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In This Edition

Chris Walker reports, "Poll: Most People Want Certification Process Updated To Prevent Another Jan. 6 ."

Ralph Nader wonders, "Where Is the Mass Mobilized Movement For Medicare For All?"

Leonard Pitts Jr. says, "Goodbye, And Good Riddance."

Jim Hightower examines, "Assorted Nuts."

Chris Hedges says, "We Have Seen This Movie Before: The Fascists Have Arrived."

John Nichols reports, "This Lawmaker Refuses Donations From Vulture Capitalists That Betray Workers."

James Donahue concludes, "World Wealth A False Illusion."

David Swanson tells, "What Should Have Been Done With Trump."

David Suzuki explores, "Climate Change, Tipping Points And Economic Gain."

Amy Goodman says, "Fascist Victory In Italy Signals Rise of "Transnational" Far Right Across Europe."

Juan Cole foresees, "The Terrifying Future In Which We Return To A Past Too Warm For Antarctica's Ice Shelves."

Robert Reich says, "Corporate Greed, Not Wages, Is Behind Inflation. It's Time For Price Controls."

Thom Hartmann explains, "How The U.S. Supreme Court Unleashed A Corporate Criminal Takeover Of This Country."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports "Melania Wishes She Could Get Divorced Just By Thinking About It," but first, Uncle Ernie sez, "Summer 2022 Was One Climate Disaster After Another."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Steve Sack, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Rubin Bolling, Erin Schaff, Saul Loeb, Hubert Neufeld, Sun Sentinel, Anthony Wahl, Democracy Now, Mr. Fish, Gallo Images, Tim Sloan, Frank Augstein, Jim Hightower, Twitter, Pixabay, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments -

The Quotable Quote -
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."






Spanish Stonehenge





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Summer 2022 Was One Climate Disaster After Another
Global warming strikes again!
By Ernest Stewart

"One can see from space how the human race has changed the Earth. Nearly all of the available land has been cleared of forest and is now used for agriculture or urban development. The polar icecaps are shrinking and the desert areas are increasing. At night, the Earth is no longer dark, but large areas are lit up. All of this is evidence that human exploitation of the planet is reaching a critical limit. But human demands and expectations are ever-increasing. We cannot continue to pollute the atmosphere, poison the ocean and exhaust the land. There isn't any more available." ~~~ Stephen Hawking


I see where Summer 2022 has indeed seemed to feature one climate-related disaster after another.

Record-breaking heat waves baked India and Pakistan, then monsoon flooding left about a third of Pakistan under water, affecting an estimated 33 million people. Temperatures exceeded 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 Celsius) for prolonged periods in many places, and even broke 122 F (50 C) in Jacobabad, Pakistan, in May.

The Asian heat helped to melt some glaciers in the Himalayas, elevating rivers. At the same time, three times the normal annual rain fell in Pakistan during the weekslong monsoon. More than 1,500 people died in the flooding, an estimated 1.8 million homes were damaged or destroyed, and hundreds of thousands of livestock were lost. Food for the coming seasons will be in short supply.

Extreme heat in Europe led to wildfires, especially in Spain and Portugal. The drought in Spain dried up a reservoir, revealing the long-submerged "Spanish Stonehenge," an ancient circle of megalithic stones believed to date back to around 5000 B.C.E. Electricity generation in France plummeted, with low rivers reducing the ability to cool nuclear power towers, and German barges had difficulty finding enough water to navigate the Rhine River. Residents fought wildfires in Spain in July 2022 that spread through dry fields and forests.

In the United States, the West and the Midwest suffered through intense heat waves, and the crucial Colorado River reservoirs Lake Powell and Lake Mead hit record lows, triggering water restrictions. Yet, the country also saw major disruptive flooding in several cities and regions, from Death Valley to the mountains of eastern Kentucky.

In China, heat waves and drought stretched over eight weeks and dried up parts of the Yangtze River to the lowest level since at least 1865 - until parts of the same area were inundated with flooding rains in August.

Yes, these are all manifestations of global warming brought about by human activities.

Global warming for the most part does not directly cause the rainfall or drought, but it makes these naturally occurring events more intense or severe. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, largely from power plants, vehicles, buildings, industry and agriculture, trap heat in the atmosphere, heating the planet.

In addition to raising temperature, global warming increases evaporation of surface waters into the atmosphere, drying areas that have had little rain. Warmer air increases the amount of water vapor the atmosphere can hold, and the thirstier atmosphere sucks moisture from the surface.

That extra moisture is carried away by winds and eventually flows into storms, often a thousand miles distant, that rain harder. Atmospheric moisture has increased by 5% to 20% in general compared with the pre-1970s. The increase in water vapor, a greenhouse gas, further amplifies warming. When water evaporates, it absorbs heat, and when it later falls as rain, that heat is released back into the atmosphere. This extra energy fuels storms, leading to more intense systems that may also be bigger and last longer, with up to 30% more rain as a consequence of warming.

On average, precipitation falls on only about 8% of the land globally at any time. It is the intermittency of precipitation that leads to the exaggerated extremes, resulting in localized heavy rains and widespread dry spells.

So, with the accelerated water cycle, wet areas get wetter, and dry areas get drier, while over the oceans, this results in salty waters becoming saltier and fresh waters becoming fresher.

*****


07-22-1934 ~ 09-23-2022
Thanks for the film!


03-10-1938 ~ 09-26-2022
Thanks for the film!


11-09-1971 ~ 09-26-2022
Thanks for the articles and books!


08-01-1963 ~ 09-28-2022
Thanks for the music



*****

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Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 2022 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, philosopher, 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.




Electoral college votes are brought in prior to the resumption of a joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C.



Poll: Most People Want Certification Process Updated To Prevent Another Jan. 6
By Chris Walker

A majority of voters in the U.S. support a much-needed update to the law that defines how Congress certifies presidential elections, new polling shows.

Americans back such changes by a two-to-one margin, according to a Politico/Morning Consult survey conducted from September 23-25. Asking if they'd support or oppose the passage of a bill in Congress to make it harder for that legislative body "to override presidential election results in the future," 52 percent of respondents said they'd back such an action, with only 26 percent saying they'd oppose it.

Interestingly, those who voted for former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election were evenly split on the question. Trump and his allies in Congress sought to exploit ambiguities in current law in order to disrupt the certification process that took place on January 6, 2021. But according to the poll, 38 percent of those who say they voted for him also believe the law needs to be updated, to make sure actions like his don't ever happen again (37 percent opposed the idea).

The polling results come as lawmakers in Congress are trying to determine which path, if any, they will take on updating the Electoral Count Act, an 18th century law that directs how Electoral College votes are certified in Congress. Last week, the House passed a proposal that would make changes to that law, which was sponsored by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-California) and Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming), two prominent members of the January 6 committee.

Their bill, the Presidential Election Reform Act, proposes a number of changes to current law, including:

Strictly defining as ceremonial the vice president's role in counting Electoral College votes from each state;
Requiring a threshold of one-third of lawmakers from each house of Congress to raise a formal challenge to electors' votes - up from just one lawmaker in the House and one in the Senate;
An explicit statement that schemes to produce fake electors, to confuse or replace legitimate votes, are illegal.
After its passage, it was unclear whether the bill stood a chance of being passed in the Senate, due to filibuster rules in that chamber that would require at least 10 GOP votes. But comments from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) earlier this week suggest that, at the very least, a version of the bill will be passed.

"The chaos that came to a head on January 6th of last year certainly underscored the need for an update," McConnell said on the Senate floor on Tuesday. "The Electoral Count Act ultimately produced the right conclusion ... but it's clear the country needs a more predictable path."

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the Senate is pushing their own version of an update to the Electoral Count Act. The most notable difference in their bill is that the threshold for challenging electors' votes is smaller than the House bill - it would require one-fifth, not one-third, of members from both houses of Congress to begin the formal challenge process, a level that was met in the House during the January 6, 2021, certification due to Trump-aligned Republicans opposing President Joe Biden's win.

Among respondents in favor of changing the process, more want the threshold to be the higher of the two. Twenty-two percent of voters overall, according to the Politico/Morning Consult poll, say the threshold should be one-third of lawmakers in each house, while 17 percent say it should be the one-fifth level. Thirty-six percent of voters didn't know or had no opinion, while 25 percent of respondents - likely those who oppose the idea of updating the law altogether - say the threshold should remain as it is, with only one lawmaker from each house needed to raise a challenge.

(c) 2022 Chris Walker is based out of Madison, Wisconsin. Focusing on both national and local topics since the early 2000s, he has produced thousands of articles analysing the issues of the day and their impact on the American people.




US Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont, speaks during a rally by the People's Action, protesting pharmaceutical companies' lobbying against allowing Medicare
to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, outside Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) headquarters in Washington, DC, September 21, 2021.



Where Is the Mass Mobilized Movement For Medicare For All?
It wouldn't take more than 1% of the U.S. population to rise up and get organized behind key popular demands to make them a reality and yet we continue to endlessly wait.
By Ralph Nader

Long before the Covid pandemic, it was important to ask, where are the mass movements to enact in Congress majoritarian-supported changes and reforms? Another question: Whatever happened to the mass rallies that used to command the attention of our 535 members of Congress to whom we have given our sovereign power?

Let's start with universal healthcare, which President Harry Truman urged on a recalcitrant Congress in 1945. Proponents, including the labor unions, could not overcome the physicians' lobby in the form of the American Medical Association. President Lyndon Johnson wanted universal health insurance but had to settle for Medicare, with some limits, for the elderly and Medicaid for some poor families. Opponents cited the expense of the Vietnam War as the reason for such limitations.

Since then, there have been no mass rallies or marches for universal healthcare. Sporadic demonstrations by a few hundred people on the Capitol steps showed insensitive members, who have their own comprehensive health insurance, the decline of civic energy.

With the huge waste, gouging, corruption and preventable casualties documented in today's health delivery industry, and about 5000 people a week dying in hospitals due to what a peer-reviewed report by Johns Hopkins School of Medicine called "preventable problems" in hospitals, one would think there would be regular marches on Washington to pass Medicare-for-All. The Canadians did this nearly sixty years ago. (See, singlepayeraction.org). Too many people are suffering or ridden with anxiety, dread and fear, without adequate or any health insurance, while too few people are demanding action by Congress.

Senator Bernie Sanders' insurgent presidential campaign in 2016, sabotaged from victory for the nomination by Hillary Clinton's Democratic Party apparatchiks, could be seen as a mass voter action. However, Sanders has yet to take this huge support and mailing list and convert it into a mass movement. And so, the painful years keep passing.

Other majoritarian reforms and redirections have similarly failed to coalesce into mass movements, as occurred for Civil Rights and environmental protection in the Sixties and early Seventies. Reforms such as living wage, to allowing workers to more easily form unions' bargaining with big business, ending the student loan gouging and rackets, eliminating the huge tax escapes for the wealthy and corporations, investing in rebuilding communities' public works all over the country, cracking down on the corporate crooks draining consumers' pocketbooks, harming their safety and ending the corrosive impact of corporate campaign contributions. All these measures have broad public support.

What are some reasons for a sedentary citizenship in a country? Remember our Constitution starts and ends with "We the People," not "We the Corporations." You, the readers, know all the ways powerful forces keep people down, feeling powerless and distracted with 24/7 so-called entertainment, plus everything in between. Many aggrieved people have a hard time just getting through the day.

Imagine if, despite the obstacles to action, just one percent of the citizenry got knowledgeable and mobilized for Congressional reforms that have a quieter, large majority of the people behind them. One percent of adults is about 2.5 million Americans spread throughout 435 Congressional Districts. In the Sixties, it took a lot less than that level of organized and committed people.

Someday, some leaders will emerge in the above-noted fields and other crucial areas of injustice and practice this one percent theory.

I wrote a small book, Breaking Through Power: It's Easier Than We Think, to explain how optimistic critical masses throughout American history worked together to improve our society. I described the kinds of changes that one percent of the people could advance to revolutionize politics for the common good and "the pursuit of happiness." For that to happen, a sufficient number of people have to civically believe in themselves and lock arms together on actions for a change.

(c) 2022 Ralph Nader is 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).




Anti-maskers Chris Nelson of ReOpen South Florida and Anna Desenze of South Florida First argue with Broward
Teachers Union members inside the Broward Schools K.C. Wright building on Tuesday, July 27, 2021.




Goodbye, And Good Riddance
By Leonard Pitts Jr.

"If you want to leave, take good care, hope you make a lot of nice friends out there." - from "Wild World" by Cat Stevens

This is for those of you who've chosen to quit your jobs rather than submit to a vaccine mandate.

No telling how many of you there actually are, but lately, you're all over the news. Just last week, a nearly-30-year veteran of the San Jose Police Department surrendered his badge rather than comply with the city's requirement that all employees be inoculated against COVID-19. He joins an Army lieutenant colonel, some airline employees, a Major League Baseball executive, the choral director of the San Francisco Symphony, workers at the tax collector's office in Orange County, Florida, and, incredibly, dozens of healthcare professionals.

Well, on behalf of the rest of us, the ones who miss concerts, restaurants and other people's faces, the ones who are sick and tired of living in pandemic times, here's a word of response to you quitters: Goodbye.

And here's two more: Good riddance.

Not to minimize any of this. A few weeks ago, a hospital in upstate New York announced it would have to "pause" delivering babies because of resignations among its maternity staff. So the threat of difficult ramifications is certainly real. But on the plus side, your quitting goes a long way toward purging us of the gullible, the conspiracy-addled, the logic-impaired and the stubbornly ignorant. And that's not nothing.

We've been down this road before. Whenever faced with some mandate imposed in the interest of the common good, some of us act like they just woke up on the wrong side of the Berlin Wall. "There's no freedom no more," whined one man in video that recently aired on "The Daily Show With Trevor Noah." The clip was from the 1980s, and the guy had just gotten a ticket for not wearing his seatbelt.

It's an unfortunately common refrain. Can't smoke in a movie theater? Can't crank your music to headache decibels at 2 in the morning? Can't post the Ten Commandments in a courtroom? "There's no freedom no more." Some of you seem to think freedom means no one can be compelled to do, or refrain from doing, anything. But that's not freedom, it's anarchy.

Usually, the rest of us don't agonize over your intransigence. Often it has no direct impact on us. The guy in "The Daily Show" clip was only demanding the right to skid across a highway on his face, after all. But now you claim the right to risk the healthcare system and our personal lives.

So if you're angry, guess what? You're not the only ones.

The difference is, your anger is dumb, and ours is not. Yours is about being coerced to do something you don't want to do. Like that's new. Like you're not already required to get vaccinated to start school or travel to other countries. For that matter, you're also required to mow your lawn, cover your hindparts and, yes, wear a seatbelt. So you're mad at government and your job for doing what they've always done.

But the rest of us, we're mad at you. Because this thing could have been over by now, and you're the reason it isn't.

That's why we were glad President Biden stopped asking nicely, started requiring vaccinations everywhere he had power to do so. We were also glad when employers followed suit. And if that's a problem for you, then, yes, goodbye, sayonara, auf wiedersehen, adios and adieu. We'll miss you, to be sure. But you're asking us to choose between your petulance and our lives.

And that's really no choice at all.

(c) 2022 Leonard Pitts Jr. won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2004. He is the author of the novel, Before I Forget. His column runs every Sunday and Wednesday in the Miami Herald. Forward From This Moment, a collection of his columns, was published in 2009.







Assorted Nuts

By Jim Hightower

Let me say one word to you: Nuts.

Now, let me say one name to you: Ted Cruz.

They've become synonymous, with the Texas lawmaker perennially topping national lists of goofy, right-wing political goobers. Only, Ted can't rightly be called a lawmaker, for he's not a serious participant in that process, instead devoting his senatorship to political stunts and picking silly PR fights with a growing list of enemies.

Running out of people to attack, Ted has found another species for his vitriol: Fictional icons. He's been padding his right-wing credentials by going after Mr. Potato Head, Mickey and Pluto, and, believe it or not, Muppets. This US senator has dedicated the power and public resources of his office to demonize popular creatures on "Sesame Street," specifically Big Bird and loveable little Elmo. Ted rants he has proof that Muppets are covert tools of "government propaganda." So, this ridiculous excuse of a senator is saving America from... Muppets.

But for a whole bag of assorted nuttiness, you can't beat Sen. Rick Scott's 11-point plan to "Rescue America." A disgraced former healthcare mogul, this mega-millionaire reinvented himself as a wingnut Florida senator, and he now chairs a policy arm of the Republican Party.

In February, he set forth a stunning agenda of far-out right-wing extremism that he says his party will push if they re-take the senate this November, including:

Implementing new federal taxes on the poorest half of Americans. So - as Scott puts it - they'll "have skin in the game."

"Stopping socialism" by terminating Social Security and Medicare.

Spending unlimited billions to build Donald Trump's folly of a border wall (and, ironically, naming the scam after The Donald).

Fiddle-faddlers like Cruz and Scott have turned the once-proud US Senate into The Little Nut Shoppe on the Hill.

(c) 2022 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.




The Bankruptcy of the Liberal Ass.




We Have Seen This Movie Before: The Fascists Have Arrived
The failure of the neoliberal order-which continues to ignore the needs and aspirations of the people-gives fuel to an ascendant far right that feeds on the despair and humiliation of the working class.
By Chris Hedges

Energy and food bills are soaring. Under the onslaught of inflation and prolonged wage stagnation, wages are in free fall. Billions of dollars are diverted by Western nations at a time of economic crisis and staggering income inequality to fund a proxy war in Ukraine. The liberal class, terrified by the rise of neo-fascism and demagogues such as Donald Trump, have thrown in their lot with discredited and reviled establishment politicians who slavishly do the bidding of the war industry, oligarchs, and corporations.

The bankruptcy of the liberal class means that those who decry the folly of permanent war and NATO expansion, mercenary trade deals, exploitation of workers by globalization, austerity and neoliberalism come increasingly from the far-right. This right-wing rage, dressed up in the United States as Christian fascism, has already made huge gains in Hungary, Poland, Sweden, Italy, Bulgaria and France and may take power in the Czech Republic, where inflation and rising energy costs have seen the number of Czechs falling below the poverty line double.

By next spring, following a punishing winter of rolling blackouts and months when families struggle to pay for food and heat, what is left of our anemic western democracy could be largely extinguished.

Extremism is the political cost of pronounced social inequality and political stagnation. Demagogues, who promise moral and economic renewal, vengeance against phantom enemies and a return to lost glory, rise out of the morass. Hatred and violence, already at the boiling point, are legitimized. A reviled ruling class, and the supposed civility and democratic norms it espouses, are ridiculed.

It is not, as the philosopher Gabriel Rockhill points out, as if fascism ever went away. "The U.S. did not defeat fascism in WWII," he writes, "it discretely internationalized it." After World War II the U.S., U.K. and other Western governments collaborated with hundreds of former Nazis and Japanese war criminals, who they integrated into western intelligence services, as well as fascist regimes such as those in Spain and Portugal. They supported right-wing anti-communist forces in Greece during its civil war in 1946 to 1949, and then backed a right-wing military coup in 1967. NATO also had a secret policy of operating fascist terrorist groups. Operation Gladio, as the BBC detailed in a now-forgotten investigative series, created "secret armies," networks of illegal stay-behind soldiers, who would remain behind enemy lines if the Soviet Union made a military move into Europe. In actuality, the "secret armies" carried-out assassinations, bombings, massacres and false flag terror attacks against leftists, trade unionists, and others throughout Europe.

See my interview with Stephen Kinzer about the post-war activities of the CIA, including its recruitment of Nazi and Japanese war criminals and its creation of black sites where former Nazis were hired to interrogate, torture and murder suspected leftists, labor leaders and communists, detailed in his book Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control, here.

Fascism, which has always been with us, is again ascendant. The far-right politician Giorgia Meloni is expected to become Italy's first female prime minister after elections on Sunday. In a coalition with two other far-right parties, Meloni is forecast to win more than 60 percent of the seats in Parliament, though the left-leaning 5-Star Movement may put a dent in those expectations.

Meloni got her start in politics as a 15-year-old activist for the youth wing of the Italian Social Movement, founded after World War II by supporters of Benito Mussolini. She calls EU bureaucrats agents of "nihilistic global elites driven by international finance." She peddles the "Great Replacement" conspiracy theory that non-white immigrants are being permitted to enter Western nations as part of a plot to undermine or "replace" the political power and culture of white people. She has called on the Italian navy to turn back boats with immigrants, which the far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini did in 2018. Her Fratelli d'Italia, Brothers of Italy, party is a close ally of Hungary's President, Viktor Orban. A European Parliament resolution recently declared that Hungary can no longer be defined as a democracy.

Meloni and Orban are not alone. Sweden Democrats, which took over 20 percent of the vote in Sweden's general election last week to become the country's second-largest political party, was formed in 1988 from a neo-Nazi group called B.S.S., or Keep Sweden Swedish. It has deep fascist roots. Of the party's 30 founders, 18 had Nazi affiliations, including several who served in the Waffen SS, according to Tony Gustaffson a historian and former Sweden Democrat member. France's Marine Le Pen took over 41 percent of the vote in April against Emmanuel Macron. In Spain, the hard-right Vox party is the third largest partyin Spain's Parliament. The far-right German AfD or Alternative for Germany party took over 12 percent in federal elections in 2017, making it the third largest party, though it lost a couple percentage points in the 2021 elections. The U.S. has its own version of fascism embodied in a Republican party that coalesces in cult-like fashion around Donald Trump, embraces the magical thinking, misogyny, homophobia and white supremacy of the Christian Right and actively subverts the election process.

Economic collapse was indispensable to the Nazis' rise to power. In the 1928 elections in Germany, the Nazi party received less than 3 percent of the vote. Then came the global financial crash of 1929. By early 1932, 40 percent of the German insured workforce, six million people, were unemployed. That same year, the Nazis became the largest political party in the German parliament. The Weimar government, tone deaf and hostage to the big industrialists, prioritized paying bank loans and austerity rather than feeding and employing a desperate population. It foolishly imposed severe restrictions on who was eligible for unemployment insurance. Millions of Germans went hungry. Desperation and rage rippled through the population. Mass rallies, led by a collection of buffoonish Nazis in brown uniforms who would have felt at home at Mar-a-Lago, denounced Jews, Communists, intellectuals, artists and the ruling class, as internal enemies. Hate was their main currency. It sold well.

The evisceration of democratic procedures and institutions, however, preceded the Nazis' ascension to power in 1933. The Reichstag, the German Parliament, was as dysfunctional as the U.S. Congress. The Socialist leader Friedrich Ebert, president from 1919 until 1925, and later Heinrich Bruning, chancellor from 1930 to 1932, relied on Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution to largely rule by decree to bypass the fractious Parliament. Article 48, which granted the president the right in an emergency to issue decrees, was "a trapdoor through which Germany could fall into dictatorship," historian Benjamin Carter Hett writes.

Article 48 was the Weimar equivalent of the executive orders liberally used by Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden, to bypass our own legislative impasses. As in 1930s Germany, our courts - especially the Supreme Court - have been seized by extremists. The press has bifurcated into antagonistic tribes where lies and truth are indistinguishable, and opposing sides are demonized. There is little dialogue or compromise, the twin pillars of a democratic system.

The two ruling parties slavishly serve the dictates of the war industry, global corporations and the oligarchy, to which it has given huge tax cuts. It has established the most pervasive and intrusive system of government surveillance in human history. It runs the largest prison system in the world. It has militarized the police.

Democrats are as culpable as Republicans. The Obama administration interpreted the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force as giving the executive branch the right to erase due process and act as judge, jury and executioner in assassinating U.S. citizens, starting with radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. Two weeks later, a U.S. drone strike killed Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, Anwar's 16-year-old son, who was never linked to terrorism, along with 9 other teenagers at a cafe in Yemen. It was the Obama administration that signed into law Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act, overturning the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the use of the military as a domestic police force. It was the Obama administration that bailed out Wall Street and abandoned Wall Street's victims. It was the Obama administration that repeatedly used the Espionage Act to criminalize those, such as Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, who exposed government lies, crimes, and fraud. And it was the Obama administration that massively expanded the use of militarized drones.

The Nazis responded to the February 1933 burning of the Reichstag, which they likely staged, by employing Article 48 to push through the Decree for the Protection of the People and the State. The fascists instantly snuffed out the pretense of Weimar democracy. They legalized imprisonment without trial for anyone considered a national security threat. They abolished independent labor unions, freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of the press, along with the privacy of postal and telephone communications.

The step from dysfunctional democracy to full-blown fascism was, and will again be, a small one. The hatred for the ruling class, embodied by the establishment Republican and Democratic parties, which have merged into one ruling party, is nearly universal. The public, battling inflation that is at a 40-year high and cost the average U.S. household an additional $717 a month in July alone, will increasingly see any political figure or political party willing to attack the traditional ruling elites as an ally. The more crude, irrational or vulgar the attack, the more the disenfranchised rejoice. These sentiments are true here and in Europe, where energy costs are expected to rise by as much as 80 percent this winter and an inflation rate of 10 percent is eating away at incomes.

The reconfiguration of society under neoliberalism to exclusively benefit the billionaire class, the slashing and privatization of public services, including schools, hospitals and utilities, along with deindustrialization, the profligate pouring of state funds and resources into the war industry, at the expense of the nation's infrastructure and social services, and the building of the world's largest prison system and militarization of police, have predictable results.

At the heart of the problem is a loss of faith in traditional forms of government and democratic solutions. Fascism in the 1930s succeeded, as Peter Drucker observed, not because people believed its conspiracy theories and lies but in spite of the fact that they saw through them. Fascism thrived in the face of "a hostile press, a hostile radio, a hostile cinema, a hostile church, and a hostile government which untiringly pointed out the Nazi lies, the Nazi inconsistency, the unattainability of their promises, and the dangers and folly of their course." He added, "nobody would have been a Nazi if rational belief in the Nazi promises had been a prerequisite."

As in the past, these new fascist parties cater to emotional yearnings. They give vent to feelings of abandonment, worthlessness, despair, and alienation. They promise unattainable miracles. They too peddle bizarre conspiracy theories including QAnon. But most of all, they promise vengeance against a ruling class that betrayed the nation.

Hett defines the Nazis as "a nationalist protest movement against globalization." The rise of the new fascism has its roots in a similar exploitation by global corporations and oligarchs. More than anything else, people want to regain control over their lives, if only to punish those blamed and scapegoated for their misery.

We have seen this movie before.

(c) 2022 Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact. His most recent book is "America: The Farewell Tour" (2019).




Hufcor, which closed in 2021, had been a manufacturer in Janesville since 1902.




This Lawmaker Refuses Donations From Vulture Capitalists That Betray Workers
By John Nichols

When U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna toured the deindustrialized cities of the Midwest last summer to discuss his "economic patriotism" agenda for renewing American manufacturing, the California Democrat spent a lot of time listening to workers who had been displaced when distant owners decided to shutter factories across the region.

He heard poignant reports on the forces that have been tipping the balance against union workers in communities such as Janesville, where a private-equity firm bought one of the community's oldest manufacturing concerns, shuttered the factory and announced plans to offshore the jobs.

As is frequently the case, the ill-thought offshoring scheme proved to be disastrous, and Hufcor now faces bankruptcy, leaving its former employees without extended health coverage and other benefits they were promised at the time of last year's plant closing.

Khanna asked the right questions about what had happened and about what could be done to break a pattern of so-called "vulture capitalists" sweeping into towns across this country, buying up historic manufacturers, plucking away naming rights and the most profitable production lines, and then tossing aside the carcasses of once vibrant industries.

The representative came away with a lot of ideas, and now he's acting on them. He's sponsoring the Stop Wall Street Looting Act, a plan to "fundamentally reform the private equity industry and level the playing field by forcing private equity firms to take responsibility for the outcomes of companies they take over, empowering workers, and protecting investors."

Last week he announced that he would refuse contributions from OpenGate Capital CEO Andrew Nikou and the private-equity firm's employees. And he is urging fellow Democrats to do the same as part of a bold new initiative to break ties with firms that are responsible for offshoring and deindustrialization.

Khanna, a co-chair of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders's 2020 presidential campaign who is widely recognized as a rising star in Democratic politics, said he would not take money from donors associated with a firm that "bought Hufcor, laid off workers, and looted the company before declaring bankruptcy."

Khanna learned the story of Hufcor - a manufacturer with roots going back more than 120 years in Janesville - when he visited the southern Wisconsin city of 65,000 in August.

The congressman met during that visit with some of the 166 workers who lost jobs when the company shuttered its local manufacturing operations. The workers recounted how they had, over many decades, helped a locally owned company grow into the world's largest manufacturer of folding doors, partitions and portable walls. And they explained how everything came apart when OpenGate Capital, a California-based private-equity firm, purchased Hufcor in 2017 and, after a few short years, announced plans to move its Janesville operations to Mexico.

Many told stories, like Kathy Pawluk, who worked with the company for 36 years before the plant closed in 2021. "When we were Hufcor and owned by (members of the Janesville-based Hough family), it was a wonderful family-oriented company to work for," she said. "That all changed when we were bought out by investors."

When I spoke with Khanna last week, he recalled that during his stop in Janesville: "I met with Kathy and about six others. They spoke with anger at the corporate greed and the incompetence. It took private equity to loot and bankrupt a company that had been thriving for over 100 years."

The new owners "were oblivious to the consequences of what they did to the community," Khanna said.

"I was reminded of F. Scott Fitzgerald's line from 'The Great Gatsby' about Daisy and Tom Buchanan: 'They were careless people, Tom and Daisy - they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was the kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.' That's how I felt about those running OpenGate Capital."

Khanna represents Silicon Valley, one of the wealthiest regions of the country. But he has made it his mission in recent years to go to bat for communities across the country that have been left behind amid all the deindustrialization, consolidation of wealth and growing income and wealth inequality.

The former deputy assistant secretary in the United States Department of Commerce under President Obama, Khanna argues for "a new economic patriotism" that recognizes the importance of investing in U.S. industries, promoting innovation and assuring that the jobs of the future remain in the United States. The congressman is a sharp critic of offshoring U.S. jobs, especially in essential industries. To counter the trend, he advocates for industrial policies that target investment to urban and rural areas that have been harmed by multinational corporations and private-equity firms that put profiteering ahead of sound economic development strategies.

"We should support investors who are betting on America," said Khanna, who explained, "My new economic patriotism is about supporting people and policies who will help build our country."

Very few elected officials are willing to call out big investors, or big donors.

But Khanna is doing both.

He has objected to private-equity firms that gut communities such as Janesville. And now he's calling out his fellow members of Congress, and especially his fellow Democrats.

I? "Politicians should not accept contributions from private equity firms that literally bankrupt factories and industries and destroy communities," said Khanna. "This type of predatory activity has contributed to the deindustrialization of America, and we shouldn't be associated with it."

(c) 2022 John Nichols writes about politics for The Capitol Times. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.








World Wealth A False Illusion
By James Donahue

There is an implication via daily media reports that rising values on the world stock exchanges reflects a healthy and growing economy. The stock market numbers go up when world events suggest that the big corporations will be in a position to make more profit. When the opposite is true, the value of stock plunges.

Television anchors faithfully report to us every day just what the stock markets are doing . . . as if that is news that we need to know. In truth, the only people that have an interest in the fluctuations on the stock exchanges are the few wealthy individuals who invest their money in business. Most of us are struggling to earn enough money to feed our families with nothing left to think of investing in anything.

So why does the media devote so much time to reporting on the health of Wall Street? It is because there is a constant illusion of wealth that has been drilled into our heads for years. It is all designed to make us feel secure . . . that all is well among the big corporations that control our lives. And if all is well with the people who provide our jobs, then perhaps our jobs are secure.

It is all a lie. If we would stop for a moment and think about our position in the lop-sided business ventures occurring all around us, we could easily understand the complex game of manipulation that is occurring. In truth, we are all slaves to the few people that control the money.

Even the illusion of freedom that we in the United States claim to cherish is false. While we still are relatively free to express our opinions without too much chance of being arrested and charged with sedition, terrorism or treason, we are reading stories about investigative journalists that are being jailed for refusing to name their sources, or because they publicized some "classified" secret that high government or military officials did not want the public to know. Consequently, there are not many true investigative journalists operating for the contemporary media.

The serious patriots in this country are going underground. The group known as "Anonymous" has been a perfect example of what is happening. They operate in secret and appear publicly behind the masks of Guy Fawkes, a Seventeenth Century English renegade who attempted to kill King James in 1605. The mask was popularized by the Hollywood film V for Vendetta, and has grown as a universal symbol of protest.

What is troublesome is the rapid change that has occurred in the United States since the 9-11 attack. The Bush creation of the Department of Homeland Security, and the passage of the dreaded Patriot Act that gave police and federal authorities the freedom to spy on Americans at home and abroad without a court order has quickly created a police state right under our noses. The police departments were equipped with military equipment. Even the colors of their uniforms changed from friendly blues and browns to a sinister black.

Now we have a growing problem of police shooting unarmed civilians, which seems to be endorsed by the courts. These incidents have sparked mass public demonstrations from New York City to San Francisco. Should we be surprised that police officers are unexpectedly being shot to death while on the job?

The United States is no longer a Republic or even a Democracy. It has shifted to a plutocracy; a state ruled by the wealthy class.

It may be too late to fix this mess. Vermont's Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, one of the few political figures who is standing up in support of the needs of the people, made an unsuccessful run for the presidency in 2016. During his campaign Sanders called on Americans to launch a political revolution that never got off the ground.

Sanders said a grassroots political movement was needed to make things right. He called for a "radical increase and improvement in public consciousness in this country, in political consciousness."

Sanders supported a diversion of the nation's wealth from the military and big corporations to caring for the sick, homeless and hungry. He supported action to fight climate change. He wanted to see the nation's infrastructure rebuilt.

To have these things, however, Sanders called for a mass mobilization by millions of people willing to engage in "a real struggle against the billionaire class."

Unfortunately, not enough Americans listened to what Mr. Sanders was saying. While registered as an Independent, Sanders ran that year as a Democrat and was beaten back by the powerful political machinery in the Clinton camp.

Consequently, Donald Trump won the White House and the nation moved in a completely different direction. His followers were quick to accept his big lie that any move from the old form of capitalism would be a disaster.

(c) 2022 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.










What Should Have Been Done With Trump

By David Swanson

Imagine the trash compactor scene in Star Wars running for five straight years. Now you can skip thousands of reports on the walls closing in on Trump. You've got the idea.

In 2019 at RootsAction.org we published a list of 25 proposed grounds for impeaching Trump, complete with evidence. The trouble was and remains that most of the abuses by Trump were also routine abuses by Congress Members, including Democrats. This had been the problem with Dennis Kucinich's 35 articles of impeachment for Dubya. In fact, I once wrote an article listing 27 of those 35 same offenses that had been committed by Obama. There were other reasons, of course, for Congressional inaction, and prosecutorial inaction. But that has been a big one.

The Democrats did find two things Trump had done that they hadn't, and in the telling of which they could be seen as opposed to Trump and the victims of his abuses. They thereby impeached him twice. Some have ever since been on the prowl for anything Trump's done outside of elected office, anything the Democrats might not have had any dirty fingers in at all.

I'm 100% in favor of applying the rule of law to the rich and obnoxious. But we should be perfectly clear why it is that half the country clamoring to lock up Trump before he ushers in a fascist state must collectively wait for some state prosecutor to discover some crime that Nancy Pelosi never went near. It's because the swamp into which Trump dove like a briar patch is perfectly real.

What should have been done with Trump? He should have been impeached, tried, and removed on day 1 for some of these outrages:

Violation of Constitution on Domestic Emoluments
Violation of Constitution on Foreign Emoluments
Incitement of Violence
Interference With Voting Rights
At first the problem was general timidity and indifference more than complicity, I think.

Trump should also have been prosecuted.

As time went by, he should have been impeached (and in many cases prosecuted) for these, among others:

Discrimination Based On Religion (ooh, let's not touch that!)
Illegal War (well, who hasn't done some of those?)
Illegal Threat of Nuclear War (somehow not as disturbing in Washington as when Putin [or Barack "all options are on the table" Obama] does it)
Abuse of Pardon Power (we wouldn't want emperors to lose that privilege)
Obstruction of Justice (yawn)
Politicizing Prosecutions (Well, all's fair.)
Collusion Against the United States with a Foreign Government (This sounds good until you find out which government.)
Failure to Reasonably Prepare for or Respond to Hurricanes Harvey and Maria (Seriously? Foreigners?)
Separating Children and Infants from Families (Both parties do it. One just gets upset when the other does.)
Illegally Attempting to Influence an Election (Seems a little tawdry.)
Tax Fraud and Public Misrepresentation (Well, let's keep this one away from D.C.)
Assaulting Freedom of the Press (Yeah, that's cool.)
Supporting a Coup in Venezuela (America! Fuck Yeah!)
Unconstitutional Declaration of Emergency (Hey, he is President.)
Instructing Border Patrol to Violate the Law (Hmmm, yeah, you know, immigrants.)
Refusal to Comply With Subpoenas (As one should be able.)
Declaration of Emergency Without Basis In Order to Violate the Will of Congress (Nothing we like better in Congress.)
Illegal Proliferation of Nuclear Technology (3 years before the heroic raid on Mar a Lago)
Illegally Removing the United States from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (What? Impeach him for ant-Russian actions while pretending he's Putin's slave? Are you nuts?)
Seeking to Use Foreign Governments' Resources Against Political Rivals (Now we're getting somewhere.)
Refusal to Comply with Impeachment Inquiry (Whatever.)
The absurdity of seeking evidence of crimes outside of public office for THIS PERSON should be remembered by whatever species creates a PBS documentary about this era.

(c) 2022 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.




The world is nearing several "disastrous" tipping points and may have already passed five.




Climate Change, Tipping Points And Economic Gain
By David Suzuki

Set aside for a moment the fact that our profligate use of coal, oil and gas and rampant destruction of green spaces are heating the planet to a point where human life will become increasingly uncomfortable, if not impossible. Climate change costs are also mounting, and pollution, habitat destruction and consumerism are profoundly affecting global human health and survival.

Other than fear of change or of upsetting the status quo, there's no rational reason for the slow pace at which the world is tackling the climate emergency. We'd all be healthier, happier and better off economically by quickly employing the many available and emerging solutions, and working on new ones.

A study co-ordinated by the World Meteorological Organization illustrates our predicament and how we might get out of it - but we have no time to lose. UN secretary general Antonio Guterres said the "United in Science 2022" report shows we're "heading into uncharted territory of destruction" with mounting climate impacts.

Although governments worldwide have agreed to try to keep the planet from heating more than 1.5 C over pre-industrial levels, the report concludes that's increasingly unlikely - especially as commitments and actions fall far short of what's needed. It finds a 48 per cent chance that "during at least one year in the next five years, annual mean temperature will temporarily be 1.5° C higher than in 1850-1900."

It also notes emissions continue to rise and "returned to 2019 pre-pandemic levels after a large, but temporary, absolute drop in emissions due to widespread lockdowns." And it points to the danger of climate "tipping points" that "could have significant global and regional consequences."

"A tipping point is when a temperature threshold is passed, leading to unstoppable change in a climate system, even if global heating ends," the Guardian explains, reporting on another major study that found the world is nearing several "disastrous" tipping points and may have already passed five.

That study identifies nine global and seven regional tipping points, including collapse of the Greenland, west Antarctic and two parts of the east Antarctic ice sheets, partial and total collapse of Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (including the Gulf Stream), Amazon rainforest dieback, permafrost collapse and loss of Arctic winter sea ice.

Collapse of Greenland's ice cap could cause a huge sea level rise, collapse of the Gulf Stream could disrupt rain billions of people depend on for food and abrupt permafrost melting could release methane into the atmosphere, the Guardian reports.

Climate disruption is already causing devastation worldwide, and it will accelerate unless we step up our global game. One-third of Pakistan is deluged in water, Europe has sweltered under punishing heat waves, China and the U.S. are afflicted with drought and parts of Africa face famine.

According to the "United in Science" report, "By the 2050s, more than 1.6 billion people living in 97 cities will be regularly exposed to three-month average temperatures reaching at least 35C."

"The terrifying picture painted by the United in Science report is already a lived reality for millions of people facing recurring climate disasters," Climate Action Network executive director Tasneem Essop told the Guardian. "The science is clear, yet the addiction to fossil fuels by greedy corporations and rich countries is resulting in losses and damages for communities who have done the least to cause the current climate crisis."

Scientists, activists and others are calling on world leaders to commit to redoubling their efforts when they meet for the COP27 climate conference in Egypt in November, especially on funding for those already suffering under climate change impacts.

Although cost was never an excuse to ignore or downplay climate change, it's become clearer that addressing the crisis is an economic winner. Oxford University researchers found shifting from carbon-intensive fuels could save the world US$12 trillion by 2050.

And, "United in Science" notes, "Climate-related disasters are causing $200m in economic losses a day."

As volatile gas prices, global conflict and the climate emergency illustrate the precarious position of countries with fossil fuel economies, the costs of renewable energy such as wind and solar continue to drop faster than expected.

Acting now is critical and will save lives and money. A better world is possible, but we must come together without delay.

(c) 2022 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.









Fascist Victory In Italy Signals Rise of "Transnational" Far Right Across Europe
By Amy Goodman

Italy's first far-right leader since Benito Mussolini, Giorgia Meloni, has declared victory. Her Brothers of Italy party is allied with Spain's far-right Vox party, Poland's ruling nationalist Law and Justice party and the Sweden Democrats party, which emerged out of its neo-Nazi movement. We look at "the return of fascism in Italy" with professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat, author of "Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present," who says that Meloni, a self-declared conservative, "really sees her party as carrying the heritage of fascism into today." Ben-Ghiat also describes why Meloni is part of a "transnational design" to create a far-right political culture across Europe.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I'm Amy Goodman.

We begin today's show in Italy, where the country's first far-right leader since Benito Mussolini, Giorgia Meloni, has declared victory, as the right-wing alliance led by her Brothers of Italy party looks set to win a clear majority in the next Parliament. Meloni is also allied with Spain's far-right Vox party, Poland's ruling nationalist Law and Justice party, Sweden's newly formed coalition government led by the anti-immigrant, far-right Sweden Democrats party, which emerged out of Sweden's neo-Nazi movement. Far-right French politician Marine Le Pen's party hailed Meloni's strong showing as a lesson in humility to the European Union. Meloni has vowed to shift the EU's politics sharply to the right.

The pan-European progressive movement, co-founded by former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, said in a statement on the Italian election, quote, "Italians must now repeat what their ancestors once did: defeat fascism. But not for the return of the politics-as-usual that brought the fascists to power in the first place," he said.

As the leader of the biggest party in the winning alliance from Sunday's election, Meloni is expected to become Italy's first woman prime minister after the new government is sworn in. She addressed supporters Sunday night.

GIORGIA MELONI: [translated] This is surely, for many people, a night of pride, surely a night of payback, surely a night of tears, hugs, dreams and memories.

AMY GOODMAN: During her campaign, Giorgia Meloni tried to downplay her party's post-fascist roots and instead to portray it as a mainstream conservative party.

For more, we're joined by Ruth Ben-Ghiat, expert on fascism and authoritarianism, whose new article for The Atlantic is headlined "The Return of Fascism in Italy," author of Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present and a professor of history and Italian studies at New York University. She publishes Lucid, a newsletter on threats to democracy.

Professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat, welcome back to Democracy Now! Can you just start off by talking about - well, Giorgia Meloni has declared victory. Talk about her and her party, what they represent.

RUTH BEN-GHIAT: Yeah, Meloni is somebody who was a hardcore neofascist, who was in the - at 15, she joined the party that was founded right after Benito Mussolini's original party was banned in 1945. And this become the fourth-largest party, the neofascist party, called the Italian Social Movement. And she was not only a militant, she became by the '90s the head of its student organization.

And the flame - if you look at the logo of her party, called Brothers of Italy today, which was founded in 2012, she insisted on keeping a tricolor flame in the logo. And that is the flame that's the symbol of the original neofascist party. And over the years, many people have told her to get rid of that flame, but she won't. So this tells us a lot about her loyalties. And she really sees her party as carrying the heritage of fascism into today, so much so that Ignazio La Russa, who's a party elder, let's say, he said a few days ago, "We are all heirs of the Duce."

AMY GOODMAN: Let me go to a clip of Giorgia Meloni, as a teenager, describing her support for the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

GIORGIA MELONI: [translated] I believe that Mussolini was a good politician, which means that everything he did, he did for Italy.

AMY GOODMAN: So, take her from her teenage years, Ruth Ben-Ghiat, to the present and to this victory and the party that she represents.

RUTH BEN-GHIAT: So, she is as much a creation of Mussolini, let's say, as Berlusconi. And Silvio Berlusconi, who is part of her far-right coalition, gave her her real start as minister of youth in his very far-right government in 2008. And his party fused with the former, the other - it was- the Italian Social Movement renamed itself the National Alliance, and these two parties fused. And the reason Brothers of Italy was founded - and she was very active in the founding - is there was no more autonomous extreme-right party in Italy. So, that's important to know.

And many of her positions, which she's now trying to say she's a conservative and a moderate, she has - she is a proponent of great replacement theory, the idea that nonwhite births are going to extinguish white births. But she's so far right that - some people espouse this theory as a natural outcome of demographic change. She actually is a conspiracy theorist. She believes, and there's many tweets to this, many speeches, that there is a plot, a design, a plan, she calls it, by Soros, by the EU, to kind of force mass immigration onto Europe and Italy and extinguish everything that makes us who we are, she says.

AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about her views on immigration - as you talk about the great replacement theory - her views on reproductive rights, on her fierce opposition to the LGBTQ community.

RUTH BEN-GHIAT: Yes. So, a lot of what she espouses can seem very familiar if you follow the far right in Hungary - again, the obsession with George Soros, the opposition to what she calls LGBTQ lobbies, who are ruining civilization with what she calls gender ideology. And she's an example of what political scientists call genderwashing, when women politicians say that they are for women and that they are going to improve female conditions, but actually they go after reproductive rights, and they have a very specific idea of womanhood and the family, and that is very much rooted in the far-right ideology.

And she also will seem familiar if you follow GOP politics. An important - I want to mention that she's very close with Steve Bannon. She's very close with the GOP. She's been to the National Prayer Breakfast. She's been to CPAC. And so, her position on abortion rights, reproductive rights, in general, approaches all of these far-right parties.

AMY GOODMAN: The position of Italy on abortion, without Meloni, just its - overall, what the law is?

RUTH BEN-GHIAT: It was a very hard-won battle, as you can imagine. Italy is unusual, because the Vatican is inside Italy. It's a very Catholic country. 1978, abortion rights were granted. And what her party has done - we can look at what's happened in places where Brothers of Italy, her party, has already been governing, like Verona. And what she's done is she's made it more difficult to access abortion. She's made it more complicated for women to exercise their reproductive right.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to Giorgia Meloni speaking to her supporters in Spanish, addressing the far-right Vox party of Spain.

GIORGIA MELONI: [translated] The left defends the woman, unless it encounters a criminal foreigner at that moment. Because of their ideology, the criminal foreigner is more valuable than the woman. And they would say that you're a dangerous extremist, racist, fascist, denier, homophobic. They would say you're not presentable and have incapable leaders to govern. They would say it is useless to vote for you, because you don't have a chance to win. But you know what? Don't be afraid, because they don't decide. You, the people, decide. The people are the first strength that the party needs.

AMY GOODMAN: And this is more of her addressing Vox party of Spain.

GIORGIA MELONI: [translated] Now is not the time for weak thoughts. Today, the left-wing secularism and radical Islam are a risk to our roots. Against this challenge, there is no middle ground. Either you say yes or you say no - yes to the natural family, no to the LGBTQ lobby; yes to sex identity, no to gender ideology; yes to the culture of life, not the abysm of death; yes to the university of the cross, no to the Islamist violence; yes to secure borders, no to mass migration; yes to the work of our citizens, no to big international finance; yes to the sovereignty of peoples, no to the bureaucrats in Brussels; and yes to our civilization.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Giorgia Meloni, a candidate for Italian prime minister when she spoke. She has now declared victory. So, Ruth Ben-Ghiat, talk about the neofascist movement of Italy and how it affects the Vox party o Spain, how it affects Sweden, how it affects Poland, how it affects Hungary. All of the leaders in these places have congratulated Meloni on winning.

RUTH BEN-GHIAT: Yeah, I will. I just want to mention you see the yes and the no and her style of speaking. She's a demagogue. And at the end of my book Strongmen, which is about male leaders and machismo, I predicted that there will be a female-led far-right authoritarian government. We thought it would be Le Pen. But you hear her style of speaking, which is very much the charismatic demagogue. So, they can come in the figure of a woman, too.

She is part of this far-right international, a kind of - you could call it a second fascist international. I studied and wrote about the first one in the '30s and '40s. And, you know, Hungary is a node, is a hub. And they're very active in trying to have this kind of new political culture that is transnational. Fascism has always been transnational. And the fact that she's polylingual - she speaks four languages - has always been a help to her. So she's a real, you know, European politician. And she also speaks English - that's going to help her with the GOP. But there is a transnational design to bring this new far-right culture into being, and it's absolutely terrifying. You heard what she is saying. You know, it's Islamaphobic. It's racist. You're going to expect a very draconian treatment of immigrants, boats turning back, you know, deaths.

We'll have to see - we'll have to see what she does in terms of how constrained she is. She has a big majority in Parliament. So, in terms of what actually happens, we'll have to see. But she is a female demagogue. Now, Italy has always been a political laboratory. Mussolini invented fascism. In the '90s, Berlusconi brought fascists into the government, neofascists, for the first time. He broke a taboo. And now Italy has the first female far-right prime minister.

AMY GOODMAN: Especially for young people - and you teach, Ruth Ben-Ghiat, young people at New York University - can you talk about who Mussolini was, to understand what she is embracing, and Mussolini and Hitler's connection?

RUTH BEN-GHIAT: Yeah, it's really important that - the reason I mentioned Berlusconi also is, when he brought back neofascists into the government, he also did a whole rehab whitewashing job, which affected generations of Italians. He actually told the then-journalist Boris Johnson in 2003, "Mussolini never killed anyone." Now, instead, Mussolini's dictatorship committed genocide in Libya, mass war crimes in Ethiopia, used gas in its colonies, participated in the Holocaust.

It was the first dictatorship, and he was so successful in his repression and his propaganda - he was a big star in America, he had a syndicated column in Hearst newspapers - that Hitler worshiped him through the entire 1920s. And Hitler actually learned a lot from him, including Mussolini was a fan of great replacement theory. And he gets short shrift. Hitler is the one who is remembered, but Mussolini was very, very important, very innovative. And we see that Meloni is part of this heritage.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about those who say, "No, she is not fascist, she's conservative"? And then let's talk about not only her influence in Europe, but also in the United States, and her relationship with Donald Trump.

RUTH BEN-GHIAT: Yeah, well, you know, this is - what do we call these things today? Do we call them fascist? And, you know, there is this whitewashing that's going on, where Viktor Orban has said for years that his is an illiberal democracy, when, honestly, there's nothing democratic about what goes on in Hungary today. But it sounds good. And, you know, there's these people like Orban - he's trying to have it both ways. He gets EU funds, and then he has this electoral autocracy.

So, Meloni is an extreme case, because she's calling herself a conservative, which is what we're hearing from the MAGA Republicans in our country, too. They keep calling themselves conservatives. But as we see - just go back to that speech, that demagogic speech - there's nothing conservative about Meloni. There's nothing conservative about her party. I repeat, her party was founded because there was no autonomous extreme-right party to carry on the heritage of fascism.

AMY GOODMAN: So, again, if you can go to today, what's happening in the United States? Talk about the violence of January 6th. Talk about Trump advocating for everyone from QAnon to the Proud Boys. And then we're going to be speaking with the author of a new book on the Proud Boys.

RUTH BEN-GHIAT: Yeah, it's a good segue, because the GOP, I've been saying for a long time, has to be seen as a far-right authoritarian party in the model of European parties. And what's going on right now, we're having - history is being made before our eyes. The party is remaking itself to support whatever form of illiberal rule it wants to have in the United States. And, of course, we're seeing this at the state level, in Texas and especially in Florida.

And so, when a party is remaking itself, it pushes some people out, and these are, let's say, moderates, like Cheney, Kinzinger, all these - all the people who were anti-Trump. And who is being invited in? Lawless people, violent people. That's why, if you want to get ahead in the GOP, your campaign ad has to have you and an assault rifle. People who participated in January 6th - criminals - are being invited to run for office, and actual extremists, like Mark Finchem in Arizona. He is an Oath Keeper. He is very proud. He's very public about being an Oath Keeper, a member of the violent extremist group. And so, he is now the Arizona candidate for secretary of state. So, getting ahead in today's GOP, being an extremist is a help to that, because they are remaking themselves as a far-right party. So there are going to be, I predict, a lot of interchange between Meloni's neofascists and the GOP.

AMY GOODMAN: Ruth Ben-Ghiat, expert on fascism and authoritarianism, author of the book Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present, professor of history and Italian studies at New York University. We'll connect to Professor Ben-Ghiat's new article for The Atlantic titled "The Return of Fascism in Italy." She also publishes Lucid, a newsletter on threats to democracy.

Next up, we continue with fascism, or neofascism, to the far right here at home. As the House committee investigating the January 6th Capitol is set to hold another public hearing Wednesday, we look at one of the key groups that carried out the attack: the Proud Boys. We'll speak with the author of the new book, We Are Proud Boys: How a Right-Wing Street Gang Ushered In a New Era of American Extremism. Stay with us.

(c) 2022 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now,!" a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 750 stations in North America. She is the co"author of "Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times," recently released in paperback and "Breaking The Sound Barrier."







The Quotable Quote -



"The basic issue of an American society which is fair, which is providing opportunity for all, is nowadays being replaced by the correct perception that we're living in a rigged economy - where it doesn't matter how hard you worked, the result will be all the income goes to the people at the very top. It's leading to a lot of frustration and anger, and people want some fundamental changes to the way we do economics and growth."
~~~ Bernie Sanders





Iceberg A-74 calved from Antarctica's Brunt Ice Shelf in February 2021.




The Terrifying Future In Which We Return To A Past Too Warm For Antarctica's Ice Shelves
There is bad news for the planet when we consider what it means to have atmospheric carbon levels of 421 ppm.
By Juan Cole

So as a historian, I am particularly interested in what the past tells us about the present. I've taught courses on climate change in history. But of course my kind of history doesn't go back very far from the point of view of physical scientists. The academic discipline of "history" is really the history of humanity since the invention of writing. Even for the world history textbook at Cambridge in which I was involved I doubt we cited any document older than 4,000 years. Writing systems emerged in what is now Iraq around 5,200 years ago. Excitingly enough, scientists reconstructing the history of the earth before humans evolved have developed tools to do so that are increasingly precise.

Given our current predicament, of a rapidly heating globe, we are especially interested in looking at past periods similar to our own. One way to do so is to find proxies for the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Another way to approach the problem is to find ways of knowing the average surface temperature of the earth's oceans at various points in the past. For instance, as I explained last year, scientists have "examined calcareous fossils (surviving shells of microorganisms that lived close to the surface of the Pacific Ocean) to determine the average temperature in which the single-cell organisms called foraminifers, lived. You see, there is a ratio in their little shells of calcium to magnesium. The hotter the water in which they lived, the more magnesium their shells absorbed."

There are also ways of knowing how many parts per million of carbon dioxide there were in the atmosphere during past geologic eras. CO2 largely increased before 1750 because of volcanic activity, which could in some eras be intense over millions of years. There are various carbon sinks like the oceans and igneous rocks that scrub the CO2 out of the atmosphere over time, so if the volcanoes settle down, the CO2 decreases. Since carbon dioxide is an efficient heat-trapping gas, if you know the parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere you can have a fair idea of how hot it was.

A team from Victoria University in Wellington, NZ and Birmingham University in the UK looked at the single-celled, bacteria-like archea. U Birmingham's science newsletter explains, "The archaea adjust the composition of their outer membrane lipids in response to changing sea temperatures. By studying these changes, scientists can draw conclusions about the ancient sea temperature which would have surrounded a particular sample as it died."

The cite is Duncan, B., McKay, R., Levy, R. et al. Climatic and tectonic drivers of late Oligocene Antarctic ice volume,". Nat. Geosci. (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-022-01025-x

So this ambitious study was able to use the archea molecular fossils to examine changes in surface sea temperatures over the past 45 million years, and to match them up with what ice cores tell us about the extent of glaciation at the poles. They found that with one minor exception, there was an exact line-up between hot surface temperatures in the oceans and glacial minimums, periods when the ice at the poles melted, causing as much as 150 feet of sea level rise.

Here in Ann Arbor, I am 840 feet above sea level. I looked it up. So we'd be OK. But lower Manhattan is only 7-13 feet above sea level, so it just isn't going to be there after a while. (Just to be clear, I really like lower Manhattan and say this with enormous regret).

For my purposes, here is the money passage: "values much lower than 400 ppm (for example, ~280 ppm) are required for marine ice-sheet advance onto the mid-continental shelf of the Ross Sea, while above 400 ppm marine-based ice is absent from West Antarctica and sectors of East Antarctica."

What they are saying is that when the concentration of carbon dioxide is on the order of 280 parts per million or less, the Antarctic ice sheet advanced into the Ross Sea's continental shelf. When there were 400 parts per million or more of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the West Antarctic ice sheet and some of that of East Antarctica disappears from the record.

The ice sheets that extend into the ocean act as barriers keeping massive glaciers, some the size of Florida, from slipping into the ocean. So if the ice sheets melt, as they do at 400 ppm of CO2 or more, the glaciers plop in. Even one of them can raise global sea levels 10 feet. If enough ice melts at the poles, sea level rise goes to 70 or even 150 feet (roughly 50 meters). A significant percentage of human beings live within 60 miles of a sea-coast, and such a rise in levels would endanger them.

So here is the bad news. In June, NOAA announced that parts per million of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere had hit a new high, of 421 ppm.

You will note that 421 ppm of CO2 is higher than 400 ppm. It is in the range at which, in past epochs, the West Antarctic Ice Shelf did not exist. If our WAIS stops existing, as now seems highly likely, then the mega-glaciers will have no obstacle to diving into the sea. And, it turns out that those suckers can move fast when the conditions are warm enough.

(c) 2022 Juan R.I. Cole is the founder and chief editor of Informed Comment. He is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia and has given numerous media interviews on the war on terrorism and the Iraq War. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years and continues to travel widely there. He speaks Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.






Most workers' paychecks are shrinking in terms of real purchasing power. Rather than causing inflation, wages are actually reducing inflationary pressures.


Corporate Greed, Not Wages, Is Behind Inflation. It's Time For Price Controls
Corporations are using rising costs as an excuse to increase their prices even higher, resulting in record profits. We need limited price controls to break this cycle
By Robert Reich

On Wednesday, policymakers at the Federal Reserve - America's central bank - continued their battle against inflation with a third straight supersize interest-rate increase. And they warned that they're not done. They'll continue to raise borrowing costs until inflation is tamed.

They assume that the underlying economic problem is a tight labor market, causing wages to rise - and prices to rise in response. And they believe interest rate increases are necessary to slow this wage-price inflation.

This is dead wrong.

Wage increases have not even kept up with inflation. Most workers' paychecks are shrinking in terms of real purchasing power. Rather than causing inflation, wages are actually reducing inflationary pressures.

The underlying economic problem is profit-price inflation. It's caused by corporations raising their prices above their increasing costs.

Corporations are using those increasing costs - of materials, components and labor - as excuses to increase their prices even higher, resulting in bigger profits. This is why corporate profits are close to levels not seen in over half a century.

Corporations have the power to raise prices without losing customers because they face so little competition. Since the 1980s, two-thirds of all American industries have become more concentrated.

Why are grocery prices through the roof? Because just four companies control 85% of meat and poultry processing. Just one corporation sets the price for most of the nation's seed corn. And two giant firms dominate consumer staples.

All are raising prices and increasing profits because they can.

Big pharma, comprising five giants, is causing drug prices to soar.

The airline industry has gone from 12 carriers in 1980 to just four today, all rapidly raising ticket prices.

Wall Street has consolidated into five giant banks, raking in record profits on the spreads between the interest they pay on deposits and what they charge on loans.

Broadband is dominated by three giant cable companies, all raising their prices.

Automobile dealers are enjoying record profits as they raise the retail prices of automobiles.

Gas prices have started to drop but big oil still has the power to raise prices at the pump far higher than the costs of crude.

And so on.

This is why Congress and the administration need to take direct action against profit-price inflation, rather than rely solely on the Fed to raise interest rates and put the burden of fighting inflation on average working people who are not responsible for it.

Bold antitrust enforcement is essential. Even the credible threat of antitrust enforcement can deter corporations from raising prices higher than their costs.

A windfall profits tax could also be helpful. This would be a temporary tax on price increases exceeding the producer price index's costs of producing consumer goods.

Price controls should be a backstop. The current inflation, emerging from the pandemic, is analogous to the inflation after the second world war when economists advocated temporary price controls to buy time to overcome supply bottlenecks and prevent corporate profiteering.

Limited price controls should be considered now, for the same reasons.

The inflation we are now experiencing is not due to wage gains from excessive worker power. It is due to profit gains from excessive corporate power.

It's profits, not wages, that need to be controlled.

(c) 2022 Robert B. Reich is the Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He 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.




U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas and former Supreme Court Associate Justice
Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016, pictured on October 8, 2010 at the Supreme Court.


How The U.S. Supreme Court Unleashed A Corporate Criminal Takeover Of This Country
Because of key decisions by the court equating money with free speech, our political system is now overrun with grifters, con artists, and career criminals.
By Thom Hartmann

Republicans in the Senate yesterday killed legislation passed through the House that would require "dark money" to be publicly disclosed: not a single Republican voted for it, although every Democrat in attendance did.

Ralph Reed's Faith & Freedom Coalition, we learned Wednesday, is going to spend $42 million on the midterm elections, focusing on flipping evangelical Hispanics toward the GOP.

Leonard Leo, head of The Federalist Society so famous for providing Trump and McConnell with rightwing judges to pack federal courts and the Supreme Court, recently received a $1.6 billion contribution, tax-free.

So much money is sloshing around in our political system - both what we know of and the billions in truly dark money that we know nothing about - that honest politicians are buried and actual criminals are stepping up.

Donald Trump's phone call to Georgia's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was probably the clearest illustration of this recent incarnation of his lifelong criminality. Although it's rapidly being eclipsed by his theft and probable sale to foreign dictators of classified documents.

Over the last 40 years, career criminals like Trump have increasingly moved out of the business world and the streets and into politics, something for which we can thank the Supreme Court.

There are, among us, a small number of individuals who are career criminals. They have literally spent their entire lives skirting or outright breaking the law, and not only believe the law doesn't apply to them, but actually delight in getting away with their crimes.

Because all of us have, at one time or another in our lives, broken a law or told lies; we tend to assume that these career criminals are just like us but only got caught in that one unlucky moment, like that time you drove home after a second glass of wine, or made up an excuse to tell your boss.

But they're not like you and me. There's something fundamentally different about these people. And the failure to recognize that goes to the core of the crisis within the Republican Party and our overall political system today.

Back when I was in my late teens, I got a job as a manager of a GNC store in a mall in Okemos, Michigan. There was a test that I had to give to all job applicants to determine their "honesty."

The test asked really weird questions, along the lines of:

"One of your very best employees just came to you to return some money to the till, money that she had borrowed from the till because a few months back she needed it to help pay for an emergency medical procedure for her child. She has saved up to pay the money back, and is now trying to do so. What do you do?"

Or: "Your mother just called and told to you that she's been shoplifting at the local store when her food stamps run out and your younger sister is really hungry. What do you do?"

The test, from a national testing chain, went on with 20 or 30 similar questions. In almost every case, the only correct answer to the multiple choice test was, "call the police and send them to jail."

I protested to my district manager, saying that I would've flunked the test, or would've had to lie to pass it. There's no way I turn in my mother or call the police on somebody with a sick child.

My manager pointed out to me that the only way to pass the honesty test is to lie on it, and it was actually designed that way. They expect people to say that they will call the police even for the tiniest of crimes. I protested that I thought that was crazy, that we were requiring people to lie to pass an honesty test, and that made no sense at all to me.

What he explained was that there's no test in the world that can tell if a person really and truly will or will not call the police on anyone. But the test does tell whether a person understands the difference between right and wrong.

"I know it's hard for you to realize or believe," he said as I recall, "but there are some people who literally don't know what is right and what is wrong. And the people who don't have that basic understanding, or do know but don't think the rules apply to them, are the ones most likely to steal from us or let their friends come shoplifting.

"The test expects people to lie by representing themselves as being honest, because to lie on the test they would first have to know the difference between right and wrong, so they could lie and say that they would always do the right thing."

One of the big challenges the American media and our political system have with Donald Trump and a number of his enablers is that, like the people I was testing to filter out from our potential pool of employees, they are actually career criminals with no deep understanding of, or respect for, right and wrong.

They may know the words and concepts, but truly believe they don't apply to them.

Donald Trump has been scamming, grifting and stealing his entire life, going all the way back to stealing his father's money from his parents and his siblings. He is a career criminal.

Many of the people he surrounded himself with are, similarly, career criminals even though they appear to have had high profile, high powered positions in government or industry.

Even Forbes magazine called Trump's commerce secretary, billionaire Wilbur Ross, a professional "grifter" for all the scams he has perpetrated in his career, and now we learn that Clarence Thomas' wife was allegedly in on trying to overthrow our democracy.

While fundamentally dishonest people has been a problem for our society and business community for centuries, it has particularly become a problem in our political world since 1976 and 1978.

That was when the Supreme Court explicitly ruled that billionaires or corporations giving massive amounts of money to politicians and political parties is no longer considered bribery or corruption but, instead, is "free speech" protected by the First Amendment.

Never before in all of American history had bribing politicians been considered free-speech, until the Buckley v Valejo and First National Bank v Belotti Supreme Court decisions as I laid out in The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America.

In 2010, conservatives of the Court doubled down on these decisions and even expanded their scope with Citizens United.

The result after these SCOTUS decisions was an ocean of corporate and billionaire money flowing into politics, sweeping Ronald Reagan into the White House on a tsunami of cash from the fossil fuel industry.

In the 40+ years since then, billionaire and corporate bribery of politicians has become the norm, and even institutionalized with national and state-based "policy networks," PACs and SuperPACs, and dark money groups like the ones affiliated with Mitch McConnell that just poured tens of millions into this year's elections.

All this money now sloshing around in our political system has produced the result the dissenting Supreme Court justices worried about.

It's become a giant magnet that draws career criminals and authoritarians into politics, and then helps them become fabulously wealthy as they do the bidding of the corporations and wealthy people who fund their elections and careers.

It's normalized the "revolving door" where people go into government positions, particularly in regulatory agencies, and make decisions that benefit giant corporations while drawing a modest government paycheck, only then to leave government and pick up multi-million dollar a year jobs in the industries they were regulating.

Trump is a career criminal, and he has surrounded himself with career criminals. Just look at their mob-like meeting just a week or so ago on one of his golf courses: it was right out of The Sopranos.

But he and many of his criminal Republican allies could never have gained power if the Supreme Court, back in the 1970s, hadn't struck down the "good government" laws that came out of the Nixon bribery scandals and other laws to keep money out of politics, like the Tillman Act that dates back to 1907.

Because of these Supreme Court decisions equating money with free speech, our political system is now overrun with grifters, con artists and career criminals.

Even worse, this dark money spree Republicans are enjoying courtesy of rightwing billionaires and giant corporations is also empowering the recurrent criminal underbelly of the political world itself: authoritarians.

Authoritarians like Mussolini, Hitler, Pinochet, and Trump each came to power through manipulating the political system in ways that, if not overtly in violation of criminal statutes, were certainly so dangerous to democracy that they're rightly described as "crimes against the nation."

Job one of the new Congress must be to overturn these corrupt Supreme Court decisions and get big money - and the criminals it draws and empowers - out of American politics.

(c) 2022 Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of "The Hidden History of Monopolies: How Big Business Destroyed the American Dream" (2020); "The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America" (2019); and more than 25 other books in print.

The Cartoon Corner -

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Steve Sack ~~~









To End On A Happy Note -





Have You Seen This -






Parting Shots -






Melania Wishes She Could Get Divorced Just By Thinking About It
By Andy Borowitz

PALM BEACH (The Borowitz Report)-In a candid interview guaranteed to make headlines, Melania Trump revealed that she wished she could get a divorce "just by thinking about it."

While stressing that she had no plans to divorce her husband, Mrs. Trump said that doing so would require "a lot more than having the idea in my head."

"I think to get a divorce one would need lawyers, courts, those types of things," she said. "To say you can undo something like a marriage just by thinking about it is some kind of crazy talk."

At the conclusion of the interview, Mrs. Trump emphasized, once again, that she was happy in her marriage to Donald Trump. "I live in a beautiful home with all the nuclear codes a woman could want," she said.

(c) 2022 Andy Borowitz






Email:uncle -ernie@journalist.com
























Issues & Alibis Vol 22 # 38 (c) 09/30/2022


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