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In This Edition


Lee Camp returns with, "The Mainstream Media Is Lying About The California Fires."

Norman Solomon reports, "The 'Pelosi Problem' Runs Deep."

Glen Ford says, "Malcolm X Would Say Russiagate Is A Fool's Game."

Greg Palast explains, "What We Must Do Now: Abrams, Georgia And Something Extraordinary."

Jim Hightower warns, "The Bitter Battle Of Kavanaugh Will Burn Through Our Culture For Decades."

Ralph Nader exclaims, "If It Takes The Rats To Wake Up Us And Congress, Bring Them On!"

James Donahue says, "The World Needs A Day Of Thanksgiving."

William Rivers Pitt warns, "House Republicans, Terrible Before The Midterms, Are Now Much Worse."

Heather Digby Parton explores tRump's tiny mind in, "'Afghanistan Takes From The US And Gives Nothing In Return.'"

David Suzuki concludes, "Tackling Climate Change Requires Healing The Divide."

Charles P. Pierce reports, "A U.S. Senator Just Warned There Will Be A Civil War If He Doesn't Get All The Policies He Wants."

Dahr Jamail concludes, "Killing Plants Is The Fastest Way To End the World."

Jane Stillwater goes to, "El Paso & Juarez."

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich warns of, "The Next Crash."

Chris Hedges wonders, "Are We About To Face Our Gravest Constitutional Crisis?"

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Trump Hacks Through Thick Central American Jungle In Search Of Entirely New Ethnic Group To Demonize" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Same Old, Same Old, America!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Signe Wilkinson, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, Noah Berger, Brian Duffy, Charlie Neibergall, Melina Mara, Win McNamee, Joshua Rawson-Harris, Washington Post, Zach D. Roberts, Unsplash, 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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Same Old, Same Old, America!
By Ernest Stewart

"So the Trump-supporting evangelists are re-writing the Bible again. 11th Commandment: Thou shalt not kill, but thou mayest turn a blind eye if big money is involved." ~~~ John Cleese

"Firefighters continue to construct and reinforce direct and indirect control lines with hand crews and dozers." ~~~ Cal Fire

"The deployment of US troops to the Southern border is an illegitimate political ploy and a serious misuse of the military. This action casts shame on a government that treats refugees seeking asylum as enemies." ~~~ Kathleen Gilberd ~ executive director of the National Lawyers Guild's Military Law Task Force

"It is but sorrow to be wise when wisdom profits not." ~~~ Sophocles ~ The Oedipus Tyrannus



Was anyone the least bit surprised? Now, Trump is skeptical about a CIA assessment reported Friday that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was behind the kidnapping, torture, assassination, and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month. To paraphrase tRump, "Sh*t happens." He knows it's the truth but none the less denies Mo's involvement. What's murder one, as long as gas prices keep falling, not a problem!

You may recall, that oil was at $53 when Obama left office, and he didn't need to thank any murderers.

At least once a day for the last two years tRump has done something as bad, if not worse, each and every one of them a crime in it's self. About 80% of which, are crime's calling for impeachment. But with the Rethuglicans still in control of the House nothing will be done. And in January when the Dems take control of the House with Nancy Pelosi as speaker, you can bet your bottom dollar that nothing will be done, either!

For the next two years tRump, on a daily basis, will show his insanity and utter contempt for the law and absolutely nothing will be done, unless Mueller has something up his sleeve, it's going to be same old, same old, until at least the 2020 election!

In Other News

According to Cal Fire At least 81 people are dead in California's Camp Fire, according to the latest death toll figure from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, is a number that is expected to rise with about 700 people still missing amid the devastation. That number had been over 1000 but with the systems coming back on line 300 or so people have been found alive!

Cal Fire said, "...the Camp Fire in Butte County was 151,272 acres in size and 70 percent contained by the 4,736 personnel still battling the flames. Full containment is not expected until November 30."

The fire started on November 8 and, though investigations into the cause continue, a faulty power line may be to blame, hence a lot of people want PG&E taken over by the state as several major fires this year are thought to be caused by faulty power lines.

Rain is forecast across the area. While this will help quell the Camp Fire, it also brings with it the risk of mudslides, through out the burned area, mud that could hamper the search and recovery efforts, and the destruction of what is left, including very fragile evidence, such as human remains. Many of the remains will never be found and there will hundreds missing for the next 7 years. No closure for many victims families. Cal Fire said in this newest update"
"Damage inspection crews continue to survey the fire area. The Butte County Sheriff's Office continues with search and recovery operations with the assistance of US&R and search & rescue teams.

"Fire suppression repair will continue in order to rehab the fire area and reduce the impacts of the forecasted rain. 1,713 homes had been destroyed in the fire, and 472 commercial structures too. There are still 14,500 structures threatened by the Camp Fire. Butte County's list of missing people has 630 names on it."
And as Lee Camp points out below, not a single mention of the role global warming in all the news coverage. I guess, when the MSM is bought and paid for by the polluters, mums the word!

And Finally

I've been waiting for someone from either political party to call tRump's illegal use of US troops to guard the border the act of treason that it is, and demand that they stand down!

Ya'll remember that the Posse Comitatus Act forbids the use of the military to enforce domestic US laws, including immigration laws. The Posse Comitatus Act was passed in 1878 to end the use of federal troops in overseeing elections in the post-Civil War South. This just in, the Army says it's pulling out, having completed their job, which I guess was to scare the hell out of tRump's base before the election! Good to see the troops finally finishing a mission, which they haven't done since WWII!

While this is bad enough, tRump is breaking yet another law, anyone surprised by that? I thought not! Under the 1951 Refugee Convention, any person who arrives in the United States has the right to apply for asylum. Applicants must show they are unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin due to a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

Since we've been supporting every right-wing dictator, who will do our bidding, that comes along in central America since at least 1898 those caravan folks are just the chickens coming home to roost. We are the ones that caused their nightmares and their flight from terror and the least we can do is welcome them in and not kidnap and sell their children.

Why do Americans support this monster, because they are just like him, but without his money. This caravan is just the tip of the iceberg of what we have coming our way and believe me, pay back is going to be a bitch, America!

Keepin' On

Well the time has come and gone, and so some of our arthors and artists won't be available to us. We turned up $1160 short of paying our bills for this year. That's the first time in the magazines history since our beginning in 2000 that we failed to raise the "rent."

For once I'm at a loss for words, imagine that! That's the trouble with being a sooth sayer. When people ask me what is it that I do, I have been known to say, "I piss people off." You'd be amazed how mad you can make some people by just telling the truth, saying the sooth! The Matrix, I hear, is very warm and comfortable, and over the years while we did unplug this, or that person, we found ourselves, mainly, just preaching to the choir! C'est la guerre!"

We'll keep fighting the good fight until the rest of the money runs out. If you think that what we do is important and would like to see us keep on, keeping on, please send us whatever you can, whenever you can, and we'll keep saying the sooth!

*****


04-21-1950 ~ 11-17-2018
Thanks for the music!




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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.




Firefighter Jose Corona sprays water as flames from the Camp Fire consume a home in Magalia, Calif., on Nov. 9.



The Mainstream Media Is Lying About The California Fires
By Lee Camp

I don't like accurately predicting the future. But it happens to me sometimes. And it's never a good thing.

Not once have I predicted that I would stumble upon a great sum of money or that a friendly squirrel would mysteriously leave a fresh, delicious scone on my windowsill. No, the things I've said that have come true years later have always been utterly awful. And the latest one has to do with California.

This week, Donald Trump has continued to blame the horrific fires in California on forest mismanagement-basically saying that if the parks service had just raked up a few more dry leaves, then countless people, homes and buildings would not have been incinerated. I unintentionally predicted this kind of idiocy. I said something similar in a 2011 stand-up comedy album titled "Chaos For The Weary."

To paraphrase, I said, "You notice no matter how close they say the major effects of global warming are, it doesn't change how we all behave. ... Soon they'll be saying, 'People in California are ON FIRE!' and everyone will be like, 'They probably live in a very fiery area. They're probably storing dry stuff in their homes-like old magazines and elderly people."

And sure enough, here we are. People in California are on fire, and the president is saying it's because they stored too many dry pine needles around their homes. Trump is able to do this because most of the mainstream media are allowing him to fill a void-a void that represents the answer to these questions: "Why is this happening? Why is our nation turning into one of the lower circles of hell?"

Don't get me wrong-the corporate media have extensively covered that California is ON FIRE. They have. They just can't bring themselves to say the words "climate change" very often. No. It gets caught in their throat like a dry falafel puck. They look like they want to say it but just can't-like a dog that wants to tell you it has a thorn in its paw. But it's just impossible.

Take, for example, "NBC Nightly News." You can't get a finer news program anywhere (in the building where they tape). I watched a full six-minute segment last week covering multiple California fires, the destruction, the loss of life; they even had reporters on the ground. And yet throughout the entire report, they never uttered the words "climate change," "global warming" or even simply, "We are fucked." Instead, they made it sound like fires are a tragic yet common occurrence, and the cities will rebuild.

Never speaking the words "climate change" while whole towns literally go up in flames is like covering the drowning death of someone and never mentioning he was being waterboarded at the time. The real cause of these fires is at least half the story, if not more.

NBC host Kate Snow did say these fires are "ones for the history books," but I guess those books are going to get shorter and shorter because "1,000-year fires" are quickly becoming "5-year fires." Saying these fires are "ones for the history books" implies that 20 years from now, the children in California will be reading about the Great fires of 2018.

But they won't.

They won't be in the history books-because in 20 years the history books will be ON FIRE. And the great fires of 2018 will look like nothing but a warm day with a pina colada. Here's an example of what I mean: A headline from HuffPost read, "California's Wildfires This Year Have Been Breaking Records-The state has experienced some of the biggest and deadliest fires in its history this year." Sounds pretty accurate, doesn't it? The only problem is that article is from December 2017. LAST year. Did they go down in the history books? How often does everyone huddle under the blankets and take turns telling scary tales about the 2017 fires?

Acting like each year's fires are a fluke that will never happen again-that in and of itself is denying climate change. It is lying to the American people in order to cover up that we are promoting a system based on big oil, big factory farming and big environmental destruction. A new Media Matters report found the mainstream media only say "climate change" in reports about these recent fires 4 percent of the time.

Now, some of you may be thinking, "You can't prove these fires were caused by climate change." And you're right. I can't. But the Union of Concerned Scientists can.

They said, "The effects of global warming on temperature, precipitation levels, and soil moisture are turning many of our forests into kindling during wildfire season." The scientists also pointed out that wildfires are increasing and that the wildfire season is getting longer in the U.S. In terms of forest fires over 1,000 acres in size, in the 1980s, there were 140. In the 1990s, there were 160. And from 2000 to 2012, there were 250. And as mentioned before, 2017 was California's worst wildfire season. ... Until 2018.

So if they're not willing to talk about the obvious causes of our pop-up infernos, what was "NBC Nightly News" reporting on? Well, they spent a good amount of time on the firefighters-correctly informing viewers that these men and women are heroes, and they're putting their lives on the line to try to save people they've never met. Good job, NBC. You only missed one thing. You somehow failed to say that many of the firefighters you highlighted are PRISONERS LOCKED AWAY IN CALIFORNIA'S CORRECTIONAL SYSTEM!

Estimates are that 30 percent of the state's firefighters are prisoners, and it's clear from the uniforms that many of the ones NBC filmed were indeed inmates. Sure, they volunteered for that job, but many of them are locked up for small crimes and see no way out of the misery and hardship of prison other than to "volunteer" for fire duty. It's kind of like how I "volunteered" to give my wallet and shoes to that guy with a gun when he casually noted that he liked my wallet and shoes.

Furthermore, the inmates are working as firefighters for roughly $1 per hour.

ONE DOLLAR PER HOUR.

They get paid less than the amount of money most people are willing to bend down to pick up if they see it in a puddle. But NONE of this is said by "NBC Nightly News" even as they show video of the inmates fighting fires. This would be like showing Nike sweatshop workers in Indonesia and saying, "These fine craftsmen are making your shoes. Oh man, do they love making shoes. They volunteered to do it."

Are you starting to get the point? Kate Snow's job-like most of those in mainstream media-is to cover up your reality. Her job is to make you think we live in a system that can recover from this carnage WITHOUT large-scale changes, without a new economic paradigm that doesn't reward waste and planned obsolescence and profiting off the lives of others. Generally speaking, the job of mainstream corporate outlets is to ignore the harsh reality that our endless consumption and furious appetite for fossil fuels are burning our country, turning it into a desert wasteland-and the easiest response is to throw slave labor at the problem.

On the other hand, it's the job of you and me to see through the propaganda, through the spectacle and the bullshit, and to fight for a better world.

Maybe it will help if I predict that 20 years from now we all will have woken up from this mass delusion and switched to a sustainable, green, egalitarian economic system.

It's about time I had a positive prediction come true.

(c) 2018Lee Camp is an American stand-up comedian, writer, actor and activist. Camp is the host of the weekly comedy news TV show "Redacted Tonight With Lee Camp" on RT America. He is a former comedy writer for the Onion and the Huffington Post and has been a touring stand-up comic for 20 years.




House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California speaking in Des Moines, Iowa.



The 'Pelosi Problem' Runs Deep
Whether our concerns involve militarism, social equity, economic justice, civil liberties, climate change or the overarching necessity of a Green New Deal, the Democratic Party must change from the bottom up
By Norman Solomon

Nancy Pelosi will probably be the next House speaker, a prospect that fills most alert progressives with disquiet, if not dread. But instead of fixating on her as a villain, progressives should recognize the long-standing House Democratic leader as a symptom of a calcified party hierarchy that has worn out its grassroots welcome and is beginning to lose its grip.

Increasingly at odds with the Democratic Party's mobilized base, that grip has held on with gobs of money from centralized, deep-pocket sources-endlessly reinforcing continual deference to corporate power and an ongoing embrace of massively profitable militarism.

Pelosi has earned a reputation as an excellent manager, and she has certainly managed to keep herself in power atop Democrats in the House. She's a deft expert on how Congress works, but she seems out of touch-intentionally or not-with the millions of grassroots progressives who are fed up with her kind of leadership.

Those progressives should not reconcile with Pelosi, any more than they should demonize her. The best course will involve strategic confrontations-nonviolent, emphatic, civilly disobedient-mobilizing the power of protest as well as electoral activism within Democratic primaries.

Such well-planned actions as Tuesday's "Green New Deal" sit-in at Pelosi's Capitol office serve many valuable purposes. (Along the way, they help undermine the absurd right-wing Fox News trope that portrays her as some kind of leftist.) Insistently advocating for strong progressive programs and calling Pelosi out on her actual positions despite nice-sounding rhetoric can effectively widen the range of public debate. Over time, the process creates more space and momentum for a resurgent left.

There is much to counter at the top of the party. Pelosi still refuses to support single-payer enhanced "Medicare for all." As on many other issues, she-and others, such as the more corporate-friendly House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer-are clinging to timeworn, Wall Street-friendly positions against powerful political winds generated by years of grassroots activism.

Increasingly, such leadership is isolated from the party it claims to lead. Yet the progressive base is having more and more impact. As a Vox headline proclaimed, more than a year ago, "The stunning Democratic shift on single-payer: In 2008, no leading Democratic presidential candidate backed single-payer. In 2020, all of them might." The Medicare for All Caucus now lists 76 House members. Any progressive should emphatically reject Pelosi's current embrace of a "pay-go" rule that would straitjacket spending for new social programs by requiring offset tax hikes or budget cuts. Her position is even more outrageous in view of her fervent support for astronomical military spending. Like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (who was just re-elected to his post), Pelosi went out of her way last winter to proclaim avid support for President Trump's major increase in the already-bloated Pentagon budget, boasting: "In our negotiations, congressional Democrats have been fighting for increases in funding for defense."

Whether our concerns involve militarism, social equity, economic justice, civil liberties, climate change or the overarching necessity of a Green New Deal, the Democratic Party must change from the bottom up. That means progressives across the country should run candidates from precinct levels upward and maintain pressure on all elected officials, including the congressional Democrats with progressive records.

Newly elected House members will raise the total membership of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to about 90. A dozen caucus members are in line to chair House committees in the new Congress; another 30 are set to chair subcommittees. The Progressive Caucus is now co-chaired by Raul Grijalva of Arizona and Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, two of the strongest progressive lawmakers on Capitol Hill. The contrasts between their advocacy and the meanderings of the caucus's more tepid members are sometimes striking.

During the Obama years, by deferring to top-tier party leaders, many in the Progressive Caucus showed themselves to be unreliable advocates for progressive causes when push came to shove-during the 2009 health care debate, for example. Yet the left-leaning tendencies in the caucus can now be strengthened and reinforced-if constituent pressure is insistent. When necessary, that insistence should include credible threats of launching primary challenges.

While the governing body of the party, the Democratic National Committee, gave ground this year on such matters as internal party democracy (disempowering superdelegates in the process), senior Democrats have retained a firm hold on such powerful mechanisms as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). It is emblematic of a larger problem that in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections, an unrelenting series of DCCC emails to millions of recipients featured appeals from such standard party figures as James Carville, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Adam Schiff, Madeleine Albright, John Kerry, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer-none of whom supported Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential primaries. The emails reflect how lopsided and corporate the power structures of the DCCC and top-ranking Democrats in Congress remain.

In sync with such corporate sensibilities, some of the party's big mainline names are now mobilizing to pressure incoming Democrats to support Pelosi for speaker. "Democratic Party luminaries are calling members-elect on Pelosi's behalf," Politico reported this week; they include New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, former Vice President Al Gore and former Secretary of State John Kerry.

This year, many progressive individuals and organizations have moved beyond the false choice of either building movements or seriously trying to win elections. We can and must do both-simultaneously, not sequentially-to the benefit of both parallel tasks. The Republican Party's loss of the House was largely due to decisions by substantial numbers of people on the left to engage with the electoral process as never before. Moving forward, we need to strengthen social movements, as well as electoral capacities, so we can end Republican rule and replace it with genuinely progressive governance.

(c) 2018 Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."







Malcolm X Would Say Russiagate Is A Fool's Game
By Glenn Ford

The Democrats and their media have fashioned a trap for Blacks and browns: accept endless foreign wars and domestic austerity in return for the representation of dark faces in high places in the governing hierarchy.

The Kenyan proverb tells us, "When elephants fight, the grass suffers." In contemporary capitalist circumstances, the raging split in the U.S. ruling class, now in its third year, tramples simple truths and common sense beyond recognition, stupefying the whole corporate herd. That wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, except that the common folk, including self-styled "progressives" and "resisters," have been imbibing the same mind-deadening media brew as the rulers are drinking, as can be expected under a corporate communications dictatorship. When the media moguls go mad, as they have been for the last two years, the insanity becomes general.

It is also true that, when the slave adopts her master's vocabulary and shares his enemies, she no longer requires an overseer, but will whip herself into obedience. If Malcolm X were alive, he would tell us that Black Democrats are playing a fool's game. There is no fundamental disagreement within the white ruling class on the necessity of endless war and austerity in order to maintain their grip on global power.The split arises over HOW to sustain that white supremacist, capitalist order.

Donald Trump threw his class brethren into a panic when he succeeded in assembling an Electoral College majority, in 2016. His formula for victory was to promise the nation's largest effective political bloc -- white people that prioritize racial dominance, and who accurately called racists -- that their "America" would be made great again, with all the imagined advantages to their group. It is a tried and true rich white man's strategy, one that was never fully abandoned by either of the two corporate U.S. political parties -- the Republican "wolves" and the Democratic "foxes," as Malcolm dubbed them.

Trump gave the still politically potent white racist masses red-meat rhetoric to satisfy their hunger for palpable evidence of the continued sanctity of white skin privilege and status, as guaranteed to them by their "forefathers." Since U.S. elections are, by careful design, contests between factions of the ruling class, Trump's strategy was to demonize the rich folks that had sold out "good American's" jobs to China and were wasting national treasure and lives in wars of "regime change" and "nation-building" in "shit-hole" countries. Thus, in championing domestic white supremacy, Trump blamed the Democrat-aligned factions of the ruling class for endless wars and a job-draining austerity regime that, somehow, elevated Black and brown people.

This was very bad corporate manners, and sufficient to galvanize most of the ruling class behind Hillary Clinton and the Democratic "foxes," who were fully aware that U.S. imperialism was, indeed, losing its global contest with the command economy of China, and had already lost its proxy jihadist war against a Syrian government buttressed by Russia. Trump's snipes at U.S. war and trade policy marked him as an undependable imperialist, at best, and a class traitor, at worst.

The Democratic ruling class faction, already dependent on Black voters for one quarter of its national base and eager to solidify its hold on Hispanics, had long been reconciled, albeit grudgingly, to the necessity of a "rainbow party" electoral strategy. But Black and brown representationwithin the party does not - must not - mean retreat from the core strategy of endless wars and austerity, the only future that late-stage capitalism envisions for the planet. Therefore, in order to both rescue the imperial project and reclaim a domestic electoral majority, the Democrats -- now the most aggressive "War Party" and the true party of the ruling class -- portray Trump as an ally of Russia and themselves as the party of "diversity."

They have fashioned a trap for Blacks and browns: accept endless foreign wars and domestic austerity in return for the representation of dark faces in high places in the governing hierarchy. This is the puropose of the Democrats' Trump vs. Anti-Trump equation: Black and brown collaboration with white corporate rule in the twilight of ever-consolidating capitalism -- a regime that requires the maintenance of the Mass Black Incarceration State. It means reducing Black politics to accommodation with the purported "rainbow" faction of the ruling class, assisting in Jeff Bezos's infinite acquisitions, Silicon Valley's relentless intrusions, Citibank's all-consuming thievery and gentrification, and the military industrial complex's ever-escalating holocausts.

That's a "Satan's Sandwich," to borrow the words of Black Kansas City congressman Emanuel Cleaver, when asked to endorse President Obama's "Grand Bargain" with the Republicans of trillion dollar social spending cuts. Obama's bipartisan deal remains in effect, because austerity is Democratic Party policy, just as it is Republican policy under Donald Trump - austerity for the masses plus gargantuan tax cuts for the rich. Democratic congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have no plans to roll back Trump's tax cuts, and 60 percent of Democrats supported giving Trump an even bigger military budget than he asked for. Pelosi is keeping her promise to oppose spending measures that are not "pay-as-you-go," requiring tax hikes or cuts in other programs. And Democratic leadership will do everything in its power to throttle Medicare-For-All single payer health care, a program for which there is a national consensus of at least 70 percent -- 85 percent of Democrats and even majorities of Republicans! - because the ruling class opposes it.

Given that virtually all Democrats want single payer, as do half of Republicans, the effective opposition to Medicare-for-All are the corporate congressional Democrats that thwart the will of their party base. The same goes for issues of war and peace. The reality of U.S. political alignments is that the white racist voting base -- about half the white electorate -- appears irreducible unless white supremacists are presented with a stark and substantive choice between their family's physical well-being and the imperative to express hatred of non-whites. Such legislative initiatives cannot come from the Republican Party, which is the White Man's Party, dedicated to racist reaction, but they are determinedly strangled by corporate Democrats. The inescapable conclusion, therefore, is that the Democratic Party is the primary mechanism that suppresses progressive thought and action in the United States. The party is a finely tuned ruling class tool, whose greatest accomplishment in the post-civil rights era has been to contain and harness the Black electorate, the most pro-peace and leftist polity in the nation.

And now they have succeeded in further strangling this progressive bastion -- with a fake "Russian" noose. The duplicity of the Democrats, and the Democratic corporate media, is obvious in their reaction to Donald Trump's firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the die-hard, deep-fried Alabama segregationist and law-and-order cracker who was Trump's earliest supporter in the U.S. Senate. Every decent person should have been celebrating the dismissal of this miscreant as the top cop of the country - whatever Trump's reasons. But top Democrats and pundits reacted as if Session's exit was a disaster because it might endanger the Mueller investigation into Trump's alleged "collusion" with Moscow and Wikileaks. The ruling class priority -- and, therefore, the Democratic Party's main concern -- is not to battle white supremacy, but to gin up anti-Russia hysteria and thus justify endless war and the austerity that accompanies it.

Accordingly, Democrats see no contradiction in their glee at word that the Trump administration is planning to prosecute Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, possibly on espionage charges stemming from leaks during the Obama administration. If Trump and Wikileaks conspired with "the Russians" to sabotage Hillary Clinton's campaign, then why is Trump preparing to prosecute his supposed co-colluder? Wouldn't that be an invitation to Assange to rat Trump out?

But of course, there was no collusion; if there were, then some smidgeon of proof would have been presented over the past two years, yet there has been none. It's all about war and austerity, and keeping the lid on growing discontent and despair among the populace in the imperial headquarters country. And especially about making Black people believe that Putin is an ally of their arch enemy, Trump, and that the Democrats are their friends.

As Malcolm told us (take your pick, they're all relevant and true):

"Don't you run around here trying to make friends with somebody who's depriving you of your rights. They're not your friends, no, they're your enemies. Treat them like that." "The media's the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses."

"[The Negro] should realize that he is living in a war zone, and he is at war with an enemy that is as vicious and criminal and inhuman as any war-making country has ever been."

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




Stacey Abrams and Greg Palast review the Georgia purge list in 2014.



What We Must Do Now: Abrams, Georgia And Something Extraordinary
By Greg Palast

A week ago, I received a call from Stacey Abrams' lead attorneys. The Palast investigations team had "gold," as they put it, for litigating the election in Georgia: expert analysis proving 340,134 voters were wrongly purged by her opponent when he was secretary of state. Plus, we had, on camera, victims of the purge, including the 92-year-old cousin of Martin Luther King.

But I'm a journalist, not a campaign operative. So, I could only offer my reports and my affidavit filed in federal court in Common Cause v. Brian Kemp.

With Stacey Abrams no longer in the race for governor, we now are free to open our files to her new voting rights group, Fair Fight Georgia.

Abrams, in her I-won't-concede speech on Friday, cited one victim of the purge: 92-year-old Christine Jordan. I filmed Jordan on Election Day at the polling station she'd voted at for 50 years - until this year, when her name was simply wiped off the voter rolls.

That should give "Governor-Elect" Kemp pause. Because that's Abrams' signal that this heartbreaking story will become the hammer to smash the Kemp-created Jim Crow machine.

(And Ms. Jordan is up to the task, telling me she's willing to take the fight into federal court, "If somebody will help me walk there.")

The immediate weapon will be litigation against the state of Georgia to show that the election was hopelessly tainted. Under Georgia statute, this could result in a court throwing out the whole rotting dung-heap of an election. That is why Abrams technically did not concede but rather dropped her claim to office. (Lawyers will understand that she has to maintain "standing.")

Abrams vocally took up the issue of the massive purge of voters - and intends to defend those purged. This is what's really historic about her candidacy. Yes, Abrams is the first African American woman nominated for governor by the Democratic Party. More revolutionary is that she is the first Democratic candidate to demand an end to racist ethnic cleansing of the voter rolls. (If Al Gore had taken that stance in 2000, maybe Abrams would be governor today - and, hey Al, they'd be calling you Mr. President.)

Our team's investigation produced the facts - and the names and addresses of the 340,134 voters wrongly purged for supposedly moving out of Georgia or out of their congressional districts - but never moved an inch.

We are now free to hand over those lists to the Abrams litigation team, the NAACP, the SCLC, ACLU and others who are opening courtroom fronts. We are working with them all.

And my own suit against Kemp and his successors continues in Atlanta federal court with my co-plaintiff, Helen Butler, executive director of the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples Agenda. That group was founded by the Rev. Joseph Lowery, now 97. When I described to him the details of Brian Kemp's voter-roll trickery, he said, "It's Jim Crow all over again."


Co-plaintiffs Palast and Helen Butler are suing Brian Kemp.

There was no despair in Lowery's voice about America's new backsliding on civil rights. Rather, he and Helen are up for the fight.

If Rev. Lowery, Helen Butler and Christine Jordan are up for it, can we do anything but join?

And the battlefront is wide. While we sued in Georgia, attorneys for the Palast Investigative Fund have also filed notices of suit in 25 other states that employ the Kemp-Kobach voter-erasing games. (Yes, Kris Kobach is the man in Kemp's shadow. Kobach provided Kemp with 106,000 of the names Kemp wrongly purged. Surprised?)

Kemp's "Getaway" Scheme

Why did Stacey Abrams have to end the fight over the count? Because Kemp not only planned his crime carefully - and make no mistake, knowingly preventing citizens from voting is a crime - Kemp also had a brilliant "getaway" scheme.

I saw it firsthand in Atlanta on Election Day. I knew that some portion of the 340,134 voters wrongly purged would attempt to vote anyway as is their right under federal law. Any American that signs a statement that he or she is a citizen and provides a local address has the right to vote "provisionally."

This was Abrams' hope. If courts would order the counting of provisional ballots of those wrongly purged, she'd be governor. The GOP clearly thought of that, too. So, they simply refused to count the provisional ballots cast. But worse - and this is as brilliant as it is evil and illegal - officials simply refused to give voters provisional ballots.

So, you have to hand it to the Kemp forces: You can't have a court order the counting of ballots that were never cast - for example, the ballot never cast by Yasmin Bakhtiari. She was illegally refused a provisional ballot though she wouldn't leave the polling station for two hours - until her third plea for a ballot was rejected.

And this is where our work is also helpful to rights litigants: We have gathered the names of victims and their stories. We even have an official caught on camera refusing a legitimate request for a provisional ballot.

I have been investigating Brian Kemp for five years. And I remember in 2014 shocking a legislator, Stacey Abrams, with Kemp's purge lists. She told my Al Jazeera audience that she was furious that "our secretary of state" was spending his time attacking the voter rolls.

Little did I imagine they'd be squaring off years later, and Kemp's voter-roll deceit would be decisive in the ugliest way.

Back in 2014, Abrams was most concerned that Kemp was operating vampire-style, "stealthily" purging voters in a secretive operation.

And that's where investigative reporting comes in - and I'm not talking about insider gossip and leaks - but the years of work to extract the secret purge files, and to analyze reams of data that can tell a story. And today is when it pays off... not whether it helps this candidate or that, but whether the facts - those brave bits of truth - can speak.

I know a lot of my Democratic friends will be unhappy that their candidate lost. But don't miss the power of this moment: You can say, you were here when the new rights movement was born.

(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.







The Bitter Battle Of Kavanaugh Will Burn Through Our Culture For Decades
By Jim Hightower

"To be a good judge and a good umpire, it's important to have the proper demeanor. ... To keep our emotions in check. To be calm amidst the storm." - Supreme Court Justice BRETT KAVANAUGH, in a 2015 speech.

Leave it to Donald Trump to totally pervert the profound significance of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's expose of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's moral character. Calling the #MeToo movement "dangerous," our narcissist-in-chief proclaimed, "It's a very scary time for young men in America." Yes, in Trump's Alice-in-Wonderland mindset, the abusers are the abused.

I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that a lifelong son of privilege, who bragged of his own vainglorious record of sexual predation, would debase the presidency by rushing to declare that our foremost national concern must be the reputations of his own ilk of pampered, powerful white males. The great danger, he said on the day before Blasey's compelling testimony, is not that America is adrift in a toxic culture in which some men feel free-even entitled-to assert their power by grabbing, groping, fondling, kissing, stripping, climbing atop, raping, and otherwise sexually intimidating, terrifying, and abusing women. No, no ... those men are the victims here. Their lives are being ruined by the angry women of #MeToo who misconstrue a little boys-will-be-boys, hard-partying horseplay as abuse.

Kavanaugh himself melodramatically played the self-pitying victim to the Senate. In practiced, red-faced fury, he wept that "my family and my name have been totally and permanently destroyed" by a woman with the temerity to call out a man of his stature. (That "destruction" turned out to feature a lifetime seat on the nation's highest court and the title "Your Honor." And there he'll sit in supreme judgment of cases involving women who are abused-economically, politically, culturally, bodily, and psychologically-by entitled brutes like Brett.)

When reporters asked Trump whether the women of America warranted some presidential expression of comfort after having their righteous grievance against Kavanaugh stampeded and trampled by the infuriated bulls of the Republican Party, he curtly lectured the ladies that they have no reason to complain: "Women are doing great." Then, he jetted off on Air Force One to Mississippi for a victory rally to gloat with a crowd of Trump idolaters about shoving Kavanaugh down the throat of those #MeToo women. There, the president brought the house down with a snickering schtick mocking Blasey's deeply personal and courageous attempt to speak truth to power. MAGA!

What's going on?

The Kavanaugh power play is not about sex, she-said/he-said, Senate protocol, or Trump v. Democrats. It's about POWER-in particular, the raw power of privileged white men to assert a God-given right not just to run things, but to dominate in the workplace, relationships, government, churches, academia, Hollywood, etc., ad nauseum.

The bitter Battle of Kavanaugh will burn through our culture and politics for decades, for his confirmation by 50 senators was as abusive to all women today as he almost certainly was to one woman 36 years ago. The senatorial power play will linger as a hot spot of political fury not merely because they jammed another right-wing justice onto the Court, but because the way they did it was itself a fundamental affront to justice. Women v. Kavanaugh will stand as a momentous confrontation in the long struggle by America's democratic populists to tear down all of the structural barriers of privilege that have been erected since the beginning of our people's experiment with democracy. Democratic Populism is not only a "Workers of the World, Unite!" war against economic oligarchy (as crucial as that core focus is), but it's also a bigger democratic movement against all oppression by elites.

Anti-feminist politicos and talk-show yakkers try to ridicule the reality that women in our rich and advanced society endure oppression. America isn't Afghanistan, they snort-women here get to vote. Girls play sports and become astronauts, or CEOs, or anything! Why, we nominated one for president! Certainly women have made strides from the colonial chauvinism of 1789, and they've escaped some of the suffocating paternalism of the "Father Knows Best" years. But-O progress!-is that our highest standard? It's ridiculous, dishonest, and socially destructive to pretend that the 51 percent majority is getting anywhere near its fair share of power and respect.

POWER?

A look at who runs things in the US everything from paychecks to sexual harassment and discrimination disadvantage women:

Only 23% of US Senators and 19% of House members are women (only 4 of the 50 Senators to confirm Kavanaugh were women).
Just 6 women are governors.
Of our 7,383 state legislators, a mere 25% are women.
Of 2,400 elected prosecutors, 79% are men, 95% are white, and 1% are women of color.
Even though white men are 31% of the population, they comprise 79% of some 42,000 elected officials.
In Fortune 500 corporations, women hold 5% of CEO positions (one-fourth fewer than a year ago, after men replaced the female heads of Avon, Campbell Soup, Hewlett-Packard, Mattel, and PepsiCo.)
CEOs are hired by a corporation's board of directors, and those boards nearly always choose chief executives who look and think like them. Thus, more than 75% of US corporate board members are white men. Moreover, these men are the ones who set the corporation's workplace codes of conduct, as well as policies on pay equality, diversity, and non-discrimination.

RESPECT?

From corporate suites to McDonald's' kitchens, an oppressive male culture and a repressive power structure routinely short change women on promotions and pay (generally a third less than men doing comparable work, with black and Latina women making even less). That's bad enough, but adding insult to injury, conventional wisdom blames women for this disparity! They're not "career oriented" or are too thin-skinned, aren't aggressive enough or are too moody, they're too likely to leave to raise a family or they just need to "lean in" more. Delve a smidgeon deeper, however, and-voila!-the source of this deep and pervasive discrimination is the glaring inequality of power that men hold over women. This imbalance results in institutional climates of:

Harassment

It's amazing that the impact on working women of blunt-force sexual crudity by superiors has only recently risen to the surface as a major cause of workplace problems. Spurred by the explosion of hundreds of thousands of #MeToo revelations, harassment has finally climbed to the top-of-the-charts ranking of things holding back women in practically every line of employment:

(1) In recent surveys, 81% of women say they've experienced sexual harassment.
(2) About half of girls say they have been harassed in school.
(3) Employers and officials usually discount the veracity of women/girls who complain and then accept the denials of men who are accused.
(4) Male hierarchies tend to ostracize and retaliate against victims who report abuse.
(5) Some 80% of young women who've been harassed on the job tell surveyors that, rather than file complaints that their higher-ups won't take seriously, they just leave. As one told a Huffington Post reporter last month, "It's not worth my energy to change the culture."

Indifference

Some places just don't think it's a big deal that their organizational hierarchy tolerates a grab-ass mentality and allows abuse. Their attitude is, Hey, no one's making you work here. More commonly, though, harassment and discrimination persist because leadership only addresses the problem bureaucratically, incrementally, and ever so cautiously. While those in charge of these companies and groups loudly condemn all such actions as "unacceptable," they quietly accept them by doing nothing more than implementing a diversity committee or sensitivity training.

A couple of abuser factors are in play here: One is that honcho offenders lawyer-up, so the institutional response focuses primarily on limiting liability, rather than on cleansing the toxic culture. Second is a move I call "The Willie," borrowed from Willie Nelson's humorous idea that he wants his tombstone to read: "He meant well." In a nefarious twist of Nelson's droll humor, honchos of many high-profile, brand-name outfits these days proclaim their commitment to leading the charge for justice and respect for women in the workplace, but, whoa!, don't push too hard, too fast.

Jamie Dimon is a prime example of those who cry for rapid progress, but then throttle back to a putt-putt pace. As CEO of JPMorgan Chase, he has cultivated the image of an enlightened Wall Streeter who touts the merits of having women decision-makers throughout the bank's corporate structure. "It is the right thing to do, plain and simple," he told New York Times interviewer Rebecca Blumenstein. Yet when Blumenstein gently noted that JPMorgan's 11-member governing board includes only two women, Dimon's enlightenment dimmed: "I'm looking for a great female board member," he quickly assured her. Really? Out of 165 million women in America, he can't find one worthy of a board seat? "It's hard," he lamented, "for me to do a board search and say I'm only going to look at women."

Really? Why?

A right-wing rubber stamp

Fronting the marble steps that lead to the entrance of the Supreme Court building are two lampposts, each featuring a bas-relief of Lady Justice. Blindfolded, holding the scales of justice, she is meant to assure America's public that partisanship and prejudice end at the chamber's doorway, and the balanced rule of law reigns supreme inside. In reality, the Court has only occasionally reached such a majestic peak of legal purity, but it has handed down enough rulings approximating justice that the public has had a modicum of faith in the legitimacy of this tiny body of unelected lawmakers. Until now. Washington's Republican leaders are stampeding not only over women, but also over America's basic sense of democratic fairness. They are rushing to install plutocratic, minority rule through (1) corporate "personhood," (2) the effective elimination of campaign spending limits for millionaires, billionaires, and corporations, (3) gerrymandering, (4) voter suppression, and (5) a GOP takeover of the judicial branch of government. With little public notice of its overall scheme, it made huge advances on all five fronts in the past decade, including stacking the nine-member Court with four hard-core corporatists and simply refusing for a year to consider President Obama's nominee, a qualified moderate, to fill a vacant ninth seat. Instead, the Republican Senate's confirmation of the ideologue Kavanaugh locks in a five-man majority judicial rubber stamp for corporate interests and the entrenchment of white male power and privilege.

Where are the founding mothers?

The prevailing narrative of American history amounts to a Hollywood tale of Great Men doing Great Things. From grade school onward, every child is taught in absolute terms that the heroic Founding Fathers, who fought and won the War for Independence, were also statesmen who gave us Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights-the majestic foundation of our democratic republic. But what about the heroinism, intellectualism, and persistence of the Founding Mothers? Abigail Adams is mentioned in the history books as the brassy and pushy wife of the patriot and future president, John Adams-but pushy for what? For a more democratic republic, that's what. As John and the other "Fathers" debated the Declaration of Independence in 1776, she implored them to "remember the ladies" by using that revolutionary moment to make women's legal status nearer to men's. The male species of the time failed to see beyond their privilege, but Abigail's writings succeeded in planting fertile seeds of democratic rights for later generations of female rebels to nurture and harvest!

And what about Mary Otis Warren, the "Conscience of the American Revolution"? Or Catherine Moore Barry, "Heroine of the Battle of Cowpens"? Or Sybil Ludington, the 16-year-old "female Paul Revere," who rode twice as far as Revere and did so in a driving rainstorm, rallying a local militia to repel British invaders? Or Deborah Samson, the "Massachusetts State Heroine," who, disguised as a man, be-came a soldier in the Continental Army? Injured in battle several times, Sampson treated her own painful wounds to keep her gender secret and continue fighting.

America's history will be truer, and our democratic culture stronger, when we bring more stories of women into our national narrative.

(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 HightowerLowdown.org.




A few early readers found Ralph Nader's new book, How the Rats Re-Formed the
Congress, to be "disgusting," or "revolting." That's why everybody should read it.




If It Takes The Rats To Wake Up Us And Congress, Bring Them On!
And this new book shows how to do it...
By Ralph Nader

Let's get down to the all-important matter of Congressional performance. No matter how pollsters ask the question - "do you approve of Congress...?" or "do you have confidence in Congress...? - less than twenty percent of people respond positively. Four out of five Americans disapprove of what Congress has been doing and are presumably disappointed about what Congress is not doing. That's an overwhelming unhappy majority. There are many changes, reforms, and redirections for our country that conservatives and liberals both agree on, (See my book, Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State, Nation Books, 2014). There would be more agreements were we more alert to the divide and rule tactics of our political/corporate rulers and reject such manipulations outright.

For decades, I've argued that it is easier than we think to change what comes out of Congress - the smallest yet most powerful branch of government under our Constitution.

Our history demonstrates that if one percent or less of citizens, reflecting majority public opinion, roll up their sleeves and focus together on their two Senators and Representatives, they can prevail. I and other consumer and environmental advocates did just that years ago with far less than one percent of the people actually engaged in moving our agenda (which is about two and a half million adults). Together we championed laws that reigned in the auto industry, the corporate polluters and other industries to save lives and prevent injuries and illnesses. Because, majority public opinion supported us.

Our approach then was to put out factual documentation of these corporate harms and perils and get our research covered by the news media on programs like The Phil Donahue Show. People would feedback their demands and concerns to the Senators and Representatives of Congress, where we were pushing member by member. Reforms followed. I've given numerous examples of these citizen endeavors in my book, Breaking Through Power: It's Easier Than We Think.

It still can happen, even though the news media hardly covers conventional civic activity anymore and great shows like Donahue's are no longer on the air. We shouldn't be discouraged, however; we just have to shift strategies and find new ways to get more Americans revved up to feel and focus their own sovereign power exclusively rooted in the Constitution. "Corporations" and "companies" aren't even mentioned in that storied document. As the Constitution says, "we the people... do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America."

So here comes my new Fable-How the Rats Re-formed the Congress-replete with examples of how little it took to change Congress beyond our greatest expectations. Once the rats stormed up the toilet bowls of these smug solons and shook up the place from the bottom up, action followed. When the American people found out how the Congressional biggies tried to cover up their embarrassment - their ineptitude at not even being able to control a rat infestation- massive public derision flooded the televised and radio airwaves and social media.

Suddenly, people all over our country - at home, in the bars and restaurants, at their clubs, snapped to attention and began believing that, "There are only 535 of them on Capitol Hill, many misusing our sovereign power delegated to them, but we're millions."

In "civic" waves from the hinterlands, the people move to take control of Congress away from the giant corporations and their greedy lobbyists. You'll laugh yourselves serious as you turn page after page and start feeling, believing, thinking that "we can do this, let's go America!"

Enough of not paying hard-working impoverished workers a livable wage, enough of people being denied health insurance, and ripped off by the credit sharks, enough of our children being directly assailed with junk food and violent advertising bypassing parental authority, enough of trillions of our tax dollars not coming back to us for superior public services in our crumbling communities but instead going to corporate welfare (crony capitalism), and the infernal, very profitable corporate war machine in addition to more tax escapes for the wealthy.

Enough of the fossil-fuel industry poisoning our soil, our water, and disrupting our climate. Enough of the corporate bosses and their indentured politicians; enough of the big time crooks and their dirty elections. Enough, enough already!

A few early readers found How the Rats Re-Formed the Congress to be "disgusting," or "revolting," to use their words. Reading the back cover presents indictments of the "disgusting" and "revolting" Congress whose majority lets American men, women, and children get sick and die in great numbers from preventable perils in hospitals, in toxic workplaces, and in toxic products and environments.

Other readers have called the book "uplifting," "optimistic," and "empowering," the growing rumble from the people and the leaders they generate break out in rallies and support for progressive agendas nationwide. The huge numbers of people surrounding the Congress night and day, week after week, until the peoples' pressure becomes unbearable for recalcitrant Members of Congress.

This external pressure permeates the Congress with specific calls for reforms backed by the dramatic demand that the politicians get it done in an election year or else! The faster these long overdue changes come, many long installed in Western European democracies, the more the corporate big boys reel on their heels, unable with their tired bullying and intimidating ways to block the will of the people.

Wall Street and its lobbyists warn about "economic collapse" and "mass layoffs" if the citizenry's agenda passes Congress. Corporate front groups are created to disrupt the peaceful crowds. These corporate tactics don't work anymore. The agitated media publishes story after story about the corporate crime wave, the rip-offs of consumers and the wasting away tax monies that Congress allowed.

Backing up the book is a helpful website on organizing Congressional Ratwatchers Groups in every Congressional district. The material is readable, accurate, and relieves your feeling that such an effort is too difficult and won't produce results.

You can get an autographed copy of How the Rats Re-Formed the Congress, or discounted autographed books in bulk for your circle of friends, by going to ratsreformcongress.org. See how the rats led the way until the people, just like you, entered the fray.

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








The World Needs A Day Of Thanksgiving
By James Donahue

Thanksgiving is perhaps among the best of the American holidays. It has few religious connotations, but is a day when we all gather with friends and family to reflect feelings of gratitude for the blessings in our lives. Unfortunately not all of the people in the world share in such a celebration.

It may be just as well. Americans have done a very good job of spoiling the spirit of the holiday in every way possible.

Gluttony, the commercialization of the Christmas spending spree and major league football games have worked their way into the scene in many homes. Consequently the sense of gratitude associated with Thanksgiving are basically overlooked. It has evolved into a day off from the job and for many a weekend to spend on self-gratification to the extreme.

Intense and professionally designed television advertising campaigns literally brainwash people into rushing off to the stores to spend money they don't have to buy costly gifts they don't need. Since it falls a month before Christmas, Thanksgiving has become the trigger point to launch the "Holiday Season."

It has become a tradition among the big chain stores to advertise big promotional sales that create panic buying on another undeclared holiday dubbed Black Friday. This is a fitting name for the day after Thanksgiving. It is a day when many workers are still celebrating a four-day holiday weekend so whole families can participate in the downtown insanity. Sadly, in their rush to beat out the competition and get the Christmas shopping season launched, many stores are electing to hold that Black Friday sale event on Thanksgiving Day. So instead of staying home with friends and family and reflecting on the blessings we share, many Americans will be spending the day fighting crowds and traffic in a quest to grab a "grateful" bargain before somebody else gets it.

Notice that a lot of television news anchors are referring to Thanksgiving as "Turkey Day." This is because it has become tradition for people to consume a rich turkey dinner complete with mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy, sweet potatoes, rich salads and side dishes that include pumpkin pie topped with whipping cream.

Laced with the tryptophan packed in the turkey, the next step is to hit the soft chairs and sofas in the living room to sleep the rest of the day off while the men keep one eye open to watch the football game as the blaring television overpowers any chance of conversation.

And in case some of us lack anything to do with ourselves during the morning hours, while the women slave in the kitchen preparing that feast, there are the Thanksgiving Day Parades to watch. These are a subliminal message calling all Americans to the store to start their Christmas shopping spree.

And like good zombies, this is exactly what we do. I am not sure how people are going to work shopping into the other self-gratification events that have long been part of the holiday, but I am sure many of them will be among the crowds when stores open their doors on Thanksgiving Day.

This will be the picture in a lot of American homes this year . . . but not all. So what in hell have we done to ourselves? Have we forgotten that millions of Americans are presently out of work, living on food-stamps and many of them homeless and living on the street?

Fortunately many churches, charity organizations and just plain benevolent Americans have not forgotten. They are going to be busy on Thanksgiving Day serving hot meals and comfort to these unfortunate souls.

Unfortunately, the warm Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday spirit appears to be a seasonal thing. Will the poor and homeless be neglected during the long cold months of winter that follow? And what about the people caught up in the wars sweeping so many other parts of the world? There is no day of thanksgiving this week for them.

The world desperately needs a respite from its constant struggle and intense emotions of fear and hate. Wouldn't it be grand if we all could lay down our guns and set aside our differences for this holiday season and let everybody experience a real time of peace and joy?

Who knows? The idea might catch on.

(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.




Incoming House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) emerges from the House Republican Conference
accompanied by his leadership team to speak to journalists in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, November 14, 2018.



House Republicans, Terrible Before The Midterms, Are Now Much Worse
By William Rivers Pitt

A great many people are eagerly anticipating the opening of the next Congress, waiting with bated breath to see what the new House sheriffs in town intend to do with their newly minted powers. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, to name but one of the serious new players, has spent the last two years looking like he wants to paint his face blue and charge the White House gates in a kilt. Reps. Maxine Waters, Emmanuel Lewis and the others, from the sound of it, are likewise champing at the bit.

For my money, however, the real show in the House is going to be on the right side of the aisle. The Republican minority, defeated and pruned like it was 1974, is set to empower a radical faction of an already disorganized party which will commence in short order to make messes so vast and deep that all prior messes will seem quaint by comparison.

With the departure of Speaker Paul Ryan now imminent, House Republicans elected Kevin McCarthy of California as their new leader by a vote of 159 to 43. His opponent for the position, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, is a leader of the Freedom Caucus, a genuinely dangerous collection of wreckers who will have a loud voice in the House. The Freedom Caucus played a central role in ending John Boehner's political career because they thought he was too liberal, and later made Ryan's life miserable enough to quit for pretty much the same reason. McCarthy would be foolish to miss the inherent lesson: Cross the Freedom Caucus at your peril. If he forgets, Jordan will surely take pains to remind him.

The Freedom Caucus was formally created in 2015, but its members were busy little bees well before that. Several of its current members spent the second half of President Obama's administration trying to shut down the government and default on the debt ceiling, because Obama. In 2017, they killed Donald Trump's ACA replacement bill, which would have deprived 28 million people of health insurance, because it was too nice.

The superstars of the Freedom Caucus include men like Louie Gohmert of Texas, who may actually be from space. Gohmert once accused Obama of trying to recreate the Ottoman Empire; opposes gun control because, he says, gay marriage leads to bestiality (seriously); and believes pregnant women are coming to the US to birth "terror babies" who will grow up to "destroy our way of life." He voted in favor of letting hunters kill sleeping bear cubs in their dens, and in favor of a bill to denude the Americans With Disabilities Act of its civil rights protections.

For the record, Louie Gohmert was re-elected this month by a margin of 72 to 26.

No list of Freedom Caucus fanatics is complete without Mo Brooks of Alabama, who also believes shooting sleeping bear cubs in the face is a bully idea. Brooks once characterized Democratic criticism of Jeff Sessions as a "war on whites," claimed the ocean is rising because rocks are falling into the water, voted against disaster relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and wants troops deployed to the US-Mexico border with shoot-to-kill orders in hand.

For the record, Mo Brooks was re-elected this month by a margin of 61 to 39.

And then, of course, there is Ted Yoho of Florida, bannerman for the Birther conspiracy and sworn foe of all gun restrictions. After voting for the 2013 government shutdown, Yoho was appalled to learn that furloughed workers would still get paid. He believes only property owners should be allowed to vote, thinks the #MeToo movement is "sterilizing" men, also approves of shooting sleeping bears, also voted against relief after Harvey and thinks Republican members of Congress work directly for Donald Trump.

For the record, Ted Yoho was re-elected this month by a margin of 58 to 42.

Joining Rep. McCarthy in the ranks of House Republican leadership will be Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, daughter of the former Vice President, who will assume the role of conference chair. Cheney's mission in life seems to be making torture cool again so her dad can travel abroad without getting arrested. Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, whose great love of the NRA and unlimited guns remains undaunted even after nearly being shot to death last year, will be minority whip.

As for Rep. McCarthy, well, he sure loves him some Trump. "My Kevin" is how Trump refers to the new House minority leader. McCarthy and Trump were together on Air Force One last year, and McCarthy noticed Trump only ate the cherry and strawberry-flavored candies out of the Starburst vat kept close at hand. "Days later," according to The Washington Post, McCarthy "bought a plentiful supply of Starbursts and asked a staffer to sort through the pile, placing only those two flavors in a jar. McCarthy made sure his name was on the side of the gift, which was delivered to a grinning Trump."

Gosh, it's just so damned cute. What could possibly go wrong?

If you're going to pick the year everything really began to go sideways for the Republican Party, 1964 will do nicely. That was the year Strom Thurmond and the other segregationist Southern Democrats became Republicans because of the Civil Rights Act. It was also the year Barry Goldwater, another ardent foe of the Civil Rights Act, became the Republican nominee for president. "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice!" he bellowed from the convention podium, and the crowd went wild.

Twelve years later, that same crowd met Ronald Reagan at yet another Republican convention, nominated him for president the next chance they got, and we were off to the races. Reagan's toxic amalgam of Nixon-style campaign racism in the deep South, his embrace of far-right evangelical Christianity and his regulation-crushing trickle-down economic plans built the bridge that carried the Republican Party from Abraham Lincoln and Schuyler Colfax to Donald Trump and Kevin McCarthy.

The ball of angry authoritarian hate that is today's Republican Party is on the verge of becoming even more desperately furious. Deprived of majority power, House Republicans will watch as their president is investigated by every major committee in the building simultaneously. The Freedom Caucus will become more vocal and disruptive, painting the party even further into an extremist corner that will make the 2020 presidential election truly one for the books.

The wilder House Republicans get, the less interested stodgy Senate Republicans will be in riding to their rescue. It's your fudge, Mitch McConnell will say. Go cook it yourself. Trump hasn't had a thought for anyone but himself since the day he found out his daddy was loaded, so there will be little to no help from the White House if Gohmert and Brooks go off the rails again, which they will. "The edge of a black hole, the event horizon, is a boundary that marks the point of no return," Rep. McCarthy once wrote in a breathless National Review op-ed about the national debt. "Once an object crosses the event horizon, it cannot escape and will be ripped to pieces, atom by atom."

The rot at the core of the Republican Party reaches outward even as its influence continues to shrink, and soon enough that rot will become more visible than ever. Kevin McCarthy does not have enough political talent or power to control the worst instincts of the worst people in the House chamber, a fact that will become evident each time all the Republican presidential candidates are asked to comment on the latest brute nonsense foisted on the public by the Freedom Caucus.

Their noise will become the metric by which the entire party is judged, and if the 2018 midterms were any guide, that noise is already too much for most voters to bear. The Republican Party has crossed its own event horizon, and McCarthy is about to find out more about entropy than he ever wanted to know.

(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.







'Afghanistan Takes From The US And Gives Nothing In Return'
By Heather Digby Parton

If you want to see someone with zero understanding of how the world works look no further than the leader of the free world:

The simpleton can only see the world in one way: Other countries aren't paying enough protection money to the US coffers and their trade policies are all unfair, no matter what they are.

That's all he knows. He even admits he's believed those things for decades.

It's fine with me if the US military leaves Afghanistan and re-thinks its relationship with Pakistan (for entirely different reasons.) But there will be consequences, none of which Trump is capable of dealing with because of his simplistic view of the world and his top adviser, John Bolton, will use as an excuse to start another war.

(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.




Cities are responsible for 70 per cent of global emissions. However, they can move
climate action forward across four key areas: energy supply, buildings, mobility and waste.




Tackling Climate Change Requires Healing The Divide
By David Suzuki

Canadian climate change opinion is polarized, and research shows the divide is widening. The greatest predictor of people's outlook is political affiliation. This means people's climate change perceptions are being increasingly driven by divisive political agendas rather than science and concern for our collective welfare.

Over the past year, the Alberta Narratives Project gathered input from a broad range of Albertans (teachers, faith groups, health professionals, farmers, artists, industry, environmentalists, etc.) to better understand how they feel about public discourse on global warming. Participants said they want less blame and a more open, balanced and respectful conversation. Many don't see themselves in the conversation at all. No one is speaking to them, using language that reflects their values and identity.

Albertans are deeply divided in their climate change perceptions. In 2017, just over half the population was doubtful or dismissive. When an issue is highly polarized, people find it difficult to discuss. The Alberta Narratives Project found people rarely, if ever, speak to others about climate change.

Climate disruption is a collective threat, not just an environmental issue. We must all see ourselves as part of the effort to prevent extreme impacts and ensure sustainable, resilient communities. But how can we take shared action when we can't even talk to each other about the problem?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's most recent report calls for action to limit warming to 1.5 C to reduce the risk of increasing extreme weather events, prevent catastrophic species loss, decrease numbers of climate refugees and protect human health and resilience.

It's an urgent warning. After examining more than 6,000 scientific studies, the IPCC was clear: We must cut harmful carbon emissions by at least 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030 and reduce them to net zero by 2050 by cutting emissions and removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

Rising populist politics are weaponizing climate action as a wedge issue for political advantage - with tragic implications.

How can we reverse this?

Cities are responsible for 70 per cent of global emissions. According to C40 Cities research, they can lead the way by acting across four key areas: energy supply, buildings, mobility and waste.

Recently, Regina's council unanimously passed a motion to run on 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050, a meaningful target in line with the international Paris Agreement and the most recent IPCC report. Victoria has adopted the same target.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps writes that "to solve the climate challenge, we have to weave a strong social fabric, to build on the gifts, assets and talents of our friends, neighbours and colleagues. It means we have to shift our thinking from me to we, from now to the long term."

In March, Edmonton partnered with the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy for the Change for Climate Global Mayors Summit. They developed the Edmonton Declaration, asking signatories to recognize the urgent need for action that will limit global warming to 1.5 C. The city's video says, "Let's come together and lead the charge against climate change. Let's show the world how much we love our city and our planet. Let's change our neighbours' minds. Change our habits. Change the world. Each of us needs to do whatever we can. Whatever we do, we have to do it now. Because if we don't change anything, climate will change everything."

Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples is also crucial.

Dene elder Fran├žois Paulette says, "First Nations are in a unique position to be leaders in climate change initiatives because of our knowledge of the sacred teachings of the land. We must not be situated as passive recipients of climate change impacts. We must be agents of change in climate action."

To tackle climate change, we must heal the divide and act - as individuals, families, neighbours, communities and societies.

Wherever you see yourself on the political spectrum, whether you identify as rural or urban, youth or elder, the time for foot-dragging is over. Each of us must join together with others to address climate change, and demand meaningful action from political representatives. All parties must commit. We must call out those who stall or prevent solutions to serve their own self-interest and political agendas.

We can't afford to wait.

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








A U.S. Senator Just Warned There Will Be A Civil War If He Doesn't Get All The Policies He Wants
But it's the other side that will start it.
By Charles P. Pierce

One of our favorite recurring characters here in the shebeen is konzsitooshunal skolar Mike Lee, the now-senior senator-Hi, Mitt!-from Utah. Lee is reckoned to be a konztitooshunal skolar by roughly the same standard that Paul Ryan was reckoned to be an economic whiz kid-he says he is, plus he keeps getting elected.

So, when Ian Millhiser at ThinkProgress points us to this speech that Lee gave to The Federalist Society, we see that Lee's grasp on the actual Constitution is as eccentric-and as batshit-as was Ryan's grasp of tax policy and the federal budget.

In it, Lee warned of a brewing civil war, and claimed that the only way to avert violence would be to eradicate a long list of federal programs including "the interstate highway system," funding for "K through 12 public education," "federal higher education accreditation," "early childhood education, the Department of Commerce," "housing policy, workforce regulation," and what Lee labeled the "huge glut of federally owned land."

Mike Lee at the Kavanaugh hearings
Lee, who also believes that federal child labor laws, Social Security, and Medicare are unconstitutional, claimed in his speech that America faces a stark choice - "federalism or violence." According to Lee, when the federal government has the power to do pretty much anything, that thrusts the country into a "fundamentally un-American contest" to "determine which half of our nation will have the power, at least temporarily, to unilaterally impose its will and its values on the other half."
This is the part where I remind you that Lee spouted this bafflegab at a gathering sponsored by the organization that is picking the people who will staff the federal judiciary for the next 40 years, and it is also the part where I point out that in 1869, when the federal government of Abraham Lincoln encroached on the sovereign rights of western states in order to complete that usurpation of state powers known as the transcontinental railroad, it chose Utah as the place in which to drive in that golden spike and complete the job.

Or maybe Mike Lee's just still pissed because the FEC, an institution he gladly would see dissolved, blew the whistle on Lee's SuperPac scam in 2011, a hustle Lee set up to take advantage of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which Lee enthusiastically supports, despite the fact that it destroyed the rights of states to enact their own campaign-finance regulations-including a system in Montana that had been in place for 100 years.

Or maybe, Mike Lee is just another talk-show-caliber wingnut who got himself elected to a sinecure in the federal government he claims to dislike so intensely. Our lines are open.

(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-



"If you ask me about my views on the environment, on women's rights, on gay rights, I am liberal. I don't have a problem with that at all. Some of my best friends are liberal."
~~~ Bernie Sanders





A recent study underscores how human-caused global warming could annihilate life through co-extinction of species.




Killing Plants Is The Fastest Way To End the World
By Dahr Jamail

A recently published study has found that "[c]limate change and human activity are dooming species at an unprecedented rate."

The study, "Co-extinctions annihilate planetary life during extreme environmental change," published in the journal Scientific Reports, was a joint effort by Australian and Italian researchers from Flinders University in Adelaide and the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, respectively.

To conduct the study, the researchers created 2,000 "virtual Earths." They then added in different stressors such as abrupt climate change replicating that which we are now experiencing, a nuclear winter following the detonation of multiple nuclear weapons, and a massive impact from an asteroid.

Each scenario resulted in showing that plant and animal species that are wiped out by any of these extreme environmental changes dramatically increases the risk of a domino effect that could annihilate all life on Earth.

Co-Extinction

The researchers found that these worst-case scenarios led to what they called "co-extinctions," wherein an organism dies out because it is dependent upon another doomed species.

The team developed models to predict ecosystem function and resilience, including past, present and predicted future ability to change and adapt.

The study found that the fastest way to doom all life on Earth was to remove the most ecologically important species - the species with the most connections in their ecological network - first. And those species are, in general, the ones most likely to go first when it comes to warming.

"At least in our simulations, heating tends to remove the ecologically most important species first," reads the results of the study.

When the researchers modeled a warming planet, they found that it had an effect that was similar to the experiment they ran in which they removed the most ecologically important species.

In the introduction of their study, the researchers stated that their findings make it "difficult to be optimistic about the future of species diversity in the ongoing trajectory of global change, let alone in the case of additional external, planetary-scale catastrophes."

They found that the loss of plant life set in motion the annihilation of life on Earth. This is because plants have a relatively low tolerance to rapidly changing temperatures, and when the plants die, so do the herbivores that eat them. Then, obviously, the predators that eat the herbivores are left foodless, including humans.

They found warming the planet to also be the worst-case cataclysmic scenario because it affected plants the most (on a global scale and all at once), more than all the other scenarios.

Studies that fail to take into account co-extinctions underestimate the rate and magnitude of the loss of species from an event like climate change by "up to 10 times," one of the researchers told The New Daily in Australia. Giovanni Strona of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre based in Ispra, northern Italy, one of the co-authors of the study, released a statement saying, "In the case of global warming in particular, the combination of intolerance to heat combined with co-extinctions mean that five to six degrees of average warming globally is enough to wipe out most life on the planet."

Planetary Warming Will Speed Up

Truthout recently reported how feedback loops, particularly those in the Arctic, are already dramatically speeding up climate change.

For example, when sea ice in the Arctic melts away (thanks to warming), positive feedbacks kick in: The darker water is able to absorb far more heat, subsea permafrost in the shallow Arctic seas melts and releases methane, and dramatic shifts in the polar vortex could likely cause (if they haven't already done so) runaway climate change and ensuing collapse of the biosphere.

Humans have already added CO2 to the atmosphere comparable to that which occurred during the "Great Dying," the end-Permian extinction event that occurred 252 million years ago, annihilating a majority of life on Earth. That event took 20,000 years, whereas humans have taken barely 250 years since the broad use of the combustion engine to dramatically increase CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

Studies have shown that the current rate of CO2 injection into the atmosphere by humans is now mirroring the rate that this took place during the Great Dying.

Species are already disappearing as fast as they did during Earth's previous mass extinction events.

(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.








El Paso & Juarez
My tale of two cities
By Jane Stillwater

When you were a kid, did you ever color Easter eggs? And put the yellow egg into the red die in order to watch it turn orange? That's pretty much like what has happened here in El Paso in the past 200 years. Two different cultures have been mixed together here -- and magically turned into an interesting, viable and delightful third one.

Back in the day, El Paso used to be a Mexican town. Then it became an American town -- and now it is a happy blend of the best of both. El Paso is a success because of (not despite of) its cultural diversity. Please bear this in mind.

But what about Juarez? I was about to find out.

"Don't go there. It's dangerous!" I was told by a bunch of people who had never been there.

"Piddle-tish," as my father used to say. Juarez is only a ten-minute walk from where I was staying in downtown El Paso. I just walked over a bridge, paid a 25-cent bridge toll and Voila! I was suddenly in Juarez.

And perfectly safe.

First I went to Juarez's cathedral, an excellent example of centuries-old colonial architecture. Then I went to the new, modern and excellent "Frontera" museum. Then I bought a Juarez T-shirt, visited a curandero, ate an ice cream cone and bought another T-shirt with a picture of Pancho Villa on the front -- and several tiny bottles of tequila to bring home to my friends.

"What happened here that caused all this change," I asked one of the shopkeepers. "How come it's not dangerous here any more?"

Apparently the Federales finally woke up, got their arses in gear, wiped out a whole serpent's nest full of drug cartels and stopped all that gun-running from America (aka the "War on Drugs").

And BTW why aren't our own Federal troops also waking up -- and helping to fight the gut-wrenching, heartbreaking and terrible wildfires in California instead of just wasting their time sitting around waiting to torment poor harmless asylum-seekers?

"But how do the people of Juarez support themselves?" I asked next.

"We have about 400 macheadoras -- factories -- here along the border, employing over 5,000 people. Plus we grow fine-quality cotton here that is picked by hand. It is in great demand in Saudi Arabia. We fly it straight there." Who knew.

I loved Juarez. I walked back over there four different times. And I have the T-shirts to prove it.

And I loved El Paso as well. Cultural diversity has really spiced El Paso up. Too bad that so much of the rest of America is missing out on this treat.

PS: Bob Dylan wrote a song about Juarez that I can't seem to stop humming. Marty Robbins wrote a song about El Paso too. Here they both are, thanks to YouTube.

PPS: Juarez has all the delightful energy and flavor that we all love to go to Mexico for -- except it only costs 25 cents to get here. You don't have to drop a bundle of $$$ on air fare to get your hit of Mexican wonderfulness. Just pay 25 cents and walk across a bridge.

(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-





Cindy gives the corporate salute

Heil Trump,

Dear Uber Fuhrer Hyde-Smith

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 statement that "they remind me that there's a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who maybe we don't want to vote. Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that's a great idea," 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 frau Hyde-Smith, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump






The Next Crash
By Robert Reich

Sorry to deliver the news, but it's time to worry about the next crash.

The combination of stagnant wages with most economic gains going to the top is once again endangering the economy.

Most Americans are still living in the shadow of the Great Recession that started in December 2007 and officially ended in June 2009. More have jobs, to be sure. But they haven't seen any rise in their wages, adjusted for inflation.

Many are worse off due to the escalating costs of housing, healthcare, and education. And the value of whatever assets they own is less than in 2007. Which suggests we're careening toward the same sort of crash we had then, and possibly as bad as 1929.

Clear away the financial rubble from those two former crashes and you'd see they both followed upon widening imbalances between the capacity of most people to buy, and what they as workers could produce. Each of these imbalances finally tipped the economy over.

The same imbalance has been growing again. The richest 1 percent of Americans now takes home about 20 percent of total income, and owns over 40 percent of the nation's wealth.

These are close to the peaks of 1928 and 2007.

The underlying problem isn't that Americans have been living beyond their means. It's that their means haven't been keeping up with the growing economy. Most gains have gone to the top.

But the rich only spend a small fraction of what they earn. The economy depends on the spending of middle and working class families.

By the first quarter of this year, household debt was at an all-time high of $13.2 trillion. Almost 80 percent of Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck.

It was similar in the years leading up to the crash of 2007. Between 1983 and 2007, household debt soared while most economic gains went to the top. If the majority of households had taken home a larger share, they wouldn't have needed to go so deeply into debt.

Similarly, between 1913 and 1928, the ratio of personal debt to the total national economy nearly doubled. After the 1929 crash, the government invented new ways to boost wages - Social Security, unemployment insurance, overtime pay, a minimum wage, the requirement that employers bargain with labor unions, and, finally, a full-employment program called World War II.

After the 2007 crash, the government bailed out the banks and pumped enough money into the economy to contain the slide. But apart from the Affordable Care Act, nothing was done to address the underlying problem of stagnant wages.

Trump and his Republican enablers are now reversing regulations put in place to stop Wall Street's excessively risky lending.

But Trump's real contributions to the next crash are his sabotage of the Affordable Care Act, rollback of overtime pay, burdens on labor organizing, tax reductions for corporations and the wealthy but not for most workers, cuts in programs for the poor, and proposed cuts in Medicare and Medicaid - all of which put more stress on the paychecks of most Americans.

Ten years after the start of the Great Recession, it's important to understand that the real root of the collapse wasn't a banking crisis. It was the growing imbalance between consumer spending and total output - brought on by stagnant wages and widening inequality.

That imbalance is back. Watch your wallets.

(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 www.robertreich.org.









Are We About To Face Our Gravest Constitutional Crisis?
By Chris Hedges

Before this lame-duck Congress adjourns in December we could face the most serious constitutional crisis in the history of the republic if Donald Trump attempts to shut down the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

A supine and pliant Republican Party, still in control of the House and the Senate, would probably not challenge Trump. The Supreme Court, which would be the final arbiter in any legal challenge to the president, would probably not rule against him. And his cultish followers, perhaps 40 million Americans, would respond enthusiastically to his trashing of democratic institutions and incitements of violence against the press, the Democratic Party leadership, his critics and all who take to the streets in protest. The United States by Christmas, if Trump plays this card, could become a full-blown authoritarian state where the rule of law no longer exists and the president is a despot.

Trump has flouted the Constitution since taking office. He has obstructed justice by firing the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Comey, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, replacing Sessions with the Trump partisan Matthew Whitaker. The president regularly ridicules the Mueller investigation and insults its leader. In a tweet last week he called the investigation a "witch hunt," a "total mess" and "absolutely nuts," and he went on to assert that Mueller and his investigators were "screaming and shouting at people" to make them provide "the answers they want." He called those involved in the probe "a disgrace to our nation."

He has repeatedly delivered diatribes against the press as "the enemy of the people," belittled, mocked and insulted reporters during press conferences and defended his revoking of the White House press credentials of a CNN reporter. He and his family openly use the presidency for self-enrichment, often by steering lobbyists and foreign officials to Trump's hotels and golf courses. He has peddled numerous conspiracy theories to discredit U.S. elections and deployed military troops along the southern border to resist an "invasion" of migrants. However, an attempt to fire Mueller and shut down the investigation would obliterate the Constitution as a functional document. There would be one last gasp of democracy by those of us who protest. It is not certain we would succeed.

The potential crisis the nation faces is far more serious than the one that occurred when it was revealed that President Richard Nixon had funded and covered up the June 17, 1972, burglary at Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington. (Nixon's lying about the secret bombing of Cambodia, which occurred from March 18, 1969, to May 26, 1970, and killed over half a million people, was, like all crimes of empire, never formally addressed and was not cited in the impeachment documents that were prepared.) The institutions tasked with defending democracy and the rule of law were far more robust during the Nixon constitutional crisis: There were Republicans in the Congress willing to hold the president accountable to the law; the courts were independent; the press had widespread credibility. In addition, the president met the onslaught of charges and revelations by retreating from the public. None of this is true now. Trump, with Fox News acting as a megaphone for his hate speech and conspiracy theories, has been holding Nuremberg-like rallies across the country to prepare the roughly 40 percent of the public who remain loyal to him to become shock troops. His followers are filled with hate and resentment for the elites who betrayed them. They are hungry for revenge. They do not live in a fact-based universe. And they are awash in weapons.

"Trump knows once the Democrats control the House, they can subpoena the records of his administration," Ralph Nader said when I reached him by phone in Connecticut. "He's going to want to get this over with, even if it sparks a constitutional crisis, while the Republicans still control the Congress. There's little doubt this will all come to a head before the Christmas holidays. Unfortunately for Mueller, he has not issued a subpoena to the president that would have protected him [Mueller]. If he had issued a subpoena, which he has every right to do, especially after being rebuffed in hours and hours of private negotiations for information from the president, he would be protected. Once you issue a subpoena, you have a lot of law on your side. If Trump defied a subpoena, he would get in legal hot water. But short of a subpoena, it's just political back and forth. By not issuing a subpoena Mueller is more vulnerable to Whitaker and Trump."

So far, there have been no hints from the Mueller investigation's criminal charges or the guilty pleas by Trump associates that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential election. Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, was found guilty on eight of the 18 counts that Mueller brought against him, but none of his crimes had anything to do with the presidential election or Russian influence. Manafort's financial crimes included five counts of tax fraud, one of hiding foreign bank accounts and two of bank fraud. These crimes predated the Trump campaign. Rick Gates, the former deputy campaign chairman, pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States and making false statements. George Papadopoulos spent 14 days in jail for lying to the FBI. Michael Cohen, Trump's onetime lawyer, pleaded guilty to making illegal campaign contributions by paying hush money to the porn actress Stephanie Clifford, known as Stormy Daniels, and Playboy model Karen McDougal. Cohen, due to be sentenced Dec. 12 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on charges of tax evasion, making false statements to a bank and the two campaign contribution violations, appears to be cooperating with the investigation, like most of those who have been indicted.

In February Mueller indicted 13 Russians and three Russian entities on charges of interfering in the 2016 U.S. elections, indictments that would not, I suspect, have taken place without hard evidence, but these indictments still do not appear to link the Trump campaign directly to Russia in an act of collusion. Perhaps the expected indictments of Roger Stone, reportedly for his alleged contacts with WikiLeaks, and Jerome Corsi, who said he expects to be indicted for "giving false information to the special counsel or to one of the other grand [juries]," will connect Trump and Russia, but until now the Mueller investigation appears to be focused on financial crimes, which appear rampant within the Trump business organization and among Trump associates. It is questionable, however, whether financial crimes will be enough to justify impeachment proceedings. Trump says he has finished answering written questions submitted to him from Mueller's team and has promised to turn them over this week.

"Trump is in a dimension by himself," said Nader. "He has inured the public to all kinds of scandals, bad language, accusations, admissions, harassment of women, boasting about it, lying about his business and keeping his tax returns a secret. You have to have an even higher level of damning materials in the [Mueller] report in order to breach that level of inurement that the public has become accustomed to."

Trump wields the power of the presidential pardon and has suggested he can use it to pardon relatives and himself. There is no legal precedent for such pardons, but the Supreme Court would probably uphold whatever novel legal interpretation the Trump White House would use. Trump might also try to divert attention away from the political meltdown by starting another war.

"Trump may try to save himself by starting hostilities abroad," Nader said. "He is especially inclined to do this because of his extraordinary psychological instabilities and impulsiveness. He also has a monumental ego that lets him live in a fantasy world. The signal that he is planning this kind of move, a move he would carry out if he loses all other options to stay in office and be re-elected, will be if he replaces chief of staff John Kelly with a war hawk and his secretary of defense, James Mattis, with another war hawk. He has two war hawks who would like to see this happen. One is John Bolton, his national security adviser, and the other is the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo. Bolton and Pompeo have similar views about using military might abroad and ignoring constitutional, statutory and treaty restraints. They would like to see Kelly and Mattis removed. Pompeo, a graduate of West Point, has ambitions to become secretary of defense. If you see Kelly and Mattis replaced with warmongers, this move might reveal his ultimate trump card. He can use a war to shut down political opposition and dissent in the name of supporting the troops."

Trump has a few weeks before the Democrats take control of the House. This may give him enough time to carry out his constitutional coup and consolidate power. Our decayed democratic institutions, including a corporate press that has rendered the working class and the poor invisible and serves as an apologist for corporate power, are detested by many Trump Republicans. Trump can rally his cultish supporters, hermetically sealed in their non-reality-based belief system, to attack and demolish the last of our democratic protections.

"We have a tremendous dearth of readiness by major constituencies such as civic groups, the legal profession, the business community and academia to deal with someone who misuses his authority, power and resources," Nader warned. "Nobody knows how to do it more precisely, relentlessly, strategically and tactically than the cunning Donald J. Trump."

(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 www.truthdig.com/chris_hedges.




The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Signe Wilkinson ~~~








To End On A Happy Note-





Have You Seen This-






Parting Shots-





Trump Hacks Through Thick Central American Jungle In Search Of Entirely New Ethnic Group To Demonize
By The Onion

TALAMANCAN MONTANE FORESTS, COSTA RICA-Venturing deep into rainforest no outsider has dared explore, President Trump slashed through the thick vines of a Central American jungle Monday in search of a previously unknown ethnic group to vilify.

"Legend has it that this land is home to a lost race of people living in complete isolation, and if I can manage to find them, I will be able to stereotype them in any way I choose," said the machete-wielding commander in chief who was wearing a tan field jacket as he led a group of loyal Republican allies through the oppressively hot and humid thicket in search of the mythic tribe.

"This discovery could change everything. These people remain entirely untouched by any media coverage whatsoever, so I can easily stick them with the blame for our nation's drug problems, violent crime, stagnant wage growth, you name it."

Upon sighting the uncontacted tribe, Trump's reelection team reportedly took grainy black-and-white videos of them for immediate use in menacing campaign ads.

(c) 2018 The Onion




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Issues & Alibis Vol 18 # 46 (c) 11/23/2018


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