoid this fate, we would need to spend those 12 years curbing global emissions dramatically. Essentially, there would need to be a government-mandated plan across the globe that would enable us to limit warming to 1.5 degrees centigrade (1.5 C) rather than the 2 C goal of the 2015 Paris climate talks. Eliminating that extra .5 of warming would save tens of millions of people from sea level rise inundation, and hundreds of millions from water scarcity and a myriad of other catastrophic impacts. Limiting warming to 1.5 C would, scientists have said, require a radical rethinking of virtually every facet of modern society, including an abandonment of our entire fossil-fuel based economy. However, currently, we are headed for at least a 3C increase by 2100, with no mass government mobilization in sight.

Meanwhile, the warnings that the catastrophe is already upon us continue.

A recent study in a paper published August 31 in the journal Science warned that for each degree of rise in global temperature, insect-driven losses to the staple crops of rice, wheat and corn increase by 10-25 percent. Given we are already at 1.1 C warming, we are already seeing these losses, which are sure to increase. "In 2016, the United Nations estimated that at least 815 million people worldwide don't get enough to eat," the University of Washington Press wrote of the study. "Corn, rice and wheat are staple crops for about 4 billion people, and account for about two-thirds of the food energy intake, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization."

At the same time, scientists are deeply concerned about the fact that non-pest insect numbers are declining rapidly. Bees, moths, butterflies, ladybugs and other insects are far less abundant, and scientists around the world warn that these insects are crucial to as much as 80 percent of all the food we eat. "You have total ecosystem collapse if you lose your insects," University of Delaware entomologist Doug Tallamy told the AP. "How much worse can it get than that?"

Meanwhile, in the realm of sea level rise, things are irreversibly catastrophic. A recent study of Antarctic ice sheets shows them to be far more sensitive to temperature increases than previously believed. The study showed that when global temperatures were only slightly warmer than they are currently, sea levels were 20-30 feet higher than they are right now. "It doesn't need to be a very big warming, as long as it stays 2 degrees warmer for a sufficient time, this is the end game," David Wilson, a geologist at Imperial College London and one of the authors of the new research told The Washington Post.

Equally disturbingly, lakes in the Arctic are literally bubbling and hissing: They are releasing methane in large quantities as the ground underneath them thaws. Methane is a greenhouse gas 100 times more potent than carbon dioxide on a 10-year timescale, and the widespread release of methane was a key driver of the Permian Mass Extinction event which annihilated more than 90 percent of life on Earth.

Meanwhile, the Arctic sea ice is melting rapidly. Ice extent reached its annual minimum recently, which is normally when the ice would begin reforming rapidly, particularly right in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. Instead, the ice continued to decline.

To underscore how governments are not doing enough to mitigate climate change impacts, Brazil, a major greenhouse gas emitting country, recently elected right-wing extremist Jair Bolsonaro as president. To say he is anti-environment (in addition to homophobic, racist and sexist) would be a gross understatement. Known as the Trump of the Tropics, his plans include disempowering federal environmental agencies, opening up Indigenous reserves in the Amazon to mining and farming, and building hydroelectric dams in the rainforest, where deforestation, already at crisis levels, is set to explode.


Impacts of human-caused climate disruption across the terrestrial plane are becoming increasingly stark.

A recently published study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that global insects are in a crisis, and the problem is even more widespread than previously realized. While previous studies had revealed a 45 percent decrease in invertebrates like bees and beetles in the last 35 years and another study showed a 76 percent decrease in flying insects in the last few decades in German nature preserves, the new study shows a startling loss of insects now extending into the Americas. The report cites climate change as the cause. "This is one of the most disturbing articles I have ever read," David Wagner, an expert in invertebrate conservation at the University of Connecticut told The Washington Post of the study.

Another recent study, also in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that more than 300 species of mammals have been driven to extinction by human activities. The study showed that even if humans ceased destroying wilderness areas and ended poaching and pollution within 50 years, and extinction rates fell back to normal levels, 5-7 million years would be required for the natural world to recover from what we have done to it. "We are doing something that will last millions of years beyond us," Matt Davis, a research leader at Aarhus University in Denmark, told The Guardian. "It shows the severity of what we are in right now. We're entering what could be an extinction on the scale of what killed the dinosaurs. That is pretty scary. We are starting to cut down the whole tree [of life], including the branch we are sitting on right now."

In the US West, a region iconic for its vast expanses and the freedom to roam in the wilderness that comes with them, some people refer to themselves as "prisoner[s] of the environment" (as reported in this piece in The Guardian) due to increasingly unhealthy air quality from wildfire smoke, water shortages and drought. Many residents are now wondering whether they should move.

Longer, hotter fire seasons, increasingly warm temperatures, less snowfall, changes in plants, and shorter winters are in the process of fundamentally changing Yellowstone National Park in the next few decades. "That conclusion is pretty much inescapable," John Gross, ecologist with the National Park Service's Climate Change response program, told USA Today. "It's really more a question of the when and how it occurs than if."

And it's not just Yellowstone. The recently published study, "Disproportionate magnitude of climate change in United States national parks," has shown that the parks have warmed twice as fast as the US average, and could well see the worst impacts of climate change. This is due to the fact that vast portions of national park areas are located at higher elevations, in the arid southwestern US, or in the Arctic. The iconic trees of Joshua Tree National Park may soon find their environment uninhabitable. Glacier National Park will eventually be free of glaciers. And many other national parks could be left virtually unrecognizable by climate change.

Meanwhile, as permafrost continues to thaw and water seeps deeper into mountain crags, increasingly severe storms (thanks to climate change) will destabilize mountains and increase the risk of landslides and rockfall.

Speaking of permafrost, a recent report showed that coastal erosion in the Arctic is intensifying climate change. As the coast there eroded during the end of the last glacial period (20,000 years ago), dramatic amounts of the frozen CO2 were released into the atmosphere. Now, this feedback loop - with climate change causing melting, melting causing CO2 release, and CO2 release exacerbating climate change - is beginning to occur again.

A recent study in Canada's British Columbia showed that climate change is pushing alpine animals higher up mountains, as well as into extinction. The study showed that both plants and animals are shifting upslope 100 meters for every 1 C in temperature increase.

It's not just plants and animals being forced to higher ground.

Some humans in the US are also moving to higher ground, as the era of mass climate migration has begun. The Great Migration in the US, a period during the 20th century when roughly 6 million black people fled the Jim Crow South for cities elsewhere, was the previous largest internal migration in the US. One study showed that by the end of this century, sea level rise alone could displace 13 million people, six million of those in Florida alone. That number doesn't include people fleeing drought and wildfire-prone areas, nor those having to move for lack of water, or ensuing violence. Making matters worse, another leading climate scientist warned that 15-20 feet of sea level rise is possible within the next 70 years. That amount of sea level rise would mean the end of, literally, every major coastal city on Earth. The number of people displaced would be in the hundreds of millions, as New York City, Boston, Miami, Lagos, Jakarta, Shanghai, Mumbai, New Orleans, vast swaths of Boston, and Ho Chi Min City would all be underwater.

A recent report from Yale 360 argued that the current system of rating hurricanes needs to be scrapped, because it fails to account for how climate change-augmented hurricanes are now carrying far more powerful storm surges, often moving slower, and bringing flooding from rainfall that the current system cannot account for.

If all of this information makes you feel despair, you are not alone. Another recent study warned of "catastrophic" mental health changes that are tied to climate change, including high levels of stress, anxiety and depression.


As usual, climate change-induced disruptions are glaringly apparent in the watery realms of Earth.

A massive iceberg is now poised to break off Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier. The iceberg is notably larger than the one that broke off the same glacier a year ago, which was 4.5 times the size of Manhattan.

In the US, given how many millions of people live in coastal flooding zones, with more looking to move to the coast, no one is required to even tell you if your future home is likely to flood. According to a recent study by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Sabin Center for Climate Law, "[i]n 21 US states there are no statutory or regulatory requirements for a seller to disclose a property's flood risks or past flood damages." The other 29 states have varying degrees of requirements to disclose this information.

In the low-lying coastal nation of Bangladesh, an entire country already beset by regular flooding, there is now an ongoing rural exodus into cities that is literally reshaping the country. With 163 million people, Bangladesh is the world's most populous delta. There, riverbank erosion alone displaces between 50,000-200,000 people annually, and the capital city of Dhaka is absorbing between 300,000-400,000 people - mostly climate migrants - each year.

On the other side of the spectrum of climate change-induced water disasters is drought.

In the US, a crisis at Lake Powell, between Utah and Arizona, is looming as the ongoing long-term drought impacts plaguing the Southwest are reaching farther and farther upstream. Water rationing has reached far upriver as places in Colorado have had to ration water due to diminishing snowpacks and the ongoing drought.

In New Mexico, water reservoirs are nearing bottom as they have been used to help people survive the record drought of 2018, but now they are nearly dry, prompting worries about how to deal with the future, for which only increasing widespread drought is predicted. For example, by late September, the largest reservoir in the state was at only 3 percent capacity.

Down in Australia, an ongoing drought is hotter and drier than anything people in the impacted areas have ever known, and it is getting worse. "It's quite unusual to get over 40C here but this last summer and the last couple of summers have been so scorchingly hot," a sheep farmer there told The Guardian. "You can see the water being sucked out of the dams, sucked out of the soil, sucked out of my life and you can't plan for that."


After another summer of rampant wildfires across the US West, several continue to burn well into the fall. Since my last dispatch, a Wyoming wildfire forced evacuations from hundreds of homes and forced the closure of a highway south of Jackson. By mid-September the wildfire had scorched at least 40,000 acres.

At the time of this writing, wildfires continued to burn in Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Colorado, Utah and Nevada.

A recent report discussed how wildfire tornadoes, record sizes and temperatures of wildfires, and other seeming anomalies will become phenomena we can expect regularly going into the future, thanks to climate change.


Record-breaking warm temperatures beset Anchorage, Alaska, in September, along with unusually dry weather.

Of the record-breaking high temperatures there, climatologist Brian Brettschneider told the Anchorage Daily News, "we are absolutely smashing, obliterating, September records." The average maximum daily temperature in September at the time of that report was 65.9 degrees Fahrenheit, more than 3 degrees warmer than the next closest September. On average, the typical average high temperature for the month of September there is 55 F.

High-temperature records were set across the state that month with Palmer, Kodiak, Seward, Kenai, Cordova and Valdez all setting records.

High-temperature records continue to be set around the world on a regular basis, yet in the US, the impacts are clear. Late October saw another record-breaking heat wave hit Southern California, with Los Angeles hitting 102 F.

Denial and Reality

In a recent interview, Donald Trump, who had called human-caused climate change "a Chinese hoax," said it is real, "but I don't know that it's manmade." He also said the climate will "change back again" - whatever that means.

Meanwhile, the ongoing denialism continues unabated in his administration. Climate change information was removed from an important planning document for a national park in New England, with the rationale that it was deemed a "sensitive" topic.

The North Carolina government did not like the science about sea level rise, so literally passed a law banning policies based on such forecasts. The state, of course, is still recovering from flooding from Hurricane Florence.

Meanwhile, Trump's EPA has abandoned restrictions against hydrofluorocarbons, a chemical that has been linked to climate change. OPEC announced it is predicting a massive increase in oil production over the next five years - enough so that it will offset CO2 reductions from electric cars. On that note, it was recently exposed that the state of Texas, already the leading emitter of greenhouse gasses in the US, has approved 43 petrochemical projects along the Gulf Coast since 2012 - projects that add millions of tons more of greenhouse gas pollution.

Stunningly, despite the terrifying weather events and dire predictions of what's to come, it has come to light that the Trump administration is aware of and accepts a projected 7-degree rise in global temperatures by just 2100. This came out in a draft statement issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which was written to justify Trump's decision to freeze federal fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks built after 2020. "The amazing thing they're saying is human activities are going to lead to this rise of carbon dioxide that is disastrous for the environment and society," Michael MacCracken, who served as a senior scientist at the US Global Change Research Program from 1993 to 2002 told The Washington Post. "And then they're saying they're not going to do anything about it."

The Trump administration's stance on climate change is essentially that we're doomed, so what's the point in cutting greenhouse gas emissions?

With regard to the alarming UN climate report, the White House basically shrugged it off, claiming that emissions in the US have dropped since 2005. This is a true statement, but does not explain the reason for that, which is a historic shift away from coal-fired electricity and toward renewables and natural gas.

Fortunately, reality is striking back.

A group of 17 bipartisan state governors representing states that comprise half of the total US GDP has vowed to both fight climate change and fight Donald Trump on the issue. They recently pledged $1.4 billion to support electric cars and institute new policies geared toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Stunningly, even Bloomberg, a business news outlet, is running stories with titles like "New Climate Debate: How to Adapt to the End of the World."

And of course, the language coming out of the UN is a sign that the international community is beginning to understand the full weight of climate change's implication.

Alas, this realization has not yet been met with the policy response it deserves. The author of a key UN report on the dangers of breaching the 1.5 C global warming limit recently said that the world is "nowhere near on track" to keep warming below even that already arbitrary level.

(c) 2018 Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last 10 years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.

Medicare For All Will Destroy The GOP-Because Of Voting!
If the national ID system were the key to getting your health care and medications, there'd be no need for "voter registration" and no ability for the GOP to purge voters.
By Thom Hartmann

The Canadian government considers your national healthcare card as your first-choice voter ID card. An American version could work identically, getting rid of outdated registration requirements and ending the vast effort by the GOP to suppress voter participation.

Now we know why the GOP is truly terrified of Medicare for All; it will wipe out the Republican Party's control of the House, Senate, White House, and most state governments. Because it could make it very easy for every citizen over 18 to vote.

Here's how it works.

In Canada, every citizen has a Canadian government-issued "Health Insurance Card" (you can see Quebec's card at the link). It's largely only available to citizens, as all citizens are eligible for the Canadian Medicare system; everybody else has to work out other insurance options (yes, there are insurance companies in Canada). And in most provinces, the card has your photo and works as an ID card as well as a driver's license or passport.

And the Canadian government also explicitly says right here on Quebec's elections website that your Medicare card is also your first-choice voter ID card. An American version could work identically, perhaps with a star or hologram or other mark to identify citizens as opposed to Medicare-eligible permanent residents, etc.

As Tarek, a Canadian listener to my radio/TV program, shared with me this week:

Here in Canada, citizens and permanent residents alike are covered by publicly funded health care that is administrated through the provinces, whereas temporary residents must be covered via other means, namely buying private health insurance.

Since it is in everyone's best interest to be have 'free' health care coverage, unlike other government issued identifications, such as driver's license...etc, the vast majority (if not all) Canadians from all socioeconomic backgrounds make sure to obtain their health cards, which can be used as an official photo ID for flying domestically, buying alcohol and more importantly voting!

Here in the U.S., ever since Jim Crow, racist white "conservatives" have used a variety of means to prevent poor people, people of color, low-income working people, students, and older people from voting. Techniques have varied over the years, starting with poll taxes and so-called "literacy tests," and now are carefully calibrated by cutting voting sites, reducing early voting, and even disenfranchising North Dakota's Native American population.

The GOP stepped up their voter suppression game in 1980 when Heritage Foundation, ALEC, and Moral Majority co-founder and Reagan campaigner Paul Weyrich famously said, "I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people; they never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections, quite candidly, goes up as the voting populace goes down."

In that, he was following on an old Republican strategy of caging and polling-place intimidation, which earned William Rehnquist his rock-star status in the GOP back in the 1960s.

This is still the GOP game plan, although they've turned it into an art form. First, they spent a decade whipping up fear about "voter fraud"-brown people from Mexico voting in our elections, something that happens as often as 5 or 6 times per election cycle nationally (as opposed to over 130 million citizens voting). Then, they use this non-threat to pass voter ID laws that make it hard for people who don't drive (old age, can't afford a car, live in a big city and use public transportation, or live on campus) to vote.

For example, in the run-up to 2012, Pennsylvania House Leader, Republican Mike Turzai, declared, "Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to carry the state of Pennsylvania: Done!"

While it didn't quite work out that way in 2012, the Pennsylvania GOP came back in 2016, along with 26 other Republican-controlled states, to purge over 16 million people from the voting rolls nationally… helping give Pennsylvania (along with Michigan, Iowa, and Wisconsin, according to Paul Waldman in the Washington Post) to Donald Trump by razor-thin margins far smaller than the number of voters purged and/or turned away at the polls.

Meanwhile, another estimated 2 million Americans tried to vote but were turned away for lack of the proper ID in 2016.

Republican voter suppression is thriving in the U.S.: The Brennan Center documents a 33 percent increase in voters purged during the 2014-1016 election cycle (16 million), compared with the 2006-2008 cycle (12 million purged), as the GOP has made ID and purges (along with fear mongering about brown-skinned people) their main electoral strategy. In just the past year, as many as an additional 14 million voters have been purged from rolls nationwide, while over the past two decades every Republican-controlled state has introduce rigid ID laws.

But with a national ID system in place that's universally used because it's the key to getting your health care and medications, there's no need for "voter registration" and thus no ability for the GOP to purge voters. Voter registration, after all, is a practice we largely got after the Civil War because Southern white politicians warned of "voter fraud" being committed by recently freed black people, and some Northern states used it to prevent poor whites from voting.

In some places in the United States, voter registration just never caught on: North Dakota never bothered to put such a system into place; you just show up at the polls with ID to prove you're both a citizen and resident, and vote. And with a national Medicare for All ID, every citizen could easily vote, everywhere.

Republicans have aggressively opposed a national health care program for the United States ever since Harry Truman first proposed it in his November 19, 1945 address to Congress. We're literally the only developed nation in the world without such a system. But its popularity is well over 50 percent in America right now, and growing rapidly among voters across the political spectrum; this is something that's politically possible in the very, very near future.

In the past, GOP opposition generally revolved around their belief that everything from water to septic to roads to prisons to health care should be run to make somebody rich, and to hell with "the public good."

But it's a virtual certainty that the deep-dive think tanks and "wise elders" of the GOP also know how easy it is to vote in Canada and other developed countries, in very large part because of the national ID card that Canada's (and most of Europe's) Medicare for All programs provide at great ease and no cost.

Thus, the Medicare system's threat to GOP voter suppression systems may be the largest reason they've spent so many hundreds of millions of dollars fighting single-payer in the U.S.

In most elections, in most states, and nationally in the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats win more votes, but Republicans remain in charge, because of gerrymandering made possible by voter suppression at the state level. Even the Senate is held in some red states purely because of voter suppression, leaning heavily on restrictive voter ID laws.

And, at the state level, in many-perhaps a majority-of the so-called "red states," Republicans hold control of state legislatures and governors' offices only because of voter suppression, ranging from voter-roll purges to voter ID laws.

If all U.S. citizens had a free national ID that could also be used to vote, it wouldn't take long for both Congress and most states to flip back from red to blue like they were during the Carter presidency, before the GOP started their "voter fraud" hysteria and began passing voter suppression laws.

With the GOP out of power at the state level, Democrats (and the few remaining ethical Republicans) could replace gerrymandering with good-government solutions like the non-partisan district-drawing commission put into place by California.

After that, it's only necessary to clean up the handful of states that won't let ex-felons vote (they'll have a Medicare ID card, after all), to produce a clean, efficient, and fraud-free national elections system.

Then America will have joined the rest of the developed world, in having both a national health care system and a functioning democracy.
(c) 2018 Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program The Thom Hartmann Show.

Midterm Elections: Corporate Democrats Versus The Monster They Empowered
By Glenn Ford

Only transformational programs, like single payer health care, can erode the coherence of the White Supremacist Bloc, and at the same time galvanize the numeric majority of the nation. Tuesday's midterm elections put Democrats back in control of the U.S. House while strengthening the Republican hold on the Senate. The big picture is that, two years after Donald Trump replaced the GOP's old arsenal of racial code words and dog whistles with blaring white supremacist bullhorns, majorities of U.S. whites are firmly committed to an openly white nationalist political program under the leadership of a billionaire huckster who speaks their vile language. Although the GOP remains a minority party -- Democrats outpolled them in House races by 7 to 9 percent - white supremacists remain the largest bloc in the U.S. political spectrum. The 2018 midterms were a test, not of insurgent left-leaning Democrats -- a disorganized and confused faction that was kept largely in check by the party's corporate leadership -- but of whether Donald Trump could continue to hold majorities of white Americans in thrall to his non-stop, red-meat racist political theater.

He could, and did, confirming the potency of the overt white supremacist strategy, which has succeeded in proving both the intransigence and coherence of racist white majorities, even as most of the ruling class and its media mounted an unprecedented offensive to restore the previous corporate political consensus: austerity and war cloaked in a façade of "diversity." Trump made "me feel like an American again," said a white West Virginia hardware store worker quoted by the New York Times. The man felt restored in the belief that he still lives in a white man's country.

Republican gains in the Senate reflect both the solidity of the white supremacist bloc and the structural racism of the U.S. electoral system. The Democratic gain of up to 28 seats in the House is not unusual for presidential incumbent parties at midterm ; Democrats lost 54 seats in 1994, under Clinton, the GOP dropped 39 seats in 2006, under Bush, and Obama's party lost a whopping 63 seats and both houses of Congress in 2010. The latest election has given the corporate Democrats leadership of one house of the national legislature, but did not break white supremacy's hold on majorities of white voters. The White Man's Party, as redefined and reinvigorated by Donald Trump, is still the nation's most formidable bloc, by far.

This was a rematch of the contest that corporate Democrats wished for and thought would allow them to win decisively back in 2016. Democratic leaders sought to set the terms of electoral battle as a conflict between "deplorables," as Hillary Clinton described white supremacist voters, and the rest of the electorate, the great bulk of whom the corporate Democrats believed could be corralled into Hillary's Big Tent, where big city and Deep South Black politicians, Rio Grand valley and East L.A. Hispanics, suburban white "moderates," Silicon Valley and Wall Street oligarchs, scheming CIA operatives and warmongering generals would find common cause against the Orange Menace. Clinton campaign chief John Podesta urged his troops and their friends in media to do everything possible to boost Donald Trump's bid for the Republican nomination, in the certainty that Clinton would beat him in a landslide -- as incontrovertibly documented in the emails that were pilfered and delivered (not hacked) to Wikileaks (not the Russians) and sent to the media. By March of 2016, corporate media - most glaringly CNN, but including the whole herd -- had already given Trump's GOP takeover gambit $2 billion in free media, amounting to more exposure than all the other candidates from both corporate parties, combined, including Clinton. By end the of the general election campaign, corporate media had bestowed a total of $5 billion in free media on Donald Trump -- their criminally cynical contribution to the solidification and consolidation of the white supremacist bloc in the United States.

Trump is not their Frankenstein, but the Democrats and their media supplied most of the electricity that energized the monster. White supremacy is endemic to the U.S., part of its founding settler DNA, but the corporate media and Democratic Party's strategy to help install Trump as a "straw man" presidential candidate who could be swept aside in the general election wound up giving white supremacists a champion around which to unite.

When the strategy failed, they blamed it on the Russians and launched a neo-McCarthyite campaign of slander against domestic dissidents -- like Black Agenda Report -- blaming the "far left and far right" for "sowing discord" on behalf of a foreign power. It was their own failed electoral strategy that had destabilized the corporate duopoly, simultaneously threatening the "corporate consensus" on foreign and domestic policy and giving new life to the Old Confederacy.

This is the big picture -- much of the rest of the midterm results is clutter. The white supremacist bloc flexes its muscles and fingers its triggers. The racist horde -- a majority of whites - feels a renewed entitlement to primacy in the national life. Corporate Democrats, whose bungled schemes led us to this juncture, forge ahead with the same strategy as in 2016. Nancy Pelosi, who ordered the Congressional Black Caucus to downplay the crimes of Katrina the last time she was Speaker of the House, served up pablum and called it a victory speech:

"We will strive for bipartisanship, with fairness on all sides. We have a responsibility to find our common ground where we can, stand our ground where we can't, but we must try. We'll have a bipartisan marketplace of ideas that makes our democracy strong. A Democratic congress will work for solutions that bring us together, because we have all had enough of division. The American people want peace. They want results. They want us to work for positive results for their lives."
What crap. By "peace," she means less rancor between the two corporate parties. The actual corporate agenda is austerity and war, the only future the oligarchy envisions for the planet. Trump shares this imperial vision -- when he is thinking about subjects other than himself -- but is glad to ride and stoke the white revanchism that is now part of his brand.

Only Big, Alternative Projects -- transformational programs, like single payer health care, that actually shift power and resources from the ruling oligarchy to the masses -- can erode the coherence of the White Supremacist Bloc, forcing significant numbers of them to abandon the prioritization of race, and at the same time galvanize the numeric majority of the nation: minorities of whites and majorities of everybody else. Nancy Pelosi's job is to make sure that does not happen in her wing of the duopoly, despite the fact that 85 percent of Democrats -- and 52 percent of Republicans -- favor Medicare for All, with only 20 percent of Americans opposed. In other words, there is an overwhelming popular consensus in favor of single payer health care that is diametrically opposed to the corporate consensus. Corporate parties, in a duopoly system, cannot resolve that contradiction in favor of the people.

That's why the struggle must be mainly in the streets, and to build non-corporate parties, including independent Black formations -- which requires a split in the Democrats, the section of the duopoly that is not explicitly the White Man's Party, but instead slavishly serves the oligarchy.

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

Imran Khan's Pakistan is a central player of a new Great Game, but faces violent religious challenges domestically.

Under The Pakistani Volcano
While Khan plays on a complex geopolitical chessboard, Chinese aid could be a financial lifeline as Islamabad faces off against deadly religious extremism
By Pepe Escobar

It has been a breathless week, huddled in the shadow of the simmering, bubbling, politico-religious volcano that is Imran Khan's Pakistan.

And this week's multi-faceted developments may just signal seismic shifts in Pakistan's internal and external relations for the foreseeable future.

Before moving on to bloodier matters, let's start with the "Mr. Khan Goes to China" episode - essential for reviewing all aspects of what is enthusiastically described by both sides as the "all-weather strategic cooperative partnership."

Xi's financial lifeline for Khan?

Prime Minister Khan, leading a fresh government elected in July and facing a range colossal challenges, set the tone from the start. He did not mince words.

"Countries go in cycles, they have their high points, they have their low points," he said. "Unfortunately, our country is going through a low point at the moment with two very big deficits, a fiscal deficit and a current account deficit. And so we, as I've said, have come to learn."

Arguably few teachers beat Chinese President Xi Jinping, praised by Khan as a role model. "China's phenomenal achievements are worth emulating," Khan said. "No other country has tackled poverty and corruption the way China has tackled it."

The lynchpin of the strategic partnership is inevitably the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship project of the New Silk Road, or Belt-and-Road Initiative (BRI). Before his stint as guest of honor of the First China International Import Expo in Shanghai, Khan met a crucial player in Beijing for CPEC financing: Jin Liquan, president of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Right from the start, Pakistan's new Planning Minister Makhdoom Bukhtiar was confident that Islamabad would not need to reschedule around $2.7 billion in Chinese loans due for repayment in 2018. Instead, what's in the cards is an improved economic package centered on taking CPEC to the next level.

A financially stable Pakistan is absolutely crucial for the success of BRI. A Pakistani audit of projects approved by the previous Nawaz Sharif administration called for streamlining CPEC, not curtailing it. Now, Team Khan does not subscribe to the notion of CPEC as a debt trap.

With Saudi Arabia and China stepping in with cash, Islamabad may avoid becoming further indebted to the IMF and its trademark "strategic adjustments" - widely dreaded across the Global South for producing a toxic mix of austerity and inflation.

Pakistan juggles China, Iran, Saudi, Turkey

Pakistan is all about its prime geopolitical location, the crossroads of South Asia, Central Asia and West Asia.

For Beijing, Pakistan as a key BRI node mirrors its new role as a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). As Khan has clearly identified, this interconnection can only turbo-charge Pakistan's geo-economic position - under the institutional framework of SCO. The Xi-Khan partnership may actually center around an economic win-win for Pakistan and the SCO.

Of course, myriad challenges lie ahead.

Take for instance Chinese Foreign Ministry's spokesman Lu Kang having to clarify that "all the cooperation between China and Pakistan has nothing to do with territorial disputes."

Kang was referring to the hoopla surrounding the fact that a Pakistani company launched a bus service from Lahore to Kashgar via Islamabad; essentially the northern CPEC route via the Karakoram Highway, which skirts Kashmir. China does not want any interference whatsoever in the ultra-volatile Kashmir dossier.

Saudi Arabia is also making some not-too-subtle moves. Islamabad's official position is that Riyadh's recent financial offer came with no strings attached. That's unlikely to be the case; Saudi traditionally casts a long shadow over all matters Pakistani. "No strings" means Islamabad should keep closer to Riyadh, not Tehran.

The House of Saud - paralyzed by the fallout of the bloody Istanbul fiasco - will go no-holds-barred to prevent Islamabad from getting closer to Tehran. (Or Ankara, for that matter). A possibly emergent, long-term, game-changing Turkey-Iran-Pakistan alliance was the talk of the town - at least during the first part of this week of weeks.

That brings us to the crucial visitor Khan received in Islamabad before his trip to China: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Last month, 14 Iranian border guards were kidnapped by the Pakistan-based Jaish al-Adl Salafi-jihadi fanatics. Pakistan security forces have been helpless so far.

Khan and Zarif talked about that - but also talked about Khan's offer to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia in trying to find a solution for the tragedy in Yemen. The fact is, a Tehran-Islamabad rapprochement is already a work in progress.

That is the sophisticated geo-political game Khan must play. Meanwhile at home, he has to get down and dirty as he gets to grips with violent domestic religious turmoil.

'Go legal - or else...'

I've been in Islamabad since Monday - right on the lip of the volcano, and enjoying the privilege of being part of one of the most extraordinary geopolitical conferences in recent times, something that in the current polarizing dynamic could only happen in Asia, not the West. But that's another story.

While I was parsing elaborate analyses of this geopolitical chessboard, reality intervened.

Or - perhaps - it was a graphic intimation that Pakistan may just be changing for the better.

Street blockades paralyzed key nodes of the nation because Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman laborer, in jail for nine years, was finally acquitted by the Supreme Court of spurious charges of blasphemy. There are less than 4 million Christians in Pakistan out of a total population of 197 million.

I was with a small group on the motorway to Peshawar, prior to taking a detour to Taxila - Alexander-the-Great land, where I planned further research on ancient Silk Roads - when suddenly we were halted.

A mullah was blaring his hate through a loudspeaker. A couple of his minions blocked all circulation.

Why the police would not dislodge this small group is the matter of all matters in Khan's arguably new Pakistan. The highway standoff embodies the high-stakes grapple underway between the state and religion.

Back in Islamabad, as he led me around the campus of the National Defense University, Timoor Shah, a bright young man at the Center for Policy Studies, gave me a crash course on the nuances.

What a global audience should understand is this. On one side stand the state, the military and the judiciary. (Accusations continue to be hurled that Khan was privileged in the July elections by the military - the top institution in Pakistan - and an activist judiciary.) On the other side, stand fringe religious nuts and an opportunistic, discredited opposition.

The Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP), a minor extremist political party whose only platform is to punish blasphemy, has issued death threats against the three Supreme Court judges. Pakistan could do worse than import a strangle/bone-saw/dissolve-in-acid Saudi execution squad to deal with such groups.

It's instructive to consider what the director general of the PR arm of the powerful intelligence service, ISI, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor had to say: This is a legal matter and the Pakistan Army should not be dragged into it. Ghafoor also stressed, "We are close to winning the war against terrorism and our attention should not be diverted."

Ghafoor told politico-religious parties protesting against the Supreme Court judgment - quite a few of which were firmly on the lunatic fringe - to go legal or else. Amid this, TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi swears that that the Army has threatened to "destroy" his party.

The military sent a delegation, including ISI officials, to talk to the religious protesters. Ghafoor was careful to stress that the ISI is an intelligence department that reports to the prime minister.

In the end, the government caved in. Despite knowing that Aasia Bibi faces fundamentalist wrath and her only path to safety would be a one-way ticket out, they agreed to put her on something called the "Exit Control List." Even that did not prevent TLP fanatics from threatening "a war if they sent Aasia Bibi out of the country."

'Taliban Godfather' killed

As if all this were not toxic enough, on Friday evening Maulana Samiul Haq - the fabled "Godfather of the Taliban" - was stabbed to death in his house in Rawalpindi, Islamabad's twin city.

Haq led the sprawling Darul Uloom Haqqania, a madrassa, or religious school, in Akhora Khattak, near Peshawar, founded in 1988. The madrassa graduated none other than Mullah Omar, as well as other Taliban notables.

Haq embodies a torrent of turbulence in modern Pakistani history - including his stints as senator during the Zia ul Haq and Nawaz Sharif administrations. He also tabled a notorious Sharia bill during Sharif's last term.

But for me, the story was personal. In a tortuous way, Samiul Haq saved my life - courtesy of a letter of introduction he had signed after I visited his madrassa to follow a Talibanesque indoctrination in progress.

When, along with my photographer Jason Florio, we were arrested by the Taliban at a military base in Ghazni in the summer of 2000, we were only released from waiting six months to be tried as "spies" because of Samiul Haq's letter.

This obviously pales when compared to the high-profile, principled move by the Pakistani Supreme Court to save Aasia Bibi from a death sentence.

But it could be the first salvo in a Khan-era Pakistani war against religious fundamentalism.

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

Should You Have To Pay To Protest?
By Jim Hightower

Ideally, elections are about ideas, but these days policy discussions are being shoved aside by raw partisanship and vitriol. Not only are good ideas ignored, but very bad idea can become public policy without the public knowing it.

For example, the Trump Team wants to snuff out your Constitutional right to free speech and assembly by putting an exorbitant fee on public protests in our nation's Capitol City. In other words, you'd still be "free" to rally for or against any issue or policy - but not for free! Apparently meant to deter any more of the mass demonstrations against their policies on women, immigrant children, climate change, etc., they want each protesting group to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to the government for policing and other necessary costs of guaranteeing the public's right to protest.

Corporations and billionaires would have no problem paying, but regular grassroots groups would be priced off the public lawn. Such historic protests such as Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1963 march and his "I have a dream" speech couldn't have happened under Trump's pay-me plan.

I'm guessing that a good 90 percent of Americans - Republican, Democrat, and otherwise - would shout "NO!" to this repression of a fundamental civic right. But I'd also bet that not a single congressional candidate has even mentioned it to voters in this year's elections. Yet, in perverse Orwellian newspeak, the Trumpsters pushing the plan say it's "designed to provide greater clarity about how and where demonstrations can occur in a manner that protects historically important land."

I was born at night, but it wasn't last night! This proposal is designed to protect nothing but the bad policies of the power elites from objections by riff-raff like you and me. To help stop their authoritarian power play, 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

Bernie Sanders speaks at a rally in Nevada, October 25, 2018.

Bernie Sanders: 'Trump Is Somebody Who Clearly Does Not Respect Democracy'
The senator explains why Democrats must challenge right-wing extremism.
By John Nichols

Bernie Sanders is running for reelection to the Senate in Vermont this fall. But he is also running around the country, holding town-hall meetings and leading get-out-the-vote marches in states across the country. In the countdown to the November 6 election, the 2016 presidential contender (and potential 2020 candidate) has talked up single-payer health care in South Carolina. He has traveled to the US-Mexico border in Arizona. He has campaigned for gubernatorial candidates in Michigan (Gretchen Whitmer), Colorado (Jared Polis), Maryland (Ben Jealous) and Florida (Andrew Gillum), and appeared with US Senate candidates such as Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin and Jacky Rosen in Nevada, and with US House candidates such as Liz Watson in Indiana and J.D. Scholten in Iowa.

Many of his stops have been on college campuses, where the senator has urged the young voters who so ardently supported his presidential run two years ago to turn out for progressive contenders this fall. Before a rally at Arizona State University in Tempe, he sat down with The Nation to discuss his sense of urgency regarding the midterm elections that are now just days away.

The Nation: There's been a real edge to your criticism of Donald Trump as you have hit the road for these last campaign stops. You've been very blunt about his demagoguery.

Bernie Sanders: Trump is a demagogue. He is a pathological liar. I say that with no pleasure; I have many conservative friends who are not pathological liars, who are honest, and we just disagree.

Trump is also somebody who clearly does not respect democracy, who in fact is working overtime to undermine democracy in this country. When you attack the media as "enemies of the people," wow. Now we're so used to this [Trump's extreme statement]. But if you and I were chatting three years ago and we said we'd have a president of the United States [who] attacks the media as "enemies of the people"-so that anything the media says, people should not believe a word of it-we would have said that's beyond the pale. You have a president that is insulting and attacking our democratic allies but feels very comfortable with authoritarian types-whether it is Putin or [Mohammed] bin Salman-or even has personal affection for Kim Jong-un. This is a person who does not believe, in my view, in democracy and who is very much an authoritarian personality.

TN: What is the best way to put this presidency, and the politics of this moment, into perspective?

BS: What I have said for many weeks now is that people have fought and died-and I am thinking about World War II and the suffering that took place in Europe and Asia-for democracy, and for what our Constitution is about. And we now have a person in the White House who is trying to undermine all of that. So I think the fight has got to take place on many levels.

Number one: We have got to expose him for what he is.

Number two: We have got to give people a vision of where this country can and should go.

TN: Your counsel is to address Trump and extremism, but also to provide an alternative vision.

BS: Exactly. It's not good enough to just beat up on Trump. You beat up on Trump and people say, "Yeah, you're right but so what? Why vote?" Here's where I'm very proud, where I think the American people should be very proud: What we have shown is that the American people want bold ideas. A poll came out today [showing that] 70 percent of Americans support Medicare for All. The American people support making public colleges and universities tuition free. The American people support raising the minimum wage. The American people support massive investments in our infrastructure. More and more people support transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels. Criminal-justice reform. Immigration reform. All of those ideas are now kind of mainstream ideas. And our job right now, which is why I am here [on a college campus], is to get young people, to understand that you have got to get involved. It's not good enough to believe in these ideas, support these ideas; you've got to make sure these ideas are implemented, and the only way you do that is by getting involved in politics and voting.

TN: The 2018 midterms are offering real-time tests of what you are saying. There are candidates who are running the way you are talking about, running these boldly progressive campaigns. As regards framing out a new politics, how important is it that they win?

BS: They've already won. We have candidates all across this country who have already won. I just saw [Illinois congressional candidate] Chuy Garcia yesterday, Chuy is going to be a congressman. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is going to be a congresswoman from New York. She did it. Rashida Tlaib is going to be a congresswoman from Detroit. She did it. It's happening. It's not just at the national level. You have great candidates winning in local races. Right here [in Arizona's Maricopa County], there was a county recorder who was responsible for the fact that in 2016 people had to wait on line eight hours [to vote]. She was defeated by a candidate supported by Our Revolution. That same story is taking place all across the country. Some candidates may not win, but they are doing damn well. What we have seen happen is that you are seeing more first-time candidates saying: "You know what, I can do it." JD Scholten [the challenger to far-right Congressman Steve King] is a first-time candidate.

TN: Quite a few first-time candidates are winning nominations and mounting major races this year.

BS: That's right. That's what the political revolution is about. In past years, people have gone to the Democratic Party and the Democratic Party would have said: "Young woman, you're wonderful, and in 10 or 20 years you can maybe run for Congress. But we have five people in front of you right now." It ain't happening like that now. That's the kind of change we're seeing.

TN: There is a sense of urgency this year, within the Democratic Party and beyond. What if Democrats win big on November 6? What should their first move be in Congress?

BS: Trump will still be the president, but it is absolutely imperative that [Democrats] come up with bold initiatives that they have promised the American people they would do. If not, it will be just awful.

So, I think there has to be [immediate action]. It's raising the minimum wage nationally to $15 an hour. It is implementing our legislation for Medicare for All-it's a four-year phase in, and the first phase-in is lowering the eligibility age from 65 to 55 and covering all the children. If Democrats bring that forth and we pass it, you will have 80 percent of the American people saying,: "Thank you Democrats. I'm 57 years old and I can't afford my health insurance now," or "I have a kid who's not insured." It will be enormously popular. It will be enormously important to tens of millions of the American people.

In other words, all that I am saying is that they have got to be bold. And here's something that will surprise you: I am not so sure that Trump will be busy vetoing away all of these things. I believe Trump has no politics at all-he is a 100 percent opportunist. You remember that in his former life he supported Medicare for All, supported a tax on wealth, supported a woman's right to choose. He has no politics, he is a 100 percent opportunist who only is concerned about winning and his own personal well-being. If a $15 minimum wage comes to his desk and he has to tell his working-class supporters why he vetoed it, I am not so sure that he will. But, be that as it may, if the Democrats gain control of Congress, within the House and the Senate, it is absolutely imperative that they come forward immediately with a bold agenda.

TN: It sounds like what you are really saying is that Democrats will need to turn the volume up higher than Trump.

BS: Exactly!

(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.

Understanding Hate In America
By James Donahue

The word "hate" is easily understood. It is defined as a feeling of extreme hostility toward another person or group. What is confusing is why we in America are experiencing a rash of hostility by certain established individuals or groups against one another. Is it really a reaction to the vile aggressive speeches and messages flowing from the lips of an unstable personality now seated in the White House?

This is how many news columnists are interpreting the rash of public killings, suicides and rise of hate-groups now attacking minorities and non-Caucasian neighborhoods and churches throughout the nation. But when we get down to the root of it, can we say we really hate our Jewish, black, Mexican or Moslem neighbors? Does the fact that many other people do not share the same religious dogma as we enjoy make them targets of our extreme aversion and ill-will? Does the color of their skin or their racial difference make them appear less of human than Caucasian Americans of European origin? And why the ongoing dislike of the Native American people who occupied this land long before our ancestors arrived?

A study by Neurobiologist Semir Zeki, University College London, found that aggressive behavior and feelings of anger and aggression stem from a part of the brain that also activates love. Thus the study found that loathing can spring from positive feelings such as romantic love. "This linkage may account for why love and hate are so closely linked to each other in life," the report concluded.

Thus it appears that switching human emotions from love and good wishes to hatred and loathing may require but a simple alteration in the environment, or in the nation's leadership. And this happens to be what is presently occurring in America.

A report by Feroze Dhanoa recently published in Patch National noted that the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified over 900 hate groups now operating in America. Many of them are believed to be part of a modern White Power Movement, which appears to be clearly sparked by the benevolent words of Donald Trump. The Dhanoa report quotes an unidentified researcher as stating that these groups are being found everywhere, from the urban to suburban and rural neighborhoods.

The Southern Poverty Law report notes that "all hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics."

How sad it has become for this nation . . . long proudly known as the "breadbasket of the world" and "land of opportunity" for immigrants from all corners of the planet. The Statue of Liberty, a gift from the French in 1886, has stood as a proud image of our open door policy to people of all nationalities and religious conviction. All have been invited to establish a new life in America.

Hate groups ranging from the Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazis to White Nationalists, Skinheads, Black Separatists and Anti-Muslims have sprung up visibly since Mr. Trump gained the presidency. But it is clear that many such groups existed secretly before the Trump presidency. It appears that his unbridled rhetoric has served to bring them out into the open. Their hate meetings and actions are troublesome enough. But this does not explain the behavior of random shooters, bombers, and general killings of people shopping in stores, attending church services, eating in public restaurants, or just being in public places.

There seems to be a growing malaise sweeping the nation. We have become sick of the constant news reports of death and despair, the ugly rantings of that stuffed pecunious fool in the presidency, the stripping of socialist programs for poor, elderly and homeless Americans, and a general sense of discontent as researchers warn of a looming end of the world because of our unwillingness to stop polluting our environment.

That our once great education system has failed to produce cogitative thinking Americans has created the fodder for a national take-over of America by extreme right-wing conservative gangsters. Thus it has become easy for a character like Mr. Trump to rise up and lead a large number of simple-minded people into a system of self-destruction. And they are following him thinking that their actions are going to be good for America.

(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.

US President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally at the Huntington Tri-State Airport, on November 2, 2018, in Huntington, West Virginia.

A Storm Of Dirty Tricks And Presidential Racism Mar The 2018 Midterms
By William Rivers Pitt

In his book Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail: 1972, Hunter S. Thompson tells an apocryphal tale about one of Lyndon Johnson's early Senate campaigns. The race was too close for comfort, so Johnson told his campaign manager to spread the word that his opponent was "having routine carnal knowledge of his barnyard sows, despite the pleas of his wife and children." The campaign manager was aghast: We can't say that! You know it's not true! "Of course it's not true," Thompson quotes Johnson as replying, "but let's make the bastard deny it."

Dirty tricks during political campaigns are about as old as the moon, and persist to this day for a reason: They often work. That line they fed you in first grade - "Winners never cheat, and cheaters never win" - is goopy nonsense. One could make a sound, well-documented argument that the world is the way it is today in part because cheaters have been winning well before the cornerstone was laid for the first pyramid.

There are the old tricks, of course, the ones with all the tactical subtlety of saying "Look at my thumb!" before punching someone in the face. The ol' Date Switcheroo is a classic: GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York sent out flyers out in 2016 giving constituents the wrong date for voting, and it worked so well that he did it again this year. Confusing only 5 percent of your opponent's voters into thinking the election is on Thursday can get you a desk in the Rayburn House Office Building. It has happened many, many times.

There is also the rumor-spreading trick that worked so well against John McCain during the South Carolina presidential primary in 2000. McCain had just won in New Hampshire by 19 points. Karl Rove, hatchetman for Bush, and acolyte of dirty tricks Sith Lord Lee Atwater, put the word out in South Carolina that McCain was a mentally unstable traitor who had fathered Black children out of wedlock. The racist, ableist, false attack worked; Bush defeated McCain and cruised to the nomination. We all know what happened next.

Rove required the credulous assistance of the news media to spread his lies. Today, we have the internet, social media and Fox News to do the deeds. Once upon a time, you needed a mimeograph machine or a block of letterhead pilfered from an opposing campaign. Now, all you need to riddle the entire planet with lies is an internet connection. Don't cost nothin': Facebook and Twitter are free of charge and reach hundreds of millions of people, and as for Fox, well ... the network has a strong financial incentive to spread the manure far and deep.

Karl Rove's successful kneecapping of John McCain in 2000 is instructive, in that it underscores the most potent weapon in the dirty tricks arsenal: racism. Racist vote suppression is as old as the poll tax and literacy tests; it lives on through contemporary configurations like ID laws. In Texas, for example, 96 percent of voting-age white people have a photo ID. Only 86 percent of voting-age Black people in Texas have a photo ID. That 10 percent gap can be, and has often been, the difference between winning and losing.

The ability to deploy racism as a tool for wide-scale vote suppression requires one to have a measure of political power to begin with. You can't pass and protect things like racist, restrictive ID laws unless you control your state's congress and governor's office, at minimum. This year, the midterm election campaign in North Dakota is proving the tactic of racist cheating goes all the way to the top of the legal food chain.

Heidi Heitkamp, Democratic Senator from North Dakota, won her seat in 2012 by a margin of less than 3,000 votes. A full 80 percent of Native American voters in that state supported her that year, and look to do the same this time around, so the state's Republican-controlled congress passed an ID law that disproportionately disenfranchises Native voters. The law was challenged in court and recently upheld by the Republican-controlled Supreme Court. Today, every available election forecast has Heitkamp losing her seat on Tuesday.

Being in power also means being able to purge the voter rolls of people you'd prefer didn't vote. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, he of the ill-fated and Trump-inspired "commission on voter fraud," has turned his state into a kind of laboratory for vote suppression tactics. As Secretary of State, he controls the elections in Kansas, which is helpful to him since he is currently running for governor as the Republican nominee.

A similar scenario is unspooling in Georgia, where Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp is facing a stout neck-and-neck challenge in the governor's race from Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams. Kemp has been accused of, and sued for, stripping the right to vote from hundreds of thousands of people, most of whom are Black. Truthout recently published investigative journalist Greg Palast's exhaustive report on the matter. Kemp's ploy is so grossly corrupt that former President Jimmy Carter felt compelled to demand that Kemp step aside as Secretary of State. Kemp, to the shock of none, has refused.

And then there is the racist dirty trick on a grander scale, the theatrical nationwide dirty trick that is slightly less subtle than a Dear John letter glued to a hand grenade.

Down at the southernmost tip of Mexico, near the Guatemalan border, sits the little town of Tapachula. There, a full thousand miles away from the US border, a caravan of desperate refugees - mostly women and children - is slowly making its way north. Many of these people are fleeing their countries to escape poverty and rampant gang warfare, both of which are a direct result of deliberate US government policies.

According to the president of the United States, however, these people represent an existential threat to the nation. Donald Trump has called them "thugs" and "bad people," and has even hypothesized that they might be Middle Eastern terrorists who may, at any moment, overthrow all "we" hold dear (if "we" is taken to mean timorous white racists). Trump claims these migrants are so terrifying that he has threatened to deploy as many as 15,000 combat troops to the border with orders to shoot to kill. The administration has already named this action "Operation Faithful Patriot." Beyond that lethal alternative, according to Trump, the only way to thwart this imminent doom is to vote Republican, because of course it is.

Those troops, if deployed, will have some waiting to do. The refugees are on foot, moving through rough terrain, and still have to travel a distance equal to that which lies between San Diego and Seattle before they'll even see US soil. Even now, refugees are dropping out of the caravan due to exhaustion and illness. If any of them actually reach the border by the end of December, it will be a genuine Christmas miracle.

Facts like these, however, have no purchase with this president or his most ardent supporters. His racist ranting about the caravan has reached a pitch that would make Andrew Johnson blush, but that is not enough. Trump, the dirty-trickster-in-chief, has also promoted a brazenly racist video accusing Democrats of coddling Mexican and Central American cop killers. "ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT, LUIS BRACAMONTES, KILLED OUR PEOPLE!" reads the caption in the video. "DEMOCRATS LET HIM INTO OUR COUNTRY, DEMOCRATS LET HIM STAY." Never mind that the accusations are bald-faced lies. Who better than a Republican to understand the racist power of a good old-fashioned Willie Horton ad?

All this from a president who spent the week vowing to overthrow birthright citizenship as enshrined by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. The 14th Amendment was passed by a Reconstruction Congress after the Civil War for two primary reasons: to undo the disgraceful "three-fifths" compromise that deemed Black people less than human in the eyes of the law, and to ensure that freed slaves could become full citizens. If you think the racists in Trump's base didn't catch that particular dirty trick dog whistle, I have a bridge in Tapachula to sell you.

Most people, of course, see straight through this nonsense. Yet if the long history of political dirty tricks has taught us anything, it has taught us that the best tricks don't have to fool everyone. These tricks deal in the small numbers, the three-to-five percent margins that make or break campaigns. In baseball, a hitter can fail seven out of ten times over the course of his career and make it to the Hall of Fame. In politics, a dirty trick can fail seven out of ten times and make it to the White House.

I take three core lessons from the mayhem of the 2018 midterm election season.

First, the United States remains a desperately racist nation despite all exhortations to the contrary. If this were not true, nobody would bother with these tactics. It is a regional affair - demonize primarily Black people here, primarily Native people there and primarily Latinx people somewhere else - that provides Republicans with a tactical advantage at the molecular level of election politics.

Second, the effectiveness of the tactic is visibly and fortunately diminishing with time, demographics and culture change. A campaign using racist dirty tricks risks losing at least as many votes as it gains nowadays, particularly in a nationwide race. The fact that Republicans are using racist dirty tricks with such shameless abandon reeks of desperation.

Third, voting really does matter. The best way, the proven way to overwhelm racist cheating and dirty tricks is with numbers at the polls. The document begins with "We the People" for a reason.

(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.

Border Patrol Cancels Its Election Day 'Mobile Field Force Demonstration'
By Heather Digby Parton

A moment of sanity:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection abruptly canceled a crowd-control exercise it had planned near a Hispanic neighborhood in El Paso on Tuesday after critics raised concerns that the presence of so many armed border agents could discourage voting.

The agency had planned to stage a "mobile field force demonstration" Tuesday morning at the Paso del Norte border crossing, in an area adjacent to a neighborhood known as Chihuahuita with about 100 modest homes.

After lawmakers, activists and the American Civil Liberties Union questioned the decision to conduct the exercise on Election Day, Border Patrol agents said it had been postponed.

The controversy flared as voters began going to the polls in a city where high turnout is especially crucial to the Senate campaign of Rep. Beto O'Rourke, the El Paso Democratic candidate challenging Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

CBP and Homeland Security officials rejected allegations that the training exercises had any relation to the election.

It might even be true. But it says something that they feel the need to stage such a demonstration near a Hispanic neighborhood in the first place.

It's ridiculous that voting is so contentious in this country that this kind of thing has to be monitored constantly.

Reminder: there is no systematic voter fraud in this country. It simply doesn't exist. But vote suppression is more and more prevalent, especially now that the wingnut Supreme Court decided that it doesn't exist.

Our democracy is in crisis for a lot of reasons but this is right at the top of our list of problems.

(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.

Treating the welfare of the Iranians people like a TV show, Donald Trump used a meme from The Game of Thrones-an arrogant, stylized photo of himself
with the tagline: "Sanctions Are Coming November 5"-to announce the new round of crippling sanctions targeting Iran's oil exports, banks and shipping.

Trump Bullying Will Hurt Millions Of Iranians
The sanctions are already taking a tragic toll. While there are humanitarian exemptions on food and medicines, restrictions on banks and shipping companies make even exempted items difficult to obtain.
By Medea Benjamin

Iranian government officials want to know how the Trump administration can get away with punishing Iran and other countries for complying with the internationally recognized nuclear deal signed in 2015. "The US is, in effect, threatening states who seek to abide by Resolution 2231 with punitive measures," said President Rouhani. "This constitutes a mockery of international decisions and the blackmailing of responsible parties who seek to uphold them."

Treating the welfare of the Iranians people like a TV show, Donald Trump used a meme from The Game of Thrones-an arrogant, stylized photo of himself with the tagline: "Sanctions Are Coming November 5"-to announce the new round of crippling sanctions targeting Iran's oil exports, banks and shipping.

This is the second round of sanctions since Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, a deal that was signed in 2015 not only by the US and Iran, but also by Germany, England, France, Russia and China-and approved unanimously by the UN Security Council. It's also a deal that has been working. Iran has been complying with the most intrusive inspections regime ever devised, as the International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed 13 times.

Trump, always ready to bulldoze international agreements, unilaterally withdrew from the deal and imposed a first round of sanctions in August and the second round now. These sanctions are designed to stop not just US companies from trading with Iran, but all companies-anywhere in the world. According to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, "Any financial institution, company, or individual who evades our sanctions risks losing access to the U.S. financial system and the ability to do business with the United States or U.S. companies." In effect, the Trump administration, practicing imperial hubris on steroids, is determined to punish countries abiding by an internationally approved agreement.

Faced with US threats, big Western companies that had recently signed contracts with Iran, such as Total, Eni, Boeing, Airbus, and Peugeot, have cancelled multi-billion dollar deals.

Desperate to counter US sanctions, the European Union is creating a mechanism called the "special purpose vehicle." It is essentially a barter system, similar to one used by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, to exchange Iranian oil for European goods without money changing hands.The US government has vowed to sabotage this effort. "I have no expectation that there will be any transactions that are significant that go through a special purpose vehicle based upon what I've seen," Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said. "But if there are transactions that have the intent of evading our sanctions, we will aggressively pursue our remedies."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo boasted that even before the November 5 sanctions went into effect, the US had already succeeded in reducing Iranian crude oil exports by more than 1 million barrels, and insists that the goal is to stop ALL Iranian oil exports. The administration is granting temporary waivers to eight countries, including India, South Korea and Japan, principally out of concern that withdrawing so much oil from the market at once would lead to a spike in global oil prices. Moreover, they are merely six-month waivers contingent on countries "winding down" their oil business with Iran. A major stipulation for the waivers is that Iran's revenues must be kept in foreign accounts that can only be used for trade in "nonsanctioned goods and services."

While this economic stranglehold is officially designed to "stop Iran's destabilizing activities across the world," Trump administration officials are known to be gunning for regime change, hoping that distraught Iranians take to the streets to overthrow their government.

Indeed, since last December there have been sporadic protests against the economic hardships. But will unorganized protesters really be capable of toppling a well-armed, tightly controlled regime? Some analysts speculate that what the Trump administration wants in Iran is not even regime change but chaos, with Iranians fighting each other so they won't be projecting power beyond their borders.

Trump's wishful thinking aside, the most likely effects of the sanctions will be to further inflame regional conflicts, empower conservative forces in Iran, make other governments resentful of US imperial overreach and worst of all, needlessly cause suffering to millions of Iranian citizens.

The sanctions are already taking a tragic toll. While there are humanitarian exemptions on food and medicines, restrictions on banks and shipping companies make even exempted items difficult to obtain. Asked about humanitarian exemptions, French Ambassador to Washington Gerard Araud said, "The banks are so terrified by the sanctions that they don't want to do anything with Iran."

Below is a sampling of the desperate messages we have been getting from people in Iran:

We are suffering the sanctions with our bodies and souls. Businesses are closing, workers are losing their jobs, food prices are increasing by the hour. We may not be happy with our government, but this economic situation makes us more dependent on the government.

When I sleep at night there is one set of food prices. When I get up in the morning, they have doubled. We are losing our ability to buy food for our children because of Mr. Trump.

My grandmother in Iran has gone blind in one eye because she can no longer access her diabetes medicine. Thanks America.

I am a teacher in Iran. Before President Trump violated the nuclear deal, my salary was $800 a month. Now I have to work 12 hours a day, six days a week, just to make $250. The harsher the sanctions, the more difficult our lives become. I don't know why we should suffer the consequences of decisions made by stubborn officials, whether here or in the United States. We just want to live normal lives.

Donald Trump is only too happy to make a mockery of international decisions. It is up to the rest of the world to stop him.

(c) 2018 Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace, is the author of the new book, Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection. Her previous books include: Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control; Don't Be Afraid Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks from the Heart, and (with Jodie Evans) Stop the Next War Now (Inner Ocean Action Guide). Follow her on Twitter: @medeabenjamin

There Is Now An Institution Of The American Government That Isn't Controlled By-Or Afraid Of-Donald Trump
For the first time in two years, there will be oversight of the Executive Branch.
By Charles P. Pierce

TOPEKA, KS - House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings. House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler. House Rules Chairman Jim McGovern. House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal. House Banking Committee Chairman Maxine Waters.

Imagine you're a Republican member of this administration* with skeletons in your closet. Imagine you're a president* in this administration with skeletons in your closet. Now ask yourself whether or not this was a wave election. Absent a clumsy campaign in the lame-duck session, there will be nothing done against Social Security and Medicare. There will be no serious attempt to destroy the Affordable Care Act. Robert Mueller's investigation is safer now than it was on Monday. Thanks to the genius of Mr. Madison, the House of Representatives controls the money and where it goes and to whom, and how it is spent on things like healthcare and investigations.

More to the point, for the first time in two years, there is an institution of the government that is neither afraid of, nor controlled by, the president*. And the lesson of the survivors is going to be that they should be even more Trumpier than thou. Consider, for example, that the only returning Republican congresscritter from Iowa is going to be out-and-out white supremacist Steve King, and he's one of two Republican congressional candidates-the other is Seth Goodman, who was the likely winner in New Jersey's Second Congressional District-condemned by the national Republican Party for racist remarks. They both won. Ron DeSantis was elected governor of Florida on a platform of Not Being The Black Guy. Yeah, I wouldn't expect a pivot any time soon.

Ron DeSantis won the election for Florida governor, defeating Andrew Gillum.

Here in Kansas, there was the equivalent of a Democratic torchlight parade in the Commonwealth (God save it!). Laura Kelly put out the lights on Kris Kobach's career in elective politics by getting elected governor. Sharice Davids won her congressional race easily. The legacy of Sam Brownback's ideological experiment in non-government has now been tossed into the dustbin of history. Kobach could never overcome it, and he was forced to run on it, and nobody liked him enough to give him the room he needed to pull that off.

"Across America, we are seeing more and more people, especially young people, getting involved in the political process. It is a wonderful omen to the future of our state. What happened in Kansas today was different about what happened around America. What happened in Kansas was a wave of common sense," Kelly told a whooping audience of her supporters in a Topeka hotel ballroom. "We have faced challenges here like nowhere else. We saw our schools devastated, partisanship put above all else and tore our state apart. That ended today. Kansans look out for each other. Today, voters across Kansas came together. We chose to put people above politics."

Kobach and Kelly before a gubernatorial debate

Kelly shrewdly hung Brownback around Kobach's neck like a dead raccoon, all the while telling the people of Kansas that she wasn't a wild-eyed Alf Landon liberal. She pointed to the fact that she had been central to the bipartisan effort to repair the damage done by Brownback, and she toured the state with Republican politicians, including a couple of former Republican governors, who pronounced themselves revolted by the idea of Kobach's being governor. Kansas has a Democratic governor and Massachusetts has a Republican governor and election nights are the damndest thing.

Elsewhere, overlooked by the races contested among humans, especially those contested by humans for national office, there were a number of statewide referenda that were aimed at ending the legalized ratfcking that has gone on since the Republicans won so many state legislatures in 2010 and 2014.

In Florida, a measure that would return the franchise to convicted felons who have served out their sentences passed overwhelmingly. (Yes, it is possible that convicted felons will be the constituency that returns Florida to its senses in 2020. Florida, man.) In Michigan, two ballot questions regarding election procedures, including an anti-gerrymandering measure that would establish an independent redistricting commission, both piled up nearly 70 percent of the vote. Maryland passed same-day voter registration. The organized assault on the franchise also was turned back in North Carolina, which elected a 5-2 majority on the state's Supreme Court, when the state elected Anita Earls, a Democratic civil rights attorney that led the fight against the state's grotesquely gerrymandered map-the one that a federal judge said targeted minority voters with "almost surgical precision."

Rick Scott was elected to the U.S. Senate from Florida Tuesday.

For years, these issues were dismissed by the smart people as being "goo-goo" concerns, but the franchise is a different thing. Americans understand cheating and they don't like it. And, in general, the referenda around the country seemed to indicate that progressive voters, frustrated by institutional chokepoints and aggressive finagling, have taken to the tactic of putting issues that they know are popular directly on the ballot and letting the issues be judged on their merits. This is what a lot of progressives did at the turn of the last century, and for many of very much the same reasons.

In Kansas, editor William Allen White covered that story, long ago.

Youth should be radical. Youth should demand change in the world. Youth should not accept the old order if the world is to move on. But the old orders should not be moved easily - certainly not at the mere whim or behest of youth. There must be clash and if youth hasn't enough force or fervor to produce the clash the world grows stale and stagnant and sour in decay.

(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-

"I have very liberal parents. People forget that Fidel Castro was on the cover of 'Time' magazine, and the one that I remember the most - it's not necessarily my favorite - was when they dressed me as Castro when I was eight years old. I was in fatigues, camouflage hat, beard and cigar. I don't think I did that well with candy that year.""
~~~ Robert Englund

Charlottesville: The Movie
By David Swanson

This past Saturday in Charlottesville, Va., I watched the premier of the film Charlottesville, produced by the University of Virginia's Center for Politics.

The film begins by lamenting the fact that the word "Charlottesville" now means to many people not our city but an August 2017 fascist rally in our city. Yet the film is entirely about that rally and is titled "Charlottesville" which will presumably contribute to the problem it laments.

I hope it does, because I hope the film is widely seen. It does an excellent job and a much better job than I had expected of telling the story of what happened last year, and of what led up to it, and of what followed from it thus far.

I had always thought of the Center for Politics and its director Larry Sabato as pro-status-quo, anti-world-improvement, regardless of how the world was. Clearly there were limits, for the Center for Politics and for many other people. Neo-Nazi-violence was sufficiently unacceptable to merit advocacy, and to motivate Sabato following the film screening on Saturday to urge everyone in the audience to become "trouble makers." (Sabato was introducing Martin Luther King III and recounting that when his father had come to town in 1963, the University had deemed him a "trouble maker.")

Shortly after the white supremacists made the news in Charlottesville last year, I published a list of the top 10 misconceptions about the story. They've largely remained common misconceptions, but the new film, which will be showing on public television stations in the coming months, addresses a surprising number of them.

The film does a good job of conveying both the fact that the racists created the problem, and the fact that some of the anti-racists were just as intent on violence. It also does a good job of explaining how disastrous were some of the decisions of the local government and courts, and in particular the grossly incompetent actions of the police. The film does a decent job of explaining what was horribly wrong with President Donald Trump's behavior after the fascist fiasco, though it might have been stronger on his incitement of hatred and violence in the preceding two years.

A number of friends and acquaintances of mine appear in the film, some of whom I asked about it afterwards, and those I asked were all quite pleased, as was I. Still, I would offer the following friendly amendments.

The film gives the false impression that Virginia law forbids localities taking down specifically Confederate monuments and that there is no dispute about the interpretation of that law. In reality, Virginia law forbids taking down any war monument at all that's been erected recently, and there are strong reasons to believe it does not apply to any war monuments put up in the 1920s.

The film never mentions that Virginia law much more clearly forbids localities to ban guns from public events. Nor do we learn that Charlottesville could have banned all non-gun weapons, exactly as it did on the 1-year anniversary of the racist rally. Consequently, we hear no discussion in the movie of whether an armed rally by people threatening violence and having engaged in violence the evening before should be protected by the First Amendment in the same way an unarmed rally by non-threatening people should be. The police are criticized for having allowed violence in order to cite it as grounds for shutting the event down, but why violence the night before didn't suffice isn't explained.

In the film, Larry Sabato asks rhetorically and repeatedly how U.S. society went so wrong. One concern with that question might be that this sort of hatred has always been present. But a more direct concern for me is that the film doesn't try to answer the question. In its defense, it is already a two-hour film with very few minutes wasted. But it's a film that (I hope unintentionally) had part of the audience in the theater cheering for anti-racist violence. It's a film that, to its credit, includes one man describing his conversations with racists and the need for dialogue rather than shouting. It's a film that has the mother of the woman killed that day speaking similar wisdom. But nobody from the white supremacists is asked to explain himself in the movie.

We're told that the Unite the Right rally's main organizer had been part of Occupy Charlottesville in 2011 until being kicked out for advocating violence. What, at that point, might have directed him differently? Martin Luther King III, after the film, described a participant in the rally who had since had a change of heart. King also argued that anti-racist violence won't work, that only nonviolent activism and understanding will. How might we try to understand the people whose views we condemn, as I proposed we do two days before the hate came to town?

Violence and bigotry are made acceptable by example, and not only by Republican or Nazi example. I mentioned to Martin Luther King III after the event that next April 4, Washington D.C. is to host an anniversary celebration of NATO, but that peace organizations are planning our own events opposing militarism and celebrating instead the nonviolent vision of Martin Luther King Jr. On Saturday King suggested that not everyone need be an activist, but that everyone should vote. I would respecfully suggest that if the Center for Politics can turn activist, anyone can, and that unless a lot more people do, we're in grave danger.

Here's a TED Talk I gave on the topic of Charlottesville and war monuments.

(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.

Pittsburgh & Gaza Vs. The Holocaust Industry
Three (3) torturous hours stuck in gridlock!
By Jane Stillwater

Author's note: I started writing this article on the Nazi Holocaust industry over a month ago, long before the tragic horror of the Pittsburgh synagogue hate crime stunned our nation. I'm not sure where to take it from here. From Auschwitz to Gaza to Pittsburgh, I just keep getting more and more horrified by man's inhumanity to man.

There's a very famous Nazi Holocaust museum in Washington DC right now. There's an excellent Nazi Holocaust museum in Terre Haute, Indiana, of all places. There's one in St. Petersburg, Florida. There's a Nazi Holocaust center and a Nazi Holocaust memorial in San Francisco too.

There's also a Nazi Holocaust museum in New York City, El Paso, Tucson, Atlanta, New Orleans, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Miami, Ann Arbor, Boston, Maine, Mississippi, St. Louis, Albuquerque, Nebraska, Cincinnati, Portland, Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Milwaukee and Virginia. There's even one here in my own home town.

And it seems like approximately every tenth film made in Hollywood involves a Nazi Holocaust story. And PBS seems to feature at least one Nazi Holocaust-themed program a week.

However, members of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh never needed a memorial to the grim Nazi Holocaust to remind them of what it is like to be a refugee, a victim of persecution, a stranger in a strange land. They only had to remember what happened to their own parents or grandparents back in Nazi Germany -- or what happened in their very own synagogue last week.

Members of the Tree of Life Synagogue have created their very own Nazi Holocaust memorial -- in their hearts.

These observant Jews weren't just satisfied with honoring past Nazi Holocaust victims. They also wanted to help people who are currently trapped in their own modern-day Holocausts as well. "Never forget." And they haven't.

By helping living refugees from today's modern Holocausts find a better, safer way of life, they have memorialized the past by honoring the present and the future.

And for their humane and compassionate perspective regarding the plight of victims of the world's many new Holocausts, some neo-Nazi madman gunned 11 of them down in cold blood.

But over in Israel, things are quite different. The whole idea of compassion and of holding out a helping hand to victims of mass murder and genocide? That idea apparently came to a total dead stop back in 1946. Far too many Israelis today seem to have totally forgotten what it was like during the Nazi Holocaust -- even despite all the museums, books, movies and hype. Israelis, even though they have become the top CEOs of the current Holocaust industry, seem to be the ones who have forgotten the Nazi Holocaust most.

"Never forget." Never forget what it was like to be hunted, slaughtered, worked to death, starved to death, thrown into concentration camps, gassed and buried in mass unmarked graves. Yet in Israel, all that stuff has already been completely forgotten. And the American military-industrial complex also supports building and maintaining as many Nazi Holocaust museums as possible over here too -- but never, ever supports the true spirit of preventing rabid Holocausts in the future.

Let's take the current bloody and inhuman Holocaust in Gaza for example. The only real difference between the past chilling Nazi Holocaust at Auschwitz and the current chilling Israeli Holocaust at Gaza is that the Nazis who murdered Jews by the thousands did it with gas chambers -- and then hauled their victims' dead bodies off to mass unmarked graves. Victims of the Gaza Holocaust, however, are mostly slaughtered by bombs dropped from 10,000 feet in the air. Israelis don't even have to get their hands dirty with burying the dead.

How easily it appears to be for so many Americans and Israelis these days to forget what it was like to be actual victims of the horrors of mass extermination -- even despite all their Nazi Holocaust films and museums. The people of Gaza, however, are never being allowed to forget.

So. Now let's get philosophical here for a moment, okay? What exactly is the point of having governments anyway? To constantly create even more and better genocidal Holocausts and to turn its citizens into madmen and killing machines? I think not.

The philosopher Aristotle once stated that the purpose of government is to create broad opportunities that allow every one of its citizens to have every chance to live up to their fullest potential.

At this point in time, however, both America and Israel seem to be creating more than their fair share of opportunities to create even bigger and more horrid Holocausts like the ones in Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Libya, Afghanistan, Congo, Chile and Yemen -- and also to breed more and more violent bigots.

In Israel, its citizens are strongly encouraged to become violent bigots -- while Palestinians are being offered only two choices. Either they can become obsequious slaves to the state until they die alone and afraid -- or else be forced to rebel.

And here in America as well, the fine art of creating fully-realized human beings appears to be the very least of our corporate-owned government's goals. Instead, America's goal right now seems to be the enthusiastic creation of even more haters, greedy bastards with no souls, ruthless imperialists, pipe bombers, mass shooters and fascists.

And what is even worse is that both Israel's and America's Holocaust industries are somehow managing to claim that the Pittsburgh tragedy and the Gaza Holocaust are all about the minor inconveniences suffered by the actual creators of these horrors -- and not about its true victims.

PS: On a lighter note, here's link to a video showing a U.S. Army general about to cream his jeans at the mere thought of finally being allowed to play with all his war toys here on American soil.

Not since the Civil War have so many armed men been set loose to run berserk through the American countryside. With this level of craziness afoot, things are bound to turn ugly. And pond-scum like the Pittsburgh shooter are just gonna love it.

PPS: I'm actually going to be in El Paso when all this stupid shite actually goes down. Should make for some hecka interesting sight-seeing.

(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-

Jeff gives the corporate salute

Heil Trump,

Dear Ehemaliger Generalstaatsanwalt Sessions,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your constant attacks on Blacks, Mexicans, Indians and the poor, 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 Sessions, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

America Rejects Trumpism
By Robert Reich

Make no mistake: America has rejected Trumpism.

No one seriously expected the Senate to flip, because Democrats had to defend 26 seats in that chamber, compared with only nine held by Republicans.

The real battleground was the House, where Democrats had to achieve a net gain of 23 seats to get the 218 needed for a majority.

They did.

Trump wasn't on the ballot but he made the election into a referendum on himself.

So Americans turned against House Republicans, who should have acted as a check on him but did nothing - in many cases magnifying his vileness.

The nation has repudiated Trump, but do not believe for a moment that our national nightmare is over.

Trump still occupies the White House and in all likelihood will be there for two more years.

The Republican Party remains in control of the Senate.

Fox News is still Trump's propaganda ministry. (The line between Fox and Trump, already blurred, vanished completely at his last pre-election rally when Fox hosts Sean Hannity and Jeannine Pirro joined him on stage.)

The American people will be subject to more of Trump's lies and hate, as amplified by Senate Republicans and Fox News.

Trump can be expected to scapegoat House Democrats for anything that goes wrong. American politics will almost certainly become even meaner, coarser, and uglier. We will remain deeply and angrily divided.

Most worrisome, America still won't respond to real threats that continue to grow, which Trump and his enablers have worsened - climate change; the suppression of votes, and foreign intrusions into our elections; the most expensive and least efficient healthcare system in the world; and, not least, widening inequalities of income, wealth, and political power.

America will eventually overcome and reverse Trumpism. The harder challenge will be to reverse the reasons Trump and his Republican lapdogs gained power in the first place.

Some blame racism and nativism. But these toxins have poisoned America since the founding of the Republic.

What's new has been the interaction between them and the long economic slide of tens of millions of working Americans, most of them white and lacking college degrees.

They used to be the bedrock of the Democratic Party, many of them members of trade unions whose strength in numbers gave them an increasing share of the gains from economic growth.

Their long economic slide has generated the kind of frustrations that demagogues throughout history have twisted into rage at "them."

Meanwhile, most economic gains have gone to the top 1 percent, whose wealth is now greater than the combined wealth of the bottom 90 percent - giving them enough political muscle to demand and get tax cuts, Wall Street bailouts, corporate subsidies, and regulatory rollbacks. These in turn have created even more wealth at the top.

All were trends before Trump. Yet Democrats failed to reverse them, even though Democrats occupied the White House most of these years (and during four of them controlled both houses of Congress).

Trump has worsened them by slashing taxes on the wealthy and corporations, whittling back the Affordable Care Act, and loosening restrictions on Wall Street.

Jobs may be back but they pay squat, especially compared with the rising costs of housing, healthcare, and education. And they're less secure than ever. One in five is now held by a worker under contract without any unemployment insurance, sick leave, or retirement savings.

Which presumably is why Trump decided to focus the midterms on hate and fear rather than the economy.

He thereby created a large opening for Democrats aiming for 2020. They can become the party of the bottom 90 percent by creating a multi-racial, multi-ethnic coalition to wrest back control of our economy and democracy.

They would focus on two big things: First, raise the purchasing power of the bottom 90 percent through stronger unions, a larger wage subsidy (starting with a bigger Earned Income Tax Credit), and Medicare for All.

Second, get big money out of politics through public financing of elections, full disclosure of all sources of political funding, an end to the revolving door between business and government.

Democrats shouldn't try moving to the "center." The center no longer exists because most Americans are no longer on the traditional "right" or "left."

The vast majority of Americans are now anti-establishment, and understandably so.

The practical choice is either Trump's authoritarian populism backed by the moneyed interests, or a new democratic populism backed by the rest of us.

The direction couldn't be clearer. It should be the Democrat's hour.

(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

Scum Vs. Scum
By Chris Hedges

There is perhaps no better illustration of the deep decay of the American political system than the Senate race in New Jersey. Sen. Bob Menendez, running for re-election, was censured by the Senate Ethics Committee for accepting bribes from the Florida businessman Salomon Melgen, who was convicted in 2017 of defrauding Medicare of $73 million. The senator had flown to the Dominican Republic with Melgen on the physician's private jet and stayed in his private villa, where the men cavorted with young Dominican women who allegedly were prostitutes. Menendez performed numerous political favors for Melgen, including helping some of the Dominican women acquire visas to the United States. Menendez was indicted in a federal corruption trial but escaped sentencing because of a hung jury.

Menendez has a voting record as sordid as most Democrats'. He supported the $716 billion military spending bill, along with 85 percent of his fellow Senate Democrats. He signed a letter, along with other Democratic leaders, calling for steps to extradite Julian Assange to stand trial in the United States. The senator, the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, is owned by the lobby for Israel-a country that routinely and massively interferes in our elections-and supported moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. He helped cause the 2008 global financial crisis by voting to revoke Glass-Steagall, the Depression-era law enacted to create a firewall between commercial and investment banks.

His Republican rival in the Senate race that will be decided Tuesday is Bob Hugin, whose reported net worth is at least $84 million. With Hugin as its CEO, the pharmaceutical firm Celgene made $200 million by conspiring to keep generic cancer drugs off the market, according to its critics. Celgene, a model of everything that is wrong with our for-profit health care system, paid $280 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a whistleblower who accused the firm of improperly marketing two drugs to treat several forms of cancer without getting Federal Drug Administration approval, thereby defrauding Medicare. Celgene, over seven years, also doubled the price of the cancer drug Revlimid to some $20,000 for a supply of 28 pills.

The Senate campaign in New Jersey has seen no discussion of substantive issues. It is dominated by both candidates' nonstop personal attacks and negative ads, part of the typical burlesque of American politics.

Scum versus scum. That sums up this election season. Is it any wonder that 100 million Americans don't bother to vote? When all you are offered is Bob One or Bob Two, why bother? One-fourth of Democratic challengers in competitive House districts in this week's elections have backgrounds in the CIA, the military, the National Security Council or the State Department. Nearly all candidates on the ballots in House races are corporate-sponsored, with a few lonely exceptions such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, members of the Democratic Socialists of America who are running as Democrats. The securities and finance industry has backed Democratic congressional candidates 63 percent to 37 percent over Republicans, according to data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics. Democratic candidates and political action committees have received $56.8 million, compared with Republicans' $33.4 million, the center reported. The broader sector of finance, insurance and real estate, it found, has given $174 million to Democratic candidates, against $157 million to Republicans. And Michael Bloomberg, weighing his own presidential run, has pledged $100 million to elect a Democratic Congress.

"In interviews with two dozen Wall Street executives, fund-raisers, donors and those who raise money from them, Democrats described an extraordinary level of investment and excitement from the finance sector ... ," The New York Times reported about current campaign contributions to the Democrats from the corporate oligarchs.

Our system of legalized bribery is an equal-opportunity employer.

Of course, we are all supposed to vote Democratic to halt the tide of Trump fascism. But should the Democrats take control of the House of Representatives, hate speech and violence as a tool for intimidation and control will increase, with much of it directed, as we saw with the pipe bombs intended to decapitate the Democratic Party leadership, toward prominent Democratic politicians and critics of Donald Trump. Should the white man's party of the president retain control of the House and the Senate, violence will still be the favored instrument of political control as the last of democratic protections are stripped from us. Either way we are in for it.

Trump is a clownish and embarrassing tool of the kleptocrats. His faux populism is a sham. Only the rich like his tax cuts, his refusal to raise the minimum wage and his effort to destroy Obamacare. All he has left is hate. And he will use it. Which is not to say that, if only to throw up some obstacle to Trump, you shouldn't vote for the Democratic scum, tools of the war industry and the pharmaceutical and insurance industry, Wall Street and the fossil fuel industry, as opposed to the Republican scum. But Democratic control of the House will do very little to halt our descent into corporate tyranny, especially with another economic crisis brewing on Wall Street. The rot inside the American political system is deep and terminal.

The Democrats, who refuse to address the social inequality they helped orchestrate and that has given rise to Trump, are the party of racial and ethnic inclusivity, identity politics, Wall Street and the military. Their core battle cry is: We are not Trump! This is ultimately a losing formula. It was adopted by Hillary Clinton, who is apparently weighing another run for the presidency after we thought we had thrust a stake through her political heart. It is the agenda of the well-heeled East Coast and West Coast elites who want to instill corporate fascism with a friendly face.

Bertram Gross (1912-1997) in "Friendly Fascism: The New Face of American Power" warned us that fascism always has two looks. One is paternal, benevolent, entertaining and kind. The other is embodied in the executioner's sadistic leer. Janus-like, fascism seeks to present itself to a captive public as a force for good and moral renewal. It promises protection against enemies real and invented. But denounce its ideology, challenge its power, demand freedom from fascism's iron grip, and you are mercilessly crushed. Gross knew that if the United States' form of fascism, expressed through corporate tyranny, was able to effectively mask its true intentions behind its "friendly" face we would be stripped of power, shorn of our most cherished rights and impoverished. He has been proved correct.

"Looking at the present, I see a more probable future: a new despotism creeping slowly across America," Gross wrote. "Faceless oligarchs sit at command posts of a corporate-government complex that has been slowly evolving over many decades. In efforts to enlarge their own powers and privileges, they are willing to have others suffer the intended or unintended consequences of their institutional or personal greed. For Americans, these consequences include chronic inflation, recurring recession, open and hidden unemployment, the poisoning of air, water, soil and bodies, and more important, the subversion of our constitution. More broadly, consequences include widespread intervention in international politics through economic manipulation, covert action, or military invasion."

No totalitarian state has mastered propaganda better than the corporate state. Our press has replaced journalism with trivia, feel-good stories, jingoism and celebrity gossip. The banal and the absurd, delivered by cheery corporate courtiers, saturate the airwaves. Our emotions are skillfully manipulated around manufactured personalities and manufactured events. We are, at the same time, offered elaborate diversionary spectacles including sporting events, reality television and absurdist political campaigns. Trump is a master of this form of entertainment. Our emotional and intellectual energy is swallowed up by the modern equivalent of the Roman arena. Choreographed political vaudeville, which costs corporations billions of dollars, is called free elections. Cliche-ridden slogans, which assure us that the freedoms we cherish remain sacrosanct, dominate our national discourse as these freedoms are stripped from us by judicial and legislative fiat. It is a vast con game.

You cannot use the word "liberty" when your government, as ours does, watches you 24 hours a day and stores all of your personal information in government computers in perpetuity. You cannot use the word "liberty" when you are the most photographed and monitored population in human history. You cannot use the word "liberty" when it is impossible to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs or General Dynamics. You cannot use the word "liberty" when the state empowers militarized police to use indiscriminate lethal force against unarmed citizens in the streets of American cities. You cannot use the word "liberty" when 2.3 million citizens, mostly poor people of color, are held in the largest prison system on earth. This is the relationship between a master and a slave. The choice is between whom we want to clamp on our chains-a jailer who mouths politically correct bromides or a racist, Christian fascist. Either way we are shackled.

Gross understood that unchecked corporate power would inevitably lead to corporate fascism. It is the natural consequence of the ruling ideology of neoliberalism that consolidates power and wealth into the hands of a tiny group of oligarchs. The political philosopher Sheldon Wolin, refining Gross' thesis, would later characterize this corporate tyranny or friendly fascism as "inverted totalitarianism." It was, as Gross and Wolin pointed out, characterized by anonymity. It purported to pay fealty to electoral politics, the Constitution and the iconography and symbols of American patriotism but internally had seized all of the levers of power to render the citizen impotent. Gross warned that we were being shackled incrementally. Most would not notice until they were in total bondage. He wrote that "a friendly fascist power structure in the United States, Canada, Western Europe, or today's Japan would be far more sophisticated than the 'caesarism' of fascist Germany, Italy, and Japan. It would need no charismatic dictator nor even a titular head ... it would require no one-party rule, no mass fascist party, no glorification of the State, no dissolution of legislatures, no denial of reason. Rather, it would come slowly as an outgrowth of present trends in the Establishment." Gross foresaw that technological advances in the hands of corporations would be used to trap the public in what he called "cultural ghettoization" so that "almost every individual would get a personalized sequence of information injections at any time of the day-or night." This is what, of course, television, our electronic devices and the internet have done. He warned that we would be mesmerized by the entertaining shadows on the wall of the Platonic cave as we were enslaved.

Gross knew that the most destructive force against the body politic would be the war profiteers and the militarists. He saw how they would siphon off the resources of the state to wage endless war, a sum that now accounts for half of all discretionary spending. And he grasped that warfare is the natural extension of corporatism. He wrote:

Under the militarism of German, Italian, and Japanese fascism violence was openly glorified. It was applied regionally-by the Germans in Europe and England, the Italians in the Mediterranean, the Japanese in Asia. In battle, it was administered by professional militarists who, despite many conflicts with politicians, were guided by old-fashioned standards of duty, honor, country, and willingness to risk their own lives.

The emerging militarism of friendly fascism is somewhat different. It is global in scope. It involves weapons of doomsday proportions, something that Hitler could dream of but never achieve. It is based on an integration between industry, science, and the military that the old-fashioned fascists could never even barely approximate. It points toward equally close integration among military, paramilitary, and civilian elements. Many of the civilian leaders-such as Zbigniew Brzezinski or Paul Nitze-tend to be much more bloodthirsty than any top brass. In turn, the new-style military professionals tend to become corporate-style entrepreneurs who tend to operate-as Major Richard A. Gabriel and Lieutenant Colonel Paul L. Savage have disclosed-in accordance with the ethics of the marketplace. The old buzzwords of duty, honor, and patriotism are mainly used to justify officer subservience to the interests of transnational corporations and the continuing presentation of threats to some corporate investments as threats to the interest of the American people as a whole. Above all, in sharp contrast with classic fascism's glorification of violence, the friendly fascist orientation is to sanitize, even hide, the greater violence of modern warfare behind such "value-free" terms as "nuclear exchange," "counterforce" and "flexible response," behind the huge geographical distances between the senders and receivers of destruction through missiles or even on the "automated battlefield," and the even greater psychological distances between the First World elites and the ordinary people who might be consigned to quick or slow death.

We no longer live in a functioning democracy. Self-styled liberals and progressives, as they do in every election cycle, are urging us to vote for the Democrats, although the Democratic Party in Europe would be classified as a right-wing party, and tell us to begin to build progressive movements the day after the election. Only no one ever builds these movements. The Democratic Party knows there is no price to pay for selling us out and its abject service to corporations. It knows the left and liberals become supplicants in every election cycle. And this is why the Democratic Party drifts further and further to the right and we become more and more irrelevant. If you stand for something, you have to be willing to fight for it. But there is no fight in us.

The elites, Republican and Democrat, belong to the same club. We are not in it. Take a look at the flight roster of the billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who was accused of prostituting dozens of underage girls and ended up spending 13 months in prison on a single count. He flew political insiders from both parties and the business world to his secluded Caribbean island, known as "Orgy Island," on his jet, which the press nicknamed "the Lolita Express." Some of the names on his flight roster, which usually included unidentified women, were Bill Clinton, who took dozens of trips, Alan Dershowitz, former Treasury Secretary and former Harvard President Larry Summers, the Candide-like Steven Pinker, whose fairy dust ensures we are getting better and better, and Britain's Prince Andrew. Epstein was also a friend of Trump, whom he visited at Mar-a-Lago.

We live on the precipice, the eve of the deluge. Past civilizations have crumbled in the same way, although as Hegel understood, the only thing we learn from history is "that people and governments never have learned anything from history." We will not arrest the decline if the Democrats regain control of the House. At best we will briefly slow it. The corporate engines of pillage, oppression, ecocide and endless war are untouchable. Corporate power will do its dirty work regardless of which face-the friendly fascist face of the Democrats or the demented visage of the Trump Republicans-is pushed out front. If you want real change, change that means something, then mobilize, mobilize, mobilize, not for one of the two political parties but to rise up and destroy the corporate structures that ensure our doom.

(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
~~~ Dan Wasserman ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Scary Scary
By Will Durst

Be careful out there folks because we're in the middle of the scariest time of the year when spooky, hollow-eyed, costumed creatures come begging for treats and if refused, threaten dastardly tricks. Meaning one of two things; either its Halloween or the following Tuesday is Election Day.

This year both diabolically sinister events occur within a week of each other. It's an extraordinary conjunction of the fiendish, spine-chilling and horrifying. Two separate days when ghouls rule, eerie echoing noises are rampant and the whole nation flinches at the slightest change in barometric pressure. Scary. Scary.

The press, with its love of visuals, highlights the battle between the orange and black & red, white and blue as being exceptionally fierce. Right now we're experiencing that rare rainbow of fright. With soothing autumnal shades blessedly awaiting us on November 7.

Color-coding the events may be the best way to keep from getting confused and dropping absentee ballots in plastic pumpkins or toilet-papering polling places. It also keeps us from getting robo-calls that encourage buying bigger Butterfingers, and Costco isn't offering endorsements with every purchase in the extra-large, county-picnic, economy size. Although, we do seem to be stumbling near the latter. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

The weird thing is there are so many similarities between the late October/ early November activities. The two have much more in common than simply sharing the same linear space of a calendar page. You always hear people describe their experiences in politics and Halloween as being "scary but fun." The smell of desperation and giddy excitement of pre-pubescent kids as the day approaches are a couple more. And Mitch McConnell is an honorary mascot to both festivities.

In order to insure your physical security and mental safety over the next 7 harrowing days, we here at Durstco, purely a public service, have compiled a list of other reasons why Halloween is so monstrously like Election Day.

People really enjoy going around pretending to be somebody or something they aren't. Even those who aren't aware they're wearing costumes.

Greed is not only encouraged, but richly rewarded.

Ronald Reagan and Mickey Mouse are perennial favorites.

Zombies and vampires and miscellaneous blood-suckers wandering the streets everywhere you look.

Many people will stay in their homes with the lights off to avoid the whole thing.

Based on the results of the evening, both children and adults will be highly susceptible to future nightmares.

Shocking surprises lurk around every corner.

The really hard work goes on in the darkest regions where secrecy reigns.

The more malevolent, wicked, diabolical and villainish, the better.

There's always one weird house that no body wants to go near.

You run the risk of overdosing on candy or regret.

The scariest faces are often found under the masks.

Warnings not to get involved by mental health authorities are continually made, yet go unheeded.

Boos and booze are regular attendants.

MSNBC, FOX News and Turner Classic Movies all delight in running horror marathons.

The shared goal is obtaining the mostest, bestest goodies, not caring a whit what happens to your fellow night crawlers.

And the #1 reason why Election Day is like Halloween: this year, a major focus of both events will be a plump vegetable with orange skin.

(c) 2018 Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed columnist, comedian and former Pizza Hut assistant manager. For a calendar of personal appearances, including his new one-man show, "Durst Case Scenario," please visit:

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Issues & Alibis Vol 18 # 44 (c) 11/09/2018

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