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In This Edition

Dahr Jamail reports, "Physicians Work To Bring Back The Anti-Nuclear Movement."

Harvey Wasserman Joins us with, "California Apocalypse: Fire And Fury."

Glen Ford remembers, "Ruling Class War Games At The White House."

Greg Palast returns with, "Georgia Voter Purge Victim: 'This Was A Strategy From Kemp.'"

Jim Hightower explores, "Spookinomics."

John Nichols explains, "If Trump And Whitaker Undermine The Mueller Investigation, That's An Impeachable Offense."

James Donahue is, "Living Dangerously In California."

William Rivers Pitt says, "At Long Last, Donald Trump Knows True Fear."

Heather Digby Parton gives us, "Whiny Little Twit Presidential Tweet Of The Day."

David Suzuki finds, "Human Behaviour Is At The Root Of Orca Plight."

Charles P. Pierce recalls, "Armistice Day Celebrated Peace. That Peace Is Fraying.."

David Swanson thinks, "Dan Crenshaw Sounds Like A Propagandist For Mass Murder."

Jane Stillwater considers, "Ted Cruz & Election Fraud."

Matthew Whitaker wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich tells, "How Blue States Help Red States."

Chris Hedges examines, "Crucifying Julian Assange."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz says, "Trump Warns That Florida Recount Could Set Dangerous Precedent Of Person With Most Votes Winning"but first Uncle Ernie exclaims, "They Come, They Go, And Good Riddance!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Ed Wexler, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, Kuper, Stewart Kirby, Jessica McGowan, Al Drago, Mary Altaffer, Nicholas Kamm, NOAA, Shutterstock, 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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They Come, They Go, And Good Riddance!
By Ernest Stewart

"And you know what happens when a ship gets too many rats on board? It sinks. That's what. I wondered if a ship had ever really sunk that way." ~~~ David Wong

"Give me clean, beautiful and healthy air - not the same old climate change (global warming) bullshit! I am tired of hearing this nonsense." ~~~ Donald Trump

"All of those affected are in our thoughts and prayers." ~~~ Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being 'round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won't you please, please help me?
Help ~~~ The Beatles

I see that the rats are leaving the sinking ship, the SS tRump! Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, decided to get out while the getting's good. We've already lost Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was replaced, at least temporarily by a Vincent D'Onofrio look-a-like.

The First Bimbo doesn't like Kirstjen Nielsen, so she's toast, as is her ally chief of staff John Kelly!

Others packing their bags are Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is a sure bet to bite the big one, too!

This comes on the heels of tRump already firing or shuffling eight other cabinet officials! Get your score cards, get your score cards, you can't tell the tRump cabinet members without a score card.

Trouble is, as bad as this crew was, and they were awful, Zeus only knows what tRump will replace them with. What denizens of the seventh circle of hell will tRump choose to be his lick spittles? As with his first choices they won't be any better but no doubt will be a worse group of toadies who will all pledge their troths to tRump and will make things so much worse than they already are.

Fasten your seatbelts America, it's going to be a bumpy night!

In Other News

By now every sane person on the planet knows global warming to be real. The only ones that don't know this are ones being paid to deny it. Even tRump knew this until he found out that he could make a buck off this. He, of course, knows it to be true but will continue to deny it until it kills us all, or at least, until Mar-a-Lago slides under the waves.

For those who didn't vote for tRump, and for some who did, when it comes to global warming it's all your fault, and you deal with it's effects like those fires, as fighting them will soon be without federal aid, even though it's the federal governments, not the states responsibility to do so! While taking a dump he tweeted this the other day...
The "campfire" fire is turning out to be the worst in California's history with at least 51 dead and several hundred missing and it's showing no signs of ending or even being brought under control. It's wiping out entire towns as Paradise, California found out.

Down around Malibu, my old stomping grounds, another fire is wiping out the cliff tops as it has since at least the 1897 fire and averages about two fires every ten years or so. I remember visting several mansions on top of the cliff that burned to the ground in the "Kanan Blaze"of 1978. Of course, the folks rebuilt their mansions and such only to have them burnt to the ground again in the "Old Topanga Fire"of 1993. That's what happens when you build in a desert full of dry brush and the Santa Anna winds come along.

Burning in that same fire is Thousand Oaks, which just suffered the bar massacre. When it rains it pours, huh? Trouble is, it doesn't rain! And if these three monster fires aren't bad enough there are currently 14 more fires burning in California!

And Finally

Speaking of the Thousand Oaks massacre it was done by a psychotic marine, I know, I repeat myself! He managed to kill one person that had escaped the Las Vegas shooter last year! As far as I've able to find about 35% of all US mass shooting were done by US vets who for one reason or the other simply snapped. The first one I remember was Lee Harvey Oswald who the Rethuglicans say killed JFK who was also, guess what a marine. However, I don't believe this one for a minute as JFK was killed by two, four man, CIA hit teams along with the help of the U.S. Secret Service, who, as you guessed it, were all former military men, including their leader, George H.W. Bush! However, this "sanction" doesn't qualify as only two were hit!

Then came the University of Texas, Austin, clock tower massacre.

On August 1, 1966, after stabbing his mother and his wife to death the night before, Charles Whitman, a former Marine, (imagine that) took rifles and other weapons to the observation deck atop the clock tower and proceeded to kill 11 people, including an unborn child, and wounding 31 others.

And on and on it went until so far this year we've had at least 307 mass shootings. Not to be confused with all the murder and mayhem that doesn't qualify as a mass shooting as you must shoot at least 4 people at a time to qualify as a mass shooting!

There's been so many this year that the politicians don't even bother sending their thoughts and prayers as long and the NRA keeps sending in those checks, and for that very reason there will be no stopping these massacres.

You may recall what put the "wild" into the "wild west."It was all those trained killers that fought on both sides of the civil war that made it wild, and there were massacres aplenty! That's the obvious war and it's results, but you can find similar finding after each and every one of our wars. And all of our current wars will keep sending psychotic killers back into our towns and cities! Funny how you don't hear anything about that, on Veterans Day, huh?

Keepin' On

I'm having that Mother Hubbard deja vu, all over again. Nothing but a piece of spam in the PO Box again and need I say that time is running out for the magazine. We need your help now more than ever. I don't spend 50 hour a week, every week, since December 12, 2000 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!


03-13-1928 ~ 11-11-2018
Thanks for the film!

12-28-1922 ~ 11-12-2018
Thanks for the adventures!

04-15-1933 ~ 11-15-2018
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.

Various members of different CND, anti-war and peace campaigners gathered to protest
the bases of nuclear capable submarines, September 22, 2018, in Helensburgh, Scotland.

Physicians Work To Bring Back The Anti-Nuclear Movement
By Darh Jamail

It is a move that many, including former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev, believe has ignited a new nuclear arms race. This is because the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed by Gorbachev and former US President Ronald Reagan, banned all short and mid-range nuclear and non-nuclear missiles, and helped eliminate thousands of land-based missiles.

The situation is exacerbated by the fact that Trump has already promised to build new nuclear weapons, in addition to having withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal, heightening tensions further after having previously threatened the use of nuclear weapons against North Korea. Trump has also promised to build new nuclear weapons.

While these deeply concerning issues, which are clear existential threats to the entire planet, often fly under the radar, a large and diverse coalition of groups across Washington State has formed with the aim of reviving the anti-nuclear movement.

"Kitsap Bangor Naval Base is the single largest collection of nuclear weapons in the US, and each of those warheads is many times more powerful than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki," Estela Ortega, the executive director of El Centro de la Raza, told me. El Centro de la Raza is a Seattle-based civil rights, human services, educational, cultural and economic development organization.

Ortega explained that the mission of her organization is "to struggle for a clean, safe, and nuclear waste-free environment for our people and future generations. To work for a rational use of natural resources in the interests of the preservation of Mother Earth and the peaceful development of humankind."

She added, "Our commitment to a nuclear free world and preserving Mother Earth has been with us since the beginning of our organization."

Ortega's organization is now part of Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility's (WPSR) effort to revive anti-nuclear awareness across the state by developing what has become a broad, socially diverse coalition of dozens of partners who share the same goal.

WPSR, which is the Washington State chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), reached out to Ortega and her organization after she gave a speech at Hiroshima to Hope's annual remembrance event.

"Their mission and goals were similar to ours in that nuclear weapons should be eliminated and those dollars then used to end poverty," she said. "In addition, the dollars should be used to strengthen our nation by funding education, housing, health care, rebuilding our country, creating jobs and now we need funds to combat climate change for clean air, water, a green economy and healthy forests."

Lilly Adams is the security program organizer for WPSR, as well as the co-chair of the group's Nuclear Weapons Abolition Task Force. Adams coordinates WPSR's statewide coalition, Washington Against Nuclear Weapons.

"The primary aim of our work is to reduce our nuclear weapons arsenal and spending on nuclear weapons, and working towards a world without nuclear weapons," Adams told Truthout. "Every nuclear weapon that is dismantled makes us a little bit safer. These weapons threaten our society simply by existing, because there is always the risk of intentional use, unintentional use or accidents."

The coalition includes Earthcare Not Warfare, South Seattle Climate Action Network, Spokane Veterans for Peace, Social Equity Educators, the Seattle Education Association, a student group at the University of Washington called Beyond the Bomb, and more.

The aim of WPSR's statewide coalition is to mobilize leaders and their organization's members in each congressional district to apply consistent pressure to each member of Congress, with the eventual aim of abolishing nuclear weapons altogether. It is working in tandem with the national PSR organization, which has been advocating for more than half a century to create what its website states is "a healthy, just and peaceful world for both the present and future generations." PSR is the US affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

Adams aims to reverse the trends that have been laid out in the Trump administration's Nuclear Posture Review.

"This review lays out the administration's view of the role of nuclear weapons," she said. "It calls for more usable nuclear weapons, expands the situations in which we might use nuclear weapons, and sidelines disarmament and diplomacy. In the short term, we have to work to oppose these dangerous policies."

Washington as Ground Zero

Laura Skelton, the executive director of WPSR, told Truthout she knew building a coalition like this would be challenging in Washington. This is because the Boeing company (which builds nuclear missiles), uranium mining, nuclear weapons storage and the Hanford nuclear waste site have all played a significant role in the state's economy. Additionally, the US military's standing presence in the state is highlighted by this statement on Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's website: "The Military and Defense sector is Washington's second largest direct public employer. This key industry cuts across many sectors in Washington, helps create the backbone for a strong economy through our diverse defense missions and military installations, our pioneering companies, and our military friendly communities."

Governor Inslee, the so-called greenest governor, also convened the Washington Military Alliance to ensure military spending continues to flow into the state.

"It's also delicate to bring up Boeing's role in nuclear weapons systems production," Skelton said. "I doubt most residents are aware of their role in the military economy, and in the nuclear weapons industry in particular."

Bangor, Washington, is one of the largest depots of nuclear weapons in the US, and coupled with the other aforementioned nuclear-related presences, Washington State is a sort of "ground zero"for anti-nuclear organizing for the nation.

Bruce Amundson, WPSR's vice president and co-chair of our Nuclear Weapons Abolition Task Force, is a former family physician, and was the catalyst for WPSR's anti-nuclear weapons coalition.

"Some of the old-guard anti-nuclear leaders back then [during the 1980s] were early responders to our requests to join a statewide coalition and have been some of the most engaged folks," Amundson told Truthout. "So, like the Trump phenomenon, our Washington history has been a boon to organizing."

On the other hand, the massive presence of the military in Washington, coupled with the influence of Boeing and the defense industries, have a grip on the state government that, Amundson said, "is hard to break."

However, according to Amundson, several members of WPSR's growing coalition are now linked to members of Congress in each district of the state and are making "aggressive asks." He said the results have been notable.

Since the campaign began two years ago, WPSR has seen members of Congress who were formerly absent on nuclear issues now speaking out or supporting legislative initiatives for the first time. Additionally, Amundson said two-thirds of Washington's congressional delegation have "moved"along the spectrum to a better position on the issue.

"Our requests have been supported by strong arguments, by the humanitarian perspective of human carnage and by a clear message that something is happening in Washington around nuclear issues and we are not going away," Amundson said.

Adams pointed out that although Boeing's presence makes Washington a challenging place to form an anti-nuclear coalition, many people simply don't realize Boeing is one of the largest nuclear weapons systems producers in the country. If they did, they might not be so excited about its presence.

"Producers of other weapons of mass destruction, like chemical weapons, are often condemned by the public, but somehow this is still not true for producers of nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons systems," Adams said. "But often people simply don't know this other side of Boeing. Boeing is a big contributor to the Democratic and Republican parties and individual elected officials in Washington State, and they spend a massive amount of money lobbying Congress."

According to Adams, all that power and money being invested in the continued production of nuclear weapons by Boeing points to a more general corporate nightmare: Much of the US nuclear weapons production is carried out by private companies. These companies stand to profit from the continued existence and reliance on nuclear weapons, regardless of the negative impacts on communities.

The Kitsap Bangor naval base is home to the largest collection of deployed (or ready-to-use) nuclear weapons in the country, according to Adams.

"This is on Hood Canal, just 20 miles from Seattle," she said. "In fact, if Washington were its own country, it would be the third-largest nuclear weapons country in the world."

Therefore, it's an uphill battle to convince people in her state government to work towards disarmament and to stop investing in nuclear weapons.

"This is especially true in the 6th District, which includes Kitsap Bangor naval base, and where the military is a major employer," Adams said. "This makes this a challenging topic not just for members of Congress, but also the people living there, who may see this as their livelihood. To be clear, we do not advocate for closing the base itself." Nevertheless, Adams thinks the movement is having impact, pointing to how positions of many members of state Congress have shifted regarding nuclear weapons issues.

"We've seen some members of Congress become strong and outspoken advocates for safer nuclear weapons policies and reductions in US the arsenal and spending," Adams said. "Some members of Congress who previously had not engaged on this issue at all have taken significant actions in the last couple of years, like co-sponsoring bills or voting against new warheads, at our urging." Public opinion is ripe for change, too. Skelton acknowledges that nuclear weapons policy is far outside most people's daily concerns, but added, "I imagine that most people would prefer to spend the majority of our nuclear weapons budget on other things that would improve their daily lives."

Stopping the Nuclear Spending Spree

Under the Obama administration, the US and Russia signed the New START Treaty, which requires both countries to decrease their nuclear arsenals. In order to pass the treaty, the Obama administration made a compromise allowing the remaining nuclear arsenal to be "modernized."

According to Adams, this kicked off what is now a $1.7 trillion spending spree on nuclear weapons over the next 30 years, which comes out to $4.6 million every single hour.

This includes not only upgrading existing weapons, but actually replacing every part of the nuclear triad (submarines, ground-based missiles, bombers and air-launched missiles) and making new nuclear weapons, like the heavily debated low-yield weapons that came up this year.

Therefore, Adams urges people to engage in a variety of forms of anti-nuclear advocacy, such as writing op-eds, attending public forums and demonstrations, passing resolutions, or undertaking civil disobedience and direct action in order to "favorably impact policy makers and policies."

Delegations including WPSR members and staff, alongside representatives from the statewide coalition they've formed, have been meeting with members of Congress in Washington in most districts.

The meetings involve reinforcing policy steps and pronouncements that the member has already made, coupled with specific policy "asks"and explorations of areas of potential collaboration. The coalition also works to influence Congress members on impending legislation.

"Mobilizing hundreds of individual contacts to a member of Congress within a few days on a specific piece of legislation has been both possible and effective, a strategy for eliciting public pressure and visibility not seen on nuclear issues in Washington for years," Adams said.

Skelton explained that WPSR took the lead in forming this coalition at this particular time because no one else was doing it."While we were still raising awareness of nuclear issues and talking with elected representatives about them, we recognized that we would make a much better case in doing so alongside others," Skelton said. "Whether or not a person chooses to think about it, nuclear weapons (including military spending and the risks posed by nearby weapons) affect us all."

Skelton believes that by raising a chorus of diverse voices and concerns - and showing policy makers that this is an issue that many people care about - they are once again putting a spotlight on nuclear concerns in Washington State and demanding that their lawmakers support better and safer nuclear policies.

Her hope is that if the majority of members of Congress in Washington State call for nuclear weapons to be taken off high alert and urged on a path toward disarmament, this could inspire similar efforts elsewhere.

"If we had enough people nationally saying these things, my dream would be for the US to ratify the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons," she said.

Adams is also concerned about other nuclear issues, such as working to ensure peace and diplomacy with North Korea - and the fact that President Trump has the sole authority to launch nuclear weapons.

Amundson, who has been a member of PSR for more than 35 years, believes one of the best policy outcomes from WPSR's latest effort would be "to stop most - or all - of the proposed legislation to rebuild the entire nuclear triad."

Amundson thinks this is a critical time for doing so, given the cost is clearly unsustainable in addition to it eclipsing other public needs. Two-thirds of the rest of the world's nations have already signed on to abolish nuclear weapons.

"Our position is that if these policies succeed, and the US has a newly built arsenal, the die is cast for the next 30-40 years," he said. "Once in place, we know the power of the military/corporate/congressional complex."

Time to Bring Back the Anti-Nuclear Movement

Skelton again acknowledged that nuclear issues aren't currently one of the top concerns for most progressive groups, but asks why, given the potential (and actual) consequences.

"Why are we not talking about the massive spending earmarked for these weapons, or the unthinkable destruction and destabilization they represent?" she asked. "For me, another desirable outcome of our campaign would be that people are regularly asking these questions, talking with candidates about them and demanding more progress on nuclear policies."

Although the Cold War has long been officially over, few people are actively calling for changing Cold War-era policies and making serious reductions in US nuclear arsenals.

Amundson believes that, via WPSR's work across the country with other PSR chapters and affiliated organizations that oppose nuclear weapons, Washington now has the most extensive and professionally organized anti-nuclear movement of any state.

"It's a sad commentary on the atrophy of anti-nuclear advocacy over the 30 years since the collapse of the USSR, when everyone went to sleep on these threats," he said.

However, there's hope: Amundson believes the work they are doing now serves as a model for other organizations across the US. Meanwhile, what keeps Adams's eyes on the proverbial ball is continuing to work directly with communities across Washington State that have been directly affected by the nuclear weapons industry.

"The entire process of creating nuclear weapons harms those involved and the surrounding environment, and historically, the communities most affected are communities of color, Indigenous people and low-income communities," she said. "This is clear around the world, but also very clear right here in Washington, where many of our communities have been devastated by the nuclear weapons industry."

While the potential deaths due to a nuclear catastrophe are what are usually considered when the topic of nuclear weapons arises, people in the communities Adams mentioned are already dying from the effects of nuclear weapons production.

"Their stories are not often told, and in debates about nuclear policy, their voices are not often heard," Adams said. "As we work towards a world without nuclear weapons and try to change policy, it's crucial that we build relationships with these communities and, hopefully, make it easier for them to be at the center of these debates and help lead these efforts."

(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.

California Apocalypse: Fire And Fury
In today's America, random mass murder has merged with ecological devastation.
By Harvey Wasserman

Fifty years ago, in my twenties, I often hitchhiked the Pacific Coast Highway through Southern California. I slept on pristine beaches, swam in the ocean, and spent endless hours watching seals and dolphins ride the waves just a few yards offshore.

A favorite spot was in Santa Monica, where Sunset Boulevard meets the sea at Will Rogers State Park. This gorgeous stretch of white sand, framed by the Santa Monica pier to the south and the Malibu Hills to the north, seemed like paradise.

Today, fulfilling a lifelong dream, I live in the San Fernando Valley, a forty-minute drive from the Pacific, half of which is through beautiful Topanga Canyon.

This evening there was something else-an unwelcome terror.

This past Friday, I set off for my weekly bike ride along the beach. As usual, I parked at Will Rogers and rode my bike south down the concrete path about six miles to the Venice Pier. The final stretch, through Venice Beach, featured a constant cloud of the cannabis smoke that now flows free and easy in the land of legal pot.

At the end of a peaceful afternoon, I rode north back up to Will Rogers (always into the wind) to watch the sunset and take a dip in the ocean, which was, as expected this time of year, warmer than the air.

But this evening there was something else-an unwelcome terror. Over the ridge, in Malibu and Calabasas, fires were raging, engulfing the entire range of hills and valleys to the north in smoke. The flames were clearly visible as I rode along, all too aware that at that moment, fellow humans were dying, homes and livelihoods were being consumed, and for many people not much different from me, the world was ending.

Earlier in the week, in nearby Thousand Oaks, yet another crazed gunman shot up yet another bar, killing eleven people. Some of the victims were survivors of the Las Vegas shooting a year ago, where more than fifty people died. Now they died here.

I thought about the ocean waves, once so pure, now laced with unseen traces of Fukushima. The March 11, 2011, earthquake there caused three meltdowns and four hydrogen explosions that blew radiation into the air and water far in excess of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The three melted cores still seeth underground. A constant flow of liquid carries untold isotopes into the Pacific as Tokyo Electric has failed for nearly a decade to permanently cool them.

That witches brew of some of the world's most lethal substances has long since arrived here. Years ago tuna caught off the coast of California were found to be carrying significant doses of identifiable Fukushima contaminants.

I swim anyway. I don't know how much radiation is in those waves. But it's there, as are the twin nuclear reactors just four hours drive north at Diablo Canyon near San Luis Obispo. Thousands of us have been arrested protesting those reactors, capable of making this entire region a dead zone, especially once hit by the "Big One"earthquake we all know will eventually come.

The awful glow of the deadly fires shine through massive clouds of soot and smoke. It's like nothing I've ever seen, a hellish reality in a paradise I once took for granted.

The following afternoon, I find solace in a few blessed hours with my darling grandchildren, playing in an idyllic suburban backyard under pristine blue skies.

The awful glow of the deadly fires is like nothing I've ever seen, a hellish reality in a paradise I once took for granted.

And then it arrives. The soot and smoke of the Woolsey fire smacks us in the face. The flames have already torn through Santa Susana, a toxic wasteland whose lethal pollutants-including radioactive isotopes from ten small reactors-may be pouring over Los Angeles. At least twenty-five people have already died in the inferno, several of them roasted to death in their cars, caught by the rapidly moving flames. Many more are still missing.

Fallout from the fires cover us with a filthy, acrid fallout.

Only fate has thus far protected me and my family from the poisonous contamination and the killings-the sudden death that seems poised to strike at random anywhere we live, work, and play. In today's America, random mass murder has merged with ecological devastation.

There is much we can do about both of these sources of terror. Meaningful gun control. Limiting fossil fuel and nuclear emissions. Finally switching totally to renewable energy.

But the path to security is narrowing. Breathe the air, look at your kids, think about being in a crowded public room, and know that the need for meaningful, powerful, and effective citizen action is more immediate than ever.

(c) 2018 Harvey "Sluggo"Wasserman is co-founder of the global grassroots No Nukes movement and author or co-author of twenty books, including Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth (, and The Last Energy War (Seven Stories Press). His radio show "California Solartopia"is broadcast at KPFK-Pacifica 90.7 Los Angeles.

The author, circa 1976.

Ruling Class War Games At The White House
By Glenn Ford

The White House press corps, like the corporate media in general, are foot soldiers in a wider conflict between sections of the ruling oligarchy: Trump versus anti-Trump.

The herd of corporate operatives that calls itself a White House press corps is up in arms over the Trump administration's cancellation of CNN correspondent Jim Acosta's press pass, last week. Acosta's bosses at CNN, owned by AT&T's WarnerMedia conglomerate, have filed suit, charging White House staffers and an unnamed Secret Service agent with violating Acosta's rights to freedom of the press and due process of law. Acosta had persisted in pressing Trump with questions after the president several times proclaimed, "That's enough!"

CNN called the press pass revocation "unprecedented" and "a threat to our democracy."

Two days later, Trump suggested that more press passes might be pulled. "It could be others also," he said.

Despite CNN's claim that Acosta's punishment was unprecedented, the Cuban-American wasn't treated nearly as peremptorily as Jorge Ramos, the Mexican-born anchor for the Spanish-language Univision network. Presidential candidate Trump kicked Ramos out of an Iowa press conference, in August of 2015, when Ramos objected to Trump's characterization of Mexican immigrants as "rapists." Ramos was allowed back in the room after other reporters lobbied on his behalf, according to Richard Prince's Journalisms, which has been keeping track of minorities in journalism since 2002.

While he was ranting at Acosta, Trump turned on another favorite target, April Ryan, the American Urban Radio Networks correspondent. "You talk about somebody that's a loser,' Trump said of Ryan, "She doesn't know what the hell she's doing." Then he zoomed in on another Black woman, CNN's Abby Phillip, who had asked if newly appointed Attorney General Matt Whitaker would "'rein in [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller." "'What a stupid question that is. What a stupid question,' said the president.

Trump is a habitual abuser of reporters of color, said Abby Phillip:

"While the president insults many journalists, these critics say his barbs targeting women and people of color feel especially sharp, and hit at the reporter's basic intelligence and competence as a person. It's a tone that black reporters and scholars of African-American history say particularly stings, given that [African American] journalists were not allowed into the White House until 1947 - and that the White House press corps remains overwhelmingly white to this day."

It is both more, and less, complicated than that. There is no doubt that Trump is a reflexive racist, but his outbursts are deliberate, timed and calibrated to show that he doesn't take "disrespect" from reporters, in general, or uppity non-white journalists, in particular. Trump's anti-Blackness is an essential element of his political brand, which has propelled him to the White House as the champion of a national white supremacist voting bloc that is more confident and coherent than at any time since the collapse of the Dixiecrats into Richard Nixon's Republican Party. (See "Midterm Elections: Corporate Democrats Versus the Monster They Created," Glen Ford, BAR, Nov. 7, '18.)

In that sense, Trump is different only in degree from Bill Clinton, who during the 1992 campaign travelled to Rev. Jesse Jackson's Operation Push/Rainbow Coalition annual conference to single out activist Sistah Soulja as the Black equivalent of Ku Klux Klansman David Duke. Sistah Souljah hit back, blasting Clinton as a "draft dodger" turned warmonger, a "reefer smoker," abuser of women, and a racist who "lacks integrity." Clinton's "race stand" was no less cynical and deliberate than Trump's. White voters got the message: that Clinton would defy Jackson and his recent intra-Democratic Party insurgency and resist all pressures from progressives and the dark side of the nation. Upon election, the Man from Hope (Arkansas) followed through on his implicit racial promises, abolishing welfare "as we knew it" and reinforcing the Mass Black Incarceration State with 100,000 additional police officers and a whole new set of draconian laws crafted to condemn millions more Blacks to prison.

Clinton's acolytes -- his wife and Barack Obama -- still dominate the Democratic Party apparatus on behalf of corporate and Silicon Valley oligarchs. The Democrat-oriented section of the U.S. ruling class was heavily reinforced when Donald Trump captured the GOP in 2016, defeating the entire menagerie of established corporate Republicans and sending whole sectors of the ruling class and its "Deep State" protectors fleeing to asylum in Hillary Clinton's "Big Tent," from whence they plotted the destruction of his unpredictable presidency. Most of the White House press corps are anti-Trump partisans in this intra-ruling class war.

What is "unprecedented" is the split in the U.S. ruling class, a contest of capitalist titans that has been playing out in the electronic and print corporate media for the past two years. Corporate media operatives, including the White House press corps, are foot soldiers in this war. The bulk of them oppose Trump because that is corporate policy; professional ethics have nothing to do with it -- indeed, such ethics no longer exist in U.S. corporate journalism, if they ever did.

No Press Pass for Glen

Just as Acosta had his press pass pulled, I was denied standard White House accreditation while assigned to that beat in the mid-Seventies as correspondent for the Mutual Black Network, one of two Black-oriented radio news networks in the nation. (April Ryan's American Urban Radio Networks is the result of a merger of the Mutual Black Network and its former competition, the National Black Network.) Unlike the other denizens of the White House press briefing room who casually waved their press passes at the gate, I had to present myself for search each morning by uniformed Secret Service agents -- a professionally humiliating process. After enduring nearly a year of being singled out for pat-downs, I demanded that the White House explain the hold-up in issuing my press pass. After all, correspondents for the Soviet news agency Tass and the newspapers Izvestia and Pravda, as well as the Cuban press, were all accredited. What was the problem with me?

After a few weeks, I was summoned to a White House office where one of the few Black Secret Service agents informed me that I was considered "a danger to the president." How so, I asked? As owner and host of the first nationally syndicated news interview program on commercial television, "America's Black Forum," whose Washington broadcasts routinely beat the network Sunday morning shows in the ratings, I had interviewed most of the President Jimmy Carter's cabinet and all of the then 16-member Congressional Black Caucus. I'd already traveled with Carter and hobnobbed at White House functions, and was also the network's State Department reporter, roaming its Foggy Bottom headquarters in the afternoon and occasionally interviewing the Secretary of State. How was I a threat to the president? Could it have something to do with my activities in the Black Panther Party, seven years before?

"Yeah, that's the reason," said the Secret Service agent, clearly agitated. "It's the Black Panther history." I protested that denial of the press pass was a violation of my First Amendment rights and my right to fully pursue my profession as a journalist. "You can say whatever you like, but our job is to protect the president and we consider you to be a danger," the agent shot back. "Go ahead and sue, if you like."

I assured the agent that I would, indeed, take legal action, but it was an empty threat. The Mutual Black Network had recently been purchased by a Black business outfit, headquartered in Pittsburgh, that was effectively even more conservative than its previous owner, C. Edward Little, a Florida redneck who didn't care what editorial policies the Black news crews pursued as long as the business made money. As Washington Bureau chief (another of my titles), I mandated that all correspondents refer to the South African government as a "racist regime" and that the armed opposition to white rule in Africa be described as "freedom fighters." C. Edward Little had no problem with that, but his Black successors questioned the objectivity of such language. Their idea of a big "Black" story was when (Republican) President Gerald Ford's Black Secretary of Transportation, William T. Coleman, traveled to London to check out the city's subway -- a high-ranking Black face in an important foreign place. I knew that my bourgeois Black bosses would be more likely to find cause to fire me for my Black Panther connection, than to defend my - and their own - First Amendment rights. So I continued to submit to the daily pat-downs at the White House gate.

A Jobs Bill Deferred

I thought the biggest story of my White House tenure under Carter was the arrival of the Humphrey Hawkins Full Employment Act on the president's desk, in January of 1977 - the month that "Roots" debuted on ABC and my TV news show went national. Humphrey Hawkins was the legislative crown jewel of the mid-Seventies Congressional Black Caucus, the long awaited answer to the Black community's perennial demand for comprehensive jobs legislation. Named for Black Los Angeles Congressman Augustus Hawkins and Senator and former vice president Hubert Humphrey, the early iterations of the Act mandated that the Federal Reserve Board give as much priority to fighting unemployment, the bane of workers, as to curbing inflation, which is the curse of capital. The bill, as originally passed in 1974 and 1975, included firm goals for full employment, pegged at no more than 4 percent joblessness, and tools for achieving it. But there was no chance of the Act becoming law under a Republican president.

The version that emerged in 1977 and landed on newly-elected Democratic President Carter's desk, was much weaker, with full employment as a goal but no jobs programs to achieve it. But that was still too strong for the man from Plains, Georgia, at the dawn of what we would come to know in hindsight as the neoliberal age.

Jody Powell, the supremely arrogant White House spokesperson, a fellow Georgian, assured the press that his boss's signature would soon be affixed to the Act, but negotiations stretched on and on. Every day at press briefings I asked Powell about the status of the bill. And every day he would claim that agreement was imminent, his face twisting in greater disgust with each utterance. Much of the press shared Powell's contempt for my insistence on daily updates on the status of the jobs bill, which was the top priority of the Black Caucus, but of little interest to the overwhelmingly white corporate press.

My daily reports from the White House began, "This is the tenth day that White House spokesperson Jody Powell has promised that President Carter will soon sign the long-awaited Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act...."

I kept this up for close to a month before accepting that the peanut farmer and his boys were determined not to give an inch to Black demands for jobs, even when reduced to largely ceremonial legislation. It was also clear that the Black Caucus was not prepared to exact a penalty from their fellow Democrat for his disloyalty to his base.

Carter finally signed an even further watered-down version of Hawkins-Humphrey the next year, 1978. It has proven worthless ever since. However, Detroit Black Congressman John Conyers continued to introduce amendments, strengthening the Act, until 2015. And now, California Congressman Ro Khanna has introduced the "Coretta Scott King Full Employment Federal Reserve Act of 2018" - a 21st century upgrade of the original Hawkins-Humphrey bill that "requires wages to rise with productivity - i.e. how much value a worker produces per hour of work - pretty much by definition," according to Khanna.

The corporate media, however, will pay little or no attention to the fortunes of this bill, despite their jubilation over the Democratic "Blue Wave" that has captured the U.S. House. The current conflict is between two factions of the ruling class: Trump or anti-Trump. Legislation is only important as a test of wills and strength of the opposing oligarchs -- Wall Street and Silicon Valley versus the Koch brothers and Big Coal, with jockeying back and forth among the various One Percenters. The people have no voice, no party - and no presence in the White House press corps.

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

Voters cast ballots during the early voting period at C.T. Martin Natatorium and Recreation Center on October 18, 2018, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Georgia Voter Purge Victim: 'This Was A Strategy From Kemp'
By Greg Palast

Atlanta - "I was blocked from voting for Stacey Abrams." Yasmin Bakhtiari is upset, horrified and determined. Her family had fled Iran for American democracy. But New York-born Yasmin found democracy disappeared now that she's located down in Brian Kemp's Dixie.

Kemp, until Thursday, was Georgia's secretary of state in charge of voting - and in charge of "maintaining"the voter rolls to make them more accurate. But he used that power to cancel more than half a million Georgian voter registrations without notice.

Bakhtiari, who planned to vote for Kemp's Democratic opponent Abrams, said poll workers told her, "Your name has been purged [from voter rolls] because you haven't voted in two election cycles."

Yet, according to rights attorney Jeanne Mirer of Mirer, Mazzocchi and Julien, New York, "The National Voter Registration Act is crystal clear that you cannot lose your vote for not voting."

Federal law doesn't mean a whole lot to Kemp. The GOP candidate aired commercials in which he boasted, "I'm so conservative I blow up government regulations" - followed by dynamite exploding in the background.

Kemp blew up a second federal law, the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). Bakhtiari said, "Not only could I not vote, but they didn't even let me do the provisional ballot."

Provisional ballots are required by HAVA specifically to allow voters wrongly purged to cast a ballot so the voter or candidates like Abrams can fight to have it counted by county officials or by court order.

Bakhtiari knew she was entitled to the provisional ballot. She tried to get one in three attempts taking over two hours.

"The whole process was designed to use any excuse to not have you vote," Bakhtiari said. "This was a strategy from Kemp to discourage people from voting."

Of course, Kemp had already ruled that counties cannot tally the ballots of voters he purged, no matter whether he purged them rightly or wrongly.

Abrams' legal team is fighting to count every ballot - including those provisionals, as well as the piles of absentee ballots rejected under Kemp's rules - to force Kemp into a run-off.

The fact that Kemp is blocking legitimate requests for provisional ballots will make the push for a re-run that much harder. But if Abrams succeeds, Bakhtiari will re-register in time for the run-off.

She, and thousands of voters like her, will be a problem for Kemp. Because, Bakhtiari warns Kemp, "Nothing will stop me now... and I dare you to tell me that I can't vote."

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

By Jim Hightower

Trump's White House seems to be both spooked... and spooky.

Check out a 72-page "spookinomics"report issued right before Halloween by his Council of Economic Advisors. It reads like an endless Trump tweet, focused on his perceived political enemies and riddled with fantasies, lies, and paranoia about the policies of progressives.

A la Joe McCarthy, Trump's economic advisors spew conspiracy theories about the proposals of Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and other democratic populists, frantically linking them with "Failed Socialist Policies"of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and other communist dictators. Bernie's commonsense ideas of Medicare-for-All and free college education, for example, are hysterically decried as totalitarian designs from China and the USSR. Likewise, the report compares Warren's assertion that corporate giants are dodging their tax obligations to Lenin's demonization and killing of yeoman farmers.

In this ludicrous, right-ring political screed - paid for by us taxpayers - the fraidy-cat Trump scaremongers toss in the supposedly spooky word "socialism"144 times - an average of twice per page! Among the horrors that the Trumpistas cite is that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have stated that "large corporations... exploit human misery and insecurity, and turn them into huge profits,"and "giant corporations... exploit workers just to boost their own profits."

Excuse me, learned scholars, but all of that happens to be true, as the great majority of Americans know from experience. Trump's economists also inform us that if the US adopted Venezuelan policies our economy would shrink by 40 percent. Well, perhaps, but here's the thing: No one is proposing we do that.

What's really spooky is that these know-nothing ideologues are actually advisors to a president of the United States.

(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

Protesters march through Times Square on November 8, 2018.

If Trump And Whitaker Undermine The Mueller Investigation, That's An Impeachable Offense
Do not mourn the end of Jeff Sessions. But recognize that the motivation for Trump's removal of Sessions points to a constitutional crisis.
By John Nichols

Jeff Sessions is gone. Good. He was a lousy attorney general, who should have been mpeached by the House, tried by the Senate, and removed from his position for lying to the Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing. Sessions avoided accountability by recusing himself from further involvement with the inquiry into alleged ties between Trump's business and Trump's campaign to Russian interests.

The fact that Sessions is no longer attorney general is not a constitutional crisis. But stark indications regarding the motivation for President Trump's removal of Sessions as the nation's chief law-enforcement officer-and, make no mistake, Sessions stood down at Trump's behest-points to a constitutional crisis.

In a move that legal scholars suggest was unconstitutional, the president replaced Sessions with political operative Matthew Whitaker, as part of what Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Carl Bernstein recognizes as "a coup by the President of the United States against administration of justice and rule of law in the United States."

Bernstein, who has considerable experience with the abuses of presidential power, is making the right distinction when he focuses on Trump's efforts to manipulate the response of the Department of Justice to Robert Mueller's inquiry into wrongdoing by the Trump campaign. "Sure," the veteran Washington observer says, "[Trump] has the authority to appoint anybody in the executive branch. But the purpose of this appointment is to undermine the special counsel's investigation, to bury it, to manipulate it, to make sure that he controls it. And that he does not have the authority to do under our constitutional system."

It is this understanding of the president's machinations that brought tens of thousands of Americans into the streets Thursday night-from big cities to small towns in states across the country-in what amounted to a truly national outcry against the threat to the Mueller inquiry. This list of communities that responded to the >"Nobody Is Above the Law-Mueller Protection Rapid Response" call from a coalition of groups-including Public Citizen, Common Cause, MoveOn, Indivisible, and dozens of other groups-extended from Fairbanks, Alaska to Key West, Florida.

Lisa Gilbert, the vice president of legislative affairs for Public Citizen's Congress Watch Division, correctly identified the replacement of Sessions on the day after the November 6 election as "a thumb in the eyes of voters."? She said, "Both parties must insist that the investigation be protected from interference. If we are to have a functioning democracy, we must defend the bedrock principle that no one is above the law."

This premise that "no one is above the law"is hardwired into the American experiment, and it guides us toward the proper response to any move by Trump or Whittaker to undermine the Mueller investigation.

Such a move would spark a constitutional crisis. The right retort to such a crisis has been well understood, and well defined, from the founding of the republic. The Constitution tells us that "The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."

The deliberately vague term "other high Crimes and Misdemeanors" was designed to address a constitutional crises of the sort that arise when a president removes the veteran law enforcement man who is investigating allegations of wrongdoing by that president and his inner circles. It answers the questions posed by George Mason as the Constitutional Convention was deliberating on the question of presidential accountability. "No point is of more importance than that the right of impeachment should be continued," Mason explained. "Shall any man be above Justice? Above all shall that man be above it, who can commit the most extensive injustice?"

The impeachment power was established to prevent lawless presidents from abusing their authority in order to place themselves above justice. Donald Trump has been abusing his authority since the day he took office. But any attempt to remove Mueller would represent a next stage of abuse that could not be neglected or denied.

Specific acts to undermine or constrain the Mueller probe would demand the submission of an article of impeachment addressing those acts. At this point, it's clear that there would be resistance to such an article from Republicans, and very probably from cautious Democrats. But this does not change the fact that citizens should demand impeachment. If that demand is heard, hearings by the House Judiciary Committee will follow. If the House were to impeach Trump, and the Senate to try and convict him for obstruction of justice and other high crimes and misdemeanors, his presidency would end.

With Donald Trump's removal, the constitutional crisis would be finished in precisely the manner that the founders intended. The process is no more complicated than that. It was designed to be simple and sensible. And it remains so. The impeachment of a president who abuses his authority-especially a president who abuses his authority to thwart an inquiry into his own wrongdoing or the wrongdoing of those around him-is not a constitutional crisis. Impeachment is the necessary, and required, cure for the constitutional crisis that begins when a president abandons the rule of law and attempts to make himself a monarch.

John Nichols wrote the foreword to The Constitution Demands It: The Case for the Impeachment of Donald Trump (Melville House) by Ron Fein, John Bonifaz, and Ben Clements.

(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.

Living Dangerously In California
By James Donahue

Tourists and folks from all over the State of California still flock to the shores of Santa Cruz County to enjoy the scenery, view the sea life off our coast and lately to escape the blistering heat that has been ravaging their towns inland. Consequently the roads in and out of our community are constantly clogged with cars, trucks and campers both coming and going. There are so many visitors crowding the shoreline it sometimes can be difficult for local residents to see through the crowds to enjoy the natural beauty.

Police and military helicopters fly frequently overhead now, keeping a watchful eye on the crowds and especially on surfers daring to test the great waves and defy the deadly undertow along our coast. Too many times we watch as ambulance crews squeeze their way to the shoreline to assist in the recovery of drowning victims that took one chance too many.

This has been our daily life in sunny California since moving here from Michigan just five years ago. Ah yes, we are escaping the onset of winter in the Northern climes, but at what cost? The ground is rumbling under our feet as the coastal fault lines grind and move; there is a general water shortage for lack of enough rainfall and the tender dry forests around us are all ablaze. The smoke hangs heavily making breathing difficult and throwing asthmatics to the ground. People choke on the job as the smoke fills stores and offices.

Thousands of people are being burned out of their homes this fall as the fire season, which never really quits now, gears up under the deadly Santa Ana Winds that roll down from the mountain ranges to the east.

We watched in horror as a fast moving fire swept through and destroyed the town of Paradise, the home of some 27,000 people, just to the north. As I write these words another massive fire is burning the hills and towns just east of Los Angeles to the south. It is still too early to get details of this blaze since it still burns today with zero containment.

While this is going on the newly elected state leadership is struggling to find ways to better contain the fires and declare portions of the state disaster areas. In the wake of all this, our so-called elected leader t-rump, has declared our state as being irresponsible about controlling these terrible fires. He threatens to withhold federal assistance, much as it was for the people of the Carolinas after their homes were ravaged last month by Hurricane Florence, or the island nation of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria in 2017.

Like the rest of the world, the residents of California are struggling to live with and survive the results of "climate change"brought on by our fast-warming polluted planet. We are doing this because we love this state; we love the people and we love the climate. The benefits still outweigh the horrors of living in the extreme heat, enduing intense winter storms and hurricane force winds and tornadoes now sweeping across the landscape farther inland.

We know that even if the storms, the fires and the earthquakes destroy our homes, we can still survive. The temperate weather is still offering a pleasant climate along the coast. The kindness of the people is fondly remembered by past survivors of misfortune. And moving elsewhere offers horrors of a different kind.

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

Donald Trump gets into an exchange with CNN reporter Jim Acosta during a news conference a day after
the midterm elections on November 7, 2018, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC.

At Long Last, Donald Trump Knows True Fear
By William Rivers Pitt

A number of late results across the country have broken for Democratic candidates. When all is said and done, they will pick up a total of between 35 and 40 House seats, representing "the biggest Democratic gain in the House since the post-Watergate election of 1974" according to The Washington Post. The Senate and House races in Florida have gone to a recount, and Stacey Abrams in Georgia is standing strong against Brian Kemp's brazen attempts to steal the race in broad daylight. In short, the 2018 midterm elections are not over, but the Democrats fared far better than the early wisdom suggested.

This is what we've waited for
This is it, boys, this is war
The president is on the line
As ninety-nine red balloons go by ...
~ Nena, "99 Luftballons"

There is a soul-searing symmetry to the fact that the morning after yet another man with yet another gun slaughtered yet another crowd of people in yet another all-American massacre, a mother who lost her son to gun violence and made that loss her cause of action won her election to Congress.

Six years ago, Jordan Davis was sitting in a car with friends at a Florida gas station when a man named Michael Dunn opened fire on them because he thought the music they were playing was too loud. Davis was killed in the hail of bullets. His mother, Lucy McBath, became a gun-violence activist and joined forces with the Parkland survivors after that nightmare unfolded.

McBath ran for the Georgia 6th House seat this year, and on Thursday morning, her Republican opponent Rep. Karen Handel conceded the race. "For me," McBath told CNN back in May, "I was looking beyond my own tragedy, looking for the other tragedies that were most definitely going to happen if I didn't keep talking about this crisis." The victory marked the 29th House seat picked up by the Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections, further cementing their majority control of the chamber.

That is the election in a nutshell, an amalgam of joy and sorrow. It is inspiring for what did happen and utterly galling for what might have been. Democrats handily won control of the House but lost ground in the Senate, a harrowing fact when one notes that Democratic Senate candidates collectively got 10 million more votes than their Republican opponents. Power in the Senate is further devolving to a hard-right Republican majority who only represent about 18 percent of the country. Nothing good comes from this.

Beto O'Rourke lost in heartbreaking fashion in Texas, as Andrew Gillum appeared to in Florida - although that may change. However, neither Scott Walker nor Kris Kobach will be governors come January. Voters in Oregon handily defeated an anti-choice ballot measure while voters in Alabama and West Virginia approved them. Ballot initiatives to expand Medicaid won in Idaho, Utah and Nebraska but lost in Montana. Nearly a million and a half people with felony convictions regained the right to vote in Florida, while four states passed "victims' rights"measures that will exacerbate incarceration.

One of the most consequential outcomes of the 2018 midterms was the full-spectrum dominance of a diverse cross-section of women all across the country. "At least ninety-eight women were elected to the House on Tuesday night," reports Margaret Talbot for The New Yorker, "eighty-four Democrats and fourteen Republicans - which means that more women will be serving in Congress than ever before."

All this good, bad and ugly took place in the umbra of rampant national vote suppression by Republicans that begs the question: What would Tuesday's results have been if so many millions of voters had not been deprived of the franchise in so many shamelessly rigged elections?

In Georgia, hundreds of voting machines meant for Democrat-leaning districts were left locked in a government warehouse, causing huge lines and long waits. In North Dakota, Native Americans who live on reservations were stripped of their voting rights because of a GOP-passed law requiring voters to have street addresses, which many reservation residents don't have. The list of brazen efforts to suppress voting rights during this last election is seemingly endless, and must be investigated down to the last stolen vote.

Towering over it all, however, is the change set to take place in the House of Representatives. Women, Muslims, African-Americans, war veterans, members of the Latinx and LGBTQ+ communities, young people, gun violence activists, teachers, union activists, all the people who Donald Trump disdains came together on Tuesday night to create this new truth:

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, House Banking Committee Chairman Maxine Waters, House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings, House Rules Chairman Jim McGovern, House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal and House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler.

On January 3, 2019, those people will stand athwart a renegade White House with subpoena power in hand and the popular winds at their back. That, more than anything, explains the incredible chaos which unfolded in the immediate aftermath of one of the most consequential elections in living memory.

It began with Donald Trump giving easily the most unsettling, unhinged press conference of his tenure, and brothers and sisters, that is saying something. The peak moment came when Trump shouted down CNN reporter Jim Acosta for asking questions about the Mueller investigation. At one point, it looked for all the world like the two of them were about to come to blows.

A White House aide attempted to take Acosta's microphone away from him during the exchange, and Acosta discovered later in the day that his White House privileges had been summarily revoked. Adding insult to injury, the White House press office fobbed off a demonstrably doctored video claiming Acosta had been violent with the microphone-grabbing aide. The ruse was promptly exposed, and a variety of national press organizations are now raising every shade of Hell on Acosta's behalf.

Mere minutes after his press conference meltdown, Donald Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions, replacing him with confirmed lickspittle Matt Whitaker, who will now have immediate oversight control of the Mueller investigation. This despite Whittaker's public attacks on the investigation, and the fact that putting him in charge of the investigation may very well be flatly unconstitutional.

What sort of fellow is Mr. Whittaker? Esquire blogger Charles P. Pierce was able to flag some comments made by Whittaker during his 2014 run for Senate:

I have a Christian worldview. Our rights come from our Creator and they are guaranteed by the Constitution. So I would start all analysis of any law or anything else first with the Constitution and then work from there.
OK, then.

It is to be devoutly hoped (pun intended) that Mr. Mueller saw this storm coming and has the contents of his investigation saved on flash drives that are easy to swallow should the need arise. No, I am not kidding. The period of time between right now and January 3 may be, mark my words, the strangest and most dangerous passage this nation has crossed in decades.

Why? Because before Tuesday, Trump only suspected someone might come along with a big enough stick to do him actual damage. Now, he knows they're coming for sure, and if Wednesday's presser was any indication, he is not taking the new order of things in stride. Matters did not improve as the weekend, and Trump's trip to Paris, came crashing together in yet another presidential fit of temper.

Mueller was waiting out the midterms, and Adam Schiff is measuring the drapes for his new office while sharpening his fangs with 40-grit sandpaper. Trump knows they're coming now, and he can impede some of it, but not all of it, before the building falls on him.

I could be wrong, but I believe we are about to bear witness to a scorched-earth retreat the likes of which haven't been seen since the Boer War. I strongly suspect Donald Trump is going to try to burn everything, and everyone, to save himself from the awful grace of consequences. He can't stop all of it, but between now and the first week of January, he's going to try with all his might.

Sessions was only the beginning. Anyone who was hoping for a bit of quiet time after the midterms has not, frankly, been paying enough attention. Worse, what is happening now will seem tame by the new year. It definitely gets weirder from here.

(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.

Whiny Little Twit Presidential Tweet Of The Day
By Heather Digby Parton

You cannot make this stuff up.

I wish I could understand why so many adults in the country like this five-year-old beahvior. The bragging the blaming, the whining.

I think we may have misdiagnosed the source of the Republican meltdown. Yes, they are voting for racists and misogynists without a second thought which is revealing of their characters. But the bigger problem, it seems to me, is that the Republican coalition is suffering from a case of mass arrested development. You can only appreciate this arrogant, ignorant man-child if you are equally immature.

What happened to these people? Fox? Rush? Bad schools? Lead in the water? It's a real conundrum.

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

The southern resident killer whale (orca) population has dropped by 25 per cent in two decades. Just 74 remain.

Human Behaviour Is At The Root Of Orca Plight
By David Suzuki

News about orca mother Tahlequah carrying her dead newborn for 17 days through the Salish Sea this summer was heartbreaking, and rightfully captured the world's attention. It highlighted the plight of one of Canada's most endangered marine mammals. The southern resident killer whale (orca) population has dropped by 25 per cent in two decades. Just 74 remain, and none has successfully given birth in three years.

The southern residents' survival depends on chinook salmon, their primary food. In the Fraser River, one of B.C.'s most important salmon rivers, 11 of 15 chinook stocks are highly depleted and require conservation action. Habitat destruction, fisheries, contaminants, agricultural runoff, warming and acidifying waters from climate change, and disease threats from open net-pen salmon farms all play roles in chinook decline. Commercial and recreational fisheries compete with whales for salmon, and their presence, along with all ocean traffic, disrupts the feeding whales.

Sports fishing groups attribute chinook declines to seals and sea lions and are calling for culls. But blaming seals doesn't explain low chinook returns.

People nearly eliminated harbour seals from B.C.'s coast in the 20th century. Predator control and overhunting for the commercial fur trade brought populations to fewer than 10,000 in the 1960s. After seals were protected in 1970, numbers increased to near 1880s pre-exploitation levels, at about 110,000, and have remained stable since the late 1990s. Recovery of seal populations can be considered a good news story.

It's tempting to look for simple linear solutions such as a cull, but it's highly unlikely to have the desired outcome. The complexity of marine food webs requires a non-linear view that includes millions of ecological possibilities. According to one study, only four per cent of a harbour seal's diet is salmon, and an even smaller proportion is chinook. Seals eat all species of juvenile salmon, and only rarely the adult salmon recreational fisheries target. They also eat small fish, such as hake, which are major salmon smolt predators, as well as fish that compete with chinook. It's plausible that a seal's presence increases rather than decreases chinook numbers.

Transient orcas have been seen more often than their resident cousins in B.C.'s coastal waters over the past decade. Their population is thought to have increased to about 300. These orcas prefer to eat harbour seals, requiring the caloric energy of about one seal a day.

Many people calling for seal and sea lion culls also point to increased hatchery production as the best solution to plummeting wild salmon stocks. But during more than 130 years of West Coast hatcheries, fisheries have collapsed and wild salmon populations have declined. The proliferation of hatcheries between 1900 and 2014, among other factors, led to a 97 per cent reduction of wild Puget Sound steelhead.

Pacific salmon are an adaptive species, capable of measurable genetic variations within 17 generations and able to adjust to the variable natural environments where they were born. Artificially selecting parents in a hatchery removes much of the natural selection necessary to ensure effective adaptation. The latest science also shows even short periods of time spent in an artificial environment changes hatchery fish, making them less fit for survival and carrying genes that may harm wild stocks if hatchery fish make it to spawning grounds.

Hatchery fish can never really be wild. Their presence can do more harm than good. Those that survive compete with wild fish for food, and in some cases may eat smaller wild fish. With more than five billion hatchery salmon released each year, concerns have been raised about the overall carrying capacity of the North Pacific Ocean and limited food supplies. Often the use of hatcheries results in a drive for more fishing to justify hatchery costs or to avoid taking necessary actions such as reducing catch and restoring habitat to rebuild wild fish populations.

Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development Julie Gelfand called the federal government's measures to protect endangered orcas reactive, limited and late. Humans are the main threat to wildlife. We must take responsibility and change our destructive ways. If we want orcas and other species to survive, we should look in the mirror and change our own behaviour.

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

Armistice Day Celebrated Peace. That Peace Is Fraying.
The United States is slipping the bonds that have tied it to its allies for seven decades.
By Charles P. Pierce

For roughly 18 months, my walking route to work had to change. The Commonwealth (God Save It!) was replacing a footbridge over the Charles that was my usual daily crossing point. It reopened, brand new and shiny and handicapped-accessible, at the beginning of July of last year. The renovation cost $1.5 million. Everybody was very proud of it.

"It's kind of like the piano player in a restaurant-you don't notice the piano player until he stops playing,"said Leo Roy, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. "So I think that when the bridge was closed for renovation all the neighbors realized how important it was to them. Sometimes you have to lose something for a little while before you really get the sense of value for it," he added.
The footbridge was named after Joseph U. Thompson, a corporal in the United States Army. He was born on June 6, 1898, 46 years to the day before the invasion of Normandy by the Allied forces in World War II. He died on October 17, 1918, 100 years ago last month, and less than a month before the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, when the war to end all wars finally ended, 21 years before a worse one began. Over the past 20 years, whenever I had a loose moment, I'd try to find out more about Corporal Thompson. Was he killed in action? Did he come fall to the great influenza epidemic that killed 25,000 members of the American Expeditionary Force in France? Did he even die in France? Did the flu kill him back here? Did he die of wounds aboard ship? I've been unable to find out much more about him except those few details that are there on the plaque that was moved from the old bridge to the new one. There always has been something melancholy about that, and a deeper melancholy that I keep forgetting about him until I cross his bridge again. I lost him for a year and a half, and I mainly took the bus.

Joseph U. Thompson was 20-years old when he died. So the plaque on the bridge tells us. He was one of approximately 54,000 members of the American military who died, in one way or another, during our involvement in World War I. When he was a year old, the United States went to war with Spain, a purely imperial exercise through which the old republic began sliding inevitably toward an imperial presence all over the world. So when President Woodrow Wilson, the most overrated American of the 20th Century, hauled the United States into a European war he'd been elected to avoid, the political and social architecture for a permanent military already was in place, both here and abroad. So Joseph U. Thompson signed up and never made his 21st birthday.

Originally, this holiday was called Armistice Day. It was meant to celebrate the coming of peace, dropping slow over the slaughterfields. Then there was a second world war hard after the war to end all wars and, in 1954, the name of the holiday was changed in this country to Veterans Day. It became a day to honor all veterans of all wars, and there was a fine handful of wars, police actions, incursions, and covert operations to come, and more veterans to honor. Somehow, though, the original meaning of the day was lost. It was drowned out by parades, and bunting, and by flyovers at football games. It was no longer entirely about the coming of peace. It was now partly about the people who had fought in the bloodlettings that came later. A thin edge of martial glory began to gleam on the day.

Sunday was the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. The president* went to Europe and embarrassed himself, the nation, and every concept of diplomacy back to Demosthenes. He embarrassed himself by not showing up, by showing up late, and by delivering an address that contained this bit of historical bouffee:

"It is our duty to preserve the civilization they defended."

Unless you count the Ottoman Empire, I guess, World War I was about western Christian civilization tearing its own guts out the way it had torn its own guts out, one way or another, since Rome fell. In the European theater 21 years later, that same thing happened again. I am just cynical enough to suggest that, given how false that line rang in the occasion, the president* and his advisors decided to slip a little white-nationalism potion into the punchbowl. Originally, Armistice Day also commemorated a kind of vow taken by Western nations not to cannibalize teach other once again. That vow was broken in 1939. The name of the holiday was changed. It had to change, I guess. It was not entirely about peace, as in the absence of war, any more.

Crowds celebrating the signing of the Armistice at the end of World War I.

But this year, I think, being the 100th anniversary of the end of European carnage, we should call it Armistice Day again. The peace that has held in Europe since 1945 is beginning to fray badly. The United States is slipping the bonds that have tied it to its allies for seven decades, and to France almost from the birth of the country. Nationalism is festering all over the continent, and the countries whose political long-term memories are better than ours are looking on this with alarm. As French president Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday,
"Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. In saying 'our interests first, whatever happens to the others,' you erase the most precious thing a nation can have, that which makes it live, that which causes it to be great and that which is most important: its moral values. Old demons are resurfacing. History sometimes threatens to take its tragic course again and compromise our hope of peace. Let us vow to prioritize peace over everything."
With all due respect to veterans living and dead, including my father, Lt. Cdr. John P. Pierce, USNR, we needed Armistice Day this year of all years more than we needed Veterans Day. We needed to remember the silence of the guns, and bells that began to ring. We needed to remember them for Joseph U. Thompson, 1898-1918, who has a new footbridge named after him that replaced the old footbridge that had been named after him, and who never heard the silence of the guns, nor the bells that began to ring. We needed to think of peace, moving like a quiet river, under all the bridges of our lives.

(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-

"The preachers and lecturers deal with men of straw, as they are men of straw themselves. Why, a free-spoken man, of sound lungs, cannot draw a long breath without causing your rotten institutions to come toppling down by the vacuum he makes. Your church is a baby-house made of blocks, and so of the state.

...The church, the state, the school, the magazine, think they are liberal and free! It is the freedom of a prison-yard." ~~~ Henry David Thoreau

Dan Crenshaw Sounds Like A Propagandist For Mass Murder
By David Swanson

What is more sick about U.S. society?

1) It's totally 100% acceptable to make cruel stupid jokes about people's appearance.

2) There's an exception. You shouldn't do it if the thing you're making fun of relates to their participation in mass murder.

3) Violation of that exception is such a sin that you must publicly repent and grovel.

4) This is true even if the sin was committed on a steadfastly unfunny and unintelligent television program that nobody watches.

5) The repentance is incomplete without declaring the participant in mass murder to be a "war hero."

6) You also must promote militarism in general and instruct the audience to honor participants in mass murder with meaningless phrases like "never forget."

7) You can claim to find heart-warming unity around mass-murder operations and have not a single campaign launched to remove a single one of your advertisers.

8) Only if the entire charade carefully omits any description of how one gets to be a "war hero"and does forget - always forgets - all of the following can it be truly redemptive: The Afghan government was willing to turn over Bin Laden to trial in a third country.

He was never tried or convicted of anything.

He was later killed elsewhere, but the war didn't pause.

Most people in Afghanistan have never even heard of 9/11.

War is illegal.

Afghanistan is hellishly worse off than ever.

The war on terrorism has predictably and steadily increased terrorism.

U.S. commanders of the war have said it should be ended the moment after they left that position and have called the war and various aspects of the war counterproductive for many years now.

Candidate Trump said the war should be ended.

The war has murdered hundreds of thousands of people.

The war makes people all over the world despise the United States.

The people who make Saturday Night Live would make IEDs instead if some foreign force occupied Manhattan.

They'll probably do something dumber than that when Manhattan goes underwater.

The war has cost the United States trillions of dollars.

A tiny fraction of that could have ended starvation on earth or provided actual aid on a scale to make the United States the most loved country in the world.

The war has had a devastating impact on the natural environment in Afghanistan and globally.

We've lost many freedoms, justified by this mass-murderous crime for "freedom!"

Veterans of the war are disproportionately represented in the recent crop of mass-shooters.

We don't have to say "U.S. mass shooters"because that's basically redundant.

People who try to flee Afghanistan and other hells the U.S. creates are the same people liberals have at least mixed emotions about under the name "immigrants."

The Saturday Night Live studio audience was conspicuously silent during the most warmongering remarks.

One line would have garnered more applause than the past season of the show: "End the fucking war."

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

Ted Cruz & Election Fraud
Leopards don't change their spots
By Jane Stillwater

People may think that I don't like the Republican Party -- but actually I really am quite a big fan. Why? Because the GOP changed my whole life! Have you ever experienced that special "Come to Jesus"moment when suddenly that new path that your life needs to take suddenly becomes crystal clear? I have. And I owe my entire "Road to Damascus"experience to Republicans. Remember when George W. Bush stole the 2000 presidential election (we coulda had Al Gore, avoided 9-11 and not lost the "war"on Iraq if only more Americans had protested this fraud)? That is how I became one of the world's first bloggers -- because those dirty election-stealing Repugs actually got me that pissed off. And I currently have over two thousand blog-post articles to prove it. Thank you, Repugs!

And now, 18 years later, the Republicans are still pissing me off -- and they are still out there stealing our elections as well.

So? What's my point here? Let's just take a look at the logic involved in the recent Senate race in Texas to see where I'm going with this. Beto O'Rourke is an honest likable candidate, a third-generation Texan with a proven track record and a fabulous grassroots campaigner. Ted Cruz looks and acts like Count Chocula, represents the worse interests of Texans, takes millions in Wall Street PAC money, runs a dirty campaign and has a dismal record of being in the pockets of every single lobbyist in DC that you would ever want to hate. Yet Ted Cruz "won"the election. What's wrong with this picture?

I simply don't know how Cruz managed to pull off a win. But knowing the history of Republican election "wins"like I do, there has to be some sort of hanky-panky going on. Leopards just don't change their spots.

Listed below are some of my more popular theories about what happened in Texas on November 6, 2018:

1. Cruz flat-out flipped the vote. Easy to do. We already know that Dallas County was using illegal wi-fi equipment on election premises -- the easier to hack voting machines with. Plus Dallas County's voting chaos on election day looked like something designed by SNL.

2. ES&S voting machines were involved in this election -- always a bad sign. They are totally hackable. So easy that even Sheldon Adelson, some unnamed Saudi prince or a 12-year-old kid with a modem can figure it out.

3. Lies. Cruz's attack ads were horrendous. I would be embarrassed to see children watching these ads. Ugly lies. And Cruz also lied about himself. "Tough for Texans"? Ha. More like "Tough on Texans -- but easy on Ted's bank account". The guy used to be a DC lobbyist before he suddenly became a "populist". You do the math.

4. This one is my favorite -- and you heard it here first. I think. Beto had thousands of volunteers working on his campaign. School teachers, librarians, millennials, retiree, me. There were thousands of us. Cruz only had 18 (eighteen) paid staff members working for him.

"So how did he run his campaign?"you might ask. He didn't. Governor Greg Abbott ran it for him. Wha?

Did Cruz and Abbott criminally break the law by using Texas state funds, employees, time and money to try to elect Cruz? Most likely. We already know that Republicans, like petulant two-year-olds, simply cannot resist temptation when it comes to getting their own way. But isn't something like that criminally illegal? And isn't anybody but me gonna ask any questions about that?

5. Texas presumes to be a Christian state, right? So no Texan who has ever read (and understood) the Bible and who wants to be a good Christian would ever even think about voting for Cruz -- whose Golden Rule seems to be, "What's mine is mine. And what's yours is mine too." So if no true Christians voted for Ted, then who did? What would Jesus do? Chase the money-changers out of the voting booth!

6. How come so many people voted down-ballot for Democrats but still chose to vote up-ballot for Cruz? It just doesn't make sense unless the voting machines were hacked. Something Baskerville-ish is going on here, Watson. The game is afoot. And apparently the dice are loaded too.

7. Cruz used to be a professional lobbyist. His whole freaking job used to be to manipulate the will of the American people to do his own bidding. Why would he stop now -- now, when he so desperately wants to get his hands into the Senate cookie jar (again)?

So. Let's review. Did Cruz actually steal the 2018 Texas senate election or not? I think yes.

Republicans have proven time and again that they just can't resist the temptation to tamper with our American election process. Putin is being wrongly accused of hacking our vote. The Republicans did it! Again and again and again. So why would Cruz and his Repug pals change their spots now? There was just too much to lose. "Some will rob you with a six-gun, some with a fountain pen...."

(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-

Matt doing his Vincent D'Onofrio impersenation

Heil Trump,

Dear Schauspielkunst Generalstaatsanwalt Whitaker

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 attacks on Robert Mueller and your being tRumps lickspittle, 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 Whitaker, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

How Blue States Help Red States
By Robert Reich

Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress love to demonize government handouts, which, in fact, their own supporters depend on and are increasingly financed by taxpayers in blue states.

The federal program Temporary Assistance for Needy Families - what we used to call "welfare"- provides cash assistance to fewer than 1 percent of Americans.

But the Trump administration is proposing to lump many social programs under a new agency with the word "welfare"in its title.

A recent White House report on imposing work requirements, for example, put Medicaid, food assistance, and housing aid into a rebranded program called "noncash welfare."

Defined this broadly, a large chunk of America relies on welfare. Add in disability benefits, unemployment insurance, and medical benefits, such so-called "welfare"amounts to 17 percent of the average American's income.

Welfare has become especially unpopular in "red"states that vote Republican and support Trump.

But these same states are often the biggest beneficiaries of government assistance.

Include price supports for agriculture, subsidies for land management and forestry, and defense contractors, and you find that a large portion of the economies of red states depend on federal dollars.

Here's the irony. Residents of "blue"states send more tax money to Washington than they get back in federal help, while residents of "red"states send less money to Washington than they get back in federal help.

In 2015, for example, New Jersey got back only 74 cents in federal spending for every tax dollar it sent to Washington. New York got back 81 cents, Connecticut: 82 cents, and Massachusetts: 83 cents.

But when you turn to the red states, it's the opposite. Mississippi received $2.13 for every tax dollar it sent to Washington. West Virginia: $2.07. Kentucky: $1.90. And South Carolina: $1.71.

Taking the Trump administration's expansive view of the meaning of welfare to its logical conclusion to include all those benefiting from federal spending, blue states are sending welfare to red states - the same red states that say they don't like welfare.

Under Trump's new tax law, blue states will be giving even more welfare handouts to red states. That's because the law set new limits to the amount of state and local taxes people can deduct from their federal taxable incomes. And since people in blue states pay much more state and local taxes than people in red states, blue-staters will be paying that much more in federal taxes.

Which means an even bigger transfer from blue state residents to all those red state Republican voters, whose party despises handouts.

Now, I should add that some of us here in blue states don't mind giving red states a bigger helping hand. The vast majority of Americans also oppose cuts to programs that aid the poor, elderly and sick. Because most Americans figure we're all in this together, and those of us who can do so ought to help out those in need.

We don't regard it as welfare handouts. We call it social insurance. Indeed, social insurance is needed and used by almost all of us, when you include Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment insurance. And even programs relied upon mostly by the poor end up helping a large portion of us because roughly one-third of all Americans are poor at some point in their lives.

So remember, attacks on so-called welfare are just another means of attacking the things most of us need, and dividing the country into us and them.

In reality, voters in red states are as dependent on the federal government as voters in blue states, and, truth be told, even more dependent.

(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

Crucifying Julian Assange
By Chris Hedges

Julian Assange's sanctuary in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London has been transformed into a little shop of horrors. He has been largely cut off from communicating with the outside world for the last seven months. His Ecuadorian citizenship, granted to him as an asylum seeker, is in the process of being revoked. His health is failing. He is being denied medical care. His efforts for legal redress have been crippled by the gag rules, including Ecuadorian orders that he cannot make public his conditions inside the embassy in fighting revocation of his Ecuadorian citizenship.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has refused to intercede on behalf of Assange, an Australian citizen, even though the new government in Ecuador, led by LenĂ­n Moreno-who calls Assange an "inherited problem"and an impediment to better relations with Washington-is making the WikiLeaks founder's life in the embassy unbearable. Almost daily, the embassy is imposing harsher conditions for Assange, including making him pay his medical bills, imposing arcane rules about how he must care for his cat and demanding that he perform a variety of demeaning housekeeping chores.

The Ecuadorians, reluctant to expel Assange after granting him political asylum and granting him citizenship, intend to make his existence so unpleasant he will agree to leave the embassy to be arrested by the British and extradited to the United States. The former president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, whose government granted the publisher political asylum, describes Assange's current living conditions as "torture."

His mother, Christine Assange, said in a recent video appeal, "Despite Julian being a multi-award-winning journalist, much loved and respected for courageously exposing serious, high-level crimes and corruption in the public interest, he is right now alone, sick, in pain-silenced in solitary confinement, cut off from all contact and being tortured in the heart of London. The modern-day cage of political prisoners is no longer the Tower of London. It's the Ecuadorian Embassy."

"Here are the facts," she went on. "Julian has been detained nearly eight years without charge. That's right. Without charge. For the past six years, the U.K. government has refused his request for access to basic health needs, fresh air, exercise, sunshine for vitamin D and access to proper dental and medical care. As a result, his health has seriously deteriorated. His examining doctors warned his detention conditions are life-threatening. A slow and cruel assassination is taking place before our very eyes in the embassy in London."

"In 2016, after an in-depth investigation, the United Nations ruled that Julian's legal and human rights have been violated on multiple occasions," she said. "He'd been illegally detained since 2010. And they ordered his immediate release, safe passage and compensation. The U.K. government refused to abide by the U.N.'s decision. The U.S. government has made Julian's arrest a priority. They want to get around a U.S. journalist's protection under the First Amendment by charging him with espionage. They will stop at nothing to do it."

"As a result of the U.S. bearing down on Ecuador, his asylum is now under immediate threat," she said. "The U.S. pressure on Ecuador's new president resulted in Julian being placed in a strict and severe solitary confinement for the last seven months, deprived of any contact with his family and friends. Only his lawyers could see him. Two weeks ago, things became substantially worse. The former president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, who rightfully gave Julian political asylum from U.S. threats against his life and liberty, publicly warned when U.S. Vice President Mike Pence recently visited Ecuador a deal was done to hand Julian over to the U.S. He stated that because of the political costs of expelling Julian from their embassy was too high, the plan was to break him down mentally. A new, impossible, inhumane protocol was implemented at the embassy to torture him to such a point that he would break and be forced to leave."

Assange was once feted and courted by some of the largest media organizations in the world, including The New York Times and The Guardian, for the information he possessed. But once his trove of material documenting U.S. war crimes, much of it provided by Chelsea Manning, was published by these media outlets he was pushed aside and demonized. A leaked Pentagon document prepared by the Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch dated March 8, 2008, exposed a black propaganda campaign to discredit WikiLeaks and Assange. The document said the smear campaign should seek to destroy the "feeling of trust"that is WikiLeaks' "center of gravity"and blacken Assange's reputation. It largely has worked. Assange is especially vilified for publishing 70,000 hacked emails belonging to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and senior Democratic officials. The Democrats and former FBI Director James Comey say the emails were copied from the accounts of John Podesta, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, by Russian government hackers. Comey has said the messages were probably delivered to WikiLeaks by an intermediary. Assange has said the emails were not provided by "state actors."

The Democratic Party-seeking to blame its election defeat on Russian "interference"rather than the grotesque income inequality, the betrayal of the working class, the loss of civil liberties, the deindustrialization and the corporate coup d'etat that the party helped orchestrate-attacks Assange as a traitor, although he is not a U.S. citizen. Nor is he a spy. He is not bound by any law I am aware of to keep U.S. government secrets. He has not committed a crime. Now, stories in newspapers that once published material from WikiLeaks focus on his allegedly slovenly behavior-not evident during my visits with him-and how he is, in the words of The Guardian, "an unwelcome guest" in the embassy. The vital issue of the rights of a publisher and a free press is ignored in favor of snarky character assassination.

Assange was granted asylum in the embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to answer questions about sexual offense charges that were eventually dropped. Assange feared that once he was in Swedish custody he would be extradited to the United States. The British government has said that, although he is no longer wanted for questioning in Sweden, Assange will be arrested and jailed for breaching his bail conditions if he leaves the embassy.

WikiLeaks and Assange have done more to expose the dark machinations and crimes of the American Empire than any other news organization. Assange, in addition to exposing atrocities and crimes committed by the United States military in our endless wars and revealing the inner workings of the Clinton campaign, made public the hacking tools used by the CIA and the National Security Agency, their surveillance programs and their interference in foreign elections, including in the French elections. He disclosed the conspiracy against British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn by Labour members of Parliament. And WikiLeaks worked swiftly to save Edward Snowden, who exposed the wholesale surveillance of the American public by the government, from extradition to the United States by helping him flee from Hong Kong to Moscow. The Snowden leaks also revealed, ominously, that Assange was on a U.S. "manhunt target list."

What is happening to Assange should terrify the press. And yet his plight is met with indifference and sneering contempt. Once he is pushed out of the embassy, he will be put on trial in the United States for what he published. This will set a new and dangerous legal precedent that the Trump administration and future administrations will employ against other publishers, including those who are part of the mob trying to lynch Assange. The silence about the treatment of Assange is not only a betrayal of him but a betrayal of the freedom of the press itself. We will pay dearly for this complicity.

Even if the Russians provided the Podesta emails to Assange, he should have published them. I would have. They exposed practices of the Clinton political machine that she and the Democratic leadership sought to hide. In the two decades I worked overseas as a foreign correspondent I was routinely leaked stolen documents by organizations and governments. My only concern was whether the documents were forged or genuine. If they were genuine, I published them. Those who leaked material to me included the rebels of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN); the Salvadoran army, which once gave me blood-smeared FMLN documents found after an ambush; the Sandinista government of Nicaragua; the Israeli intelligence service, the Mossad; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Central Intelligence Agency; the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebel group; the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO); the French intelligence service, Direction Generale de la Securite Exterieure, or DGSE; and the Serbian government of Slobodan Milosovic, who was later tried as a war criminal.

We learned from the emails published by WikiLeaks that the Clinton Foundation received millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two of the major funders of Islamic State. As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton paid her donors back by approving $80 billion in weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, enabling the kingdom to carry out a devastating war in Yemen that has triggered a humanitarian crisis, including widespread food shortages and a cholera epidemic, and left close to 60,000 dead. We learned Clinton was paid $675,000 for speaking at Goldman Sachs, a sum so massive it can only be described as a bribe. We learned Clinton told the financial elites in her lucrative talks that she wanted "open trade and open borders" and believed Wall Street executives were best-positioned to manage the economy, a statement that directly contradicted her campaign promises. We learned the Clinton campaign worked to influence the Republican primaries to ensure that Donald Trump was the Republican nominee. We learned Clinton obtained advance information on primary-debate questions. We learned, because 1,700 of the 33,000 emails came from Hillary Clinton, she was the primary architect of the war in Libya. We learned she believed that the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi would burnish her credentials as a presidential candidate. The war she sought has left Libya in chaos, seen the rise to power of radical jihadists in what is now a failed state, triggered a massive exodus of migrants to Europe, seen Libyan weapon stockpiles seized by rogue militias and Islamic radicals throughout the region, and resulted in 40,000 dead. Should this information have remained hidden from the American public? You can argue yes, but you can't then call yourself a journalist.

"They are setting my son up to give them an excuse to hand him over to the U.S., where he would face a show trial," Christine Assange warned. "Over the past eight years, he has had no proper legal process. It has been unfair at every single turn with much perversion of justice. There is no reason to consider that this would change in the future. The U.S. WikiLeaks grand jury, producing the extradition warrant, was held in secret by four prosecutors but no defense and no judge. The U.K.-U.S. extradition treaty allows for the U.K. to extradite Julian to the U.S. without a proper basic case. Once in the U.S., the National Defense Authorization Act allows for indefinite detention without trial. Julian could very well be held in Guantanamo Bay and tortured, sentenced to 45 years in a maximum-security prison, or face the death penalty. My son is in critical danger because of a brutal, political persecution by the bullies in power whose crimes and corruption he had courageously exposed when he was editor in chief of WikiLeaks." Assange is on his own. Each day is more difficult for him. This is by design. It is up to us to protest. We are his last hope, and the last hope, I fear, for a free press.

"We need to make our protest against this brutality deafening," his mother said. "I call on all you journalists to stand up now because he's your colleague and you are next. I call on all you politicians who say you entered politics to serve the people to stand up now. I call on all you activists who support human rights, refugees, the environment, and are against war, to stand up now because WikiLeaks has served the causes that you spoke for and Julian is now suffering for it alongside of you. I call on all citizens who value freedom, democracy and a fair legal process to put aside your political differences and unite, stand up now. Most of us don't have the courage of our whistleblowers or journalists like Julian Assange who publish them, so that we may be informed and warned about the abuses of power."

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

The Cartoon Corner-

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Trump Warns That Florida Recount Could Set Dangerous Precedent Of Person With Most Votes Winning
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)-Calling for an "immediate end"to the recount in Florida, Donald J. Trump warned on Monday that it could set a dangerous precedent of the person with the most votes winning.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump said that those in favor of the recount had a <>I>"sick obsession with finding out which candidate got the most votes."

"Democrats are going on and on about counting every last vote until they find out who got the most," Trump said. "Since when does getting the most votes mean you win?"

Trump said that, if the recounts are allowed to proceed, "We could be looking at a very bad, very sad situation where to be considered legitimately elected you have to get more votes than the other candidate."

Having just returned from the Armistice commemoration in Paris, Trump said that Florida's recount has made America "the laughingstock of the world," adding, "Putin told me they never do recounts in Russia."

(c) 2018 Andy Borowitz

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Issues & Alibis Vol 18 # 45 (c) 11/16/2018

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